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New York Online Colleges & Universities: Top Schools for 2018

Updated on: 01/04/2018
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Students who need a flexible, affordable post-secondary education will find no shortage of online colleges in New York. New York has a long history of providing college students with alternate ways of earning a degree. The State University of New York (SUNY) system launched its first asynchronous learning network in 1994. By 2000, SUNY had the second-largest asynchronous learning network in the United States. Today, all 64 SUNY institutions offer online degree programs through Open SUNY. That means students can choose from over 470 certificate, associate, bachelor’s, master’s and doctorate programs.

Enrolling in a New York online school requires as much thought and preparation as starting at a traditional school: what’s the first step to funding, how many courses should I take first semester, and when do I talk to a career counselor? Every potential online student should ask these questions and others about each online college and degree program on their short list. Use this guide to help find the best New York online college and degree program for you, answer questions about tuition and residency for online students, and learn about financial aid resources and opportunities.

Online Colleges in New York

Choosing the right online college can seem like a daunting task, but prospective students can ease the process of comparing schools across New York by using these rankings tools to help them find schools that meet their needs. The following rankings are determined by evaluating factors that comprise high-quality, well-balanced online colleges, like number of available courses and programs, affordability and student support. Prospective students should check out the best accredited online colleges in New York and the best affordable online colleges in New York to help them determine the right school for them.

  • Accredited public or private not-for-profit institution

  • At least 3 online associate degrees or certificate programs (2-year schools)

  • At least 3 online bachelor’s or master’s degrees (4-year schools)

  • Annual in-state tuition below $5,000 (2-year schools)

  • Annual in-state tuition below $25,000 (4-year schools)

Colleges receive a total score based on performance in the following categories:

  • Average in-state net price for first-time/full-time undergraduates

  • Count and breadth of online programs available

  • Student-teacher ratio

  • 6-year graduation rate (4-year schools only)

  • % of beginning, full-time undergrads receiving scholarship/grant aid from the college

  • Average $ of financial aid students receive directly from the college

  • Availability of academic/career counseling services

  • Availability of job placement services for students and graduates

  • 3-year loan default rate

  • AC Online Peer-Based Value (PBV)*

*PBV is a proprietary metric that compares the cost of a program to the cost of other programs with the same (or a similar) qualitative score. It also compares the qualitative score of the program to the score of other programs with the same (or similar) cost. In short, the PBV calculation denotes the overall value – or ‘bang for your buck’ – of an online degree.

Our college rankings are backed by data collected and analyzed from The Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System, a program managed by the National Center for Education Statistics. Surveying over 7,500 colleges annually, it is among the most longstanding and trusted providers of U.S. postsecondary information.

