Small liberal arts colleges in New York city

Last Updated on August 28, 2023

When considering going to study at small liberal arts colleges in new york city, you must consider some important elements like accommodation, tuition fees, acceptance rates, graduation rates, and employment rates. Based on your perspective, how does small liberal arts colleges in new york city rank in your view?
Using CollegeLearners, you can learn more about small liberal arts colleges in new york city by reading more about barnard college, hamilton college, liberal arts colleges in new york state, colgate university, and new york university.

Liberal Arts Colleges in New York

More than 130 four-year, degree-granting institutions are located in New York, the most of any state in the U.S. Dozens of colleges are within the State University of New York and City University of New York systems, two of the largest public university systems in the U.S. Higher education options in New York include many large research universities, midsize colleges, small liberal arts colleges, a couple of federal military academies and several specialized institutions in urban, suburban and rural environments. Top colleges and universities are located throughout New York, including in cities such as Buffalo, Rochester, Syracuse, Ithaca and the state capital, Albany.

Siena College

Siena College

New York has some of the best colleges in the country and the state of New York has the most four year degree-granting institutions among all the states in the United States at 130. The New York colleges include many large research universities, midsize colleges, as well as many small liberal arts colleges, in addition to a couple of federal military academies and many specialized institutions, with many located in urban and suburban environments.

Bard CollegeBard College is most commonly known for its English Language and Literature, Social Studies and Visual Performing Arts programs. It is accredited by the Commission on Higher Education of the Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools. One of the main goals of this college is to encourage students to uphold stable and enriching lives both professionally and individually in the public sector. Bard College is moderately selective. To read a detailed comparison between Bard College and Vassar College, visit this page.

Barnard CollegeBarnard College is a very competitive women’s college. The University of Columbia and Barnard College have a partnership agreement that allows students to use the same residence halls, obtain access to all the library and facility resources that each school offers. Barnard is a highly selective college.

Colgate UniversityColgate University is a highly ranked liberal arts college in Hamilton, NY. This college is known for its picturesque location, though Colgate also has a high graduation rate and it offers 52 undergraduate majors to its students for their Bachelor of Arts degree. It has a nine to one student to faculty ratio, and popular majors at this college are English Language and Literature, Economics, History. It is another highly selective college.

logo_hamilton-collegeHamilton College has a picturesque location in upstate New York. This is an acclaimed liberal arts college with its own chapter of Phi Beta Kappa. At this highly selective college, individualized instruction and independent research are given emphasis.

Hartwick CollegeHartwick College is located in Oneonta, NY, near the Catskill Mountains. One of the unconventional approaches Hartwick takes is their unique January Term. Another unique aspect of the Hartwick experience is the option for students to graduate college in three years. By participating in the Three-Year Bachelor’s Degree Program, students can save 25 percent of their financial costs. This school has a relatively high acceptance rate.

Hobart and William Smith CollegesHobart and William Smith Colleges is a leader in the liberal arts educational facilities, though Hobart and William Smith Colleges is also well-known for the political sciences programs offered. Many students also pursue double majors in Economics and Business Management here. Located in beautiful upstate New York, the Colleges offer the serene atmosphere of the Finger Lakes that inspires students to evoke their creative thinking and independence.

Houghton CollegeHoughton College offers a well-rounded liberal arts and science education to students of all religious backgrounds, and strives to provide students with the knowledge, leadership skills and professional qualities needed to help them survive in life after graduation. The student body at Houghton College represents over 35 states and 30 countries. Houghton College has accreditation from the Middle States Association of Schools and Colleges, and is a moderately selective college.

Purchase College – SUNYPurchase College–SUNY offers close to 50 majors such as economics, creative writing, and sociology. Located just outside of New York City, this college provides a unique, well-rounded education to its students through both standard courses such as science and math as well as art courses, making them think outside the box. This college helps its students incorporate art in their studies by offering majors such as film, printmaking, and cinematography combined with business, math, and English courses. It is a fairly selective college.

Siena CollegeSiena College has a long standing affiliation with the Catholic Franciscan beliefs. Over 50 majors are available to a student at Siena College: this private school offers students plenty of ways to get involved with student life including athletics, academic, political and community service organizations. This is a moderately selective college.

logo_skidmore-collegeSkidmore College is a private liberal arts college where students can pursue a bachelor of science degree and a bachelor of arts degree. Students can choose from more than 60 areas of study at this college. A Bachelor of Science degree is awarded to those taking up subjects like Art-Studio, Dance, Dance-Theater, Education, Exercise Science, Business, Social Work, and Theater. There is a chapter of the honor society Phi Beta Kappa in Skidmore, and it is a moderately selective college.

St Lawrence UniversitySt. Lawrence University is known for its Economics and Political Science programs, and many St. Lawrence University alumni graduate to play an active role in political groups and local governments. There are over 35 majors in addition to the liberal arts and political based degrees at St. Lawrence University, located in Canton, NY. Many students prefer to pursue a double major in order to maximize their college experience and obtain multi-level degree backgrounds to optimize their professional preparation.

