20 Top Hidden Gem Colleges in New York


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20 Hidden Gems colleges in New York

Hidden Gem Colleges in New York are some of the state’s best smaller colleges and universities. They offer quality education and also online programs. New York is an education-rich state with many public colleges and universities that provide a good education with affordable tuition. Students can choose from schools in rural to urban settings.

In addition to the large state schools, there are some excellent small public colleges and small private universities in the state. The schools on our list foster a close-knit community with a strong sense of identity and pride. These environments can help students develop both personally and professionally. In addition, these schools offer quality education and have programs for online learning. These Hidden Gem Colleges are some of the best schools in New York!

How We Ranked the Hidden Gem Colleges in New York

The editors at Online Schools Guide found smaller schools in New York with an excellent academic reputation that offer online degree programs. Then, we ranked the programs based on the cost of attendance and the number of online offerings.

1. Mercy College

Website: Mercy College

Mercy College is the first private college in the United States and the first Hispanic-Serving Institution in New York to receive the Seal of Excelencia from the Excelencia in Education organization. The Sisters of Mercy founded the college in 1950 as the Mercy College Campus in Tarrytown, New York. It changed to a four-year college that offered baccalaureate degrees in 1961. Today, the college offers more than 40 undergraduate and graduate programs to thousands of students each year. The college has campuses in Dobbs Ferry, the Bronx, and Manhattan.

Mercy College began offering online programs during the 1990s. From behavioral science and childhood education to business administration and a variety of bachelor’s and master’s degree programs, students can take all or part of their classes fully online. In addition, several certificate programs are also available fully online. So, professional and adult students can complete their degree programs around their many other responsibilities.

Location: Tarrytown, NY

Online programs: 59

Accreditation: Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE)

2. St. Joseph’s University

Website: St. Joseph’s University Online

St. Joseph’s University has Brooklyn and Long Island campuses. This New York school was founded on Feb. 24, 1916. It is a private Catholic university with an enrollment of around 3,800 undergraduate students per year and hundreds of graduate students. More than 54 majors are offered, along with special courses, certificate programs, and affiliate and pre-professional programs.

To make it possible for adult and professional students to continue to work or raise a family, the university offers 16 unique degree programs in various categories. These include applied behavior analysis, criminal justice, business, general studies, education, health administration, nursing, human services, human resources, psychology, and religious studies. Students can work at their own pace, night or day, on their online courses and may even be able to complete their degree programs sooner than expected.

Location: Brooklyn, NY

Online programs: 28

Accreditation: Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE)

3. Utica University

Website: Utica University

Founded in 1946 as Utica College, Utica University is located in the heart of the central area of the state of New York in Utica, New York. It is a private university that offers 40 undergraduate majors, 29 undergraduate majors, and 21 graduate majors to more than 3,000 undergraduate and hundreds of graduate students each year. Since it is a smaller private university, students get more one-on-one time with highly educated faculty. The university was the first higher education institution in the world to offer a master’s degree in economic crime management.

Students can choose from 15 high-quality online degree and certificate programs in various fields of study to advance in their jobs or secure positions in different career fields. Online programs allow students to advance their education and job prospects while continuing to manage their personal and professional lives properly. Below are some of the online bachelor’s degrees the school offers.

  • Accounting
  • Business Administration
  • Criminal Justice
  • Business Data Analytics
  • Cybersecurity Operations Management
  • Data Science
  • Healthcare Management
  • Fraud and Financial Crime Investigation
  • Health Sciences
  • Nursing

Location: Utica, NY

Online programs: 45

Accreditation: Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE)

4. Monroe College

Website: Monroe College

Founded in 1933, Monroe College was named after United States President James Monroe and originally opened as the Monroe School of Business. The school only had four small classrooms when it opened under the direction of teacher Mildred King and served only seven students. Today, the college has an enrollment of more than 8,000 students each year from the United States and 93 different foreign countries. The college is in the Bronx borough of New York City, with a second location in New Rochelle that opened in 1983.

The college is proud to offer an array of different online courses and degree programs as part of the 42 other majors that are offered, including associate, bachelor’s, and master’s degree programs, as well as certificate programs. The school also offers 20 different online health, business, IT, criminal justice, hospitality, and more programs.

Location: Bronx, NY

Online programs: 22

Accreditation: Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE)

5. Medaille University

Website: Medaille University

Medaille College opened its doors in 1875 when the Sisters of St. Joseph founded it. Today, it is a private, nonsectarian four-year university with campuses in Buffalo and Rochester. While the college offers many practitioner-based hands-on programs, several programs are offered entirely online to provide more flexibility for the more than 2,000 students that enroll each year.

