State University of New York Empire State College

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Center for Distance Learning
Saratoga Springs, New York

Empire State College, of the State University of New York, is an internationally recognized innovator in adult education and a pioneer in distance learning. Since 1971, the College has served students who need alternatives to campus-based education because of work, family, or other responsibilities. Providing flexible degree programs at the associate, bachelor's, and master's levels, Empire State College features a number of student-focused study methods, such as one-to-one instruction, online courses, intensive mentoring by a faculty adviser, and undergraduate credit for college-level learning gained from life experience.

The College currently enrolls more than 16,000 students per year at thirty-five locations in New York State. Through its Center for Distance Learning (CDL), the College also serves students across the nation and around the world. Empire State College was the first public, nontraditional institution to receive regional accreditation by the Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools.

Distance Learning Program

More than 6,000 students are served annually by the College's Center for Distance Learning (CDL). Established in 1978, CDL now offers full degrees as well as individual courses entirely online. As a founding member of the SUNY Learning Network, the College was among the first in the State University of New York to offer online courses. It was also the first within the University to offer an entire degree (in business, management, and economics) online. Today, students may earn degrees online in all areas of study offered by the College. Through the Center for Graduate Programs, the College offers five Master of Arts degrees, including a Master of Arts in Teaching with online and on-site components. An M.B.A. is offered primarily via the World Wide Web.

Delivery Media

The Center for Distance Learning makes use of the latest distance learning technology on the World Wide Web. Empire State College's online courses can be accessed at any time of the day, allowing students and faculty members to share ideas and concepts at times that are convenient to them. In addition, all student services, such as registration, academic advising, career and library services, and peer support, are available on the Internet.

Programs of Study

The Center for Distance Learning offers both two- and four-year degrees: Associate in Arts, Associate in Science, Bachelor of Arts, Bachelor of Science, and Bachelor of Professional Studies. The College also offers five Master of Arts programs, with concentrations in business and policy studies, labor and policy studies, liberal studies, and social policy, in addition to an M.B.A. with online courses and a Master of Arts in Teaching.

One of the strengths of the Empire State College distance learning program is that students are assigned a faculty adviser, who guides them through all phases of their degree program, from academic planning to graduation. With their adviser, undergraduate students design individualized degree programs in any of eleven areas of study: 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. Within these degree programs, a number of concentrations can be developed. Some examples of these are fire service administration, criminal justice, emergency management, health services administration, and information systems.

To earn an associate degree, a student must successfully complete 64 credits, with at least 24 earned through study with Empire State College. A bachelor's degree requires successful completion of 128 credits, with at least 32 being earned through the College.

Special Programs

The Center for Distance Learning is one of a select number of institutions of higher education to offer online degree programs to the United States Army, the United States Navy, the United States Coast Guard, and the Army National Guard. Through eArmyU, soldiers may take part in portable learning that suits the requirements of military life. The College also participates in the Navy College Program Distance Learning Partnership (NCPDLP) for sailors who need maximum flexibility in the ways they study. Many other organizations and corporations work with CDL to sponsor educational options for their employees, including a number of telecommunications companies and unions. A complete list is available at

In collaboration with nationally recognized online course provider Education To Go, Empire State College also offers a series of more than 250 noncredit online courses geared to adult learners in the workplace. The courses are available in a six-week, instructor-supported format.

Credit Options

Students can transfer credits earned at other regionally accredited institutions to Empire State College and can receive credit for college-level learning gained through work and life experience and through the College-Level Examination Program (CLEP), standardized tests, or individualized evaluation. A total of 40 prior learning credits may be granted in the associate degree program; 96 credits may be applied to a bachelor's degree program.


There are 768 full- and part-time faculty members at Empire State College, including adjunct faculty. More than 90 percent of full-time faculty members and nearly half of part-time faculty members have doctoral or other terminal academic degrees.


There are two principal requirements for admission to Empire State College: possession of a high school diploma or its equivalent and the ability of the College to meet the applicant's educational needs and objectives.

Tuition and Fees

In 2004–05, undergraduate tuition was $181 per credit. A per-term telecommunications development and support fee of $75 was also charged, which provided access to electronic mail, computer conferencing, the Internet, and other information sources. Other fees also apply. Students should visit the College's Web site at for further details

Financial Aid

More than $37 million in financial aid was awarded to Empire State College students in 2003–04, with more than 50 percent of the enrolled students receiving some form of financial assistance. General financial aid programs available through Empire State College include the Federal Pell Grant, Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant, Federal Perkins Loan, and the Federal Work-Study Program. New York State financial aid programs include the Tuition Assistance Program (TAP), Aid for Part-Time Study (APTS), and the SUNY Supplemental Tuition Award. The Empire State College Foundation awards more than $162,000 in scholarships and grants annually.


Empire State College reviews applications in order of date received, and students may apply online. The number of new students accepted depends on available space. There are five deadlines per year posted on the Web site (address listed below). Nonmatriculated students can take up to 16 credits without applying to the College.


Shelley Dixon
Center for Distance Learning
Empire State College
111 West Avenue
Saratoga Springs, New York 12866-6048
Phone: 800-847-3000 Ext. 2300 (toll-free)
Fax: 518-587-2660
E-mail: [email protected]
Web site:

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State University of New York Empire State College

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