University of Rochester
#91 Overall Influence#61 Desirability Rank

University of Rochester

Private, nonsectarian, research university in Rochester, New York, United States

By James Barham, PhD

The University of Rochester traces its roots to the Baptist Education Society of the State of New York, founded in 1817 in the town of Hamilton in central New York state. Its primary function was to train Baptist clergymen. In 1823, the educational society changed its name to the Hamilton Literary and Theological Institution.

In 1846, the Hamilton Institution created a new collegiate division, under the name of Madison University, for the purpose of providing its students with a broader and more-modern, non-theological curriculum. In 1890, Madison University changed its name to Colgate University, which continues to operate in Hamilton to this day.

At the time of the founding of Madison University in 1846, there was a dispute, which led to the departure of many faculty members for a new university that was being planned in the city of Rochester, farther west, near the shore of Lake Ontario. The new school, named the University of Rochester, was finally chartered in 1850, which is usually considered as the date of the school’s founding, in spite of the fact that many of the faculty members had come directly from Madison University.

The first year’s enrollment was very small, comprising some 60 students—28 of whom had also transferred from Madison University. Today, the University of Rochester is a private, secular, research university with a total student population of more than 12,000.

Among Rochester’s many highly esteemed schools, colleges, and institutes, the following are especially worthy of mention: the Laboratory of Laser Energetics; the Institute of Optics; and the Eastman School of Music, which is among the finest music programs in the country.

Twelve Nobel laureates have been associated with the University of Rochester, namely,


  • Gérard Mourou
  • Donna Strickland
  • Masatoshi Koshiba
  • Steven Chu


  • Biochemist, Vincent du Vigneaud

Physiology or Medicine–

  • George Whipple
  • Henrik Dam
  • D. Carleton Gajdusek
  • Arthur Kornberg


  • Richard Thaler
  • Paul Romer
  • Robert Fogel

Other distinguished Rochester-connected individuals include the following:

  • Mathematician, Arthur J. Lohwater
  • Computer scientists, Stan Frankel, Avie Tevanian, Bruce Schneier, Corinna Cortes & J.C.R. Licklider
  • Philosophers, Myles Brand & Peter van Inwagen
  • Poet, Galway Kinnell
  • Novelist, Shirley Jackson
  • Mystery writer, Thomas Perry
  • US Pledge of Allegiance author, Francis Bellamy
  • Literary theorist, N. Katherine Hayles
  • Actors, Robert Wallace Forster, Jr., Lance Reddick & Debra Jo Rupp
  • Theater producer, George Abbott
  • Film critic, Janet Maslin
  • Popular singer and songwriter, Wendy O. Williams
  • Jazz bassist, Ron Carter
  • Trumpet player and composer, Chuck Mangione
  • Drummer, Steve Gadd
  • Classical composer, David Diamond
  • Film composer, Angelo Badalamenti
  • Tenor, Anthony Dean Griffey
  • Soprano, Renée Fleming
  • Astronomer, Robert H. Dicke
  • Astrophysicist, Adam Frank
  • Physicists, John C. Slater, Emil Wolf, Carlos Stroud, Greg Gbur, Robert W. Boyd & George Sudarshan
  • Optical engineer, Robert E. Hopkins
  • Engineer and inventor, Gary Starkweather
  • Chemists, Esther M. Conwell & Steven M. Weinreb
  • Geologist, Grove Karl Gilbert
  • Neurologist, Rudolph E. Tanzi
  • Cognitive neuroscientist, Susan Hockfield
  • Evolutionary biologists, H. Allen Orr & David Sloan Wilson
  • Sex researcher, William Masters
  • Psychologists, Richard M. Ryan & Mark Rosenzweig
  • Economists, Hugo Sonnenschein, Steven E. Landsburg, Lionel McKenzie, Michele Boldrin, Kenneth French & Zvi Hercowitz
  • Economist and public servant, Lawrence Kudlow
  • Economist and social activist, Jennifer Roback Morse
  • Historians, Steven Hahn, Stephen Kotkin & Richard M. Dolan
  • Linguist, Ivan Sag
  • Political scientists, Richard McKelvey, Morris P. Fiorina & John Aldrich
  • African-American Studies scholar, Evelyn Brooks Higginbotham
  • Legal scholar, Arthur R. Miller


What does this school look for?

Annual Applications




Graduation Rate


Median SAT Score


Median ACT Score



How much does it cost to attend?

Tuition (in-state)


Fees (in-state)


IncomeAverage Net Cost

After Graduation

Averages for 10 years after enrolling

Avg Earnings




Campus Life

What's it like to attend this school?

The People

Full time on-campus stats

Student Body






The Campus

Where will you be attending?


Wilson Blvd. - Wallis Hall, Rochester NY 14627-0011

City Crime Rates

Property Crime

37 per 100k

Violent Crime

9 per 100k

What is University of Rochester known for?

Our answer to this is to show you the disciplines in which a school's faculty and alumni have had the highest historical influence. A school may be influential in a discipline even if they do not offer degrees in that area. We've organized two lists to show where they are influential and offer corresponding degrees, and where they are influential through scholarship although they don't offer degrees in the disciplines.

Top areas of influence with degrees offered

#67 World Rank #23 USA Rank
#40 World Rank #25 USA Rank
#52 World Rank #28 USA Rank
#49 World Rank #36 USA Rank
Political Science
#100 World Rank #38 USA Rank
#63 World Rank #39 USA Rank
#110 World Rank #39 USA Rank
#72 World Rank #46 USA Rank
Computer Science
#92 World Rank #54 USA Rank
#147 World Rank #54 USA Rank
#65 World Rank #55 USA Rank
#101 World Rank #63 USA Rank
#87 World Rank #66 USA Rank
#115 World Rank #76 USA Rank
#102 World Rank #83 USA Rank
#184 World Rank #90 USA Rank
#260 World Rank #92 USA Rank
Earth Sciences
#177 World Rank #100 USA Rank
#228 World Rank #111 USA Rank
#181 World Rank #120 USA Rank
Social Work
#319 World Rank #130 USA Rank
#591 World Rank #299 USA Rank
Religious Studies

Other areas of influence

#102 World Rank #76 USA Rank
Criminal Justice
#196 World Rank #108 USA Rank

Influential People

Who are University of Rochester's Most influential alumni?

University of Rochester's most influential alumni faculty include professors and professionals in the fields of Economics, Political Science, and Biology. University of Rochester’s most academically influential people include Arthur Kornberg, Bruce Schneier, and Susan Hockfield.

Arthur Kornberg
Arthur Kornberg

American biochemist

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Bruce Schneier
Bruce Schneier

American computer scientist

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Susan Hockfield
Susan Hockfield

American neuroscientist

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Richard Thaler
Richard Thaler

American economist

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David Sloan Wilson
David Sloan Wilson

American biologist

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J. C. R. Licklider
J. C. R. Licklider

American psychologist and computer scientist

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John C. Slater
John C. Slater

American physicist

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Janet Maslin

American journalist and critic

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Robert Zubrin
Robert Zubrin

American aerospace engineer

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Joan Roughgarden

American ecologist

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Shirley Jackson
Shirley Jackson

Novelist, short story writer

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Donna Strickland
Donna Strickland

Canadian physicist, 2018 Nobel prize winner

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