The State University of New York (SUNY) System


The State University of New York (SUNY) is the largest and most comprehensive public university system in the United States. The SUNY network consists of 64 campuses which are geographically dispersed in New York State; from New York City all the way to Niagara County in Western NY. The SUNY system was founded in 1948, and its objective is to create affordable quality education to New York State residents. SUNY campuses operates independently, however, they are highly subsidized by the government of New York State which makes tuition cost relatively low. New York State resident benefited from the SUNY system’s tuition by receiving low tuition fee. Meanwhile, non-residents and international students are charged with a higher ‘out-of-state tuition’. Nevertheless, the subsidy still makes the out-of-state tuition cost relatively more affordable than many other universities in the United States.

The SUNY’s total enrollment in 2011 was 467,991 students: 427,403 undergraduate and 40,588 graduate students. About 22,000 SUNY students are international, making it one of the top choices for overseas scholars; including Indonesian scholars. SUNY boasts a wide range of programs offered in its diverse campuses. Overall, SUNY offers about 5,000 degree programs.

SUNY campuses are categorized as University Centers – comprehensive large scale education institutions which grant undergraduate, masters and doctoral degrees, and also act as powerful research centers. SUNY’s university centers consist of University at Buffalo, Stony Brook University, Binghamton University, and University at Albany, SUNY Environmental Science and Forestry (Syracuse, NY), Cornell University, the School of Labor and Industrial Relations (Ithaca, NY); University Colleges – four-year degree granting university, such as the Empire State College (Saratoga, NY), SUNY Plattsburgh; Technology Colleges such as SUNY Institute of Technology at Utica/Rome and the Fashion Institute of Technology (New York City, NY); and Community Colleges.

The SUNY system is slightly different from California’s public higher education system. SUNY merged its entire universities, colleges and community colleges into one network. Meanwhile, the higher education system in California has three distinguished networks which represent the type of school: University of California (UC), California State University (CSU), and California Community College (CCCS).

View the SUNY interactive map [Click Here]



Binghamton University has about 15,000 students. The university focuses on its business majors. The School of Management is ranked 12th in Bloomberg BusinessWeeks’s 2012 U.S.’s Best Public Business School category.

Stony Brook University is a research-intensive public university, located in Stony Brook NY. It has around 24,000 students. Stony Brook University is ranked 40th in the US public university rankings. The university has focus in sciences. Stony Brook’s top programs are psychology, nuclear physics, mathematics, medical sciences and biological sciences.

University at Buffalo (UB) is a research-intensive public university located in Buffalo, NY. The university has about 29,000 students. It offers more than 250 degrees. UB boasts its global profile. In 2012, it is ranked among top 20 for international student enrollment in the US. UB also have 75 partner campuses around the world. The university is ranked 51st among US public universities, and specific programs at the university has higher ranks. Top programs in University at Buffalo are Business, Computer Science, Engineering, Geography and Medical Sciences. University at Buffalo also has a campus in Singapore at the Singapore Institute of Management, which offers various American undergraduate degrees.


SUNY’s degree programs vary depending on the campus that you attend. Each universities or colleges typically offer a wide variety of degrees. But, the institutions would typically have several programs that they are very strong at. Therefore, when selecting a SUNY university, you would start by researching the programs that you are interested in by going through its website to gather information. Then you can estimate the rankings. For example, for undergraduate degrees and masters degree, you may want to look at US News & World Report  to determine the rankings of program majors. For doctorate programs, the National Science Council also offers good statistics on program rankings.


The following table shows the annual cost breakdown for a few SUNY Universities to give you an idea when compared to other public universities in the States.

