New York’s Best Private Colleges and Universities of 2021

Private colleges, unlike large public institutions, can be a great option for students wanting a more intimate campus experience, more personal attention from excellent professors, and more immediate access to support services. Here is our list of the best private colleges in New York.

New York’s Best Private Colleges and Universities of 2021

Colleges and Universities in New York

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.

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. 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.

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 is a public college? And what is the difference between a private and public college?

Public and private colleges and universities operate under different business models — one is a private company with private funding; the other is owned by the state and receives both state and federal funding to operate. If you’re weighing the pros and cons of private vs. public college, consider that many public colleges provide diverse course offerings, influential professors, and an excellent return on your investment.

Public colleges are schools that receive most of their funding from tax revenues. As a result, the cost of a four-year degree at a public university is often lower than the equivalent cost at a private college — especially for students attending a public school in their home state. According to the National Center for Educational Statistics, the average annual cost (tuition, fees, room and board for full-time students) at a four-year public university was slightly over $20,000. In contrast, private universities cost, on average, nearly $43,000 annually.

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This list is composed entirely of private colleges and universities that offer four-year undergraduate degrees. We’ve identified 80 private universities in New York; 61 of which meet our criteria. The list below of the 25 best private universities in the state satisfies the following four conditions:

  1. It must be a private, 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%.

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

The best colleges pound for pound!

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.

Find out more about our ranking methodology here.


Best Private Colleges & Universities in New York

  1. Columbia University
    #1

    Columbia University

    #3 institution's overall influence
    #6 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $53K

    Acceptance

    6%

    Graduation

    95%

    Student body

    28K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1505/34

    New York, NY

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    What is Columbia University known for?

    Columbia University's faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Anthropology
    • Social Work
    • Nursing
    • Literature
    • Communications
    • Law
    • Business
    • Education
    • History
    • Philosophy

    Most Influential Alumni

  2. Cornell University
    #2

    Cornell University

    #14 institution's overall influence
    #14 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $55K

    Acceptance

    11%

    Graduation

    94%

    Student body

    24K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1465/33

    Ithaca, NY

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    What is Cornell University known for?

    Cornell University's faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Engineering
    • Physics
    • Anthropology
    • Biology
    • Literature
    • Computer Science
    • Medical
    • Mathematics
    • Psychology
    • Chemistry

    Most Influential Alumni

  3. Sarah Lawrence College
    #3

    Sarah Lawrence College

    #239 institution's overall influence
    #1422 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $56K

    Acceptance

    56%

    Graduation

    82%

    Student body

    2K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1330/29

    Bronxville, NY

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    What is Sarah Lawrence College known for?

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

    • Social Work
    • Education
    • Sociology
    • Medical

    Most Influential Alumni

  4. Barnard College
    #4

    Barnard College

    #125 institution's overall influence
    #65 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $55K

    Acceptance

    14%

    Graduation

    91%

    Student body

    3K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1415/31

    New York, NY

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    What is Barnard College known for?

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

    • Anthropology
    • Literature
    • Sociology
    • Economics
    • Political Science
    • Religious Studies
    • History
    • Mathematics
    • Physics
    • Psychology

    Most Influential Alumni

  5. Vassar College
    #5

    Vassar College

    #139 institution's overall influence
    #88 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $57K

    Acceptance

    25%

    Graduation

    91%

    Student body

    2K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1440/32

    Poughkeepsie, NY

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    What is Vassar College known for?

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

    • Anthropology
    • Literature
    • Psychology
    • Education
    • Earth Sciences
    • Computer Science
    • History
    • Philosophy
    • Sociology
    • Chemistry

    Most Influential Alumni

  6. Cooper Union
    #6

    Cooper Union

    #312 institution's overall influence
    #62 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $47K

    Acceptance

    16%

    Graduation

    90%

    Student body

    1K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1396/32

    New York, NY

    View profile

    What is Cooper Union known for?

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

    • Engineering

    Most Influential Alumni

  7. Yeshiva University
    #7

    Yeshiva University

    #212 institution's overall influence
    #136 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $44K

    Acceptance

    60%

    Graduation

    82%

    Student body

    4K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1270/26

    New York, NY

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    What is Yeshiva University known for?

