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Union College

  • Schenectady, NY
  • Private
  • Urban
  • 46%54%
    student ratio
  • 2,246
    total students
  • $46,314 | $46,314
    in-state tuition | out-of-state tuition
  • January 15
    fall application deadline
  • 37%
    acceptance rate
  • Very Difficult
    admission difficulty
  • Average test scores for all first-year students that were accepted and enrolled.
  • 670
    sat math
  • 640
    sat reading
  • 640
    sat writing
  • 29
    act composite


The College

Chartered by the state of New York in 1795, Union College is one of the nation's oldest and most distinguished liberal arts colleges. A four-year, independent residential college serving approximately 2,200 undergraduate men and women, Union is known for its academic rigor, flexible programs and close-knit community.

True to its 200-year tradition of innovation, the Union curriculum offers a multitude of academic and intellectual options. There is an increasing emphasis on interdepartmental and interdisciplinary programs that blend liberal arts with science and engineering in a way that encourages students to think creatively, ethically and entrepreneurially. In 2012, 64 percent of Union students major in the arts, humanities and social sciences, with 36 percent majoring in the sciences and engineering.

Originally all-male, the College became coeducational in 1970; today, approximately half of Union's students are women. In the 2012-13 first-year class, approximately 19 percent of students self-identify as members of a multicultural group; 7 percent are international students. Students come from 37 countries and 37 states and U.S. territories.

The international experience is a hallmark of a Union education, with nearly 60 percent of students pursuing studies, research, internships and other programs abroad. On campus, opportunities for leadership, discussion and community abound in the Minerva system, offering residential, academic, and social programs. Every incoming student is assigned to one of seven Minerva Houses, which also involve faculty and staff.

There are more than 100 student organizations, ten residential Greek organizations, and more than a dozen theme houses revolving around such common interests as arts, cooking, language studies, literature, LGBTQ issues, music and religious diversity. Cultural events include concerts, theater, dance and film, as well as art exhibits at the Mandeville Gallery, Wikoff Student Gallery and Burns Arts Atrium. About 89 percent of all students live in residence halls or college-owned houses, including traditional dorms, Minerva Houses, fraternity and sorority houses, townhouses, and College Park Hall. The Kenney Community Center is Union's headquarters for volunteering as well as a hub for activism and leadership. It connects students with such organizations as America Reads, Big Brothers Big Sisters, City Mission, Habitat for Humanity, and Hospice, and with numerous other tutoring programs, anti-hunger and anti-poverty groups, and civic projects.

Union's comprehensive athletics program offers twenty-six varsity intercollegiate teams, fifty-five men's women's and co-ed intramural and club sports, and other recreational, wellness and fitness activities. Union is a Division III school with Division I men's and women's ice hockey. It is a member of the NCAA, the Liberty League, and ECAC Hockey.

The Becker Career Center helps students with career planning, internships, and the graduate school and job search. Recent trends show that about a third of graduating seniors go directly to graduate or professional schools, and Union has earned an excellent reputation for placing graduates in medical, law, and business schools. Union's more than 22,000 alumni include U.S. President Chester A. Arthur (Class of 1848); U.S. Secretary of State William Henry Seward (Class of 1820); Nobel Prize, National Book Award, and MacArthur genius award winners; Olympic medalists; and pioneers in business, engineering, entertainment, journalism, the law and medicine.


Union is set on 100 acres in Schenectady, an historic city of 62,000 founded by the Dutch. Union became the first unified campus in America in 1813 with a distinctive design by noted French architect Joseph Jacques Ramee. Its centerpiece is the sixteen-sided Nott Memorial, a National Historic Landmark used for study, symposia, exhibits, and special events.

Schenectady is a small urban environment that is reinventing itself after the decline of traditional industries. It is part of Upstate New York's picturesque Capital-Saratoga Region, with nearly 1 million residents. The region includes the state capital, Albany, and has a rich cultural heritage and a burgeoning high-tech industry. As "Tech Valley", the area is home to GE, with its emphasis on alternative energy; and Global Foundries, the fast-growing semi-conductor company. Tech Valley offers a variety of opportunities for internships, job placements and student/faculty research.

A 15-minute drive from Albany International Airport, Union College is three hours by car from New York City and Boston, four hours from Montreal, and close to East Coast ski slopes, the Berkshires, Catskills, Mohawk and Hudson Rivers, and the Adirondack Mountains.

