When it comes to culture, landscape, and education, New York is one of the nation’s most richly diverse states. For those who prefer a more personalized learning experience, the Empire State has an impressive range of small colleges in virtually any academic field.
The following list is a ranking of the best small college deals in New York. This selection results from an extensive research process, focusing on the most desirable attributes in earning a marketable degree.
In ranking New York’s top small colleges, points were awarded based on affordability, student-to-faculty ratio, faculty expertise, alumni engagement, tuition return on investment, awards, and any additional distinctions that added particular value.
These top 20 New York colleges scored the highest among approximately 80 schools; this initial pool had a net price of under $34,000 USD and a total student enrollment of under 8,000. Primary sources for this data included College Navigator, Niche, and Payscale.
The schools profiled below are ranked in order of points earned. In the event of a tie in points, the schools with the lower net price are ranked higher. Here are our top 20 deals on small colleges in New York.
Ranking the Best Small Colleges in New York
#20 – Utica College
Utica, New York
Total Enrollment: 4,463
Net Price: $22,466
Located in the center of New York State, Utica College is an independent institution that builds well-rounded citizens with lasting careers. In addition to its 38 majors and 31 minors, UC has 21 graduate and doctorate-level degree programs; some of the most popular graduate studies include business administration, education, healthcare administration, physical therapy, and cybersecurity. With a return on investment of over $133,000, Utica is considered one of New York’s best college deals. A high percentage of graduates gave positive feedback regarding faculty knowledge, career placement, and manageability of workload.
#19 – Canisius College
Buffalo, New York
Total Enrollment: 3,900
Net Price: $18,754
Found in Buffalo just south of the Canadian border, Canisius College is a liberal arts institution rooted in Catholic values. Kiplinger’s Personal Finance listed this school as a “Best Value Private University” in a recent nationwide ranking. Canisius students select from over 125 majors and minors; these degrees are earned in field areas including business, arts and sciences, education, and human services. CC additionally has a deaf education master’s program, which earned national recognition by the Council on Education of the Deaf.
#18 – Adelphi University
Garden City, New York
Total Enrollment: 7,256
Net Price: $28,045
Nationally respected for its academic reputation, Adelphi University has received accolades from U.S. News and World Report, Forbes, The Princeton Review, and Money Magazine. AU is considered a top small college in New York due to its affordability, hands-on approach to education, and high return on investment based on alumni earnings. Adelphi has lasting connections with its graduates, with career counseling and other continued benefits available. Adelphi University has an impressive 84% retention rate of first to second-year students.
#17 – Iona College
New Rochelle, New York
Total Enrollment: 3,977
Net Price: $27,727
Established in 1940, Iona College of Westchester County is among the best of New York colleges. Iona is a fitting option for those seeking a small class sizes, mentor-based education style, and an engaged campus community. Iona’s course curriculum is highly challenging and continuously evaluated for relevance in today’s job market; incoming students select from over 45 majors, 35 minors, or a unique 5-year BA/MA combined degree program. Iona first-year retention rate is 77%, and the reported 20-year return-on-investment is upwards of $280,000.
#16 – College of Mount Saint Vincent
Bronx, New York
Total Enrollment: 1,807
Net Price: $19,107
Among the five oldest colleges in New York, the College of Mount Saint Vincent has a beautiful, diverse campus community. This institution has over 40 academic programs that encompass sciences, mathematics, arts, humanities, business, education, and nursing. Long respected as a great college deal in New York, Mount Saint Vincent has an expansive list of available scholarships and merit-based grants. The average retention rate for first to second-year students is 78%, and undergraduates particularly appreciate the small class sizes and personal attention.
#15 – Elmira College
Elmira, New York
Total Enrollment: 1,376
Net Price: $24,358
Elmira College, a widely respected college in rural New York, has the distinction of being the first women’s college to offer degrees with the same curriculum requirements as men. Since 1969, this college has been a coeducational liberal arts opportunity. Elmira has a unique term structure that includes a six-week spring term from mid-April to mid-May; this program allows students to focus on one area of study, complete the 60-hour required community service component, or study abroad. Elmira College graduates are widely sought out by employers, and students have reported high satisfaction rates with the school’s job placement system.
