Studying in New York

Universitites in New York
Updated 2023-10-04 09:29

The city of New York harbors hundreds of secondary institutions and some of the best universities in the country. Some are private, very expensive, and prestigious, while others are public and more affordable. Here's a brief introduction to some of the most popular universities and colleges in New York.

Why study in New York?

There are many reasons why you may choose New York as your education destination – but here are our top five:

  1. Academic excellence: New York, home to over 130 universities and colleges, including prestigious institutions like Columbia and Cornell, offers a strong foundation for launching your career. The city's diverse range of educational establishments ensures you'll find the perfect fit for your academic pursuits;
  2. Career prospects: With more than 40 Fortune 500 companies, a thriving startup ecosystem, and many internship and post-graduate employment options, New York presents unparalleled career opportunities. While competition can be fierce, possessing a degree from a local university opens doors to the city's professional landscape;
  3. Global student community: New York is a hub for students worldwide, ranking second in the US for hosting international students. This vibrant community fosters cross-cultural connections, enabling you to broaden your social circle with individuals from around the globe;
  4. Diverse entertainment: From world-renowned museums, theatres, and art centers to top-notch restaurants and clubs, New York provides an endless array of recreational options. No matter your preference, the city ensures you'll always find activities to unwind and enjoy your downtime;
  5. Unique life experience: Studying in the dynamic tapestry of New York offers an unparalleled life experience. The city's fusion of cultures, languages, religions, and people, coupled with abundant opportunities, creates an extraordinary environment that prepares you for the exciting journey into adulthood.

The best private universities in New York

New York is home to some of the best universities in the world. The city's top-rated institutions are private universities and colleges — and this means that tuition rates can get very high. With that, most colleges have financial aid programs and specialized scholarships for students with outstanding academic achievements.

Here are some of the best private universities and colleges in New York.

Columbia University

Columbia University, established in 1754, is one of the Ivy League schools and was ranked as the 22nd-best university globally in 2023. It has a highly competitive acceptance rate of 4%. The university, located in Manhattan, has a student body of approximately 32,000.  Fees in 2023 are $65,524.

Barnard College

Barnard College is a private all-women liberal arts college closely affiliated with Columbia University. Students at Barnard College can generally use Columbia University's facilities — and vice versa. If you graduate from Barnard College, your diploma will say “Columbia University, Barnard College”. Some of the college's most popular majors include social sciences, biology, English language and literature, visual and performing arts, and psychology. The admission rate at Barnard College is 11%. The tuition fees for Barnard College are approximately $28,366.

New York University

New York University (NYU), founded in 1831, has branches worldwide and is less exclusive than Columbia, with an acceptance rate of 15% in 2023. NYU has over 50,000 students and ranks as the 35th-best university globally. To study here, you must pay tuition fees of $60,438.

Fordham University

Fordham is a Jesuit research university dating all the way back to 1841. It was actually named after the Fordham neighborhood in the Bronx, where the university's original campus was located. Fordham's alumni include US senators, governors and ambassadors, royalty, Academy Award-winning actors, and even former US President Donald Trump. Fordham ranks among the top 1,000 best universities in the world and, in 2023, has an acceptance rate of 58%. The tuition fee for Fordham University is $37,583.

The Juilliard School

The Juilliard School is a private conservatory for performing arts and is one of the hardest performing arts schools to get into, with an acceptance rate of 15% in 2023. The tuition fees for The Juilliard School are $20,757.

Manhattan College

Manhattan College, based in the Bronx, offers programs in business, arts, engineering, science, and education. The college has a generous acceptance rate of 75% in 2023. The tuition fee for Manhattan College is $31,413.

The New School

The New School is another private university located in Greenwich Village. The New School was founded a century ago and is mainly centered on the arts, music, theatre, and design, amongst others. The Parson School of Design, its branch dedicated to applied arts, is considered to be the best in the country in its field. This university consists of approximately 10,000 students and has an admission rate of 63% in 2023. The tuition fee for The New School is $36,807.

