2024 Best Private Colleges in New York

Updated: May 7, 2024

By: Colleges of Distinction Staff

Jump to: Adelphi University | Colgate University | Fordham University | Hamilton College | Hobart and William Smith Colleges | Manhattan College | Nazareth University | St. John Fisher University | St. John’s University | Syracuse University | University of Rochester | Frequently Asked Questions

Private colleges and universities most often embody the characteristics that make for a valuable college experience. With small class sizes led by full-time, experienced professors, students are automatically given close personal attention that sets them up for success. Professors put effort into hands-on experiences, and alumni form a strong network of professionals eager to help others from their school find long-lasting success. Discover a private college or university that prioritizes the academic achievement of its students.

Colleges of Distinction has hand-picked a selection of the best private colleges in New York to help you find a college that caters to its students’ interests. Take a look below to see our list of 2022-2023 Private New York Colleges of Distinction and find the right college for you.

Adelphi University logo

Adelphi University

Garden City, NY ‧ Private ‧ 4-year

Adelphi University provides students with a personalized education that fully prepares them for successful, fulfilling careers. Adelphi students graduate with the knowledge and ability to compete and excel in their chosen fields and address the needs of their communities. Internships, many of them paid, are central to an Adelphi education and help students refine their career objectives, make connections, and gain work experience.

Adelphi has students from 41 states and 58 countries, providing an environment that encourages cultural and personal growth. New York City is a short train ride away, so students further benefit from the city’s rich intellectual and social opportunities.

Internship opportunities are available for every type of student, no matter what they decide to study. Through the signature Jaggar Community Fellows Program, students are paired with nonprofits across Long Island and New York City for paid internships throughout 10 weeks during the summer.

Acceptance rate 75% • Net price $29,821 • SAT Range 1060-1250 • Students submitting SAT scores 81%
Total Undergrad Population 7,584 • Setting Suburb • Private 4-year
Graduation rate (6 year) 72% • Retention rate 82% • Student-to-faculty ratio 12:1

Click here for available majors

colgate university logo

Colgate University

Hamilton, NY ‧ Private ‧ 4-year

Join a vibrant community and make valuable connections at Colgate University. Colgate is a private university in Hamilton, New York.

Colgate’s mission is to provide a demanding, expansive, educational experience to a select group of diverse, talented, intellectually sophisticated students who are capable of challenging themselves, their peers, and their teachers in a setting that brings together living and learning. The purpose of the university is to develop wise, thoughtful, critical thinkers and perceptive leaders by challenging young men and women to fulfill their potential through residence in a community that values intellectual rigor and respects the complexity of human understanding.

Acceptance rate 27%     •     Net price $25,935     •     SAT Range 1300-1470      •      Students submitting SAT scores 57%
Total Undergrad Population 3,054      •      Setting Town      •      Private 4-year
Graduation rate (6 year) 91%     •     Retention rate 94%     •     Student-to-faculty ratio 9:1

Click here for available majors

Fordham University

New York, NY ‧ Catholic ‧ 4-year

Picture Fordham as a laboratory where you can explore the deepest meaning and fullest measure of success. In the process you will acquire the knowledge, skills, confidence, and experience to succeed in your chosen field. Fordham offers you both the firm foundation and the competitive edge that will make you a leader at work and a success in your life.

With its two distinctive residential campuses—green and gothic Rose Hill, on 85 acres adjacent to the New York Botanical Garden and the Bronx Zoo; and cosmopolitan Lincoln Center, in the heart of Manhattan, across from the Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts—Fordham offers students virtually unlimited possibilities for learning and personal growth. Students often say, “New York is my campus. Fordham is my school.”

Special academic offerings include honors programs; study abroad; dual-degree programs with Fordham’s graduate schools; and pre-professional programs in law, medicine, and other health professions. Fordham’s G.L.O.B.E. international business program combines liberal arts and business courses, and prepares students for multinational careers. Undergraduate students often collaborate with faculty on original research, and they also work with faculty and staff to prepare to compete for Rhodes and Fulbright scholarships and other prestigious fellowships and scholarships.

Acceptance rate 53%     •     Net price $41,569     •     SAT Range 1230-1410     •     Students submitting SAT scores 72%
Total Undergrad Population 16,364      •      Setting City: Large      •      Private 4-year
Graduation rate (6 year) 83%     •     Retention rate 89%     •     Student-to-faculty ratio 13:1

Click here for available majors

Hamilton College logo

Hamilton College

Clinton, NY ‧ Private ‧ 4-year

Hamilton’s open curriculum will allow you to choose courses that reflect your interests; however, with that freedom comes the responsibility to make informed decisions about your intellectual development. That’s why we don’t expect you to chart your course alone. Your faculty advisor and our ALEX (Advise, Learn, and EXperience) program will ensure your academic success, career preparation, experiential learning, and personal growth.

