Frequently Asked Questions about Distance Learning

 Listed below are the most common questions about distance learning at Empire State College.

Distance Learning at Empire State College

  1. What is the Center for Distance Learning (CDL)?
  2. Do I have to come to your campus for an orientation before enrolling in an online degree program?
  3. How do I take my tests and examinations?
  4. How will courses be delivered?
  5. Do I have to own a computer to take courses at a distance?

Applying to Empire State College's Center for Distance Learning

  1. How do I apply to Empire State College's Center for Distance Learning?
  2. Is there a placement test?
  3. What kind of tuition assistance, financial aid and scholarships is available?
  4. Do distance learning students pay in-state or out-of-state fees?
  5. How long will it take me to get my degree?
  6. How much of the degree has to be taken through Empire State College to meet residency requirements?

Academic Program

  1. What is a concentration and how does it differ from a major?
  2. Will I be assigned an advisor (mentor), and will I be able to communicate with that person on a regular basis?

Taking Courses (Registration, etc.)

  1. When can I start taking courses?
  2. How do I register for courses?
  3. How many courses can I take at a time?
  4. Do you have study guides for the courses offered?

Distance Learning at Empire State College

What is the Center for Distance Learning (CDL)?

The Center for Distance Learning is part of the State University of New York's Empire State College. The Center for Distance Learning offers structured associate and bachelor's degree programs that require no classroom attendance. Courses are designed to enable students to study on their own while regularly receiving guidance and support from course instructors. These instructors maintain contact with students through web courses and scheduled telephone conferences. Students study with CDL from any location where telephone and internet services are available.

Do I have to come to your campus for an orientation before enrolling in an online degree program?

No, our program is fully distance learning. You are not required to come to Saratoga Springs, New York, at any time during your program of study (unless you choose to come at graduation)! All students can view orientation materials online.

How do I take my tests and examinations?

You can expect to have assignments for each of your courses. Assignments in the online courses are submitted electronically to the course instructor, including research papers, online tests, projects and other methods. In rare cases a proctored exam may be required in a certain concentration (for example, accounting) or to verify the individual completing the work.

How will courses be delivered?

Courses are delivered completely at a distance in web-based formats. Learning materials designed for success at a distance include contemporary texts and readings; cassettes, videos, software (depending on the course); and online discussion areas. Site-based attendance is not required.

Do I have to own a computer to take courses at a distance?

Routine access to a computer and the Internet is required usually at least 2-3 times per week. Students are not required to own their own computers, but they will need frequent computer access. For military students, the college offers special independent study courses that call for only limited computer access. More information about technology requirements and recommendations is available.

(back to top)

Applying to Empire State College's Center for Distance Learning

How do I apply to Empire State College's Center for Distance Learning?

Visit the college's Admissions website.

Is there a placement test?

No. All accepted applicants must have a high school degree or GED and demonstrate the ability to do college-level work in the application essay.

What kind of tuition assistance, financial aid and scholarships is available?

Eligible participants have access to any tuition assistance, financial aid or scholarships offered by the institution. For more information, please visit our financial aid website.

Do distance learning students pay in-state or out-of-state fees?

All distance learning students pay tuition and fees.

How long will it take me to get my degree?

You should consider several factors in determining how long it will take you to earn your degree. These include:

  • amount of credit that you are transferring into the program
  • size of the academic load you can comfortably carry each term

Most students working full time take one to two courses. If you work part time or less, three to four courses would accelerate your progress. You enroll in educational planning during your first two terms to determine your academic plan.

How much of the degree has to be taken through Empire State College to meet residency requirements?

For an associate degree, 64 semester hours are required for degree completion. Of these, 24 must be taken from our institution. Up to half of these can be cross registered at other regionally accredited colleges, if approved within the degree plan. For a bachelor's degree, 124 semester hours are required for degree completion. Of these, 31 must be taken from our institution. Up to half of these can be cross registered at other regionally accredited colleges, if approved within the degree plan. A more detailed explanation of undergraduate degree requirements is available.

(back to top)

Academic Program

What is a concentration and how does it differ from a major?

Your concentration is one of the two key sections of your degree program. It is the part that gives focus to your degree program and is very much like a major. Your concentration is built on a series of related studies each building on the other to help form the program as a whole. Progression and integration are emphasized in Empire State College degree programs. The former focuses on moving from introductory to more advanced study in the concentration. Integration highlights the need to grasp relationships between and among key learning studies within and related to the concentration.

Will I be assigned an advisor (mentor), and will I be able to communicate with that person on a regular basis?

When you matriculate (become a degree-seeking student) at Empire State College, you are assigned a mentor who will work with you throughout your program at the college. You will have regular contact with your mentor through whatever means is most convenient to you – e-mail, phone, mail or fax. If you are taking courses as a nonmatriculated student, you will have access to our on-call or first-term advisor, as needed, for help with choosing courses from term to term or deciding on a direction or area of study, should you decide to matriculate.

(back to top)

Taking Courses (Registration, etc.)

When can I start taking courses?

We have five terms per year beginning in September, November, January, March and May. Each term is 15 weeks long. Information about deadlines for applying and registering for courses is available.

How do I register for courses?

After looking at the Course Catalog and selecting the courses you would like to take this term, register online at www.esc.edu/myesc. You will need to login to register.

How many courses can I take at a time?

You can take courses up to 16 credits, but we recommend taking 4-8 credits per term. Each 4-credit course requires approximately 10 hours of study per week. The dean must approve any credits over 16. This is approved only after a student is already successful in full-time enrollment. Students may not take more than 20 credits per term.

Do you have study guides for the courses offered?

There is an online course guide for every course. The course guide will tell you when to do the readings, when to participate in online discussions, and when to do pieces of writing. It's your roadmap to the course, the piece that ties all of the information together into a structured, guided study.

(back to top)