SUNY Empire State College

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This school appears in our ranking Top 30 Online Master’s in Liberal Studies Degree Programs.


SUNY Empire State College is one of 13 colleges that is part of the State University of New York. The college was created by SUNY Chancellor Ernest Boyer in 1971 as a college dedicated to adult education. He wrote “Prospectus for a New University College” which was the blueprint for a college that would eliminate obstacles to higher education, including time, location, processes and customs. It was his dream that SUNY Empire State College would allow students to define what they needed academically as well as their purpose for higher education and the effort it would take to succeed.

One of the unique aspects of SUNY Empire State College is that students are rewarded for their life and work experience beyond the classroom. There is a clear process for assessing and rewarding credit for learning gained through actual hands-on experience. Degrees can be tailored to meet the needs of students and the college has transfer-friendly policies. In addition, SUNY Empire State College partners with organized labor, the military as well as private and nonprofit employers in order to educate members and employees of licensure requirements, mandates and new technology. Today, there are over 11,000 students enrolled at SUNY Empire State College.

SUNY Empire State College Accreditation Details

SUNY Empire State College is regionally accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education. Regional accreditation indicates that the quality of the school meets or exceeds the criteria set forth by the Commission and that the school uses self-appraisal and accountability to improve any areas identified during periodic review. In addition to regional accreditation, programs throughout the university are accredited by industry-specific accreditation organizations.

SUNY Empire State College Application Requirements

Students who wish to attend SUNY Empire State College must provide official high school transcripts and complete an essay that is included in the application. Students who have completed college credit after high school graduation may apply as transfer students but must provide official transcripts from all colleges and universities attended.

Graduate students must complete an application and provide official transcripts from all colleges and universities attended. One transcript must display the conferring of a bachelor’s degree. Students must also complete an essay that is specific to the degree program they wish to enter. A resume is required as well as two recommendations. The recommendations may not be personal but must be from qualified persons. Some programs may also require official graduate test scores prior to admission.

Tuition and Financial Aid

Tuition at SUNY Empire State College for undergraduate courses is $278 per credit hour for New York residents, $333 per credit hour for out-of-state residents, including online students. Master’s of Arts tuition for New York residents is $453 per credit hour and $543 per credit hour for out-of-state students. Tuition for Master’s of Business Administration programs is $613 per credit hour for New York residents and $735 for out of state residents.

Financial aid is available in the form of scholarships, grants and loans. Students may also be eligible for federal work-study programs where tuition costs are offset by employment at the school. Students must complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid to qualify for any financial assistance.

Online Degrees Available

Master of Science in Finance

The Master of Science in Finance at SUNY Empire State College is a 36-credit online program designed for students who wish to move into leadership roles in finance-related disciplines. The curriculum has a strong international perspective and a commitment to the ethical standards necessary to succeed in the world of finance. Students are provided state-of-the-art skills and a large portion of the curriculum covers the Chartered Financial Analyst Institute’s Candidate Body of Knowledge. Students must hold a bachelor’s degree from a regionally accredited college or university and must have completed courses in financial accounting, macroeconomics, microeconomics, statistics and management information systems. Students may also use life and work experiences to demonstrate knowledge in these areas.

Master of Arts in Community and Economic Development

The Master of Arts in Community and Economic Development program integrates the development of social capital and community capacity with a community’s economic development. The program focuses on linking the two concepts with an examination of theoretical development and approaches used by actual communities to achieve positive outcomes. The program is 36 credit hours and is taught entirely online. Students gain an understanding of the public policy process and culminates with a final project that allows students to gain in-depth understanding of community development. Students must hold a bachelor’s degree or higher from an accredited college or university and must have completed statistics and macroeconomics, although experience in those subjects may be accepted.

Master of Arts in Adult Learning

The Master of Arts in Adult Learning online program at SUNY Empire State College is designed for students who want to learn how to work with adult learners. Students gain an understanding of adult basic education programs, literacy programs, higher education and how adult learning can lead to social change. Students learn with a blend of theory and application. The program is 36 credit hours and offered completely online. Students are able to customize their degree program upon approval by program faculty. Before entering the program, students must complete:

  • Approaches to Critical Inquiry and Final Project
  • Learning and Development Contemporary
  • Rethinking Experience and Learning
  • Strategies for Effective Adult Learning

Students choose six elective courses that should build a concentration around a final project topic. Students are able to incorporate advanced certificates into their degree program. The final project is a concrete, focused task and must be in the field adult learning in order to inform learning goals. Students may not transfer more than nine credits from other colleges or universities into the program. The program does allow the opportunity for graduate-level assessment of knowledge that may be incorporated into the program.

SUNY Empire State College was specifically designed with adult learners in mind. The school offers many online degrees as well as degree programs with weekend and evening courses that allow working adults the flexibility necessary to meet their higher education goals. The flexibility at SUNY Empire State College allows working adults to move into a new career or advance in a current career while still meeting obligations related to employment, family or their community.

SUNY Empire State College Website