Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art


The founder of Cooper Union, Peter Cooper, had a vision to offer an education that was “as free as water and air.” Established in 1859, this is the “only private, full-scholarship college of higher learning in the United States dedicated exclusively to preparing students for the professions of architecture, art, and engineering.”

The school sits in the heart of the East Village of Manhattan and offers more than an exceptional classroom education to its students of art, architecture, and engineering. The institution’s campus is New York City, a city alive with the sounds, smells, and events of the culturally, ethnically, and racially diverse population. It is not uncommon for a professor’s assignments to extend outside of the classroom and incorporate different aspects of the city. Architecture students are often given assignments of photographing buildings and bridges for class. Art students frequently take class trips to view different installations in the plethora of great museums, studios, and galleries of Manhattan.

The school resides in the heart of Manhattan’s East Village is a small school with a community atmosphere. Its excellent teachers and wonderful opportunities provide its students with an unrivaled education. Its classrooms, labs, and studios are filled with top students who come to develop into top scholars in their fields, without compromising their social science and humanities education. In addition to the education, students are exposed to new and exciting people, cultures, events, activities, and experiences, which enable them to grow and learn socially. After graduation, the Cooper connection continues to help its alumni grow and develop in their major; the strong network of alumni helps students find job placement in the engineering, art, and architecture circles.

Information Summary

Ranks 51st in New York and 519th overall. See the entire top 2,000 colleges and universities list
Overall Score (about) 86.4
Total Cost On-Campus Attendance $66,313
Admission Success rate N/A
ACT / SAT 75%ile scores 34 / 1510
Student Ratio Students-to-Faculty 18 : 1
Retention (full-time / part-time) 91% / N/A
Enrollment Total (all students) 952


Cooper Union is comprised of these schools—Engineering (The Albert Nerken School of Engineering), Architecture (The Irwin S. Chanin School of Architecture), and Art, each offering an unparalleled undergraduate education. The school grants the following bachelors degrees: B.S., B. Arch., B.E., and B.F.A. Architecture and the engineering schools also offer graduate programs. The engineering school has B.E. degrees in chemical, civil, electrical, mechanical, and interdisciplinary engineering, and a B.S. in general engineering. The art school offers a B.F.A. , which provides both a general visual arts education and a focused preparation for future artists and designers. The architecture school offers a five-year program leading to the Bachelor of Architecture, the first professional accredited degree. The engineering school is ABET-accredited, the architecture school is NAAB-accredited, the art school is NASAD-accredited. It is quite a challenge, although not impossible to switch between schools so you should choose wisely, and know that whichever school you study in, you are getting a first-rate education.


Professors here are scholars in their field who have graduated from excellent institutions worldwide—some even graduated from Cooper themselves! Aside from their academic merit, professors care about their students. Their relationship with students motivates and drives them. For the most part, professors are easily accessible and ready to help. It’s not uncommon to see professors in the halls on a weekend, or to e-mail a professor a question on a weekend and get a quick response.

Fellow Students

Student relationships with one another also drive motivation. Due to small class sizes, students become very fond of their classmates; they are usually their study partners, as well as their best friends. Students here want to help each other. It’s rare to find a student who will not share notes or help.

Core Classes

Each school sets its own core classes for each major; the humanities department also has a set of core liberal arts classes required for each student, regardless of the major. These classes include literature classes and history classes. Additionally, students are required to take a certain number of elective humanities and social science courses. For some majors, humanities elective credit may be fulfilled with a language course. The school offers a wide range of language courses from the traditional French and Spanish to the more unusual Japanese or Hindu. Students may also participate in courses at the New School University. Although Cooper is not a liberal arts institution, it places great emphasis on the humanities and social science courses, and hires professors from prestigious liberal arts institutions to teach classes.

