Study in New Jersey
Although currently most commonly known within popular culture as the home of the Soprano family, and more recently the tan-happy ‘guidos’ and ‘guidettes’ of Jersey Shore as well as the pampered Real Housewives of New Jersey living it up in newly built mansions across the state, New Jersey has much more to offer in term of its strong economy, culture and education. Find out why you should study in New Jersey, and discover the state’s top universities below.
The most densely populated state in the US, New Jersey is only slightly bigger than Rhode Island, Delaware and Connecticut, the three smallest. Located in the north-east of the nation just south of New York, New Jersey is populated with the metropolitan spillover from nearby states, most notably from New York City but also Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and Baltimore, Maryland. This spillover accounts for the density of the population, but also means New Jersey is a lively and diversified urban hub with plenty to do and see.
The state is not only home to more scientists and engineers per square mile than anywhere else in the world, but it is also the second wealthiest state in terms of median household income, trailing only slightly behind its neighbor Maryland. The geography of New Jersey is just as diverse as its residents, with wooded mountains in the northwest, the Pine Barrens in the south, a 217 mile coastline to the east, and heavily populated, small urban neighborhoods all around.
If you are considering undertaking study in New Jersey, you’ll be interested to know that five universities in New Jersey are ranked among the world’s best in the 2013/14 QS World University Rankings®, including one member of the prestigious Ivy League.
Top universities in New Jersey
For those wishing to study in New Jersey, Princeton University is the state’s most prestigious offering, ranked 10th in the 2013/14 QS World University Rankings® and 7th in the US. An Ivy League institution, Princeton University is the fourth-oldest school of higher education in the country. Princeton University currently has a student body of just over 8,000 and is located in the affluent municipality of Princeton, 11 miles north of state capital Trenton and 15 miles south of New Brunswick. Notable alumni of Princeton University are writer F. Scott Fitzgerald, actor James Stewart and former presidents Wilson and Madison.
Rutgers-New Brunswick is the founding campus of the higher education system known as Rutgers – The State University of New Jersey and is ranked joint 255th in the world and 58th in the US. The Rutgers-New Brunswick campus, composed of five smaller campuses within New Brunswick and the Piscataway Township, is the largest Rutgers campus and has a student body of over 40,000 students. The main campus is located on the banks of the Raritan River, on the site of the old Rutgers College, in close proximity to downtown New Brunswick, culture, good food and recreational parks. Just across the river is the Rutgers Ecological Preserve, a nature reserve belonging to the university and covering over 370 acres. The area is popular with both the public and Rutgers students for its difficult hiking and mountain biking trails.
Located in Newark, in the University Heights neighborhood, the New Jersey Institute of Technology (NJIT) is one of four academic institutions in the area, which has given the town something of an extended student village atmosphere. Currently home to just over 10,000 students, the New Jersey Institute of Technology campus has doubled in size in the last 10 years and now offers rooftop gardens, restaurants and a bowling alley. The school also boasts leading research facilities in the fields of science and technology, including a center dedicated to applied genomics. The school is ranked 551-600 in the world and 107th in the US.
Rutgers-Newark is the second of the three campuses belonging to Rutgers – The State University of New Jersey and is ranked 551-600 in the world and 109th in the US. Once a private liberal arts college, Rutgers-Newark has a current enrollment of just over 12,000 students and holds a research-led focus. Split into several departments, including the arts and sciences, law, nursing, and business, Rutgers-Newark also has strong connections with surrounding communities. The school also holds the accolade of being the most culturally diverse university campus in the whole of the US since 1997, according to the US News & World Report.
Ranked 701+ in the QS World University Rankings and 139th in the US, the Stevens Institute of Technology is situated in the urban region of Hoboken on the western banks of the Hudson River just across from central Manhattan, therefore boasting both fantastic views of the skyline as well as very close proximity to what is arguably the most popular city on Earth. The campus itself boasts a space of 55 acres with an enrollment of just over 5,200. Renowned for its innovational teaching and research, the school has a strong science and technology focus and was ranked as the top school in the northeast for salary potential, ahead of leading schools such as Harvard and MIT, in Payscale’s 2013/14 College Salary Report.
