New York Online Colleges & Universities – Top Online Schools for 2016

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A Guide to New York Colleges Online

The online education movement — in New York and beyond — has traditionally been spearheaded by private, for-profit institutions. Today, many public and private nonprofit colleges and universities offer online courses and certificate or degree programs, making higher education accessible to even the busiest New Yorkers. There are nearly 200 colleges and universities of every size and type offering distance education degree programs, certificate programs and/or individual courses. Included are prestigious public universities and private colleges, two-year community colleges and even a number of schools specializing in vocational trades and the arts. Online degree programs of note include the engineering programs at Columbia University and Cornell University, the education program at SUNY Buffalo and the criminal justice program at Pace University. Pace is also recognized for the excellence of its entire online bachelor’s degree program.

New York City is not only the cultural and business center of the state, but also the cultural and business center of the nation. It is also New York state’s higher education hub. The following two segments focus on New York City’s college and university offerings, both on-site and online.

College Focus on New York City

New York City has more than 100 higher education institutions serving half a million students. The U.S. Census reports that 34 percent of city residents over the age of 25 hold at least a bachelor’s degree. City University of New York is the largest school, with seven 4-year colleges and seven community colleges. It holds the distinction of having the largest number of Nobel laureates in the country. Manhattan’s Barnard College, meanwhile, was ranked 32nd by U.S. News & World Report among national liberal arts colleges in 2014. Legendary city schools include the Joffrey Ballet School, Parsons-The New School for Design, Columbia University, Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art, and the Juilliard School. Two of the nation’s largest Catholic schools serve the city: St. John’s University and Fordham University.

New York City Schools and Online Learning

Students who prefer completing associate, bachelor’s and graduate degrees online in New York City have a wide selection of schools to choose from. The Open Education Database lists more than 180 accredited colleges and universities in New York offering online degrees, many with distinction. For example, U.S. News & World Report placed Hofstra University among the schools with the best online graduate business and online education programs. City University of New York provides undergraduate online degree programs in business, sociology, communications and health information management. Not to be outdone, State University of New York has launched the Open SUNY initiative to increase its number of online degrees by 25 percent in hopes of enrolling some 100,000 new students.

Paying for Higher Education in New York

Higher education is an investment of both time and money. Some students attending New York colleges seek financial support through scholarships, grants and other aid programs, as described below. It is helpful for future students to know just how much their education could cost. Tuition is a college’s price tag for providing education, and it varies from one institution and program to the next. Some colleges, particularly public schools, charge New York residents less. In 2012, New York student residents paid an average of $15,127 per year in tuition. Nonresidents who wish to attend New York colleges can contact admissions officers to clarify residency requirements. Students may even delay enrollment until they are established residents, reducing the tuition burden.

Tuition may be college students’ most basic expense, but it is far from the only one. Most colleges and universities charge other fees for parking or access to technology resources and certain student services, such as gyms and recreational centers. In 2012, New York colleges charged an average of $1,175 in fees. Combined with tuition, that brings the total average cost of attending New York colleges and universities to $16,201 for in-state students.

Another key item for a college budget in New York is basic living expenses. Some students live in dorms, while others live off campus. Either way, they need to pay for room and board, and in a state like New York, these expenses can add up quickly: The cost of living in New York is about 26 percent above the national average. Prices vary across the state, however. This chart compares the cost of living for several major New York metropolitan regions to the national average:

Urban Area Composite Index Housing Groceries Utilities Transportation Health Care Misc.
Buffalo -4.2% -2.6% -8.2% 15.6% 4.8% -8.0% -12.4%
Binghamton -1.6% -7.4% -7.6% 12.8% 4.4% 14.3% -2.3%
Rochester 0.0% -5.8% -5.4% 14.4% 8.7% -0.3% 0.2%
Farmington -3.0% -2.9% 1.8% -12.9% -3.6% -1.4% -1.8%
Plattsburgh 0.1% -4.9% -1.1% 19.4% 5.5% 13.0% -4.1%
Syracuse 1.5% -8.6% -1.4% 18.4% 8.3% -2.2% 4.8%
Ithaca 2.8% 4.4% 2.9% 10.4% 4.7% 6.6% -1.9%
Albany 8.1% 12.6% 5.0% 1.0% 2.8% 11.7% 8.6%
Glens Falls 12.3% 5.9% 5.4% 28.0% 7.0% -2.7% 19.3%
Dutchess County 20.4% 41.3% 9.8% 18.8% 9.3% 10.4% 11.1%
Nassau County 45.7% 106.7% 23.0% 40.7% 13.1% 19.7% 15.3%
New York (Queens) 59.0% 130.8% 28.3% 72.0% 8.8% 18.0% 23.9%
New York (Brooklyn) 81.7% 217.8% 30.6% 65.0% 3.0% 11.5% 19.5%
New York (Manhattan) 116.7% 286.7% 54.3% 69.6% 20.3% 30.2% 45.7%

Tuition and fees make up a majority of the academic costs, but what about after graduation? Will the money you spend on higher education at a college be worth it? This question should enter every student’s mind as they evaluate colleges. The following New York schools have the highest returns on investment (lifetime earnings minus total cost of attendance) for degree holders:

  1. Polytechnic Institute of New York University
  2. SUNY – Maritime College
  3. Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
  4. Manhattan College
  5. Columbia University

Accreditation for Online Colleges in New York

Prospective students in New York should keep in mind that they must usually attend accredited colleges in order to qualify for any type of financial aid. Accreditation verifies that a school meets certain quality standards set by various regional or national accrediting agencies. Accrediting agencies for New York state include the Middle States Commission on Higher Education and the Distance Education and Training Council Accrediting Commission. In addition, degree-granting colleges with a physical presence in New York must be authorized to operate by the New York Board of Regents and the New York Education Department.