  • Most recent “Final Release” data available as of October 2017

Rank University Location Score Annual Tuition # of Online Programs Financial Aid % Student-Teacher RatioGrad RateCredit for Experience Placement Services Counseling Services University Information
1 Mercy College Dobbs Ferry, NY 100.00 $17,166 35 86% 17:135%yes yes yesMercy College teaches its students the benefits of a well-rounded education. More than 90 degree programs are covered in five schools—Business, Education, Health and Natural Sciences, Liberal Arts and Social and Behavior Sciences. Students are encouraged to get involved in Community Service Programs as inscribed in its seal: Inserviendo Consumere, which means "consumed in service. Three of the Mercy College locations, Dobbs Ferry, Bronx and Manhattan, offer immediate or close access to the city, where students discover unlimited job and internship potential. The Yorktown Heights campus sits beside Franklin Delano Roosevelt State Park and suits the needs of learners who value a more peaceful setting. Mercy College is one of the best private colleges in New York in terms of the price tag, which is on average half of comparable area colleges. The school connects students with a range of financial aid options, with undergrad student debt a quarter less than state average. The White House has recognized the school as a "Bright Spot in Hispanic Education," and the Department of Veterans Affairs labeled it a "Yellow Ribbon School" for veterans and their families.
2 Nyack College Nyack, NY 99.72 $23,500 4 100% 12:142%yes yes yesNyack College began as and continues to be a Christian centered learning environment. The Seminary and College of Bible and Christian Ministry offer religious based degrees. Schools of Business, Arts and Sciences, Nursing, Social Work, Music and Education allow students to pursue a variety of degrees. The college's online programs are numerous and cover associate, bachelor's and master's degree options for those looking for a more flexible education. Choose from two campuses: Rockland with its peaceful location near the Hudson River and hiking and biking and New York City, in the midst of a bustling city of life and movement. To make the school more affordable, Student Financial Services works with prospective students one-on-one. Higher education learners seeking a solid education while enhancing their spiritual journey should look no further than Nyack College, one of the best colleges in New York for religious learning and living.
3 SUNY College at Oswego Oswego, NY 98.93 $6,170 5 91% 17:158%yes yes yesAt SUNY College at Oswego, experience an education catered to individuals' needs and strengths. Four colleges, College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, School of Business, School of Communication, Media and the Arts and School of Education, allow students to study from 110 programs in the ways that best suit them as well as expanding their choices with graduate and study abroad programs. The Center for Experiential Learning offers active, dynamic learning outside the traditional classroom that makes students job ready. Extended learning includes online and part-time degrees and college credit programs for high schoolers. Bunk at SUNY College at Oswego's 690-acre campus set against Lake Ontario for a nature immersed learning environment at one of New York's best colleges.
4 SUNY Polytechnic Institute Utica, NY 98.71 $6,170 9 84% 17:148%yes yes yesAt SUNY Polytechnic Institute, students gather from all over the U.S. and 20 other countries to study the institute's science, technology, engineering and math-focused programs (STEM). The campus sits on 400 acres with buildings alongside forests and wildlife. Only at this campus can be found Quad-C, which is the Computer Chip Commercialization Center that oversees the future of device processing and packaging, IT and supply chain support. SUNY Polytechnic Institute prides itself on diversity and inclusion by offering assistance to military and disabled persons, underrepresented or economically disadvantaged students seeking STEM degrees and bright New York State residents who were underprepared by their education system. More than 85 percent of students take advantage of financial aid, whether from scholarship, grants, loans or part-time employment. The school's Net Price Calculator can help students figure out their financial needs to attend one of New York's best STEM-focused colleges.
5 Stony Brook University Stony Brook, NY 98.30 $6,170 14 63% 17:166%no yes yesStony Brook University is a large, well-known public sea and space grant research institution located on Long Island, NY. The main campus sits on 1,039 acres, and houses several notable research institutes, centers and art galleries, along with a variety of living and dining options, with unusual perks such as a travelling Starbucks Truck, food carts, Halal and Jewish dining and a re-usable take-out container program. Over 200 undergraduate, 100 masters and 40 doctoral degree programs are offered at Stony Brook, several of which are offered completely online, or with limited campus visits required. Students looking for online colleges in New York state can expect a top-notch online education at Stony Brook, learning with the latest technology, from award-winning faculty. Online programs are offered at the undergraduate and graduate level, along with advanced certificate and career enhancement programs. Examples of online programs are in areas such as nutrition, nursing, education and business.
6 SUNY College of Technology at Canton Canton, NY 98.16 $6,170 9 86% 17:129%yes yes yesStudents seeking a career-focused online school in New York with maximum flexibility will find this, and more at Canton State University of New York (SUNY Canton). SUNY Canton Online offers hundreds of online courses along with degree programs ranging from agribusiness management to veterinary service administration. Many online courses through SUNY Canton Online are asynchronous, which means students can log onto the virtual campus anytime, and work at their own pace. Online students are well dialed in, with access to academic resources designed specifically for them, such as 24/7 chat capability with the librarian plus access to an incredible e-library and databases, online tutoring, academic advisement, and virtual career fairs and conferences. Campus events can be viewed online by virtual students; participation in collegiate level video game competitions through the eSports team and connecting through online clubs and organizations via RooLife are some other nice online student perks. Online students can also take place in the yearly Scholarly Activities Celebration, with the option of presenting their work either online or in-person.
7 Saint Joseph's College-New York Brooklyn, NY 96.69 $22,200 7 94% 11:172%yes no yesStudents searching for online colleges in New York should research Saint Joseph's College-New York (SJC) in Brooklyn, as it is considered one of the region's best. SJC combines a solid liberal arts education with affordability, while also offering a vibrant location, accreditation, tuition deals, flexibility and small class sizes. Through SJC Online, students from anywhere, including SARA states, can earn undergraduate and graduate degrees, dual degrees and certificates online, with tuition offered at a significantly lower cost per credit than those earned on-campus. SJC online students may be eligible for federal loans and grants, plus New Yorkers enrolled full-time may qualify for the Tuition Assistance Program (TAP) and part-timers can apply for the Aid for Part-Time Study (APTS) program. SJC also offers active military duty, guard and reserve students a big tuition break, and with SJC's liberal transfer credit policy, students can also earn credits for experience. To determine eligibility, SJC online students can take the Prior Experiential Learning Assessment (PELA), or can submit professional certifications from on the job training, military training, CLEP and/or DSST exams.
8 Metropolitan College of New York New York, NY 96.04 $17,280 8 76% 10:119%yes yes yesWhile those seeking online colleges in New York have plenty of options, students looking for an education geared towards working professionals should check out the Metropolitan College of New York. MCNY is all about helping students achieve their educational goals, while also preparing them to work in their chosen fields as quickly as possible. On-campus or hybrid programs are offered here, combining online learning with campus visits. Students can transfer in credits earned online at other institutions, and may also qualify for an enhanced tuition award. Classes are available full or part-time, in the evening, on the weekends, and online. Undergraduate and graduate degree programs are available at the associate, bachelor's and master's degree level, in areas such as business, education, public affairs and human services. Accelerated curriculum is key here. For example, you can earn an AA in human services in 16 months, a BBA in IT management in 2 years, 8 months and a dual childhood/special education MS in one year, with full-time enrollment.
9 SUNY Empire State College Saratoga Springs, NY 95.87 $6,170 15 77% 15:116%yes no yesAt SUNY Empire State College (ESC), students have the unique advantage of taking part in building their own undergraduate associate or bachelor's degrees. Basically, the college offers several areas of broad study, and within those areas, students can tailor their degree towards a specific area of study and concentration. Some courses offer independent study options, study groups, residencies and retreats. A key element of ESC's customizable programs is to award credit for prior learning experiences and maximization of transfer credits. Students take an educational planning course, plus work with a faculty mentor from program start to finish, to ensure student's goals are met. ESC is part of the State University of New York (SUNY) system, and has over 30 learning centers throughout the state, plus several degrees offered completely online, for those seeking online colleges in New York. In addition to associate and bachelor's degrees, master's degrees and advanced certificates are also available completely online in areas such as business, leadership and education.
10 SUNY at Albany Albany, NY 95.03 $6,170 4 58% 18:166%no no yesSUNY at Albany (UAlbany) is in New York's capital city, which lends itself to many opportunities for student internships and public service. The college is a large, premier research institution with three campuses, including the impressive Health Sciences Campus. UAlbany students can go for bachelor's, master's and Ph.D. degrees in areas such as biology, psychology, history, business, public health and computer engineering. For students looking for online degrees in New York, UAlbany has several online master's degrees and advanced graduate certificates in education and public health, along with a BS in informatics/IT. In addition, on-campus students can take advantage of individual online courses, which are delivered through the Blackboard Learn platform, and are carefully orchestrated to minimize barriers and increase successful online learning. Online students have access to UAlbany resources, including advisement, the disability resource center, the writing center and the college library, via phone, e-mail, or the internet. Online tutoring is through Star-NY, an online tutoring consortium.
11 CUNY Graduate School and University Center New York, NY 92.45 $6,030 7 N/A 8:1N/Ano yes yesThe CUNY Graduate Center (GC) is the main graduate level institution in the City University of New York (CUNY) system. GC is also home to several prestigious research centers, institutes, initiatives and committees that focus on social and civic issues, culture and science. As far as degree choices go, GC offers several master's degree programs in the areas of social sciences, humanities, liberal studies and sciences, and over 30 doctoral degrees in natural and social sciences, humanities and the arts. Almost all courses are on-campus, with classes offered at the main campus, along with other locations throughout the area. Juggling graduate work with life can be difficult, to say the least, and CG makes every effort to support its students-financially and otherwise. All students entering a humanities, sciences or social sciences doctoral program at GC are eligible for free tuition and health insurance through its 5-year Fellowship plan. In addition, students may be eligible for summer funding, stipends, research support, psychological counseling and health insurance free of cost.
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2-Year Best College Rankings

