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A Look at Empire State College's Distance Learning Program

written by: Jacqueline Chinappi•edited by: Sarah Malburg•updated: 12/2/2011

Empire State College may be designed to fit an adult learner's needs but students of various ages are getting their diplomas from this school. ESC offers degrees in many areas and learners can even create their own degree curriculum.

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    Programs Available

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    Empire State College (ESC) was founded in 1971, and focuses on providing options for adult learners who want to attain their college degrees—including associate's, bachelor's and master’s degrees. Empire State College is one of the 13 SUNY or State University of New York schools. Not only does this school offer onsite learning at 35 brick and mortar locations within New York State, but it also offers fully accredited online degrees.

    Students can explore degree choices with ESC or create their very own degree to meet personal, career and educational needs. Degrees are offered in various areas 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
    • Social Theory, Social Structure, and Change

    Students can earn credits not only from courses taken at ESC or another college, but may also be eligible to earn credits for life and work experience. For instance, credit can be awarded if you hold a license or certification in a certain area. Credits can also be awarded based on evaluation of the student in a particular area. This extraordinary way of earning credits is quite satisfying especially for some adult learners who have a lot of work experience behind them. This is a big plus for many students.

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    Technology and Tuition

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    All classes are held on the platform SUNY Learning Network (SLN). As a new student, it is required that you gain access to the SLN at least two weeks prior to your first class. There is a basic training which each student goes through to help individuals get the hang of the online platform. I remember my first term taking online classes with ESC, I was nervous about the SLN but the training and technology support really helped me through. For more information on the SUNY Learning Network, visit

    Tuition for ESC depends on where you live. For the January 2012 term, In-state undergraduate tuition is as follows:

    • Taking 1-11 credits: $220 per credit
    • Taking 12-16 credits: $2,635 per term
    • Taking 17+ credits: $2,635 per term plus $220 each additional credit over 16
    • Military students pay $220 per credit plus a $10 technology fee per credit and have all other fees waived

    Out of State undergraduate tuition is as follows:

    • Taking 1-11 credits: $597 per credit
    • Taking 12-16 credits: $7,160 per term
    • Taking 17+ credits: $7,160 per term plus $558 for each additional credit over 16

    Just like the onsite locations, online students are eligible for financial aid and loan opportunities. This can help immensely with the tuition.

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    Overall Personal Experience

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    I received both my associate's and my bachelor's from Empire State College. I had a wonderful mentor whom I worked with for three years who would call me every week to check in and ensure I was getting everything I needed from the program. Every professor I had was always so genuine and personal even though we may have been miles away from each other and had never been in the same room. Professors make themselves available to their students during various office hours and were always quick to answer emails and messages.

    My personal experience with the school was a good one and I recommend others who are looking to attain their online degree to look into Empire State College. While the school is geared towards adult learners, they have students from ages 18 and up receiving their degrees each year.