The 10 Best Colleges in New York

Do you know how to improve your profile for college applications?

See how your profile ranks among thousands of other students using CollegeVine. Calculate your chances at your dream schools and learn what areas you need to improve right now — it only takes 3 minutes and it's 100% free.

Show me what areas I need to improve

What’s Covered:


New York. It’s a travel destination for many, as well as a vibrant place to live — and not just the eponymous city itself.


The state is also home to many highly selective, prestigious colleges and universities. Is it the place for you to pursue your academic dreams? Here are 10 top colleges in New York, each with its own personality and specialties.


10 Best Colleges in New York


Barnard College


Location: New York

Acceptance Rate: 13%

Middle 50% SAT/ACT: 670-740 (EBRW); 670-770 (M)/31-34

Undergraduate Enrollment: 2,500


A private women’s liberal arts college in New York City’s Morningside Heights, Barnard College is part of Columbia University. The school has a separate admissions process and housing, but you’ll have all the advantages of attending a huge university — access to Columbia courses and resources — while still enjoying a close-knit community at a small liberal arts school.


Learn more about Barnard and what it takes to get accepted.


Colgate University


Location: Hamilton

Acceptance Rate: 27%

Middle 50% SAT/ACT: 1370-1500/31-34

Undergraduate Enrollment: 2,900


Colgate’s beautiful campus isn’t the only draw for students. Grounded in the liberal arts tradition, the curriculum allows learners to gain exposure to different niches and fields. Students can choose among 56 majors and pursue a number of minors as well. The school is also widely known for its athletic prowess — it’s home to around two dozen Division I sports teams.


Learn more about Colgate and what it takes to get accepted.


Columbia University


Location: New York

Acceptance Rate: 6%

Middle 50% SAT/ACT: 1480-1560/33-35 

Undergraduate Enrollment: 8,200


The prestigious New York City Ivy League school is one of the oldest and most selective universities in the country. Among its notable features is Columbia’s classical approach to academics, with a Core Curriculum that requires students to take courses in literature, philosophy, history, music, art, and science, allowing them to gain new perspectives and interests. Students can pursue a wide range of programs, from engineering to English.


Learn more about Columbia and what it takes to get accepted.


Cornell University


Location: Ithaca

Acceptance Rate: 11%

Middle 50% SAT/ACT: 680-750 (EBRW); 720-800 (M)/32-35

Undergraduate Enrollment: 15,100


Divided into eight undergraduate colleges and schools, Cornell, an Ivy League university located in rural, snowy Ithaca, offers a number of distinctive programs. The School of Hotel Administration, for example, is home to what is widely considered the most prestigious hospitality program in the country. One notable aspect of admissions at Cornell is that students apply directly to the individual school, rather than the university.


Learn more about Cornell and what it takes to get accepted.


Fordham University


Location: Bronx

Acceptance Rate: 53%

Middle 50% SAT/ACT: 1300-1450/29-33

Undergraduate Enrollment: 9,600


Known as the Jesuit University of New York, Fordham offers education in the Jesuit tradition at two campuses in New York City: Rose Hill (Bronx) and Lincoln Center (Manhattan). The university is also home to graduate programs. The foundation of the curriculum is the core curriculum, which prepares students to think critically. The university offers more than 70 majors, minors, and pre-professional programs.


Learn more about Fordham and what it takes to get accepted.


Hamilton College


Location: Clinton

Acceptance Rate: 18%

Middle 50% SAT/ACT: 1410-1500/32-34

Undergraduate Enrollment: 2,000


Hamilton’s open, yet rigorous curriculum offers maximum flexibility for students. But that doesn’t mean that the liberal arts college, named for one of the most famous founding fathers (at least today), doesn’t offer plenty of guidance. ALEX, Hamilton’s coordinated advising network, is a new program individually tailored to student’s personal news and goals.


Learn more about Hamilton and what it takes to get accepted.

Discover your chances at hundreds of schools

Our free chancing engine takes into account your history, background, test scores, and extracurricular activities to show you your real chances of admission—and how to improve them.

New York University


Location: New York

Acceptance Rate: 12.8%

Middle 50% SAT/ACT: 1350-1530/31-35

Undergraduate Enrollment: 26,700


Located in the heart of New York City, NYU enjoys a close connection to the city, which gives students plenty to do in terms of work and play. The university has a number of distinctive, exceptional programs and schools, such as the famous Tisch School of the Arts and Stern School of Business. The Gallatin School of Individualized Study, meanwhile, is one the few colleges that allows students to create their own plans of study.


Learn more about NYU and what it takes to get accepted.


Skidmore College


Location: Saratoga Springs

Acceptance Rate: 32%

Middle 50% SAT/ACT: 1250-1390/27-31

Undergraduate Enrollment: 2,600


Skidmore is famous for its natural beauty. The liberal arts college brings together approximately 2,500 students from all over the country and world, who take advantage of internship and research opportunities, extracurriculars and clubs, and, of course, the nationally-ranked academic programs. Frequently noted as a “Best Value” and “Most Entrepreneurial” college, the school offers a number of options, including interdisciplinary courses, to students.


Learn more about Skidmore and what it takes to get accepted.


University of Rochester


Location: Rochester

Acceptance Rate: 30%

Middle 50% SAT/ACT: 620-710 (EBRW); 660-790/29-34

Undergraduate Enrollment: 6,500


Small in undergraduate population but large in spirit, Rochester has numerous programs across schools like the School of Arts & Sciences, the School of Engineering & Applied Sciences, the Eastman School of Music, and Simon Business School. The open curriculum has just one requirement — writing — and students can major in three broad areas (humanities, social sciences, and, natural sciences and engineering), while choosing a themed “cluster.”


Learn more about Rochester and what it takes to get accepted.


Vassar College


Location: Poughkeepsie

Acceptance Rate: 23.5%

Middle 50% SAT/ACT: 1370-1530/31-34

Undergraduate Enrollment: 2,400


Formerly an all-women’s college, today, Vassar is a top coeducational liberal arts college that is considered highly inclusive. Students can choose among 48 departments and programs and 51 majors, as well as an interdisciplinary “design your own” major option. Along with more traditional programs, Vassar is well known for arts-oriented programs across both visual and performing arts disciplines.


Learn more about Vassar and what it takes to get accepted.


Looking for a more affordable option? The State University of New York (SUNY) and City University of New York (CUNY) systems have a number of well-regarded schools offering a range of top programs.


What Are Your Chances of Acceptance?


Each of these New York based schools is highly selective. Your personal odds of admission, however, depend on your unique profile. To find out your personal chances of acceptance to these 10 schools, check out CollegeVine’s chancing engine, which takes into account your real information and profile.


Remember, too, that it’s important to build a balanced school list, including safety, reach, and target schools. The chancing engine can also help you determine which schools fall into which category for you. 


Want more college admissions tips?

We'll send you information to help you throughout the college admissions process.

Short Bio
Laura Berlinsky-Schine is a graduate of Johns Hopkins University, where she majored in Creative Writing and minored in History. She lives in Brooklyn, New York and works as a freelance writer specializing in education. She dreams of having a dog.

Don't miss out on the best high school & college admissions resources!

Join thousands of students and parents getting exclusive high school, test prep, and college admissions information.