November 5, 2014

SUNY Empire State College Drives Open SUNY+

Online Bachelor’s and Master’s Programs Meet Employers’ High-Demand Needs

Open SUNY logo(SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. – Nov. 6, 2014) Students who choose to take advantage of the access, flexibility and online support of Open SUNY and Open SUNY+ now can choose from among 12 SUNY Empire State College online undergraduate and graduate degree and certificate programs.

All of SUNY’s online offerings are part of Open SUNY, the system’s signature online learning initiative.  Those powered by Open SUNY+ feature additional support services for students and faculty.

SUNY Chancellor Nancy L. Zimpher recently announced the addition of 56 degree and certificate programs from 17 campuses, including 10 from Empire State College, to the existing roster of Open SUNY and Open SUNY+ online programs.

Two of the college’s online bachelor’s programs were included in the launch of Open SUNY and Open SUNY+ in January 2014.

“Empire State College’s Open SUNY+ offerings are in areas that are most in demand by New York’s employers and include health care, business, criminal justice, the STEM fields, emergency management and the particular needs of veterans and active-duty members of the military,” said Merodie A. Hancock, president of the college. “Students have been successfully learning and completing degrees online with Empire State College for 20 years. Online learning is one way Empire State College delivers education to primarily nontraditional students, which enables them to work, raise families, contribute to their communities and achieve their personal, academic and career goals.”

“Open SUNY embodies all of the ideals we aim to uphold in service to our students – particularly increased access to quality higher education and improved avenues for degree completion and career success,” said Zimpher. “The growth of Open SUNY in its first year is remarkable. We are more confident than ever that, at full scale, Open SUNY will emerge as the world’s largest online learning environment.”

“The college was founded more than 43 years ago to serve nontraditional adult students as SUNY’s only open, statewide institution,” said Hancock. “The innovations and flexibility of learning anytime, anywhere and the student and faculty support pioneered at Empire State College are now being brought to scale and enhanced through Open SUNY and Open SUNY+.”

Open SUNY includes more than 400 degree programs and 12,000 course sections across the 64-campus system.

The SUNY Learning Network, forerunner of Open SUNY, was established at Empire State College some two decades ago.

Online education at Empire State College:

  • comprises as much as 25 percent of all online learning across the SUNY system
  • accounts for more than 12 percent of all 12,000 SUNY online course sections
  • provides 70 percent of all online bachelor’s programs
  • includes 500 individual online courses and complete online associate, bachelor's and master's degrees.

The Empire State College programs added to Open SUNY and Open SUNY+ on Oct. 16 are:

  • the undergraduate Certificate in Business and Environmental Sustainability

Empire State College programs included in the launch of Open SUNY and Open SUNY+ in January 2014 are:

The comprehensive set of student support services unique to Open SUNY+ include:

  • a 24/7 help desk to assist students with technical questions
  • online academic tutoring available day and night
  • a personal student concierge who connects students to representatives from their home campus when needed.

Open SUNY+ students also have access to applied learning opportunities that enhance student knowledge and give students a competitive edge by providing them with hands-on work experience in their field prior to graduation.

About SUNY Empire State College

Empire State College, the nontraditional, open college of the SUNY system, educates more than 20,000 students worldwide at eight international sites, more than 35 locations in the state of New York, online, as well as face to face and through a blend of both, at the associate, bachelor’s and master’s levels.

The average age of an undergraduate student at the college is 35 and graduate students average age 40.

Most Empire State College students are working adults. Many are raising families and meeting civic commitments in the communities where they live, while studying part time.

In addition to awarding credit for prior college-level learning, the college pairs each undergraduate student with a faculty mentor who supports that student throughout his or her college career.

Working with their mentors, students design an individual degree program and engage in guided independent study and course work onsite, online or through a combination of both, which provides the flexibility for students to choose where, when and how to learn.

Students have the opportunity to enroll five times during the year.

The college’s 73,000 alumni are active in their communities as entrepreneurs, politicians, business professionals, artists, nonprofit agency employees, teachers, veterans and active military, union members and more.

The college was first established in 1971 by the SUNY Board of Trustees with the encouragement of the late Ernest L. Boyer, chancellor of the SUNY system from 1970 to 1977.

Boyer also served as United States commissioner of education during the administration of President Jimmy Carter and then as president of the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching.

More information about the college is available at