The University is governed by a Board of Trustees consisting of up to seventy voting members, most of whom are NYU Alumni. A full Trustee term is six years except the term for a Young Alumni Trustee is four years. Trustees are eligible for reelection at the end of a term in office except that those elected as Young Alumni Trustees are limited to one term. The Trustees have adopted Bylaws that outline the basic structure and governance of the University and define the roles and responsibilities of trustees, officers, Board committees, and the University Senate and its councils.

The Board of Trustees holds an annual meeting each June and meets at least three other times during the year. At the annual meeting in June, the Trustees elect their own officers, who serve until the next annual meeting and are eligible for reelection at the end of a term except that the Chair of the Board serves a five-year term and is eligible to be reelected for only one additional term. Between meetings, the Executive Committee has broad authority to act for the Board. Other standing committees are the Academic Affairs Committee, Alumni Affairs and University Life Committee, Audit and Compliance Committee, Committee on Trustees, Committee on Online Education and Technology, Compensation Committee, Development Committee, Facilities and Real Estate Committee, Finance Committee, Global Initiatives Committee, and Investment Committee.

The conduct of educational matters throughout the University is entrusted, under the leadership of the President and Chancellor and the Provost, to the faculties of the individual schools and to the University Senate.