Residencies at SUNY Empire State College

By Allison Quinn, student, SUNY Empire State College

September 29, 2017


Did you know that SUNY Empire State College offers a variety of learning opportunities for students?

Distance learning isn’t the only mode of study that the college offers.  In addition to online courses, students can meet face-to-face with their instructor and fellow students. 

One way is through an independent study where a student works one-on-one with their instructor for a particular course.  The meetings may be weekly and via phone, virtually through Skype, or in-person, depending on the geographic location of both. 

Study groups are another option where students meet with their instructor weekly or bi-weekly for discussions about the course and course projects, and do the majority of work independently with online discussions and assignments. 

And a popular and collaborative way to meet face-to-face is through a residency which also allows students to examine a topic independently then meet face-to-face, a few times during the semester, for an in-depth discussion and exploration of the topic.

According to SUNY Empire State College Residency Specialist Lori McCaffrey, “A residency is one of the four modes of study offered at SUNY Empire State College. This opportunity allows students to take credit bearing courses using a blended model that combines online learning with periodic face-to-face meetings. Courses offered through the residencies focus on a specific area of study or topic and include professional and academic enrichment opportunities and experiential learning.”

Students can attend a residency in a variety of areas of study and examine diverse topics of interest. Residencies offered at SUNY Empire State College include:

  • Emergency Management Residency
  • Ecology and Earth Systems Field Research Residency
  • Creativity Across Disciplines
  • Fall Student Conference
  • Civil War History Residency
  • American Revolutionary War Era Residency
  • Central New York Learning Communities
  • Adirondack Environmental Studies Residency
  • Urban Environmental Studies Residency
  • Business Leadership Residencies
  • Business, Management, and Economics Residency

Undergraduate and graduate students from all SUNY Empire State College locations can register for residencies and take part in a compelling and interactive learning experience.  Students who enroll in a residency course will study and work online throughout the term but will attend pre-scheduled face-to-face meetings with classmates and instructors. Some residencies take place on various days throughout the semester, and some occur over a weekend. For students who want to meet and collaborate with students and faculty, a residency can provide the flexibility of an online class with the added opportunity for networking and discussion.

McCaffrey explains, “Busy adults need the convenience of online learning, but they still want the engagement and sense of community that face-to-face learning provides. Residencies offer the best of both worlds. Students meet with their fellow students and faculty on-site, for a few days each term, which fits their schedule and gives them the interaction they miss, in the virtual world. During the residencies. there is also the benefit of workshops, guest speakers and networking that enhance the learning experience and add value for the students.”

Professor of Economics Francois Silatchom has taught several residencies throughout his career at SUNY Empire State College. Silatchom states, “From my personal experience, residencies provide both to students and to faculty, an opportunity to have a direct human interaction. This is something both parties seem to miss in a purely distance learning setting. The direct human factor also makes a difference in how they perceive or assess one another. Some students develop connections during residencies that keep them together until their program completion, and even beyond.”

Students feel that residency courses create an environment for collaboration, and learning with other students of different educational and geographical backgrounds leads to a comprehensive understanding of subjects and issues of interest.

Undergraduate student Sharon Johnson says, “My mentor suggested a Community and Human Services residency that matched my education plans. From that point on, I was hooked, and now I look for other residencies that will help me get closer to completing my degree. The courses and exposure I experienced in the residencies I took were rich and rewarding.  They were well-organized and fun with many opportunities to network with instructors and other students.  The work is the same, but the experience is different - one that should not be missed.”

Graduate student Julian Wylie writes, “Students understand that our school is not a traditional college where we go to class on schedule.  After speaking with many of fellow students, we all agreed that it was one of the reasons why we chose a residency. The residencies are where we get to leave our confines and go away for a weekend or a few days and have the opportunity to put faces to the voices and emails we received from our professor and classmates in our online courses.  Time spent at residencies really ties us together as a unit.”

Students who have taken residency courses and the professors who have taught them urge other students to register for a residency at SUNY Empire State College. The opportunity to learn and connect with classmates and instructors will provide for a stimulating and thought-provoking experience. Talk to your mentor about which residencies can help you reach your educational and professional goals.

For more information and descriptions of the different residencies offered, please visit the Residencies page of the ESC website.

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