Getting Started and Registration

As a student in the Empire State College graduate program you are expected to function independently, both in managing many practical aspects of your education and carrying forward the work in your program(s).

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The School for Graduate Studies has an online orientation and this information is sent at the time of the acceptance notification. If you are attending a program that has a program specific orientation, you will receive notice of that orientation separately.

Academic Advisor

Your academic advisor will be assigned to you at the point of admission. The major criterion for assignment is the academic advisor’s expertise, broadly interpreted, in the student’s general field of interest, though the academic advisor assignment also can result from regional considerations.

Your academic advisor works with you in several ways, most importantly in the graduate programs, as a program advisor. You and your academic advisor will discuss your program plans and your progress toward your degree and/or your advanced certificate. During each registration period, you and your academic advisor should communicate about your plans for the upcoming term to be certain your enrollments are proceeding in ways consistent with program expectations.


MyESC is your portal to information and services for students at Empire State College. You will need a user ID and login to access this portal. Through MyESC, you can receive announcements and updates (i.e., weather-related notifications, technology upgrades/outages). You can also access all of the services that a student needs such as updating your contact information, registration, financial aid, viewing your account/making a payment, library, academic support, etc.

Graduate Student Center

Information specifically for School for Graduate Studies students is located in the Graduate Student Center on MyESC. This page contains announcements, documents/forms, and Quicklinks that are specific to the School for Graduate Studies. Whether you are looking for the transfer request form, residency/executive retreat information or School for Graduate Studies contact information, this is the page you will need. You can access this page by clicking on the Menu on the upper left-hand side of the screen or by clicking on the link in the Student Resources box.

Degree Works

Degree Works is an audit tool that students matriculated from the fall 2018 term forward can use to monitor academic progress. This tool is used for both master’s degree programs and advanced certificate programs. If a student is in both of these programs, there is a separate audit for each program. In addition to monitoring academic progress, students, and advisors can use the Plan function to map out enrollments and “lock” a program plan once it is approved. You can access Degree Works by clicking on the link in the Quicklinks box on the Graduate Student Center page of MyESC.


To find the courses that you need, review the enrollment sequence for your program(s), located in the Graduate Programs section of this catalog. If you have any questions, contact your academic advisor. Students register online through MyESC by clicking on the Registration and Course Offerings button. When registration is open, you can view the courses offered that term by clicking on the Term Guide link. After you have selected the term, you can enter search criteria to help you find the courses you want. It is recommended that you start your search by clicking in the School search criteria box and selecting School for Graduate Studies from the list. This will eliminate all undergraduate courses from your search. The course numbers for graduate-level courses currently range from 6000 to 7999.

If you find that you need a course that is not offered through the Term Guide in the term in which you are enrolling, you have other options. With the support of your advisor you may be able to register for a Just In Time Section, an independent study (Totally Independent Study), or a cross registration section. Guided by the definitions of each option below, please reach out to your academic advisor to decide which will work best for your situation.

  • JITS - Just In Time Section -- This is a course that is listed in the course catalog but is not listed in the Term Guide of the term in which you are registering.
  • TIS - Totally Independent Study -- A study created for you based upon your particular interests, goals, and learning needs. A TIS is created when no other course in the course catalog matches your goals or needs.
  • Cross Registration Section -- This is a "placeholder" section for a course being completed at another college/university so that you can also register here at ESC.

It is important to note that the above cannot be created without academic advisor/program approval. If approval is granted, your academic advisor will submit the request to create one of these alternate course options to the Registrar's Office. Once the course section is created, you and your academic advisor will receive an email from the Registrar's Office with the course registration number (CRN). You must then register for the section using this CRN. Instructions for registering with a CRN will be provided in the email.

When you register during the regular registration period, you will not have to pay your tuition and fees until the payment due date. Registering early secures your place in courses that reach capacity early, and allows sufficient time to get your books before the start of the term. The submission of an online registration initiates billing and is a business contract between you and the college. It permits you to begin study at Empire State College and obligates you to pay tuition and all applicable fees. Payment must be completed and submitted online by the student by the Last Date for Payment for the selected term. The Last Date for Payment for each term can be found on the Payment Due Dates page of the Student Accounts website. Information on tuition and fees, and enrollment and billing is located elsewhere in this catalog.

