The Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art

New York, NY

The Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art, founded in 1859, is a private, multipurpose institution located in lower Manhattan.

School Profiles: Science & Engineering Diversity Visual Arts

The Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art

New York, NY

Science & Engineering Profile

The Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art, established in 1859, is among the nation’s oldest and most distinguished institutions of higher learning. As the legacy of its founder, Peter Cooper, the school occupies a special place in the cultural fabric of American life.


Degrees awarded:
• Five-year Bachelor of Architecture
• Four-year Bachelor of Engineering in Chemical, Civil, Electrical, or Mechanical Engineering
• Four-year Bachelor of Fine Arts
• Four-year Bachelor of Science in General Engineering
• Three-semester, post-professional Master of Architecture II
• Two-year Master of Engineering

Dedicated exclusively to preparing students for the professions of architecture, art, and engineering, The Cooper Union has an enrollment of approximately 1,000 undergraduate students and was the first college to forbid discrimination. Each year, approximately 225 innovative, passionate young minds enter our school with the goal of becoming deeply involved with the study of architecture, fine arts, and engineering. At Cooper Union, we offer students a gift—an annual half-tuition scholarship valued at about $22,275—and expect in return that they will add to the uniqueness and intellectual community of our school.

Vibrant location
Cooper Union’s location in Manhattan’s East Village has long been one of New York’s most culturally diverse neighborhoods. Peter Cooper, founder of The Cooper Union, chose this location because it was the heart of many immigrant communities. In addition, Cooper Union is surrounded by theater, music, art, and several large universities, meaning that tens of thousands of students and locals live, study, and work within a few blocks of campus.

The Cooper Union has always held a special place in the history of New York and the United States. What would become the NAACP and the American Red Cross had their first meetings at Cooper, and Susan B. Anthony had her offices located in our school. Before they were elected, Presidents Lincoln, Grant, Cleveland, Taft, Theodore Roosevelt, and most recently Barack Obama spoke in our celebrated auditorium, the Great Hall. Lincoln gave his “Right Makes Might” speech from the Great Hall podium, assuring him the presidential nomination. Sitting US Presidents Wilson, Clinton, and Obama have also spoken here. We continue to sponsor lectures that encourage open dialogue on current political, economic, and social issues, e.g., human and civil rights, freedom of speech and press, alternative sources of energy, and other issues of emerging importance.

The Office of Admissions seeks students who are passionate about learning and want to work closely with a faculty of prominent professionals who are dedicated to teaching and research. As a highly selective institution, we admit about 22% of the students who apply to the Albert Nerken School of Engineering. Most admitted students earn A’s in high school, excelling in math, physics, and chemistry coursework. We seek exceptional, well-rounded applicants who have excellent writing and communication skills and a desire to use engineering to better the world. More detailed information can be found at cooper.edu/admissions.

Progressive history
Peter Cooper purposely created an institution that would admit students based solely on merit. He literally opened the doors of the school to the downtown neighborhoods, welcoming immigrants who had demonstrated academic excellence but lacked the financial means to earn a higher education. Staying consistent with Peter Cooper’s original vision to provide a quality education to all, The Cooper Union continues to seek out exceptional women and historically underrepresented minorities interested in STEM careers. Cooper’s small, tight-knit community welcomes and provides support for all students interested in the fields of science, math, and engineering.

The best of both worlds
We offer a world-renowned education in an intimate setting within a city of eight million people. You can feel at home at Cooper Union, where faculty and students really get to know each other. Want a break from your “new family”? Just walk outside the Engineering building—spend an hour or two at a jazz club, or discuss politics with a local at a coffeehouse.

Invention Factory
Cooper Union’s Invention Factory is a summer program for Cooper Union Engineering students made possible by a generous donation from the Edward Durbin and Joan Morris Innovation Fund. Students work intensively in teams of two on inventions they conceive of in the first week of the program. Each team is provided with a budget for components and access to and training on laser cutters, 3D printers, and Cooper’s machine shop.

Students work five days a week on their inventions, often late into the night. Final projects are judged and one is deemed “Best Invention” and awarded a $5,000 prize. Each invention is the subject of a provisional patent application filed with the United States Patent and Trademark Office. To view the inventions of the program, visit inventionfactory.org.

Research projects
Cooper Union students are able to engage in research projects as early as their first year. The C.V. Starr Foundation at The Cooper Union serves as the primary research unit of the School of Engineering. By encouraging and supporting research, the foundation augments the educational opportunities for students, enhances professional development of faculty, and provides services to the community through its research and development efforts.

Projects undertaken by the Foundation are externally funded. Faculty members serve as project directors, assisted by other faculty members, outside consultants, and undergraduate and graduate students of The Cooper Union.

Currently the Foundation has three research centers in 1) biomedical engineering; 2) sustainable engineering, architecture, and art; and 3) signal processing, communications, and computer engineering.

Cooper Union has collaborated on NIH grants focused on adolescent sleep apnea, obesity, and polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS). Other projects related to sustainable engineering and design include:
• Reclamation of waste heat from
a steam pipe to maintain soil and vegetation output year-round
• Water-turbine power generation in municipal waterways
• Extremely low-cost solar-powered lanterns used in developing countries

The Cooper Union has also partnered with the small business community on several efforts in the SBIR/STTR program, including one to develop the Cognitive Communications Gateway Engine (CCGE). The CCGE is a highly flexible gateway configuration and deployment engine that allows information translation across a wide set of waveforms. Tactical radios typically use a specific waveform that prevents them from freely communicating with radios on another network. Creation of a flexible communication gateway that supports interoperability would obviously lead to significant time and cost savings.

Student services
To support the rigorous academic experiences and daily lives of our student body, the Office of Student Affairs oversees the following:
• First-year residence hall
• Intercollegiate athletics
• Career placement and graduate school advisement
• Student clubs, activities, and government
• First-year student orientation
• Mental health counseling

How much does it cost to attend Cooper Union?

Our Financial Aid staff administers additional funds for students eligible for aid. While all students are awarded a half-tuition scholarship, many need additional help to cover remaining tuition, books, supplies, housing, transportation, and personal expenses. Over 90% of our incoming students receive additional need-based and/or merit aid above the half-tuition scholarship. Our students may also receive additional help through grants, loans, and work-study. In order to apply for additional aid, all students must submit the FAFSA form. Please visit cooper.edu/admissions/financial-aid for more information.

Connecting with Cooper
The Cooper Union uses the Common Application for undergraduate admission. For information regarding the application, events, and more, go to cooper.edu/admissions/contact.