From management and leadership and business administration to health information management and psychology, Medaille College offers various associate’s, bachelor’s, master’s, and certificate programs entirely online and in-person. Online classes allow adult students to earn their degrees while continuing to work full or part-time jobs and honoring other commitments.

Location: Buffalo, NY

Online programs: 13

Accreditation: Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE)

6. Canisius College

Website: Canisius College

Canisius College is a private Jesuit university in Buffalo, New York. Founded in 1870, it is one of 28 Jesuit colleges and universities in the United States. Canisius College is named after St. Peter Canisius, a renowned Dutch Jesuit who lived in the 16th century. The college offers a variety of undergraduate and graduate programs, including business, education, health, science, and more. Canisius College is also home to a variety of student organizations, clubs, and activities. The school provides quality education and a supportive environment to its nearly 2,000 students each year.

Canisius College is very appealing for working adults with families since various fully online programs are available. Students can work at their own pace, night or day, to complete their coursework. From technology and bilingual education extension to family and community studies, students have an array of programs and classes to choose from that they can complete online.

Location: Buffalo, NY

Online programs: 16

Accreditation: Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE)

7. St. Francis College

Website: St. Francis College

St. Francis College was founded in 1858 by a group of Franciscan Brothers in Brooklyn, New York. In 1859, the St. Francis Academy was opened and became the first private school in the diocese of Brooklyn. The school was created to educate the boys of the diocese but, in 1884, the college was granted permission from the state to re-organize as a literary college under its current name of St. Francis College. The college could begin offering degrees, diplomas, and even honors. Today, the college has more than 2,600 students enrolled each year to earn their associate, bachelor, and master’s degrees.  

St. Francis College offers an array of different degree and diploma programs online. The flexible online program is designed to make it more convenient for adult students to complete their coursework while working a job, raising a family, or tending to other responsibilities. Students can work independently and finish their coursework ahead of schedule. Online associate degree programs include business administration, criminal justice, and liberal arts. Bachelor’s degree programs offered online include professional studies and exercise and movement science. Online post-baccalaureate programs include childhood education and an online master’s degree in exercise and movement science.

Location: Brooklyn, NY

Online programs: 7

Accreditation: Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE)

8. Hilbert College

Website: Hilbert College

Named after Mother Colette Hilbert, Hilbert College was founded in 1897 by a congregation led by Hilbert and the Franciscan Sisters of St. Joseph. The community founded a teacher training college for its members in 1957 and in 1969, the institution became well-known as Hilbert College. In 1992, the college began offering four-year degree programs for the first time. Today, it offers 18 four-year degree programs. This includes one of the very few programs in the country where students can earn a degree in computer security and information assurance and a degree in cybersecurity. In 2011, the college added its first graduate degree program and even began offering adult and evening bachelor-level degree programs in 2012.

The college now offers online degree programs, such as an associate of arts in liberal arts and an associate of science degree in applied science in business administration. Also offered online are several bachelor’s degree programs, such as bachelor of science degrees in liberal studies, business management, arts in digital media and communication, psychology, cybersecurity, and criminal justice.

Location: Hamburg, NY

Online programs: 9

Accreditation: Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE)

9. Trocaire College 

Website: Trocaire College

Trocaire College was founded more than 60 years ago by Catherine McAuley and the Sisters of Mercy. It is a private college that is very career oriented and inclusive. The college is nestled in Buffalo, New York, and is considered a Roman Catholic college. More than 1,200 students enroll at the college each year. The college offers associate and bachelor’s degree programs as well as one-year certificate programs in a variety of fields, such as healthcare, technology, and business.

While the college works with several industries and employers in the local area to offer hands-on experience for students, there are many online degree and certificate programs and classes that students can take fully online. Some programs include certificates in diagnostic medical sonography or echocardiography and an associate degree and certificate programs for massage therapy or medical assistant. The college also offers a radiology technology associate degree and a surgical technology associate degree. Online bachelor programs include healthcare management and business management.

Location: Buffalo, NY

Online programs: 3

Accreditation: Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE)

10. St. Bonaventure University

website: St. Bonaventure University

St. Bonaventure University is a Catholic university located in St. Bonaventure, New York. The university is steeped in Franciscan and liberal arts traditions, and more than 2,300 undergraduate and graduate students enroll each year. The school offers a variety of classes as well as bachelor, master’s, and certificate programs in various areas, such as education, communication, Arts and Sciences, health professions, and business. The university was founded in 1858 by the Franciscan Brothers.

