Highlighting The Best Of Westchester's Universities
With innovative degree programs, prestigious alumni, and some of the most affordable tuitions in the country, each of these institutions offers opportunities across a number of fields.
Photograph By John Abbott
The College of New Rochelle
Founded in 1904 as the first Catholic college for women in New York State (they are going coed Fall 2016), the College of New Rochelle is home to four diverse schools. The School of Arts and Sciences continues the all-women tradition and offers degree programs that include English, psychology, and business, as well as pre-professional programs and teacher education programs. The School of New Resources is designed for adults who wish to return to their undergraduate studies. In addition to the range of undergraduate and certificate programs, the graduate school comprises a number of master’s degrees, from mental-health counseling and communication studies to public administration. The college is also known for its School of Nursing—a program that incorporates a compassionate approach to its rigorous curriculum.
Notable Alumnae: Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Madeleine Blais; Women’s Wear Daily Executive Editor Bridget Foley; Shiba Russell, anchor, WNBC-TV/News 4 NY; and former co-chair of Disney Media Networks and president, Disney-ABC Television Group, Anne Sweeney
The College of Westchester
The College of Westchester
Recently celebrating its centennial, the College of Westchester focuses its course offerings and programs on career-relevant experience. The college is a close-knit community, and its graduates make up 25 percent of its employees. The college’s six schools include the School of Digital Media, Accounting, and Allied Health, all of which offer flexible class times to easily accommodate adult learners. Hybrid classes are also offered across the curriculum, and in 2011, authorization was granted to offer the BBA degree and AAS degree in a fully online format.
Notable Alumnus: founder of Right Choices, Inc. Wade Young
Named by the Princeton Review as one of the Best 379 Colleges in the US in 2015, Purchase College sits on 550 acres in Purchase—just 35 miles from New York City. The renowned School of the Arts includes the popular theatre arts program, which boasts alums that have gone on to successful show-business careers. Purchase’s liberal arts and sciences programs include a School of Humanities, Natural and Social Sciences, and the School of Film and Media Studies, which was recently added in 2010. The campus is home to the Neuberger Museum of Art, the 10th-largest university museum in the country, with 6,000 works in its permanent collection and 10 temporary exhibitions each year.
Notable Alumni: actors Edie Falco, Stanley Tucci, and Parker Posey
In 1931, Berkeley College began as a finishing school for women in New Jersey. Since then, it has expanded to nine different locations. Berkeley College’s White Plains campus offers seven different majors from its schools of Professional Studies, Health Studies, Business, and Criminal Justice Studies—their most popular major. In addition to its on-campus classes, the college offers an online program, ranked as one of the best online bachelor’s degree programs for two consecutive years by U.S. News & World Report.
Notable Alumni: fashion designer Vanessa Deleon; boxer Paweł Wolak; television personality Teresa Giudice
Concordia College is a private college of the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod, located on 33 acres on White Plains Road in Bronxville. Founded in 1881, the college has gone through many transformations in its 135 years, evolving from a high school to a pre-seminary religious training school to its current incarnation as a four-year coed college. For the past three years, Concordia has been ranked in the “Top 5 for Ethnic Diversity” among colleges in the North, and it was named a Christian College of Distinction in 2015. At the foundation of Concordia’s academics is “The Concordia Distinctive,” a core curriculum that combines a liberal arts background with experiential learning through internships, service trips, and study abroad opportunities.
Notable Alumni: baseball players Mike Avilés, John Doherty, and Dell Alston; actor Jason Cerbone
Pace University’s Westchester campus covers 200 acres in Pleasantville and offers 80 majors to undergraduate and graduate students. After celebrating its 50th anniversary, the campus received a $100 million facelift, which added two new residential buildings, an expanded student center, a reconstructed athletic center, and new athletic fields. The school recently put its Briarcliff campus on the market in order to keep the university centrally located in Pleasantville. The renovations also include the relocation and construction of Pace’s Environmental Center, with outdoor classroom space, a nature museum, and field-study labs for students in Pace’s newly launched Environmental Studies and Science Department.
Notable Alumni: television personality Rachael Ray; radio host and environmental activist Robert F. Kennedy Jr.; former chairman and CEO of Verizon Communications Ivan G. Seidenberg; senior writer for FoxSports.com Jay Glazer; actress Michelle Borth; writer Andrew Revkin
Sarah Lawrence College
Eschewing the traditional college system, Sarah Lawrence students build their own unique courses of study from more than 500 courses within four central areas: creative and performing arts; history and the social sciences; humanities and natural sciences; and mathematics. Traditional classes are replaced with “seminars”—a time for in-depth class discussion—while homework comes in the form of “conference work,” allowing students to work on individual projects with their seminar professors every other week.