In addition, in 2011, Union strengthened its historic relationship with the Adirondacks by purchasing the former home of conservationist Paul Schaefer, located in nearby Niskayuna. Now known as the Kelly Adirondack Center at Union College, it houses the Adirondack Research Library, the largest collection on the Adirondacks outside of the Adirondack Park. The Kelly Center offers many programs and opportunities to advance Union's understanding of the mountains, wilderness and waterways of this tremendous natural resource.

Majors and Degrees

Union offers more than forty majors as well as double majors; combined majors and minors; interdepartmental and multidisciplinary concentrations; and area, ethnic, and cultural studies programs. The self-designed Organizing Theme major is for the student with intellectual curiosity in a particular topic involving multiple disciplines. Most students take three courses in each of the three 10-week terms that comprise Union's trimester system. The average introductory class has 18 students; the average upper-level class, 15.

Most of Union's newest majors, such as bioengineering, neuroscience, and religious studies, and minors, such as computational methods and Jewish studies, encourage learning at the intersection of the liberal arts and sciences. Among the courses that cross traditional disciplinary boundaries are The Illustrated Organism, a class for artists and scientists, and New Wall of China, offered through the departments of Modern Languages and Literatures, and Environmental Science, Policy and Engineering. Union's Internal Education Foundation provides funding for special, innovative projects.

Union offers Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) and Bachelor of Science (B.S.) degrees. Students may declare up to two minors. Union also offers an eight-year leadership in medicine program (LIM) with Albany Medical College and Union Graduate College; six-year law and public policy program with Albany Law School (B.A. and J.D.); and five-year bachelor's/M.B.A. or bachelor's/M.A.T. programs with Union Graduate College. The fourteen academic honor societies include Phi Beta Kappa, the first chapter established in New York (1817).

Academic Programs

Nearly every academic department requires students to complete some form of research in their subject area, and students have opportunities to work one-on-one with their professors. They often coauthor publications and present at conferences, such as the National Conference on Undergraduate Research (NCUR). Many participate in internships at businesses, hospitals, and social service organizations. The Steinmetz Symposium showcases the work of hundreds of student researchers through oral, dance, music, art, and poster sessions each spring.

The Campus Wide Computation Initiative, part of a National Science Foundation grant, helps students integrate computation into various fields of study. Through the Michael Rapaport ('59) Ethics Across the Curriculum initiative, faculty members from different departments offer courses that provide extensive training in everyday ethics. Writing Across the Curriculum requires all students to take five designated courses from at least two divisions and one Senior Writing Experience. The First-Year Preceptorial (FYP), a mandatory interdisciplinary course for first-year students, emphasizes critical reading and thinking skills, writing, speaking, and gender and cultural diversity. The Sophomore Research Seminar (SRS), also required, promotes research and writing skills. The Senior Thesis or Capstone Project encourages students to research, prepare and design their own project around an issue or problem or interest.

Off-Campus Programs

Nearly 60 percent of all Union students go abroad. Most programs are led by Union faculty. Many programs combine elements of entrepreneurship, research, or community service. There are also opportunities for extended terms, formal exchanges, research trips, and independent study. Three-week mini-terms, for 1 credit, are offered during winter and summer in various U.S. cities and countries. Many students get involved in continuing hurricane relief efforts in New Orleans. The Civil Rights Public History Mini-Term explores the American Civil Rights Movement in key cities and states. The newest mini-terms include Bali, Russia, Senegal, Diversity of the Adirondacks, and Holocaust History and Restoring Jewish Cemeteries.

Academic Facilities

Union's nearly 100 buildings include the F. W. Olin Center, which features interactive computerization capabilities that make the building adaptable for use by nearly every academic department. The Science and Engineering Center houses the Center for Bioengineering and Computational Biology. Here, students can use sophisticated research tools such as a nuclear magnetic resonance spectrometer, a Pelletron accelerator, a centrifuge, and a scanning electron microscope. The College's Center for Neuroscience is located in Butterfield Hall. Opened in 2012, it includes five research laboratories, faculty space and research training areas for this growing interdisciplinary program.

Schaffer Library has 617,945 volumes, 786 current periodicals (paper) and 9,267 electronic subscriptions. There are also 300 databases that provide access to a quarter million printed books, documents, and scores. Flanking the library are the Humanities building and the revamped Social Sciences building, Lippman Hall. Featuring advanced technology and designed to promote faculty-student interaction, Lippman Hall is home to the departments of Economics, History, Political Science and Sociology, and the Religious Studies program.

