New York’s Best Public Colleges and Universities of 2021

Public colleges and universities account for almost 75 percent of all undergraduate students in the U.S. The best public colleges in New York provide broad access to reputable degree programs, affordable tuition, and sprawling educational communities.

New York’s Best Public 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

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 public colleges and universities that offer four-year undergraduate degrees. We’ve identified 41 public universities in New York; 27 of which meet our criteria. The list below of the 25 best public universities in the state satisfies the following four conditions:

  1. It must receive direct funding from the state.
  2. It must be fully accredited.
  3. It offers a broad range of bachelor’s degree programs.
  4. Its graduation rate must be greater than 50%.

How do we determine New York's best public 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 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.

25 Best Public Colleges & Universities in New York

  1. #1

    United States Military Academy

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

    Acceptance

    9%

    Graduation

    85%

    Student body

    6K

    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
  2. #2

    Brooklyn College

    #160 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
    • Mathematics
    • Business
    • Education
    • History
    • Political Science
    • Computer Science
    • Biology

    Most Influential Alumni

  3. #3

    Stony Brook University

    #178 institution's historical influence
    #1211 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $10K

    Acceptance

    49%

    Graduation

    76%

    Student body

    25K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1335/29

    Stony Brook, NY

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    What is Stony Brook University known for?

    Stony Brook University’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Mathematics
    • Biology
    • Physics
    • Computer Science
    • Philosophy
    • Business
    • Engineering
    • Medical
    • Literature
    • Psychology
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  4. #4

    State University of New York at Purchase

    #1220 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
    • Education
    • Communications
    • Biology
    • History
    • Political Science
    • Sociology
    • Anthropology
    • Psychology
    • Philosophy

    Most Influential Alumni

  5. #5

    University at Buffalo

    #176 institution's historical influence
    #1348 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $11K

    Acceptance

    67%

    Graduation

    75%

    Student body

    28K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1250/26

    Buffalo, NY

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    What is University at Buffalo known for?

    University at Buffalo’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Literature
    • Computer Science
    • Philosophy
    • Medical
    • Mathematics
    • Biology
    • Engineering
    • Business
    • Law
    • Communications

    Most Influential Alumni

  6. #6

    Hunter College

    #236 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
    • Medical
    • Mathematics
    • Philosophy
    • Communications
    • Business

    Most Influential Alumni

  7. #7

    United States Merchant Marine Academy

    #1247 institution's historical influence
    #64 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $1K

    Acceptance

    24%

    Graduation

    82%

    Student body

    2K

    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

  8. #8

    Binghamton University

    #340 institution's historical influence
    #1143 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $10K

    Acceptance

    43%

    Graduation

    82%

    Student body

    18K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1360/30

    Vestal, NY

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    What is Binghamton University known for?

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

    • Literature
    • Computer Science
    • Political Science
    • Mathematics
    • History
    • Biology
    • Philosophy
    • Education
    • Engineering
    • Sociology

    Most Influential Alumni

  9. #9

    Queens College, City University of New York

    #387 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:

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

    Most Influential Alumni

  10. #10

    University at Albany, SUNY

    #437 institution's historical influence
    #1020 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $10K

    Acceptance

    57%

    Graduation

    65%

    Student body

    16K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1170/25

    Albany, NY

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    What is University at Albany, SUNY known for?

    University at Albany, SUNY’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

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

    Most Influential Alumni

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  11. #11

    State University of New York Maritime College

    #2103 institution's historical influence
    #1035 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $9K

    Acceptance

    73%

    Graduation

    72%

    Student body

    2K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1175/25

    Throggs Neck, NY

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    What is State University of New York Maritime College known for?

    State University of New York Maritime College’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Engineering
    • Business

    Most Influential Alumni

    REQUEST INFO
  12. #12

    State University of New York at Oswego

    #1289 institution's historical influence

    Tuition + fees

    $9K

    Acceptance

    69%

    Graduation

    65%

    Student body

    7K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1155/23

    Oswego, NY

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

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

    • Business
    • Literature
    • Computer Science
    • Communications
    • Education
    • Medical
    • History
    • Political Science
    • Biology
    • Earth Sciences
  13. #13

    Baruch College

    #472 institution's historical influence

    Tuition + fees

    $7K

    Acceptance

    41%

    Graduation

    73%

    Student body

    16K

    New York, NY

    View profile

    What is Baruch College known for?

