New York’s Best Liberal Arts Colleges and Universities of 2021

Liberal arts colleges are a great option for students seeking a well-rounded education in an intimate campus setting. The best liberal arts colleges in New York offer a diverse selection of degree programs with opportunities for a highly individualized educational experience.

New York’s Best Liberal Arts Colleges and Universities of 2021

Colleges and Universities in New York

On average, tuition at New York’s higher education institutes comes in well-below the national average at about $7,900. Students have nearly 80 public school options to choose from, ranging in fees from $1,000 at the United States Merchant Marine Academy up to $10,000 at the University at Buffalo, the largest public university. However, some of the state’s private schools, such as New York University (NYU), charge tuition fees at a much higher cost.

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Although tuition fees at NYU average $52,000, students who attend this school have access to some of the best programs in fields like literature, business, medicine, communications, and law. The school also boasts famous alumni like Whoopi Goldberg and Jonas Salk. New York also offers close to 40 religiously affiliated schools. Students can expect to pay a wide range of tuition costs at these schools, but have the option to major in fields like social work, law, religious studies, business, and nursing.

They say New York is a place where dreams come true. Here, fashion, culture, food, business, art, and many languages comfortably coexist. While The Empire State’s metropolitan landmarks, like the iconic Brooklyn Bridge, are noteworthy, many forget New York also offers access to the Great Lakes, the Atlantic Ocean, and countless cozy cabins tucked away in the verdant Catskills Mountains. Additionally, New York is home to over 200 colleges and universities, making it easy for students to dream big while earning their degrees.

Explore some of the top programs New York higher education institutes have to offer, and make your educational and personal dreams come true.

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What are New York’s Colleges & Universities?

New York’s Best Overall

Related: Differences between research universities and teaching colleges

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How do we determine New York's best colleges and universities?

The people affiliated with a school are ultimately what make it great. This is why, at the undergraduate level, we rank the best colleges and universities based on what we “Concentrated Influence”. Concentrated Influence takes the combined influence score of a college or university’s top academic influencers (including faculty and alums) and divides it by the school’s total number of undergraduates.

Using concentrated influence gives small and mid-sized schools an opportunity to shine by taking away the size advantage of larger universities. A small school with proportionately more influential faculty than a large school, whose influence in absolute terms may be bigger, will nonetheless score higher in a concentrated influence ranking. Our approach highlights undergraduate schools that truly rank for excellence, regardless of size.

If you are serious about finding the best colleges and universities for a bachelor’s degree, you should be asking where the most influential professors are teaching and whether their graduates are themselves advancing the school’s reputation for academic excellence.

Most ranking sites rely on an opaque combination of reputation surveys and arbitrary performance metrics. Concentrated Influence provides a ranking that is free from bias, insulated from manipulation, and reflective of real-world educational outcomes.

Find out more about our ranking methodology here.

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25 Best Liberal Arts Colleges in New York

A liberal arts college is a school that puts a premium on undergraduate studies and offers a broad range of subjects for students to study. A college of liberal arts typically provides smaller class sizes, more direct engagement with professors, and, most importantly, the opportunity to sample a wide range of subject areas on the way to a bachelor’s degree. We’ve identified a total of 93 liberal arts colleges and universities in New York, 65 of which meet our criteria. The list below of the 25 best liberal arts schools in the state satisfies the following four conditions:

  1. It must be a non-profit institution.
  2. It must be fully accredited.
  3. It must offer a broad range of bachelor’s degrees.
  4. It must have a graduation rate of greater than 50%.

  1. #1

    Sarah Lawrence College

    #402 institution's historical influence
    #1422 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $58K

    Acceptance

    55%

    Graduation

    72%

    Student body

    2K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1331/29

    Bronxville, NY

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    What is Sarah Lawrence College known for?

    Sarah Lawrence College’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Education
    • Medical
    • Sociology
    • Social Work

    Most Influential Alumni

  2. #2

    Barnard College

    #190 institution's historical influence
    #65 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $58K

    Acceptance

    14%

    Graduation

    90%

    Student body

    3K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1430/32

    New York, NY

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    What is Barnard College known for?

    Barnard College’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Literature
    • Political Science
    • Philosophy
    • Anthropology
    • History
    • Mathematics
    • Biology
    • Economics
    • Psychology
    • Sociology

    Most Influential Alumni

  3. #3

    Vassar College

    #175 institution's historical influence
    #88 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $59K

    Acceptance

    25%

    Graduation

    88%

    Student body

    2K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1445/32

    Poughkeepsie, NY

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    What is Vassar College known for?

    Vassar College’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Literature
    • Computer Science
    • Education
    • Psychology
    • Philosophy
    • History
    • Communications
    • Mathematics
    • Physics
    • Biology

    Most Influential Alumni

  4. #4

    Cooper Union

    #271 institution's historical influence
    #62 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $47K

    Acceptance

    18%

    Graduation

    79%

    Student body

    1K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1417/32

    New York, NY

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    What is Cooper Union known for?