Union CollegeUnion College in Schenectady, NY, is one of the oldest institutions to receive a charter in the state of New York. Union college offers a wide range of courses in the liberal arts, sciences, literature, and foreign languages. Popular Degrees are Psychology, Economics, Biology and Biological Sciences. Around 40 majors are available to the students there, and it is a moderately selective college.

Vassar CollegeVassar College is a highly selective college. This school has a 9 to 1 student to faculty ratio and average class size of 17. Vassar has a chapter of Phi Beta Kappa for its strengths in the liberal arts and sciences. The college offers Bachelor of Arts degree in over 50 majors, some of the more popular majors being English, political science, biology, economics and psychology. To read a detailed comparison between Vassar College and Bard College, visit this page.

Wells CollegeWells College, located in Aurora, NY, is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education. At this school, most students live on campus, so there are always activities happening for students to participate in. Wells is a moderately selective college.

For a prospective student looking to make a career in the liberal arts arena, New York offers a wide choice of excellent colleges to graduate from. By choosing one of New York colleges, a student will have access to vibrant cultural life and wonderful educational and career opportunities, in addition to a well-rounded high-quality education.

The 10 Best Liberal Arts Colleges in New York

Colleges in New York

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New York State is home to some of the most prestigious liberal arts colleges in the United States. These schools, though small, offer a plethora of opportunities for students and graduates, equipping them with important skills and preparing for the intellectual rigors of their careers and lives. Thinking of attending a liberal arts college? Find out more about New York’s top liberal arts schools.

How are Liberal Arts Colleges Different?

Liberal arts colleges are different from research universities primarily in their size and academic focus. At around 3,000 students or fewer, LACs are typically much smaller than even the smallest of research universities (many have enrollments of just under 2,000). This leads to smaller class sizes of often 20 students or fewer. A class of 50-100 people would be considered “large” at a liberal arts college, and these are rare and usually only for introductory STEM classes.

At liberal arts colleges, professors are also more focused on teaching, rather than research. Professors teach their own classes and hold frequent office hours, allowing you to develop stronger relationships with them. This can be especially helpful for students planning to attend graduate school (like pre-law or pre-med students), as these stronger relationships lead to better mentorship and standout letters of recommendation.

Content-wise, these schools focus on helping students develop important broad, interdisciplinary skills that can be applied to any career and life in general, such as critical thinking. While universities also address these skills, they usually emphasize career preparation more heavily. 

In order to expose students to a wide range of disciplines and encourage them to develop core competencies, curricula are usually broad. There may be more general education and interdisciplinary requirements than you’ll find at a university. Some liberal arts colleges even have an open curriculum, where there are no general education requirements, and you’re totally free to explore your interests.

For more about what sets liberal arts colleges apart, see our post: What is a Liberal Arts College, and How Are They Different?

Best Liberal Arts Colleges in New York

  1. Barnard College
    Location: New York

Acceptance rate: 14%

U.S. News Ranking: 25

Middle 50% SAT/ACT: SAT—1340-1520; ACT—30-34

Enrollment: 2,682 undergraduates

Barnard is the only surviving Seven Sister college to remain affiliated with its “brother” school, Columbia University. Barnard College is also still women-only and offers a small campus feel in Manhattan’s Morningside Heights. Students may take courses at Columbia, as well as join clubs, sports teams, sororities, and other organizations at the Ivy League university. Given its location and many resources, Barnard’s students enjoy numerous opportunities, including internships at premier organizations, discounted and free event tickets, and much more.

  1. Colgate University
    Location: Hamilton

Acceptance rate: 25%

U.S. News Ranking: 17

Middle 50% SAT/ACT: SAT—1410-1520; ACT—31-34

Enrollment: 2,994

Colgate may be located in a rural setting, but that’s part of the appeal for many students who appreciate the stunning scenery, including beautiful foliage in the fall. In addition to offering a rigorous academic curriculum with dedicated faculty, the school has a top-notch, Division I athletic program. Greek life is popular on campus, but even if fraternities and sororities don’t appeal to you, you’ll find plenty of activities and organizations that do.

  1. Hamilton College
    Location: Clinton

Acceptance rate: 16%

U.S. News Ranking: 14

Middle 50% SAT/ACT: SAT—1410-1510; ACT—32-34

Enrollment: 1,850

With a close-knit, friendly campus and caring instructors, Hamilton offers a strong sense of community in a rural, intimate atmosphere. The school was founded at the end of the 18th century and is the third-oldest institution of higher learning in New York, after Columbia and Union College. Its flexible curriculum is one of its biggest draws for students—there are no distribution requirements, so students have almost total control over their course schedules.

