Cayuga library
First-Year Students

Frequently Asked Questions

First-Year Students


Who is the top official of The State University of New York?

Nancy L. Zimpher's appointment as the 12th Chancellor of The State University of New York was effective June 1, 2009. Zimpher is the first woman to be named chancellor in SUNY's 60-year history. Prior to becoming Chancellor, Zimpher served as President of the University of Cincinnati.

How many students currently attend SUNY schools?

Currently nearly 445,000 students are enrolled in The State University of New York.

Does SUNY offer any distance learning programs?

SUNY has one of the nation's largest distance learning programs called Open SUNY. It provides educational opportunities for an estimated 86,000 students through 12,000 course sections.

When was SUNY founded?

SUNY was officially founded in 1948 with the consolidation of 29 unaffiliated colleges.

What can I study at SUNY?

You can study just about anything at The State University of New York. SUNY's 64 campuses offer thousands of programs of study - making SUNY the largest and most diverse comprehensive institution of higher education in the country - and most likely the world. Whether you want to study political science, biology, elementary education, engineering or just about anything else in between, you will find an outstanding program at one of SUNY's schools. To research undergraduate academic offerings, visit our online Undergraduate Program Search.

Do many New York State students choose SUNY?

Yes. One out of three New York State high school students choose SUNY. New Yorkers recognize the advantages and value of a SUNY degree. SUNY is increasingly viewed as a competitive, quality option for pursuing higher education.

Do a significant number of out-of-state and international students choose SUNY?

SUNY attracts students from every other state in the nation and, because of its growing international stature, international students from more than 160 countries.

Are there many student organizations on SUNY campuses?

There are more than 3,700 student organizations throughout the SUNY system, ranging from academic honor societies to cultural organizations and athletics, from community volunteer groups to performing arts. Students start new organizations all the time.

What housing options does SUNY offer?

SUNY campuses offer a wide variety of housing options that include singles, doubles, suites and apartments. All university centers, university colleges, technology colleges and many of the community colleges offer on-campus housing.

For what types of research achievements has SUNY been recognized?

To name just a few, State University of New York researchers pioneered nuclear magnetic resonance imaging and the supermarket bar code scanner, introduced time-lapse photography of forestry subjects, isolated the bacteria that causes lyme disease and developed the first implantable heart pacemaker.

What is the retention rate for first-year students at SUNY?

The most current data shows that the first year student retention rate for first-time, full-time students enrolled in a bachelor's degree program is 85%.

What does SUNY look for in prospective students?

Like every college and university, SUNY looks for students whose academic records show potential for success in college. In addition, SUNY looks for students who have a passion for something and or perhaps have demonstrated leadership skills or a commitment to helping others. Essays, teacher recommendations and extracurricular activities give admission officers a better picture of the whole student. There is no exact science to the admission process. We seek to admit the most intellectually prepared, diverse and talented class as possible.

What degree programs does SUNY offer?

The 64 SUNY campuses offer almost every type of degree imaginable. The University Centers offer bachelor's, master's and doctoral degrees. University Colleges offer bachelor's and master's degrees. The Technology Colleges offer associate and bachelor's, and masters degrees. Community Colleges offer associate degrees as well as a variety of specialized certificate programs.

What are the most popular majors at SUNY?

SUNY offers access to almost every field of academic or professional study somewhere within the system - thousands of programs of study overall. These include engineering, business, literature, art, medicine, agriculture, education, performing arts, human services and many more. Our online Undgergraduate Program Search can be an invaluable tool in matching your interests with a SUNY campus. An index to academic programs can also be found in the SUNY Viewbook.

Who are SUNY's most prominent alumni?

Our graduates are leaders in arts and entertainment, business and industry, health and human services, science, technology, education, law, the media and public service. They are a source of great pride to the university.

Prominent alumni include: Eileen Collins, the first woman to command a space shuttle; Tom Clarke, president of Nike; Victoria Graffeo, New York Court of Appeals Justice; designer Calvin Klein and Richard Gelford, co-CEO of IMAX Corporation.

Famous personalities with SUNY degrees include Today Show weathercaster Al Roker, opera star Renee Fleming, CNN anchor Wolf Blitzer and actors Wesley Snipes, Billy Crystal and Paul Reiser.

What are the differences between each SUNY college or university?

The State University of New York's 64 campuses are divided into four categories: University Centers and Doctoral Degree Granting Institutions, University Colleges, Technology Colleges and Community Colleges. These categories or sectors differ on educational mission, the kinds of academic opportunities available and degrees offered. All campuses offer excellent academic and student life programs, committed faculty and staff, and rewarding career and advanced education outcomes. Some students find campuses in one sector are attractive. Other students find appropriate options across all four campus types.

Do SUNY colleges and universities offer visits or grant interviews?

Check with individual campuses for specific opportunities. All SUNY institutions offer students the opportunity to visit a campus. Many also offer open house programs, campus tours, group information sessions and meetings with faculty and coaches. In addition, you can meet with admissions representatives during open house programs, group information sessions and/or individual interviews.

I want to research areas of undergraduate study at several SUNY campuses. How can I do this?

Our online Undergraduate Program Search can be an invaluable tool in matching your interests with a SUNY campus. An index to academic programs can also be found in the SUNY Viewbook.

I am interested in pursuing athletic opportunities at a SUNY campus. How can I do that?

SUNY institutions participate in NCAA Division I and Division III athletics. Some campuses participate in the NJCAA, USCAA, or NAIA. To research a particular sport and SUNY's intercollegiate offerings, check out our online athletic search tool.

What are the average SAT scores, GPA, and high school rank for freshmen entering a SUNY school?

Individual campuses set their own criteria for admission. Therefore, SAT scores, GPA and class rank are evaluated on an individual applicant basis. To get an idea of the freshman class profile for SUNY's University Centers, Colleges and Technology Colleges, visit Admissions Quick Facts. As you research various colleges, ask admissions representatives for information about these criteria and the application evaluation process.

How do I contact a student or faculty member at SUNY?

Each SUNY school maintains online directories of faculty, staff and sometimes students. However, if this option is unavailable, contact the campus. If you are a prospective student, interested in speaking with a faculty member or student in a particular academic area, contact the campus admissions office.

Is a foreign language required for admission?

Requirements, including a foreign language requirement, vary from campus to campus. Contact the individual Admissions Office at each campus for specific admission requirements

Does SUNY have resources to help me look for a job or graduate school?

Career counseling is available on SUNY campuses to assist graduates in making career choices upon graduation. Career development offices on campus can assist the student with research on furthering their education or can put them in touch with potential employers. Faculty and alumni are also very effective resources to utilize in the job or graduate school search.

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