University of Rochester


Make no mistake: there are hundreds of outstanding colleges and universities across the country and around the world. However, few schools match the educational opportunities offered at the University of Rochester. Rochester is one of the nation’s smallest private research universities. Professors are accessible, classes are small, and one-on-one undergraduate research is the norm.

At Rochester, there are no required subjects. There are no general education requirements or core curriculum. You can study what you love, and not spend time fulfilling someone else’s concept of education. Rochester has found that students do their best when studying what they love. Rochester students are empowered to make crucial decisions regarding their individual educational experience. From day one students are able to take classes that align with their academic passions. This academic freedom sets Rochester apart from most other colleges and universities. With this freedom, more students are able to double or even triple major if they want to.

The University of Rochester, founded in 1850, is located in Rochester, New York, a city that offers almost everything you would find in a big East Coast city, but without all the traffic. More than a million people call the Rochester area home. The River Campus, the university’s main campus, sits on the banks of the Genesee River and covers ninety acres. Rochester is a residential campus, and over eighty percent of undergraduate students choose to live in university housing. More importantly, this is not the kind of school where students race home on the weekends. Nearly all students choose to stay on campus and enjoy all that the university has to offer. There are more than 220 student groups, and it seems that every night there is at least one group performance or sponsored event taking place. From a cappella shows, to cheap movies, to varsity games, there is always something to do.

The university provides transportation offcampus via free shuttles if you want to experience all that the city has to offer. There are dozens of outstanding restaurants, shops, movie theaters, and so much more just minutes from campus. The world-renowned Eastman School of Music is also just a short ride away. Many concerts at Eastman are free or just a few dollars for all Rochester undergrads. Students can even take free music lessons at Eastman for credit. Whether it’s the open curriculum, outstanding undergraduate research opportunities, a vibrant campus, or a beautiful city, Rochester has a lot to offer. This is a place where you’ll define your college experience on your own terms.

At Rochester…

  • you will find students from all 50 states and more than fifty countries.
  • there are more than seventy majors in the humanities, social sciences, and natural sciences.
  • ninety-six percent of freshmen return for their sophomore year.
  • eighty-six percent of all undergraduate students live on campus.
  • seventy percent of students are involved in volunteer activities.
  • seventy-five percent of students are involved in undergraduate research.
  • ninety-six percent of seniors have had at least one career-related experience.

As you can see, the University of Rochester has a lot to offer; it’s definitely a great place to be an undergrad. Whether it’s the unique curriculum, the outstanding research opportunities, or the active on-campus community and engaged student body, Rochester is a place where you can have an undergraduate experience like no other.

Rochester truly stands alone among other research universities and constantly strives to be better, as is evidenced by Rochester’s motto, “Meliora,” or “Ever Better.” This isn’t just a saying or catchphrase; it’s a philosophy we demonstrate every day. Rochester shows this by adapting to an ever-changing academic landscape in ways that enable students to fully explore their interests and chart their own academic course.

Excited Yet?

Have more questions? Check out the Admissions Web site at You can watch cool videos, chat with current students, connect with Admissions on the online forums, learn more about undergraduate research, and see for yourself how the Rochester curriculum works.

Information Summary

Ranks 20th in New York and 202nd overall. See the entire top 2,000 colleges and universities list
Overall Score (about) 92.6
Total Cost On-Campus Attendance $72,721
Admission Success rate N/A
ACT / SAT 75%ile scores 34 / 1500
Student Ratio Students-to-Faculty 13 : 1
Retention (full-time / part-time) 95% / N/A
Enrollment Total (all students) 11,817


Students arriving on the Rochester campus as freshmen can begin studying what they love on day one and do not have to wait until their junior year to have real choices about what classes to take.

Required core classes and general education requirements are seen as a necessary evil by many undergraduate students at other institutions. Often, around the first two years of a student’s college career can be spent taking classes necessary to fulfill requirements on a graduation audit, not classes that are chosen because that’s what the student wants to study. The Rochester Curriculum is at the center of the academic experience each undergraduate has. At Rochester, students get to chart their own unique academic path free of limiting, mandatory core classes. If you want to take classes in a foreign language or in the arts, you can, but Rochester will not require you to. If you never want to take a math course again, that’s your choice. This freedom of learning and depth of study all take place at one of the nation’s leading private research universities.

