Hudson Valley Colleges: 14 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


Devoted to promoting the ideals of liberal arts education, Bard provides its 1,900 main-campus undergraduates (and growing numbers of students in programs worldwide) with a well-rounded foundation in the humanities and sciences. Centers for film and digital arts, human rights, and music offer just some of the school’s selection of dream majors. In 2018, Bard became a member institution of the nonprofit Colleges That Change Lives, and accepted a grant to convert the campus to net-zero energy by 2035.


Photo by Jack Thomas

The College of Saint Rose


Founded as a Catholic college for women and maintaining a strong spiritual presence, the College of Saint Rose is a storied nonprofit in Albany’s bustling center. The College of Saint Rose is currently ramping up programs that set students’ sights on higher-paying fields but remain grounded in well-rounded liberal arts curricula. The college implemented its new cybersecurity major in 2018, and starting in 2019, The College of Saint Rose’s marketing program will launch New York State’s first concentration in sales management.


Photo courtesy of the CIA

The Culinary Institute of America

Hyde Park

The main campus of the nation’s premier culinary institute comprises four hands-on restaurants staffed by students and overseen by professor-chefs. Specializing in American and western European cuisines, the Hyde Park location also hosts the CIA’s pastry and baking program and its Center for Italian Food and Wine. A new Bachelor of Science program in hospitality management debuted in the 2018-2019 school year.


Iona College

New Rochelle

Occupying a convenient campus in New Rochelle, Iona boasts Division I athletics and comprehensive academics. Its School of Business offers a robust selection of specialties at the B.A. level and has its own Institute for Entrepreneurship & Innovation. In 2018, Iona redesigned its accelerated MBA program, and broke ground for a new building that will offer high-tech facilities to both the School of Business and the School of Arts & Science.


Photo courtesy of Marist College

Marist College


Located right on the Poughkeepsie riverfront, this mid-size private school is close-knit with its local community; Marist fosters its focus on technology and innovation via its special partnership with IBM. The 2018-2019 school year saw the opening of Marist’s Security Operations Center for a brand-new major in cybersecurity.


Mount Saint Mary College


Founded as a school for educators, this small liberal arts private school has a lot going for it: a student-faculty ratio of 13:1, a beautiful riverfront setting, and its close proximity to NYC providing great internship opportunities. Mount Saint Mary students are particularly drawn to the fields of health care, psychology, sociology, and business. In the summer of 2018, MSMC made handicap-accessible major renovations to its main academic building, and will roll out a second wave of campus improvements in 2019.


Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI)


Known for most of its history as one of the nation’s elite STEM schools, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute is a nearly two-century-old research university overlooking the city of Troy. RPI’s venerated research projects run the gamut of scientific specialties, from astrobiology to nanotechnology. The Department of Education awarded RPI a 2018 grant to expand its interdisciplinary PhD programs in aeronautical and mechanical engineering.


Sarah Lawrence College


Known for its flexible and individualized programs of study, this venerable private school prides itself on its 9-to-1 student-faculty ratio. With strong programs in humanities, theater, and writing, Sarah Lawrence has produced numerous notable alumnae in creative fields. The college’s donor-funded Barbara Walters Campus Center, representing the school’s commitment to sustainability and community, will open in 2019.


Photo courtesy of SUNY New Paltz

SUNY New Paltz

New Paltz

One of the SUNY network’s founding schools, SUNY New Paltz embraces creativity and change. While its mechanical engineering program is particularly renowned, its innovative interdisciplinary programs are among its particular strengths. Slated to open in 2019, the school’s new Engineering Innovation Hub will support the department’s 3D printing initiatives and help boost engineers’ contributions to Hudson Valley manufacturing.


Photo by C. Woolf

Purchase College, State University of New York


The self-described “eccentric cousin of the SUNY family,” Purchase provides a creative range of cultural offerings on its 500-acre campus. A first-choice school for performing arts majors, SUNY Purchase confers a wealth of arts degrees that account for more than 40% of its student body.


Photo Courtesy of SUNY Albany

University at Albany, SUNY


The Hudson Valley’s largest SUNY school garners attention for its rigorous research programs and Division I athletics. With an emphasis on career prep, the University at Albany has research initiatives on up-and-coming disciplines like atmospheric science, biotechnology, and public policy. Late in 2018, Albany announced a cutting-edge overhaul of its information technology services to help create more individualized and sophisticated courses.


Photo Courtesy of United States Military Academy

United States Military Academy

West Point

More than two centuries old, the US Military Academy at West Point is committed to furnishing future leaders with a well-rounded education in liberal arts and sciences. One of the nation’s first engineering schools, it continues to draw students to its civil and mechanical engineering programs. Its sports teams get yearly national attention, and USMA graduates have even gone into space.


Photo courtesy of Vassar College

Vassar College


This small school’s idyllic arboretum campus is home to a lively student cultural scene. Among its most popular bachelor’s programs are English, psychology, biology, and economics, and students can even self-design an independent major. In the fall of 2018, Vassar became the leader of a four-college consortium on the global refugee crisis, and launched a Dutchess Community College partnership.


Westchester Community College


First-time and continuing students all have paths to associate degrees and certifications at Westchester County’s largest school. Its satellite centers for the creative arts can be found around the county. Last year (2018) saw a number of WCC developments geared at meeting the needs of lower-income students, including a program to make childcare accessible to student parents and a scholarship program for “at-risk” high school students.

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