Late Registration

Students may register after the regular registration period ends, contingent upon the availability of courses. Students who register after the payment due date must pay their bills at the time of registration or have sufficient financial aid (or combination of financial aid and payment) to cover their bills including a late registration fee. Information on tuition and fees, and billing is located elsewhere in this catalog.


Students may modify an existing registration for a particular term through the first week of the term. A student may drop one or more of his or her courses during this period and receive a 100 percent refund in tuition as per the current withdrawal policy. Please note, the college fee, student activity fee, and late registration fees are not refundable if a student withdraws on the start date or after. A student may modify an existing registration, add or replace a course (if available) with no late fee. The student is responsible for any additional tuition and fees that arise from an increase in the number of credits in the enrollment. Payment is due on the normal schedule. Thus, if the add/drop occurs during the first week of the term, any additional payment is due with the registration change.

Registration Holds

Students who have registration holds, which the college puts in place when students do not meet academic or administrative requirements, will not be permitted to register. Students who are not registered will not receive instructional services. Any holds that a student has will appear on the student’s registration screen on MyESC. The following listing identifies the most common holds and which office to contact for assistance in resolving the hold:

  • Accounts receivable hold indicates that the student has a past due balance that must be paid before the student may register or receive any other services from the college. If you have any questions, contact the Business Office at 800-847-3000, ext. 2320.
  • Academic dismissal hold indicates that the student has been dismissed for not maintaining good academic standing. The student should contact the School for Graduate Studies at 800-847-3000, ext. 2429.
  • Immunization hold indicates that the student may need one or more required immunizations or waiver information. Student should contact or the Student Information Center at 800-847-3000, ext. 2285.

Financial Aid

If you use financial aid to cover your tuition and fees, you must file by April 1 each year. If you do not apply on time, the financial aid that you need may not be in place by the payment due date. If you cannot cover the costs, your registration for the term will be canceled. Students who plan to enroll for the first time (or after a long absence) must allow at least eight weeks for financial aid processing and should plan accordingly. For more information on financial aid, please see the Financial Aid section that is located elsewhere in this catalog.

Registration Cancellation


The college will cancel a student’s registration if he or she does not pay, or have sufficient financial aid to cover the bill by the payment due date. A student who is not registered receives no instructional services. The college will notify the student by email if his or her registration has been canceled.

Academic and Administrative Requirements

The college reviews certain academic and administrative requirements after a student has registered. These include accounts receivable holds, immunization holds, and academic holds ( academic standing, etc.). The college will cancel a student’s registration for the term if the student does not meet these requirements on the last day of late registration. A student who is not registered receives no instructional services. The college will notify the student if his or her registration has been canceled.

Registration Information for Non-degree-Seeking (Non-matriculated) Students

Students who wish to engage in graduate-level study with no immediate plan to earn a degree/advanced certificate are classified as non-matriculated students. These students may want to take courses at the college to stay current in their field, or earn credit that will count toward a degree at another college or university. The non-matriculated student application is available through the Empire State College website by clicking on the Apply button on the upper right-hand side of the screen and then the Non-Degree Students Programs button. A person seeking to enroll in graduate-level courses should apply as a graduate non-matriculated student. A person seeking to enroll in undergraduate-level courses should apply as an undergraduate non-matriculated student. Not all graduate-level courses are open to non-matriculated students and there are limits on the number of courses that non-matriculated students can complete. Please refer to the Non-matriculated Enrollment Policy located elsewhere in this catalog.

Part-Time and Full-Time Study

At the graduate level, 9 credits per term is considered full time. Therefore, 8 credits or fewer per term are considered part time. The graduate programs are organized around the idea that most students will be studying on a part-time basis.

The number of credits for which you are registered in a term determines:

  • Tuition and fees;
  • Eligibility for financial aid and some fellowships and scholarships; and
  • The pace with which you complete the program.

Residency & Executive Retreats


Residencies are a part of the M.A. in Liberal Studies Programs. Residency activities are face-to-face and may include, but are not limited to, watching and discussing films, analyzing common readings, participating in simulations, listening to lectures, working in small groups, and examining cases. These activities help instructors and students form a common understanding of terms and the boundaries of a field, and provide a chance to discuss reasons and dates for specific assignments. A residency fee is added to your account at the time of course registration when you enroll in a residency-based course. This fee is attached to the course through online registration. This fee is charged per residency, not per course. Funds generated by the residency fee are used to offset the college’s costs in offering residency-based courses that are not supported by New York state appropriations or tuition. Transportation, meals (not part of the residency), and lodging are not included in this fee.