Rank University Location Score Annual Tuition # of Online Programs Financial Aid % Student-Teacher RatioGrad RateCredit for Experience Placement Services Counseling Services University Information
1 Jamestown Community College Jamestown, NY 100.00 $4,410 12 14% 17:1N/Ayes yes yes
2 Jefferson Community College Watertown, NY 98.58 $3,984 4 13% 18:1N/Ayes yes yes
3 Genesee Community College Batavia, NY 98.19 $3,850 13 12% 16:1N/Ayes yes yes
4 Hudson Valley Community College Troy, NY 97.99 $3,980 23 7% 20:1N/Ayes yes yes
5 Monroe Community College Rochester, NY 97.74 $3,416 4 7% 22:1N/Ayes yes yes
6 Tompkins Cortland Community College Dryden, NY 97.17 $4,500 9 8% 19:1N/Ayes yes yes
7 Niagara County Community College Sanborn, NY 97.12 $3,888 7 3% 16:1N/Ayes yes yes
8 Cayuga County Community College Auburn, NY 97.01 $4,200 8 15% 20:1N/Ano yes yes
9 Erie Community College Buffalo, NY 96.85 $4,295 13 7% 18:1N/Ayes yes yes
10 Clinton Community College Plattsburgh, NY 96.77 $4,060 4 13% 16:1N/Ayes no yes
11 Herkimer County Community College Herkimer, NY 95.48 $3,840 6 7% 26:1N/Ano yes yes
12 Mohawk Valley Community College Utica, NY 94.83 $3,810 7 N/A 18:1N/Ayes yes yes