  1. Hobart and William Smith Colleges
    Location: Geneva

Acceptance rate: 57%

U.S. News Ranking: 72

Middle 50% SAT/ACT: SAT—1210-1370: ACT—28

Enrollment: 2,229

Situated in the heart of the picturesque Finger Lakes region, Hobart and William Smith Colleges are two partnered colleges for men and women respectively. Although students all live on a single campus, attend the same classes, and participate in clubs and organizations together, men receive their degrees from Hobart, while women receive them from William Smith. The curriculum follows a singular principle, adopted in 2014–15 school year: “Explore. Collaborate. Act.” In order to meet the academic requirements, students must devise a curriculum under the guidance of faculty members that will enable them to hone their critical thinking, communication, ethical judgment, and other skills.

  1. Sarah Lawrence College
    Location: Bronxville

Acceptance rate: 56%

U.S. News Ranking: 68

Middle 50% SAT/ACT: SAT—1240-1420; ACT—27-32

Enrollment: 1,377

Located just outside of New York City, Sarah Lawrence offers a unique approach to learning. Under the guidance of a faculty advisor (called a “Don”), students design their curricula, which is filled with seminars and workshops. The colleges boast that students spend more one-on-one time with “award-winning faculty” than at any other college in the United States. Part of this model includes biweekly student-faculty conferences. Students also have the opportunity to “interview” with faculty prior to taking their courses to get a taste of the class before enrolling.

  1. Skidmore College
    Location: Saratoga Springs

Acceptance rate: 27%

U.S. News Ranking: 39

Middle 50% SAT/ACT: SAT—1223-1400; ACT—27-31

Enrollment: 2,500

Offering an interdisciplinary approach to academics, Skidmore’s program has several unique facets. One particularly notable aspect is the Scribner Freshman Seminar Program, in which first-year students participate in a year-long seminar with themes like “What to Eat?” and “K-Pop.” These interdisciplinary courses prepare students for the rigors of a college curriculum and providing mentoring, with both faculty advisors and peer mentors. The school is located in the historic city of Saratoga Springs, home to the oldest thoroughbred racetracks in the U.S. and many cultural institutions.

  1. St. Lawrence University
    Location: Canton

Acceptance rate: 46%

U.S. News Ranking: 58

Middle 50% SAT/ACT: SAT—1655-1890 (ACT information not available)

Enrollment: 2,522

The oldest coed university in New York State, St. Lawrence University is currently a nondenominational institution, although it was initially founded by Universalist ministers. It offers 40 majors, including a combined MBA program with Clarkson University and a 3+2 engineering program run with five institutions. SLU’s First-Year Program, in which freshmen live and study together and develop important writing, speaking, and research skills, is one of the oldest living-learning programs in the U.S. There are also ample study-abroad opportunities, with 30 programs across the world, including the oldest U.S. study abroad program in Africa (a five-acre campus in Kenya). Students live in coed “Theme Houses”with like-minded students.

  1. Union College
    Location: Schenectady

Acceptance rate: 39%

U.S. News Ranking: 45

Middle 50% SAT/ACT: SAT—1290-1410; ACT—28-32

Enrollment: 2,150

The second-oldest institution of higher learning in New York State after Columbia, Union College was founded in 1795. Unlike many of its peers, Union follows a trimester system with three 10-week terms and an extended winter break. The college boasts small class sizes and offers accelerated programs, including Leadership in Medicine and 3+3 Accelerated Law Program. Students and faculty may reside in houses that offer classes, extracurricular activities, and more, providing a community. As the “Mother of Fraternities,” Union has a thriving Greek life, with three of the oldest fraternities in the country founded on the campus.

  1. US Military Academy at West Point
    Location: West Point

Acceptance rate: 10%

U.S. News Ranking: 21

Middle 50% SAT/ACT: SAT—1185-1400; ACT—23-28

Enrollment: 4,491

The premier service institution in the U.S., the US Military Academy at West Point, known as “West Point,” graduates leaders across industries like government, business, and, of course, the military. Not only do graduates praise the stellar leadership and academic preparation, but they also enjoy a wealth of extracurricular opportunities, including such otherworldly activities as scuba diving with NASA astronauts and working in government research facilities. Cadets must be nominated by their Congressional representative as part of the application process.

  1. Vassar College
    Location: Poughkeepsie

Acceptance rate: 23%

U.S. News Ranking: 14

Middle 50% SAT/ACT: SAT—1390-1530; ACT—32-34

Enrollment: 2,456

The first of the Seven Sisters institutions to become coed when it began admitting men in 1969, Vassar remains a prestigious and academically rigorous college, with alumnae who include Grace Hopper, Meryl Streep, and Elizabeth Bishop. The college is known for its diverse student body and is consistently ranked as one of the most LGBTQ-friendly campuses in the country. In addition to offering a stellar academic curriculum, Vassar has plenty of extracurricular opportunities, including the Night Owls (one of the oldest-remaining all-female a capella groups), the Butterbeer Brewers (the campus Quidditch team), and many other activities.

Whether you’re looking to attend a small liberal arts college in New York or a large university in California, CollegeVine will give you the guidance and support to help you get there. Our free Admissions Calculator will estimate your real chances of acceptance at top colleges and universities. Plus, you’ll learn tips on how to boost your profile to help you gain admission to your dream school. Sign up for your free CollegeVine account today to get a jumpstart on your college strategy.

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