Best CUNY Schools

Updated on January 5, 2024

The City University of New York (CUNY) system comprises 25 institutions throughout New York City’s five boroughs. With a mix of community colleges, senior colleges, graduate schools, and professional schools, CUNY offers affordable, high-quality education to over 275,000 degree-seeking students each year.

Below are 10 of the top-rated CUNY schools based on factors like acceptance rates, average SAT scores, graduation rates, and post-graduation earnings.

Baruch College

Location: New York, NY

Rating: 8/10

Acceptance Rate: 62%

Avg SAT Score: 1250

Tuition: $7,000 per year (in-state)

Avg Salary After Graduation: $64,100

Website: baruch.cuny.edu

Baruch College is regularly ranked among the top public colleges in the Northeast. Business is its forte, with U.S. News & World Report ranking Baruch’s undergraduate and MBA programs among the nation’s best business schools. Its 14,000 students benefit from small class sizes, stellar career resources, and affordable tuition.

Brooklyn College

Location: Brooklyn, NY

Rating: 8/10

Acceptance Rate: 63%

Avg SAT Score: 1170

Tuition: $7,000 per year (in-state)

Avg Salary After Graduation: $51,900

Website: brooklyn.cuny.edu

Brooklyn College provides students with a vibrant campus life and challenging academics at a reasonable price. Its scenic 35-acre campus houses over 15,000 undergraduate students. Popular degree choices include business, education, health and nutrition sciences, and psychology. Many students also complement their studies through the college’s study abroad program.

City College of New York

Location: New York, NY

Rating: 8/10

Acceptance Rate: 40%

Avg SAT Score: 1210

Tuition: $7,000 per year (in-state)

Avg Salary After Graduation: $58,800

Website: ccny.cuny.edu

Known as the “Harvard of the Proletariat,” City College has an impressive history and continues to provide students an affordable, quality education. It enrolls over 16,000 students within its schools of architecture, education, engineering, and science. The college is especially strong in science and engineering, with graduates routinely accepted to top medical schools and PhD programs.

Hunter College

Location: New York, NY

Rating: 8/10

Acceptance Rate: 29%

Avg SAT Score: 1220

Tuition: $7,000 per year (in-state)

Avg Salary After Graduation: $56,600

Website: hunter.cuny.edu

Hunter College claims several superlatives as the largest college in the CUNY system with over 20,000 enrolled students. Undergraduates can select from over 170 areas of study with standout programs in education, health sciences, humanities, mathematics & statistics, natural sciences, and social sciences. Small class sizes ensure students don’t get lost in the crowd.

John Jay College of Criminal Justice

Location: New York, NY

Rating: 8/10

Acceptance Rate: 46%

Avg SAT Score: 1100

Tuition: $7,000 per year (in-state)

Avg Salary After Graduation: $59,100

Website: jjay.cuny.edu

Students wanting careers in criminal justice or related fields flock to John Jay. Areas of study include correctional studies, criminal justice, criminology, forensic psychology, forensic science, public administration, and security management. The college also hosts several research centers advancing the study of justice policy and practice.

Lehman College

Location: Bronx, NY

Rating: 7/10

Acceptance Rate: 68%

Avg SAT Score: 1050

Tuition: $7,000 per year (in-state)

Avg Salary After Graduation: $50,800

Website: lehman.cuny.edu

Lehman College grants bachelor’s and master’s degrees across 58 degree programs, with its schools of education and health sciences particularly well-regarded. Undergraduate students can also take part in valuable research opportunities, with past projects funded by NASA, the National Institutes of Health, and the National Science Foundation.

Queens College

Location: Queens, NY

Rating: 8/10

Acceptance Rate: 41%

Avg SAT Score: 1180

Tuition: $7,000 per year (in-state)

Avg Salary After Graduation: $56,100

Website: qc.cuny.edu

Queens College sits on an 80-acre campus and hosts over 20,000 students within five schools spanning the arts, humanities, mathematics, social sciences, and education. Its surgical technology and actuarial science programs rank among the nation’s best. Students also have opportunities to present research at national conferences and work alongside faculty on publishing academic papers.

