Colgate University


Just a short drive off of historic Route 20 in upstate New York, travelers are bound to pass by rustic farms, cozy villages, and robust antique fairs. As the Chenango valley opens, visitors find themselves at the doorstep of Colgate University: a beautiful hill crested by the golden dome of the Memorial Chapel, gracefully surrounded by 550 acres of lake, oak lined drives, willow lined footpaths, and sprawling landscapes.

The school was established in 1819, and the academic philosophy is driven by the tradition of a liberal arts core curriculum. This core includes two literary courses about the foundations of Western culture and the post-Enlightenment challenges to Western thought, as well as an in-depth look at a non-Western culture and an exposure to the forefronts of science. While a student is having these academic experiences in a wide range of topics, the school as a research university further challenges students to delve deeply into their major course of study.

The students here love to be challenged, whether as star of the hockey team, double majoring in math and physics with a senior thesis in computational mechanics, or as a creative writing and theatre double major dividing time between a fraternity, Ultimate Frisbee practice, and a volunteer organization working with local children. The students love to be busy, as evidenced by more than 180 student-run organizations coordinated through the Center for Leadership and Student involvement. While students keep the campus calendar alive with performances, lectures, athletic contests, festivals, and parties, the university provides opportunities for reaching out to the surrounding community through the Center for Outreach, Volunteerism, and Education (COVE). The COVE advises groups that tutor, build houses, and build ties with the Hamilton community and beyond, sending spring break groups to New Orleans to assist with Hurricane Katrina relief.

The university continues its connection to a proud history with an active network of successful alumni, who simply love their school, and each year a new class of students with groundbreaking, altruistic, and gregarious ideas continue to further the character of this institution with a strong tradition and an exciting future.

Information Summary

Ranks 2nd in New York and 23rd overall. See the entire top 2,000 colleges and universities list
Overall Score (about) 98.6
Total Cost On-Campus Attendance $72,275
Admission Success rate N/A
ACT / SAT 75%ile scores 34 / 1510
Student Ratio Students-to-Faculty 9 : 1
Retention (full-time / part-time) 94% / N/A
Enrollment Total (all students) 2,969


Every student will complete thirty-two courses in order to graduate, and anywhere from eight to sixteen of those courses will complete a major course of study. Fifty-one majors are offered, and twelve additional minor programs to its undergraduates.

Classes here are not an opportunity to turn on one’s tape recorder and later transcribe fifty to seventy-five minutes worth of lecture. Faculty typically employ a Socratic style in the classroom. Students enter the door prepared to engage in a many-voiced discussion, encouraging the student to develop answers and find an individual intellectual voice. True to liberal arts form, graduation requirements include four general education courses, a first-year intensive seminar, and six distribution requirements drawing from natural sciences and mathematics, the humanities, and the social sciences. Students can explore a wide variety of intellectual pursuits before deciding their educational path.

First-Year Seminars

Each incoming first-year student selects three courses for his or her first semester, plus a first-year seminar. First-year seminars are offered in topics as widely spread as The American School and Modern European Literature. Taught by professors from every academic division, first-year seminars are the student’s first opportunity to delve into their primary academic love or explore a new and intriguing field. Regardless of the central topic of each first-year seminar, every course provides intensive training in writing at the university level. The ins and outs of the university library system and strategies for studying are approached in a group setting. The professor becomes the student’s academic advisor until the student declares a major during sophomore year.


The Colgate education is highly valued as a foundation for one’s adult life because academic success here is achieved through hard work. The student experiences a highly interactive classroom environment. Since this school is one of the nation’s leading liberal arts universities, there is a continual challenge set by both the volume and the complexity of coursework and studies. Students on campus tend to be incredibly self-motivated to continuously improve and achieve personal goals. Therefore a prospective student should expect to feel driven to succeed by his professors and by his personal ambitions.

Support is available at every stage of the academic process. Students have access to free tutoring in any subject, a student-operated writing center open six days a week, and a student staffed twenty-four-hour tech support service, to name only a few resources. Of course, each student needs to seek a balance in managing free time to complete assignments and coursework.

Core Curriculum

The school’s commitment to tradition is quintessentially expressed in the liberal arts curriculum. As one of the oldest liberal arts core curriculums in the country— four courses are taken during a student’s final two years. Two courses consist of the origins of Western thought and the philosophical revolution of the nineteenth century: Western Traditions and Challenge of Modernity. The scientific perspectives course and non-Western culture course allow students to experience a topic on the cutting edge of interdisciplinary science and explore the history and traditions of a culture in Africa, Asia, or the Americas. In addition, six-course distribution reinforces the goal of providing a broad base of intellectual experience. Students will take two courses in three disciplines: humanities, social science, and the natural sciences and mathematics.

Off-Campus Study

In keeping with the university’s goal of developing world citizens with a global perspective, a robust off-campus study program is offered. Students are encouraged to study off campus for a semester with one of twenty-two programs. Approximately sixty-nine percent of students will study off campus during their four years. A professor will lead each program, teaching a course and aiding the study group to fully assimilate the study abroad courses into their college transcript. Off-campus study programs are offered in fourteen different countries, including Australia, Switzerland, Japan, and Spain, and also four domestic locations, Santa Fe, San Francisco, Washington, DC, and the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, MD.

