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

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.

Moresee more

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.

Moresee more
New York's Best Public Colleges 2021 badge
Download Badge

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 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.


25 Best Public Colleges & Universities in New York

  1. United States Military Academy
    #1

    United States Military Academy

    #38 institution's overall influence
    #55 overall school desirability

    Acceptance

    11%

    Graduation

    86%

    Student body

    6K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1245/30

    West Point, NY

    View profile

    What is United States Military Academy known for?

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

    • Law
    • History
    • Engineering
    • Business
    • Mathematics
    • Literature
    • Political Science
    • Chemistry
    • Physics

    Most Influential Alumni

  2. Brooklyn College
    #2

    Brooklyn College

    #116 institution's overall influence
    #1381 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $7K

    Acceptance

    44%

    Graduation

    51%

    Student body

    15K

    Brooklyn, NY

    View profile

    What is Brooklyn College known for?

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

    • Psychology
    • Anthropology
    • Political Science
    • Literature
    • Philosophy
    • History
    • Economics
    • Sociology
    • Education
    • Business

    Most Influential Alumni

  3. #3

    Stony Brook University

    #164 institution's overall influence
    #1211 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $10K

    Acceptance

    42%

    Graduation

    72%

    Student body

    24K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1325/28

    Stony Brook, NY

    View profile

    What is Stony Brook University known for?

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

    • Mathematics
    • Physics
    • Biology
    • Sociology
    • Computer Science
    • Religious Studies
    • Chemistry
    • Philosophy
    • Anthropology
    • Psychology

    Most Influential Alumni

  4. State University of New York at Purchase
    #4

    State University of New York at Purchase

    #735 institution's overall influence

    Tuition + fees

    $9K

    Acceptance

    65%

    Graduation

    62%

    Student body

    4K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1165/24

    Purchase, NY

    View profile

    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:

    • Anthropology
    • Economics
    • Philosophy
    • Sociology
    • Political Science
    • Literature
    • Chemistry
    • Education
    • Biology
    • Communications

    Most Influential Alumni

  5. University at Buffalo
    #5

    University at Buffalo

    #98 institution's overall influence
    #1348 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $10K

    Acceptance

    56%

    Graduation

    74%

    Student body

    27K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1245/26

    Buffalo, NY

    View profile

    What is University at Buffalo known for?

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

    • Sociology
    • Anthropology
    • Philosophy
    • Literature
    • Social Work
    • Psychology
    • Economics
    • History
    • Communications
    • Medical

    Most Influential Alumni

  6. Hunter College
    #6

    Hunter College

    #180 institution's overall influence
    #1193 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $7K

    Acceptance

    36%

    Graduation

    53%

    Student body

    19K

    New York, NY

    View profile

    What is Hunter College known for?

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

    • Literature
    • Social Work
    • Philosophy
    • Anthropology
    • History
    • Nursing
    • Education
    • Political Science
    • Mathematics
    • Economics

    Most Influential Alumni

  7. United States Merchant Marine Academy
    #7

    United States Merchant Marine Academy

    #1234 institution's overall influence
    #64 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $1K

    Acceptance

    22%

    Graduation

    76%

    Student body

    1K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1260/28

    Kings Point, NY

    View profile

    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. Binghamton University
    #8

    Binghamton University

    #328 institution's overall influence
    #1143 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $10K

    Acceptance

    40%

    Graduation

    83%

    Student body

    17K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1375/30

    Vestal, NY

    View profile

    What is Binghamton University known for?

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

    • Anthropology
    • Sociology
    • Political Science
    • Philosophy
    • Literature
    • Economics
    • History
    • Psychology
    • Earth Sciences
    • Computer Science

    Most Influential Alumni

  9. Queens College
    #9

    Queens College

    #273 institution's overall influence
    #1468 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $7K

    Acceptance

    48%

    Graduation

    60%

    Student body

    16K

    Queens, NY

    View profile

    What is Queens College known for?