 Undergraduate Tuition & Fees Living Cost & Other Expenses Total
SUNY, Binghamton University $16,761 $16,439 $33,200
SUNY, University at Buffalo $20,259 $13,280 $33,539
SUNY, Stony Brook University $18,180 $16,611 $34,791
Ohio State University $26,445 $16,930 $43,375
Washington State University, Pullman $26,868 $16,632 $43,500
Michigan State University $33,632 $13,652 $47,284
University of California, Los Angeles $36,888 $19,216 $56,104
 Graduate Tuition & Fees Living Cost & Other Expenses Total
SUNY, Binghamton University $16,680 $16,439 $33,119
SUNY, University at Buffalo $20,259 $13,280 $33,539
SUNY, Stony Brook $17,894 $16,611 $34,505
Michigan State University $21,342 $14,081 $35,423
Washington State University, Pullman $26,032 $15,536 $41,568
Ohio State University $31,653 $15,166 $46,819
University of California, Los Angeles $29,911 $19,216 $49,127

Source: University websites; annual costs of attendance for international students
*Costs reflects 2012-2013 academic years
**Living cost includes room, board, international student insurance (mandatory in the U.S), meal, transportation, and misc. expenses


When studying at a SUNY campus, the student life experiences are very different depending on which University you attended. To give you some perspectives, check out the comments of Indonesian students from various SUNY campuses:

Binghamton University | Bonye Lumbanraja, B.A. Economics ’09 : “When one thinks of Binghamton, an immediate response that comes to mind most often are either ‘Downtown’s Weekend Night Life’ or it could very well be the Binghamton University own ‘Night Life’. Binghamton being one of the few cities of upstate NY whose location offers 4 different seasons. Being a small city. it makes an almost perfect atmosphere for academic experience. Binghamton also gives you higher purchasing power comparing to cities such as NYC – which makes a student’s life even better. Everything is cheap here! Oh, and if you ever get to swing by Binghamton do not miss its local pizzaria, “Nirchi’s”, which so far is on my top list of best pizza’s ever made.”

Environmental Science and Forestry (ESF), Syracuse NY | Annisa Dian Pratiwi, M.S. Water and Wetland Resources ’14 : “As a graduate student, I can say that I really enjoy the fact that Syracuse is a small city with relatively low living cost, virtually no traffic, and a lot of opportunities for outdoor activities (i.e. many lakes and hilly areas for hiking or skiing). It is a totally different environment from Jakarta!  The cold weather is rigorous tough as Syracuse makes high level of snowfall during winter. But with global warming Syracuse seems to be getting warmer. For entertainment, I really like the array of cultural performances that Syracuse offers regularly such as operas, ballets and symphonies. Public transportation are also available. However, the network does not cover the entire city. The buses are almost never on time. I live a mile off the university, so I have to use a car. I can say that every city has its own advantages and disadvantages. Still, I like Syracuse a lot.”

SUNY Institute of Technology (SUNY IT) at Utica/Rome | Faisal Rakun, M.S. Computer Science ’10 : “SUNY IT is located between Utica and Rome, NY, so there are some options if you want look for activities. When I was a student there, I spent most of my extracurricular time with the International Student Association which often held road trips to great places such as Adirondack Mountains, Lake Placid, the New York State Fair and Niagara Falls. There were also ski trips, mountain hikes, and other sightseeing events. These trips are organized throughout the whole year. We also have meetings with the other nearby campuses where we can see musical performances and have a great time making new friends. For food, there are a lot of great places nearby SUNY IT. I really enjoyed Delmonico’s Italian Steakhouse, and the Pho Mekong House of Noodles for authentic Vietnamese Pho. We have a handful of Asian grocery stores too but you will need to have your own transportation.”

University at Buffalo | Yoke Saputra, M.B.A. ’09 : “A superb quality of living and education. In the warmer months you will find out that life is more colorful: from art performances in Delaware Park, various festivals, until short weekend trips not far from Buffalo. A quick escape to one of the largest waterfalls in the world, Niagara Falls, is always a treat. The facilities in North and South Campuses (libraries, extensive book collection, medical services, international student office) added to the great studying experience. I built strong relationship with fellow students that I wish to last for a lifetime”


Below are links to a few of SUNY’s university center campuses. For international student admissions or more information please refer to the respective university pages:

*Featured photo credit: © 2013 University at Buffalo



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