New York City is not only home to the Empire State Building, the Statue of Liberty, MOMA (as the Museum of Modern Art is called), plus world-class theater and restaurants, it is also home to some of the best universities in the world. Whatever your academic interests are, New York City has a university for you. Here are thumbnail descriptions of a half-dozen of New York City’s leading schools, according to the some of the latest listings nationally and worldwide.

Columbia University

Located in the Morningside Heights district of upper Manhattan, Columbia was founded in 1754 by King George II of England. It is the oldest, most prestigious Ivy League university in New York State and the fifth oldest university in the United States. Columbia University is a world leader in research. The most recent Center for World University Rankings placed Columbia as the sixth highest overall university in the world. US News & World Report puts it at No.4 nationally, tied with Stanford. According to QS World University Rankings by Faculty, Columbia was ranked as  No.15 in the world both for arts and humanities and for social sciences and management; No. 25 for natural sciences and life sciences and medicine; and No.70 for engineering and technology. Repeat: in the world

Cornell University

Cornell University is another prestigious Ivy League university, ranked No.15 nationally by US News, that comprises seven colleges and four graduate schools at its main campus in upstate New York, in addition to the graduate and professional schools in the city. It was listed as the world’s No.11 top university by the Center for World University Rankings, and the undergraduate college was ranked No.19 by QS Top Universities. Cornell was founded in 1865 by Ezra Cornell and Andrew Dickson White, two New York State senators who pooled their dreams and resources to launch it as an agricultural and liberal arts college, and Abraham Lincoln signed legislation that provided for federal land-grant colleges such as Cornell to be started after the Civil War. Today it offers an array of academic courses. In Manhattan, Cornell has its distinguished medical campus on the Upper East Side; Cornell Tech is located in the Chelsea district. Cornell University’s schools of financial engineering and architecture are also based in Manhattan. 

New York University

New York University – usually just called NYU –  is located downtown in Manhattan's historic Greenwich Village. It is presently ranked as No.17 among top universities in the world on the QS list, and US News puts it at No.32 nationally. New York University has its main campus on Greenwich Villages’s Washington Square. Known as a Bohemian mecca, the Village has attracted and continues to attract intellectuals, writers, artists and musicians from all over the world, one reason that NYU has such a diverse student body. New York University offers degrees in many disciplines. Over the years, NYU has set up satellite campuses throughout lower Manhattan and now has numerous programs and campuses not only domestically, but internationally as well – including in Abu Dhabi and Shanghai.

Yeshiva University

Yeshiva University is one of New York City’s top research universities. Yeshiva combines Jewish scholarship with studies in the liberal arts, sciences, medicine, law, business, Jewish studies and psychology. It is a small university with scattered campuses in New York City. Its main campus is located in the Washington Heights district of Manhattan. Yeshiva University is ranked as No.186 among top universities in the world by Times Higher Education World University Rankings.

City University of New York

City University of New York – or CUNY, as it's usually known – is the largest public university system in the city. CUNY has 500,000 students and 24 colleges located throughout New York City’s five boroughs. Among the better known individually ranked schools are Hunter College, John Jay College of Criminal Justice, Brooklyn College, Medgar Evers, Lehman and Baruch. CUNY is also the largest urban university in the United States, with one of the most diverse student bodies: Its students come from at least 150 countries. CUNY has an inexhaustible variety of courses toward degrees.

The New School

The New School is a modern, progressive university located mostly in Manhattan’s Greenwich Village. The New School provides a "student-directed curriculum," which does not require its undergraduates to take general education courses. It was founded in 1919 as The New School for Social Research by progressive New York educators. In 1933 its graduate program was launched as the University in Exile, an emergency haven for European scholars threatened by fascists in Italy and Nazis in Germany, and in 1934 it was chartered as a degree-granted institution by the New York State Regents. Its Parsons: The New School for Design is a highly competitive art school. The New School is presently expanding its campus. It also is home to the prestigious annual National Book Awards.  

The Bottom Line

A longer list would cover many more of New York City's institutions of higher learning – among them: Fordham University, Pace University, the Fashion Institute of Technology, the Bard Graduate Center (a research institute focused on the decorative arts and cultural and design history), the Pratt Institute, and the Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art. 


You may also be interested in Top Colleges in Chicago and Best Ways To Save Money On College Textbooks. A useful evaluation system if you are choosing a college or university is the College Scorecard, published by the U.S. Department of Education’s College Affordability and Transparency Center. The scorecard evaluates schools on a number of factors, including graduation rates and student-loan default rates – two measures of educational outcomes.











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