Many graduate programs are offered 100 percent online to help professionals who want to advance their degrees to advance in their careers or branch out into other career areas. The school offers hybrid programs that blend in-person classes with online instruction. Some programs offered online include business analytics, communication, counseling, and clinical mental health, school counseling, cybersecurity, digital journalism, educational leadership, and leadership.

Location: St. Bonaventure, NY

Online programs: 19

Accreditation: Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE)

11. Niagara University

Website: Niagara University

Founded by the Vincentian Community in 1856, Niagara University is touted as a private liberal arts university that embraces traditional Catholic values. The university encompasses four colleges: Arts and Sciences, education, hospitality and tourism, and business administration. The college is nestled near the Niagara River gorge in Niagara Falls, New York. The college offers a variety of courses and experiences that are created to equip students to succeed and various professions and careers. There are more than 850 students enrolled in the graduate division of the curriculum, while more than 3000 undergraduate students enroll at Niagara University each year.

Niagara University offers a variety of fully online programs, including special education, educational leadership, interdisciplinary studies, early childhood special education, master of business administration and strategic management, and an advanced certificate and applied behavior analysis. the online programs are designed to assist students who want to further their education while continuing to work full or part-time jobs, raise a family, or be able to honor other commitments while earning their degrees.

Location: Niagara, NY

Online programs: 6

Accreditation: Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE)

12. The College of Saint Rose

Website: College Of Saint Rose

Founded in 1920 by the sisters of Saint Joseph of Carondelet as a women’s college, the College Of Saint Rose is now home to more than 2,200 undergraduate students each year. The coeducational, private, independent college offers 35 bachelor’s degree programs, 31 master’s degree programs, five undergraduate certificate programs, 16 advanced certificate programs, and 19 accelerated or dual degree programs. The college is nestled on a 48-acre campus in Albany, New York. The college consists of four schools: the School of Arts and Humanities, the Huether School of Business, the Thelma P. Lally School of Education, and the School of Mathematics and Sciences.

The College of Saint Rose offers several degree programs fully online so that adult and professional students can complete their degree programs while continuing to work full or part-time jobs or raise a family. All of the fully online programs meet the requirements necessary for licensure in the state of New York as well as 49 other states. Online students can earn a bachelor’s degree in psychology, a master’s degree in educational psychology, a school district business leader: certificate of advanced study, special education: certificate of advanced study, and teaching English as a new language: certificate of advanced study. The school also offers a master’s degree in business administration or a Master of Science degree in computer science through flex programs. Flex programs combine in-person learning with online classes.

Location: Albany, NY

Online programs: 8

Accreditation: Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE)

13. Russell Sage College

Website: Russell Sage College

Russell Sage College is a private college in Troy, New York. It was founded in 1916 by Margaret Olivia Sage, a philanthropist and social reformer, to provide educational opportunities for women. The college offers undergraduate and graduate degrees in various fields of study, including business, education, health sciences, psychology, communications, and the liberal arts. It offers an education that combines academic excellence with career preparation and personal development. RSC also offers a variety of extracurricular activities and student services, such as clubs, organizations, and on-campus events.

The school offers both undergraduate and graduate degree and certificate programs to more than 1300 undergraduate students and 1200 graduate students each year, both male and female. Because online education can open more doors for busy adults who want to advance in their careers or start new jobs, Russell Sage College offers a variety of flexible programs created to suit any student’s lifestyle. The college offers five graduate degree programs that are fully online, such as a Master of Business Administration or a MS in Applied Behavior Analysis and Autism. Students can also earn four online graduate certificates.

Location: Troy, NY

Online programs: 9

Accreditation: Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE)

14. Molloy University

Website: Molloy University

Molloy University is a Catholic university founded by the Dominican Sisters of the Congregation of the Holy Cross Amityville. The main campus is on Long Island, New York, and was founded in 1955 by Bishop Thomas E Molloy. While today the university is a co-ed school, the first graduating class consisted of 44 young women. The school offers a variety of bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degree programs and postgraduate certificate programs to more than 3,000 undergraduate students, 179 doctoral students, and more than 1,300 graduate students each year.

The university offers the flexibility of online degree programs to make it easier for busy adults to advance their education. Students can earn bachelor’s degrees in business, criminal justice, finance, management, marketing, economics, entertainment and sports management, psychology, professional communications, health service leadership, and registered nursing. Students can earn master’s degrees online in healthcare, finance, marketing, educational technology, and business management. The university offers several postmasters certificate programs that are fully online, such as healthcare, finance, business, and education.

