Is Syracuse University a Good School? (An IN-DEPTH Analysis)

When it comes to higher education, New York is home a large number of well-regarded institutions. In particular, Syracuse University has been growing in popularity for years. But is it really a good school? Let’s find out:

In short, Syracuse meets the criteria to be considered a good university, as it has a solid reputation in disciplines like Finance, Economics, and Communication. Furthermore, the school registers high student satisfaction levels and has maintained a competitive position in the national rankings.

However, there are many different factors that come into play when choosing a college. In order to determine if Syracuse is a good fit for you, it is important to be well informed and evaluate every important variable.

And that’s what we are about to do in this article. We’ll start off by taking a quick overview of this institution. After that, we’ll analyze the key factors that may influence your decision, such as reputation, student satisfaction, cost of attendance, class size, and even the salaries that graduates are likely to earn.

So if that sounds interesting to you, let’s dive right in!

Overview of Syracuse University.

Syracuse University picture

Founded in 1870 by a group of Methodist leaders, SU is a private research university located in the heart of central New York. Nowadays, the school is identified as a non-sectarian and student-focused institution.

Syracuse University offers around 287 undergraduate programs and 247 graduate degrees through its 13 schools and colleges.

Popular majors include Psychology, Finance, as well as Economics programs. Additionally, SU has a good name in the field of Communication. In fact, the university is home to a large number of student-run publications, including The Daily Orange, which has been cited by prominent media outlets, such as The New York Times, Fox News, and The Washington Post.

Attending Syracuse could also be beneficial for people interested in study abroad opportunities. The university operates overseas centers in Italy, Spain, France, England, and Chile. In addition, there are over 60 institutions in different parts of the world that offer partner programs recognized by SU.

Lastly, Syracuse University is well-known for its work towards equality and inclusion. Even in the early years of its foundation, it would open its doors to women and African Americans, which was quite unusual during the 19th century.

Prestige and Rankings.

When it comes to reputation, we can get an idea of how Syracuse University has performed by checking out the latest college rankings, which are published on a yearly basis.

Rankings are a useful tool if you want to take a glance at a school’s prestige. And while your choice shouldn’t be based entirely on these numbers, they are still a good starting point in the decision-making process.

In the following table you can see which position Syracuse holds in 2022, according to the most reliable publications:

U.S. News59
Times Higher Education117

However, looking at these simple numbers is not really that helpful. They only show you the school’s performance at this moment, causing you to miss the forest for the trees.

Besides, rankings tend to vary depending on the methodology used by the company, meaning that a school that does well in one ranking may have a very different result in another one.

In fact, that’s exacly the problem here. There is a difference of 58 spots between both rankings!

So in order to address this issue, we’ll take the average of the last years and visualize the historical trend. The main goal is to evaluate the school from a more unbiased point of view.

Below is a graph with the average rank for Syracuse over time:

Syracuse University average national rankings
Average rankings calculated with data from US News and Times Higher Education

Now you have a wider view of what’s going on. Every chart tells you a story. And what we can see here is that Syracuse University has lost a few spots in the national rankings. But there is nothing to worry about.

Five years ago, this university was standing at an average position of 81.5. Now in 2022, its average rank slightly decreased by 6.5 places. However, this change is so small that we can conclude that Syracuse has remained at a competitive level as time goes by.

By tracking Syracuse University’s position in the national rankings we were able to see a more precise image of its performance over the years. In this case, the university hasn’t climbed as we would probably want, but it hasn’t plummeted either. So the message we get from the chart is still satisfactory.

What we just did is a more effective approach to evaluating a school’s performance over a given period.

In the next part of the post, we’ll use a similar method to assess how satisfied students are at Syracuse. So keep reading because this will be important.

Student Satisfaction.

If you’ve been doing your research for a while, chances are you’ve visited other sites to read reviews from other students. And while internet reviews may be useful at first glance, the truth is that they are often contradictory and you might end up more confused after reading many of them.

Besides, there are several disadvantages to this approach. Just to name a few:

  1. There is no way to verify that online reviews were written by actual students.
  2. Fake reviews are a common practice and they are often hard to detect.
  3. Star ratings can be easily manipulated to artificially improve or damage a school’s reputation.

The above mentioned are just some of the reasons why you should take reviews with a big grain of salt.

But don’t worry. If you’re wondering if there is a more reliable way to gauge student satisfaction, the answer is yes. We achieve that by analyzing retention rates, and that’s what we are going to do in this section!