Majors, Minors, and Certificates

All academic areas at Rochester are divided between three major fields: Natural Sciences, Humanities, and Social Sciences. Choosing a major takes place by the end of a student’s sophomore year, and before graduation, students must take at least two different, three-class “clusters” in the major academic fields their major is not part of. Many students take advantage of the cluster system to pick up a minor or a second major more easily, while others just explore an area of study outside their major that they’ve always wanted to. The wide range of seventy-plus majors includes popular programs in Biology, Psychology, and Music, along with unique programs in Brain and Cognitive Sciences, Economics and Business Strategies, and American Sign Language. Programs from the Department of Political Science and the Department of Economics are nationally ranked in the top fifteen. With all the academic freedom afforded Rochester students, minors and certificate programs are a popular choice. Possible minors include areas as varied as Arabic and Medical Anthropology, and you can get a certificate in such topics such as Biotechnology, Medphysics, and Asian Studies.

New Majors

  • Four Public Health programs
  • Financial Economics
  • Economics and Business Strategies
  • Archeology
  • Engineering and Architecture
  • International Relations

Academic Opportunities

The close relationship with the Eastman School of Music not only offers a great resource for Rochester students, but students can take classes and lessons at the worldrenowned music school.

Research as an undergraduate is the norm, not the exception. Seventy-five percent of students participate in undergraduate research, and unlike other research universities, you don’t have to wait. You can dive right in during your freshman year, if you choose. Freshman applicants can also apply for one of Rochester’s four programs that automatically grant students admission to one of the university’s graduate schools. These programs include the Rochester Early Medical Scholars (REMS) program, an eight-year B.A./B.S.-M.D. program, Guaranteed Engineering at Rochester (GEAR), a 3-2 B.S./M.S. program, Guaranteed Rochester Accelerated Degree in Education (GRADE), a five-year B.A./B.S.+M.S., and the Rochester Early Business Scholars Program (REBS), a six-year B.A./B.S.-M.B.A. program. Interested prospective students must fill out an additional supplement by December 1st to be considered for these programs. Once at Rochester, many students decide to continue their studies at the graduate level at Rochester by taking part in one of the 3-2 programs in Business Administration, Engineering, Fifth Year in Teaching, Human Development, Optics, Physics, and Astronomy (and Medical Physics), and Public Health.

Take Five Scholars Program and Other Programs

Once you get to Rochester, it’s possible you’ll find so many areas of study you want to explore that four years simply won’t be enough. For these students, Rochester offers the tuition-free Take Five Scholars Program. Through the program, students complete a fifth year of undergraduate study at Rochester in an academic area that is outside of their major concentration.

Another option for students is the Kauffman Entrepreneurial Year, or KEY, Program. Qualified students may propose to devote as much as an entire academic year to internships, special projects, business plan development, research into various facets of entrepreneurship, or analysis of how culture and public policy influence entrepreneurial activity. With the assistance of faculty advisors, KEY students complete their additional study tuition-free.

Study Abroad

If you’re looking for a more global adventure, then the study abroad programs at Rochester will satisfy any passion you have. Studying abroad at Rochester is a possibility, no matter what your major is, and Rochester believes that study abroad is an integral part of the undergraduate curriculum. Thirty-five percent of the Class of 2007 participated in one of seventy-five study abroad programs in countries as varied as Australia, Ghana, Italy, Argentina, and China.

Most Popular Fields of Study


building :: University of Rochester building :: University of Rochester Academic Quad :: University of Rochester
Rush Rhees Library :: University of Rochester Rush Rhees from Below :: University of Rochester Academic Quad from Above :: University of Rochester


Rochester’s admissions process is characterized by a comprehensive and holistic evaluation, one that emphasizes academic achievement and sincerely considers the intangible strengths of a prospective student. Applicants are not reduced to a transcript and a test score, but are evaluated as individuals in a highly personalized approach. In this way, it is a process that reveals much about what makes Rochester unique. Rochester asks that prospective students complete the Common Application or the Universal College Application along with the Rochester Supplement. Each application includes basic demographic information, a description of achievements and activities, and a college essay. Students should also submit all transcripts, including SAT/ACT scores, and two to four letters of recommendation. For students interested in applying to one of Rochester’s combined graduate degree programs, an additional supplement is required. Applicants are encouraged to submit writing samples, artwork, musical recordings, and/or any other supplementary materials at their discretion.

