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SUNY Empire State College and Rio Salado Establish Academic Pathways to Increase Access to Education

Transfer to SUNY Empire State College with Rio Salado College. Happy, African American female grad smiling. SUNY Empire Teaching online since 1995  Dr. Kirk Bowden Rio Salado Faculty Chair of Addictions and Substance Use Disorders

SUNY Empire State College and Rio Salado College Establish Academic Pathways to Increase Access to Education   

SUNY Empire State College and Rio Salado College have entered into a partnership to provide four academic pathways to help Rio Salado graduates seamlessly transfer to SUNY Empire to continue their education—  while saving money.  

The partnership agreement allows Rio Salado students to transfer up to 79 lower-division credits to SUNY Empire, more than half the 124 total credits required to complete a bachelor’s degree, meaning students can earn a bachelor’s degree in as little as one year after their associate degree, and they can enter the workforce even sooner. As part of the agreement, SUNY Empire will also waive the orientation fee for incoming students, provide a $100 scholarship upon acceptance, and will offer Rio Salado graduates affordable SUNY tuition rates.  

All programs can be completed entirely online to fit the busy lives of working professionals. Students will also benefit from SUNY Empire’s prior learning assessment process, which awards college credit for work and life experience, reducing the overall cost and time needed to complete a degree. 

The four program-specific pathways include:  
Addictions and Substance Use Disorders (A.A.S.) to Addiction Studies (B.S.) 
General Business (A.A.S.) to Business Administration (B.S.) 
IT: Database Development (A.A.S.) and IT: Programming and Systems Analysis Level I (A.A.S) to SMT with a concentration in Information Technology (B.S.) 
Associate in Arts: Emphasis in Psychology (A.A.) to Psychology (B.A.)

“SUNY Empire State College prides itself on being a long-standing leader in delivering flexible education opportunities online, and this new partnership will help countless students achieve their dreams, no matter where they call home,” said SUNY Empire Officer in Charge Nathan Gonyea. “Rio Salado graduates are uniquely prepared, given their familiarity and success with remote learning platforms. We look forward to welcoming Rio Salado alumni to SUNY Empire.” 

“There is an extraordinary amount of synergy between SUNY Empire State College and Rio Salado College,” said Rio Salado College Interim President Kate Smith. “SUNY Empire was founded in 1971 to break the mold of higher education. Rio Salado was founded in 1978 as the college without walls. We both began our journey to reshape education by increasing access to post-secondary learning for non-traditional students in our local communities. Today, we stand together as online educational leaders who can help shape the future of our country and online higher learning. This partnership reflects our commitment to providing pathways to social and economic mobility for all. Today we are proud to offer four new educational pathways in high-demand fields to help students increase their opportunities for finding gainful employment, while helping employers find qualified applicants.”   

One of the four transfer agreements is SUNY Empire’s new online bachelor of science in addiction studies program. SUNY Empire’s program prepares students to become skilled addiction treatment specialists, and was designed to help combat all forms of addiction and substance misuse, and to meet the growing demand for professionally trained counselors. The opioid crisis continues to strain critical services, creating an increased need for substance abuse counselors. As the world grapples with COVID-19-related uncertainties and anxiety, experts across the country are reporting increased episodes of relapse, and a rise in overdoses. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports an average of 130 Americans die every day as the result of an overdose. SUNY Empire’s program is structured around courses that address fundamental aspects of how addiction affects individuals, families, and communities, while examining the assessment, treatment, and prevention of substance abuse. 

 “SUNY Empire’s program provides a comprehensive overview of the knowledge students will need when they go out to work in the field of addiction,” said SUNY Empire Associate Professor Thalia MacMillan. “It has the potential to incorporate their experiences. The nice thing about the partnership between SUNY Empire and Rio Salado is that all the credits students have earned do transfer in. We’ll use what they did and learned there and continue to build off that rock-solid foundation.”   

“I believe it’s important in today’s world for students to continue their work toward earning a bachelor’s degree and I encourage those who are going to work in this field long-term to eventually get a master’s degree,” said Rio Salado College Chair of the Addiction and Substance Use Disorders Kirk Bowdin.  

Learn more about Rio Salado’s SUNY Empire academic partnership.    

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