The state of New York has an abundance of online colleges through which students can purse their dreams of earning a degree — whether you live in an outer borough of New York City, such as Brooklyn or Queens, or in a more rural part of the state. The flexible format of online programs can also make it easier to juggle college classes with a full-time job and family obligations.

Here's an overview of online colleges in New York:

  • You'll find more than 100 colleges and universities in New York that offer distance learning: 40-plus public and 70-plus private institutions.
  • Online associate degree programs are available at more than 40 schools, online bachelor's degree programs are at almost 30 institutions, and online master's degree programs can be found at 35 colleges.
  • More than 20 faith-based colleges in New York, including several seminaries, offer online degree programs. Two of these schools made this year's list of top-ranked schools: Niagara University and Canisius College.
  • New York's largest higher education systems — CUNY, the City University of New York, and SUNY, the State University of New York — offer undergraduate and graduate degree programs online. Through Open SUNY students can select online courses and programs from any of the 64 institutions involved. SUNY currently offers more than 500 programs offered partially or fully online.
    • This year, five SUNY online schools made our "top 10" list.

We hope one of our rankings of online colleges in New York can help you select the best program for your needs. And if you're not sure which program to pursue, the New York-focused career-related information below might give you some helpful ideas. The financial aid section lower on the page also points out information on paying for college.

What Makes a Good Online College in New York?

Choosing the right online college in New York for your needs may be a daunting task. No matter what subject you want to study, be sure to only consider schools that have been accredited by organizations like the Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools (MSA) and the Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and Schools (ACICS). The accreditation process is a rigorous exercise meant to ensure the quality of students' education, and for this reason, we only include accredited schools in our rankings. To learn more, read our "What is College Accreditation?" page, or check information on accreditation in New York at the New York State Education Department.

For a full explanation of how we compile our rankings — and why the factors we focus on are important — see the "What Makes a Good Online College?" section of our "About Us" page.

Best Online Colleges in New York for 2019-20

With the help of our rankings, college students in New York can review and compare important data about the best online schools in the state. You can also learn how each of the top 10 New York schools delivers its online degree program, the types of services available to online students and the variety of degree programs available online.

You can also use our Top Colleges Tool to rank the online colleges of the U.S. based on your own criteria.

1

SUNY College of Technology at Canton

Tuition & Fees
$8,130
Distance Education Participation
59%
Number of Programs Offered
13
School Type
4-year

What is SUNY Canton like?

The SUNY College of Technology at Canton was the first postsecondary two-year college in New York, and it has risen from No. 2 last year to No. 1 this year on our list of "Best Online Colleges in New York." This prestigious college is part of Open SUNY, an initiative that allows students to take online courses and programs from across the entire SUNY system.

What online programs are at SUNY Canton?

Among its many online academic programs, Canton offers online associate and bachelor's degree programs aligned to the state's dominant healthcare industry: nursing, physical therapist assisting, psychology, and healthcare management. While taking online courses through Blackboard, students can build personal networks with classmates via video conferencing, social media, chat, and discussion boards. The school's recent integration of Panopto, allows faculty to create voiceover PowerPoints and incorporate more video into their online courses.

What online resources does SUNY Canton offer?

SUNY Canton hosts over 150,000 e-books, over 95 e-databases, and 24/7 virtual chatting with librarians. Students can also benefit from online tutoring services from the Betty J. Evan Tutoring Center and virtual career fairs. The college even helps online students to create team spirit via the SUNY eSports teams, which exist at both the varsity and intramural levels.

 
2

Utica College

Tuition & Fees
$20,676
Distance Education Participation
60%
Number of Programs Offered
17
School Type
4-year

What is UC like?

Utica College was founded by Syracuse University in 1946, and in the years since has become a completely independent private institution. Their Division of Online and Extended Studies supports students who are enrolled in online and hybrid degree programs by seeking out new online resources and tools. The college's diligent work on behalf of its students has resulted in UC making our ranking two years in a row, rising from No. 10 to No. 2 in the process.

What online programs are at UC?

UC offers a wide range of online academic programs, from the undergraduate to the graduate, from the certificate to the graduate certificate. Online education at UC is delivered in an asynchronous format through Engage, an online course management system that allows students and faculty to easily communicate. A few of the college's particularly noteworthy online programs include a bachelor's in fraud and financial crime investigation, a master's in data science, and a bachelor's in cybersecurity.