The $22-million Peter Irving Wold Science and Engineering Center, opened in 2011, is a home for interdisciplinary studies across departments. The Wold Center's laboratories are dedicated to energy and environmental engineering; electrical engineering and music research; renewable energy systems; biochemistry; aerogel fabrication; and robotics. In addition, the Kelly Advanced Computing Lab houses the IBM High-Performance Computing Cluster, which offers some of the most advanced computing capabilities among the nation's undergraduate liberal arts schools.

The Arts Building, located in North Colonnade, includes the Burns Atrium, where work by students, faculty, and alumni is exhibited. The Taylor Music Center includes the Fred L. Emerson Auditorium, an all-Steinway performance and teaching space with state-of-the-art recording technology. The Yulman Theater is home to Mountebanks, the country's oldest student performing group. The Henle Dance Pavilion, opening in May 2013, overlooks Jackson's Garden and features classrooms, rehearsal and performance spaces, a costume shop, meeting rooms and a gallery. The newly constructed Wicker Wellness Center, slated to open next year, will offer a comprehensive array of health, wellness and counseling services.


Union's tuition for the 2012-13 academic year was $44,748; room and board were $11,070 and mandatory fees were $471. The estimated cost for books and personal expense was $1,777.

Financial Aid

Union is committed to admitting an economically diverse student body and to meeting the full demonstrated need of all admitted students. The College offers $38 million annually in aid. The average Union need-based scholarship is $29,000; the average merit award is $10,000. Those families that are unable to pay full tuition and fees are typically covered by a financial aid package consisting of a grant, loan, and work opportunity. About half of all applicants apply for financial aid; more than 60 percent of all students receive financial assistance from the College.

Candidates for aid should complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) and the College Scholarship Service's PROFILE form and mail them directly to the appropriate agencies by February 1. For more information, visit


Close student-faculty interaction and small classes are a hallmark of the Union experience. The close relationship between students and faculty motivates students to learn through inquiry and discourse. Excluding library staff, 98 percent of the faculty members hold a doctorate or terminal degree. Class size is generally small, with a 10:1 student-faculty ratio. Many upper-level courses function as seminars.

Student Government

Students play an integral role in directing the present and future course of Union. With full voting rights on the two councils that recommend changes to educational policy and student life, students are engaged and active leaders on campus. Students also participate in groups that advise the President on matters like budgetary planning and long-range needs. Each year, two students are elected to membership on the College's Board of Trustees. Opportunities for leadership also abound with the Minerva houses, theme houses, Kenney Community Center, and other clubs.

Admission Requirements

Roughly 5,000 applicants seek freshman class positions on an annual basis; approximately 60 percent are in the top 10 percent of their secondary school class. In evaluating each application, admissions counselors look at the prospective student's grades, rigor of courses taken, class rank, teacher recommendations, and extracurricular involvement. Typically, 16 units of secondary school preparation are required for admission. These should include credits in certain fundamental subjects, such as English, a foreign language, mathematics, social studies, and science. It is strongly recommended that students visit Union for an admission interview and a student-guided tour. Alumni interviews may be requested online.

A student can choose not to submit his or her SAT or ACT scores for review, except for accelerated programs. Those interested in accelerated programs must submit the SAT and two SAT Subject Tests.

Application and Information

Early decision candidates have two options. The application deadline (including all supporting credentials) for Option I is November 15, with notification by December 15. Option II has a January 15 deadline (including all supporting credentials) and February 15 notification. Applications for regular decision admission must be filed by January 15, with decisions mailed by April 1.

Applications to the leadership in medicine program are due no later than December 15. Those for the law and public policy program must be filed no later than January 1. Those deferred under early decision and all regular applicants are given a final decision by April 1. Union adheres to the Candidates Reply Date of May 1.

