Top Universities in New York City

Top Universities in New York City main image

Dreaming of studying in one of the world’s most iconic metropolises? Got your heart set on making a corner of the bustling ‘Big Apple’ the backdrop to your student years? Then check out the top universities in New York City...

A hub of culture, commerce and forward thinking, New York City is nothing if not diverse – and its universities are just as varied and multidisciplinary as you’d expect. Whatever your subject, and whichever aspect of city life appeals to you, NYC has an institution to suit.

To help you decide which might be your best match, here’s an overview of the top universities in New York City, based on the QS World University Rankings® 2013/2014.

Columbia University

New York City’s highest ranking institution, Columbia University stands at 14th in the QS World University Rankings this year. A member of the prestigious Ivy League, and a world-leading center of research, Columbia has a strong offering across the full subject spectrum. In the QS World University Rankings by Faculty, it makes the world’s top 10 for both arts & humanities and social sciences & management; the top 20 for natural sciences and life sciences & medicine; and the top 50 for engineering & technology.

Columbia University has a central location in the Upper West Side of Manhattan – close to the northern tip of Central Park and just off Broadway, the boulevard which gives its name to New York’s theater scene. It boasts a highly diverse faculty and student body, with over 7,000 international students from more than 150 different countries.

Cornell University

Just one place behind Columbia, Cornell University is currently 15th in the QS World University Rankings. Another Ivy League member, Cornell offers a range of both academic and more vocational courses. It lays claim to being the first US university to offer a degree in veterinary medicine, as well as the first to teach modern Far-Eastern languages.

Cornell’s main campus is actually in Ithaca, around 200 miles to the north-west of New York City, but it also has a strong presence in NYC. Its medical campus is in the Upper East Side of Manhattan, and the Cornell Tech campus is in the Chelsea district, with an ambitious new campus currently under construction on Roosevelt Island – in the middle of the river that separates Manhattan Island and the borough of Queens. Cornell’s schools of financial engineering and architecture are also in Manhattan.

New York University (NYU)       

Though not an Ivy League institution, New York University (NYU) is nonetheless ranked among the world’s best, currently 44th in the world. NYU has a strong focus on internationalization, with a number of campuses around the world and an impressive study-abroad program. As well as helping its own students spend time abroad, NYU also counts a large number of international students among its community of almost 40,000 students.

While it has several New York campuses, NYU’s main hub is its Washington Square campus, in Greenwich Village. Dubbed ‘the Village’, this area of Lower Manhattan is famed as one of New York’s most creative and bohemian localities. Over the years it’s attracted an eclectic mix of writers, artists, musicians and intellectuals – and no doubt this is all part of the appeal for many creatively minded students heading to NYU.

Yeshiva University

Ranked 269 in the world, Yeshiva University is another of the US’s top research institutions. It was founded (over 100 years ago) with the mission of combining Jewish traditions and culture with Western heritage, and the continuing influence of this cultural focus is seen in its Yeshiva University Museum, which exhibits and teaches Jewish life through art, architecture and history.

Relatively small compared to most of the other universities in New York listed here, Yeshiva has around 7,000 students, of which almost 3,000 are undergraduates. It has campuses and facilities spread across Manhattan, the Bronx and Queens (and some in Israel), with its main campus in the Washington Heights area of Upper Manhattan.

City University of New York

Whereas all the other universities in New York listed here are private, the City University of New York (CUNY; ranked 501-550) is NYC’s public university system. It’s the largest urban university in the US, composed of 24 colleges spread across Manhattan, Queens, the Bronx and Brooklyn (plus one on Staten Island), with more than 500,000 students enrolled on a huge variety of courses. From vocational training to PhD research, full-time study to evening classes, CUNY has a program to match. It also prides itself on having strong connections with the city’s neighborhoods, running a network of internship and fellowship programs across the five boroughs.

The New School

Ranked 551-600, The New School (previously New School University) has around 10,000 students, of which almost 30% are international. Like NYU, it has its main campus in ‘the Village’. This famously creative neighborhood is an apt location, as The New School focuses largely on the arts, humanities and social sciences; its seven academic divisions are: liberal arts, music, drama, jazz and contemporary music, public engagement, social research, and design.

Among its famous alumni, The New School boasts forerunners in several artistic fields, including actor Bradley Cooper, fashion designer Tom Ford and composer Burt Bacharach.

Fordham University

Ranked 701+, Fordham University calls itself the “Jesuit University of New York” and specializes in liberal arts, sciences and business. The university is composed of ten colleges, four for undergraduates and six for graduates. These enroll a total of around 15,000 students, with two main campuses in New York City – the Rose Hill campus in the Bronx and Lincoln Center in Manhattan – as well as a much smaller campus in West Harrison, about 25 miles north of Manhattan. The Rose Hill campus is close to the Little Italy area, historically associated with Italian migrants and still characterized by Italian restaurants and shops, while the Lincoln Center is close to the south-east corner of Central Park.

Stevens Institute of Technology

Though actually located in the neighboring state of New Jersey, Stevens Institute of Technology (ranked 701+) can justifiably be included among the top universities in New York City. Its 55-acre campus is on the west bank of the Hudson River, just opposite Manhattan Island, and offering some stunning views of the famous skyline.

As its name would imply, the university has a strong focus on engineering and science subjects, marketing itself as ‘The Innovation University’. However, it also offers degrees in arts and humanities subjects – and in fact all undergraduates are required to take some humanities courses. Around 6,000 students are enrolled.

Image credits:; Cornell; Allen Grove; Yeshiva University; Tom Pich (Stanford); James Ewing; Fordham;

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