What online resources does UC offer?

The college hosts several online resources for their students, including 24/7 technical assistance, Smarthinking online tutoring services and the option to chat with school librarians for assistance with research. In addition, students have access to the Utica College Resource Center, which exists to help online students discover webinars, articles, infographics, press releases and other useful content.

 
3

Niagara University

Tuition & Fees
$31,950
Distance Education Participation
28%
Number of Programs Offered
11
School Type
4-year

What is NU like?

Founded in 1856, Niagara University, a private Catholic institution, offers a variety of highly interactive short courses and certificates online. NU's online programs involve instructors who consider themselves as mentors and are actively involved in the online learning experience to help motivate students to succeed. The school has risen from position No. 9 on last year's list of "Best Online Colleges in New York" to No. 3 this year, demonstrating the effectiveness of their strategy.

What online programs are at NU?

Creative Writing and Microsoft are a few examples of the short courses at NU, which can be completed entirely online in six weeks. Both courses have been taught by experienced instructors who are also nationally known authors.

The university's online certificate programs, which are taught in partnership with ed2go, are available in a variety of areas such as arts and design, business, computer applications, computer programming, hospitality, construction and trades, and legal. These programs are designed to be completed in three to six months.

What online resources does NU offer?

NU online students receive access to a 24-hour virtual career center where they can find job openings and learn about market data on a plethora of industries. In addition, they may benefit from the online student guide, which is designed to prepare students for success in an online environment.

 
4

Canisius College

Tuition & Fees
$36,454
Distance Education Participation
27%
Number of Programs Offered
24
School Type
4-year

What is Canisius like?

Online learning at Canisius College offers an education that is based on Jesuit values and real-world experiences. Canisius puts a premium on creating an involved learning experience as a community: professors design their own courses, and courses are presented in weekly modules rather than being self-paced. The goal is to facilitate contact, communication and engagement between students, their peers and their professors, no matter how distant they may be.

What online programs are at Canisius?

Canisius offers a plethora of online graduate degree programs, such as the online master's in literacy education, master's in community and school health, and master's in respiratory care programs. All online courses for these programs are taught through the Desire2Learn (D2L) learning management system, and many of them also use ZOOM video conferencing to allow for more traditional-style lectures and discussions.

What online resources does Canisius offer?

The college hosts a series of brief tutorial videos that can help online students get used to D2L. Students are also able to purchase books from the Canisius bookstore online, receive help desk support and academic advising services, and browse AVON, a streaming video collection of over 66,000 videos.

 
5

University of Buffalo

Tuition & Fees
$9,828
Distance Education Participation
21%
Number of Programs Offered
19
School Type
4-year

What is UB like?

Since 2001, the University of Buffalo's Graduate School of Education has been offering fully online degree programs. As a SUNY member of the Association of American Universities (AAU), the university can secure federal research funds and attract experienced faculty for its online students. It uses these funds to integrate social media into its online programs, helping to build vibrant online communities for UB students.

What online programs are at UB?

Online courses at UB are delivered through UBlearns, an internet-based learning application. Students take courses in an asynchronous format and use the forums and message features available in UBlearns to communicate with their professor and classmates. The university has a particular specialization for education-related programs, including English education, gifted education, math education and music education.

What online resources does UB offer?

Online students at UB can work with an academic advisor to design a degree plan that aligns with their budget and lifestyle needs. They also receive access to tech support, professional development tools and online training sessions.

 
6

SUNY Oswego

Tuition & Fees
$8,191
Distance Education Participation
22%
Number of Programs Offered
5
School Type
4-year

What is SUNY Oswego like?

SUNY Oswego was founded in 1861 as the Oswego Primary Teachers' Training School and is now part of the 13 university colleges in the 64-campus SUNY system. It is a member of the Open SUNY initiative, and as such its students have the opportunity to take online courses and programs from across the entire SUNY system.

What online programs are at SUNY Oswego?

Students who have earned associate degrees or appropriate transfer credits may pursue online bachelor's completion degrees at SUNY Oswego. For example, those who have earned an associate degree in a field such as mass communications or broadcasting may enroll in the online bachelor's in broadcasting and mass communication program.