Paying for School: Tuition & Financial Aid in New York

Students pursuing online degrees through SUNY can expect to pay around 15 percent less than the national average for public school tuition, but there is still a significant price difference for in-state and out-of-state students:

In-state tuition: $7,647 (public 4-year); $4,969 (public 2-year)

Out-of-state tuition: $20,305 (public 4-year); $8,756 (public 2-year) $36,361 (private 4-year, regardless of residency)

Source: U.S. Department of Education, 2017

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Out-of-state students who want to take advantage of in-state prices should do some planning well in advance of starting their degree program. Residency requirements for New York students can vary from school to school, but generally, students have to live in New York for at least 12 consecutive months prior to the registration deadline to qualify for in-state tuition. Prospective students should check with their institutions to get full residency details.

If I’m enrolled in an online college in New York, do I pay in-state or out-of-state tuition?

Students enrolled in online degree programs in New York are subject to the same tuition policies as traditional, on-campus students: New York residents in online programs pay in-state tuition, and non-residents pay out-of-state tuition. This also applies to students in hybrid programs.

Many states have tuition exchange or reciprocity programs that offer discounted tuition to students who live within the same geographic region as their intended college. Unfortunately, New York (along with New Jersey, Pennsylvania and the District of Columbia) is not part of one of these tuition break programs.

Quick summary on tuition:
  • 1.Online students are subject to the same tuition prices as their on-campus counterparts.

  • 2.New York does not participate in any regional tuition break programs, so students from neighboring states do not receive discounted tuition.

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What is the application process for New York financial aid?