In the engineering school certain core classes are required for every engineering student, including: physics, chemistry, physical chemistry, calculus, probability, differential equations, computer programming, and design principles. Students are given the opportunity to perform research in such areas as chemistry, environmental engineering, and biomedical engineering. Art students must be proficient in such courses as drawing, color, two-dimensional design, and three-dimensional design. Architecture students are required to take such courses as design structures, mathematics, and physics. For some majors, electives within the major are required. Study abroad programs for summer and semester study are available for more majors and provide a unique and interesting way to continue studying your own discipline while exploring a new culture.

Graduation Requirements

The requirements for graduation in each school vary. Art students must complete 128 credits, including 38 liberal arts credits. The five-year architecture program requires 160 credits, with 30 in liberal arts and electives. The engineering requirements include 135 credits, with 24 credits in liberal arts and social sciences.

Senior Project

Each school requires a senior project. Engineering senior projects range from designing an ethylene plant to designing a car, and anything and everything in between. Some of these projects are entered in competitions, and many receive recognition. Each art student is given the chance to display his or her work in a senior show. Students present work ranging from paintings, to drawings, to movies. In their fifth year, architecture students enroll in their senior thesis class, which prepares them for work after graduation. With small classes, friendly helpful professors, plenty of research opportunities, and bright and helpful peers, the opportunities for academic growth are endless.

Most Popular Fields of Study


College Building :: Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art
The Cooper Union :: Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art


Admission here is highly selective. Requirements for each school vary; however, all applicants must take the SAT or ACT, complete sixteen to eighteen high school academic credits, and graduate from an accredited secondary school. In addition, engineering applicants must take SAT Subject Tests in mathematics I or II and physics or chemistry. Applicants must also complete an application with essays that enable them to describe themselves to the admissions committee. Art and Architecture applicants must complete a home test that shows their unique abilities to the admissions committee.

Financial Aid

The school used to be completely tuition free, thanks to a full scholarship for each incoming student. However, that policy has changed and students will now receive half-tuition scholarships and must be responsible for paying the other half. Additional aid is provided to the neediest of students, so be sure to fill out a FAFSA and CSS Profile in order to be considered.

The financial aid counselors really help to ensure that students receive the most aid possible so that they can attend here without having to worry about how they will finance their education. In fact, almost half of the incoming freshmen receive financial aid, and a substantial number of upperclassman receive aid. Approximately one-quarter of the students work part time on campus, and some also work off campus.

Student Financial Aid Details

Ranks 5667th for the average student loan amount.
Secrets to getting the best scholarships and financial aid in New York.



The residence hall, home mostly to freshmen, with a few upperclassmen, gives students their first opportunity to build a community at Cooper. Friendships start in the dorm and last a lifetime. Housing is apartment-style with three-, four-, and five-person apartments. The dormitory has a recreation room where many organizations hold meetings, a study lounge with the Hall and Resident Assistant offices, and a laundry room. Ethernet access is available in all the apartments. Resident Assistants with extensive training are available in an emergency, or simply to talk. During the first few weeks of the semester, RAs help bring out the community within the dorm, and try to foster that throughout the year with various activities and meetings.

Like a rite of passage, after the first year, most students move out of the dorm into apartments in the surrounding areas. Some students venture into Brooklyn or Queens. Living off campus affords students freedom, but not without many new added responsibilities. Having your own apartment, paying rent, electricity, and phone bills can be quite an adventure, and a lot of responsibility too! But, it is a growing experience, preparing oneself for the “real world.”

Activities and Organizations

Campus events and activities range from lectures, to plays, to gallery openings, to Greek parties sponsored by the various student organizations. Student organizations and clubs range from student government, to literary and artistic groups, to religious and cultural organizations, to Greek societies, to professional societies.