Sarah Lawrence College

Sarah Lawrence College is a private university in Yonkers, New York, specializing in liberal arts. The college is ranked #72 in National Liberal Arts Colleges. The college's campus is set in a suburban area, and over 80% of its undergraduate students live on campus. The college focuses its educational approach on one-on-one student-faculty tutorials (after the Oxford/Cambridge model). Sarah Lawrence College has an acceptance rate of 78% in 2023 and has about 1,700 students. The tuition fee for Sarah Lawrence College is $25,533.

Now, the private institutions we have mentioned above are located in New York City. However, several notable institutions within driving distance of New York should be considered as study options.

Cornell University is located in Ithaca, New York, and is one of the best institutions in the country. Cornell ranked as the 20th best university in the world in the QS University Rankings of 2023 and has an acceptance rate of 9%. The university's best graduate schools are the SC Johnson Graduate School of Management, Law School, College of Engineering, and Weill Cornell Medical College. Its College of Veterinary Medicine is one of the top-ranked in the country, and the School of Hotel Administration is also highly rated. Cornell is located within a 4-hour drive from New York City, with regular buses departing from New York to Cornell twice daily. Fees for Cornell University are around  $24,262.

Colgate University is a top-rated private university located in Hamilton, New York. It is a relatively small institution with about 3,200 undergraduate students. Some of the university's most in-demand majors include economics, political science, government and research, and psychology, and the acceptance rate is quite competitive at 14%.

Hamilton College is a private liberal arts college founded back in 1793. The college's campus is located in Clinton and is actually considered to be one of the most beautiful college campuses in New York State: it is set on a hilltop overlooking a picturesque village. This college had an acceptance rate of 17% in 2023, and tuition fees for Hamilton College are around $26,803.


The City University of New York is a public university, and with 243,000 students, it is the biggest urban university in the country. It comprises 25 institutions, including six community colleges, which are usually easier to get into than private universities or journalism and law schools.

Some branches of SUNY, the State University of New York, are also located in Manhattan, namely those dedicated to marine studies and optometry. CUNY and the SUNY are two independent institutions, although they are funded by the state of New York.

Specialized institutions in New York

Regardless of your dream job or the field you like, you will find a school in New York that focuses on your field! The city has dozens of private institutions that specialize in different subjects.

For example, the New York Academy of Art, the Vaughn College of Aeronautics & Technology, the New York School of Interior Design, and the Manhattan School of Music.

Applying for a student visa to study in New York

When planning to study in the United States, securing a student visa is essential. Most full-time students apply for an F-1 visa to study at American universities or higher education institutions. Maintaining this visa requires full-time enrollment and good academic standing. F-1 visa holders can work on-campus for up to 20 hours per week. Off-campus work requires an application to the USCIS.

Other options: The J-1 visa is intended for those on exchange, pursuing internships, research, or similar activities. It's valid only for the program's duration. M-1 visas are for technical or specialized study programs outside academic institutions. M-1 visa holders cannot work in the US.

Application steps: Secure admission to your chosen program before applying for a student visa. The application process involves submitting your offer of study and other required information to USCIS. You will then have to have an in-person interview. Usually, students must prove they will have sufficient funds for tuition and living expenses throughout their study duration.

Preparing for your academic journey in the USA involves understanding these visa options and ensuring your eligibility and readiness before embarking on this exciting adventure. For more information on student visas to the US, refer to this article: Study in the USA.

Preparing for university entry in New York: What you need to know

Entering a college or university in New York has varying requirements and acceptance rates across institutions. While prestigious private universities can be challenging to enter, community colleges often offer more accessible conditions. Here are the key requisites for applying to a New York university:

  • Academic excellence: Strong academic performance is crucial. Your high school diploma or undergraduate degree grades should align with the GPA expectations of your chosen university. If your GPA falls short of bachelor's program requirements, consider a pathway program — an opportunity to catch up on the American school curriculum and gain skills for higher education;
  • English proficiency: A solid grasp of the English language is vital. Most universities demand proof of English language proficiency if you're not from an English-speaking country. Typically, a TOEFL or IELTS test is required before application. If your English skills need improvement, consider taking a preparatory language course either at home or in New York;
  • Thorough research: Understand your chosen university's unique offerings, costs, and life in New York. Engage with international student forums to glean insights into city life. Many universities provide admissions counselors who guide you through the process and ease your transition upon arrival.

Useful links:

Top universities of New York

Study guide for New York


Student visa for the USA

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