Before we get down to the nitty-gritty, let me give you some context on retention rates and their importance.

Retention Rates: What Are They and Why Should You Care?

A retention rate is simply the percentage of first-time students who remained at the same school for their sophomore year. It is one of the most accurate parameters to measure student satisfaction because of the following reasons:

  1. It’s calculated with actual data from real students.
  2. The data is reported to the National Center for Education Statistics and it’s hard to manipulate. Any attempt to falsify this information could have serious consequences for the school.

Even if this is the first time you hear about this concept, there are solid arguments why you should pay close attention to it.

A student will be more encouraged to keep studying at the same university if his freshman experience was positive. Accordingly, the higher the retention rate is, the better expectations you can have for your first college year.

On the other hand, a bad first-year experience will induce more students to drop out or transfer to another college, causing the retention rate to decrease. Therefore, this is something to keep in mind before you make your final decision.

There are, of course, other factors that may lead students to drop out, such as personal problems or lack of money. However, colleges that take good care of their freshmen indeed hold high retention rates throughout the years.

Retention Rate at Syracuse University.

According to the National Center for Education Statistics, Syracuse University has a retention rate of 88.75%.

The following chart illustrates how retention rates have varied over the years at this institution. Just take a look at it carefully. What can you notice?

Syracuse University retention rate line graph
Retention rates calculated with data from the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS)

As you the graph shows, SU kept its retention rate above 90% for a long time, which is not an easy task. However, we can also see a slight dip in the last year.

In 2013, the university had a 91.9% retention rate. And over the next years it remained stable, with some slight fluctuations at around 90%. This behavior got abruptly interrupted in 2020, when the school’s retention rate decreased to 88.75%. But there is a logical explanation for this.

Unlike other years, 2020 was quite different as the propagation of a new virus forced all nations to implement emergency measures, such as lockdown and social distancing. This uncommon scenario did affect a large number of educational institutions.

And despite that fact, Syracuse University’s retention rate in 2020 was just 3.07 points lower than in 2019.

The data for 2021 has not been released yet, but it could get close to 90% as we gradually return to normal life.

This is an indicator that new undergraduate students are satisfied with their experience at Syracuse. The odds of dropping out after the first year are low, and freshmen find a good environment to keep studying at this university.

Graduation Rates: What You Need to Know.

In the previous section, we analyzed how satisfied students are after their freshman year.

But now it’s time to answer an equally important question: how many undergrads actually finish their studies?

We can find the answer to that question by simply looking at the graduation rate of the school, which is the percentage of students who completed their program.

A high graduation rate is a very positive signal, as it reveals that all the time, effort, and resources you spend at this school will be probably worth it.

On the contrary, low graduation rates may suggest that students don’t get academic support along the way or they just feel disappointed over time. So this is also something that you’ll want to take into account.

Graduation Rate at Syracuse.

According to the most recent data from the National Center for Education Statistics, Syracuse University registered the following graduation rates:

TimeGraduation rate
6 years82.46%
4 years70.98%
Graduation rates calculated with data from the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS)

In the following plot you’ll visualize the 6-year graduation rate over time. In other words, the proportion of students who completed their program within 6 years after enrolling:

Syracuse University graduation rate line graph
Graduation rates calculated with data from the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS)

As the graph reveals, this parameter has remained stable above 80%, which is a pretty good value. Additionally, it is showing a tendency to slowly improve over time.

As of 2015, SU registered a graduation rate of 80.12%. This was followed by a slight increase over the following years, reaching its second-greatest value at 82.46% in 2020.

In summary, the 6-year graduation rate at this university increased by 2.34 percent points between 2015 and 2020. And it will probably remain at a similar level in 2022.

This type of behavior is highly positive, as it indicates that Syracuse University provides the right conditions for students to advance and graduate within a reasonable time.

Outcomes 8 Years After Attending.

We can dive a little bit deeper and find out the proportion of students that dropped out or transferred from Syracuse. For this purpose, take a look at the following doughnut chart:

From this chart, you can tell that within 8 years of entry, 83% of the students had already graduated, while 13% transferred to another college. Probably the most interesting fact is that only 4% of the students dropped out, which is a very small proportion of the entering class.

Class Size / Student-to-Faculty-Ratio.

Class size is another factor that could define whether or not this school is a good fit for you. If you prioritize being able to interact with your professors regularly and receiving more personal attention, you’ll want to find a college with a low student-to-faculty ratio.