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While scholastic and testing achievements are an important factor in the admission process, there is no formula for the way an application is analyzed. Accompanying the numerical expression of a student’s academics, the university is looking for applicants with a strong record of participation and community involvement. The school wants to know that you have challenged yourself with a rigorous course load including honors or Advanced Placement courses, and that you have explored your interests by engaging in outside activities and your community. The school seeks to accept a well-rounded class of creative, inquisitive, and motivated individuals with diverse backgrounds, experiences, and passions. The admission staff is developing the future of their student culture with each admission decision, so they are seeking students who will develop, expand, and energize the activities and initiatives that exist on campus. Each application is reviewed several times, as the admission staff considers the applicant as a whole person, not merely a sum of statistics.

However, interested students must submit the common form, a nonrefundable fee, SAT or ACT scores, and their high school transcripts. Also required are two teacher recommendations, a recommendation from your guidance counselor, and a school report.

Early Decision is a fantastic decision for the prospective students who have fallen in love with the school and are positive that it is their first choice (the decision is binding). Applications for Early Decision I must be filed by November 15, and a decision will be mailed out approximately one month later. Candidates can also be considered for Early Decision II until January 15 on a rolling basis, or may change their application to Early Decision after submission up until March 1. An admission decision is made approximately four weeks after the submission of all application materials.

Financial Aid

The university does not offer any merit-based aid, but for those who demonstrate need, assistance is available. In a recent first-year class, forty percent of students received an average of $32,000 in scholarship or grant—which does not need to be paid back—and the average total package comes in at $37,631 with student loans and other campus jobs.

A variety of additional types of aid is offered, such as the Stafford Loan, Perkins Loan, Pell Grant, Federal Work Study, and institutional grants. To apply for financial aid, prospective students must file the PROFILE application for financial aid with the College Scholarship Service (CSS). Also to be completed is the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) to be filed with the federal processor upon matriculation. Both applications can be completed and filed online.

Student Financial Aid Details

Ranks 3716th for the average student loan amount.
Secrets to getting the best scholarships and financial aid in New York.


One of the great advantages of living in a community with so many diverse, ambitious, and interested students is participating in the student culture on campus. Students here complement their rigorous academic life with a stimulating involvement in student- organized groups and the community.

The Center for Leadership and Student Involvement (CLSI) helps to coordinate more than one hundred student-organized groups on campus. At the beginning of each semester, students are invited to the Student Involvement Fair, where they can collect information and join the mailing list for incredibly diverse groups, from the artistic and performance initiatives to club sporting teams to cultural and political groups to fund-raising and volunteer organizations.

Greek Letter System

The Greek letter system is a strong part of campus tradition. Though not the predominant social force on campus, the fraternities and sororities play an important role in philanthropy in the Hamilton area, hosting pumpkin-carving events and rubber ducky races for charity. Regardless of one’s Greek-letter affiliation or independent status, all students have equal access to the social events at all of the fraternities, sororities and other upperclass student housing.

With a quarter of the entire campus identifying as multicultural students, the range of culturally based events and groups abound in student life. The ALANA (African, Latino, Asian, and Native American) Cultural Center is a flagship for many of these organizations, sponsoring food tastings by groups like the China Club in its full kitchen and hosting workshops such as Skin Deep to promote awareness of racism, discrimination, and ethnocentrism in its large meeting room and lounge area. Student groups provide banquets and invite speakers to increase campus cultural visibility, such as the Banghra nights hosted by the South Asian Culture Club and speakers brought by The Brothers (a group based on relaying Black heritage) such as the Reverend Jesse Jackson and Spike Lee.

Additionally, the Office of LGBTQ (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, and Questioning) Initiatives provides support to the LGBTQ community and programs for the whole campus to enjoy. The initiative coordinates groups such as WorkOut for faculty, staff, and community members who are not out and Rainbow Alliance to support the students who are.

Artistic Life

Students profoundly express their ideas and create a campus dialogue through art. In support of the excellent art, theatre, and music departments on campus, the students coordinate an active calendar of events through the student groups in the arts initiative. Musical performance opportunities abound from the Colgate Orchestra to the University Chorus to the Jazz Band. there is an a cappela group and a university chorus. The Theatrical Season is coordinated every year through the cooperative efforts of the University Theatre program and the Masque & Triangle, their historic student dramatic society on campus. Between large main-stage productions, full-scale ballets, smaller poetry release nights, and One Night Stands (staged readings), there is a theatrical offering for every taste on any given weekend. The student artists on campus routinely display innovative work in the gallery-style Little Hall and present unexpected installations all over campus. The student media also represent a fine tradition, with the oldest college weekly in the country, The Colgate Maroon News, and creative programming on the campus radio station WRCU, and CUTV, appropriately broadcast on channel 13. The culmination of all campus artistic efforts is the annual student-coordinated “arts! Festival.” This weeklong celebration every spring offers performances, visiting artists, presentations of the improv comedy troupe Charred Goosebeak, and workshops for artists. The entire campus is awash with color and excitement, with beautiful lighting installations and ice sculpture on the quad, and an arts bazaar in the COOP O’Connor campus center.

