To be included in our ranking of the best colleges for online degree programs, all colleges had to meet the following five criteria:
- Be an accredited U.S. institution
- Offer either 2- or 4-year degree programs
- Have at least 1 percent of students taking at least some of their classes via distance education
- Be active in the 2015-16 school year
- Report data for all 15 specific ranking variables included in our methodology
We then ranked the remaining 2,169 colleges and universities and scored each on a 100-point scale on these specific. Our data points include:
- The in-state tuition and fees for full-time undergraduates, National Center for Education Statistics, 2015-16
- Percent of undergraduate students awarded federal, state, local, institutional or other sources of grant aid, National Center for Education Statistics, 2015-16
- The average amount of federal, state, local, institutional or other sources of grant aid awarded to undergraduate students, National Center for Education Statistics, 2015-16
- Full-time Retention rate, National Center for Education Statistics, 2015-16
- Percent of students participating fully or partially in distance education to total enrollment, National Center for Education Statistics, 2015-16
- Graduation rate within six years, National Center for Education Statistics, 2015-16
- No. of degree programs offered via distance education, National Center for Education Statistics, 2015-16
- Percent of students working and not enrolled 6 years after entry, College Scorecard, 2013-14
- Open admissions policy for all or most entering first-time undergraduate-level students, National Center for Education Statistics, 2015-16
- Flexibility and student services, based on whether the school offers the following services, National Center for Education Statistics, 2015-16
- Dual credit
- Credit for life experience
- Advanced Placement credit
- Academic and career counseling
- Job placement services for graduates
- Offers credit for military training
- Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS) 2016-17, National Center for Education Statistics, http://nces.ed.gov/ipeds/
- About the University of the State of New York, New York Education Department, http://www.nysed.gov/about/about-usny, accessed May 2018
- Academic Technology Initiatives, City University of New York, http://www2.cuny.edu/academics/current-initiatives/academic-technology/academic-technology-initiatives/, accessed May 2018
- Analysis of New York State's 2012 ? 2022 Occupational Projections by Education Level, New York State Department of Labor,https://labor.ny.gov/stats/PDFs/Analysis-of-2012-2022-Occupational-Projections-and-Wages.pdf, accessed May 2018
- College Entrance Exams SAT and ACT, HESC,https://www.hesc.ny.gov/prepare-for-college/your-high-school-path-to-college/college-entrance-exams-sat-and-act.html, accessed April 2018
- College Navigator, National Center for Education Statistics,https://nces.ed.gov/collegenavigator/?s=NY&l=93&ic=1, accessed May 2018
- Education Beyond High School, Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce,https://cew.georgetown.edu/wp-content/uploads/2014/11/Recovery2020.SR_.Web_.pdf, accessed May 2018
- Employment Projections, New York State Department of Labor,https://labor.ny.gov/stats/lsproj.shtm, accessed May 2018
- Grants, SUNY,https://www.suny.edu/smarttrack/types-of-financial-aid/grants/, accessed April 2018
- Apply for Aid, HESC - New York State,https://www.hesc.ny.gov/pay-for-college/apply-for-financial-aid/apply-for-aid-start-here.html, accessed April 2018
- Facts About New York State's Independent Colleges and Universities, the Commission on Independent Colleges and Universities in New York,https://www.cicu.org/publications-research/quick-facts#_ftn4, accessed May 2018
- Janice Karlen-Pollack, LinkedIn,https://www.linkedin.com/in/janice-karlen-pollack-57591041/, accessed July 2018
- Middle States Commission on Higher Education,https://www.msche.org/, accessed May 2018
- Online Degree Programs, SUNY,http://navigator.suny.edu/, accessed April 2018
- Standardized Tests, NYU,https://www.nyu.edu/admissions/undergraduate-admissions/how-to-apply/standardized-tests.html, accessed April 2018
- Stronger Nation, Lumina Foundation,http://strongernation.luminafoundation.org/report/2018/#state/NY, accessed May 2018
- Trends in College Pricing 2017, College Board,https://trends.collegeboard.org/sites/default/files/2017-trends-in-college-pricing_0.pdf, accessed May 2018
- Trends in Higher Education, Highlights,http://www.highered.nysed.gov/swp/#quality, accessed May 2018
- Types of Financial Aid, NYS Higher Education Services Corporation,https://www.hesc.ny.gov/pay-for-college/financial-aid/types-of-financial-aid.html, accessed April 2018
New York residents are ahead of the curve when it comes to earning a college degree. According to research conducted by the Lumina Foundation, 50.3 percent of the state's 10.6 million residents age 25 and older held at least an associate degree or professional certificate in 2016. That number includes more than 300,000 residents with a professional certificate, more than 1 million with an associate degree, more than 2 million who hold a bachelor's, and more than 1.6 million individuals with a graduate or professional degree. According to the Lumina Foundation, another 1.4 million 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 people believe 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 211 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 Earn an Online Degree in New York?
