Purchase College confers the following degrees: Bachelor of Arts (BA), Bachelor of Science (BS), Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA), Bachelor of Music (MusB), Master of Arts (MA), Master of Fine Arts (MFA), Master of Music (MM), Music Artist Diploma and Music Performers Certificate. As a requirement for the BA and BS degree, students undertake a senior project in which they devote two semesters to an in-depth, original, and creative study under the close supervision of a faculty mentor. Similarly, the BFA and MusB studies culminate in a senior exhibition, film, or recital. Master's degree programs culminate in a thesis and the MFA and MM culminate in an exhibition, recital, or related presentation.
The land that would become Purchase College was first settled by the Thomas family in 1734. John Thomas served as an assemblyman in colonial New York from 1743 to1776. He served as a judge for the Court of Common Pleas in Westchester and a Muster-Master. Judge Thomas was an early supporter of American independence. Robert Bolton wrote in History of Westchester County that Thomas was "a warm Whig" who gave the first public reading of the Declaration of Independence in New York at the White Plains courthouse on July 11, 1776. On March 22, 1777, Thomas was imprisoned by the British and died on May 2, 1777.
John Thomas' sons, John Thomas, Jr. and Thomas Thomas, also fought for American independence. Thomas Thomas was later appointed a General. He is buried at the Thomas family graveyard, which is located behind the Neuberger Museum of Art on the campus of Purchase College. A tall, white stone obelisk commemorates General Thomas and his family.
As of 2017, Purchase College had 4,121 undergraduate students with freshman enrollment of 763. 57% of Purchase's student body is female. 15% of the college's students come from outside of New York state and 2.4% of its students are international. Purchase has an acceptance rate of 44% and a student-teacher ratio of 14:1. 62% of Purchase students receive need-based financial aid and the college has an endowment of $61.1 million.
Purchase College was ranked the ninth best public liberal arts college (141st overall) in U.S. News & World Report's 2016 college rankings. Kiplinger ranked the school as the 86th Best Value in Public Colleges in 2017. It was also listed as one of the 100 Best Value Public Colleges for the years 2013 and 2014 by the Princeton Review. The Princeton Review rated the school's theatre as the second best. Purchase was also listed as one of the Princeton Review's top 382 colleges for 2018. Newsweek ranked the school's student body as the thirteenth most liberal in 2012.