Why This Matters


    New York state has a wide range of colleges. According to College Navigator, New York has 43 public colleges, 148 private non-profit colleges, and 16 private for-profit colleges.


    College Board estimates that the average New York student at a public in-state college paid this amount during the 2020-21 school year.


    During the 2019-20 school year, the average full-time undergraduate student in the U.S. received this sum in financial aid.

Our Research

This list contains a selection of the best colleges in New York state. We reviewed institutions of various sizes, from small liberal arts colleges and midsize colleges to large research institutions. The evaluations were based on tuition fees, credit requirements, and the available formats for coursework (i.e., on-campus or online classes).

To ensure the listed colleges offer a high standard of education, we only included accredited institutions. The majority of the colleges featured are accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE), which defines, maintains, and promotes educational excellence in higher learning across the Mid-Atlantic region, including Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Accreditations also cover distance learning and correspondence programs.

We evaluated each program on the basis of flexibility, faculty, course strength, cost, and reputation. Then we calculated the Intelligent Score for each program on a scale from 0 to 100. For a more extensive explanation, check out Our Ranking Methodology.

  • 61 hours to write this article
  • 201 universities and colleges we assessed
  • 214 education programs we compared

The Top 50 Colleges in New York

Best Colleges In New York
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What You Should Know About Graduating From College in New York

When considering where you’ll attend college, it’s important to know your career options before you arrive. As of October 2020, New York employs the most people in these five industries: education and health services; government; trade, transportation, and utilities; professional and business services; and retail trade. However, other industries outside the top five list still employ a large number of people.

For New Yorkers who have earned their bachelor’s degrees, the top five fastest-growing careers are software developers, operations research analysts, athletic trainers, information security analysts, and library workers.

To get a sense of future employment opportunities available to college graduates, here are some examples of companies that made the list of top 50 largest employers in New York: M&T Bank, Cornell University, Gate Gourmet Inc., Cohen Children’s Medical Center, Petrie Division, and many other companies.

What’s Next?

When researching colleges in New York, it’s important to understand your financial aid options. The following list includes state and federal resources that show students grants, scholarships, and financial aid opportunities available to undergraduate students in New York.

  • New York State Education Department. The New York State Education Department provides information about state-administered financial aid via the Tuition Assistance Program (TAP) as well as state scholarships and loan programs.
  • Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). The U.S. Department of Education’s Federal Student Aid office provides more than $120 billion in financial aid every year. This money is offered in the form of grants, scholarships, and loans. To check your eligibility for aid, visit the FAFSA4caster, and to apply for assistance, complete the online FAFSA application.
  • CareerOneStop. Sponsored by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, CareerOneStop provides a comprehensive database of available scholarships and grants in each state. You can filter this source by degree type and the state where you plan to study. Each entry includes total sum awarded, application deadline, contact details, and other helpful information.