Rankings & Ratings

When the editors of America's best known college guides rank your college among the finest, it's something to be proud of. When you offer some of today's "hottest" rated careers, that's pretty cool too. When the work of your faculty members is recognized by their peers, it's wonderful. But the recognition we are happiest with at ESF comes when our students tell us they are having a great college experience, and our alumni share their success stories.

We're happy to share some of ESF's latest rankings and ratings with you here, but we really hope that you'll visit our campus, talk to our faculty, staff and students, and give us your own college rating.

ESF among America’s Best Colleges

ESF is ranked number 30 among the nation's top public universities in U.S. News' 2015 edition of Best Colleges, the smallest institution to receive such a distinction. When both public and private universities are included, ESF is listed as number 76 for overall quality on the Best National Universities list. The U.S. News rankings consider factors such as academic reputation, admissions selectivity, faculty and financial resources, student graduation rates, and other key measures of college quality.

ESF is also recognized as one of the best college values in the nation, ranking number 45 in the U.S. News "Great Schools, Great Prices" category comparing college costs and quality, and ranking number 25 among National Universities whose students graduate with the least amount of student loan debt.

ESF is the only SUNY campus earning a spot on both the Top 30 Public Universities list and the “Great Schools, Great Prices” list, and is the top-ranked SUNY campus among all National Universities.

The National Universities category includes 280 top-rated institutions (173 public, 100 private and seven for-profit) that offer a wide range of undergraduate majors as well as master's and doctoral degrees. Many of the nation's most prestigious research universities are ranked in this group, with Princeton University capturing the top ranking for 2015.

u s news video

ESF Featured in U.S. News "Science in the Northeast" Video

U.S. News featured ESF, MIT, RPI and Clarkson in its video— Science in the Northeast —about outstanding science-oriented colleges in the northeastern U.S.

ESF named to The Princeton Review's '200 Best Value Colleges'

ESF is one of the nation's best colleges for students seeking great academics, outstanding career preparation and generous financial aid, according to The Princeton Review’s Colleges That Pay You Back: The 200 Best Value Colleges and What It Takes to Get In - 2015 Edition.

The College is one of 200 schools The Princeton Review profiles in its book and on its website at

The Princeton Review developed a "Return-on-Education" (ROE) rating to choose the 200 colleges that are included on the list. ROE measures 40 weighted data points - everything from academics, cost, financial aid and student debt to statistics on graduation rates, alumni salaries and job satisfaction. The ROE rating is based on data collected in 2013-14 from surveys of administrators and students at 650 colleges, plus salary surveys conducted by through April 2014 with alumni from the same schools.

ESF is also ranked #10 in a second category listing the Princeton Review’s “Top 25 Best Schools for Making an Impact.”

The Princeton Review editors praise ESF for its "specialization and selectivity." The "Career Information" section of the profile lists a high ROE rating of 85 for ESF. The profile also reports figures on median salaries of ESF alumni, showing the median starting salary as $44,800 and median mid-career salary as $79,300.

ESF Named to The Princeton Review's 'Best 379 Colleges'

ESF is one of the nation's best colleges for undergraduate education, and gets a top 20 ranking for residence hall quality, according to The Princeton Review. The education services company features ESF in the new 2015 edition of its annual college guide, "The Best 379 Colleges" (Random House/Princeton Review).

Responses from a survey of current students are an important factor in these annual rankings, and The Princeton Review quoted ESF students as saying the college "is a great school for those interested in research and theory" and that students are "out in the field learning how to do what they want to do in life." Said one transfer student: "ESF is definitely the best 'bang for your buck.' I attended a private university prior to ESF, and I have paid for four years here for what one year costs there. And the courses are just as well taught."

Another student noted: "Attending ESF means being surrounded by people who are passionate about the earth and science in general, while all having unique perspectives and interests to share."

