New York, New York, the city that never sleeps! What better place to spend your student years? Four years won’t be nearly enough time to exhaust all there is to see and do in New York City but if you’re up to the challenge, it’s definitely worth a try.
Just exploring the city’s museums is an education in itself, from the Metropolitan Museum of Art to Frank Lloyd Wright’s Guggenheim. Each of the city’s neighbourhoods has its own individual character and you’re bound to find your favourite spot. You might get a taste for the hipster lifestyle in Brooklyn’s Williamsburg, or become a regular urban rambler on the well-trodden path of New York’s High Line, in the contemporary art district of Chelsea.
Resources: top universities worldwide
- Best universities in the United States
- Best universities in Canada
- Best universities in Europe
- Best universities in the UK
- Best universities in Asia
- Best universities in Australia
- Best universities in South America
Plus: New York features in 2017's Best University Cities
For theatre fans, students in New York will often benefit from reduced ticket prices to the opera, Broadway and off-Broadway performances. Universities slightly outside the city offer the best of both worlds, with the community spirit and rural setting of a campus university with New York City an easy drive or bus journey away. While the State of New York is often overshadowed by the city that shares its name, the Finger Lakes region in particular is one of the most picturesque areas of countryside in New England.
Among the top institutions in NYC is New York University, located in the heart of Manhattan. Washington Square Park is the epicentre of NYU activity with many of the university’s halls and academic buildings nearby. Departments are located across the river in downtown Brooklyn.
Resources: top universities in Europe
Founded by the statesman Albert Gallatin in 1831, NYU was established to serve students from all walks of life. Today, New York University is up among the top universities in the US in terms of academic rankings. It is also one of the largest private universities in the country with more than 40,000 students, and is a member of the prestigious Association of American Universities.
One of NYU’s annual traditions is the Strawberry Festival, a chance for students to celebrate the end of exams and enjoy a slice of the longest strawberry cheesecake in New York City.
Located in Upper Manhattan, Columbia University is the fifth oldest university in the country and the oldest in New York State. The university was founded in 1754 as King’s College. Post-revolution, the institution was renamed Columbia College and in 1896 became Columbia University to reflect the collection of colleges that had been brought together, including Barnard College for women in 1891.
Joseph Pulitzer founded Columbia’s prestigious School of Journalism in 1912. In the 1930s, Columbia School of Law produced two Supreme Court Chief Justices, Charles Evans Hughes and Harlan Fiske Stone. The Columbia University campus on Morningside Heights has been home to the university since 1897. The architect Charles Follen McKim was inspired by the classical architecture of ancient Greece. Columbia University Medical Centre has its own 20-acre campus in Washington Heights, two miles further north.
Cornell University, founded in 1865, is an Ivy League university that consistently performs highly in world rankings. Cornell University’s 2,300-acre campus is located in the picturesque Finger Lakes region of New York State.
The campus is vast enough to contain hiking trails for students to explore. Nearby Ithaca has a reputation for being a favourite with foodies. One of the university’s traditions is the annual Dragon Day parade in late March. Architecture students parade a giant dragon across the campus where it is pitted against a phoenix created by students from the rival College of Engineering.
The university has a number of locations in New York City, including Weill Cornell Graduate School of Medical Science in Upper Manhattan.
It may not be as well known among international students but the University of Rochester has made pioneering advances across different subjects, including mathematics, social sciences, medicine and music.
The university has a distinct approach to studies: its own “Rochester Curriculum”. Unlike other university programmes, there are no required subjects and students must take courses in humanities, social sciences and natural sciences. There are a number of competitive fifth-year programmes that allow undergraduates a tuition-free year to study a subject unrelated to their major, or pursue an innovative entrepreneurial project.
The main campus is next to the river that leads to Lake Ontario. The institution provides a smaller, more communal environment than that found in many city universities.
The best universities in New York State, according to the WSJ/THE US College Ranking 2017
Editor's note: The information on this page was correct at the time of publication. Since then, Times Higher Education has reissued the US College Rankings. For the most up-to-date 2017 US College Rankings results, always use the overall league table. Click here for more information.