    Cooper Union’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Engineering

    Most Influential Alumni

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  5. #5

    Bard College

    #337 institution's historical influence
    #998 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $56K

    Acceptance

    57%

    Graduation

    74%

    Student body

    2K

    Annandale-On-Hudson, NY

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    What is Bard College known for?

    Bard College’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Literature
    • Education
    • Economics
    • History
    • Biology
    • Sociology

    Most Influential Alumni

  6. #6

    United States Military Academy

    #100 institution's historical influence
    #55 overall school desirability

    Acceptance

    9%

    Graduation

    85%

    Student body

    5K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1270/27

    West Point, NY

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    What is United States Military Academy known for?

    United States Military Academy’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Literature
    • Engineering
    • Business
    • Law
    • Political Science
    • History
    • Biology
    • Mathematics
    • Philosophy
    • Computer Science

    Most Influential Alumni

  7. #7

    Colgate University

    #411 institution's historical influence
    #42 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $58K

    Acceptance

    27%

    Graduation

    91%

    Student body

    3K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1415/32

    Hamilton, NY

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    What is Colgate University known for?

    Colgate University’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Literature
    • Biology
    • Education
    • Philosophy
    • Political Science
    • History
    • Psychology
    • Religious Studies
    • Physics
    • Computer Science

    Most Influential Alumni

  8. #8

    Hamilton College

    #412 institution's historical influence
    #85 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $57K

    Acceptance

    18%

    Graduation

    91%

    Student body

    2K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1445/33

    Clinton, NY

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    What is Hamilton College known for?

    Hamilton College’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Literature
    • Psychology
    • Philosophy
    • Biology
    • Economics
    • Religious Studies
    • History
    • Political Science
    • Mathematics
    • Earth Sciences

    Most Influential Alumni

  9. #9

    Brooklyn College

    #146 institution's historical influence
    #1381 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $7K

    Acceptance

    50%

    Graduation

    54%

    Student body

    15K

    Brooklyn, NY

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    What is Brooklyn College known for?

    Brooklyn College’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Psychology
    • Literature
    • Philosophy
    • Business
    • Mathematics
    • History
    • Education
    • Political Science
    • Biology
    • Computer Science

    Most Influential Alumni

  10. #10

    Union College

    #311 institution's historical influence
    #188 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $57K

    Acceptance

    41%

    Graduation

    86%

    Student body

    2K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1320/29

    Schenectady, NY

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    What is Union College known for?

    Union College’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Engineering
    • Business
    • Literature
    • History
    • Psychology
    • Biology
    • Computer Science
    • Mathematics
    • Political Science
    • Anthropology

    Most Influential Alumni

  11. #11

    State University of New York at Purchase

    #1207 institution's historical influence

    Tuition + fees

    $9K

    Acceptance

    74%

    Graduation

    61%

    Student body

    4K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1160/26

    Purchase, NY

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    What is State University of New York at Purchase known for?

    State University of New York at Purchase’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Literature
    • Communications
    • Education
    • Biology
    • History
    • Political Science
    • Sociology
    • Anthropology
    • Philosophy
    • Psychology

    Most Influential Alumni

  12. #12

    Hunter College

    #226 institution's historical influence
    #1193 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $7K

    Acceptance

    40%

    Graduation

    56%

    Student body

    19K

    New York, NY

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    What is Hunter College known for?

    Hunter College’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Literature
    • Education
    • Biology
    • History
    • Political Science
    • Mathematics
    • Medical
    • Philosophy
    • Communications
    • Business

    Most Influential Alumni

  13. #13

    United States Merchant Marine Academy

    #1246 institution's historical influence
    #64 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $1K

    Acceptance

    24%

    Graduation

    82%

    Student body

    1K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1260/28

    Kings Point, NY

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    What is United States Merchant Marine Academy known for?

    United States Merchant Marine Academy’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Engineering

    Most Influential Alumni

  14. #14

    Queens College, City University of New York

    #377 institution's historical influence
    #1468 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $8K

    Acceptance

    53%

    Graduation

    53%

    Student body

    16K

    Queens, NY

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    What is Queens College, City University of New York known for?

    Queens College, City University of New York’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Literature
    • Biology
    • Psychology
    • Business
    • Mathematics
    • Philosophy
    • Computer Science
    • Political Science
    • Education
    • Anthropology

    Most Influential Alumni

  15. #15

    Skidmore College

    #1118 institution's historical influence
    #123 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $56K

    Acceptance

    32%

    Graduation

    86%

    Student body

    3K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1310/30

    Saratoga Springs, NY

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    What is Skidmore College known for?