Location: Rockville Center, NY

Online programs: 16

Accreditation: Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE)

15. Houghton University

Website: Houghton University
Houghton University

Houghton University was founded in 1883 and is a Christ-centered school that offers education in the liberal Arts and Sciences to students from various traditional and economic backgrounds. The university is nestled in the city of Houghton, New York, and was founded by Willard J. Houghton, who was affiliated with the Wesleyan Church. The school offers 54-degree majors for undergraduate students and serves more than 1,000 students each year. The school prides itself on being a smaller university that can offer students a top-notch Christian education.

Students can complete their degrees fully online through online assignments, video conferencing, live class sessions, and IT support. Additionally, they can earn various degrees online, including a Bachelor of Science degree in psychology or organizational management or a master’s degree in business administration. Also, students can work at their own pace and finish their degree program sooner than expected if they want to work ahead.

Location: Houghton, NY

Online programs: 6

Accreditation: Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE)

16. Le Moyne College

Website: Le Moyne College

Le Moyne College is a private Jesuit college in the New York city of Syracuse. It was founded in 1946 by the Society of Jesus. It is the first Jesuit college to be founded in New England and the first college in central New York. The college has a total enrollment of over 3,000 students and offers over 40 undergraduate and graduate programs. The college is well known for its strong focus on social justice, service, and global engagement. It also has a strong emphasis on the Jesuit values of faith, service, and leadership. Le Moyne College has a strong commitment to academic excellence, with a focus on providing students with the knowledge and skills to thrive in an ever-changing global world.

The school offers a master of business administration degree through its Madden School of Business, ranked in the top five percent of college schools of business worldwide.  The college provides various certificate and degree programs fully online, such as the new online certificate in creative and not-for-profit administration. The school also offers online bachelor’s degree programs in psychology and business.

Location: Syracuse, NY

Online programs: 2

Accreditation: Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE)

17. Iona University

Website: Iona University

Iona University has locations in both New Rochelle and Bronxville, New York, and was founded in 1940 by the Congregation of Christian Brothers. Iona university offers 40 graduate programs and 50 undergraduate programs and has received accreditation from nine national organizations. Over 3000 undergraduate and almost 500 graduate students enroll at the private Roman Catholic university each year.

To help working adults and professionals who want to further their education, Iona University offers an online master of business administration degree. Since the degree is offered entirely online, it can be completed in 12 to 15 months while professionals continue working full- or part-time jobs. Students will learn information and skills in business analytics, marketing, business management, finance, accounting, and information systems.

Location: New Rochelle, NY

Online programs: 1

Accreditation: Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE)

18. Yeshiva University

Website: Yeshiva University

Yeshiva University was founded by Eastern Europeans in 1886 on the lower east side of Manhattan and is deeply rooted in the traditions of Etz Chaim Yeshiva. Two of the university’s campuses are in Manhattan in New York City, while the Jack and Pearl Resnick campuses are in the Bronx. More than 2,200 undergraduate and 2700 graduate students enroll at the school annually. The university serves students in New York, Jewish communities, and students from other states throughout the United States and Canada.

The school offers a variety of online master’s and bachelor’s degree programs to make it easier for working students to complete their degree programs. Some master’s degree programs available fully online include a master’s degree in Jewish education, a master’s of science degree in accounting, a Master of Science degree in cybersecurity, a Master of Arts degree in Holocaust and genocide studies, and a variety of others.

Location: New York, NY

Online programs: 8

Accreditation: Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE)

19. The King’s College

Website: The King’s College

The King’s College was founded in 1938 in Belmar, New Jersey, by Percy Crawford and is a private, non-denominational Christian liberal arts college now situated in New York City. Over 500 students from 37 states and 15 countries enroll at the college annually. The college offers various bachelor’s and master’s degree programs.

The King’s College offers several online courses, and students can earn their bachelor’s degrees in religious and theological studies, liberal studies, business management, or politics, philosophy, and economics fully online. They can access ongoing instructor feedback and work on their courses anytime, day or night, seven days per week. This gives students more flexibility and can even complete their degree programs quickly since they can work at their own pace.

Location: New York, NY

Online programs: 4

Accreditation: Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE)

20. Marist College

Website: Marist College

The main campus of our final hidden gem college is on the banks of the Hudson River in the New York town of Poughkeepsie. And it boasts a second campus in Florence, Italy. Marist College is an independent liberal arts school started in 1905 by the Marist Brothers as a Catholic religious institute. It became a secular institution in 2003 and now offers a variety of undergraduate and graduate programs in-person and online. Marist College serves over 5,000 traditional-age undergraduate students and more than 1,200 adult and graduate students annually.

