2023 Best Public Colleges in New York

2022-2023 Public Colleges of Distinction

Published: September 1, 2022

By: Colleges of Distinction Staff

Jump to: Baruch College | Binghamton University | Hunter College | SUNY Geneseo | SUNY New Paltz | SUNY Oneonta | SUNY Oswego | Stony Brook University | University at Buffalo | Frequently Asked Questions

Public colleges and universities are usually perceived to have larger class sizes, less attention, and less prestige than private colleges. Don’t let these labels fool you! Each institution offers a unique college experience, ranging from small liberal arts colleges to research institutions.

Rather than looking at college rankings to choose where you will study for the next four years, take a more immersive approach to your college search. Explore college campuses, sift through your top college majors, and find the college experience that you want.

Colleges of Distinction has hand-picked a selection of the best colleges in the United States that cater to students’ interests to help you with your college search. Take a look below to see our list of 2022-2023 Colleges of Distinction to help you find the right college for you.

Baruch College

New York, NY ‧ Public ‧ 4-year

Baruch College is a diverse and inclusive campus in the heart of New York City. With three colleges, around 30 majors, and a student body representing 160 countries, Baruch offers a space for people of all interests and backgrounds. Baruch equips students to be active in their classroom, their community, and their city as they apply their coursework to the improvement of their community.

Baruch leverages its Big Apple location and incredible diversity to offer students an experience that broadens their worldview and prepares them for any and all career paths. Students can explore their academic interests, travel the world, and plan their next step.

A modern core curriculum requires flexibility, and Baruch College students enjoy the option to chart their own course through Pathways at Baruch. After getting the basics in math, science, and English, students are required to complete the flexible core, which works to expand each student’s worldview by offering courses in several areas. Students are exposed to courses on Creative Expression, U.S. and global cultures, the sciences, and philosophy and ethics. Baruch allows students to follow their interests while ensuring they leave college as well-rounded global citizens.

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

Binghamton University

Binghamton, NY ‧ Public ‧ 4-year

Binghamton offers a wide array of personal and academic opportunities that range from international education to research initiatives. The University’s commitment to student success is of paramount importance, and students are given the tools they need to excel and make a difference.

The Involvement Transcript is a record of all extracurricular activities during college. This is a great way for employers to see how students have been active outside the classroom. It’s important for students to include activities in which they’ve acted as a leader, a volunteer, or even as a member of an organization. Individuals can keep a record of their activities on B-engaged, a student portal for tracking events.

Acceptance rate 43% • Net price $19,061 • SAT Range 1290-1450 • Students submitting SAT scores 99%
Total Undergrad Population 18,148 • Setting Suburb • Public 4-year
Graduation rate (6 year) 82% • Retention rate 92% • Student-to-faculty ratio 19:1

Click here for available majors

Hunter College - City University of New York wordmark with logo

Hunter College

New York, NY ‧ Public ‧ 4-year

Located in the heart of New York City, Hunter draws on its energy and resources to provide students with diverse and enriching educational and career-building opportunities.

Intellectually exciting and rigorous, grounded in solid academic tradition but fully geared to the 21st century, Hunter’s programs prepare students for graduate and professional school, for a host of professions, and for the rich, productive life of the educated citizen.

Acceptance rate 40%     •     Net price $4,014     •     SAT Range 1170-1340     •     Students submitting SAT scores 95%
Total Undergrad Population 24,052      •      Setting City: Large      •      Public 4-year
Graduation rate (6 year) 56%     •     Retention rate 84%     •     Student-to-faculty ratio 15:1

Click here for available majors

SUNY Geneseo

Geneseo, NY ‧ Public ‧ 4-year

SUNY Geneseo takes intellectual minds, transforms them to see their abilities, and then shows them how to be socially responsible citizens. Students enrolled at Geneseo are part of a collaborative environment, where academics meet civic engagement.

The First Year Adirondack Adventure is an awesome excursion available to incoming freshman. Participants travel to Lake Placid and stay at a youth hostel for five days. The trip is a great transition into college. Many times, students are anxious about leaving home and starting school. The Adirondack Adventure eases this transition through team-building activities and close interaction with faculty and peers. Interested students should act quickly, as spots are limited.

Acceptance rate 61%     •     Net price $18,684     •     SAT Range 1140-1310     •     Students submitting SAT scores 89%
Total Undergrad Population 4,911      •      Setting Town      •      Public 4-year
Graduation rate (6 year) 78%     •     Retention rate 85%     •     Student-to-faculty ratio 17:1

Click here for available majors

SUNY New Paltz logo

SUNY New Paltz

New Paltz, NY ‧ Public ‧ 4-year

The State University of New York at New Paltz is an academically rigorous public university in the heart of New York State’s scenic Hudson Valley, just 90 minutes north of metropolitan New York City.

SUNY New Paltz offers more than 100 bachelor’s and master’s degree programs across five academic schools (Business; Education; Science & Engineering; Liberal Arts & Sciences; Fine & Performing Arts). With about 8,000 enrolled students, it is a mid-size school where professors know their students’ names.

It’s also a uniquely diverse community to which people from around the world can “come as they are” and collaborate in a friendly, tolerant, and supportive environment. At New Paltz, artists work with entrepreneurs to add smart design to business plans, engineers partner with future teachers to bring technology into the k-12 classroom, and the liberal arts provide a core set of adaptable skills that make NP alumni stand out in their pursuit of post-graduation success.