Socrates believed the first step to true wisdom is to “know thyself” because only then can one appreciate what one understands and what remains to be learned. Hamilton’s founders agreed. They chose those words to appear in Greek at the top of the College seal.

Today, more than 200 years later, that motto — Know Thyself — remains a guiding principle as Hamilton prepares students to become critical thinkers in order to address our world’s most pressing problems. For only after gaining a full appreciation of your strengths, skills, and interests can you make valuable contributions to society and achieve the professional success and personal satisfaction you seek.

Acceptance rate 18%     •     Net price $23,936     •      SAT Range 1380-1510      •      Students submitting SAT scores 43%
Total Undergrad Population 1,902      •      Setting Suburb      •      Private 4-year
Graduation rate (6 year) 91%     •     Retention rate 92%     •      Student-to-faculty ratio 9:1

Click here for available majors

Hobart and William Smith Colleges logo

Hobart and William Smith Colleges

Geneva, NY ‧ Private ‧ 4-year

Hobart and William Smith Colleges is a private institution in Geneva, New York. Students can connect in an average class size of 16 students.

HWS has always been leaders in experiential education — offering funding for guaranteed internship and research opportunities, innovative approaches to career preparation and best-in-class programs for global exploration.

Closely situated and interconnected, the HWS centers for research, action and thought allow students to complement their liberal arts and sciences studies with university-level opportunities and resources.

The centers create meaningful avenues for deep-dive exploration, interdisciplinary discovery, community-based learning and career development that help students grow intellectually, professionally and personally.

Acceptance rate 62%     •     Net price $38,247     •     SAT Range 1180-1340     •     Students submitting SAT scores 45%
Total Undergrad Population 1,833      •      Setting Town      •      Private 4-year
Graduation rate (6 year) 77%     •     Retention rate 81%     •      Student-to-faculty ratio 9:1

Click here for available majors

Manhattan College campus

Manhattan College

Riverdale, NY ‧ Catholic ‧ 4-year

With over 160 years of history, Manhattan College is at the forefront of outstanding, comprehensive colleges. Through the years, one constant has guided the College: the Lasallian Catholic heritage upon which it was built. Christian Brothers and lay teachers alike have educated generations of leaders with five programs in the arts, business, education, engineering, the sciences, and over 40 major fields of study for virtually any chosen profession. A low student-faculty ratio allows students to receive individual attention and support, providing them with the knowledge they need to succeed in both the classroom and in the workforce.

There’s no other education quite like this, created in the spirit of the man who invented modern teaching, St. John Baptist de La Salle. The achievement, humanity, opportunity, and community of innovative Lasallian education has been the passionate mission of Manhattan College since 1853.

Acceptance rate 78%     •     Net price $32,044
Total Undergrad Population 3,965      •      Setting City: Large      •      Private 4-year
Graduation rate (6 year) 70%     •     Retention rate 83%     •     Student-to-faculty ratio 11:1

Click here for available majors

Nazareth University new logo

Nazareth University

Rochester, NY ‧ Private ‧ 4-year

Innovative, student centered, and committed to excellence, Nazareth University prepares students for lifelong success on its classic, welcoming suburban campus. Its location in the preeminent college town of Rochester, NY, means that students are situated perfectly in a community of academic, personal, and professional opportunities. 

Naz offers over 60 majors across disciplines, from the fine arts and humanities to the social, natural, and health sciences. All students are immersed in an experience-driven core curriculum that teaches them to put their studies into action, all while building community and forming relationships that will last a lifetime.

There’s no better way to prepare for a job after college than to get hands-on experience during college. That’s why Nazareth University ensures that every student completes a minimum amount of experiential learning on campus or in the surrounding Rochester community and abroad. Guided by the principles of reflection, awareness, and integration, students of all majors are able to find a way to see their coursework play out in the real world. 

Experiential learning pathways at Nazareth can take many forms, whether they be through service-learning, internships, research, clinical experiences, or any of the ever-growing opportunities offered. Every student learns how to reflect on their experiences, grow a budding network, and explore their values and curiosities.

Acceptance rate 76%     •     Net price $31,521
Total Undergrad Population 2,791      •      Setting Suburb      •      Private 4-year
Graduation rate (6 year) 71%     •     Retention rate 85%     •     Student-to-faculty ratio 9:1

Click here for available majors

St. John Fisher University new Logo

St. John Fisher University

Rochester, NY ‧ Private ‧ 4-year

St. John Fisher University has experienced significant enrollment and program growth, igniting fast-moving change to an already beautiful campus. It’s a place where tradition and innovation continue to be joined hand-in-hand.

The University stays true to the educational philosophy of its founders, applying liberal learning, high academic standards, and personal attention to each student.