ESF was also recognized with a top 20 Princeton Review ranking for "Best College Dorms." The top 20 residence hall award is not surprising to ESF students living in the college's LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Gold-Certified Centennial Hall. The building features large suites with private bathrooms and Stickley furniture that was custom-designed and built with sustainable hardwood. Most importantly at ESF, the building incorporates a host of environmentally friendly features.

Forbes Ranks ESF 20th Nationwide for Best Value Colleges

Forbes has published a new set of college rankings on its website, placing ESF at number 20 in its listing of "Best Value Colleges 2014.”

Forbes said the “best value” schools are “top colleges and universities that deliver the good without picking your pocket.” ESF is the only SUNY institution on the list.

Forbes took the school’s Quality Score (calculated for Forbes’ annual rankings) divided by the school’s in-state tuition and fees to identify the 25 “best value” colleges in the nation.

ESF also ranked among the top 250 colleges in the nation in Forbes overall college rankings, which included both public and private institutions.

forbes Ranks ESF #3 for Women in STEM Fields! has also ranked SUNY-ESF at #3 on its 2010 (most recent) list of the 20 best colleges for women in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM). According to Forbes, "these are the schools that are getting it right" by helping significant numbers of women graduate with college degrees in these important and higher-salaried career areas. ESF is one of only two state-funded public colleges on this list, which includes Cal Tech, MIT, and several other schools known for excellence in research and teaching.

Washington Monthly: ESF among Top National Universities, Provides ‘Best Bang for the Buck’

The 2015 Washington Monthly College Guide has ranked ESF number 54 among top ranked National Universities for its "contribution to the public good" with the College making a significant move up the rankings ladder from it position at number 95 last year. ESF also is ranked number 87 among Northeast Universities in the 2015 guide's "Best Bang for the Buck" value rankings.

Washington Monthly placed ESF highly on its overall ranking of National Universities based on the College's contribution to the public good in three categories: social mobility (recruiting and graduating low-income students), research (producing cutting-edge scholarship and Ph.D. graduates), and service (encouraging students to give back to their country through community service).

The magazine considered factors such as college acceptance and graduation rates, student loan default rates, and net college costs (after financial aid) to determine its "Best Bang for the Buck" value rankings for 1,540 colleges and universities separated into five regional categories, including those in the Northeast.

Among the 279 prominent institutions ranked in the magazine's National Universities category, ESF ranked number 5 for student participation in community service activities, number 2 for alumni participation as Peace Corps volunteers, and number 56 for graduates continuing on for a Ph.D. All these rankings are higher than the 2014 report.


Sierra Club Says ESF is Cool

ESF earned a place on the 2015 Sierra Club list of "Cool Schools," earning a rating that placed the College at 101st in the U.S.
The list was compiled after the Sierra Club surveyed hundreds of colleges and universities to gather information about campus environmental practices, green initiatives, and quality of sustainability-oriented education. The survey looked specifically at energy efficiency and supply sources, food sources, academic programs and research, purchasing, transportation, waste management, and administration.

Huffington Post

The Huffington Post has established a listing of “The Top 100 Best and Most Collaborative U.S. Colleges.” ESF ranked 88 overall, and ranked 27 among the nation's smaller colleges and universities (less than 7,500 students) based on social media impact and collaboration.

ESF Ranked 65th in List of Nation's Public Colleges

ESF is ranked 65th out of 484 four-year public institutions on the list of Best Public Colleges in America by the American City Business Journal, the parent company of the Albany and Buffalo Business Review and some 40 similar publications around the nation.

The ranking is based on a 19-part formula that looks at multiple factors including the schools admissions process, graduation and retention rates, costs of tuition and housing, diversity and the economic strength of the surrounding community.

Data used to calculate the rankings came from the National Center for Education Statistics and the five-year version of the U.S. Census Bureau's 2013 American Community Survey. All rates and percentages were calculated by The Business Journals. Prestige ratings were based on the latest college rankings by Forbes, Kiplinger's, U.S. News and World Report and Washington Monthly.

