Best SUNY Schools

Updated on January 4, 2024

The State University of New York (SUNY) system contains 64 campuses across New York. With so many options to choose from, narrowing down the best SUNY schools can be challenging. This article highlights 10 of the top SUNY schools based on academics, value, campus life, athletics, and more.

University at Albany

Location: Albany, NY Rating: 8/10 Acceptance Rate: 58%

Avg SAT Score: 1270 Tuition: $10,870 (in-state)


The University at Albany is the flagship campus of the SUNY system. It is a public research university that offers over 120 undergraduate majors and minors. Albany has a competitive acceptance rate and above-average SAT scores compared to other SUNY schools. Campus life includes over 200 clubs and organizations, Division I athletics, and unique traditions like the Alumni Quad fountain tradition.

Binghamton University

Location: Binghamton, NY Rating: 9/10 Acceptance Rate: 44% Avg SAT Score: 1350 Tuition: $10,870 (in-state) Website:

Binghamton University, also known as SUNY Binghamton or Binghamton U, is one of the top public universities in the Northeast. It has a nationally-ranked business school and excellent programs in nursing, engineering, and the sciences. Binghamton combines an Ivy League-caliber education with reasonable in-state tuition rates. The school has a vibrant social scene and Division I athletics.

University at Buffalo

Location: Buffalo, NY Rating: 8/10

Acceptance Rate: 58% Avg SAT Score: 1270

Tuition: $10,870 (in-state) Website:

The University at Buffalo (UB) is the largest and most comprehensive school in the SUNY system. UB offers over 100 bachelor’s degree options across 13 schools and colleges. Academics are supplemented by Division I athletics, 500+ campus organizations, internship opportunities, and an extensive alumni network. UB’s suburban location provides a traditional college campus environment near Buffalo attractions.

Stony Brook University

Location: Stony Brook, NY Rating: 9/10 Acceptance Rate: 41% Avg SAT Score: 1360 Tuition: $10,870 (in-state) Website:

Stony Brook University is often called the “crown jewel” of SUNY. It provides an exceptional, highly-rated education comparable to top public universities nationwide. Stony Brook is a leading research institution with high admissions standards. It offers quality academic programs in STEM fields, business, nursing, social sciences, fine arts, and more. The 1,000+ acre campus has abundant green space and is located near Long Island beaches.

University at Albany, SUNY

Location: Albany, NY Rating: 8/10

Acceptance Rate: 58% Avg SAT Score: 1270 Tuition: $10,870 (in-state) Website:

As the flagship campus of SUNY, the University at Albany provides top academics combined with Division I athletics. UAlbany is designated a “University Center” for its extensive research activity and doctoral program offerings. Popular undergraduate majors include business, criminal justice, communication, psychology, and political science. The suburban Albany location appeals to students who want small city amenities near campus.

Purchase College, SUNY

Location: Purchase, NY Rating: 8/10 Acceptance Rate: 52% Avg SAT Score: 1180 Tuition: $10,870 (in-state) Website:

Purchase College is SUNY’s public liberal arts college, offering programs in the arts, humanities, social sciences, and natural sciences & mathematics. All students take interdisciplinary core courses focused on critical thinking and writing skills. Purchase has abundant arts facilities, opportunities to showcase student work, and proximity to New York City internships. The campus features historic buildings and has been used as a filming location.

SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry (ESF)

Location: Syracuse, NY Rating: 9/10 Acceptance Rate: 66%

Avg SAT Score: 1230 Tuition: $10,870 (in-state) Website:

ESF is one of North America’s leading colleges focused on environmental, natural resources, and forest sciences. It offers highly-specialized academic programs not found elsewhere in SUNY. Students benefit from outdoor lab facilities both on campus and at ESF’s Adirondack forest properties. ESF partners with Syracuse University, enabling students to enjoy amenities at both campuses. Graduates pursue careers in green industries and environmental policy.

SUNY Cortland

Location: Cortland, NY Rating: 8/10

Acceptance Rate: 76% Avg SAT Score: 1090 Tuition: $10,870 (in-state)


SUNY Cortland is New York’s premier public college for teaching education degrees. Future teachers can enroll in affordable Bachelor’s or Master’s programs focused on early childhood, elementary, secondary, or special education. SUNY Cortland’s small college town environment appeals to education majors seeking tight-knit campus community. Facilities include the state-of-the-art Corey Union student center with dining and fitness amenities.

