The 10 Best and Most Prestigious Universities in New York
Benjamin Franklin once said, “An investment in education always pays the highest returns.” Centuries later, this sentiment holds truer than ever. Seeking out higher education in the state with one of the best cities in the world is a worthwhile pursuit, which is why you need to know about the best universities in New York. With so many schools to choose from, how do you actually know what the best universities are in New York?
To help you sift through this wide variety of options, we’ve compiled the top 10 universities in New York into our very own countdown of the most prestigious universities in New York. This will benefit you whether you’re applying for an undergraduate program or graduate school. To see if your favorite New York universities ranked in our list, read on.
How We Defined New York University Rankings
We ranked New York universities according to several factors, including graduation rate, student reviews, and quality of education. Most importantly, all of the universities in our list are accredited by the New York State Board of Regents and Commissioner of Education and other relevant accrediting bodies, such as the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.
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New York Universities Ranked: Top 10 Universities in New York
- Columbia University
- Cornell University
- New York University
- University of Rochester
- Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
- Syracuse University
- Fordham University
- Yeshiva University
- Binghamton University
- Stony Brook University
The Best Colleges and Universities in New York, Explained
New York has many higher education institutions to choose from, whether you’re looking for a public university, a private liberal arts college, or a community college . However, the schools on this list stand out thanks to their amazing programs and traditions of student success. Here are the 10 best universities in New York, with useful information about each.
1. Columbia University
- US News National Ranking: #2
- Campus Location(s): Manhattan, New York
- Undergraduate Enrollment: 6,170
- Graduation Rate: 96%
Columbia University, a private university founded in 1754, is ranked by US News & World Report as one of the 22 best national universities . It offers hundreds of programs, and its student body includes 6,170 undergraduates. Attending Columbia University would put you in the company of distinguished alumni such as John Jay, US founding father and first chief justice of the Supreme Court, and President Barack Obama.
2. Cornell University
- US News National Ranking: #17
- Campus Location(s): Ithaca, New York
- Undergraduate Enrollment: 14,743
- Graduation Rate: 95%
Second in New York only to Columbia University, Cornell University is a private institution that was founded in 1865. Cornell University has a high graduation rate of 95 percent. An interesting fact about Cornell University is that it strives to be the home of the most ambitious students, with 50 Nobel laureates currently affiliated with the university as either alumni or faculty members.
3. New York University
- US News National Ranking: #28
- Campus Location(s): Manhattan, New York
- Undergraduate Enrollment: 27,444
- Graduation Rate: 88%
Founded in 1831, New York University (NYU) is one of the most popular American universities. NYU is a private institution known for its commitment to diversity, admitting the most diverse undergraduate class (2023) in history. With 19 schools and colleges worldwide, NYU has a broad offering of academic programs.
4. University of Rochester
- US News National Ranking: #34
- Campus Location(s): Rochester, New York
- Undergraduate Enrollment: 6,521
- Graduation Rate: 86%
The University of Rochester is one of the world’s leading research universities. Founded in 1850, Rochester has become a prestigious institution despite its small size. The University of Rochester’s mission is to break boundaries through lifelong curiosity and learning and to be a globally recognized center for academics.
5. Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
- US News National Ranking: #55
- Campus Location(s): Troy, New York
- Undergraduate Enrollment: 6,283
- Graduation Rate: 87%
Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute is a private university founded in 1824 with the goal of bringing science to everyday life, which remains the school’s spirit today. This school community is particularly athletic, with over 80 percent of the student body is involved in athletic programs such as intramurals, club sports, and intercollegiate programs.
6. Syracuse University
- US News National Ranking: #59
- Campus Location(s): Syracuse, New York
- Undergraduate Enrollment: 14,479
- Graduation Rate: 83%
Syracuse University, an amazing university founded in 1870, overlooks the city of Syracuse from University Hill. Syracuse University is focused on community impact through its high-quality academic programs and more than 300 student organizations.
7. Fordham University
- US News National Ranking: #68 (tied with Yeshiva University)
- Campus Location(s): Bronx, New York
- Undergraduate Enrollment: 9,399
- Graduation Rate: 83%
Fordham University is a private institution founded in 1841. The beautiful gothic architecture and tree-lined walkways make for inspiring campus life. The campus is located in a central location in the Bronx, providing opportunities for a rich social life as well. Fordham University alumni include former US representative Robert Giaimo and former US postmaster general John Potter.
8. Yeshiva University
- US News National Ranking: #68 (tied with Fordham University)
- Campus Location(s): New York, New York
- Undergraduate Enrollment: 2,017
- Graduation Rate: 77%
Yeshiva University is a Jewish institution based in New York City and founded in 1886. Though an applicant’s religion doesn’t factor into the admissions process, Jewish culture is at the center of the university’s programs and has a strong presence on campus. This institution has offerings in a wide range of academic fields.
9. Binghamton University
- US News National Ranking: #83
- Campus Location(s): Vestal, New York
- Undergraduate Enrollment: 14,333
- Graduation Rate: 82%
Binghamton University, part of the State University of New York (SUNY) system, is a public university that was founded in 1946. The university offers outdoor recreation complete with nature preserves, a pond, and a forest where students can bike, hike, and jog. Binghamton has over 300 student organizations and over 60 fraternity and sorority houses for a vibrant Greek life scene.
10. Stony Brook University
- US News National Ranking: #93
- Campus Location(s): Stony Brook, New York
- Undergraduate Enrollment: 18,010
- Graduation Rate: 76%
Founded in 1957 and located on Long Island, Stony Brook University is another one of the 64 SUNY member institutions. The university gives students the freedom to experience concerts and festivals. One notable Stony Brook alum is Patricia Cowings, the first US woman trained as an astronaut.
Is a University in New York Right for You?
Attending a university in New York is the right move for many people, with options that will satisfy many students regardless of what they look for in education and life. The city of New York is arguably the world’s creative and culturally diverse capital and center of innovation. If urban living doesn’t appeal to you, you can still have a fantastic experience at a college campus upstate.
Whatever your ambitions, New York is a prime location for career development, giving you more opportunities in more industries than almost anywhere else. Outside academics, New York offers a wide range of entertainment and leisure activities, which is important for any student. If any of these points sound attractive, then attending a New York university might be right for you.
Best Universities in New York FAQ
difference between a university and a college
is that colleges are smaller institutions that mainly offer undergraduate programs, while universities are larger institutions that offer both undergraduate and graduate programs. For this reason, graduate students should primarily apply to universities.
Some other well-known institutions in New York are Pace University, CUNY Hunter College, CUNY Baruch College, Barnard College of Columbia University, City College of New York, and Hofstra University. New York has so many options for higher education that it’s possible to find a wonderful college or university even if you look beyond the ones on our list.
Yes, going to a university in New York can be expensive. Many of the state’s universities are costly to attend, and tuition tends to increase in tandem with a school’s prestige. In addition to tuition and fees, the cost of living in New York is also high, though living on campus can help.
New York offers virtually limitless career resources and real-world experiences outside the academic community. New York is home to thousands of companies in numerous industries. As the global center of innovation, New York is buzzing with creative and productive energy.