The school's online courses are delivered via the Blackboard learning management system, and many utilize the lecture capture system Panopto.

What online resources does SUNY Oswego offer?

Students pursuing a completion degree at SUNY Oswego are assigned to an academic planning coordinator who can help them understand the transfer requirements for their program of interest. In addition, SUNY Oswego's Division of Extended Learning has created an online orientation PowerPoint guide to help online students understand the school's procedures and the various resources available to them.

 
7

Mercy College

Tuition & Fees
$18,714
Distance Education Participation
39%
Number of Programs Offered
42
School Type
4-year

What is Mercy like?

Mercy College offers hundreds of online courses as well as a variety of undergraduate and graduate degree programs that can be completed entirely online. The school focuses on helping online students make connections in their field by promoting social networking and online connections.

What online programs are at Mercy?

Mercy offers three types of online courses: a pure online course in which all students are in the same section and participate in all class meetings online, a blended online course, which involves all students in the same section that meet part of the time online and part of time in the classroom, and a web-enhanced course, where an online Blackboard course is used to supplement an on-campus course. Fully online bachelor's degree programs are available in business administration, computer science, psychology and more.

What online resources does Mercy offer?

Mercy College supports its online student body in several ways, including academic tutoring, writing support, test preparation, library workshops and IT support. There are also transfer advisors who can help students maximize the number of credits they can transfer in, or design degree completion plans to keep their education on track.

 
8

SUNY College at Plattsburgh

Tuition & Fees
$8,148
Distance Education Participation
34%
Number of Programs Offered
4
School Type
4-year

What is SUNY Plattsburgh like?

SUNY College at Plattsburgh has designed an E-Learning Action Plan to identify and develop new ways to support online learning. The plan involves promoting the use of online discussions and videoconferencing, expanding the number of online general education courses available during the winter and summer, and conducting focus groups with students and faculty involved in online education.

What online programs are at SUNY Plattsburgh?

Moodle is the system that SUNY Plattsburgh uses to design and deliver its online courses. It features different blocks that provide students with different information, and it allows them to build a glossary of useful definitions for their courses. Through Moodle, Plattsburgh students may earn online degrees such as a master's in fitness and wellness leadership, a bachelor's in nursing and/or a bachelor's in accounting.

What online resources does SUNY Plattsburgh offer?

SUNY Plattsburgh offers academic advising for all students, as well as student support services designed for online students who have a disability, have met federal financial aid guidelines for taxable income, or are the first in their family to pursue a four-year college degree. The college also supports its faculty with resources such as the SUNY Plattsburgh Center for Teaching Excellence, demonstrating its commitment to crafting a quality education for its students.

 
9

Stony Brook University

Tuition & Fees
$9,257
Distance Education Participation
18%
Number of Programs Offered
42
School Type
4-year
What is SBU like?

The internationally recognized Stony Brook University has been participating in online education for decades. It is a part of Open SUNY — the SUNY system's online education portal — which allows students to select online courses not just from SBU but from any school in the SUNY system.

What online programs are at SBU?

The majority of online courses at SBU are hosted through the Blackboard learning management system. While Stony Brook is particularly renowned for its medical programs, including a Bachelor of Science in nursing and a Master of Science in adult-gerontology primary care nursing practice, students can also choose to pursue other avenues such as a Master of Arts in higher education administration or a Master of Science in nutrition.

What online resources does SBU offer?

SBU students are assigned a NETID, which can be used to access a variety of resources such as department shared folders, Google apps, library databases, online surveys and Yammer (SBU's internal social network). Online students can also schedule online appointments with the university writing center; contact academic or transfer advisors; and receive technical assistance five days a week.

 
10

Rochester Institute of Technology

Tuition & Fees
$40,068
Distance Education Participation
15%
Number of Programs Offered
22
School Type
4-year

What is RIT like?

The first online program at the Rochester Institute of Technology was made available in 1991, making RIT one of the early pioneers in the field. A private doctoral university, RIT holds national accolades for the quality of its research, its STEM-oriented degree programs and its National Technical Institute for the Deaf, the world's first technological college for students who are deaf or hard of hearing.

What online programs are at RIT?

