Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art is a private, non-profit college offering degrees in art, engineering, and architecture. The school, known colloquially as Cooper Union, is located in Manhattan's Astor Place neighborhood, adjacent to NoHo and the East Village. It offers bachelor's degrees in all three areas of focus and master's degrees in engineering and architecture.
Cooper Union was founded in 1859 by Peter Cooper, an inventor and manufacturer whose business interests moved from cloth-sharing machines to glue and isinglass (a transparent form of mica used like glass in windows) to ironworks, which led him to design the first American steam locomotive as well as the first structural iron beams. He's also the man behind the development of gelatine desserts like Jello.
Cooper held strong social and political views. He was an abolitionist and advocate for reforming the nation's policies toward Native Americans. Cooper helped found dispensaries (free medical clinics), the city's juvenile asylum, art galleries, and advocated for a public school system. He also served on the Common Council, the predecessor to New York City Council. He founded Cooper Union to make education available to all, regardless of economic status, color, religion, ethnicity, or gender — a truly revolutionary concept and the first institution of higher education in the nation to do so. Aimed at adults, it offered courses at night and during the day and kept a free reading room open late. The Union's Great Hall, located in the basement of its flagship building, hosted a speech by a then-unknown presidential candidate named Abraham Lincoln, catapulting him into the running. Frederick Douglass, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, and Red Cloud also spoke in the Great Hall.
Cooper Union maintained its tradition of free tuition until 2014. As a result, it was one of the nation's most selective schools, admitting only 7.7% of applicants. The decision to charge tuition on a sliding scale was a result of financial difficulties, and the college pledged to reinstate free tuition when possible, in keeping with Peter Cooper's vision. Currently, undergraduate tuition is $44,550, but all admitted students receive a half-tuition scholarship. Tuition for the Master of Science in Architecture program is $24,350 per semester for the three-semester program. Master of Engineering costs around $1,432 per credit for the 30 credit program. Admission rates have risen to 15% of applicants as of the 2021-22 school year, though the acceptance rate varies from program to program. 4% of applicants are accepted to the School of Architecture, 8% to the School of Art, and 28% to the School of Engineering.
As of the 2021-22 school year, Cooper Union enrolled 878 undergraduates and 60 graduate students. 55% of those students were from New York State, with 43% coming from New York City. The undergraduate population is currently 30% white, 29% Asian, 12% Hispanic/Latino, 6% unknown/did not report, 5% Black or African-American, and 4% two or more races. The other 14% are international students.
Over the past 150 years since it was founded, the Cooper Union has collected some of the biggest names in history, including Inventor Thomas Edison, creator of Batman Bob Kane, Elizabeth Diller, and Ricardo Scofidio, the first architects to win a MacArthur Prize. Milton Glaser, the I Love New York logo creator, co-founder of the New York magazine, and co-founder of the Push Pin Studios, also graduated from Cooper Union.
Cooper Union operates two academic buildings and one building dedicated to school administration.
41 Union Square houses the Albert Nerken School of Engineering, with additional spaces for Humanities and Social Sciences. It incorporated sustainable technologies and is the first academic building in New York City to achieve the LEED Platinum status.
The other academic building, located at 7 East 7th Street, is widely known as the Foundation Building. This is where you'll find the famous Great Hall. Opened in 1859, the Foundation Building marked the creation of the Cooper Union, and it is now a New York City landmark. The building houses the famous School of Architecture of Cooper Union.
Students at Cooper Union can apply for housing, but housing availability is not guaranteed. The college has beds for only 163 students and prioritizes first-year students. The Residence Hall, located at 29 3rd Avenue, is entirely apartment-style living. Wifi is included in the cost, and a pay-per-load laundry room is available. There is no student cafeteria or dining plan. The school supports over 80 student organizations and many research and fellowship opportunities.
Cooper Union is easily reachable by public transportation. Therefore, students attending the college can choose to live anywhere in the city. For those interested in finding housing near Cooper Union, the East Village, Greenwich Village, and NoHo could be your best options. If being close to public transit is your top priority, check out RentHop's subway rent map and see which subway stops along the 6, N, and R trains are the cheapest to rent.
Most alums continue to stay in New York City after graduation. Manhattan and parts of Brooklyn are very popular among Cooper Union alumni, but they are spread across all five boroughs. Popular neighborhoods for alumni include Lower East Side, Greenwich Village, West Village, Upper Manhattan, < a href="https://www.renthop.com/apartments-for-rent/dumbo-new-york-ny">DUMBO, < a href="https://www.renthop.com/apartments-for-rent/greenpoint-new-york-ny">Greenpoint, and < a href="https://www.renthop.com/apartments-for-rent/williamsburg-new-york-ny">Williamsburg.
For people first moving into New York City, check out the RentHop Renters Guide. The guide explains everything you need to know about renting in the Big Apple, from finding your ideal apartment to signing the lease and completing the rental process.