Studying in New York City: A Guide for Postgraduate Students

Studying in New York City: A Guide for Postgraduate Students

Written by Taru Medha

Regarded as one of the cultural capitals of the world, New York City has a lot to offer students, from prestigious universities to stunning skyscrapers and world-famous attractions.

We’ve covered everything you need to know about studying a PhD in New York including top ranking universities, living costs, career opportunities and more.

Why study your PhD in New York

Here’s a snapshot of what’s on offer for postgraduate students in New York:

  • World-renowned universities: New York is not only home to two Ivy League universities, but also three others in the top 500 in the world according to Times Higher Education World University Rankings.
  • Employment opportunities: Known as the financial capital of the world, there are always companies and industries in New York looking to hire fresh graduates.
  • Culture and entertainment: Looking for a break from studying? From theatre, sports and music to food and shopping, there is plenty to see and do during your down-time. Simply take your pick (or discover a bit of everything!).
  • International outlook: Like most other biggest cities, New York welcomes students from all over the world. You’ll be sure to find a familiar face no matter where you come from.

Top universities in New York for postgraduate study

We’ve listed the three highest ranking universities, according to the Times Higher Education World University Rankings, that are located in the New York area.

#1 Columbia University

Columbia University is one of two Ivy League universities in New York. It is highly regarded for its quality of education and research, and ranks 17th in the world.

Columbia is best known for its postgraduate programmes in Social Sciences, Engineering, Information Sciences, Writing and Psychology. Columbia has educated US Presidents Barack Obama, Theodore and Franklin Roosevelt, and is also home of the prestigious Pulitzer Prize.

#2 Cornell University

The second Ivy League university on the block, Cornell University was founded with the principle of building an “institution where any person can find instruction in any study.” Cornell, now ranking 20th in the world, has produced notable alumni, in a number of different fields, including 45 Nobel Laureates.

Some popular subjects to study at Cornell University are Engineering, Biomedical Sciences, Business and Marketing.

#3 New York University

One of the biggest private universities in the USA, NYU has campuses in the heart of New York, in Manhattan and Brooklyn. NYU is known for its programmes in Social Sciences, Dentistry, Nursing and Fine Arts and ranks 27th in the world.

You could be following in the footsteps of famous alumni like Ursula Burns, former CEO of Xerox, Jonas Salk who discovered the first polio vaccine, and actress Anne Hathaway.

Living costs for students in New York

There is no denying that New York is one of the most expensive cities in the USA, but there are ways in which you can bring costs down.


Student Cost of Living in New York - 2024
Monthly rent (1 bedroom apartment, city centre) $4096
Monthly rent (1 bedroom apartment, outside city centre) $2,664
Restaurant Meal $25
Cinema ticket $20
Monthly travel pass $130
Monthly utilities $170
Based on crowdsourced data published by Numbeo.

Universities in the US will often have student dormitories which are less expensive than private housing. You can also usually get student discounts at supermarkets and retail stores, as well as on bus passes and memberships, so don’t forget to use them where you can. You may also want to work while you study to help fund yourself.

Working during your degree in New York

Working while studying is a good way to earn some extra money to help cover the cost of living in New York. However, there are a few restrictions in place, especially for international students.

In your first year of study, you can only work on-campus, and for a maximum of 20 hours a week. Even though you can work off-campus in your subsequent years of study, there are restrictions on the kind of work you can do.

You can take up work that is mandatory as part of your course known as Curricular Practical Training (has to be completed during your degree). Or take on work, even if is not part of your course, in the form of Optional Practical Training (can be completed after your degree). Both need to be in a field relevant to your studies.

Read our guide on working in the USA as a student for more information.

Things to see in New York

What most tourists try and pack in a week, you’ll have years to explore as a student in New York! You’re really spoiled for choice in this cultural hotspot.

You can’t miss the famous, must-see attractions like the Grand Central Station, Times Square, Brooklyn Bridge, Empire State Building and the Rockefeller Centre. And just a short ferry ride away is the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island.

You can also ride the lesser known, but equally fascinating Roosevelt Island Tramway, an aerial tramway that runs from Manhattan to Roosevelt Island and offers amazing views of the city.

For the curious minds among you, New York has 143 museums. Whether you’re interested in history, art or fashion, there is a museum for you. Some of the most famous New York museums are the Metropolitan Museum of Art (The Met, not to be confused with New York Mets, the baseball team), The American Museum of Natural History and the Madam Tussauds Wax Museum. Students can get reduced tickets to most of these museums.

For those of you looking for a leisurely stroll, you can go to the famous Central Park or the High Line.

And let's not forget the sports and entertainment on offer in the city with the Theatre District showing some of the world’s best stage plays and arenas like Madison Square Garden hosting some of the biggest sports games and concerts.

Careers in New York

If you’re a recent graduate in New York, you’ll find there is no lack of opportunities in the ‘concrete jungle where dreams are made of’!

New York is considered the financial capital of the world and is home to 50 of the Fortune 500 companies! Fashion, media, entertainment and banking are some of the most popular industries in the city.

Even though the US does not give post-study work visas, you could choose to complete your OPT after your studies which allows you to extend your student visa for one year. You could also jump straight to a temporary or permanent work visa.

Read more about working in the USA after your studies on our guide.

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Last Updated: 08 January 2024