It’s a familiar complaint – nothing in New York is affordable. That’s not true of a college degree though; plenty of top-tier colleges in the SUNY and CUNY systems have low tuitions and strong reputations for excellence, while other private universities offer strong financial aid packages and incredible ROIs that make their tuition a great value at any price.
For working adults in New York – the national center for professional life, after all – there are many flexible, highly credible, and accredited online degree programs from public and private universities and colleges that can help professionals improve their credentials, advance their careers, and move into new, exciting, and lucrative challenges.
The Value Colleges Best Online Colleges in New York ranking looks at the very best choices for online degree programs in the state of New York. These are all regionally accredited, highly ranked, and job-market-proven, with strong reputations based on educational excellence. We formulated these rankings based on cost* as well as the number of online programs currently offered (sourced from institution website). No student can go wrong with VC’s Best of NY.
*Note that all costs are in-state yearly tuition (IPEDS); special fees may apply, and some specialized programs may have added costs.
A small, private Catholic institution in the historic town of Dobbs Ferry, NY, Mercy College was founded by the Sisters of Mercy in 1950, bringing high-quality education to an area that had no colleges at the time. Mercy College continues to offer the excellence typically associated with Catholic education, but more importantly, Mercy has been a leader in adult education since early in its history. First with extension programs throughout the Hudson River region, then with online programs beginning in the 1990s, Mercy College has been driven by the needs of working adults.
Today Mercy College offers more than 30 online programs, including full bachelor’s degrees, bachelor’s completion programs, and certificates. Mercy’s online business offerings include numerous Business Administration specializations, from Finance to Sports Management, while numerous computer-related programs (such as Computer Science and Cybersecurity) are fully online as well. Other degrees include a Nursing RN-BSN, while several majors can be completed with upper-division courses online. Tuition is reasonable for a private college, and Mercy’s educational quality coupled with its reputation make Mercy a top online choice.
Cost: $18,076 per year
One of the first universities founded in the US, and a Colonial College that dates back before the American Revolution, Columbia University was one of the major forces that shaped the city of New York into the global leader it is today. An Ivy League institution, Columbia is respected throughout the world for its programs, and counts Founding Fathers, Supreme Court Justices, and Nobel Prize winners among its faculty and alumni. It is one of the most elite institutions in the world, and students can earn some degrees entirely online.
Several of Columbia’s divisions have developed online degree programs, including 14 degrees from the School of Professional Studies. The Fu Foundation School of Engineering & Applied Sciences offers interdisciplinary master’s degrees, while the School of Social Work has an online Master of Social Work program. Other online programs include Executive Education programs in Personal Leadership and Driving Strategic Impact from the Columbia School of Business, one of the most respected b-schools in the nation. Columbia’s reputation and ample student support make it one of the best values imaginable.
Cost: $53,000 per year
St. John's University
Founded by the Vincentian Fathers, a Catholic order promoting charity and social engagement, St. John’s University combines educational excellence with a commitment to doing good in the community and throughout the world. A mid-sized, private liberal arts institution, St. John’s has been recognized by the Princeton Review as one of the best regional colleges in the Northeast, while its business programs have been highly ranked as well. St. John’s has also begun expanding its reach through online degree programs.
St. John’s offers a half-dozen fully online bachelor degree programs, and more than a dozen online master’s degrees, all distinguished by the St. John’s reputation for excellence and quality. Bachelor’s programs include highly in-demand programs in Business Administration and Criminal Justice, while online master’s students can earn degrees in Accounting, Library and Information Science, and many education programs. St. John’s reputation throughout the city and state of New York make it a trusted name on the job market.
Cost: $38,680 per year
A small private research institution, Clarkson University has been offering first-tier science, engineering, and business education since 1896, when it was founded as a technical school to honor businessman Thomas Clarkson, who died saving the life of one of the workers in his mine. Clarkson is known as a top research institution, recognized by U.S. News & World Report as a regional top college and best value for its high ROI and alumni salaries.
To offer its education to a wider range of students, Clarkson has developed more than a dozen fully online master’s degree programs. These online degrees include many of Clarkson’s most respected programs, including Business Administration, Engineering programs (Chemical, Electrical, Civil, and more), and Environmental programs (Environmental Politics and Governance, and Environmental Science and Engineering). Clarkson graduates can expect their experience and the Clarkson reputation to take them far.
Cost: $44,630 per year
SUNY Empire State College
Founded in 1971, Empire State College was intentionally designed as an adult-education division for the SUNY system. As such, ESC was built around distance education, off-campus education centers, and educational partnerships with industry and the military. Students are paired with mentors who help them assess their individual educational needs, and Empire State pioneered the use of prior experience for educational credit, a plan emulated by colleges and universities across the nation.