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

    • Anthropology
    • Literature
    • Philosophy
    • Sociology
    • Psychology
    • Biology
    • Mathematics
    • Computer Science
    • Political Science
    • Physics

    Most Influential Alumni

  10. State University of New York at Albany
    #10

    State University of New York at Albany

    #459 institution's overall influence
    #1020 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $10K

    Acceptance

    52%

    Graduation

    66%

    Student body

    16K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1180/24

    Albany, NY

    View profile

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

    State University of New York at Albany's faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Criminal Justice
    • Sociology
    • Chemistry
    • Literature
    • Social Work
    • Physics
    • Political Science
    • Psychology
    • Religious Studies
    • Computer Science

    Most Influential Alumni

  11. State University of New York Maritime College
    #11

    State University of New York Maritime College

    #1551 institution's overall influence
    #1035 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $8K

    Acceptance

    72%

    Graduation

    56%

    Student body

    2K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1167/24

    Throggs Neck, NY

    View profile

    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

  12. State University of New York at Oswego
    #12

    State University of New York at Oswego

    #929 institution's overall influence

    Tuition + fees

    $8K

    Acceptance

    54%

    Graduation

    66%

    Student body

    8K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1155/23

    Oswego, NY

    View profile

    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:

    • Literature
    • Communications
    • Computer Science
    • History
    • Anthropology
    • Philosophy
    • Earth Sciences
    • Business
    • Chemistry
    • Psychology

    Most Influential Alumni

  13. Baruch College
    #13

    Baruch College

    #760 institution's overall influence

    Tuition + fees

    $7K

    Acceptance

    39%

    Graduation

    66%

    Student body

    16K

    New York, NY

    View profile

    What is Baruch College known for?

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

    • Psychology
    • Business
    • Economics
    • Philosophy
    • Sociology
    • Communications
    • Biology
    • Mathematics
    • Education
    • Political Science

    Most Influential Alumni

  14. State University of New York at New Paltz
    #14

    State University of New York at New Paltz

    #1107 institution's overall influence

    Tuition + fees

    $8K

    Acceptance

    41%

    Graduation

    72%

    Student body

    7K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1180/26

    New Paltz, NY

    View profile

    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:

    • Economics
    • Literature
    • Political Science
    • Computer Science
    • Communications
    • Anthropology
    • Earth Sciences
    • Sociology
    • Psychology
    • Social Work

    Most Influential Alumni

  15. State University of New York at Fredonia
    #15

    State University of New York at Fredonia

    #1315 institution's overall influence

    Tuition + fees

    $8K

    Acceptance

    76%

    Graduation

    62%

    Student body

    5K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1070/24

    Fredonia, NY

    View profile

    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:

    • Earth Sciences
    • Literature
    • Education
    • Philosophy
    • Biology
    • Psychology
    • Chemistry
    • Sociology
    • Communications
    • Anthropology

    Most Influential Alumni

  16. State University of New York at Plattsburgh
    #16

    State University of New York at Plattsburgh

    #1956 institution's overall influence

    Tuition + fees

    $8K

    Acceptance

    54%

    Graduation

    63%

    Student body

    5K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1140/23

    Plattsburgh, NY

    View profile

    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:

    • Nursing
    • Philosophy
    • Political Science
    • Communications
    • Literature
    • Chemistry
    • Anthropology
    • Medical
    • Psychology
    • Earth Sciences

    Most Influential Alumni

  17. State University of New York at Oneonta
    #17

    State University of New York at Oneonta

    #2063 institution's overall influence

    Tuition + fees

    $8K

    Acceptance

    51%

    Graduation

    72%

    Student body

    6K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1045/23

    Oneonta, NY

    View profile

    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:

    • Earth Sciences
    • Political Science
    • Chemistry
    • History
    • Business
    • Computer Science
    • Anthropology
    • Literature
    • Criminal Justice
    • Communications

