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Looking for a unique engineering experience? Interested in liberal arts colleges but want all the resources of a larger STEM program? The Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art might be for you! Based in NYC, this small school offers its 900 students a dual focus on science and art. Cooper boasts a 9:1 student to faculty ratio, nationally ranked engineering programs, and a collaborative approach to learning. Read on to learn more about what sets The Cooper Union apart. 

What makes The Cooper Union unique?

Interdisciplinary approach:

The Cooper Union believes that understanding both art and science allows students to better solve societal problems. The school offers programs in art, architecture, and engineering and encourages collaboration between departments. Engineering students take four core humanities/social science classes alongside art and architecture students, and can pursue additional non-STEM classes as electives. 

Engineering opportunities:

Despite its small size, Cooper Union offers a rigorous and well-resourced engineering program. The Albert Nerken School of Engineering is home to five majors and numerous facilities including concrete, vibration/acoustic, and hydraulics laboratories. Emphasis is placed on collaboration, involvement, and project-based coursework. Along with participating in hands-on courses, most engineering students will complete two internships by graduation.

VIP courses:

One interdisciplinary, hands-on way Cooper students engage is through Vertically Integrated Project, or VIP, courses. All VIP courses include faculty and students from all years (freshmen through seniors) working in teams on design and discovery projects in a range of interesting topics like bioengineering, motorsports, and body tracking. 

Big city, small campus:

Located in New York City’s East Village, The Cooper Union’s campus is far from traditional. The college is housed across a handful of academic buildings jam-packed with labs and workspaces, with the first-year dormitory just a short walk away. Students dreaming of wide-open quads should look elsewhere, but those hoping for an immersive city experience will enjoy the tight-knit community and the proximity of restaurants, major companies, and subway lines.


All admitted students receive a half-tuition ($22,275) scholarship, with additional merit scholarships and need-based financial aid available. Since the school’s mission includes allowing everyone access to education, The Cooper Union meets all demonstrated financial needs, with an average scholarship/grant award equivalent to 81% of tuition.


Broad access to high-quality education has long been a mission of the school, and that is evident today. 40-50% of a typical engineering class identifies as female, along with 42% of the engineering faculty. 24% of Cooper students are the first in their family to go to college, and 27% are recipients of federal Pell Grants aimed at low-income students. 

If you are interested in a small school with unique and engaging engineering, architecture, or art programs, The Cooper Union might be for you!

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