ESF Ranked as a Top Producer of Peace Corps Volunteers

In its 2014 rankings of the top volunteer-producing colleges and universities in the country, the Peace Corps ranked ESF No. 2 among small schools nationwide.

This marks ESF's first appearance on the Peace Corps' annual Top Colleges list. In the past two years, the school has seen a large increase in undergraduate alumni volunteers, jumping from seven alumni volunteers in 2012 to 17 in 2013.

Rankings are calculated based on fiscal year 2013 data as of Sept. 30, 2013, as self-reported by Peace Corps volunteers. ESF is the only SUNY school included on the list.

ESF's Landscape Architecture Program Nationally Ranked

The Department of Landscape Architecture at ESF is included among the nation’s top programs in the 2015 edition of America’s Best Architecture and Design Schools. The publication ranks the nation’s leading university programs in landscape architecture based on an annual survey of design professionals, college deans, and landscape architecture students recently conducted by DesignIntelligence and the Design Futures Council.

The undergraduate landscape architecture program at ESF was ranked 15th in the United States, and ranked the third best program in the East, along with Penn State and Cornell University. ESF also ranked fifth in the nation in a survey question asking landscape architecture deans and department chairs to identify the program they admired most.

ESF’s graduate degree program in landscape architecture was also recognized with a 13th best national ranking in last year’s 2014 DesignIntelligence survey.

ESF Ranked a Best Value Green College

ESF is named one top colleges at the forefront of environmentally sustainable practices. The College is ranked 17th on the list of 30 Best Value Green Colleges by Best Value Schools.

The list was compiled using seven categories: net price; Sustainability Tracking, Assessment, and Rating System (STARS) Ranking; number of "green" majors; number of research centers and institutes with a sustainable focus; "green" student volunteer opportunities; outdoor/nature-focused recreational activities; and quality/quantity of environmental policies on campus.

"SUNY's Green Campus Initiative invites all students to work together on sustainability efforts like composting, biking to campus, celebrating Earth Week, swapping clothing in the eco-friendly Free Store, and participating in exciting green energy projects around campus like turning waste vegetable oil into biofuel," the website states. "Those who wish to turn their passion for conservation into a career can major in Environmental Science or earn a Certificate of Advanced Study in Sustainable Enterprise."

ESF Ranked #3 For Advocating Environmental Science

ESF was ranked #3 by as one of best colleges advocating environmental science.

The rankings are based on published surveys, student data, and other school and career data collected through several sources including The Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System and National Center for Education Statistics.

"The college's mandate is to help students envision a society that meets human needs for the natural world, while safeguarding living resources for future generations to observe and protect," the website stated. "SUNY-ESF strives to create and educate leaders while inspiring and informing the public about our world."'s mission is to be the most reliable and expansive advocate for environmental science education and careers.

ESF a Top College for Return On Investment

ESF has been ranked a top college for return on investment by Affordable Colleges Online (AC Online). ESF is ranked 38th on AC Online’s “Highest Return on Investment Colleges in New York” listing. The ranking identifies 84 colleges in New York state where degrees pay off the most. Students who graduate from these colleges earn more over their lifetimes, on average, than graduates from other New York institutions.

AC Online used the following criteria in its college ranking:

  • Tuition plus fees
  • Graduate's average starting salaries and return on investment calculation
  • Fully accredited, four-year, not-for-profit institutions

ESF Named Top Environmental Programs College

Mother Nature Network has ranked the SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry (ESF) ESF second on a list of the Top 10 Best College Environmental Programs in the United States.

The colleges listed offer a range of environmental programs and often incorporate sustainability into all aspects of their curriculum.