RIT Online is designed around career education and experiential learning, using the perspective of the RIT global network to broaden students' understanding and knowledge base. Both semester-length and accelerated programs are available online at RIT, many of them asynchronous, encouraging students to learn on their own schedule. Programs can also be customized through the School of Individualized Study, allowing students to pick multiple concentrations — with the help of an academic advisor — to refine their degree program according to their needs.

What online resources does RIT offer?

An online concierge is available to offer answers and guidance to the curious, whether you are an individual looking for more information about the college or an official RIT student who needs help forming a study group, accessing the library's resources or looking for a job after graduation.

 

Affordable Online Colleges in New York for 2019-20

The following list names schools in New York that offer distance education programs at low costs. The schools were chosen by comparing the in-state, campus-based tuition they reported to the U.S. Department of Education's Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System.

Financial Aid Resources in New York

Thanks to the state's generous financial aid programs, many New York residents are able to afford higher education. The Higher Education Services Corporation (HESC) is New York State's student financial aid agency, which helps make both scholarships and grants available to aspiring college students. According to the HESC website, the majority of that aid is awarded through the Tuition Assistance Program (TAP), in the form of grant aid.

What Grants and Scholarships are Available in New York?

For some students, finances play a big role in the final decision of what school to attend, and scholarships can open more opportunities for these students. It's important to do your research to find scholarships for which you might be eligible. There are many scholarships that come from private organizations as well as colleges and universities themselves, not to mention your state. Here are a few you might qualify for simply by living and attending school in New York.

1

Albert Shanker College Scholarship

Type : Scholarship
Award Amount
$5,000
Application Deadline
January 31
Application Deadline
Yes
Repay Required?
No
School Specific Scholarship?
No
Application URL
Criteria:

Applicant must be from New York City who comes from a low-income family.

2

Random House Inc. Creative Writing Competition

Type : Scholarship
Award Amount
$10,000
Application Deadline
February 15
Application Deadline
No
Repay Required?
No
School Specific Scholarship?
No
Application URL
Criteria:

Applicants must be seniors in a New York City Public High School who are 21 years old or younger and must not have family members employed by Bertelsmann or its subsidiaries. Students must submit a literary composition. Possible formats include poetry/spoken word, fiction/drama or personal essay/memoir. College essays, book reports, myths and legends will not be accepted. Foreign language submissions are not allowed, and all work must not have been previously published or awarded.

3

New York Oratorical Contest

Type : Scholarship
Award Amount
$6,000
Application Deadline
November 18
Application Deadline
No
Repay Required?
No
School Specific Scholarship?
No
Application URL
Criteria:

Applicants must be high school students under the age of 20 who are U.S. citizens or legal residents and residents of the state. Students first give an oration within their state and winners compete at the national level. The oration must be related to the Constitution of the United States focusing on the duties and obligations citizens have to the government. It must be in English and be between eight and ten minutes. There is also an assigned topic which is posted on the website, and it should be between three and five minutes.

4

Locksley Anthony Henry Scholarship

Type : Scholarship
Award Amount
$1,500
Application Deadline
July 1
Application Deadline
No
Repay Required?
No
School Specific Scholarship?
No
Application URL
Criteria:

Applicant must be a U.S. citizen who is a graduating senior at an NYC public high school. Minimum 2.5 GPA, two letters of recommendation, copy of transcript, and personal essay required.

Be sure to read the Ultimate Guide to Grants for advice and strategies on finding grants, and our Ultimate Guide to Scholarships for similar help with scholarships.

Student Loans in New York

New York's financial aid focuses on scholarship and grant programs rather than state-specific student loans. However, to help bridge the gap between your scholarship earnings and tuition costs, you can also take out federal or private student loans. To qualify for federal student loans, you'll need to fill out a FAFSA.

Learn more about federal student loans in the Ultimate Guide to Student Loans.

Additional Resources for Financial Aid in New York

Costs for Out-of-State Students in New York

The SUNY system doesn't have many exceptions to the traditional rules of needing to establish a legal residency in New York for at least 12 months prior to enrollment. One exception is for active and retired military and their families.

The difference between out-of-state and in-state tuition is quite significant at SUNY. For the 2018-19 school year, in-state tuition is $6,870 (living on campus) while out-of-state is $16,650. However, many New York universities offer scholarships that are not restricted to in-state residents.

