10 Best Colleges in New York City
The Big Apple: if you can make it there you can make it anywhere. People flock there from across the world to grown into their own and find themselves.
New York City is also home to some of the top colleges and universities in the U.S. A place full of opportunity, it’s one of the best cities to learn, while also discovering your passions and talents and gaining career experience at some of the most prestigious businesses and organizations in the country.
Want to attend school in New York? Here are the 10 top colleges to explore.
Our Ranking Methodology
In creating these rankings, we focused on school quality, outcomes, and return on investment (ROI). We examined data such as retention rate, selectivity, endowment per student, student-faculty ratio, median earnings, and cost of attendance, among many others. Students can see our full rankings here.
Best Colleges in New York City
1. Columbia University
Acceptance Rate: 6%
Middle 50% SAT: 1450-1560
Middle 50% ACT: 33-35
Undergrad Enrollment: 8,200
Founded in 1754 as King’s College, Columbia is the fifth-oldest institution of higher education in the United States, as well as the oldest in New York. The Ivy League university counts presidents and heads of state, Nobel laureates, Pulitzer Prize winners, Olympians, Supreme Court Justices, and Academy Award recipients among its alumni.
Columbia offers a huge range of programs across its three undergraduates schools, along with graduate schools, professional schools, affiliated colleges and seminaries, and more.
2. Cooper Union
Acceptance Rate: 16%
Middle 50% SAT: 1283-1510
Middle 50% ACT: 31-34
Undergrad Enrollment: 800
Commonly known as Cooper Union, The Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art was established in 1859 as a unique model for higher education. Peter Cooper, its founder, made the institution free for working classes and opened the school to men and women alike. Until fall 2014, Cooper Union continued to offer full-tuition scholarships to all admitted students; today, students continue to receive scholarships covering at least half-tuition.
The college has three schools: the Irwin S. Chanin School of Architecture, the School of Art, and the Albert Nerken School of Engineering, along with a Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences. Each is notable in its own right, with specialized programs and degrees.
3. New York University
Acceptance Rate: 20%
Middle 50% SAT: 1310-1510
Middle 50% ACT: 29-34
Undergrad Enrollment: 26,700
Comprised of 19 schools and colleges, including campuses in Shanghai and Abu Dhabi, NYU is a highly selective, widely respected research university that is in many ways the quintessential New York school. NYU has a diverse student body, with students flocking from every corner of the world to take advantage of special programs like those housed in the Tisch School of Arts and the Gallatin School of Individualized Study, which offers a unique, open curriculum. In fact, NYU receives more applications than any other school in the country.
NYU is known for its beautiful urban campus in the Greenwich Village neighborhood. Although it lacks a traditional campus, students get a unique opportunity to make Washington Square Park their quad and live in university-provided apartment buildings in the city for all four years.
4. Barnard College
Acceptance Rate: 14%
Middle 50% SAT: 1330-1500
Middle 50% ACT: 30-33
Undergrad Enrollment: 2,500
An all-women’s college, Barnard is a member of the Seven Sisters. Barnard remains an undergraduate college of Columbia, and the schools share courses, organizations, sports teams, and facilities, although Barnard is financially and legally autonomous. The liberal arts college offers the best of both worlds: students can enjoy a close-knit community, all while taking advantage of the resources of a large research university.
5. Yeshiva University
Acceptance Rate: 60%
Middle 50% SAT: 1140-1400
Middle 50% ACT: 22-30
Undergrad Enrollment: 2,700
Yeshiva University has a dual curriculum that combines Jewish studies with liberal arts and sciences courses. The university offers more than 65 majors and minors, leading to a BA degree, across four campuses in New York City. Its undergraduate schools include Yeshiva College, Stern College for Women, Katz School of Science and Health, and Syms School of Business. Additionally, students can participate in combined and joint-degree programs with the university’s graduate and professional schools.
6. Baruch College
Acceptance Rate: 39%
Middle 50% SAT: 1220-1390
Middle 50% ACT: 27-30
Undergrad Enrollment: 15,000
A senior college in the CUNY system, Baruch is an academically rigorous school that houses 90 majors and minors across the Marxe School of Public and International Affairs, the Weissman School of Arts and Sciences, and the Zicklin School of Business. Additionally, Baruch offers more than 60 specialized doctoral, master’s, and executive degree program options.
The college has one of the most ethnically diverse student populations in the country. In addition to academics, students can participate in plenty of student clubs and take advantage of career support services.
7. Hunter College
Acceptance Rate: 36%
Middle 50% SAT: 1150-1330
Middle 50% ACT: 21-27
Undergrad Enrollment: 17,200
The Princeton Review referred to Hunter College as “the crown jewel of the CUNY system.” The college offers more than 170 diverse academic programs, including adolescence education, nursing, Arabic, and many others. Hunter offers a number of bachelor’s and master’s degrees, along with combined accelerated degree paths. The college is also known as an engine of social mobility, and 75% of students graduate debt-free.
8. City College of New York
Acceptance Rate: 48%
Middle 50% SAT: 1040-1270
Middle 50% ACT: 20-28
Undergrad Enrollment: 13,100
The oldest member of the CUNY system, CCNY was founded in 1847 as the first free public institution of higher learning in the U.S. Today, the college continues to offer a curriculum tailored to the needs of working students and adult learners.
Among its claims to fame, CCNY is ranked #1 by The Chronicle of Higher Education for selective public colleges in terms of overall mobility. It is also the first institution “explicitly founded on the ideal of educating the ‘whole people’.”
9. Fashion Institute of Technology
Acceptance Rate: 53%
Middle 50% SAT: N/A
Middle 50% ACT: N/A
Undergrad Enrollment: 8,500
Founded in 1944 to address the dwindling number of professionals in the fashion and apparel industry, FIT is part of the SUNY system and focuses on educating future design, fashion, business, and technology leaders. Twenty-nine programs, including both bachelor’s and associate’s degrees, are offered through the School of Art and Design, Jay and Patty Baker School of Business and Technology, and the School of Liberal Arts.
Famous alumni include Laverne Cox, Nina Garcia, Calvin Klein, Michael Kors, and David Chu.
10. CUNY Queens College
Acceptance Rate: 48%
Middle 50% SAT: 1060-1220
Middle 50% ACT: 21-25
Undergrad Enrollment: 16,600
Another member of the CUNY system, QC is a diverse school, with a student body representing more than 170 countries. The college was established in 1937 and offers more than 70 undergraduate majors, along with more than 100 graduate programs and 20 doctoral degrees, across seven schools.
Queens has a general education program grounded in the liberal arts and sciences, as well as a robust first-year experience program, both of which help prepare students to succeed both in college and their careers.
What Are Your Chances of Acceptance?
All of the schools on this list are selective, but your personal chances of admission depend on your unique profile. Find out your odds of acceptance to NYC and other colleges and universities, and receive guidance on how to improve your profile by using our free chancing engine. It uses quantitative data such as grades and standardized test scores along with qualitative factors, including extracurricular activities, awards, and achievements, to predict your odds of acceptance at schools across the U.S.
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