When it comes to earning a college degree, residents of New York are ahead of the curve. According to research conducted by the Lumina Foundation, 44.6 percent of the state's 10.5 million residents age 25 and older held at least an associate's degree in 2011. That number includes 969,790 residents with an associate's degree, 2,168,317 residents who hold a bachelor's, and 1,557,265 individuals with a graduate or professional degree. According to the Lumina Foundation, another 1,792,905 New York State residents have some college experience, but no degree.
The sheer number of adults who have pursued higher education in the state of New York is a testament to just how important a college degree can be. Fortunately, the state is home to a wide range of schools that offer postsecondary credentials. In fact, the National Center for Education Statistics shows that there are 201 colleges and universities in the state where students can earn a bachelor's degree. Furthermore, many of those schools offer much more than the typical on-campus options; they offer flexible online degree programs that can be completed via distance learning.
- Why Should I Earn a Degree in New York?
- What Makes New York Ideal for Online Education?
- Top 10 Degrees in New York
- Top Cities and Metros for New York College Students
- College Roadmap
- Scholarships and Financial Aid
- Discover Degree Opportunities
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics May 2013 State Occupational Employment and Wage Estimates, New York is home to 8,635,400 workers and a mean annual wage of $54,580. The BLS reports that the following industries currently employ a healthy workforce in the state:
Number of workers in 2013
Janitors and Cleaners
Food Preparation and Serving Workers
Waiters and Waitresses
Personal Care Aides
Home Health Aides
Accountants and Auditors
Elementary School Teachers
Secondary School Teachers
The state of New York is comprised of many major metropolitan areas, with the most populated areas being New York-Northern New Jersey-Long Island, Buffalo-Niagara Falls, and the Rochester metropolitan areas. These highly populated areas are not only home to a wide range of colleges and universities who offer online degrees and distance learning opportunities, but also a diverse array of industries where students can look for employment upon graduation. For example, the New York State Department of Labor reports at least 12 industries in the New York area which they consider significant. Among them, 11 are predicted to grow faster than the overall economy through 2016. A few of the major industries mentioned in New York City include construction, trade, transportation, and utilities, financial activities, and professional and business services. Furthermore, the New York State Department of Labor anticipates job growth in New York City to continue to thrive in educational Services, health care and social assistance, and leisure and hospitality.
Statewide, the New York State Department of Labor predicts healthy job growth in similar industries. For example, according to a 2010 Report to the Workforce Development System, jobs in construction, manufacturing, financial activities, professional and business services, educational services, and health care are expected to remain a relevant part of New York's overall economy in the near future.
In addition to offering a wide range of career opportunities to graduates, the state of New York is also home to Open SUNY -- a collaborative effort by 64 New York colleges and universities intended to increase educational access within the state of New York. Although tuition costs can vary from school to school, in-state residents at any Open SUNY school should expect to pay an average of $6,170 for tuition for the 2014-15 school year. Out-of-state residents, on the other hand, should expect to pay $15,820, which shows that there is a direct advantage for students who live and attend school in New York state.
Beyond educational attainment, New York has so much more to offer. From towering cities brimming with culture to the natural beauty of the northern part of the state, New York has it all. Some other benefits for those who live in New York:
- The state of New York is home to many world class museums and exhibits including the Jewish Museum, the Museum of New York City, and the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum.
- New York City contains many historic sites and neighborhoods including the Statue of Liberty, Rockefeller Center, Broadway, Times Square, and Grand Central Station.
- Brooklyn is home to the infamous Coney Island, which has recently undergone renovations, as well as the New York Aquarium and Botanical Garden.
- Upstate New York is host to beautiful natural scenery and laid-back living, as well as several world-renowned liberal arts schools such as Hamilton College, Bard College, and Union College.
- The state of New York has 70,000 miles of rivers and streams.
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Thanks to New York's focus on distance education opportunities and the creation of its online learning portal Open SUNY, students should have no problem finding online degrees in the state that meet their needs. Reportedly, 64 different schools currently participate and offer distance learning in New York through Open SUNY, which is unprecedented among other states in the nation.
Dr. Janice M. Karlen, Professor of Business and Technology at City University of New York, can attest to the quality and vigor of the state's online programs. Specifically, Karlen says that Excelsior College and Empire State College are exemplary in their online offerings, although students who attend other schools can also gain a lot from their online degree programs.
"For some people, attending classes onsite at a college is not possible due to family responsibilities or their employment," says Karlen. "They may have irregular working hours, travel for their jobs or be in or have military obligations."
These kinds of adult learners may benefit the most from online degrees in New York, but their families stand to gain too. "I know of parents that do their homework at the same table with their kids nightly," adds Karlen. "This is also a good way to support the importance of education with children as well as support lifelong learning."
