Ways to Study

Undergraduate Study Options

As an undergraduate, you have a range of options for studying each term. You can choose from among guided independent study, online courses, study groups and residency-based studies, or blend a combination of approaches. You also may take courses at other colleges and universities, as long as the courses are determined to be relevant to your degree program plan.

See the descriptions below for more details on the study options available to you.

Guided Independent Study

In guided independent study you work one-to-one with a faculty member. You may meet periodically face-to-face at one of our many locations across the state, or you may work with your mentor online, by phone or by mail.

Depending on your goals, you can select a study from the term's offerings or work with a mentor to develop an individualized study. Either way, your mentor will guide you on the course goals and activities and how your performance will be evaluated.

Online Courses

You may choose to take online courses from anywhere in the world. Most of the college's online courses are provided by the Center for Distance Learning, though some are offered through faculty mentors at our New York state locations. If you wish, you can pursue your undergraduate degree entirely online through our Center for Distance Learning.

The college's online courses provide you with the opportunity to interact with faculty and students, and to access a variety of online educational resources. Online courses generally consist of small groups of students and a mentor. The courses include discussion forums that enable you to benefit from interaction with other students without the need to be online on specific days or times.

Study Groups

Study groups are small group seminars offered at the college’s many locations. They generally meet face-to-face several times during the term and some meet on weekends.

Study groups provide an opportunity to learn from other students, as well as the instructor, and provide the support and stimulation of working with your peers. They enable you to explore topics of common interest, engage in discussion and share independent reading and research.

Residency-based Studies

Some programs or topics of study include residency-based studies. In these intensive seminars, you meet face-to-face with students from across the state to investigate subjects in depth in a group setting. These meetings typically take place over a weekend or several days. Before and after the residency, you study independently.

Each year, the college sponsors a women’s studies residency and an environmental studies residency. Other residencies that are offered periodically cover topics such as the American Revolution, business, the Civil War, diversity, emergency management, the entertainment and music industry, Latin American film, and writing. More details on these opportunities are on the residencies and special learning opportunities website.

Studying at Other Institutions

By enrolling in a course for academic credit at a college or university that is accredited, or a candidate for accreditation, by a recognized regional accrediting agency, you:

  • expand the variety of learning resources available
  • may take classes offered at other colleges and universities that meet your educational needs
  • may experience a more traditional classroom at other accredited colleges
  • may be able to complete your degree plan program requirements at Empire State College.

Please review the policy on cross registration.

Graduate Study Options

You complete your work in the School for Graduate Studies mainly through online courses, which provide you the opportunity to study at your convenience and still be able to interact with instructors, fellow students and your faculty advisor. You can access course resources and the fully online library, participate in discussion forums, conduct self-assessments and take advantage of other course enhancements, such as simulations and modeling.

The M.A. in adult learning, M.A. in learning and emerging technologies and the M.A. in community and economic development degree programs and the graduate certificate programs are fully online.

Some degree programs require attendance at limited, weekend residencies. Residencies complement online courses by providing opportunities for you to network in person with faculty and students from across the state and country who share similar academic and professional interests.