It goes without saying that Empire State College offers one of the best-developed online degree programs in the US, with undergraduate, graduate, and international online degrees. The Center for Distance Learning offers online courses and degrees in 12 fields, with some undergraduate degrees available online from first to last year, while the School for Graduate Studies offers online master’s degrees and graduate certificates. Other online programs are offered by the School of Nursing, one of the best in New York. At low public university tuition rates, SUNY Empire State College is a sound investment.
Cost: $6,985 per year
Founded as an accountant’s school at the turn of the 20th century, Pace University grew with New York City, becoming one of the most recognizable names in the region. Today Pace is a mid-sized private university specializing in professional studies, including business, law, and nursing; it is also home to the Actor’s Studio MFA, the world-renowned theater program. With their focus on professional education, Pace has well-developed programs for adult students, and has invested in top-notch online degree programs as well.
Pace’s online programs are many and diverse; they include numerous bachelor’s completion programs, including Bachelor of Business Administration degrees with specializations in Marketing/Management, and Accounting/Internal Auditing. There are many online master’s degree plans at Pace, from their acclaimed MBA to a rare Master of Science in Publishing. Pace also offers fully online bachelor’s programs for working adults which allow students to transfer and receive more credit for work experience. Pace’s name is golden on the job market, making it a longstanding value.
Cost: $41,333 per year
A large, private research university, Syracuse University is widely known as one of the most prestigious institutions in the northeast, ranked highly nationally and at the very top for New York by U.S. News & World Report and other ranking agencies. Syracuse has its roots in a Methodist seminary, but today has only a loose religious affiliation; it is far better known for its law, social science, and arts programs, many of which are ranked at the top of their respective fields. Syracuse is highly selective and considered among the most elite colleges.
Syracuse has a number of online degree programs offered part-time by the University College, as well as from individual divisions within the university. Part-time online students can earn Bachelor of Professional Studies degrees, as well as numerous master’s degrees in Computer Engineering or Computer Science, Social Science, and the MBA, though some programs require short visits to campus. Syracuse’s iSchool offers several highly-regarded, fully online degrees as well. Part-time or full-time, an online degree from Syracuse is an investment sure to pay off.
Cost: $43,318 per year
New York University
New York University is widely considered one of the foremost institutions in the world, often ranked among the top 20 globally; many of NYU’s individual programs are at the very top of their U.S. News & World Report program rankings, including fields like law, mathematics, and business. NYU is also one of the most decorated universities in the world, with a staggering number of Nobel Prize, Turing Award, Fulbright, and National Medal winners, not to mention Oscar, Emmy, Grammy, and Tony winners.
While not often thought of as an online educator, NYU offers more than a few fully online degree programs from several divisions. The School of Professional Studies offers several online master’s and bachelor’s programs, including Master of Science degrees in Human Resource Management, Professional Writing, and Translating. The Tandon School of Engineering offers many online Master of Science degrees, including Bioinformatics, Cybersecurity, and more. For a convenient and flexible online degree with job market reputation like no other, look to NYU.
Cost: $47,750 per year
Rochester Institute of Technology
A professional and career-focused, mid-sized research university, the Rochester Institute of Technology is one of the best-known polytechnic institutions in the US, and widely ranked as one of the top 10 regional universities in the North. Rochester’s applied science and engineering programs, of course, are world-class, while the Saunders College of Business is one of the nation’s best, developed and fed by a highly influential co-op program that has built a wide network of corporate partnerships.
RIT offers more than 30 online degree programs in some of their most in-demand areas, such as the MBA, Imaging Science, and Health Systems Administration. With online bachelor’s, master’s, and certificates, RIT has options for working professionals at every level of education. Like other polytechnic universities, RIT is known for the high ROI and career salaries their graduates earn, making them a safe and attractive bet for an online degree.
Cost: $37,124 per year
Stony Brook University
A U.S. News & World Report top 50 public university, Stony Brook University is highly regarded as one of the best values in the north, combining educational excellence with affordable tuition since its founding in 1957. Known for many accomplishments, Stony Brook’s highest-ranked programs include fields as varied as marine science, midwifery, and political science. Stony Brook is also a key part of the Long Island economy, as the largest single employer and a boon to the culture of the island.
Because of their commitment to providing accessible education to the people of the region, Stony Brook has developed a number of online degree programs to extend their availability. Many of these are administrated by the School of Professional Development, including Higher Education Administration, Human Resources Management, and Liberal Studies. Other online programs are offered in nursing, electrical engineering, and nutrition. At Stony Brook’s low tuition rate, they may be the best deal in New York.
Cost: $8,855 per year