Volunteerism and Civics

The COVE serves as a home for community service-based organizations. More than eighty percent of the student body is involved in the numerous service projects throughout the community, devoting their time to groups such as Sidekicks (a big brother/big sister mentoring program), Habitat for Humanity, SOMAC (the volunteer ambulance corps), Students for Environmental Action, and the Food Salvage Program.

To amplify the lively political debate and intellectual discourse on campus, students turn to the nationally ranked Colgate Speaking Union (CSU). The CSU is composed of the Debate Team, Model United Nations, Mock Trial, and the Student Lecture Forum. The groups themselves are totally autonomous and run by students. In addition to competing domestically and abroad, the Debate Team helps to run a public discourse workshop during orientation, while regularly hosting showcase debates with various departments, including International Relations, Peace and Conflict Studies, and Women’s Studies. Since the inception of the chapter of Model UN, the delegates have attended conferences at Georgetown, Yale, Penn, Oxford, Edinburgh, McGill, Harvard, Beijing, and Geneva.

Student Enrollment Demographics

Student Graduation Demographics


Sports are near and dear to the spirit of every Raider, but not necessarily all at the Division I level. Student athletes have the highest graduation rates in the country. The varsity teams are Division I, with men’s hockey and basketball and women’s soccer and volleyball among the standouts. Hamilton residents, students, and alumni are often found crowding Starr Rink during hockey season to cheer on the team.

The university also hosts a very active Outdoor Education program that sponsors activities such as spelunking, wilderness survival, and moonlight canoe trips during the fall and spring and snowshoeing and telemark skiing in the winter months. With the Adirondack Mountains a short drive from campus, the setting for outdoor sporting is absolutely perfect.

Local Community

Downtown Hamilton

Recently, the town of Hamilton has witnessed a number of revitalizations and renovations. The cuisine of the town includes Greek and Italian at Numero Uno, sushi at Sushi Blues, traditional American fare in Nichols & Beale and The Colgate Inn, and Chinese at Main Moon. This list is hardly exhaustive, as it omits the two staples of a collegiate diet: pizza and coffee. Colgate students can be seen any day sipping a bubble tea and highlighting textbooks at the Barge Canal Coffee Shop or taking in the Midnight Movie (complete with a slice of pizza) at the beautifully renovated Hamilton Movie House.

Downtown also presents a center for cultural happenings, from the Hamilton Music Mix every summer to art gallery showings to book signings at the Colgate Bookstore. Hamilton also hosts many options for nightlife, including dancing at The Old Stone Jug, and more convivial options for students and community members of age.


Alumni are continuously advocating for current students, exemplified chiefly in the “Colgate Connection,” a volunteer network of over 3,000 alumni and parents coordinated by the Center for Career Services. These individuals provide career counseling and networking opportunities for current undergraduates, coming to campus to provide mock interviews and to participate in career exploration panels and simply being available by phone to inquisitive students.


The Career Services Center brings more than 200 employers to campus every year to recruit current undergrads. Additionally, Career Services works to make sure students are prepared for employment opportunities as they arise, by leading cover letter writing workshops, offering workshops about careers in the modern market, and providing one-on-one appointments for resume writing, internship searches, and fellowship applicants. Careers in finance and consulting have tended to be popular among graduates; however, there are also a growing number of alumni working in education, public service, and the nonprofit sector. The Colgate student who wishes to experiment intellectually and attempt new sports, hobbies, and art forms will invariably become the alumna or alumnus who seeks a challenging and fulfilling career after graduation. Luckily, there are more than 30,000 alumni and a committed staff on campus that are able to help realize a successful future.

Prominent Grads

  • Charles Evans Hughes, 1884, Chief Justice of the Supreme Court
  • Broken Lizard, ’90, ’91, ’92, Comedy Group of Super Troopers and Club Dread Fame
  • Gloria Borger, ’74, Journalist and CBS Television Commentator
  • William Rogers, ’34, Former Secretary of State
  • Andy Rooney, ’42, Television Commentator
  • Francesca Zambello, ’78, Opera and Theater Director
  • Adondal Foyle, ’98, Center for the Orlando Magic and Founder of “Democracy Matters”
  • Ed Werner, ’71 and John Honey, ’70, Creators of Trivial Pursuit


The distinguished scholars that teach here are working at the forefront of their fields, publishing and conducting research on campus. However, all classes are taught by the faculty, never by teaching assistants. These are individuals who truly love to work with undergraduate students. This creates a stimulating academic environment for the student: a professor that challenges with high expectations yet is available to help and listen during at least four posted office hours every week. There are also opportunities to conduct research alongside faculty year-round, on campus or abroad from Israel to Greece and Mexico.

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