Acceptance rate 62%     •     Net price $16,079     •     SAT Range 1070-1260     •     Students submitting SAT scores 91%
Total Undergrad Population 7,489      •      Setting Suburb      •      Public 4-year
Graduation rate (6 year) 76%     •     Retention rate 87%     •     Student-to-faculty ratio 15:1

Click here for available majors

SUNY Oneonta logo

SUNY Oneonta

Oneonta, NY ‧ Public ‧ 4-year

SUNY Oneonta is a mid-size, four-year, public college offering more than 60 majors and programs on a residential campus in Central New York. The college offers small classes, loads of campus activities, and a wide variety of experiential learning opportunities that help students gain the knowledge and skills they need to prepare for successful careers and further education. 

The college is known as a caring campus where people are genuinely friendly and work hard to make everyone feel at home. Three core values support SUNY Oneonta’s mission: inclusivity, service and sustainability.

Students are involved in a variety of activities to protect the natural environment. Several clubs have a sustainability focus, and students work as volunteers at the Red Closet Thrift Shop on campus, which raises money for scholarships awarded to students interested in sustainability.. Each year around Earth Day, the college’s Green Dragon Week features activities such as film screenings, speakers, clothing swaps, a local food dinner, bicycle repair stations, and composting demonstrations.

Acceptance rate 63%     •     Net price $16,635     •     SAT Range 910-1121     •     Students submitting SAT scores 91%
Total Undergrad Population 6,718      •      Setting Town      •      Public 4-year
Graduation rate (6 year) 76%     •     Retention rate 83%     •     Student-to-faculty ratio 16:1

Click here for available majors

SUNY Oswego logo

SUNY Oswego

Oswego, NY ‧ Public ‧ 4-year

SUNY Oswego offers engaging student life activities and programming alongside an exceptionally diverse curriculum with academic programs in four distinct schools: Business; Education; Liberal Arts & Sciences; and Communication, Media & the Arts. The possibilities are endless with an extensive choice of academic options and majors, an outstanding faculty, internships, co-ops, service-learning, and study abroad opportunities that foster learning and encourage the exchange of ideas. Oswego is a campus of choice for students (around 8,000 students, some 7,000 of them full-time undergraduates) who become successful graduates achieving dreams, pursuing adventure, and embracing opportunity.

SUNY Oswego, one of 13 comprehensive colleges in the 64-campus State University of New York system, was founded in 1861. Oswego is committed to enhancing its diversity and actively engages in recruiting, supporting, and fostering a diverse community of outstanding faculty, staff, and students. 

Acceptance rate 69%     •     Net price $16,398     •     SAT Range 1020-1190     •      Students submitting SAT scores 99%
Total Undergrad Population 7,636      •      Setting Town      •      Public 4-year
Graduation rate (6 year) 65%     •     Retention rate 81%     •     Student-to-faculty ratio 16:1

Click here for available majors

Stony Brook University Logo

Stony Brook University

Stony Brook, NY ‧ Public ‧ 4-year

Stony Brook University is a leading research university with a diverse student body. Its students personalize their college experience through a wide variety of course offerings, numerous avenues for learning outside the classroom, and an emphasis on experiential learning. Stony Brook University takes an innovative approach to teaching that celebrates a student’s individuality, recognizing that there is no one-size-fits-all path.

With exhaustive resources and up-close mentoring, Stony Brook is leading the way as it creates the next generation of leaders in business, healthcare, research, and the global community.

Stony Brook University offers more than the traditional core curriculum. Its Stony Brook Curriculum aims to achieve four goals: Demonstrate Versatility, Explore Interconnectedness, Pursue Deeper Understanding, and Prepare for Life-Long Learning. These goals encompass and expand upon the usual math, science, and English requirements by requiring students to study ethics, presentation and communication skills, fine arts, and the value of diversity. Stony Brook students are well rounded and prepared for modern challenges.

Acceptance rate 49%     •     Net price $16,478     •     SAT Range 1230-1440      •      Students submitting SAT scores 88%
Total Undergrad Population 26,782     •      Setting Suburb      •      Public 4-year
Graduation rate (6 year) 76%     •      Retention rate 90%     •     Student-to-faculty ratio 19:1

university at buffalo suny logo

University at Buffalo

Buffalo, NY ‧ Public ‧ 4-year

Succeed in your personal and professional life with an education from University at Buffalo. UBuffalo SUNY is a public university in Buffalo, New York.

UB offers the widest range of academic programs of any public institution in New York or New England, including 140+ undergraduate options and 70+ minors, and more than 300 graduate, professional and certificate degrees.  

Acceptance rate 67%     •     Net price $18,119     •     SAT Range 1140-1310     •      Students submitting SAT scores 73%
Total Undergrad Population 32,347     •      Setting Suburb      •      Public 4-year
Graduation rate (6 year) 75%     •      Retention rate 87%     •     Student-to-faculty ratio 14:1

Click here for available majors

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

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

The average undergraduate tuition & fees for public colleges in New York is $7,546 for in-state students and $14,472 for out-of-state students

Cheapest public degree program in New York

Baruch College has an average net price of $3,897 making it the least expensive public school in New York that made our list.

Easiest public degree program to get into in New York

SUNY Oswego has an acceptance rate of 69%, making it the least exclusive public institution on our list.

Public Degree program with lowest student debt in New York

Baruch College has a median total debt after graduation of $11,130. This is the typical debt for a student who completed their undergraduate degree.

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