Study Opportunities

Please Note: MyESC has moved!

This site can now be found at

The new MyESC can be found at

Remember to bookmark the page, set up a shortcut, or you can always reach the portal from any page on our website using the MyESC link located in the orange bar at the very top of the page. Very soon, the old MyESC will be retired.

Learn more about the new MyESC portal.

Empire State College offers a rich array of learning opportunities from which to choose, including independent (individualized and guided) study, online courses, study groups and residency-based studies. Student also may choose offerings from other colleges and universities and include those in their study plan for the term.

Once you are ready to register, work with your mentor to define your study plan for the term and create your worksheet in the online registration system. There, you will find the term guide, which is a list of the study opportunities available to you for the upcoming term. You can view study or course listings by title, general subject areas, or mentor offering the study. Students enrolling in special programs choose from study or course offerings specifically for their program.

Remember that you will still need to register after you complete your worksheet.

To help you with longer-term planning, a complete list of opportunities for the upcoming year is available in the Annual Learning Opportunities Inventory. Brief descriptions of some of the options are below to help you get started.

Independent Study

  • Individualized Independent Study
    Empire State College encourages undergraduate students to create individualized studies to match specific interests and educational goals. To design an individualized study, you will need to consult with your primary mentor before you register. Your mentor will arrange your individualized study and include it in your worksheet.
  • Guided Independent Study
    You have the option of choosing a study from the term guide in a general subject area and working with the instructor to develop a learning contract that meets your needs. Through guided independent studies, you work with the mentor or tutor (instructor) to develop your learning contract or plan for the study based on your specific interests and educational goals. Contact the instructor before the start of term to discuss your learning contract.

During the term, you work independently on the learning activities you define and meet periodically with the instructor. The meetings may be face-to-face, at a distance via mail, phone and/or online, or a combination of both.

Online Courses

Through the Center for Distance Learning, undergraduate students may take advantage of online courses, online independent study options, and online interaction with mentors and faculty. You can take a few courses or pursue an associate or bachelor’s degree at a time and place that is convenient to you. Students studying completely online can take advantage of 24/7 online access to all student and academic services of the college.

Students in the School of Graduate Studies take all their courses online. Some graduate programs also include face-to-face activities at residencies.

Study Groups

Students working independently on the same subject get together on a scheduled basis to discuss their findings with each other and a faculty member. Face-to-face exchanges with fellow students from diverse backgrounds and attitudes provides for new perspectives and ideas. Lists of study groups for the upcoming term are available.


Many students participate in residencies to meet with fellow students, faculty and staff, to discuss and exchange ideas, analyze readings, listen to lectures or work in small groups. Most residencies are held on weekends at convenient locations across the state; some include travel within the United States or abroad. Please review the descriptions carefully before you register. Studies connected to residencies are included in the term guide and the annual learning opportunities inventory. Some residencies provide detailed information on their own websites.

Residencies are required for some graduate programs. Check the "Graduate Residency Information" page for information about residencies in specific graduate programs.

Cross Registration at another College

Students looking for more classroom-style learning may cross register at another accredited college or university for classes, and receive credit from Empire State College. You work with your mentor to determine what fits into your educational plans and your mentor will include the cross registration section in your worksheet.

Undergraduate students may cross register for no more than 50 percent of their total learning contract credits, as specified in their degree program. Graduate students may transfer in no more than 12 credits, and a graduate degree may have no more than 15 credits from transfer and cross registration combined.

Collegewide Opportunities

Empire State College offers some learning opportunities collegewide. Students may register for these studies whether they are studying from any New York state location or through the Center for Distance Learning. Please note that some of these opportunities may require attendance at group meetings or residency locations that are not near you. Please review the descriptions carefully before you register.

Some collegewide learning opportunities are open to graduate as well as undergraduate students. Graduate students wishing to take a graduate level version of a study should consult with their advisor and the course instructor before registering.


Noncredit workshops are offered regularly to students, particularly in the areas of writing and degree program portfolio development. Check the "Workshops Calendar" to find out about workshops available to you.

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.