All of these documents constitute a completed application and should be submitted to Rochester no later than January 1st (December 15th for international applicants). Students planning to apply to Rochester’s binding Early Decision (ED) program should submit their application materials by November 1st. In 2008 Rochester received nearly 12,000 applications from students competing for approximately 1,000 spots in the freshman class. About 25% of last year’s freshman class enrolled through Early Decision.

The Interview

The personal nature of Rochester’s evaluative process is evident in the importance that is placed on the admissions interview. While it is not required, prospective applicants are highly encouraged to schedule an interview with an admissions counselor or alumni representative. This provides students with an opportunity to ask important questions and to put a face to what is otherwise a two-dimensional stack of papers in an informal setting. Instead, they are casual conversations; you’ll never be asked what kind of tree you would be and why.

Interviews are offered on campus and in more than one hundred cities worldwide each fall. Students may also arrange to have an interview scheduled with an alumni volunteer. Rochester will accommodate any and all students requesting an interview.

Financial Aid

The costs of attending a private research university are high, but the Financial Aid Office works with every admitted student to ensure that the cost of enrollment is not a barrier to attending Rochester. Rochester is committed to meeting the full financial need of every admitted student. Combinations of merit scholarships, grants, low-interest loans, and work study help ninety percent of Rochester students.

For the vast majority of Rochester’s merit scholarships, there is no separate application. These scholarships range from $8,000/year to full tuition and are renewable over four years. They are awarded based on the overall strength of a student’s application, and are not based solely on standardized test scores or GPA, but if you’re serious about competing for merit scholarships, scheduling an admissions interview is strongly recommended.

Both the College Scholarship Service (CSS) PROFILE and the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) are required in order for a student’s need-based financial aid to be determined. The deadline for filing these financial aid applications is February 1st, and Early Decision applicants should submit the CSS PROFILE by November 15th.

Student Financial Aid Details

Ranks 2291st for the average student loan amount.
Secrets to getting the best scholarships and financial aid in New York.


Rochester is a place where students can study what they love in a challenging academic environment while still maintaining a life outside of the library. Put simply, Rochester students work hard but still have plenty of time to get involved in the campus community. If there’s one thing you need to know about social life at Rochester, it’s that more than eighty percent of undergraduates choose to live on campus. Why do so many students make this decision? Because the dorms are great, the food is good, student activities are numerous, athletics are competitive, and the heart of the city of Rochester is just a quick shuttle ride away. Off-campus housing is inexpensive and accessible, but most students just don’t want to give up their on-campus experience.

Campus Housing

Undergraduate housing options are numerous. From corridor-style freshman dorms, to special-interest houses, to suite-style upperclassman buildings, there’s a housing option to fit your idea of what college living is supposed to be. Last year the university opened several new upperclassman dorms featuring single bedrooms, a bathroom for every bedroom, and air conditioning. All dorms are just a quick walk from the library, dining facilities, athletic center, and academic buildings; to get from one end of campus to the other takes about ten minutes on foot.

Student Groups

With so many undergrads living on campus, you would expect there to be many active student groups, and there are. In fact, Rochester has more than two-hundred student groups including varsity, club, and intramural sports teams, a cappella groups, religious roundtables, music ensembles, Greek organizations, dance troupes, and so much more.

The Arts

Whether you’re a classical singer, tuba player, Latin dancer, comedy actor, or mural painter, you’ll find your niche at Rochester.

If you play an instrument or sing, you’ll find it easy to continue taking lessons or join an ensemble. Whether you audition to take free lessons at Eastman, try out for one of the university’s four a cappella groups, or take the always popular History of Rock course, you’ll always have a musical outlet. If you’re not an aspiring musician but still want to listen, the Eastman School offers numerous free concerts for Rochester undergrads throughout the year.

