SUNY Adds Completion Tools for Students as System Aims to Graduate 150,000 Students Per Year

May 18, 2015

Interactive Degree Planning will be Available System-wide in 2016

Albany – State University of New York Chancellor Nancy L. Zimpher today announced that all students enrolled at SUNY’s 64 campuses, and those attending online through Open SUNY, will have access to interactive degree planning services by the end of next year, making it easier to identify the most timely and efficient path to finishing their degree.

Degree auditing is one of several tools SUNY is bringing to scale across the university system as it aims to increase the number of SUNY graduates from 93,000 to 150,000 annually. 

“SUNY is aggressively targeting completion because helping students finish their degree on time, even early, is the most effective way that colleges and universities can honor their promises of affordability and success for students,” said Chancellor Zimpher. “Degree auditing is particularly valuable at a system like SUNY, where students have access to programs offered by 64 campuses and online. Increasing completion by bringing tools like this to scale is essential as we continue to educate more students and educate them better.” 

For most SUNY students, this means access to Degree Works, degree planning software created by Ellucian and customized for SUNY that helps students to see exactly what courses and requirements are needed to finish their degree. By enabling students to see all of this information in one place – including general education, courses in the major, and electives – the program helps them develop a clear path to completion. Students and their families can use the program on their own or alongside an adviser or faculty member.  

Students at 35 SUNY colleges now have access to Degree Works, with full implementation slated for 2016. Additionally, the university system is the first in the nation to implement Ellucian’s cutting-edge Transfer Finder technology. Using this enhanced Degree Works feature, students interested in transfer will be able to search for degree programs across the SUNY System, and perform degree audits at their potential transfer campus to see how the credits they have already earned would transfer into their desired program.

“An online, user-friendly tool that helps a student track their progress toward degree completion is invaluable,” said SUNY Provost and Executive Vice Chancellor Alexander N. Cartwright. “Adding transfer functionality and off-campus course availability to the Degree Works platform is really going to take SUNY’s seamless transfer policy to the next level, and it’s already one of the most comprehensive in the nation. We are thrilled to be rolling out these programs to all SUNY students.”

“With so many choices available, academic planning is often a significant challenge for students, particularly first-generation and low-income students who are new to the college environment,” said Dan Knox, SUNY director of student mobility and the program director for the system’s Degree Works implementation. “Not so long ago, I was a returning adult transfer student starting off at a community college, and I would have benefitted greatly from having access to these tools. We are so proud of the work our campuses and support staff are undertaking to make the Chancellor’s vision a reality for SUNY students.”

Jamestown Community College was among the first SUNY campuses to begin using the software.

“Our students and advisers find the Degree Works program to be easy to use and extremely helpful,” said Dr. Cory L. Duckworth, president of Jamestown Community College, where the program has been up and running for 18 months. “Students are making appointments more frequently and they benefit a great deal by having the ability to map out a realistic path to degree with all of SUNY at their fingertips.”

A Degree Works student video and tutorial created by SUNY Buffalo State College is available online.

“The implementation of Degree Works at Buffalo State has improved the advisement experience for our students and faculty,” said Buffalo State President Katherine Conway-Turner. “Our students come to advisement sessions with a better understanding of degree requirements and their path toward graduation. In turn, our faculty spend less time explaining course requirements and more time in a dialogue with our wonderful students about their future employment opportunities and career aspirations.”  

About SUNY’s Completion Agenda
As SUNY works to implement its completion agenda and boost the number of graduates from 93,000 to 150,000 per year by 2020, it will increase access for students by expanding successful programs such as the Educational Opportunity Program (EOP), cradle-to-career partnerships, and Early College High Schools (ECHS), and provide enhanced advising services in high schools across the state.

To ensure a higher rate of completion, SUNY will expand the use of “Finish In Four” and “Finish in Two” completion guarantees at its campuses, continue to make transfer between its colleges seamless for students, and scale the use of remedial pathways such as Quantway and Statway math literacy programs to all of its community college campuses.

Finally, as the system aims to increase student success in college and career, it will provide every SUNY student with access to an applied learning opportunity such as co-operative education, internships, service learning, and clinical placements. To support the initiative, Chancellor Zimpher recently announced a partnership with the Business-Higher Education Forum to add 100,000 new opportunities.

About the State University of New York
The State University of New York, which celebrates its 75th anniversary this year, is the largest comprehensive system of higher education in the United States, and more than 95 percent of all New Yorkers live within 30 miles of any one of SUNY’s 64 colleges and universities. Across the system, SUNY has four academic health centers, five hospitals, four medical schools, two dental schools, a law school, the country’s oldest school of maritime, the state’s only college of optometry, and manages one US Department of Energy National Laboratory. In total, SUNY serves about 1.4 million students amongst its entire portfolio of credit- and non-credit-bearing courses and programs, continuing education, and community outreach programs. SUNY oversees nearly a quarter of academic research in New York. Research expenditures system-wide are nearly $1.1 billion in fiscal year 2022, including significant contributions from students and faculty. There are more than three million SUNY alumni worldwide, and one in three New Yorkers with a college degree is a SUNY alum. To learn more about how SUNY creates opportunities, visit

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