Frequently Asked Questions

SUNY Empire State College was established in 1971 by the SUNY Board of Trustees and then-chancellor and future United States Commissioner of Education Ernest L. Boyer as a distinctive statewide SUNY institution focused on nontraditional teaching and learning, where college faculty mentors guide learners through designing an individual degree program within 12 broad areas.

Further, the college continues its 40-year commitment to valuing learning gained from life and work experience, and has a clear process for assessing and awarding credit for college-level learning gained through experience.

Accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education, the college serves mostly working adults pursuing associate, bachelor’s and master’s degrees on-site at 35 locations in New York state and abroad, as well as online everywhere.

You can study in the following ways:

  • through guided independent study, working one-to-one with a faculty mentor at times convenient for the two of you
  • through online learning
  • through small seminars, study groups, residencies or cross registration at other colleges – whatever suits your interests and lifestyle
  • through a combination of all these ways.


The School of Nursing offers


Associate and bachelor’s degrees in the liberal arts and sciences and career fields are offered in 12 undergraduate 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
  • public affairs
  • science, mathematics and technology
  • social science (formerly known as social theory, social structure and change).


The School for Graduate Studies continues to add new master's degrees. Current programs include:

  • business, management and leadership
    • Master of Business Administration in Global Leadership
    • Master of Business Administration in Management
  • education
    • Master of Arts in Adult Learning
    • Master of Arts in Learning and Emerging Technologies
    • Master of Arts in Teaching
    • Master of Education in Teaching and Learning
  • liberal studies
    • Master of Arts in Liberal Studies
  • policy studies
    • Master of Arts in Community and Economic Development
    • Master of Arts in Labor and Policy Studies
    • Master of Arts in Social Policy


Advanced graduate certificates and undergraduate certificates are designed to provide focused study to support a particular career interest.

The faculty at Empire State College recognize that adults have many opportunities for valuable learning in their everyday lives and work.

When this prior learning is college-level, it can be identified through an evaluative process designed to determine whether it is worthy of college credit.

Many undergraduate students also earn credit via national standardized examinations.

Students enrolled in the Master of Business Administration in Management degree have the opportunity to pursue academic assessments for master's-level knowledge in eight content areas.

If you apply by the priority-application deadline, you are considered for the upcoming term. If you apply after the priority-application deadline, you will be considered on a space-available basis or for the next term.

The priority-application deadlines for each term are:

  • Fall 1 term – June 1
  • Fall 2 term  – Sept. 1
  • Spring 1 term – Nov. 1
  • Spring 2 term – Jan. 1
  • Summer term – March 1.

For additional information, visit Admissions.

This academic calendar has one goal in mind — to help you, as an Empire State College student, achieve academic success and earn your degree.


Students may start their studies after completing an orientation session (in person at a center or unit, or online for Center for Distance Learning students).

The college offers a five-term academic calendar. The calendar features five 15-week terms:

  • Fall 1 term begins in September
  • Fall 2 term begins in late October
  • Spring 1 term begin in January
  • Spring 2 term begins in March
  • Summer term begins in May and offers both a 15-week term (Summer 2) and the option of an 8-week term (Summer 1).


Graduate students, depending on the program, start in either September or January. 

The graduate school offers a three-term academic calendar. The calendar features three 15-week terms:

    • Fall 1 term begins in September
    • Spring 1 term begin in January
    • Summer term begins in May and offers both a 15-week term (Summer 2) and the option of an 8-week term (Summer 1).

For additional information, visit Admissions.

A bachelor’s degree requires that you complete 124 credits, while an associate degree requires 64 credits.

Generally, students complete their degrees in two to five years, studying part time. The amount of time may vary depending on how much credit you transfer and the type of degree program you design.

For a complete and current breakout of undergraduate and graduate tuition charges by credit and fees, please visit the college’s tuition webpages.

Labor Studies

The Harry Van Arsdale Jr. Center for Labor Studies houses the most comprehensive labor program of its kind in the United States and has been addressing the needs of trade unionists and others interested in labor-related issues since 1972.

Many labor leaders across New York state can be counted among the center’s graduates. All of the college’s areas of study are available at The Harry Van Arsdale Jr. Center for Labor Studies.


The School of Nursing and Allied Health offers an online RN to B.S. in Nursing program for registered nurses who hold associate degrees or diplomas and wish to continue their nursing education. The Master of Science in Nursing degree program prepares graduates to advance nursing practice in a complex and evolving health care environment.

Yes, Empire State College students are eligible for a number of state and federal grants as well as college foundation scholarships. More than 50 percent of our students receive financial assistance.

Take the Next Step

Ready to advance your education and career? There’s no time like the present. Apply now, or learn more about SUNY Empire at one of our information sessions.
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