This parameter tells you how many students there are at a college for every faculty member. Thus, a lower value typically indicates that classes are more reduced and personalized.

On the other hand, a higher student-to-faculty ratio isn’t necessarily something negative. It all boils down to the type of experience you are looking for. Some people feel comfortable in larger classes, while some others don’t.

What Is the Student-to-Faculty Ratio at Syracuse University?

According to the National Center for Education Statistics, Syracuse University has a student-to-faculty ratio of 15:1, meaning that there are 15 students for every faculty member.

This number has not changed at all in recent years, as the following table shows:

CycleStudent-to-faculty Ratio
2020 – 202115:1
2019 – 202015:1
2018 – 201915:1
2017 – 201815:1
Source: Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS)

It is important to point out that you should not take this parameter literally. In other words, a 15:1 ratio doesn’t mean that every single class at Syracuse will have exactly 15 students.

In fact, Syracuse University reports an average class size of 25 students. The reason for this difference is that a great part of the faculty members dedicate their time to non-teaching duties. And this is quite common at colleges with high research activity.

Keep in mind that class size is not set in stone, and it does vary across different courses and majors.

Estimated Student Expenses.

Paying for college is one of the main concerns that will have an impact on your final choice. So in order to make an informed decision, the first step is to get familiar with the expenses you’ll have to cover.

The following table contains the reported Cost of attendance (COA) for Syracuse University. The COA is a quick estimation of the amounts you would spend annually without receiving any kind of aid. This includes tuition and fees, room and board, books, supplies, and other expenses:

Tuition and fees$53,849
Room and board$15,910
Books and supplies$1,536
Other expenses$1,774
Total cost of attendance$73,069
Source: College Navigator. National Center for Education Statistics

This cost can be significantly lower if you are awarded financial aid. For that reason, we’ll dedicate this whole section to take an in-depth look into the questions that matter to you.

Is the school getting more expensive? What’s the average amount that students receive in grants or scholarships?

These are some of the key questions that we will respond in the next paragraphs. So stay tuned.

Cost of Attendance and Financial Aid.

In this part of the post, we will see how the amount of aid compares to the cost of attendance. Ideally, if the cost of attendance is going up, we want the amount of aid to be growing at the same or even at a higher rate.

But before we get in more detail, I want to make something clear:

This section is only intended to provide a general picture of how the cost and the amount of aid have performed.

All of the numbers presented here are estimates reported by the school. However, every person has a different background, and in case you are eligible for financial aid, the amount will strongly vary depending on your circumstances.

If you need a more accurate estimation based on your personal case, please refer to Syracuse University’s net price calculator.

Having said that, let’s take a look at the chart:

Syracuse University cost of attendance and financial aid line graph
Source: Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS)

As the graph shows, the cost of attendance is going up consistently.

Part of this increase is already expectable, as inflation steadily drives up prices. Nonetheless, there are many factors that define the cost of attendance. Consequently, the change in price from one year to another can easily be above inflation.

During the period we are analyzing, the cost of attendance grew by 23.18%, going from $59,320 to $73,069 in 5 years.

On the other hand, the average amount of grant aid for freshmen experienced a slight decline. In 2014-2015 it was standing at $28,296, and after five years it went down to $25,864, which is an 8.59% reduction.

Even though the amount of aid didn’t show any growth, we still need to know more details before we can draw any conclusion. And that’s the topic of our next section.

Percentage of First-Year Students Receiving Grant or Scholarship Aid.

So far, we know how the annual cost and financial aid have varied over the last years at Syracuse. But now it’s time to find out if there are enough freshmen receiving this benefit.

In the chart below, you’ll see the percentage of new students that have been awarded aid during the last cycles. What can you notice?

Syracuse University percent of first-time students receiving grant or scholarship aid
Percentages calculated with data from the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS)

The graph clearly shows that the percentage of students receiving aid skyrocketed in the last years.

Back in the 2013-2014 cycle, 67.66% of the entering class at Syracuse received grant or scholarship aid. And after a couple of years nothing happened; this value remained almost at the same level.

However, everything changed after 2016, when this variable surged and started reaching higher values every year.

As of 2019-2020, which is the last cycle reported, 85.61% of new students received grant or scholarship aid. This is an increase of 18.24 points in just 4 years.

This could indicate that the odds of being awarded aid as a new student are now higher than ever. But remember, if you need an estimation based on your situation, head over to Syracuse’s net price calculator.

