Union College was the first higher learning institute chartered by the New York State Board of Regents in 1795 after decades of pushes from the Dutch Reformed Church. Nicknamed the “Mother of Fraternities,” Union is known for founding Kappa Alpha, Sigma Phi, and Delta Phi in the early 18th century. From 1804 to 1866, Eliphalet Nott served at Union and became the United States’ longest-serving college president. Although initially an all-male institution, Union College began admitting women in 1970. As a premier private, nonprofit liberal arts school, Union now enrolls approximately 2,200 co-ed students. Union College is nestled on a manicured, 120-acre campus in Schenectady on the Mohawk River just 19 miles from Albany.
According to the U.S. News, Union is the 38th best national liberal arts college and 25th top school for military veterans. Given a financial grade of A, Union College is ranked America’s 61st best private college and 36th top liberal arts university by Forbes. The Princeton Review placed Union at #16 for its “Best Alumni Network.” The Open Doors Report named Union College the 33rd best school for studying abroad. In 2016, the Hillel Foundation honored it among the nation’s “Hidden Ivies.” Union College was recognized by PayScale for the 59th highest average starting salary at $52,700. The Hillel Foundation also lauded Union as a “Small and Mighty Campus of Excellence.”
Union College Accreditation Details
Classified at the baccalaureate level, Union College holds 10-year accreditation from the Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE) through 2025. This regional accrediting agency is approved by the U.S. Department of Education to review colleges in six states, including New York. In particular, the Chemistry Department is certified through the American Chemical Society (ACS). Union’s engineering bachelor’s programs are also accredited by the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET).
Union College Application Requirements
With an acceptance rate of 41 percent, Union College is “more selective” with its admission process. Prospective freshmen must have graduated from a licensed public or private high school with a NYS Regents diploma or out-of-state equivalent. A 16-unit college-prep curriculum is required, but extra Honors, AP, and IB courses are viewed favorably. On average, admitted first-years hold a high school GPA of 3.43. Roughly three-fourths rank in the top 10 percent of their graduating class. Freshmen also achieve a mean SAT score of 1970 and ACT score of 30. Extra-curricular activities, creative talents, and personal background are also considered.
Transfer students who haven’t yet earned a bachelor’s degree could relocate to Union College from other regionally accredited institutions. Incoming transfers can only transfer two years of credits, or around 18 Union courses. If students have under 12 college credits, the above freshman criteria holds true. Successful transfers must be in good standing and carry a minimum 3.0 GPA on a 4.0 scale. International students from non-English speaking nations must score at least 6.5 on the IELTS or 250 on the computer-based TOEFL. Entrants into the Leadership in Medicine program must be U.S. citizens and score above 650 on the SAT Math section though.
Before the Early Decision deadline on November 15th or Regular Decision deadline on January 15th, interested individuals should submit the free Common Application or Coalition Application and attach the following:
• Original transcripts from each school attended
• Standardized testing reports (SAT or ACT)
• At least two letters of recommendation
• Mid-year school counselor form
• Typed, 400-word personal essay
• Early Decision agreement form (if applicable)
Tuition and Financial Aid
Full-time undergraduates at Union College must afford steep tuition at $21,458 per trimester or $64,374 each year regardless of New York residence. This comprehensive fee includes $6,255 for housing and $4,614 for meal plans annually though. Students not living in college-owned dorms can receive rebates. Living off-campus with family would cut costs to approximately $53,955 per year. Unless waived, an additional $1,187 is charged for student health insurance coverage. Union suggests budgeting $2,000 more for books, supplies, and personal expenses. Over four years, the estimated sticker price of a bachelor’s degree is $257,496.
The NCES reports that 84 percent of beginning, full-time Union Dutchmen earn assistance. The average financial aid package provides $26,169. Over $42 million in institutional awards, such as the Presidential Scholarship, ROTC Scholarship, and GE Energy Steinmetz Scholarship, is granted annually. Based on their estimated family contribution, students could earn the Federal Pell Grant or FSEOG. Aspiring educators should apply for the TEACH Grant. There’s also a need-based Union College Grant. New Yorkers may benefit from the Higher Education Opportunity Program (HEOP) or Tuition Assistance Program (TAP). Honorably discharged veterans are offered benefits with the Yellow Ribbon Program. Federal Work-Study could provide $1,600 to $2,100 extra each academic year. Low-interest Federal Direct, Perkins, and PLUS loans are another funding option.
Union College operates on a trimester system for completing the liberal arts curriculum with one of 44 undergraduate majors. For Honors, students with a minimum 3.2 GPA can join the Union Scholars Program. Joint programs like the B.A./M.B.A. and B.S./M.S. in Engineering are offered with Clarkson University. Union’s average class size is 21 in intro-level and 14 in upper-level courses, so PhD-level professors are highly accessible for mentoring. Over 60 percent of students study abroad in countries like Brazil and Italy for international perspective. Available degrees include:
B.S. in Computer Engineering
Accredited by the ABET, the B.S. in Computer Engineering program at Union College covers the technical principles used for designing innovative hardware and software systems. The 40-course program is heavily scientific with courses like calculus, physics, chemistry, robotics, computer science, and electric engineering. Students benefit from hands-on cooperative education and research for the Steinmetz Symposium. B.S. graduates have excelled with Lockheed Martin, Philips Healthcare, Oracle, and more.
B.S. in Theater
Union’s B.S. in Theater program offers a close-knit, production-oriented environment for future stage stars to fine-tune their acting, singing, directing, and design skills. Within the state-of-the-art Yulman Theater, students work with conservatory-trained faculty to challenge their creative imagination. Each year, theater majors maintain a robust calendar of plays like Dancing at Lughnasa and Peter Pan. Undergraduates can also join the London Theater Mini-Term to follow Shakespeare’s footsteps.
Related Resource: Top 10 Best Colleges for Online Computer Science and IT Degrees
Other unique programs at Union College are the B.A. in Environmental Policy, B.A. in Managerial Economics, B.A. in German Studies, and B.S. in Neuroscience.