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.


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?

Methodology

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 call “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.

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. #3

    Vassar College

    Poughkeepsie , NY
    Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $61K

    Acceptance

    25%

    Graduation

    88%

    Student body

    2K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1445/32

    What is Vassar College known for?

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

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

    Most Influential Alumni

    REQUEST INFO
  2. #5

    Bard College

    Annandale-On-Hudson , NY
    Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $56K

    Acceptance

    57%

    Graduation

    74%

    Student body

    3K

    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

    REQUEST INFO
  3. #8

    Hamilton College

    Clinton , NY

    Tuition + fees

    $59K

    Acceptance

    18%

    Graduation

    91%

    Student body

    2K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1445/33

    What is Hamilton College known for?

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

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

    Most Influential Alumni

    REQUEST INFO
  4. #9

    Brooklyn College

    Brooklyn , NY

    Tuition + fees

    $7K

    Acceptance

    50%

    Graduation

    54%

    Student body

    15K

    What is Brooklyn College known for?

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

    • Psychology
    • Literature
    • Mathematics
    • Philosophy
    • Business
    • History
    • Education
    • Biology
    • Computer Science
    • Political Science
    REQUEST INFO
  5. #10

    Union College

    Schenectady , NY

    Tuition + fees

    $60K

    Acceptance

    41%

    Graduation

    86%

    Student body

    2K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1320/29

    What is Union College known for?

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

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

    Most Influential Alumni

    REQUEST INFO
  6. Tuition + fees

    $9K

    Acceptance

    74%

    Graduation

    61%

    Student body

    4K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1160/26

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

    Most Influential Alumni

    REQUEST INFO
  7. #12

    Hunter College

    New York , NY

    Tuition + fees

    $7K

    Acceptance

    40%

    Graduation

    56%

    Student body

    19K

    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

    REQUEST INFO
  8. Tuition + fees

    $1K

    Acceptance

    24%

    Graduation

    82%

    Student body

    2K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1260/28

    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

    REQUEST INFO
  9. Tuition + fees

    $8K

    Acceptance

    53%

    Graduation

    53%

    Student body

    16K

    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:

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

    Most Influential Alumni

    REQUEST INFO
  10. #15

    Skidmore College

    Saratoga Springs , NY

    Tuition + fees

    $58K

    Acceptance

    32%

    Graduation

    86%

    Student body

    3K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1310/30

    What is Skidmore College known for?

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

    • Literature
    • Education
    • Psychology
    • Business
    • Political Science
    • History
    • Biology
    • Philosophy
    • Chemistry
    • Computer Science
    REQUEST INFO
  11. #16

    Wagner College

    Staten Island , NY

    Tuition + fees

    $50K

    Acceptance

    70%

    Graduation

    73%

    Student body

    2K

    What is Wagner College known for?

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

    • Sociology
    • Literature
    • Medical
    • Education
    • History
    • Nursing
    • Political Science
    • Biology
    • Physics
    • Mathematics
    REQUEST INFO
  12. Tuition + fees

    $59K

    Acceptance

    62%

    Graduation

    77%

    Student body

    2K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1272/28

    What is Hobart and William Smith Colleges known for?

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

    • Education
    • Literature
    • Communications
    • History
    • Biology
    • Political Science
    • Philosophy
    • Chemistry
    • Religious Studies
    • Earth Sciences
    REQUEST INFO
  13. #18

    Manhattan College

    Riverdale , NY
    Other Rankings

    Tuition + fees

    $46K

    Acceptance

    78%

    Graduation

    70%

    Student body

    4K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1170/25

    What is Manhattan College known for?

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

    • Business
    • Engineering
    • Computer Science
    • Literature
    • Education
    • History
    • Medical
    • Political Science
    • Mathematics
    • Communications
    REQUEST INFO
  14. #19

    Marist College

    Poughkeepsie , NY

    Tuition + fees

    $41K

    Acceptance

    55%

    Graduation

    85%

    Student body

    6K

    What is Marist College known for?

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

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

    Most Influential Alumni

    REQUEST INFO
  15. Tuition + fees

    $59K

    Acceptance

    47%

    Graduation

    80%

    Student body

    2K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1265/28

    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

    REQUEST INFO
  16. #21

    Wells College

    Aurora , NY

    Tuition + fees

    $32K

    Acceptance

    64%

    Graduation

    56%

    Student body

    <1K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1095/20

    What is Wells College known for?

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

    • Education
    • Literature
    • Political Science
    • Business
    • History
    • Biology
    • Philosophy
    • Psychology
    • Sociology
    • Mathematics
    REQUEST INFO
  17. #22

    Alfred University

    Alfred , NY

    Tuition + fees

    $33K

    Acceptance

    64%

    Graduation

    61%

    Student body

    2K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1060/22

    What is Alfred University known for?

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

    • Engineering
    • Education
    • Biology
    • Literature
    • Medical
    • History
    • Political Science
    • Psychology
    • Physics
    • Earth Sciences
    REQUEST INFO
  18. #23

    St. Bonaventure University

    Saint Bonaventure , NY

    Tuition + fees

    $37K

    Acceptance

    76%

    Graduation

    74%

    Student body

    2K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1135/22

    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
    • Biology
    • Political Science
    • Philosophy
    • Mathematics
    REQUEST INFO
  19. #24

    Houghton College

    Houghton , NY

    Tuition + fees

    $34K

    Acceptance

    80%

    Graduation

    65%

    Student body

    <1K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1190/24

    What is Houghton College known for?

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

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

    Most Influential Alumni

    REQUEST INFO
  20. #25

    St. Francis College

    Brooklyn Heights , NY

    Tuition + fees

    $27K

    Acceptance

    85%

    Graduation

    54%

    Student body

    3K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1025/21

    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
    • Sociology
    • Chemistry

    Most Influential Alumni

    REQUEST INFO

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