Every year, the South Asia Society, along with other ethnic and cultural clubs, organizes the Annual Culture Show, where student groups perform pieces representing world cultures, and there is also an international food fair, where students can sample food from different parts of the world. Donations collected during this event are given to UNICEF. South Asia Society also holds a Diwali Celebration for the Indian New Year with traditional Indian food and music. Hispanic Heritage night is a popular event sponsored by the Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers and Café Night, a relaxing night of varied performances from students and city residents, is sponsored by the Black Student Union. Also popular is the Soulsa Dance sponsored by Enclave and the Black Student Union, with Caribbean and Latin food on the menu. Kesher-Hillel, the Jewish Student Union, also draws a large crowd as it holds its semiannual Shabbaton to celebrate the Jewish Sabbath.

From the beginning of the year, many students look forward to Dean Baker’s annual ski trip at Mount Sutton in Canada. Over a hundred students and their friends cross over the American-Canadian border for a week of skiing and fun. This trip was so popular that the dean started an alumni trip during President’s Day weekend.

The February Celebration is also a favorite among students. It’s the annual semiformal where students get the chance to dress up and dance the night away with their friends.

The Cooper Dramatic Society works hard to put on a performance each semester. Greek societies usually provide a social outlet for students. There are two national fraternities—Zeta Psi and Tau Delta Phi—and one local sorority—Delta Eta on campus. Usually, there is one Greek-sponsored party on campus per semester. But the Greeks tend to throw off-campus parties too. Greeks sponsor events such as TechnoBowling, Chilli Night, and Lipsync.

Students appreciate the larger community and do give back to the community with penny drives, fund-raising activities, and various volunteer opportunities.

Student Enrollment Demographics

Student Graduation Demographics


Students play as hard on the field as they work in the labs and studios. Year after year, the school receives many accolades for its athletic programs; Cooper teams and players have been featured in the New York Times, ESPN Magazine’s The List, Glamour Magazine, and on HBO’s “Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel.”

There are both intercollegiate and intramural sports. There are five intercollegiate men’s teams and two women’s teams. There are twelve intramural coed teams. The basketball team makes its annual trip to California to play Caltech. Some home basketball games honor a graduating senior, and these games are followed by food and festivities. The soccer and tennis teams also draw small crowds of cheering fans.


The Great Hall, “opened in 1858… quickly became a Mecca for all interested in serious discussion and debate of the vital issues of the day.” Since opening its doors many notable people have spoken from its podium, including:

  • President Abraham Lincoln
  • President Ulysses S. Grant
  • President Grover Cleveland
  • President William Howard Taft
  • President Theodore Roosevelt
  • President Woodrow Wilson
  • President Bill Clinton
  • P. T. Barnum
  • Mark Twain
  • Henry Ward Beecher
  • Sidney Hook
  • Mortimer Adler
  • Jacques Barzun
  • Norman Cousins
  • H. V. Kaltenborn
  • Orson Welles
  • Malcolm Cowley
  • Lionel Trilling
  • W. H. Auden
  • William Carlos Williams
  • Dylan Thomas
  • William Jennings Bryan
  • Samuel Gompers
  • Booker T. Washington
  • Andrew Carnegie
  • W.E.B. DuBois
  • Victoria Woodhull
  • Frederick Douglass
  • Salman Rushdie
  • Bill Cosby

Local Community

The school is located in the best city—a city that never sleeps. Off-campus adventures can be exciting. The opportunities to explore New York are endless; trips to Chinatown or Little Italy can be culturally stimulating. Additionally, students frequent coffee shops, restaurants, museums, galleries, bookstores, movies, theaters, and concerts. There are farmers markets in Union Square, and street performers in Washington Square Park. Street fairs line the streets throughout Manhattan during the spring, fall, and summer. And, with New York’s public transportation, you can be anywhere in just a few minutes.


Students graduating from each school pursue different paths, but what’s true for graduates from any major is that upon graduation, they have attained the necessary skills in their field to conquer anything the future may bring. Cooper provides the basis for which all future possibilities are endless. Some students continue their education at here and pursue a master’s degree. Others enroll in other prestigious universities to pursue higher-level graduate education in the arts or engineering fields.