For instance, SUNY Binghamton offers Merit Scholarships that are competitive and vary in amount. No application process is needed. For New York residents, there are more options, as you would imagine, including the Excelsior Scholarship program, which makes Binghampton tuition-free for many New Yorkers. Unfortunately, the state of New York is not part of any multi-state reciprocity systems for in-state tuition.

Best Careers in New York

Earning a degree at any level is likely to help you qualify for a higher-skill job in New York — something that is expected to be increasingly important. According to a Georgetown University Study, by 2020 more than 69 percent of jobs in New York are likely to require at least some level of education after high school. This may be especially true for occupations related to New York’s top industries like healthcare and educational services.

EmploymentEmployment GrowthMedian High School SalaryMedian Bachelor's Salary
10,201,82012%$30,803$56,910
Employment in New York10,201,820
Employment Growth in New York12%
Median High School Salary in New York$30,803
Median Bachelor's Salary in New York$56,910

Top New York Industries

*Industry rankings determined by annual mean wage, employment, projected growth and location quotient. Data sourced from the BLS, 2019 dataset.

Top IndustriesEmploymentProjected GrowthAverage Salary
Monetary authorities-central bank2,336,54011%$92,230
Ambulatory healthcare services7,137,97014%$73,193
Broadcasting (except Internet)3,553,8409%$81,199
Educational services; state, local, and private8,478,20012%$70,355
Lessors of nonfinancial intangible assets (except copyrighted works)2,885,65011%$88,483
Hospitals; state, local, and private7,715,85013%$71,737
Insurance carriers and related activities5,640,19010%$75,109
Motion picture and sound recording industries5,466,7109%$68,285
Securities, commodity contracts, and other financial investments and related activities3,876,9308%$82,736
Religious, grantmaking, civic, professional, and similar organizations7,654,73012%$66,858

As the birthplace of Wall Street, it should come as no surprise that New York is a hotbed of financial activity. The New York Stock Exchange is the largest stock exchange operator in the world, with over 23 trillion dollars in market capitalization of listed companies (as of 2019).

However, finance is not the only industry moving mountains in New York. The healthcare industry is another huge player, employing an enormous number of people across a variety of facilities. New York is home to major healthcare institutions like Mount Sinai Hospital, New York-Presbyterian Hospital-Columbia and Cornell, and Strong Memorial Hospital of the University of Rochester. These hospitals depend on primary care physicians, physician assistants and nurse practitioners to provide patients with high-quality care.

Unfortunately, despite the large number of people employed in the healthcare industry, New York is facing a shortage of primary care physicians, as well as other health professionals such as dental hygienists, psychologists and licensed clinical social workers. The state is addressing this shortfall by increasing funding for the Doctors Across New York and Primary Care Service Corps programs, working with the New York State Area Health Education Centers to recruit and retain culturally diverse healthcare providers. If you're interested in a healthcare career, plenty of online colleges in New York — like top-ranked Stony Brook University — offer online programs aligned to this field.

If you're planning for a career in New York — whether in healthcare, business, education or IT — earning a degree may be necessary in order to pursue some of the top jobs in New York, especially as more employers begin searching for employees who have completed at least some postsecondary education. Let's dive deeper into the best jobs for three different metro areas in New York, so you can see which fields might look the most promising for you.

New York-Newark-Jersey City, NY-NJ-PA Metro Area

Total Population
20,192,042
Median salary for high school grads
$31,574
Median salary with a bachelor's degree
$61,586
% of the population enrolled in college or grad school
29%
Median rent
$1,341

City National Bank, TD Bank, and Bank of America are all situated in New York City. With so many financial institutions in the area, it's no surprise that personal financial advisors as well as financial analysts are often needed to fill high-paying jobs in New York City. In addition, New York City is a central hub for healthcare entities like New York Allergy and Sinus Centers, Bosley Medical, and Northwell Health — organizations that use physician assistants to keep operations running smoothly.

Best CareersMinimum EducationAverage SalaryEmployment
Physician AssistantsMaster's degree$119,40010,870
Personal Financial AdvisorsBachelor's degree$163,49027,570
Biochemists and BiophysicistsDoctoral or professional degree$142,4406,390
Financial AnalystsBachelor's degree$137,82056,550
PsychiatristsDoctoral or professional degree$213,9403,840

*Career rankings determined by annual mean wage, employment, projected growth and location quotient. Data sourced from the BLS, 2019 dataset.