#14 – Houghton College
Houghton, New York
Total Enrollment: 1,084
Net Price: $21,932
A Christian-based school on a rural campus, Houghton College attracts students from 31 countries around the globe. This top small college in New York is considered highly selective due to its challenging curriculum in medicine, law, education, business management, and marketing. 88% of the first-year student body return after their freshman year, and 100% of surveyed graduates reported that they found their professors extremely knowledgeable. Houghton has over 20 available scholarship opportunities, most of which are based on academics or field-area excellence.
#13 – St. Thomas Aquinas College
Sparkill, New York
Total Enrollment: 1,836
Net Price: $19,313
St. Thomas Aquinas College, a private institution in Sparkill, is a top liberal arts college in New York due to its well-rounded academic experience. This college has a wide range of degree options in teacher education, engineering, business administration, physical therapy, podiatry, and more. Due to its close proximity to New York City, St. Thomas has formed strong education partnerships with NYU and St. John’s University’s law school; these partnerships allow for the expansion of learning and networking opportunities. STAC has an 82% first to second-year student retention rate, and all accepted applicants are considered for generous scholarships.
#12 – State University of New York at Purchase
Purchase, New York
Total Enrollment: 4,169
Net Price: $17,336
Considered one of the foremost cultural centers in the state, SUNY Purchase is one of the more competitive colleges in the SUNY system. This institution combines liberal arts and conservatory programs in art, music, dance, theater arts, and film. Publications including U.S. News and World Report, Forbes, The Princeton Review, and others rank Purchase with the best colleges of New York and beyond. Known for its progressive, liberal-minded environment, this school promotes independent creativity and open academic discourse. Alumni of SUNY Purchase have gone on to successful, high-profile careers in a wide range of professions.
#11 – State University of New York at New Paltz
New Paltz, New York
Total Enrollment: 7,751
Net Price: $13,813
A popular choice for progressive, creative-minded students, the State University of New York at New Paltz is a diverse campus both in community and academics. This institution is one of the best college deals in New York, offering over 100 degree possibilities in science, liberal arts, engineering, business, education, and the performing arts. The surrounding Mid-Hudson region is a scenic environment with plenty of wilderness adventures to explore. SUNY New Paltz has a 15:1 student-to-faculty ratio, and the 88% freshman retention rate indicates a high level of satisfaction among undergraduates.
#10 – Nazareth College
Rochester, New York
Total Enrollment: 2,871
Net Price: $27,169
Nazareth College of Rochester is a prestigious liberal arts institution that is consistently ranked a top college in New York and nationally. NC has produced an astounding 18 Fulbright scholars in the past five years, and was recently one of only five Presidential Awardees for the “Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll.” Nazareth College has over 60 undergraduate programs, 20 master’s degrees and a doctorate of physical therapy; these degree tracks exist in study areas, including arts and sciences, education, health and human services, and management. 92% of student internship supervisors stated they would hire their supervisee when an opening arises.
#9 – Le Moyne College
Syracuse, New York
Total Enrollment: 3,478
Net Price: $23,588
Founded in 1946, Le Moyne College is a Jesuit institution based in the city of Syracuse. Le Moyne’s educational approach places great value on integrating personal growth with academic curriculum. LC offers 33 majors and over 40 other study areas in business, education, humanities, sciences, and the arts. With a student-to-faculty ratio of 13:1, undergraduates are capable of fostering mentor-based relationships with their professors. In order to assist with tuition costs, Le Moyne commits over $40 million annually to financial aid, making this one of the best small college deals in New York.
#8 – Alfred University
Alfred, New York
Total Enrollment: 2,286
Net Price: $20,903
Set in the foothills of the scenic Allegheny mountains, Alfred University is a diverse community of students from over twenty countries. This college is a top small school in New York due to its average class size of 18, scholar-level instructor faculty, and post-graduation employability factors. Recent surveys of alumni have shown that most are employed or in graduate school within one year of earning their Alfred degree. AU is considered highly selective, typically only admitting applicants with a B+ GPA or higher.
