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

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.

Find college admissions consultants in your state.

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

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 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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Best Private Colleges & Universities in New York

  1. #1

    Columbia University

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

    Tuition + fees

    $61K

    Acceptance

    7%

    Graduation

    96%

    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:

    • Literature
    • Biology
    • Law
    • Philosophy
    • Mathematics
    • Political Science
    • Business
    • Medical
    • Economics
    • Communications

    Most Influential Alumni

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  2. #2

    Cornell University

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

    Tuition + fees

    $57K

    Acceptance

    11%

    Graduation

    95%

    Student body

    25K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1480/33

    Ithaca, NY

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    What is Cornell University known for?

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

    • Biology
    • Mathematics
    • Physics
    • Engineering
    • Literature
    • Computer Science
    • Business
    • Philosophy
    • Psychology
    • Law

    Most Influential Alumni

  3. #3

    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

  4. #4

    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

  5. #5

    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

  6. #6

    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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  7. #7

    Yeshiva University

    #148 institution's historical influence
    #136 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $45K

    Acceptance

    67%

    Graduation

    77%

    Student body

    4K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1270/27

    New York, NY

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    What is Yeshiva University known for?

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

    • Medical
    • Biology
    • Law
    • Philosophy
    • Religious Studies
    • Mathematics
    • Education
    • Psychology
    • Literature
    • Physics

    Most Influential Alumni

  8. #8

    New York University

    #17 institution's historical influence
    #44 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $53K

    Acceptance

    21%

    Graduation

    88%

    Student body

    48K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1440/32

    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
    • Mathematics
    • Business
    • Law
    • Philosophy
    • Biology
    • Medical
    • Economics
    • Psychology
    • Computer Science

    Most Influential Alumni

    REQUEST INFO
  9. #9

    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

  10. #10

    The New School

    #132 institution's historical influence
    #1438 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $51K

    Acceptance

    69%

    Graduation

    69%

    Student body

    10K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1265/27

    New York, NY

    View profile

    What is The New School known for?

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

    • Literature
    • Engineering
    • Philosophy
    • Economics
    • Psychology
    • Political Science
    • Business
    • Education
    • Sociology
    • Communications

    Most Influential Alumni

  11. #11

    University of Rochester

    #82 institution's historical influence
    #61 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $56K

    Acceptance

    35%

    Graduation

    86%

    Student body

    11K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1405/32

    Rochester, NY

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    What is University of Rochester known for?

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

    • Biology
    • Physics
    • Medical
    • Computer Science
    • Economics
    • Literature
    • Mathematics
    • Psychology
    • Engineering
    • Business

    Most Influential Alumni

    REQUEST INFO
  12. #12

    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

  13. #13

    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

  14. #14

    Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute

    #205 institution's historical influence
    #1177 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $55K

    Acceptance

    57%

    Graduation

    87%

    Student body

    9K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1390/31

    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
    • Business
    • Biology
    • Chemistry
    • Mathematics
    • Philosophy
    • Medical
    • Psychology

    Most Influential Alumni

  15. #15

    Syracuse University

    #81 institution's historical influence
    #1450 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $52K

    Acceptance

    69%

    Graduation

    83%

    Student body

    23K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1280/28

    Syracuse, NY

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    What is Syracuse University known for?

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

    • Literature
    • Business
    • Political Science
    • Communications
    • Mathematics
    • Philosophy
    • Education
    • Engineering
    • Psychology
    • Physics

    Most Influential Alumni

    REQUEST INFO
  16. #16

    Fordham University

    #169 institution's historical influence
    #66 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $54K

    Acceptance

    53%

    Graduation

    83%

    Student body

    15K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1345/30

    Bronx, NY

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    What is Fordham University known for?

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

    • Law
    • Business
    • Literature
    • Philosophy
    • Education
    • Religious Studies
    • Political Science
    • History
    • Communications
    • Psychology

    Most Influential Alumni

    REQUEST INFO
  17. #17

    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

  18. #18

    Hofstra University

    #442 institution's historical influence
    #850 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $48K

    Acceptance

    69%

    Graduation

    65%

    Student body

    9K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1250/27

    Hempstead, NY

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    What is Hofstra University known for?

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

    • Business
    • Law
    • Literature
    • Education
    • Communications
    • Political Science
    • Medical
    • History
    • Economics
    • Psychology

    Most Influential Alumni

    REQUEST INFO
  19. #19

    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

  20. #20

    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
  21. #21

    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

  22. #22

    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
  23. #23

    Clarkson University

    #937 institution's historical influence
    #413 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $51K

    Acceptance

    78%

    Graduation

    76%

    Student body

    4K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1255/26

    Potsdam, NY

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    What is Clarkson University known for?

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

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

    Most Influential Alumni

  24. #24

    Marist College

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

    Tuition + fees

    $41K

    Acceptance

    55%

    Graduation

    85%

    Student body

    6K

    Poughkeepsie, NY

    View profile

    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
  25. #25

    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

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