Buffalo-Cheektowaga-Niagara Falls, NY Metro Area

Total Population
1,136,670
Median salary for high school grads
$30,820
Median salary with a bachelor's degree
$50,365
% of the population enrolled in college or grad school
30.7%
Median rent
$763

As is common in New York, the Buffalo metro area is full of healthcare organizations such as Mercy Hospital of Buffalo and John R. Oishei Children's Hospital. Together, this facilitates demand for anesthesiologists, nurse practitioners and physician assistants, who are needed to fill some of the highest-paying jobs in Buffalo.

Also, the University of Buffalo, Canisius College and Buffalo State College are all in the area. Especially with the dearth of primary care physicians in New York and the state taking steps to increase these numbers, these and other New York schools may find themselves in need of postsecondary health specialties teachers.

Best CareersMinimum EducationAverage SalaryEmployment
AnesthesiologistsDoctoral or professional degree$208,000230
Nurse PractitionersMaster's degree$101,850870
Health Specialties Teachers, PostsecondaryDoctoral or professional degree$87,000880
Physician AssistantsMaster's degree$102,440580
General and Operations ManagersBachelor's degree$123,9408,240

*Career rankings determined by annual mean wage, employment, projected growth and location quotient. Data sourced from the BLS, 2019 dataset.

Rochester, NY Metro Area

Total Population
1,080,653
Median salary for high school grads
$29,397
Median salary with a bachelor's degree
$50,608
% of the population enrolled in college or grad school
31.6%
Median rent
$848

Similar to other large metro areas in New York, the demand for healthcare and healthcare-related careers is high in Rochester. Local colleges such as the University of Rochester and St. John Fisher College help students to enter the medical field, creating a need for postsecondary health specialties teachers and nursing instructors. In addition, hospitals such as Strong Memorial Hospital and Highland Hospital generate a particularly large number of positions for physician assistants and nurse practitioners.

However, Rochester is also packed with tech startups, including CloudCheckr, OLEDWorks, and Token. These startups utilize systems software developers to make their impact on the market, making the software development field one of the best jobs in Rochester.

Best CareersMinimum EducationAverage SalaryEmployment
Health Specialties Teachers, PostsecondaryDoctoral or professional degree$169,5101,690
Physician AssistantsMaster's degree$104,520800
Nurse PractitionersMaster's degree$101,9801,080
Software Developers, Systems SoftwareBachelor's degree$97,1402,270
Nursing Instructors and Teachers, Postsecondarymaster's degree$99,110470

*Career rankings determined by annual mean wage, employment, projected growth and location quotient. Data sourced from the BLS, 2019 dataset.

 
Sources
Methodology

Using the National Center for Education Statistics’ Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS), we generated a list of colleges and universities that met the following criteria:

  • Level of institution is either "Four or more years" or "At least 2 but less than 4 years"
  • Data is reported for all 11 ranking variables listed in the Methodology section
  • At least 1% of students are taking at least some of the classes via distance education
  • "Number of programs offered via distance education" was an integer greater than 0

We ranked the resulting 1,813 colleges on 11 criteria, using 2016-17 data from IPEDS:

  1. Number of programs offered via distance education
  2. Ratio of students participating fully or partially in DE to Total Enrollment
  3. Average in-state tuition for undergraduates
  4. Total electronic library collections, including digital books, databases, and media
  5. Graduation rate
  6. Retention rate
  7. The availability of any tuition plans (Payment, Guaranteed, Other)
  8. Services (Academic/Career, Placement for Completers)
  9. Credit offerings (Dual, Life, AP, Military)
  10. Percent of undergraduate students awarded federal, state, local, institutional or other sources of grant aid
  11. Average amount of federal, state, local, institutional, or other sources of grant aid awarded to undergraduate students

All schools were scored on a 10-point scale for each of the points listed above. Individual data point scores were then multiplied by their respective weights, and the scores were added together, for a maximum possible score of 10 points.

Methodology Sources

  • Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS) 2017-18, National Center for Education Statistics, http://nces.ed.gov/ipeds/
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