Bottom Line.

To summarize, in this section we analyzed the environment that students face when it comes to paying for college. Our key findings are listed below:

  • The cost of attendance at Syracuse is going up steadily.
  • The average amount of grant or scholarship aid experienced a slight decrease.
  • However, the percentage of students receiving this type of aid rose dramatically.

This probaly reveals that the school is achieving a more equal distribution of financial aid.

Expected Salaries.

Now we are getting to the final part of our analysis. And we cannot end this post without talking about about salaries. Even though people usually find it hard to bring up this topic, it is something you are probably interested in.

Hence the next question is, how much can you expect to earn after graduation?

The answer to this question is variable, as it depends on the major you selected, as well as the job offers available when you graduate. But the good news is that the U.S. Department of Education publishes a list of the typical salaries that graduates earn in the third year after graduation.

This piece of information is highly valuable for the following reasons:

  • It is calculated using data from actual Syracuse graduates.
  • It corresponds to the early stage of their career. At this point, you probably care more about your starting salary than you do about your late career income.

There are other sites like Payscale or Glassdoor that upload their own estimates. And while that information may be reliable as well, it is not as in-depth as the data that the government provides.

Salary Table.

The table below contains the median annual income for Syracuse alumni 3 years within graduation, according to the U.S. Department of Education:

ProgramMedian earnings
Civil Engineering $79,132
Communication and Rhetorical Studies$43,623
Economics $61,293
English and Textual Studies$49,664
Information Management and Technology$76,227
International Relations$50,630
Marketing Management$62,904
Mechanical Engineering$82,179
Political Science$49,569
Public Relations$61,082
Sociology $46,384
Television, Radio and Film$44,620
Median salaries three years after graduation. To see the full list visit: College Scorecard. US Department of Education.

As the table shows, Mechanical Engineering graduates are the top earners during the first stage of their career, with a median income of $82,179.

Civil engineers and Finance graduates are also among the highest-payed professionals from Syracuse.  Their median salaries are $79,186 and $79,132, respectively..

Other disciplines like Information Management and Technology, Accounting, Economics, and Communication, have also seen competitive annual earnings.

If your program doesn’t appear on the list, you can visit Syracuse University’s page on College Scorecard to check if the information is available.


So there you have it. Needless to say, this post was meant to be strongly data-driven. Rather than relying on other people’s opinions, we took a logical approach intended to provide a more accurate picture of the school.

After analyzing the most important variables, a story emerged from the data and we managed to evaluate the school’s performance from different angles.

The following are some of our key takeaways:

  • Syracuse University has lost some positions in the national rankings, but it remains competitive.
  • First-year students are highly satisfied, as we could tell by tracking the retention rate over time. Even in a tough year like 2020, Syracuse’s retention rate was close to 89%.
  • The university keeps improving its graduation rate. Meaning that more students are finding the right environment to advance and complete their program.
  • Only 4% of the students dropped out.
  • The cost of attendance is increasing, while the average amount of aid has experienced some reduction.
  • However, the proportion of students reveiving financial aid skyrocketed in the last years.
  • Overall Syracuse satisfied the criteria to be considered a good university. In addition it has shown it is capable of maintaining a good level as the years go by.

Frequently Asked Questions.

What is Syracuse University known for?

Syracuse University is known for its Psychology, Finance, Economics, and Information Management programs. Additionally, it has a solid name in Communication and Rhetorical Studies. In fact, the university features a large number of student-run publications that have been cited by major media outlets.

Is Syracuse University a party school?

Syracuse University has been regarded as one of the main party schools in the United States, topping the list many times. Despite its reputation as a party school, it does deliver high-quality education in a wide range of disciplines.

What are the most popular majors at Syracuse University?

According to the U.S. Department of Education, the most popular majors by the number of graduates are Psychology (234), Information Management and Technology (187), Finance  (168), Economics (148), Political Science (141), Marketing Management (116), and Communication & Rhetorical Studies (115)

How many students does Syracuse University have?

According to the National Center for Education Statistics, Syracuse University has a population of 21,322 students, out of which 14,479 are undergrads, while 6,843 are pursuing graduate studies.

Is Syracuse a D1 school?

Syracuse University is part of the Atlantic Coast Conference in the NCAA Division I. The Syracuse Orange teams represent the school in different sports, including football, basketball, soccer, rowing, lacrosse, and others.