SUNY Maritime College

Location: Throgg’s Neck, NY Rating: 8/10 Acceptance Rate: 40%

Avg SAT Score: 1170 Tuition: $10,870 (in-state) Website:

Located on a waterfront campus overlooking the East River and Long Island Sound, SUNY Maritime prepares students for marine and related industries. It is the only maritime academy in SUNY and offers degrees like Marine Engineering, International Transportation Management, and Marine Environmental Science. Cadets participate in regimental life modeled after military academies. Unique facilities include the college’s 565-foot Training Ship Empire State VI.

SUNY College of Optometry

Location: Manhattan, NY Rating: 10/10 Acceptance Rate: 3%

Avg DAT Score: Academic Average 20 Tuition: $10,870 (in-state) $29,000 (out-of-state) Website:

The College of Optometry is SUNY’s only optometry doctoral program and one of just 23 schools accredited in the U.S. Admissions are extremely selective with high academic requirements and rigorous DAT testing. Graduates earn an OD (Doctor of Optometry) degree enabling them to practice optometry. Training facilities are located on a modern campus in New York City with clinical affiliations at vision care sites across the metro.

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Frequently Asked Questions

What is the best SUNY school overall?

The top SUNY school overall is generally considered to be Stony Brook University. SBU combines Ivy League-level academics with reasonable in-state tuition rates, premier programs in STEM and healthcare fields, Division I athletics, and an attractive campus location near Long Island beaches.

Which SUNY school has the highest acceptance rate?

Among the most selective SUNY schools profiled here, SUNY Cortland has the highest acceptance rate at 76%. Other SUNY schools with high acceptance rates include SUNY Oswego (75%), SUNY Oneonta (73%), and SUNY Plattsburgh (71%).

What GPA and SAT scores do I need for SUNY schools?

Admissions standards vary greatly by campus. Top-tier SUNY schools like Binghamton, Stony Brook, and the University at Buffalo typically expect GPAs of at least 3.6+ and SATs above 1200. Statewide averages for admitted students are roughly 3.4 GPA and 1100 SAT.

How much does it cost to attend SUNY schools?

As public universities in New York’s state university system, SUNY schools offer relative affordability and value. Published in-state tuition and fees average $10,870. Total costs with room & board average $25,880 for in-state residents. Out-of-state tuition can be 2-3 times higher.

The most popular undergraduate majors throughout SUNY include Business, Nursing, Psychology, Biology, Engineering, Communications, Education, Political Science, Criminal Justice, and Applied Mathematics. Unique majors are also offered related to Health Sciences, Forestry, Marine Transportation, and other niche programs.

Are SUNY schools good for pre-med?

Yes, many SUNY campuses provide exceptional pre-medical preparation coupled with undergraduate research opportunities. Top options for pre-med within SUNY include Binghamton University, Stony Brook University, and the University at Buffalo thanks to their high MCAT averages and medical school placement rates.

What extracurricular activities are offered at SUNY schools?

Nearly all SUNY campuses provide extensive extracurricular involvement through student clubs/organizations, Greek life, Division I or II athletics programs, and on-campus employment opportunities. Students can further supplement academics through research, internships, study abroad, service learning, and other enrichment programs.

How safe are SUNY college campuses?

Most SUNY schools publish annual security reports showing relatively low crime rates compared to national averages. Campuses provide 24/7 security staff, emergency towers, escort services at night, and other precautions to protect student safety. Additionally, most SUNYs have their own university police department and emergency alert systems.

Are the dorms nice at SUNY schools?

Dorm quality varies by SUNY campus, age of buildings, and room type. Most offer traditional communal bath dorms along with apartment or suite-style living arrangements, sometimes with private bathrooms. Select SUNYs have invested in luxury residence halls or living-learning communities to attract prospective students.

Can I transfer between SUNY schools?

Yes, SUNY has an extensive transfer pathway system to facilitate transfers between 2-year community colleges, technical colleges, comprehensive 4-year schools, and research universities. Best practices for smooth credit transfer include choosing a transfer major early and consulting advisors at both the current and future SUNY campus.

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Rohit Mittal is the co-founder and CEO of Stilt. Rohit has extensive experience in credit risk analytics and data science. He spent years building credit risk and fraud models for top U.S. banks. In his current role, he defines the overall business strategy, leads debt and capital fundraising efforts, leads product development, and leads other customer-related aspects for the company. Stilt is backed by Y Combinator and has raised a total of $275M in debt and equity funding to date.

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