    Yeshiva University's faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Medical
    • Religious Studies
    • Social Work
    • Law
    • Physics
    • Biology
    • Philosophy
    • Mathematics
    • Psychology
    • Education

    Most Influential Alumni

  8. New York University
    #8

    New York University

    #16 institution's overall influence
    #44 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $52K

    Acceptance

    20%

    Graduation

    85%

    Student body

    47K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1410/31

    New York, NY

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    What is New York University known for?

    New York University's faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Literature
    • Medical
    • Business
    • Social Work
    • Law
    • Education
    • History
    • Philosophy
    • Nursing
    • Communications

    Most Influential Alumni

  9. Bard College
    #9

    Bard College

    #300 institution's overall influence
    #998 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $55K

    Acceptance

    65%

    Graduation

    78%

    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
    • History
    • Economics
    • Education
    • Sociology
    • Biology

    Most Influential Alumni

  10. The New School
    #10

    The New School

    #95 institution's overall influence
    #1438 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $49K

    Acceptance

    57%

    Graduation

    68%

    Student body

    10K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1255/27

    New York, NY

    View profile

    What is The New School known for?

    The New School's faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Sociology
    • Anthropology
    • Literature
    • Philosophy
    • Education
    • History
    • Business
    • Economics
    • Psychology
    • Communications

    Most Influential Alumni

  11. University of Rochester
    #11

    University of Rochester

    #91 institution's overall influence
    #61 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $54K

    Acceptance

    29%

    Graduation

    85%

    Student body

    11K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1410/32

    Rochester, NY

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    What is University of Rochester known for?

    University of Rochester's faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Physics
    • Economics
    • Biology
    • Political Science
    • Chemistry
    • Medical
    • Mathematics
    • Computer Science
    • Psychology
    • Philosophy

    Most Influential Alumni

  12. Colgate University
    #12

    Colgate University

    #278 institution's overall influence
    #42 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $56K

    Acceptance

    25%

    Graduation

    90%

    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
    • Philosophy
    • Religious Studies
    • Biology
    • Physics
    • Political Science
    • Anthropology
    • Computer Science
    • Education
    • History

    Most Influential Alumni

  13. Hamilton College
    #13

    Hamilton College

    #324 institution's overall influence
    #85 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $55K

    Acceptance

    21%

    Graduation

    92%

    Student body

    2K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1430/32

    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
    • Mathematics
    • Economics
    • History
    • Anthropology
    • Biology
    • Political Science
    • Sociology

    Most Influential Alumni

  14. Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
    #14

    Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute

    #186 institution's overall influence
    #1177 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $54K

    Acceptance

    43%

    Graduation

    83%

    Student body

    8K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1415/31

    Troy, NY

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    What is Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute known for?

    Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute's faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Engineering
    • Computer Science
    • Physics
    • Chemistry
    • Earth Sciences
    • Communications
    • Mathematics
    • Business
    • Biology
    • Economics

    Most Influential Alumni

  15. Syracuse University
    #15

    Syracuse University

    #87 institution's overall influence
    #1450 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $52K

    Acceptance

    50%

    Graduation

    82%

    Student body

    23K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1275/27

    Syracuse, NY

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    What is Syracuse University known for?

    Syracuse University's faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Communications
    • Business
    • Political Science
    • History
    • Social Work
    • Literature
    • Physics
    • Religious Studies
    • Philosophy
    • Mathematics

    Most Influential Alumni

  16. Fordham University
    #16

    Fordham University

    #175 institution's overall influence
    #66 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $52K

    Acceptance

    46%

    Graduation

    80%

    Student body

    15K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1340/30

    Bronx, NY

    View profile

    What is Fordham University known for?

    Fordham University's faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Social Work
    • Religious Studies
    • Communications
    • Law
    • Philosophy
    • Business
    • Literature
    • Sociology
    • Education
    • History

    Most Influential Alumni

  17. Union College
    #17

    Union College

    #292 institution's overall influence
    #188 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $55K

    Acceptance

    39%

    Graduation

    87%

    Student body

    2K

    Schenectady, NY

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    What is Union College known for?