Experiential learning and service-learning are central to all of Fisher’s 37 academic majors offered at the undergraduate level as well as many of its graduate programs. Students have countless chances throughout their years at the University to pursue internships and other networking opportunities as well as unique study abroad experiences.

Fisher students find everything they need to shape their future: a lively, inspiring, and welcoming campus community; the foundation of a liberal arts education that touches every part of their life; and the guidance of faculty whose expertise sheds light on students’ chosen fields. At Fisher, they find goodness, discipline, and knowledge.

Acceptance rate 68%     •     Net price $29,722     •     SAT Range 1060-1240     •     Students submitting SAT scores 94%
Total Undergrad Population 3,610      •      Setting Suburb      •      Private 4-year
Graduation rate (6 year) 72%     •     Retention rate 90%     •     Student-to-faculty ratio 12:1

Click here for available majors

St. John’s University

Queens, NY ‧ Catholic ‧ 4-year

Those who become a part of St. John’s University discover a world of opportunity available at New York City’s largest Catholic university. For 150 years, St. John’s has prepared students to become real leaders in both their careers and communities. Today, St. John’s offers more than 100 academic programs, dynamic study abroad opportunities, and a focus on service, altogether supplying the knowledge and tools needed for success in a constantly changing world.

Global Studies is a vital part of the educational experience at St. John’s. Through the Global Passport Program, for example, students can study abroad as early as their very first year at St. John’s, traveling to locations throughout Europe, Asia, Africa, and Latin America at virtually any time throughout the calendar year. What’s more, St. John’s unique Discover the World program lets students earn 15 credits living, learning, and serving in three cities—all within a single semester.

Acceptance rate 75%     •     Net price $26,771     •     SAT Range 1080-1300     •     Students submitting SAT scores 75%
Total Undergrad Population 20,143      •      Setting City: Large      •      Private 4-year
Graduation rate (6 year) 64%     •     Retention rate 83%     •     Student-to-faculty ratio 16:1

Click here for available majors

Syracuse University

Syracuse, NY ‧ Private ‧ 4-year

Maximize your potential at Syracuse University. Syracuse is a private university in Syracuse, New York where innovation and freedom of intellectual inquiry flourish.

With 13 schools and colleges200 customizable majors and 100 minors, and online degrees and certificates, Syracuse University provides limitless educational pathways. New interdisciplinary areas ranging from social justice and artificial intelligence to energy and environment provide hands-on research experiences that broaden perspectives and prepare students for the careers of tomorrow.

Syracuse University has five award-winning study abroad centers and international programs in 60 countries to choose from where our students gain global perspectives that last a lifetime.

Acceptance rate 69%     •     Net price $47,177
Total Undergrad Population 21,322      •      Setting City: Midsize      •      Private 4-year
Graduation rate (6 year) 83%     •     Retention rate 89%     •     Student-to-faculty ratio 15:1

Click here for available majors

university of rochester logo

University of Rochester

Rochester, NY ‧ Private ‧ 4-year

Join a vibrant community and make valuable connections at University of Rochester. Rochester is a private university in New York with over 200 bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degree programs and certificates.

With the Rochester Curriculum, undergraduate students in Arts, Sciences & Engineering build their own program of study. There are no general education requirements and no traditional “core” curriculum. This level of flexibility means most students find they have time to double- or triple-major, study abroad, conduct research, take music lessons, lead teams or clubs, or give back to the community.

Acceptance rate 35%     •     Net price $36,254     •     SAT Range 1330-1510     •     Students submitting SAT scores 64%
Total Undergrad Population 11,741      •      Setting City: Midsize      •      Private 4-year
Graduation rate (6 year) 86%     •     Retention rate 92%     •     Student-to-faculty ratio 10:1

Click here for available majors

vassar college logo

Vassar College

Poughkeepsie, NY ‧ Private ‧ 4-year

Vassar College is a top liberal arts institution in Poughkeepsie, New York. Vassar boasts an 8:1 student-to-faculty ratio for 2,500 students.

Acceptance rate 25% • Net price $26,028 • SAT Range 1360-1520 • Students submitting SAT scores 64%
Total Undergrad Population 2,435 • Setting Suburb • Private 4-year
Graduation rate (6 year) 88% • Retention rate 93% • Student-to-faculty ratio 8:1

Click here for available majors

What it’s like to attend private schools in New York and other FAQ:

What are average private tuition costs in New York (in-state, out-of-state)?

The average undergraduate tuition & fees for colleges in New York is $22,507 for students at private institutions.

Cheapest private degree program in New York

Binghamton University has an average net price of $19,061 making it the least expensive private school in New York that made our list.

Easiest private degree program to get into in New York

Manhattan College has an acceptance rate of 78%, making it the least exclusive private college on our list.

Private Degree program with lowest student debt in New York

Colgate University has a median total debt after graduation of $16,000. This is the typical debt for a student who completed their undergraduate degree.

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