Institutions can also seek programmatic accreditation for select programs, departments or colleges. At New York University, for example, the school’s journalism and mass communication program has been accredited by the Accrediting Council on Education in Journalism and Mass Communication, while all of its College of Dentistry programs maintain accreditation from the American Dental Association.

Search Accredited Online Colleges in New York

Selecting the right online college and degree or certificate program is serious business. It requires consideration of a whole slew of issues, including school cost, time investment, individual lifestyle, work and family commitments and career goals. Achieving the proper balance of these factors is different for each individual. The search tool below is designed to help students quickly narrow down the choices of online schools and programs to those that match their unique needs and preferences.

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New York Online Colleges Spotlight

Online Departments in New York

Maria College of Albany

How would you describe your institution's approach to online learning?

The key aspect to Maria College’s online learning approach is having instructors who are certified in a ten week Blackboard training program that requires them to create an online course while also participating in one. This certification contributes to student success in an online environment. All online courses at Maria College are designed and built on a foundation of best practices in online course content and pedagogy.

What makes your online programs so valuable to students?

Maria College’s mission and values are integrated into each online course. Online courses are individually created providing students with the same warm and caring environment that they experience in face-to-face courses. Each online course is developed so students feel like they are part of the Maria College community. The online course offerings are designed following best practices in both online course design and delivery.

Where do you see your online programs in the next five years? Beyond?

In the next five years, the goal at Maria College is to double the course offerings in both online and hybrid formats. Plus, develop online degree programs. Long-term objectives are to continuously adapt to technological and programmatic advancements, as the college implements additional online offerings, thus enabling students to have instruction uniquely tailored to their needs.

Mercy College

How would you describe your institution's approach to online learning?

Mercy's approach to online learning is based on flexibility and access. Mercy is committed to offering quality programs that meet student's needs and interests.

Mercy College currently supports nearly 3,700 unique students (these are students who are taking one or more fully online course(s) and nearly 1,400 students who are taking all their courses fully online. We trained over 500 Faculty and Adjuncts (teaching fully online, blended or web-enhanced courses) on our Blackboard Learning Management.

New areas of growth are blended, "flipped" and web-enhanced courses. Mercy Online supports the expanding number of blended courses (for example, the entire School of Education now offers only blended courses, and other areas of the College offer many blended courses).

Top Online Programs:

  • Master’s Degree in English Literature
  • Master’s Degree in Early Childhood Education
  • Master’s Degree in School Building Leadership
  • Master’s Degree in Counseling
  • Bachelor's Degree in Nursing
  • Bachelor's Degree in Behavioral Science
  • Bachelor's Degree in Psychology

What makes your online programs so valuable to students?

Mercy Online Learning mirrors the same academic support and college services for online students as we do for our traditional on-site students. Mercy Online provides the following college services tailored to distance learners:

  • Dedicated online learning academic advisor
  • Dedicated online learning student support/tech support
  • Virtual Librarian
  • Online Tutoring Services
  • Online Career Services
  • Online Counseling Services

Mercy's online students are set up for success with a Blackboard Learning Management System Orientation video and follow-up Readiness Quiz. The Mercy Online staff monitors the quiz results and reaches out to students that may need additional assistance.

Mercy Online students receive a comprehensive targeted "Welcome" email communication that provides important links, contact information, instructions and an animated tutorial to ensure a successful semester start. Blackboard 101 workshops and drop-in clinics are offered virtually and at all campuses.

Mercy Online has partnered with the College's Vitale Center for Academic Excellence and Innovation to provide online students access to a virtual learning center that includes a Virtual Writing Tutor who works with students remotely with a web-conferencing tool, providing the same support as the traditional face-to-face learning center model. Mercy College plans to expand these tutoring services to Math and Science.

Mercy Online allows students the ease, flexibility and affordability to complete their degree fully online. Mercy Online provides the personalized support, guidance, information and attention to ensure a successful online experience.

Mercy College offers 40 online programs, representing every school.

  • 20 bachelor’s degrees
  • 19 master’s degrees
  • One advanced certificate

Click here to view the online degrees offered.

Where do you see your online programs in the next five years? Beyond?

Mercy expects to grow the number of online courses and programs and increase student support services. Credit for prior learning will become a more integral part of our programs. The College is a national leader in adopting free or low cost online textbooks and learning resources to reduce the costs for our students. We will be integrating new forms of instruction into our programs including game based learning and other interactive models.

Great Resources for Online Students in New York

Distance learning presents a bundle of benefits and challenges to the online novice. Fortunately, there are countless software programs, websites and applications — many designed specifically for college students — that make the acclimation process to online learning much easier. They include library resources, knowledge databases, subject-specific reference materials, time management apps and mind-mapping programs. The following list serves as a primer to the wide variety of online tools and resources available to new and experienced students alike.