Sarah Lawrence College
With a 10-to-1 student-to-teacher ratio, SLC stresses the importance of the individual student through its advisor program, in which students are assigned a “don” who guides them through their academic careers through weekly meetings. With so many undergraduate students residing on the Bronxville campus, the tight-knit community enjoys an array of campus activities, from open-mic nights and instrumental ensembles to basketball games and independent-film screenings.
Notable Alumni: actress Julianna Margulies; designer Vera Wang; Yoko Ono; and Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel
Overlooking the Hudson, Mercy College’s Dobbs Ferry campus not only offers students the convenience of being steps from the village’s downtown, it also boasts on-campus access to the Metro-North Station, which puts students just 30 minutes from Manhattan. Founded by the Sisters of Mercy, the college offers one of the lowest private tuition rates in the United States and the lowest rate in New York State, which makes it no surprise that it was ranked as one of the colleges with the greatest lifetime return on investment. Among Mercy’s five schools is the School of Social and Behavioral Sciences, which not only ranks as the college’s most popular academic program, it also makes Mercy one of the few schools in the nation that offers a degree in behavioral science.
Notable Alumni: actress Gabourey Sidibe; athlete Simone Forbes; boxer Dewey Bozella; writer Joan Wolf; CEO and former editor for Parade Publications Walter Anderson
Iona College’s maroon flags decorate New Rochelle’s North Avenue, marking the entrance to the 45-acre campus that provides nearly 4,000 undergraduate and graduate students 60 undergraduate programs, 40 undergraduate minors, and 40 graduate programs. Highlights of Iona’s academic offerings include the Hagan School of Business’s Fast Track MBA program, a computer science program with a cyber security concentration, and the popular mass communications department. Celebrating its 75th year, Iona recently opened an on-campus Starbucks and will soon enjoy a new North Avenue Residence Hall, and an expanded and modernized home for Iona's School of Business.
Notable Alumni: basketball players Jeff Ruland, Scott Machado, and Richie Guerin; singer/songwriter Don McLean; media executive Randy Falco
The College of New Rochelle
The beautiful and lush grounds of Manhattanville College—once the former estate of Whitelaw Reid—encompass 100 acres of Purchase, all of which can be looked upon from Reid Castle, the historical hub of the campus. Four on-campus residence halls are home to 80 percent of the diverse undergraduate population, who represent more than 50 countries and 35 states in the nation, earning the college its 12th ranking on the list of “Best Schools for Foreign Students.” The college recently added new degree programs, including majors in marketing, accounting, digital media production, and sports studies.
Notable Alumni: social activist Ethel Kennedy; sister of John F. Kennedy Eunice Kennedy Shriver; musician Joan Bennett Kennedy; diplomat Jean Kennedy Smith; actor James Badge Dale; journalist Maria Shriver; CNN anchor Kitty Pilgrim
Located in downtown New Rochelle, Monroe College’s Westchester campus features unique academic opportunities without an exorbitant cost, making it the most affordable private college in New York. Monroe’s academic calendar consists of three semesters, giving many students the opportunity to complete their undergraduate degree in just three years.
Amongst the many program offerings are the prestigious hospitality and culinary program—one of the largest programs in the nation—and the School of Criminal Justice, which was founded in 2003 as a “service-oriented response” to 9/11.
Notable Alumni: basketball players Orlando Sanchez and Maurice Ndour; New York City council members Annabel Palma and Maria Baez; politician Hector John; Olympic athlete Suwaibou Sanneh; soccer player Sandra Žigić
Westchester Community College
As the largest college in Westchester County, Westchester Community College offers its 13,000 undergraduate students the opportunity to earn an associate’s degree in more than 65 academic areas. Westchester Community College’s main campus in Valhalla serves as the central location for academics, but it’s also home to the Fine Arts Gallery and the Native Plant Center, the first national affiliate of Lady Bird Johnson’s Wildflower Center. In addition to the Valhalla campus, nine extension sites around the county provide students access to classes and academic resources, including the Center for the Arts in White Plains, state-of-the-art Science and Health Skills Labs in Ossining, and the Center for Digital Arts in Peekskill.
Notable Alumni: basketball players Jarrid Famous, Luis David Montero, and Darryl McDonald; Morning DJ on The Peak Chris Rodriguez; promoter Paul Heyman