Others enter medical school or law school. Many return to school for M.B.A.s after working for a few years. Some students begin applying their newly acquired skills and find jobs in the “real world.” The career counseling department actively helps students find jobs upon graduation. Also, the Career Services department helps underclassmen find summer internships and school-year internships; these internships will be valuable assets in preparing students for work upon graduation.

Prominent Graduates


  • Thomas Alva Edison, 1875–79, Inventor
  • Joshua Lionel Cowen, 1875–79, Inventor (Lionel Toy Trains)
  • Felix Frankfurter, 1898, Former Justice of U.S. Supreme Court
  • Daisy Brown, ’04, Educator, First Black Female to Graduate from a School of Engineering in the United States
  • Arthur C. Keller, ’23 Acoustical Engineer, Inventor of First Stereophonic Recording System
  • Dr. Albert Carnesale, ’57, Chancellor, University of California, Los Angeles, past Academic Dean, Harvard University, Chief of the Defense Systems Division, U.S. Arms Control and Disarmament Agency
  • Richard Schwartz, ’57, President and CEO, Alliant Techsystems, Expertise in America’s Aerospace Program
  • Stanley Lapidus, ’70, President, EXACT Laboratories, Inventor of Screening Techniques for Early Detection of Colon and Uterine Cancer
  • Dr. Russell Hulse, ’70, Principal Research Physicist, Plasma Physics, Princeton University, Recipient of the 1993 Nobel Prize for Physics.
  • Thomas Campbell, ’71, Founder and President, Coastal Planning and Engineering, Boca Raton, FL
  • Genghmun Eng, ’72, Research Scientist, The Aerospsce Corporation
  • Angelica Forndran, ’72, Chief of Engineering and Scientific Services, NYC Department of Environmental Protection
  • Dr. Barbara Schwartz, ’74, Vice President, Future Development, Ethicon (a Johnson & Johnson Co.)
  • Marisa Lago, ’75, Director, Office of Internal Affairs, U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission
  • Thomas Driscoll, ’76, Director of Stock Research, Salomon Brothers, Inc.
  • Gregory Ronan, ’79, President/Founder, Wave Optics, Inc.
  • Philippe Wiener, Vice President, Strategy Development, General Dynamics Advanced Technology Systems.
  • Joseph Tarallo, ’83, Technical Manager of Wireless Technology, Lucent Technologies


  • Irwin S. Chanin, ’15, Architect and Engineer
  • John Q. Hejduk, ’50, Educator and Architect, Dean of Irwin Chanin School of Architecture
  • Judd Hirsch, 62, Stage and Film Actor
  • Daniel Libesking, ’70, Architect and Educator
  • Elizabeth Diller, ’79, Partner, Diller and Scofidio, Associate Professor of Architecture, Princeton University
  • Francois de Menil, Architect


  • Augustus St. Gaudens, 1864, Sculptor
  • William Wallace Denslow, 1870, Illustrator, the First American to Create Picture Books Combining Color and Design
  • Annie E. A. Walker, 1895, Pioneering Black Painter
  • Max Fleischer, 1900, Animation Pioneer, creator of Popeye and Betty Boop
  • Vera S. Neumann, ’28, CEO, The Vera Companies, International Designer
  • Lee Krasner, ’29, Painter
  • Louis Dorfsman, ’39, Graphic Designer, Past VP and Design Director of the Museum of Televison and Radio
  • Evan Hunter, ’46, Best-selling author
  • Alex Katz, ’49, Painter
  • Milton Glaser, ’51, Graphic Designer
  • Edward Sorel, ’51, Illustrator
  • Jay Meisel, ’52, Photographer
  • Tom Wesselman, ’59, Painter
  • Mario Buatta, ’62, Interior Designer
  • Thomas Fitzgerald, ’90, Filmmaker

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