Traditional students can choose from over 90 undergraduate majors, minors, certificates, and graduate programs. Popular programs include the Physician Assistant and Doctor of Physical Therapy programs. In addition to the campus-based degrees, the school offers a variety of online programs in high-demand areas. There are two online undergraduate degree completion programs. Working adults can choose to finish their bachelor’s degree from a Management Studies or Professional Studies path.

Mairst’s online graduate programs include a Master of Business Administration (MBA), a Master of Arts in Educational Psychology, a Master of Science in Information Systems (MSIS), a Master of Public Administration (MPA), and a MA in Integrated Marketing Communication. The school also offers online Advanced Certificates in Business Analytics and Information Systems.

Marist’s Joint Study partnership with IBM brings the College a world-class technology platform. Its academic Centers of Excellence include the nationally-known Marist Poll, Center for Civic Engagement and Leadership, Hudson River Valley Institute, Center for Sports Communication, Investment Center, and Center for Social Media. The College also hosts the Franklin D. Roosevelt Presidential Library’s digital archives, making it one of only six colleges or universities affiliated with a presidential library.

Location: Poughkeepsie, NY

Online programs: 9

Accreditation: Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE)

What is a Hidden Gem Colleges in New York?

A Hidden Gem in New York is a college or smaller university with fewer students. Many of these schools are often private religious schools. However, small liberal arts colleges in New York and smaller state schools also fit this category.

What are the Benefits of Attending a Small College or University in New York?

Hidden Gem Colleges in New York are where students thrive. Smaller class sizes allow for more individual attention and opportunities for student-teacher interaction. This can benefit those who need extra help or those looking to make a stronger connection with their professors.

Smaller college classes offer students more opportunities to get to know their professors individually. And this personalized attention can lead to more mentoring and advice regarding academic, career, and life decisions.

Smaller schools also tend to have more student-run organizations and activities than universities. As a result, there are more opportunities to get involved in the school community, develop leadership skills, and make meaningful connections with faculty and peers.

The cost of living in New York can be expensive. However, smaller colleges and universities often have more affordable tuition and housing costs, making it easier for students to manage their budgets. Additionally, many small colleges and universities in New York are within driving distance of New York City. This proximity allows students to utilize the city’s cultural, professional, and educational offerings without moving away from campus.

Why Do Students Attend Small Colleges in New York?

Students attend small colleges in New York for a variety of reasons. Small college campuses often offer a more personalized, intimate learning environment than large universities. In addition, the smaller class sizes allow for more one-on-one interaction with professors and greater access to resources.

Additionally, small colleges are often located in vibrant, diverse cities, allowing students to enjoy the city’s culture and amenities. Many small colleges also offer specialized programs in various fields, allowing students to explore their interests more intensely. Finally, small colleges typically have lower tuition costs, making them a more affordable option for students.

Are Small Colleges in New York More Expensive?

The cost to attend college in New York State varies depending on the institution and the type of student. Generally, larger public universities are more affordable than smaller private colleges. However, this is only sometimes the case, and some small colleges in New York can be quite affordable. Therefore, it is best to research the specific institution’s tuition and fees to determine the cost of any college or university.

The state and federal governments provide significant funding for public universities. However, since private colleges have different access to government funding, many have to charge more. Therefore, private college tuition is almost always more expensive than the tuition at a state-supported school.

However, many students need to learn that most private schools have additional sources for student aid. The money comes from school endowments and gifts. This school-based aid can reduce the total cost of what a student pays. Therefore, the final price of private school tuition can be less than what you read on a website.

Furthermore, the cost differs for each student since individual financial need is part of the overall calculation. It surprises many students when they learn that private schools can be less expensive than state schools. So, it is worth going through the steps to learn about the Hidden Gems in New York.

Are Smaller Colleges in New York Better?

The right college for you depends on your individual needs and preferences. There is no definitive answer to whether smaller colleges are better than larger colleges, as this is a personal decision. Smaller colleges may provide more individualized attention and a more intimate learning environment. They may also offer smaller class sizes and more opportunities for hands-on learning experiences.

Larger colleges may offer more diverse course offerings and more vibrant campus life. These universities are great for independent learners who only need a little help from professors. However, students needing more individualized attention may find smaller classes, and a smaller school is better for them. And one of our Hidden Gems in New York may be the place for you!


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