#7 – Siena College
Loudonville, New York
Total Enrollment: 3,176
Net Price: $25,116
Founded just outside of Albany in 1937, Siena College has become a respected higher learning institution and top college deal in New York. Siena is considered an inclusive campus community where students are encouraged to design an education that best fits their career goals. Some of the most popular of SC’s degree programs include marketing, biology, accounting, liberal arts, and pre-law. Additionally, this college has partnered with Albany Medical College to provide a joint acceptance opportunity in the study of medicine. Siena’s proximity to the Capital Region allows for success in finding multiple internships and post-graduate employment.
#6 – St. Bonaventure University
Rochester, New York
Total Enrollment: 2,871
Net Price: $22,765
Founded in 1858 and affiliated with the Roman Catholic Church, St. Bonaventure University is a world-renowned institution. This college has produced six Pulitzer Prize winners and significant leaders in business, media, athletics, and television. High-profile employers regularly recruit SBU graduates, and 95% of students are either employed or advancing their degree within six months of graduation. Recent student surveys showed glowing feedback regarding the school’s inclusive campus community, supportive faculty, alumni network opportunities, and manageability of workload. SBU is also considered a top college in New York due to its expansive financial aid and scholarship options.
#5 – State University of New York at Plattsburgh
Plattsburgh, New York
Total Enrollment: 5,718
Net Price: $13,674
Located in the state’s Adirondack region, SUNY Plattsburgh is known for its diversity, rigorous curriculum, and engaged campus community. Plattsburgh is one of the great small college deals in New York, and Washington Monthly listed it with their “Best Bang for the Buck” schools. In comparison to other colleges in the SUNY system, this college has one of the largest populations of international students. SUNY Plattsburgh provides a comprehensive selection of majors; among the most notable degrees are education, journalism, arts, sciences, and business. Additionally, this school offers an expeditionary studies program, which is the only one in the nation to focus on outdoor sports.
#4 – The College of Saint Rose
Albany, New York
Total Enrollment: 4,345
Net Price: $23,643
Located in the state capital, the College of Saint Rose is a good college deal in New York for smaller class sizes and expert instructor faculty. This college’s academic curriculum is offered in four specialized schools; these schools include mathematics and science, arts and humanities, business, and education. There is a consistently high satisfaction rate among incoming freshman, as indicated by its 81% first year retention. Student surveys have also shown that Saint Rose has well-organized career counseling, job placement, mentorship, and tuition affordability assistance.
#3 – St. Francis College
Brooklyn, New York
Total Enrollment: 2,672
Net Price: $16,489
Established in the world-famous NYC borough of Brooklyn, St. Francis College is one of the most affordable private schools in New York. St. Francis is an especially diverse campus community, welcoming students from all ethnic, racial, and religious backgrounds. This college has nineteen academic departments with over 72 majors and minors; some of the most popular degree areas include criminal justice, nursing, education, communication arts, medical technology, and more. 97% of SFC students receive academic and need-based financial aid packages, many of which are in the form of grants or scholarships.
#2 – Manhattan College
Riverdale, New York
Total Enrollment: 4,071
Net Price: $32,502
Ranked one of the top twenty regional colleges by U.S. News and World Report, Manhattan College of the Bronx is known for its competitive academics and distinguished alumni. MC has an impressive 84% freshman retention rate, and the typical class size is only 23 students. Students of Manhattan College experience a quaint, neighborhood-oriented campus with quick access to the bright lights of New York City. An analysis of alumni salaries revealed a $615,000 return-on-investment, further proving this school to be a best small college deal in New York.
#1 – State University of New York at Geneseo
Geneseo, New York
Total Enrollment: 5,699
Net Price: $16,271
State University of New York at Geneseo is an academic leader both in the SUNY system and nationwide. Among its many respectable rankings, this college was just named among Princeton Review’s “Colleges that Pay You Back”; this ranking results from the school’s caliber of education and a $300K 20-year ROI. Students at Geneseo have a strong career support system that exists both while attending the school and a lifetime beyond. A great college deal in New York, SUNY Geneseo has the highest retention rate of all public universities in the state.
The preceding is a ranked list of the top 20 deals on small colleges in New York.
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