Although the Lumina Foundation reports that 24.6 percent of New York's workforce who are 25 to 64 years old have earned a high school diploma — which is more than 2.6 million people — in order to keep up with the employment trends around the state in the coming years, and compete for the positions being created, job candidates should consider postsecondary education. In fact, according to Georgetown University's Center on Education and the Workforce, by 2020, 69 percent of New York's jobs will require postsecondary education — higher than the national average of 65 percent - while only 31 percent of New York's jobs will require a high school diploma or less.
Similarly, according to a report from the New York State Department of Labor, the fastest-growing occupations in the state between 2012 and 2022 will require higher education. Those seeking jobs in the fields of health care, finance, information technology, and electronics may need the following educational credentials:
- 15.6 percent of jobs will require an associate degree
- 10.5 percent of jobs will require a bachelor's degree
- 9.1 percent of jobswill require a master's degree
- 13.8 percent of jobs will require a doctoral or professional degree
Fields such as science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) are expected to be in good demand in New York and will likely require a more educated workforce. With such a growing demand for college graduates, the state aims to encourage college enrollment by maintaining lower-than-average college tuition rates.
In addition, attending an online college in New York may help people in the workforce increase their earning potential. Postsecondary education can have a significant impact on career earnings. While wages can vary from state to state and from city to city within a state, an average of wages across the country can give you an indication of the significant difference in earnings across degree levels. The data below is from the Economic Policy Institute (2016):
- Workers without a high school diploma made an average of $13.01 per hour
- Workers with a high school diploma or equivalent made an average of $17.14 per hour
- Workers with some college made an average of $19.09 per hour
- Workers with a collegedegree made an average of $31.87 per hour
- Workers with an advanced degree made an average of $40.76 per hour
Top Online Colleges in New York
In order to help students make this important decision, we have compiled a list of the top ten New York colleges that offer online degree programs based on data from the National Center for Education Statistics. In order to do this, we employed a methodology that includes examining the percentage of students participating in distance education, degree completion rates, flexibility, placement services, tuition, and student services of two- and four-year colleges around the state.
Whether people have just graduated from high school, want to earn a degree to advance in their current career, or want to change careers after years of being in the workforce, we are confident that the following list represents the best options for students in New York who are interested in distance education.
Top Online Degree Programs in New York
As the employment needs of the state evolve, it's important for New Yorkers to earn degrees that likely position them to be strongly competitive in the job market. The following is a list of the top online degree programs in New York based on information from the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System.
No matter what degree program students choose, it's important to make sure the school they want to attend has been accredited by a governing body. This may help ensure that students get the training they need to meet employers' expectations.
Quality of Online Education in New York
The statewide plan for higher education continually seeks to improve the quality of distance education in New York. The Board of Regents, a governing body that sets the overall education policy for New York, works to maintain a highly effective higher education system, which includes online offerings.
In order to give capable higher education institutes greater flexibility to offer online programs, the Department of Education in New York developed an approach called the Institutional Capability Review, consisting of the Principles and Operational Criteria for Good Practice in Distance Education. Good practice principles were based on:
- Organizational commitment
- Learning design
- Learner support
- Outcomes and assessment
- Program evaluation
Only institutes that met the criteria for good practice are eligible to register their online programs in New York.