If you dance, you won’t have a problem finding a group that suits you. From hip-hop, to tap and jazz, there are several dance groups to choose from. If you act, direct, or enjoy working behind the scenes, Rochester’s International Theatre Program is open to all students regardless of major. Rochester also boasts an outstanding improv comedy troupe.

If you paint, draw, or sculpt, you have an array of Art and Art History courses to choose from. Rochester also has an art center with ample workspace and even a darkroom for student use. In addition, there is a student-run art gallery on campus.

The City

As a Rochester student, you’ll spend a lot of your time on campus, but when you feel the need to venture into the city for a bite to eat, a game to watch, or a show to catch, the university makes it easy. A university-owned shuttle bus service takes students throughout the city.

More than a million people call the city of Rochester home. The city offers the entertainment and culture of a big East Coast city, without the headaches. The city is known for its festivals. From jazz, to local art, to independent film, it seems as if there is at least a festival a week during the warmer months (and no, “warmer months” does not mean July and August only).

Where Do Students Go in the City?

  • Artisan Works—see local artists at work and enjoy a large collection of eclectic pieces
  • Geva Theatre—a professional theater showing everything from musicals to improv
  • Memorial Art Gallery—part of the university, free for all undergrads
  • Rochester Public Market—offers fresh produce, baked goods, ethnic cuisine, flowers, and much more
  • Strong Museum—one of the top children’s museums in the country (yes, undergrads go here)
  • Susan B. Anthony House—national historic landmark celebrating this women’s suffrage movement leader
  • Monroe County Parks—more than twenty parks in the metropolitan area
  • Eastman School of Music—popular coffee shops and restaurants are nearby
  • George Eastman House/Dryden Theater— mansion of the university’s leading benefactor; the Dryden has daily showings of classic and contemporary films
  • Little Theatre—the city’s premier theater for independent films (great student pricing)

Other Options

It is important to note that campus life extends far beyond what has been mentioned above. Rochester students are also politically and religiously active.

College Democrats and College Republicans

are popular options for the politically minded. For those wanting to express their faith or learn about the faiths of others, the Interfaith Chapel is a house of prayer for all. Rochester undergrads are also active in the community. More than seventy percent of undergrads volunteer.

There is also an active Greek community on campus; about twenty percent of undergrads join fraternities and sororities. The vast majority of these groups have houses or dorm floors on campus. In addition to providing a vibrant night life for many undergrads, Greek groups organize community service projects and academic programs throughout the year.

Student Enrollment Demographics

Student Graduation Demographics


More than 3,400 students participate in varsity, club, and intramural sports at Rochester. In addition to a wide variety of club and intramural sports, Rochester has 23 varsity teams. The university’s varsity teams compete in two NCAA Division III conferences, the Liberty League, and the geographically diverse and highly competitive University Athletic Association. Some of Rochester’s toughest rivals include Wash U., Chicago, and NYU. The centerpiece of athletics on campus is the Goergen Athletic Center. This recently renovated facility features an 11,000-square-foot fitness center, four basketball courts, four tennis courts, a twenty-five-meter swimming pool, a two-hundred-meter track, racquetball and squash courts, and several multipurpose rooms used for dance and martial arts classes.

Local Community

Over one million people live and work in the Rochester metropolitan area. Because of the beauty of its natural landscape, including Lake Ontario and the Finger Lakes region, parks, professional sports teams, planetarium, museums, orchestras, theater companies, and its overall quality of life, Rochester has been ranked among America’s most livable cities. Students may not choose to attend UR just to live in Rochester, but students soon discover the gem of the city in which they live and study.

There is just so much that the city has to take advantage of. From various specialty restaurants to Blue Cross Arena and its performances, from the Little and Geva Theatres to various nightlife venues, there are countless ways to keep entertained in Rochester. — Lindsay Dussing, ’07

For many students, Rochester becomes their classroom. Professors regularly take trips to parts of the community for lessons. Other students see Rochester as their playground. For example, Bristol Mountain, a popular ski resort, is only thirty minutes from campus.