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

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

    Most Influential Alumni

  14. #14

    State University of New York at New Paltz

    #1571 institution's historical influence

    Tuition + fees

    $8K

    Acceptance

    62%

    Graduation

    76%

    Student body

    7K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1185/25

    New Paltz, NY

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

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

    • Political Science
    • Business
    • Education
    • Literature
    • History
    • Communications
    • Earth Sciences
    • Computer Science
    • Engineering
    • Mathematics
  15. #15

    State University of New York at Fredonia

    #1579 institution's historical influence

    Tuition + fees

    $8K

    Acceptance

    72%

    Graduation

    62%

    Student body

    5K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1095/22

    Fredonia, NY

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

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

    • Education
    • Literature
    • Biology
    • Communications
    • Political Science
    • History
    • Business
    • Medical
    • Computer Science
    • Earth Sciences

    Most Influential Alumni

  16. #16

    State University of New York at Plattsburgh

    #2121 institution's historical influence

    Tuition + fees

    $9K

    Acceptance

    61%

    Graduation

    67%

    Student body

    5K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1080/22

    Plattsburgh, NY

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

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

    • Business
    • Education
    • Literature
    • Communications
    • Political Science
    • Computer Science
    • History
    • Medical
    • Earth Sciences
    • Biology

    Most Influential Alumni

    REQUEST INFO
  17. #17

    State University of New York at Oneonta

    #2216 institution's historical influence

    Tuition + fees

    $9K

    Acceptance

    63%

    Graduation

    76%

    Student body

    6K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1080/23

    Oneonta, NY

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

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

    • Business
    • Education
    • Political Science
    • Earth Sciences
    • Medical
    • History
    • Biology
    • Literature
    • Economics
    • Communications

    Most Influential Alumni

    REQUEST INFO
  18. #18

    State University of New York at Geneseo

    #1782 institution's historical influence

    Tuition + fees

    $9K

    Acceptance

    61%

    Graduation

    78%

    Student body

    5K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1215/25

    Geneseo, NY

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

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

    • Education
    • Mathematics
    • Literature
    • History
    • Biology
    • Earth Sciences
    • Psychology
    • Political Science
    • Anthropology
    • Communications

    Most Influential Alumni

  19. #19

    State University of New York College at Cortland

    #4287 institution's historical influence
    #1311 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $9K

    Acceptance

    52%

    Graduation

    67%

    Student body

    7K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1160/23

    Cortland, NY

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    What is State University of New York College at Cortland known for?

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

    • Business
    • Education
    • History
    • Political Science
    • Medical
    • Literature
    • Communications
    • Anthropology
    • Biology
    • Earth Sciences

    Most Influential Alumni

    REQUEST INFO
  20. #20

    State University of New York at Potsdam

    #3172 institution's historical influence

    Tuition + fees

    $9K

    Acceptance

    72%

    Graduation

    50%

    Student body

    3K

    Potsdam, NY

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

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

    • Education
    • Literature
    • Business
    • Mathematics
    • History
    • Medical
    • Earth Sciences
    • Computer Science
    • Biology
    • Political Science

    Most Influential Alumni

  21. #21

    Buffalo State College

    #1937 institution's historical influence
    #467 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $8K

    Acceptance

    80%

    Graduation

    40%

    Student body

    8K

    Median SAT/ACT

    980/20

    Buffalo, NY

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    What is Buffalo State College known for?

    Buffalo State College’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Education
    • Business
    • Political Science
    • History
    • Medical
    • Literature
    • Biology
    • Engineering
    • Chemistry
    • Earth Sciences

    Most Influential Alumni

  22. #22

    Farmingdale State College

    #2217 institution's historical influence
    #238 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $8K

    Acceptance

    60%

    Graduation

    53%

    Student body

    9K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1070/21

    Farmingdale, NY

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    What is Farmingdale State College known for?

    Farmingdale State College’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Biology
    • Computer Science
    • Business
    • Mathematics
    • Criminal Justice
    • Medical
    • Nursing
    • Psychology
    • Economics
    • Communications
  23. #23

    The College at Brockport, State University of New York

    #2087 institution's historical influence
    #1243 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $9K

    Acceptance

    58%

    Graduation

    66%

    Student body

    7K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1100/21

    Brockport, NY

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    What is The College at Brockport, State University of New York known for?

    The College at Brockport, State University of New York’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Literature
    • Communications
    • Philosophy
    • Psychology
    • Medical
    • Education
    • Computer Science
    • Mathematics
    • History
    • Earth Sciences

    Most Influential Alumni

    REQUEST INFO
  24. #24

    Alfred State College

    #3033 institution's historical influence
    #1323 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $9K

    Acceptance

    72%

    Graduation

    58%

    Student body

    4K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1055/21

    Alfred, NY

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    What is Alfred State College known for?

    Alfred State College’s faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Business
    • Engineering
    • Medical
    • Computer Science
    • Biology
    • Nursing
    • Criminal Justice
    • Sociology

    Most Influential Alumni

  25. #25

    State University of New York at Cobleskill

    #4408 institution's historical influence
    #680 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $9K

    Acceptance

    80%

    Graduation

    43%

    Student body

    2K

    Median SAT/ACT

    995/20

    Cobleskill, NY

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

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

    • Education
    • Biology
    • Medical
    • Business
    • Psychology
    • Computer Science
    • Communications
    • Social Work
    • Sociology

    Most Influential Alumni

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