    Most Influential Alumni

  18. State University of New York at Geneseo
    #18

    State University of New York at Geneseo

    #1722 institution's overall influence

    Tuition + fees

    $9K

    Acceptance

    65%

    Graduation

    81%

    Student body

    5K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1210/26

    Geneseo, NY

    View profile

    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:

    • Anthropology
    • Mathematics
    • Physics
    • Sociology
    • Philosophy
    • Literature
    • Communications
    • Political Science
    • Biology
    • Chemistry

    Most Influential Alumni

  19. State University of New York at Cortland
    #19

    State University of New York at Cortland

    #2010 institution's overall influence
    #1311 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $9K

    Acceptance

    44%

    Graduation

    74%

    Student body

    7K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1130/23

    Cortland, NY

    View profile

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

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

    • History
    • Medical
    • Business
    • Anthropology
    • Earth Sciences
    • Psychology
    • Communications
    • Political Science
    • Education

    Most Influential Alumni

  20. State University of New York at Potsdam
    #20

    State University of New York at Potsdam

    #2058 institution's overall influence

    Tuition + fees

    $8K

    Acceptance

    64%

    Graduation

    52%

    Student body

    4K

    Potsdam, NY

    View profile

    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:

    • Earth Sciences
    • Mathematics
    • Sociology
    • Computer Science
    • Biology
    • Chemistry
    • Education
    • Economics
    • Communications
    • History

    Most Influential Alumni

  21. Buffalo State College
    #21

    Buffalo State College

    #1663 institution's overall influence
    #467 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $8K

    Acceptance

    61%

    Graduation

    50%

    Student body

    8K

    Buffalo, NY

    View profile

    What is Buffalo State College known for?

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

    • Anthropology
    • Economics
    • Chemistry
    • Literature
    • History
    • Political Science
    • Education
    • Criminal Justice
    • Biology
    • Business

    Most Influential Alumni

  22. Farmingdale State College
    #22

    Farmingdale State College

    #1693 institution's overall influence
    #238 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $8K

    Acceptance

    46%

    Graduation

    53%

    Student body

    10K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1085/22

    Farmingdale, NY

    View profile

    What is Farmingdale State College known for?

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

    • Computer Science
    • Psychology
    • Biology
    • Communications
    • Criminal Justice
    • Medical
    • Business
    • Sociology

    Most Influential Alumni

  23. State University of New York at Brockport
    #23

    State University of New York at Brockport

    #2268 institution's overall influence
    #1243 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $8K

    Acceptance

    53%

    Graduation

    68%

    Student body

    8K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1100/22

    Brockport, NY

    View profile

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

    State University of New York at Brockport's faculty and alumni have been influential in:

    • Earth Sciences
    • Literature
    • Social Work
    • Sociology
    • Medical
    • Psychology
    • Political Science
    • Physics
    • Anthropology
    • Philosophy

    Most Influential Alumni

  24. Alfred State College
    #24

    Alfred State College

    #6237 institution's overall influence
    #1323 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $9K

    Acceptance

    63%

    Graduation

    56%

    Student body

    4K

    Median SAT/ACT

    1060/22

    Alfred, NY

    View profile

    What is Alfred State College known for?

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

    • Engineering
    • Computer Science
    • Nursing
    • Biology
    • Business
  25. State University of New York at Cobleskill
    #25

    State University of New York at Cobleskill

    #8849 institution's overall influence
    #680 overall school desirability

    Tuition + fees

    $9K

    Acceptance

    77%

    Graduation

    51%

    Student body

    3K

    Cobleskill, NY

    View profile

    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:

    • Social Work
    • Computer Science
    • Biology
    • Education
    • Business
    • Medical

    Most Influential Alumni

Find the best public college for your interests

Anthropology

Biology

Business

Chemistry

Communications

Computer Science

Criminal Justice

Earth Sciences

Economics

Education

Engineering

History

Law

Literature

Mathematics

Medical

Nursing

Philosophy

Physics

Political Science

Psychology

Religious Studies

Social Work

Sociology

Resources for College-Bound Students

Photo By: Ahodges7 - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0