Every other Saturday, my friends and I catch the 10 A.M. bus to the Public Market. After getting our necessary cups of Saturday morning coffee or steaming cider at Java’s, we stroll, watching bundled families in the winter and kids climb giant pumpkins in the fall. We pick up cookies from the Amish stand, lots of fresh fruit and vegetables from local farmers, pasta, a French baguette from the bakery, Brie cheese, and the always the same sweet potato pie for dessert. Back in the dorm, we cook up a delicious dinner and gather around our hodgepodge collection of plates and mugs with the same small group of friends and maybe a guest or two for our ritual meal. — Lindsey Lewis, ’09


Because of their individualized undergraduate experience, Rochester graduates are uniquely qualified and prepared for life after college, whether in the graduate school, an internship, or a career. The Career Center is a valuable resource on campus for students to perfect their resume, sharpen their interviewing skills, network with employers and alumni throughout the year at on- and off-campus events, and find summer and postgraduate jobs. Ninety-six percent of all Rochester graduates have had at least one career-related experience, and seventy percent of second-semester seniors have found a job, an internship, or have enrolled in a graduate or professional program.

Rochester graduates interested in medical or law school have consistently outperformed national averages. Eighty-two percent of Rochester students with a GPA of 3.6 or higher were accepted to medical school, far exceeding the forty-two percent national acceptance rate. Rochester graduates have an eighty-six percent law school acceptance rate, well above the national average. With an alumni network nearing 100,000 graduates spanning the globe, Rochester students also have unparalleled opportunities for networking, internships, and career development.

Prominent Grads

  • Ruth Balser, ’69, member of the Massachusetts House of Representatives
  • Frederick Bieber, ’76, medical geneticist and Harvard University professor
  • Steven Chu, ’70, Nobel laureate (physics)
  • Jason Diamond, ’97, plactic surgeon featured on the E Channel series Dr. 90210
  • Robert Dolan, ’77, Dean of University of Michigan Business School
  • Renee Fleming, ’83, Grammy-winning soprano opera singer
  • Robert Forster, ’64, Chairman and C.E.O. of Warner Brothers
  • Daniel Gajdusek, ’43, Nobel laureate (physiology or medicine)
  • Edward Gibson, ’59, former NASA astronaut
  • Steven Hahn, ’78, Pulitzer Prizewinning historian on faculty at University of Pennsylvania
  • N. Hayles, ’77, critical literary theorist
  • Susan Hockfield, ’73, President of MIT
  • Kenneth Keating, U.S. Representative and Senator from New York
  • Galway Kinnell, ’49, Pulitzer Prize-winning poet
  • Arthur Kornberg, ’41, Nobel laureate (physiology or medicine)
  • Masatoshi Koshiba, ’55, Nobel laureate (physics)
  • Lawrence Kudlow, ’69, Associate Director of the Office of Management and Budget under Ronald Reagan; CNBC host
  • Chuck Mangione, ’63, Rochester native and Grammy-winning flugelhorn player
  • Barry Meyer, ’64, Chairman and C.E.O. of Warner Brothers
  • James Pawelczyk, ’82, NASA astronaut
  • Richard Rashid, ’77, oversees Microsoft Research’s worldwide operations
  • Dan Rosenthal, ’88, Assistant to the President in the White House under Bill Clinton
  • Debra Rupp, ’74, actress, “That 70s show”
  • Robert Sack, ’60, Judge, United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit
  • Avie Tevanian, ’83, figure in the development of the Mac OS X at Apple
  • Vincent Vigneaud, ’27, Nobel laureate (chemistry)


Rochester faculty members are somewhat unusual for faculty at one of America’s best research universities: they teach undergraduates and they love doing it. Not only are they an ever-present force in the classroom as early as a student’s first introductory class, but ninety-seven percent have the highest degree in their field. Classes are more often small and discussion-based, and faculty members are notorious for being available even outside of office hours. With a student to teacher ratio of 9:1 and many faculty winners of the Nobel and Pulitzer Prizes, the Rochester faculty, like the Rochester curriculum, exemplify the reasons Rochester stands out as unique among research universities.

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