SUNY Empire State College


Empire State College is a one of 13 public colleges in the State University of New York system. Unlike most colleges and universities, Empire State is geared towards adult learners who have been out of high school for a significant length of time. Offices are located in Saratoga Springs. There are roughly 18,000 students enrolled in Empire State at any given time.

Education Centers

There are multiple education centers throughout New York for Empire State students, including at Plattsburgh, Queesbury, Saratoga Springs, Troy, Albany, Fort Drum, Watertown, Johnstown, Schenectady, Syracuse, Utica, Auburn, Ithica, Beinghamton, Alfred, Corning, Batavia, Canadaigua, Rochester, Lockport, Buffalo, Fredonia, Jamestown, and Olean. In New York City, Empire State maintains the Harry Van Arsdale Jr. Center for Labor Studies and education centers in Manhattan, Brooklyn, and Staten Island.

The Center for International Programs

The Center for International Programs has programs in Greece, Lebanon, and the Czech Republic. International students enjoy in-state tuition for online classes.

Growth Plan

Empire State has an ambitious plan for future growth. By 2015, the school aims to “transcend the boundaries of time, place, and ways of learning”. What exactly this will look like will depend in part upon the way technology develops in the next few years, as Empire State responds to the cresting wave of innovation and how best to match students with new careers.


Information Summary

Ranks 223rd in New York and 3381st overall. See the entire top 2,000 colleges and universities list
Overall Score (about) 44.8
Total Cost On-Campus Attendance $8,933
Admission Success rate N/A
Student Ratio Students-to-Faculty 22 : 1
Retention (full-time / part-time) 51% / 62%
Enrollment Total (all students) 10,424


Empire State allows students to individualize their programs of study, including credit awarded for independent studies. Students may design an individualized degree with their academic advisor. The university is known for their cutting-edge programs in Emergency Management, Homeland Security, and Fire Service Administration. These programs are offered in cooperation with the Emergency Management Institute, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, and the National Fire Academy.

Degrees Offered

Empire State offers associate degrees in arts and sciences; bachelor’s degrees in arts, science, science in nursing, and professional studies; and master’s degrees in labor and policy studies, social policy, liberal studies, business administration, and teaching.

There are 11 broad areas of study for undergraduates, including The Arts; Business, Management and Economics; Community and Human Services; Cultural Studies; Educational Studies; Historical Studies; Human Development; Interdisciplinary Studies; Labor Studies; Science, Mathematics and Technology; and Social Theory, Social Structure and Change. Master’s degrees are available in labor and policy studies, social policy, liberal studies, business administration, and teaching.

There are several certificate programs for students who wish to increase their formal learning in their work field. These include the Advanced Certificate in Healthcare Management, Advanced Certificate in Nonprofit Management, Advanced Certificate in Project Management, Advanced Certificate in Human Resource Management, and Advanced Certificate in Public History. Students who earn one of these certificates and then decide to go on to a master’s degree program at Empire State may transfer their credits.

Cooperative Learning Agreements

Empire State has cooperative learning agreements with several unions and other worker organizations, including United Steelworkers of America, UAW-Ford University, Navy College Program, International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, and Corporate Noncredit Training, and eArmyU.

Distance Learning

Empire State has a large distance education program through the Center for Distance Learning. There are more than 300 courses online, and several degrees can be earned entirely online. All students, including distance learning students, talk on a regular basis with faculty mentors. The personal attention helps students craft individualized learning programs. Empire State organizes small-group study meetings and weekend seminars for distance learning students throughout the state.

Most Popular Fields of Study

Unique Programs

One of the more unique aspects of education at Empire State is The Commons, a website that provides publishing opportunities for students (including personal sites) along with personalized assistance to help students spread their wings across the web.


Empire State features open admissions, in keeping with their goal to provide higher education to any adult student who wishes to pursue it. Prospective students should provide a high school transcript or GED score report; a completed application with writing assessment to demonstrate the ability to pursue college level work, proof of immunization, and a modest orientation fee (fee is waived for veterans and active members of the military).

Empire State encourages students who are curious about returning to school to take an individual course or two in nondegree study. Many courses may later be applied to degree programs.

Financial Aid

In addition to the wide range of state and financial aid options open to any college or university student in New York, Empire State offers several of their own need- and merit-based scholarships. The majority of Empire State students receive aid of some kind.

Student Financial Aid Details

Ranks 2880th for the average student loan amount.
Secrets to getting the best scholarships and financial aid in New York.



The average age of Empire State students is 36. Most students attend while employed; over 80 percent take classes part-time. Approximately 63% of Empire State students are European American, 12% are African American, and 6% are Latino American. 5 out of 6 students are from the state of New York.

Services for Veterans

Empire State serves veterans and active service military personnel in every branch of the service. Over half of Empire State students study at one of their locations across the state of New York. About 30% enroll through the Center for Distance Learning. The remaining 20% are enrolled through additional programs and centers, such as the Center for International Programs and the Harry Van Arsdale Jr. Center for Labor Studies.

Student Enrollment Demographics

Student Graduation Demographics


Well-known alumni of Empire State include photographer Amy Arbus; jazz pianist Kenny Barron; US Congresswoman Ginny Brown-Waite; photographer Dawoud Bey; New York Times columnist Bob Herbert; US Air Force Major General James J. LeCleir; and jazz saxophonist Bob Wilbur.


  • Certificates. Empire State College. Web. 15 Apr. 2011.
  • Fiske, Edward B. Fiske Guide to Colleges 2011. Chicago: Sourcebooks, 2010. Print.
  • Pope, Loren. Looking Beyond the Ivy League: Finding the College That’s Right for You. New York: Penguin. 2007. Print.
  • The Commons. Empire State College. Web. 15 Apr. 2011.
  • What Can I Study. Empire State College. Web. 15 Apr. 2011.

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