In addition to those words of wisdom, Karen also has some advice for students seeking online degrees in New York. First and foremost, Karlen says, students need to make sure any school they choose is regionally accredited. "They should also investigate costs and whether the scheduling of courses and terms meets their needs," she says. In addition, it is crucial for students to understand any specific requirements for their chosen online degree program.
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The New York State Department of Labor predicts healthy job growth in a wide range of industries over the coming decade. Based on their list, the following college degrees could be particularly promising:
Licensed Practical and Licensed Vocational Nursing
Students who want to begin a career in nursing often start by earning a degree in licensed practical or licensed vocational nursing, and with good reason. Due to a growing demand for health care, Projections Central predicts a 20.6 percent increase in employment for individuals in this field in the state of New York from 2012 to 2022. Several schools in New York offer excellent degree programs for beginners in this field, including:
- Bronx Community College
- Isabelle Graham Hart School of Practical Nursing
- State University of New York at Brockport
The state of New York was home to 35,950 electricians as of May 2013, with the group earning an mean annual wage of $70,560. Therefore, it makes perfect sense why so many students would pursue a degree in this field and work toward a career as an electrician or electrical and electronics installer or repairer. Projections Central also predicts healthy job growth for electricians, with a 17 percent increase expected in New York between 2012 and 2022. The following schools offer degrees for students in this field:
- New York City College of Technology
- Ridley-Lowell Business and Technical Institute
- The City College of New York
According to Projections Central, employment for accountants in New York is expected to increase 16 percent from 2012 to 2022. Students who pursue a degree in accounting typically seek employment as an accountant, auditor, or bookkeeping, accounting, or auditing clerk. The following schools in New York offer exemplary accounting programs in a hybrid or flexible online format:
- Monroe Community College
- Excelsior College
- State University of New York Institute of Technology
New York students can choose from a wide range of degree programs in education. One such option is a degree in education administration, which students often use to gain employment as an education administrator or administrative services manager. According to Projections Central, postsecondary education administrators have some of the best job prospects with a 14.8 percent increase in employment expected between 2012 and 2022. The following schools in New York offer education administration degrees to students:
- Baruch College
- Fordham University
- State University of New York College at Buffalo
Social and Human Services
Students who earn a degree in social and human services can work in a wide range of fields, but often find themselves gaining employment as a social or community service manager or social and human service assistant. According to Projections Central, employment for social or community services managers is expected to increase 14.5 percent in New York from 2012 to 2022. The following schools offer degree programs in this field:
- Metropolitan College of New York
- Empire State College
- Finger Lakes Community College
A degree in business management can lead to careers in finance, marketing, or entrepreneurship, but most notably prepares graduates for work as a general or operations manager. Projections Central predicts that employment for general or operations managers in New York should increase 13.9 percent between 2012 and 2022. The following schools offer business management degrees that can lead to this career:
- Monroe College
- Briarcliffe College
- CUNY School of Professional Studies
Students who want to work as a registered nurse must earn a degree in registered nursing and become licensed to work in their state. Depending on the student, this could mean earning a Bachelor of Science in Nursing outright or pursuing an R.N. to B.S.N. However, job prospects for registered nurses in New York are promising, according to government data. Projections Central predicts employment of registered nurses to increase 13.4 percent in New York between 2012 and 2022, and add 22,970 jobs in the process. Several schools in New York offer various degrees in this field, including:
- City University of New York School of Professional Studies
- State University of New York - Empire State College
- State University of New York - Delhi
Students who pursue a degree in construction management often find work as construction managers, building inspectors, or construction laborers. Projections Central estimates that employment of construction managers will increase 10.2 percent in New York from 2012 to 2022. When it comes to earning a degree in this field, the following New York schools offer programs:
- Columbia University
- New York University School of Professional Studies
- Pratt Institute
Early Childhood Education
A degree in early childhood education can be essential for anyone who wants to pursue a career in childcare, daycare administration, or preschool teaching. Fortunately, the future is bright for students interested in this field. Projections Central predicts that employment of preschool teachers could increase 9.5 percent in New York between 2012 to 2022. Likewise, childcare workers are expected to see job growth of 10.8 percent during that timeframe. Several schools offer top notch early childhood education programs in the state of New York, including:
- The City College of New York
- Binghamton University
- New York University - Steinhardt
According to Projections Central, employment of automotive service technicians and mechanics in New York is expected to increase 7.4 percent from 2012 to 2022, which could add an additional 2,950 jobs in the state. Students who pursue a degree in automotive technology typically pursue a career as an automotive mechanic or automotive body repairer. The following schools in New York offer superb programs in automotive technology:
- State University of New York - Canton
- Morrisville State College
- Bronx Institute for Automotive Technology
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New York City
New York City is the largest city in the state of New York and one of the largest cities in the United States. The city is part of the New York metropolitan area, which is home to 8.4 million people, according to 2013 U.S. Census data. Because of its large and growing population, there are plenty of online degree options available in New York City, as well as many on-campus options to choose from. The Census reports that 34 percent of adults ages 25 and older held a bachelor's degree between 2008 and 2012, in addition to the 79.4 percent of adults who earned at least a high school diploma. Living in a big city such as NYC might take some getting used to, but young adults tend to enjoy it more than most. That's because, along with the other benefits of living in a large city, there is so much to do and plenty of ways to get around. With world-class public transportation, plenty of entertainment options, and a popular social scene, it is easy to see why any student would choose to settle down in NYC.