Mother Nature Network noted ESF "handles more than 25,000 acres of land in Central New York and the Adirondack Park, where nearly 2,500 students in the graduate and undergraduate program choose majors as specific as aquatic and fisheries science, construction management, forest ecosystem science, paper engineering, and bioprocess engineering. Research takes priority, too, with faculty working on more than 450 projects - including wildlife disease prevention, nanotechnology, and genetic engineering - around the world."

ESF is the only SUNY institution on the list, which includes Cornell University, Duke University and Yale.

Guide to Green Colleges coverCollege again earns spot in Guide to Green Colleges from Princeton Review

ESF is listed in the 2014 Princeton Review's Guide to 332 Green Colleges. The Princeton Review partnered with the U.S. Green Building Council to identify the schools with the nation's most eco-friendly campuses and present information about each school's sustainability, "green" majors and "green" job placement.

"SUNY-ESF is the only school in the nation where all of its academic programs are oriented toward natural resources and the natural and designed environments," the book states. "With sustainability at the core of the university's mission, SUNY-ESF has been at the forefront of nationally-recognized, government-supported research in green issues. SUNY-ESF's career center is dedicated to placing students in internships and careers in the science, design, policy, and management of the environment and natural resources."

peterson's coverESF Included in Peterson’s Guide for Top Students

ESF was named one of the top 440 colleges in the U.S. in Peterson's Great Colleges for Top Students guide based on the school's competitiveness in the admissions environment. This was measured over a meaningful period of time by entering class statistics, such as GPA, class rank, and test scores. The colleges selected for inclusion routinely attract and admit an above-average share of the nation's top-achieving students.

honor rollESF Named to President’s Service Honor Roll

In recognition of its exemplary student community service and service-learning programs, ESF has been named to the President's Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll for 2014. This recognition comes to the college from the federal government for ESF's commitment to volunteering, service learning and civic engagement. ESF has been recognized through the Honor Roll each year since 2008.

ESF students completed close to 75,000 hours of community service each year. Another important selection component is how students and faculty interact with their community and how service is incorporated into the college's learning objectives. ESF faculty members play an important role in connecting students to service opportunities through service learning projects that connect classroom lessons with hands-on activities in the Syracuse area and beyond.

Kaplan Calls ESF a "Cutting-Edge School"

ESF was listed among 25 "Cutting-Edge Schools" in the 2008 edition of "You Are Here," a college guide produced by Kaplan Publishing. The cutting-edge schools are tied to what the book describes as "50 of today's hottest careers." Those careers include several ESF specialties: chemistry, environmental engineering, environmental science and hydrology, and landscape architecture.

According to Kaplan, "The typical ESF student is, no surprise here, outdoorsy and committed to environmental responsibility."

making a difference guide cover Making a Difference Colleges Guide Includes ESF

ESF has been included as one of 71 distinctive colleges chosen for the 10th edition of the Making a Difference Colleges guide. Published as "the definitive guide for today's caring students," this publication features colleges that actively support social and environmental responsibility.

treehugger Ranks ESF among Nation's Top 10 Environmental Programs

ESF is listed among the 10 best college environmental programs in the nation by "earn an A-plus for the education, experience, and research opportunities they provide."

ESF, which is second in Treehugger's list, is highlighted for its extensive network of field stations. The College's research also earns praise. Treehugger notes that faculty members work on more than 450 projects around the world.

newsweek kaplanESF One of 350 “Most Interesting” Colleges

ESF was named one of the nation's 350 most interesting colleges in the 2009 edition of "How to Get into College" produced by Kaplan/Newsweek. ESF was also listed as one of four top schools for environmental science majors, along with Yale University, Barnard College and Rutgers University.

aaESF Receives STARS Silver Rating for Sustainability Achievements

ESF has received a STARS Silver Rating in recognition of its sustainability achievements from the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education.

"We are proud of the progress the College has made in all areas of sustainability, but we are most proud of the fact that it is our students who are the creative and passionate force behind so many of our successes," said ESF President Cornelius B. Murphy, Jr. "ESF has committed to carbon neutrality by 2015; the STARS program is an integral part of that effort."