    Skidmore College’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Literature
    • Education
    • Psychology
    • Business
    • Political Science
    • History
    • Biology
    • Chemistry
    • Philosophy
    • Computer Science

    Most Influential Alumni

  16. #16

    Wagner College

    #1355 institution's historical influence
    #718 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $48K

    Acceptance

    70%

    Graduation

    73%

    Student body

    2K

    Staten Island, NY

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    What is Wagner College known for?

    Wagner College’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Literature
    • Sociology
    • Education
    • Medical
    • History
    • Nursing
    • Political Science
    • Physics
    • Mathematics
    • Chemistry

    Most Influential Alumni

    REQUEST INFO
  17. #17

    Hobart and William Smith Colleges

    #768 institution's historical influence
    #1302 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $57K

    Acceptance

    62%

    Graduation

    77%

    Student body

    2K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1272/28

    Geneva, NY

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    What is Hobart and William Smith Colleges known for?

    Hobart and William Smith Colleges’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Education
    • Literature
    • Biology
    • History
    • Political Science
    • Communications
    • Philosophy
    • Chemistry
    • Religious Studies
    • Earth Sciences

    Most Influential Alumni

  18. #18

    Manhattan College

    #668 institution's historical influence
    #352 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $45K

    Acceptance

    78%

    Graduation

    70%

    Student body

    4K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1170/25

    Riverdale, NY

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    What is Manhattan College known for?

    Manhattan College’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Business
    • Engineering
    • Computer Science
    • Literature
    • Education
    • History
    • Political Science
    • Medical
    • Communications
    • Religious Studies

    Most Influential Alumni

    REQUEST INFO
  19. #19

    Marist College

    #1741 institution's historical influence
    #234 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $41K

    Acceptance

    55%

    Graduation

    85%

    Student body

    6K

    Poughkeepsie, NY

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    What is Marist College known for?

    Marist College’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Education
    • Business
    • Communications
    • History
    • Political Science
    • Medical
    • Computer Science
    • Literature
    • Criminal Justice
    • Religious Studies

    Most Influential Alumni

    REQUEST INFO
  20. #20

    St. Lawrence University

    #1038 institution's historical influence

    Tuition + fees

    $57K

    Acceptance

    47%

    Graduation

    80%

    Student body

    3K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1265/28

    Canton, NY

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    What is St. Lawrence University known for?

    St. Lawrence University’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Business
    • Education
    • Literature
    • Biology
    • Economics
    • History
    • Communications
    • Political Science
    • Philosophy
    • Chemistry

    Most Influential Alumni

  21. #21

    Wells College

    #1491 institution's historical influence
    #880 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $31K

    Acceptance

    64%

    Graduation

    56%

    Student body

    <1K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1095/20

    Aurora, NY

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    What is Wells College known for?

    Wells College’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Education
    • Literature
    • Political Science
    • Business
    • History
    • Philosophy
    • Psychology
    • Biology
    • Sociology
    • Mathematics

    Most Influential Alumni

  22. #22

    Alfred University

    #1208 institution's historical influence
    #430 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $31K

    Acceptance

    64%

    Graduation

    61%

    Student body

    3K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1060/22

    Alfred, NY

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    What is Alfred University known for?

    Alfred University’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Engineering
    • Education
    • Biology
    • Literature
    • History
    • Psychology
    • Political Science
    • Earth Sciences
    • Physics
    • Communications

    Most Influential Alumni

  23. #23

    St. Bonaventure University

    #1075 institution's historical influence
    #881 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $35K

    Acceptance

    76%

    Graduation

    74%

    Student body

    2K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1135/22

    Saint Bonaventure, NY

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    What is St. Bonaventure University known for?

    St. Bonaventure University’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Religious Studies
    • Communications
    • Literature
    • Education
    • Medical
    • History
    • Political Science
    • Biology
    • Philosophy
    • Mathematics

    Most Influential Alumni

  24. #24

    Houghton College

    #1459 institution's historical influence
    #1121 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $33K

    Acceptance

    80%

    Graduation

    65%

    Student body

    1K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1190/24

    Houghton, NY

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    What is Houghton College known for?

    Houghton College’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Computer Science
    • Religious Studies
    • Education
    • Sociology
    • Business
    • History
    • Engineering
    • Physics
    • Literature
    • Chemistry

    Most Influential Alumni

    REQUEST INFO
  25. #25

    St. Francis College

    #2159 institution's historical influence
    #761 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $26K

    Acceptance

    85%

    Graduation

    54%

    Student body

    2K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1025/21

    Brooklyn Heights, NY

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    What is St. Francis College known for?

    St. Francis College’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Business
    • Medical
    • Education
    • History
    • Political Science
    • Psychology
    • Literature
    • Biology
    • Chemistry
    • Sociology

    Most Influential Alumni

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