Best universities in New York

Explore the top universities in New York using data from the Wall Street Journal/Times Higher Education US College Rankings

October 11 2019
What is the best university in New York?

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.

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. 

Choosing a university in New York can be a daunting task, so I've collected the best universities in the state based on the Wall Street Journal/Times Higher Education US College Rankings 2020 to help you decide. 


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Cornell University

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.

Columbia University

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. 

New York University

Among the top institutions in New York City is New York University, located in the heart of Manhattan. Washington Square Park is the epicentre of New York University activity with many of the university’s halls and academic buildings nearby. Departments are located across the river in downtown Brooklyn.

Founded by the statesman Albert Gallatin in 1831, the university was established to serve students from all walks of life. Today, New York University is 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 44,000 students, and is a member of the prestigious Association of American Universities.

One of the university'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. 


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Best universities in New York 2020

Click each institution to view its full World University Rankings 2020 profile

New York Rank 2020 US College Rank 2020 University City
1 9 Cornell University Ithaca
2 15 Columbia University New York
3 31 New York University New York
4 48 Colgate University Hamilton
5 51 Barnard College New York
6 56 Vassar College Poughkeepsie
7 58 University of Rochester Rochester
8 =59 Hamilton College Clinton
9 =93 Skidmore College Saratoga Springs
10 =105 Stony Brook University Stony Brook
11 110 University at Buffalo Buffalo
12 115 Union College Schenectady
13 122 Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute Troy
14 =123 Syracuse University Syracuse
15 140 Yeshiva University New York
16 =143 Hobart and William Smith Colleges Geneva
17 =153 Binghamton University, State University of New York  Vestal
18 =155 Rochester Institute of Technology Rochester
19 157 Sarah Lawrence College Bronxville
20 =176 Fordham University Bronx
21 187 St Lawrence University Canton
22 196 State University of New York Albany Albany
=23 =205 CUNY City College of New York New York
=23 =205 Clarkson University Potsdam
=25 =208 Adelphi University Garden City
=25 =208 CUNY Hunter College New York
27 228 Hofstra University Hempstead
28 =232 CUNY Bernard M. Baruch College New York
29 =234 Ithaca College Ithaca
30 237 Pratt Institute Brooklyn
31 =256 Molloy College Rockville Centre
32 =264 Bard College Annandale-On-Hudson
=33 =266 Manhattan College Riverdale
=33 =266 New York Institute of Technology Old Westbury
=35 =292 CUNY Queens College Queens
=35 =292 Pace University-New York New York
37 =295 Siena College Loudonville
38 =299 SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry Syracuse
39 =308 St John Fisher College Rochester
40 =311 Wagner College Staten Island
41 =317 Albany College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences Albany
42 =323 CUNY Brooklyn College Brooklyn
43 =337 SUNY New Paltz New Paltz
=44 =343 Canisius College Buffalo
=44 =343 The New School New York
46 =360 Hartwick College Oneonta
47 =375 Nazareth College Rochester
=48 401-500 CUNY Lehman College Bronx
=48 401-500 Iona College New Rochelle
=48 401-500 LIU Brooklyn Brooklyn
=48 401-500 Le Moyne College Syracuse
=48 401-500 Marist College Poughkeepsie
=48 401-500 SUNY Buffalo State Buffalo
=48 401-500 SUNY Plattsburgh Plattsburgh
=48 401-500 St Bonaventure University Saint Bonaventure
=48 401-500 St John's University-New York Queens
=57 501-600 Alfred University Alfred
=57 501-600 Daemen College Amherst
=57 501-600 LIU Post Brookville
=57 501-600 Manhattanville College Purchase
=57 501-600 College of Mount Saint Vincent Bronx
=57 501-600 SUNY College at Brockport Brockport
=57 501-600 SUNY Cortland Cortland
=57 501-600 SUNY at Fredonia Fredonia
=57 501-600 SUNY Geneseo Geneseo
=57 501-600 SUNY Oneonta Oneonta
=57 501-600 SUNY Oswego Oswego
=57 501-600 SUNY Potsdam Potsdam
=69 > 600 CUNY John Jay College of Criminal Justice New York
=69 > 600 CUNY College of Staten Island Staten Island
=69 > 600 D'Youville College Buffalo
=69 > 600 Marymount Manhattan College New York
=69 > 600 Mercy College Dobbs Ferry
=69 > 600 Niagara University Niagara University
=69 > 600 SUNY Alfred State College Alfred
=69 > 600 SUNY Farmingdale State College Farmingdale
=69 > 600 SUNY Purchase College Purchase
=69 > 600 The College of Saint Rose Albany
=69 > 600 Touro College New York

Read more: Best universities in the world

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