The College of Staten Island

Location: Staten Island, NY

Rating: 7/10

Acceptance Rate: 63%

Avg SAT Score: 1080

Tuition: $7,000 per year (in-state)

Avg Salary After Graduation: $51,600

Website: csi.cuny.edu

The College of Staten Island grants associate’s, bachelor’s and master’s degrees across liberal arts programs and professional studies. Undergraduates can take advantage of smaller class sizes to build strong connections with faculty mentor. They also enjoy access to the college’s state-of-the-art science complex featuring research-grade lab equipment.

York College

Location: Jamaica, NY

Rating: 7/10

Acceptance Rate: 85%

Avg SAT Score: 980

Tuition: $7,000 per year (in-state)

Avg Salary After Graduation: $44,600

Website: york.cuny.edu

York College grants associate’s and bachelor’s degrees across over 50 academic programs. Business, health professions and sciences are popular undergraduate majors. The college has an expansive 164-acre campus featuring technologically advanced classrooms, specialized research labs, a performing arts center, and NCAA athletic facilities.

Hostos Community College

Location: Bronx, NY

Rating: 7/10

Acceptance Rate: 4-year college transfers – open enrollment

Tuition: $4,800 per year (in-state)

Avg Salary After Graduation: $30,100

Website: hostos.cuny.edu

Hostos Community College offers associate degree and certificate programs focused on allied health careers, business and accounting, criminal justice, liberal arts, mathematics, and more. Over 5,400 students take day or evening classes at Hostos. The college has transfer agreements in place with multiple CUNY and SUNY schools as well as private liberal arts colleges.

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Frequently Asked Questions

Which CUNY school has the highest acceptance rate?

York College has the highest undergraduate acceptance rate at 85%. Hostos Community College also maintains an open admissions policy.

What is the easiest CUNY school to get into?

Hostos Community College has an open admissions policy and is typically the easiest CUNY school for students to get into. Students will still need a high school diploma or equivalent.

Which CUNY has the lowest tuition?

All CUNY schools charge the same undergraduate base tuition rate for full-time in-state students at around $7,000 per academic year. Individual fees and charges may vary by campus.

What CUNY schools offer online degrees?

Many CUNY schools offer online degree programs including Baruch College, City College, College of Staten Island, Hunter College, John Jay College, Lehman College, York College and more. Students should check with individual schools for online options.

Does CUNY offer scholarships?

Yes, CUNY offers various need-based and merit-based scholarship opportunities to qualifying undergraduate, graduate, and international students. Some specific schools also offer their own scholarships. Students should check individual CUNY school websites for details.

Do CUNY schools have dorms?

Baruch, City, Hunter, Lehman, Queens and York Colleges have on-campus housing available. Brooklyn, College of Staten Island, John Jay do not have dorms. Students would need to seek off-campus housing.

What GPA do you need to get into CUNY?

CUNY does not publish a minimum GPA requirement. Admissions are competitive with most schools preferring a high school GPA of at least 3.0 or higher. Top CUNY colleges often look for a 3.5 GPA or above.

Can I get into CUNY with low SAT scores?

Yes, you may still gain admission to certain CUNY schools with below average SAT scores. Less competitive colleges like Hostos, York or Borough of Manhattan accept scores down to 800s. More competitive colleges want scores 1100+ or higher.

Is CUNY better than SUNY?

Both CUNY and SUNY systems offer high quality, affordable education options. CUNY focuses solely on New York City while SUNY has colleges throughout the state. Comparing individual schools for factors like program strength and outcomes helps determine what school is “best” for each student.

How much does it cost to attend CUNY for 4 years?

In-state tuition is around $28,000 for a 4-year CUNY bachelor’s degree. Students also need to budget for fees, room, board, books and other costs. Total 4-year cost likely ranges from $50,000 to $90,000 depending on the individual school and program.

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