Location & Contact

Union College

807 Union Street
Schenectady, NY 12308-2311

Phone: 518-388-6112
Fax: 518-388-6986

Contact school now

Majors & Degrees

Degrees Offered
  • Area and ethnic studies
    • African Studies
      Bachelor's Degree offered for this major.
    • American Studies
      Bachelor's Degree offered for this major.
    • Asian Studies
      Bachelor's Degree offered for this major.
    • Latin American and Caribbean Studies
      Bachelor's Degree offered for this major.
  • Computer and information sciences
    • Computer and Information Sciences
      Bachelor's Degree offered for this major.
  • Engineering
    • Bioengineering and Biomedical Engineering
      Bachelor's Degree offered for this major.
    • Electrical and Electronics Engineering
      Bachelor's Degree offered for this major.
    • Mechanical Engineering
      Bachelor's Degree offered for this major.
  • Foreign languages and literature
    • Foreign Languages and Literatures
      Bachelor's Degree offered for this major.
    • Chinese
      Bachelor's Degree offered for this major.
    • German
      Bachelor's Degree offered for this major.
    • French
      Bachelor's Degree offered for this major.
    • Spanish
      Bachelor's Degree offered for this major.
    • Classics and Classical Languages
      Bachelor's Degree offered for this major.
  • English
    • English
      Bachelor's Degree offered for this major.
  • Liberal arts/general studies
    • Liberal Arts and Sciences/Liberal Studies
      Bachelor's Degree offered for this major.
    • Humanities
      Bachelor's Degree offered for this major.
  • Biological/life sciences
    • Biology/Biological Sciences
      Bachelor's Degree offered for this major.
    • Biochemistry
      Bachelor's Degree offered for this major.
    • Neuroscience
      Bachelor's Degree offered for this major.
    • Biological and Biomedical Sciences Related
      Bachelor's Degree offered for this major.
  • Mathematics and statistics
    • Mathematics
      Bachelor's Degree offered for this major.
  • Interdisciplinary studies
    • Biological and Physical Sciences
      Bachelor's Degree offered for this major.
  • Philosophy and religious studies
    • Philosophy
      Bachelor's Degree offered for this major.
    • Religious Studies
      Bachelor's Degree offered for this major.
  • Physical sciences
    • Astronomy
      Bachelor's Degree offered for this major.
    • Chemistry
      Bachelor's Degree offered for this major.
    • Geology/Earth Science
      Bachelor's Degree offered for this major.
    • Geological and Earth Sciences/Geosciences Related
      Bachelor's Degree offered for this major.
    • Physics
      Bachelor's Degree offered for this major.
    • Physical Sciences Related
      Bachelor's Degree offered for this major.
  • Psychology
    • Psychology
      Bachelor's Degree offered for this major.
  • Social sciences
    • Social Sciences
      Bachelor's Degree offered for this major.
    • Anthropology
      Bachelor's Degree offered for this major.
    • Economics
      Bachelor's Degree offered for this major.
    • Political Science and Government
      Bachelor's Degree offered for this major.
    • Sociology
      Bachelor's Degree offered for this major.
  • Visual and performing arts
    • Fine/Studio Arts
      Bachelor's Degree offered for this major.
  • History
    • History
      Bachelor's Degree offered for this major.


37% of applicants are admitted.
  • Acceptance Rate
    • Applied5,725
    • Accepted2,134
    • Acceptance Rate37%
    • Enrolled2,246
    • Female Applicants2,698
    • Females Accepted1,049
    • Female Acceptance Rate38%
    • Male Applicants3,027
    • Males Accepted1,085
    • Male Acceptance Rate35%
  • Applying
    • Application Fee
    • Required for All Essay or personal statement
      Transcript of high school record
      Letter(s) of recommendation
    • Required for Some
    • Average high school GPA for first-year freshman3.41
  • Application Deadlines
    • Type Application Closing Notification Date Rolling Admissions
    • Fall freshmen January 15th April 1st --
    • Out-of-state Fall freshmen Not Reported
    • Early decision plan November 15th December 15th --
    • Other early decision plan January 15th February 1st --
    • Transfer May 1st --
  • Test Scores Accepted
    • Test Average School Accepted 25th Percentile* 75th Percentile*
    • SAT Critical Reading 640 590 680
    • SAT Math 670 630 720
    • SAT Writing 640 590 690
    • ACT Composite 29 28 31
    • * 25th and 75th percentile is the score that 25/75 percent of students score at or below.