ESF's plan to eliminate its carbon footprint by using a combination of energy conservation, alternative energy projects, new construction that focuses on energy-efficient design and innovative heat-and-power systems, waste reduction, and forest carbon sequestration centering on design and management of ESF's forested properties.

Barron's Best Buys coverCollege gets "Best Buy" designation from Barron’s

ESF is listed in the eleventh edition of Barron’s Best Buys in College Education. ESF is one of only 198 colleges and universities listed, and one of only three SUNY institutions in the book.

“For students who not only love the environment but are committed to learning how to preserve it through highly specialized and challenging curricula with plenty of hands-on experience, the answer may be SUNY-ESF,”the book states.

Barron's surveys current students and asks them about the quality of each college and not just the cost. As a part of the State University system, ESF is affordable, but also strong academically, and that is what provides the real value to students and their families.

aaKaplan calls ESF a “Cutting-Edge School”

ESF was listed among 25 “Cutting-Edge Schools” in a recent edition of "You Are Here," a college guide produced by Kaplan Publishing. The cutting-edge schools are tied to what the book describes as "50 of today's hottest careers." Those careers include several ESF specialties: chemistry, environmental engineering, environmental science and hydrology, and landscape architecture.

According to Kaplan, “The typical ESF student is — no surprise here—outdoorsy and committed to environmental responsibility.” “ESF students forego football in favor of their nationally ranked Woodsmen’s Team — we said it’s outdoorsy — and soccer, golf and hockey clubs.” Kaplan produces more than 150 titles annually on topics such as test preparation, college and graduate school admissions, and finance and investing.

service learningESF Featured in Service-Learning Guide

A service-learning project completed by the Department of Landscape Architecture was highlighted in the Guide to Service-Learning Colleges & Universities. Landscape architecture students put classroom learning to work to design a public garden space that tells the story of Vietnamese immigrants living in a local Syracuse neighborhood.

The landscape architecture program is one example of the College’s overall service-learning program in which community service is integrated into course curriculum. ESF students consistently contribute approximately 70,000 hours of community service to the area each year.

The Guide to Service-Learning Colleges and Universities is a unique college guide that provides a one-stop resource for the college-bound community to research schools that excel in offering experiential learning opportunities. It also offers community service information to high school counselors and administrators of America's community-based organizations.

nwf report coverNational Wildlife Federation Gives ESF High Marks for Environmental Action

nwf logoESF received high marks for environmental action in Campus Environment 2008: A National Report Card on Sustainability and Higher Education, issued by the National Wildlife Federation.

ESF was among the colleges and universities described as “exemplary and committed” in the category, “Exemplary Schools for Students Taking a Course on Ecology or Sustainability.” The College was also listed as exemplary in the category that examined “Environmental or Sustainability Goal Setting.”

autm logoESF Innovation Recognized in Better World Report

ESF was listed in The 2008 AUTM Better World Report Part Two, which highlights colleges that have successfully transferred academic research into real-world applications. The report was published by the Association of University Technology Managers.

ESF is listed twice among the 100 innovators in the report and is one of only two SUNY schools included. The report includes colleges from the United States and around the world. The College received recognition for its willow biomass research and for improvements in forest biorefinery technology.

aaESF earns strong Faculty Scholarly Productivity Index ranking

ESF has been ranked among the nation’s top colleges and universities for scholarly work.

The ranking system, called the Faculty Scholarly Productivity Index, lists ESF fifth among colleges and universities in the category of “Specialized Research Universities—Applied Sciences.” ESF is also ranked eighth in the subcategory of “Fisheries Science and Management.” The scholarly productivity index is produced by Academic Analytics, a for profit company.

The index rates faculty members' scholarly output at nearly 7,300 doctoral programs around the country. It examines the number of books and journal articles published by each program's faculty, as well as journal citations, awards, honors, and grants received.


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