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

    • Business
    • Engineering
    • Anthropology
    • Physics
    • History
    • Sociology
    • Mathematics
    • Philosophy
    • Chemistry
    • Computer Science

    Most Influential Alumni

  18. Hofstra University
    #18

    Hofstra University

    #485 institution's overall influence
    #850 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $46K

    Acceptance

    63%

    Graduation

    64%

    Student body

    10K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1240/27

    Hempstead, NY

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    What is Hofstra University known for?

    Hofstra University's faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Anthropology
    • Literature
    • Business
    • Communications
    • Law
    • Criminal Justice
    • Computer Science
    • Psychology
    • Political Science
    • Economics

    Most Influential Alumni

  19. Skidmore College
    #19

    Skidmore College

    #1025 institution's overall influence
    #123 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $54K

    Acceptance

    27%

    Graduation

    89%

    Student body

    3K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1311/29

    Saratoga Springs, NY

    View profile

    What is Skidmore College known for?

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

    • Social Work
    • Sociology
    • Religious Studies
    • Psychology
    • Anthropology
    • Literature
    • Computer Science
    • Physics
    • Biology
    • Earth Sciences

    Most Influential Alumni

  20. Wagner College
    #20

    Wagner College

    #699 institution's overall influence
    #718 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $47K

    Acceptance

    70%

    Graduation

    67%

    Student body

    2K

    Staten Island, NY

    View profile

    What is Wagner College known for?

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

    • Sociology
    • Anthropology
    • Psychology
    • Philosophy
    • Literature
    • Economics
    • Political Science
    • Nursing
    • History
    • Physics

    Most Influential Alumni

  21. Hobart and William Smith Colleges
    #21

    Hobart and William Smith Colleges

    #666 institution's overall influence
    #1302 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $55K

    Acceptance

    57%

    Graduation

    77%

    Student body

    2K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1245/27

    Geneva, NY

    View profile

    What is Hobart and William Smith Colleges known for?

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

    • Communications
    • Chemistry
    • Political Science
    • Earth Sciences
    • Economics
    • Mathematics
    • Biology
    • Religious Studies
    • Education
    • Computer Science

    Most Influential Alumni

  22. Manhattan College
    #22

    Manhattan College

    #651 institution's overall influence
    #352 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $43K

    Acceptance

    75%

    Graduation

    71%

    Student body

    4K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1165/25

    Riverdale, NY

    View profile

    What is Manhattan College known for?

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

    • Computer Science
    • Religious Studies
    • Physics
    • Engineering
    • Business
    • Medical
    • Psychology
    • Economics
    • Communications
    • Social Work

    Most Influential Alumni

  23. Clarkson University
    #23

    Clarkson University

    #973 institution's overall influence
    #413 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $49K

    Acceptance

    71%

    Graduation

    71%

    Student body

    4K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1255/27

    Potsdam, NY

    View profile

    What is Clarkson University known for?

    Clarkson University's faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Computer Science
    • Engineering
    • Chemistry
    • Mathematics
    • Physics
    • Communications
    • History
    • Business
    • Biology
    • Education

    Most Influential Alumni

  24. Marist College
    #24

    Marist College

    #1051 institution's overall influence
    #234 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $38K

    Acceptance

    46%

    Graduation

    83%

    Student body

    6K

    Poughkeepsie, NY

    View profile

    What is Marist College known for?

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

    • Criminal Justice
    • Communications
    • Political Science
    • Computer Science
    • Psychology
    • Business
    • Social Work
    • Economics
    • History
    • Medical

    Most Influential Alumni

  25. St. Lawrence University
    #25

    St. Lawrence University

    #862 institution's overall influence

    Tuition + fees

    $55K

    Acceptance

    46%

    Graduation

    84%

    Student body

    2K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1272/28

    Canton, NY

    View profile

    What is St. Lawrence University known for?

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

    • Earth Sciences
    • Political Science
    • Economics
    • History
    • Business
    • Literature
    • Biology
    • Chemistry
    • Sociology
    • Communications

    Most Influential Alumni

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