Executive Retreats

Students in the MBA in Healthcare Leadership attend two executive retreats as part of their program; one face-to-face (usually two days) and one virtual/online. The face-to-face retreats may be held in New York City at the Manhattan location of SUNY Empire State College or at the college’s Saratoga Springs, N.Y. location and will include lectures, breakout sessions, and industry experts as featured speakers. The second, synchronous, virtual retreat will be held on a date announced during registration periods.

The program charges a fee for attendance of the face-to-face retreat. If you are attending a retreat to participate in two retreat-based courses, you need pay the fee only once. In addition, you are not expected to pay the fee if you are attending a retreat just to participate in an exam or workshop and there is no fee for attendance of the virtual retreat. Funds generated by this fee are used to offset the college’s costs in offering retreat-based courses that are not supported by New York state appropriations or tuition. The retreat fee is attached to the fees charged for retreat-based courses. Transportation, meals (not part of the retreat), and lodging are not included in this fee.

Residency/Executive Retreat Attendance Procedure


In master’s programs with residency/executive retreat requirements, participation in the residency/executive retreat is an academic requirement that is integral to these programs and the designated course(s).

Students enrolled in a course with a residency/executive retreat requirement who do not attend will be considered not engaged in significant learning activities. In such cases, the course instructor submits a grade of ZW (administrative withdrawal). This grade precludes refunding tuition and fees and negatively impacts the financial aid satisfactory academic progress determination. An appeal from this grade is made in accordance with the Student Academic Appeals Policy and Procedure, found elsewhere in this catalog.


Exceptions are rarely made to the residency/executive retreat requirement. One reason for an exception is for religious observance. (Please refer to the religious observance policy located elsewhere in this catalog.) There may be other reasons that warrant an exception and these will be considered on a case-by-case basis. All requests for exceptions should be made in advance of the residency /retreat.

To request an exception, for any reason, the process is as follows:

  1. Prior to the start of the term, the student sends the exception request and any supporting documentation to
  2. Grad.Services will forward the request and documentation to the appropriate program chair.
  3. The chair will consult with the course instructor(s), issue a decision, and inform the student, course instructor(s), and Graduate Services:
  • If the student is granted an exception, Grad Services will have the fee removed and will inform the residency/executive retreat coordinator(s). The course instructor(s) will inform the student of the assignment(s) that must be completed to make up for the work and faculty/student interaction that will be missed.
  • If the student is not granted an exception, then the student must drop the residency/executive retreat course (see above). Failure to do so will result in the issuing of a ZW grade (see above).

4. Requests made on or after the start date of the term will be considered for emergencies and must be approved by the dean or designee. The student sends the exception request and any supporting documentation to When exceptions for late requests are made, the same expectations for making up learning and engagement missed will apply (see 3.a. above).

Learning Contract/Syllabus

The learning contract/syllabus explains the goals of the course, the learning activities/assignments and the ways in which your course instructor will evaluate your work.


Some students use electives to broaden their exposure to new areas of knowledge, others to increase their skills or knowledge in a particular field. Please discuss elective choices with your academic advisor.

Please note that if you are in a master’s degree program and you want to add an advanced certificate, the certificate courses can usually be used in place of electives in the master’s program. Be sure to discuss advanced certificate options with your academic advisor.

Enrollment of Undergraduate Students in Graduate Courses

Empire State College undergraduate students have the opportunity to incorporate a graduate course(s) into their bachelor’s degree program. This is an opportunity for undergraduate students to challenge themselves and to enhance their bachelor’s degree. Additionally, if the undergraduate student is accepted within two years to one of the college’s graduate programs to which the course(s) will apply, the course(s) can then be used in that program. This also is a great way to save time and money.

Interested students should discuss this option with their primary mentor/academic advisor.
The student must be:

  • Within 32 credits of completing a bachelor’s degree; and
  • Have a concurred degree program.

Complete information is available on the Undergraduate Enrollment in Graduate Courses webpage.