There are currently 35 institutions of higher education in the New York City area, many of which offer distance learning options or degree programs in a flexible, online format. The following New York City schools have a lot to offer students:
The City University of New York
Serving as the nation's leading urban university, the City University of New York currently offers a wide range of degree programs at 24 campuses throughout the New York City area. The CUNY School of Professional Studies also offers a vast array of degree programs that can be completed entirely online. According to CUNY statistics, students who live at home can expect to pay $5,730/yr. on average for tuition. Some of their most popular degree programs include:
- Online R.N. to B.S.N.
- Online M.S. in Business Management and Leadership
- Online M.S. in Data Analytics
As one of the premier universities in the state, Columbia University is also steeped in history. Founded in 1754 as King's College, Columbia University is the fifth oldest institution of higher learning in the United States. Students at Columbia University pay $46,846 annually on average for tuition to the school, although costs fluctuate based on program and length. A few of their most esteemed degree programs, according to their website:
- M.S. in Actuarial Studies
- Chemistry (both undergraduate and graduate)
- Mathematics (both undergraduate and graduate)
New York City College of Technology
The New York City College of Technology is part of the CUNY system and also the largest public, baccalaureate college of technology in the Northeast. The school offers a wide range of degree and certificate programs, some of the most popular being:
- B.A. in Hospitality Management
- B.S. in Nursing
- A.A.S. in Dental Hygiene
The city of Buffalo, New York resides in the Buffalo-Niagara Falls metropolitan area, and is home to 258,959 residents, according to the U.S. Census. Government data also shows that 23.4 percent of adults ages 25 and older who live in Buffalo held at least a bachelor's degree from 2008 to 2012, compared to 81.7 percent of adults who possessed at least a high school diploma. The area is home to at least seven four-year colleges and universities, many of which offer the opportunity for students to take online courses or pursue an online degree. As the second most populous city in New York, Buffalo has a lot to offer adult learners and those just out of high school. In fact, Forbes named Buffalo, New York as the 10th best place to raise a family in the U.S. in 2010, based on factors such as affordability, job opportunities, and overall satisfaction.
The following schools in Buffalo stand out when it comes to offering high quality education to students from all socioeconomic backgrounds and ages:
Buffalo State College
Buffalo State College is the largest comprehensive four-year college in the SUNY system, with an alumni population of 100,000 and an undergraduate class of over 10,500 students on any given year. According to their website, 88 percent of the school's classes have fewer than 40 students, with most undergraduate courses holding 12 to 15 students. With a focus on providing hands-on learning in small group environments, it's no wonder that Buffalo State College continues to appeal to students of all ages. A few of their most popular degree programs are:
- B.A. in Biology
- B.S. in Childhood Education
- M.S. in Criminal Justice
State University of New York at Buffalo
The University at Buffalo offers 100 undergraduate degrees, as well as nearly 300 professional and graduate programs. Founded in 1846, the school spends more than $360 million annually on research in order to seek cures, discover new products, and make other improvements to our everyday lives. The University at Buffalo grants degrees in many popular fields of study, including:
- Civil Engineering
As one of the premier private institutions of higher education in Western New York, Canisius is consistently ranked in the top of its class among similar schools in the Northeast. According to their website, approximately 90 percent of their graduates find work or move on to graduate school within one year of completion of an undergraduate degree. In addition to many on-campus options, Canisius also offers several online course and program options for students. A few of their most popular degree programs:
- Online M.S. in Physical Education
- B.A. in Accounting
- B.S. in BioChemistry
The U.S. Census Bureau reports that the city of Rochester was home to 210,358 residents in 2013, with 25.1 percent of adults ages 25 and older holding a bachelor's degree. Rochester belongs in the Rochester, New York metropolitan area which also includes cities like Irondequoit and Greece. Because of its easy, laid-back pace, high quality housing, and low cost of living, Forbes Magazine named Rochester, New York the third best place to raise a family in the U.S. in 2010. Students who decide to pack up and move to Rochester will be in for a treat. With the least expensive real estate in the state of New York, Rochester allows citizens young and old to enjoy what the state has to offer without going broke.
