Peering into the kitchen at the CIA's Apple Pie Bakery Cafe. | Photo: Christine Murphy.
Hyde Park | Hudson Valley
Rather than protecting secrets like the more well-known CIA, the Culinary Institute of America shares the tricks of the cooking trade with its students. Covering areas of study from baking to food science, the campus’ kitchens, bakeshops and student-run restaurants provide future chefs with the resources needed to try their hand at all aspects of the food service industry, whether it’s food preparation, food service or business management. Among the critically lauded on-campus restaurants are The Bocuse, which serves a modern take on French flair, and the American Bounty Restaurant, which highlights the region by using local produce to make the traditional dishes of the Hudson Valley. Far beyond Hyde Park, illustrious CIA alumni like Anthony Bourdain spread the Institute’s gastronomic influence worldwide.
Stony Brook | Long Island
New York City doesn’t quite have a coral reef, ideal for marine life, but at Stony Brook University, the School of Marine and Atmospheric Sciences is keying in on the coast. The school’s unique location on Long Island gives students access to the big city as well as the open ocean. The two-story Marine Sciences Center on Stony Brook’s Southampton campus features a 2,500-square-foot indoor lab with the ability to mimic an array of different seawater environments. Programs like the Semester by the Sea give students a glimpse of local issues near Long Island. For those New Yorkers in more of an international state of mind, there are plenty of opportunities for research abroad. One program investigated radioactivity in tuna off the coast of Japan after power plants there were damaged in 2011, while another looked at the increasing prevalence of sharks in the Bahamas.
Buffalo | Western New York
Art departments typically offer overarching studies of visual arts, performance arts and art history programs, but students at Buffalo State, part of the SUNY system, can get very specific, selecting their specialization from among 11 departments, including drawing, sculpting, printmaking, photography and more. The best selling point for the program may be the access to the on-campus Burchfield Penney Art Center, which exclusively displays the art and artists of Western New York, with occasional exhibitions of the works of Buffalo State alumni. At the heart of the museum’s collection is a vast collection of works by its namesake, Charles E. Burchfield, including an evocation of his Gardenville, NY studio. The school is also located across the street from the Albright-Knox Art Gallery, one of the nation’s oldest art institutions, which boasts a renowned collection of contemporary and modern art.
Manhattan | New York City
Follow in the footsteps of designers for product lines like Tickle Me Elmo, Barbie and Star Wars at FIT. The university in the heart of Manhattan features a Toy Design program that is not only top-notch, but also gives students access to the best in the industry. The program features everything from advanced digital game design to creating plush toys and dolls. Weekly meetings with CEOs and other executives help students expand their professional network, the perfect start before internships with the likes of Disney, Fisher-Price, LEGO Systems, and the list goes on. If that weren’t enough, students study within five miles of more than 40 members of the Toy Industry Association, and each year, New York City is home to the International Toy Fair, which always attracts the top names in the business.
Elmira | Southern Tier
The place where Mark Twain may have written most prolifically is now home to the Center for Mark Twain Studies. In the 1870s and 1880s at Quarry Farm, located three miles from Elmira College’s main campus, Twain wrote The Adventures of Hucklebery Finn, The Prince and the Pauper and much of The Adventures of Tom Sawyer. More than a century later, recipients of a research fellowship can live at Quarry Farm and draw inspiration from Twain’s sometime summer residence, which was his sister-in-law’s home. The Center promotes and researches all things Twain, covering his life and literature through lectures, conferences and contributions to the Mark Twain Journal. Although you’ll find its foundation stone at Quarry Farm, the small gazebo-like study built specifically for Twain to write in now resides on the Elmira College campus, spurring future generations to write the next Great American Novel.
Acadia | The Adirondacks
For those eager to get away from the hustle and bustle of campus life, the Adirondack Semester at St. Lawrence University offers a change of pace. Instead of simply studying our relationship to nature and the environment, students live it at Arcadia, a small yurt village on Lake Massawepie. The fully-immersive outdoor experience includes courses in the yurt classroom covering the history of the region, as well as a survey class examining the various ways in which cultures have interacted with nature, through science, poetry and indigenous shamanic traditions. There is canoeing and hiking, woodworking, and the cooking of every meal using food sourced from local farms. Without the constant inundation of cell phone, laptop and TV screens (all prohibited technologies), students enjoy ample free time to explore the woods, hills and abundant wildlife all around them in the heart of the Adirondacks.