First Impressions: Purchase College of the State University of New York (SUNY-Purchase)

SUNY-Purchase is considered by educators to be the visual and performing arts college of the State University of New York. I had the privilege to visit the school for a well-organized Visual Arts Day program. Had you been there, you have found it easy to conclude that there is a considerable interest in the visual arts as well as the school. The visual arts faculty who spoke to us performed to a full house in the college’s Performing Arts Center. I have more First Impressions to share as well as a Pinterest page.

Today, 40 percent of Purchase students are enrolled in its School of the Arts, which has 20 disciplines. The Music program has 11 programs alone; the Theatre Design/Technology program has seven. The remaining students are enrolled in the School of Liberal Arts and Science, which has 26 majors; four touch on the arts while four touch on communications and media.

There is a lot to like about SUNY-Purchase for students who are interested in the arts as a pursuit or as a spectator. The student body is smaller in size (around 4,200 undergraduates), more politically aware than most (though largely liberal) and quite creative (they organized a Zombie Prom, among other exhibitions and events). It is quite likely that your education, as well as your social life, will touch on the visual and/or performing arts if you choose to go to Purchase. Given the academic mix, the impressive arts facilities—the Neuberger Museum of Art was the very first building completed on the campus—and the college’s proximity to New York, this can be an excellent choice for students who are interested in the media or arts administration as well as becoming the on-stage or backstage talent. Edie Falco and Parker Posey, among others, got their starts here.

Purchase is a bargain if you want to go to college near New York City. Resident students pay less than $8,400 in tuition and fees this year. Non-residents also get a good deal; their tuition and fees are less than $19,000.  Students who are seriously interested in the arts should seriously consider these costs vs. similar programs at schools such as Fordham, Ithaca or NYU. The career development office has an aggressive internship program, and there are many jobs available on campus to help students build their resumes and cover the costs of their education.

Beauty is in the eyes of the beholder when visiting college campuses. Those who are excited about a campus with ivy-covered buildings, lots of green space and students sitting on the lawn of the academic quad between classes will not like Purchase. Nor will students who have little to no interest in the arts, communications or activism or have right-leaning political views. But those who love the arts and want to be near New York City should seriously consider this school.

The Report Card for SUNY-Purchase 

  • Four-Year/Six-Year Graduation Rates: C/C
  • Freshman Retention: B
  • Costs: A
  • Curriculum: A
  • Community: B+
  • Comforts: B+
  • Connections: B+

Check out my First Impressions of SUNY-Purchase!

Check out my SUNY-Purchase Pinterest Page!

If you want to get more of my take on this, and other schools, feel free to comment or contact me at