Hudson Valley Colleges: 15 of Our Greater Institutions of Learning

A profile of our region's top educational institutions.

Bard College's performing arts space.

Photo by Peter Aaron/Esto

Bard College


The school tagline, “a place to think,” says it all. From human rights to physics and studio arts to experimental humanities, the 1,300 classes offered to some 1,900 undergrads at this liberal arts dream school allow students to find their true calling and passion and construct individualized, interdisciplinary educational programs. The parklike campus is an architecture lover’s dream, with buildings ranging from postmodern to Gothic Revival.


Photo by Jack Thomas

The College of Saint Rose


Whether you want to learn how to write and perform commercial music as a touring artist or you aspire to be a mover and shaker in the biz, this liberal arts college in our state’s capital has you covered with its Music Industry program. The student-run, in-house Rose Record Label Group gives students hands-on experience in songwriting, record production, management, marketing, and music publishing.


Photo courtesy of the CIA

The Culinary Institute of America

Hyde Park

If you crave a food-focused future, this world-class culinary college will serve you well. Two-thirds of class time for the 2,770 undergraduate-degree-seeking candidates is spent minding the stove and working in the student-staffed public restaurants and cafes.  With alumni that include media personality Anthony Bourdain, award-winning cult restaurateur Grant Achatz, and Food Network veteran Cat Cora, they must be doing something right!


Photo courtesy of Jorge Meyer

Elizabeth Haub School of Law at Pace University

White Plains

One of the first law schools in the country to develop a comprehensive and integrated curriculum in environmental law, this Westchester power player offers three optional specializations: Global Environmental Law, Land Use and Sustainable Development Law, and Energy and Climate Change Law. Many graduates practice locally, giving students a supportive network with externship and employment in this emerging field.


Iona College

New Rochelle

Start in the summer of 2018 and by the time the sun sets on the summer of 2019, you’ll have earned yourself a Fast-Track MBA at this innovative program tweaked for savvy non-business students who want business grounding in their chosen field. Mix and match traditional classroom and online choices and (woo-hoo!) you’ll shave 10 months off the usual MBA route.


Photo courtesy of Marist College

Marist College


Talk about well rounded! With 23 Division I teams and 47 bachelor’s programs, this liberal arts powerhouse on the Hudson boasts a first-rate academic-sports combo. Not only is it all over the news for its top teams (women’s basketball is huge), but you’ll especially hear about its communications program, including the Marist Institute for Public Opinion and the Center for Sports Communication.


Mount Saint Mary College


Here’s what’s on the lesson plan at this go-to spot for aspiring teachers: Six undergraduate teaching programs leading to certification in childhood and adolescence education, a five-year bachelor’s and master’s degree combo, not to mention a Master of Science in Education.


Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI)


Founded in 1824 as America’s first technological research university, RPI has long been a fertile breeding ground for tomorrow’s engineers.  Bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degrees in engineering are all on offer, as well as advanced research in bio- and nano-technologies, computational science and engineering, and data science as it relates to the media arts (including virtual and augmented reality). Engineering alums include Steven Sasson, inventor of the first digital camera; Howard Isermann, a sunscreen pioneer; and numerous National Medal of Technology winners.



You can now earn a bachelor’s degree in corporate and homeland security management right in downtown Carmel, through a new partnership with Mercy College.


Rockland Community College

Suffern, Nyack

Jumpstart a new career or learn a fun skill through Rockland Adult & Community Education (RACE), which offers credit and noncredit courses and programs in the areas of healthcare, construction, finance, computers, exercise, and more. Look for a new culinary center with BOCES opening in the heart of Nyack, offering American Culinary Federation curriculum in basic and gourmet food production and customer service.;


Sarah Lawrence College


Educating some 1,400 undergrads on its 44-acre campus, this private co-ed institution is ranked 53rd nationally among liberal arts colleges by US News & World Report. A big claim to fame is having the lowest student-to-teacher ratio (9:1) in the country among its liberal arts cohorts, allowing faculty to spend more one-to-one time with students than professors do anywhere else. That’s why Princeton Review recently ranked its faculty No. 1.


Photo courtesy of SUNY New Paltz

SUNY New Paltz

New Paltz

In a changing world, we can’t say for sure what careers will be in demand a few years down the road. And that’s why this high-quality yet affordable institution in a charming college town covers its bases with a strong core curriculum that emphasizes skills in oral and written communication, integrative understanding, and critical and creative thinking — a base knowledge that can be applied to any future.


Photo by C. Woolf

Purchase College, State University of New York


As one of only five schools in the Consortium of Professional Theatre Training Programs, this Westchester standout’s Conservatory of Theatre Arts draws faculty from the ranks of Broadway specialists. The liberal arts school's performing arts center serves as a central laboratory and performance space for students training in acting and theatre design/technology programs. Alumni often hit the bigtime, going on to win Tony, Emmy, Obie, and Drama Desk awards. Don't forget about the sciences either. In the 2019 U.S. News and World Report Best Colleges rankings, the multifaceted school earned a spot in the top ten.


Photo Courtesy of SUNY Albany

University at Albany, SUNY


With an undergraduate degree from the School of Criminal Justice (now celebrating its 50th anniversary), graduates can pursue careers in research, law enforcement, government, and private agencies, and many go on to law school. The school also offers master’s and doctoral programs. Professors and alumni include international scholars who have been credited as game changers in police-community relations and leading researchers who influence public policy.


Photo Courtesy of United States Military Academy

United States Military

Academy at West Point

Built on the site of Revolutionary forts guarding the Hudson, the United States Military Academy is the oldest of the country’s five federal service academies. Each graduate is a commissioned leader on the officer track in the United States Army, joining the ranks of alumni Robert E. Lee, Ulysses S. Grant, H. Norman Schwarzkopf, and Kristin Baker, the first female Brigade Commander. No tuition, by the way!


Photo courtesy of Vassar College

Vassar College


Go ahead and take a dance class or audition for a play even if you’re an engineering or mathematics major. Known for its innovative open curriculum, this highly selective liberal arts school set on 1,000 landscaped acres takes a hands-off approach to class requirements, letting students forge their own paths. Notable alumni who have done just that include computer pioneer Grace Hopper, poet Elizabeth Bishop, actresses Meryl Streep and Lisa Kudrow, and writer-director Noah Baumbach.

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