Tuition & Fees

  • Tuition
    • In-state tuition *$46,314
    • Out-of-state tuition *$46,314
    • In-district tuitionN/A
    • * Tuition costs are based on a full academic year typically extending from September to June.
  • Fees
    • Full-time student fees$471.00
    • Room and board *$11,463.00
    • Room only *$6,285.00
    • * Room and board charges vary according to board plan selected (i.e., 12-meal plan, 19-meal plan, etc.) and student level (freshman, sophomore, etc.)
  • Other Payment Considerations
    • Guaranteed tuition plan offeredNo
    • Tuition pre-payment planNo
    • Tuition payment plans offeredInstallments
    • Student groups that qualify for full or partial waiver of tuitionEmployees or children of employees, Senior Citizens

Student Body

  • Gender
    • Total Undergraduate Students2,246
    • Male Student Percentage54%
    • Female Student Percentage46%
  • Ethnicity
    • Hispanic/Latino6.5%
    • Black or African American3.87%
    • White or Caucasian74.04%
    • American Indian or Alaska Native.09%
    • Asian5.7%
    • Native Hawaiian or other Pacific Islander.04%
    • Two or more races2%
    • Unknown%
  • Other Student Statistics
    • International Breakout6.07% representing 29 other countries
    • Out-of-state Students62% out-of-state student

Campus Life

  • Housing
    • College-owned housing available Yes
    • Housing Requirements None
    • Housing options Coed housing
    • Percentage of undergraduate students who live in college-owned housing 86%
  • Student Activities
    • Student-run campus newspaper Yes
    • Drama / theater group Yes
    • Student-run radio station Yes
    • Student-run television station Yes
    • Marching band No
    • Choral groups Yes
  • Student Services
    • Legal services No
    • Health clinic Yes
    • Personal / psychological counseling Yes
    • Women's center Yes
  • Student Organizations
    • Greek fraternities Yes
    • Greek sororities Yes
    • Local fraternities Yes
    • Local sororities Yes
    • Other organizations Yes
    • Most popular organizations U-Program (Programming Board), speaker's forum, student newspaper, Concert Committee, ski club
  • Campus Security and Safety
    • 24-hour emergency telephone / alarm services Yes
    • 24-hour patrols by trained officers Yes
    • Students patrols Not Reported
    • Late-night transport / escort services Yes
    • Electronically-operated dormitory entrances Yes
    • Other awareness programs, bicycle patrol, shuttle service


Member of the: NCAA Division III
  • Men's Sports
    • Sport Intramural Intercollegiate Scholarship
    • Badmington Yes No No
    • Baseball No Division 3 No
    • Basketball Yes Division 3 No
    • Bowling Yes No No
    • Cheerleading No Division C No
    • Crew No Division 3 No
    • Cross-country running No Division 3 No
    • Equestrian sports Yes No No
    • Fencing Yes No No
    • Field hockey No No No
    • Football Yes Division 3 No
    • Golf Yes No No
    • Ice hockey Yes Division 1 No
    • Lacrosse Yes Division 3 No
    • Racquetball Yes No No
    • Rock climbing Yes No No
    • Rugby No Division C No
    • Skiing Yes No No
    • Soccer Yes Division 3 No
    • Softball Yes No No
    • Squash Yes No No
    • Swimming No Division 3 No
    • Tennis Yes Division 3 No
    • Track No Division 3 No
    • Ultimate Frisbee No Division C No
    • Volleyball Yes No No
    • Water polo Yes No No
  • Women's Sports
    • Sport Intramural Intercollegiate Scholarship
    • Badmington Yes No No
    • Baseball No No No
    • Basketball Yes Division 3 No
    • Bowling Yes No No
    • Cheerleading No Division C No
    • Crew No Division 3 No
    • Cross-country running No Division 3 No
    • Equestrian sports Yes No No
    • Fencing Yes No No
    • Field hockey No Division 3 No
    • Football Yes No No
    • Golf Yes Division 3 No
    • Ice hockey Yes Division 1 No
    • Lacrosse Yes Division 3 No
    • Racquetball Yes No No
    • Rock climbing Yes No No
    • Rugby No Division C No
    • Skiing Yes No No
    • Soccer Yes Division 3 No
    • Softball Yes Division 3 No
    • Squash Yes No No
    • Swimming No Division 3 No
    • Tennis Yes Division 3 No
    • Track No Division 3 No
    • Ultimate Frisbee No Division C No
    • Volleyball Yes Division 3 No
    • Water polo Yes No No


  • Faculty Breakout
    • Total Faculty236
    • Full-time Percentage87%
    • Part-time Percentage13%
    • Female Percentage44%
    • Male Percentage56%
    • Student:Faculty Ratio10:1 or 2,234 students to 216 faculty




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