The first step student should take in applying for financial aid is filling out the FAFSA. This free application opens on October 1st each year. Many financial aid opportunities applied for through the FAFSA are distributed on a first-come, first-served basis, so it’s best to complete the FAFSA as soon as possible. From there, New York residents can apply for the New York State Tuition Assistance Program (TAP). After their FAFSA is processed, those who apply for TAP will be notified of any state awards and scholarships for which they are eligible. Other state financial aid opportunities outside of TAP may be available to qualifying New York residents.

Residents and non-residents alike can apply for private and institutional aid, like scholarships offered by specific academic departments at their universities. Colleges do receive copies of student FAFSA reports, but it’s always good to double check for institution- and program-based financial aid opportunities.

After applying for grants and scholarships, online students may need to apply for loans to supplement any additional costs not covered by other forms of financial aid.

Both New York residents and non-residents can and should apply for federal financial aid, but state financial aid is reserved just for residents. Online students should familiarize themselves with the following TAP requirements to see if they qualify for New York State financial aid:

  • Residency: Must be a legal resident of New York
  • School and program: Must be in an approved program of study at an approved post-secondary institution, and be in good academic standing
  • Time commitment: Aid is available for full-time and part-time students. Credit hour requirements vary depending on the type of aid sought.
  • Grades: Must maintain a “C” average
  • Financial need: Must meet income limits
  • Citizenship: Must be a U.S. citizen, eligible non-citizen or have an I-94 visa
  • High school education: Must have earned a high school diploma, GED or equivalent from a U.S. high school

Scholarships & Grants for Students in New York

Students enrolling in online degree programs in New York should seek out as many scholarship and grant opportunities as possible. Unlike loans, scholarships and grants do not need to be paid back, and they can have a wide range of qualifications. In New York, scholarships and grant awards can come from private and public sources and can range in amounts from a few hundred dollars to full tuition coverage.

What scholarships and grants are available for students in New York?

Between the public city and state college systems, CUNY and SUNY, and private institutions, online students can find many scholarship and grant opportunities in New York. TAP grants, the New York State Educational Opportunity program and the Excelsior Scholarship are just a few of the aid opportunities in New York. Prospective students can find a comprehensive list of state grants and scholarships and information on private and institutional scholarships on the New York State Higher Education Services Corporation website.

How do I complete applications for scholarships and grants in New York?

Students will automatically be considered for many scholarships and grants upon filling out the FAFSA and TAP application. When applying for institutional or private scholarships in New York, students should carefully read through the eligibility requirements and complete all components of the application. Paying mind to deadlines is essential in making sure enough time is allotted to send in complete, well-thought application packages.

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Online Colleges in New York: Finding the Best Option

There are many factors to consider when choosing the right online college, and sometimes all that information can get confusing. Below are the questions most commonly asked by students preparing for online degree programs in New York, along with answers to help them make the right college decision.

Which colleges in New York accept transfer credits and work/life experience?

Most colleges in New York accept transfer credits. Students transferring between schools within the SUNY and CUNY systems will find transferring credits to be particularly easy and can check their course equivalencies online. Other students should send transcripts from their previous institutions to their intended New York college’s registrar to determine which credits will transfer. SUNY and CUNY colleges also may accept relevant work and life experience for credit. Students should meet with an academic advisor to determine their eligibility. New York schools outside of SUNY and CUNY have varying experience credit policies, so students and should check with advisors and the school registrar for details.

I live in New York. Do I have to enroll in an online college in my state?

One of the benefits of online learning is the ability to earn a degree from anywhere. New York residents do not have to limit themselves to online colleges in New York, but doing so will mean paying in-state tuition, which is significantly lower than out-of-state, and qualifying for state financial aid. New York has an extensive network of online schools and tons of state financial aid opportunities, so while it is not necessary, New York students might want to consider sticking to schools within the state.

With so many options available, how do I choose an online college in New York?

Having options is great, but with as many as are available in New York, deciding on a college can be overwhelming. Students can start by researching which schools offer online programs in their intended field of study by searching a program database, like Open SUNY’s, or conducting a basic search online.