New Jersey’s top student cities
The capital of New Jersey is Trenton, a fairly unremarkable industrial city. Fortunately for students however, all of the top universities in New Jersey are located outside of the capital, while all still offering diversified urban culture.
Hoboken and Jersey City
Just across the Hudson River from New York City is the town of Hoboken and Jersey City, home of the Stevens Institute of Technology. Hoboken is often labeled the Big Apple’s sixth borough because of its proximity to Manhattan and the appeal of cheaper housing for New Yorkers. The city has diverse cultural influences, having been the first resting place of many immigrants entering the nation through Ellis Island. Once a blue-collar town, Hoboken has since morphed into one of nightly live music, up-market shops and high-rise condos. Liberty State Park boasts over 1,200 acres of green space, hosting open air concerts with the backdrop of the iconic Manhattan skyline. The national historic landmarks of Ellis Island and Liberty Island, home of the Statue of Liberty, are just over 600 meters away by boat.
Home of the Rutgers-New Brunswick campus, the city of New Brunswick is located on the southern bank of the Raritan River, approximately a 40-minute drive south-west of Jersey City. New Brunswick is known as “The Healthcare City” because of its high concentration of medical facilities and university hospitals, the most elite of these being Rutgers University’s Robert Wood Johnson Medical School. Again a very culturally diverse city, New Brunswick has large communities of Hungarian settlers as well a growing Hispanic community.
The largest city in the state, Newark is just eight miles west of Manhattan and is home to two of the top universities in New Jersey: Rutgers-Newark and the New Jersey Institute of Technology A hub of air, shipping and rail industries, Newark, has been nicknamed ‘The Brick City’. But really it has much more to offer, including performing arts venues hosting artists from Jay-Z to Taylor Swift, popular shopping districts, a huge sports arena, and the largest collection of cherry blossom trees in the nation at Branch Brook Park in the north.
Although perhaps best known as the home of Princeton University, Princeton is not just a college town. Equidistant from New York in the north-east and Philadelphia in the south-west, both about 50-minutes’ drive away, Princeton is a historical town that played host to the revolutionary Battle of Princeton in 1777, which saw British colonial forces defeated and was a big step towards the state’s independence from British rule.
Other parts of New Jersey to explore…
These four student cities are just snippets of what the state has to offer. The great thing about New Jersey is that because of its size, residents can travel from Jersey City in the far north, past Staten Island, Middletown, Brick and Atlantic City, and down to the southern tip of the Cape May Peninsula, in just under two and a half hours by car. And if the idea of a long drive deters you, then stop off at any point on the way and you will be met by the famous Jersey Shore coastline. Every point along the coastal route varies in character, from the commercialized boardwalks of Wildwood to the more upscale beaches of Spring Lake.
New Jersey facts
- New Jersey has a population of 8.8 million, the 11th largest population in the US. Combined with its small size, this makes it the most densely populated state in the nation.
- The state’s Atlantic City was the original inspiration for the Monopoly board game.
- New Jersey was one of the original 13 colonies to break away from Britain, so is represented by one of the 13 stripes on the US flag.
- Over 92% of the population of New Jersey lives in urban areas with a population of 50,000 or more, the highest proportion in the US.
- New Jersey has more horses per square mile than any other state. The United States Equestrian Team is headquartered in Gladstone, NJ.
- The first ever drive-in cinema was opened in the city of Camden, New Jersey in 1933.
- New Jersey has more diners per person than any other state.
- The first ever baseball game was played in Hoboken, New Jersey in 1846, when Alexander Cartwright's Knickerbockers played the New York Baseball Club (the New York Baseball Club won).
- Famous New Jerseyans include inventor Thomas Edison (though he was born elsewhere he worked and lived in New Jersey), musicians Bruce Springsteen and Jon Bon Jovi, musicians Frank Sinatra and Jay-Z, poet Allen Ginsberg, author Philip Roth and actors James Gandolfini and Meryl Streep.
Image credits: USNews; NJIT.edu; Jeffrey Vock Photography/Wikicommons; Princeton.edu
This article was originally published in March 2014 . It was last updated in January 2020