The following colleges and universities offer Rochester residents the opportunity to earn a college degree:
Rochester University is considered an international leader in sciences, engineering, health science, business, music, and social sciences. Because of their focus on high quality instruction, the school consistently ranks high in various academic ratings. The University of Rochester offers a wide range of degree programs in various subjects of study, with some of the most popular programs being:
- M.S. in Alternative Energy
- B.A. in Economics
- B.A. in Engineering Science
St. John Fisher College
St. John Fisher College is an independent Catholic liberal arts school with a focus on liberal learning and career-focused education. The school currently offers 33 academic majors, nine graduate programs, and three doctoral degrees. St. John Fisher College was mentioned in U.S. News & World Report's list of Best Colleges of 2014, among other academic ranking profiles. Some of their most popular programs of study are:
Monroe Community College
Monroe Community College enrolled 16,458 students in Fall of 2013, 82 percent of which were Monroe County residents. As a community-focused career school, the school offers a variety of associate degrees and certificate programs to meet most any student's needs. According to their website, full-time tuition for in-state students is $1,620 per semester. However, out-of-state students should expect to pay $3,240. A few of the degree programs Monroe Community College is known for:
- A.A. in Early Childhood Education
- A.A.S. in Dental Hygiene
- A.A.S. in Human Services
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So you've decided to pursue online education in New York, now what? If you're up for a road trip, you might want to consider the following itinerary to round out your view of the colleges and universities New York has to offer:
Start your trip in Binghamton, New York, where you can check out the lush greenery, small city landscape, and schools like Binghamton University and Broome Community College. After that, you'll head northwest and hit cities like Buffalo and Rochester, where you'll take in big city skyline and views of Lake Erie. At that point, you can check out Buffalo State University and other iconic schools while making a quick stop at Niagara Falls for the scenery. Then you're on to Rochester where you'll have time to explore Rochester University and St. John Fisher College, among others. After those adventures, it is time to move on to Syracuse where you'll see Le Moyne College, Onondaga Community College, and of course Syracuse University. Next, on to the state's capital of Albany, where you can see a wide range of two-year and four-year schools such as Empire State College, Excelsior College, Albany Law School and Sage College of Albany. After finishing your tour of Upstate New York, you could easily find yourself in the New York City area, where you can explore the many boroughs of the city in addition to the prestigious and historic colleges and universities that call the area home. This road trip might sound tedious, but it may just be exactly what you need to discover where in New York you truly belong as you continue your journey toward a college degree.
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When it comes to scholarships and financial aid, the state of New York and its institutions have plenty to offer students. Types of federal aid can include, but are not limited to: Pell Grants, Federal Supplemental Education Opportunity Grants, Teacher Education Assistance for College and Higher Education Grants, and Iraq and Afghanistan Service Grants. There are also aid options available specifically to New York residents who meet certain criteria. These include:
- Math and Science Teaching Incentive Scholarship
- New York State Part-Time Tuition Assistance Program
- World Trade Center Memorial Scholarship
- New York State: Higher Education Opportunity Program (HEOP)
- New York State: Collegiate Science and Technology Entry Program (CSTEP)
- New York State: Science and Technology Entry Program (STEP)
- New York State: Military Service Recognition Scholarship (MSRS)
Other types of aid may be available depending on which New York school you choose and your specific situation. Make sure to call the student aid office at your school of interest and explore all of your options before you enroll.
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"Jobs in Demand Today," New York State Department of Labor, http://labor.ny.gov/stats/reos.asp?reg=nor&app=reos
"Long Term Occupational Projections, Projections Central, http://projectionscentral.com/Projections/LongTerm
"May 2013 State Occupational Employment and Wage Estimates," Bureau of Labor Statistics, April 1, 2014, http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes_ny.htm
National Center for Education Statistics, http://nces.ed.gov/collegenavigator/?s=NY&l=93&ic=1
"New York Data," Lumina Foundation, http://www.luminafoundation.org/stronger_nation/report/#new-york
NYC Colleges and Universities, http://www.ny.com/academia/colleges.html
"Significant Industries," New York City, 2011, New York State Department of Labor, https://labor.ny.gov/stats/PDFs/Significant-Industries-New-York-City.pdf
"Significant Industries," New York State, 2010, New York State Department of Labor, http://www.labor.ny.gov/stats/PDFs/Significant_Industries_Report_0610.pdf
"State and County QuickFacts," New York City, http://quickfacts.census.gov/qfd/states/36/3651000.html
"State and County QuickFacts," Buffalo, http://quickfacts.census.gov/qfd/states/36/3611000.html
"State and County QuickFacts," Rochester, http://quickfacts.census.gov/qfd/states/36/3663000.html
"Tuition and Fees," State University of New York, https://www.suny.edu/smarttrack/tuition-and-fees/