The two systems of public postsecondary education in New York continue to improve upon online offerings:
- CUNY continues to make strides in making more digital course materials that can be uploaded in real-time. CUNY's community colleges are working on adapting existing associate degree programs so that students can have digital access to the course materials and resources. Such efforts continue to expand online offerings and make educational resources more accessible. CUNYfirst is a global search tool for prospective students to search all CUNY institutions by course title, type, general education category, mode of delivery, and more.
- The SUNY Learning Network offers over 500 online degree programs. This one-stop platform makes it easy for prospective students to choose the program of their choice from over 64 institutions. Degree programs that are powered by OpenSUNY+ come with support and services to help students succeed in their online program.
What to Look for in Online Degree Programs in New York
Dr. Janice M. Karlen-Pollack, Professor of Business and Technology at City University of New York, LaGuardia Community College, can attest to the quality and vigor of the state's online programs. Specifically, Karlen-Pollack 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-Pollack. "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 degree programs 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-Pollack. "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, the professor also has some advice for students seeking online degrees in New York. "They should also investigate costs and whether the scheduling of courses and terms meets their needs," she says. It is crucial for students to understand any specific requirements for their chosen online degree program.
Last but not least, Karlen-Pollack says, students need to make sure any school they choose is regionally accredited. Earning a degree from an accredited New York college or program can improve your chances of landing a job in your chosen field. Look for accrediting bodies such as:
- New York State Board of Regents and the Commissioner of Education, a nationally recognized accrediting agency
- Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools, Commission on Higher Education, a regional accrediting agency
Students may also want to see whether their particular program of study has received specialized or programmatic accreditation. This type of accreditation shows that the program of study has been audited by a third party and found to impart quality education in terms of curriculum and faculty.
Top Occupations in New York
There are several careers around the state that are likely to thrive in the coming years. Below is a list of some of the top occupations in New York, based on data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Number of Workers
|Office and Administrative Support Occupations||1,480,630||$44,250|
|Sales and Related Occupations||923,140||$54,200|
|Food Preparation and Serving Related Occupations||773,400||$31,000|
|Education, Training, and Library Occupations||690,330||$70,260|
|Business and Financial Operations Occupations||571,050||$94,740|
|Healthcare Practitioners and Technical Occupations||545,670||$90,540|
|Transportation and Material Moving Occupations||515,160||$42,960|
|Personal Care and Service Occupations||454,170||$31,830|
|Healthcare Support Occupations||376,080||$32,310|
|Construction and Extraction Occupations||346,320||$64,770|
|Protective Service Occupations||313,240||$54,870|
|Installation, Maintenance, and Repair Occupations||311,850||$53,560|
|Building and Grounds Cleaning and Maintenance Occupations||310,580||$36,470|
Scholarships and Financial Aid in New York
No matter what they want to study or which New York school they want to attend, students are usually very concerned about how they're going to fund their education and whether there are scholarships and financial aid in New York available to them. In order for qualified students to maximize how much financial aid they might receive, students should look into federal and state options, as well as aid that may be available through their specific school.
On the federal level, eligible students mayreceive financial aid in the form of Pell Grants, Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grants, Iraq and Afghanistan Service Grants, and Teacher Education Assistance for College and Higher Education Grants.
State-specific scholarships and financial aid
- Enhanced Tuition Awards Program
- Excelsior Scholarship Program
- New York State Achievement and Investment in Merit Scholarship (NY-AIMS)
- New York State Part-Time Scholarship (PTS) Award Program
- NYS Masters-in-Education Teacher Incentive Scholarship Program
- NYS Math & Science Teaching Incentive Program
- NYS Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) Incentive Program
- Part-Time TAP
- World Trade Center Memorial Scholarship
This list provides additional information on scholarships and grants available to eligible New York students.
Scholarship directory data is copyrighted material which is reproduced on this website by permission of Wintergreen Orchard House, a division of Carnegie Communications. Copyright © 2017-19 by Wintergreen Orchard House. All rights reserved.
Tests You May Need to Take
Each college in New York has different admissions criteria, but generally applicants are required to have a minimum grade point average, complete certain coursework, and take the SAT or ACT exams. In order to find out what is expected of them, hopeful students should consult the individual schools they're interested in attending. International students may need to show their scores on TOEFL or IELTS exams.