In the U.S. state of New York, public education is overseen by the University of the State of New York (USNY) (distinct from the State University of New York, known as SUNY), its policy-setting Board of Regents, and its administrative arm, the New York State Education Department; this includes all public primary, middle-level, and secondary education in the state. The New York City Department of Education, which manages the public school system in New York City, is the largest school district in the United States, with more students than the combined population of eight U.S. states. Over 1 million students are taught in more than 1,200 separate public and private schools throughout the state.

Primary and secondary schools

Public secondary education consists of high schools that teach elective courses in trades, languages, and liberal arts with tracks for gifted, college-bound and industrial arts students. New York is one of seven states that mandate the teaching of Holocaust and genocide studies at some point in elementary or secondary school curricula.

One of the major public policy issues in recent decades has been the attempt by poorer communities to get more state funding to compensate for what they cannot generate in property taxes. The reliance of most communities on local property taxes to support schools has created the paradoxical situation of residents in wealthier communities paying a lower tax rate than residents in communities of lower average income.[citation needed]

While state law has required integrated schools since 1900 (overturning an 1894 law that permitted communities to establish separate schools for children of African-American descent[1]), patterns of residential segregation in many areas has often led to de facto segregated schools. As studies have shown the importance of integrating children from different economic classes, more than ethnic groups, communities are devising different methods, such as magnet schools, to deal with attracting diverse groups of students.

Charter schools

Main article: Charter schools in New York

As of 2013, there were 183 charter schools serving 70,000 students in the state.


Carol O'Connor notes that between 1896 and 1935, the state legislature made eight amendments to the compulsory education law. The solons were responding to pressure from labor unions and advocates of child welfare. The goal was to keep children in school for a longer period of time, which would in turn keep them off the labor market. Labor permits for children under 16 steadily became harder to obtain.[2]

Between 2000 and 2009, school enrollment declined by 121,000 students, and the number of teachers increased by 15,000. The student:teacher ratio was the eighth lowest in the country, 13:1. At $16,000, its per student spending was the nation's highest.[3]

Colleges and universities

The SUNY System

Main article: State University of New York

Academic Complex at Binghamton University

New York's statewide public university system is the State University of New York (SUNY). Its top-ranked schools are SUNY at Albany, Binghamton University, University at Buffalo, and Stony Brook University.

With a total enrollment of 459,550 students and 1.1 million continuing education students spanning 64 campuses across the state, SUNY is the largest comprehensive public university system in the United States. New York's largest public university is the State University of New York at Buffalo, which was founded by Millard Fillmore.[4][5] The campuses are a mix of community colleges, technical colleges, undergraduate colleges, and doctoral-granting institutions, with the latter including the four university centers (University at Albany, Binghamton University, University at Buffalo, and Stony Brook University).

The SUNY system includes the following campuses, broken down into the categories of University Centers, other doctoral-granting institutions including five statutory institutions, Comprehensive Colleges, Technology Colleges, and Community Colleges.

Doctoral-Granting Institutions

University Centers

Other doctoral-granting institutions and statutory colleges

One statutory college at Alfred University:

Four statutory colleges at Cornell University (which are legally and technically part of Cornell):

Comprehensive Colleges

Technology Colleges

Community Colleges

The CUNY System

The City University of New York (CUNY) is the public university system of New York City and is independent of the SUNY system. It is the largest urban university in the United States, with 11 senior colleges, an honors college, 7 community colleges, a doctorate-granting graduate school, a journalism school, a law school, the CUNY School of Medicine, a professional studies school, and a public health school. More than 274,000 degree-credit, adult, continuing and professional education students are enrolled at campuses located in all five New York City boroughs.

CUNY consists of the following 24 colleges, including the senior colleges, community colleges, graduate and professional institutions.

Senior Colleges

Community Colleges

Graduate and professional schools

Private universities

Butler Library at Columbia University in the City of New York, which has the largest endowment of any higher education institution in New York.
Old Stone Row on the Arts Quadrangle, Cornell University.

New York has hundreds of private colleges and universities, including many religious and special-purpose institutions. The state's land-grant university is Cornell University; though primarily a private institution, it has public sectors. Columbia University, Cornell University, New York University, and the University of Rochester are widely regarded as the premier higher education institutions in New York, all of them leading, world-renowned universities and members of the Association of American Universities, the pre-eminent group of research universities in the United States.

Rush Rhees Library at the University of Rochester, which in the early 1970s had the third largest endowment in the country, after Harvard University and the University of Texas System,[6] and is the 6th largest employer in New York State today.[7]

Two of the nation's five Federal Service Academies are located in New York: the United States Military Academy at West Point and the United States Merchant Marine Academy at Kings Point.

The Eastman School of Music at the University of Rochester, which consistently ranks as the best music school in the nation.[8] [9][10]

New York attracts the most college students from other states, according to statistics that show that among freshmen who leave their home states to attend college, more come to New York than any other state, including California.[11]

In total, New York State has 307 degree-granting institutions, second in number only to California. Among the most notable and highest ranked institutions are:

See also


  1. ^ Martha A. Sandweiss, Passing Strange: A Gilded Age Tale of Love and Deception Across the Color Line, New York: Penguin Press, 2009, pp. 213
  2. ^ O'Connor (1983) p. 62; Maller (1938) pp 77-78.
  3. ^ Will, George F. (6 June 2010). "Column:the teacher bailout". Washington Post. Washington, DC. pp. A15.
  4. ^ "SUNY Buffalo: Complete Campus List". Retrieved 2016-06-20.
  5. ^ "Chancellors and Presidents of the University". University of Buffalo, The State University of New York. Archived from the original on 2016-06-10. Retrieved 2016-06-20.
  6. ^ Lerner, Josh; Schoar, Antoinette; Wang, Jialan (2008). "Secrets of the Academy: The Drivers of University Endowment Success" (PDF). Journal of Economic Perspectives. 22 (3): 207–222. doi:10.1257/jep.22.3.207. S2CID 17968423.
  7. ^ Archived 2015-12-10 at the Wayback Machine, New York State Department of Labor: Workforce Industry Data
  8. ^ "". Archived from the original on 2016-05-21. Retrieved 2018-06-16.
  9. ^ "Quick news: 2012 Top 30 Music Schools according to US College Rankings | Sybaritic Singer".
  10. ^ "Vince Lee Music: Music School Rankings hysteria!". 2012-03-20.
  11. ^ "New York, College Town." Archived 2006-10-17 at the Wayback Machine, The New York Observer

Further reading

Primary sources