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Admission Policies & Requirements

Web Catalog Information Subject to Change

The web version of the ESF Catalog is updated as needed throughout the year. To view the version officially associated with a particular date of entry to the College, please refer to the appropriate catalog of record.

Admission Policies & Requirements

NOTE: The following information on admission to SUNY-ESF is limited to specific policies and requirements necessary for inclusion in a catalog of record. For complete, current information on admission to ESF, visit our admission websites:

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Undergraduate Admission Policies & Requirements

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Required Application Materials

All applicants for freshman or transfer entry are required to submit the online admissions application (choose either the SUNY Application or the Common Application), official documentation of high school graduation (or equivalent) and any college-level coursework (or equivalent) completed, even if it does not pertain to their intended program of study at ESF. Additional required credentials for each admission pathway are outlined below. Failure to submit this documentation by the stated deadlines may result in the withdrawal of the application or denial of admission.

Each new student on the Syracuse campus is required to submit a medical history and physical examination report on a form that will be sent to the student after the initial acceptance notice.

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Early Decision Freshman Admission for High School Seniors

Outstanding high school seniors who have selected SUNY-ESF as their first-choice institution may apply for Early Decision admission and, if admitted, must commit to enroll at SUNY-ESF. Early Decision students may apply to other institutions under Regular consideration, and if admitted to SUNY-ESF, must withdraw their other applications and commit to enroll at SUNY-ESF no later than March 15. Early Decision candidates must have a completed application on file by December 1. This must include submission of either the SUNY Application or the Common Application, official high school transcripts (including 12th-year first-quarter grades), results of either the SAT I or ACT, supplemental application information, ESF essay question response and academic recommendation. Please refer to the next section, “Regular Freshman Admission for High School Seniors,” for additional information on the freshman application process.

Early Decision applicants who wish to apply for Financial Aid from SUNY-ESF must have submitted the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) and any supporting information requested by the Office of Financial Aid and Scholarships by February 15. Please refer to the Financial Aid website of this catalog for more information on financial support.

Should a student who applies for financial aid not be offered an award that makes attendance possible, the student may decline the offer of admission and be released from the Early Decision commitment.

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Regular Freshman Admission for High School Seniors

High school seniors may apply for Regular Freshman admission. High school seniors who are not offered freshman entry may be offered Guaranteed Transfer.  Please refer to the next section, "Guaranteed Transfer Option for High School Seniors," which explains this process.

Freshman applicants should present strong academic credentials in a college preparatory high school curriculum. A minimum of three units each of college preparatory mathematics and science are required for all majors. For most programs of study completion of additional units of math and science, or design or art sequences for Landscape Architecture applicants, as well as advanced level coursework (honors or college level) indicates strong preparation for the academic rigor students will experience at ESF. An official high school transcript, including 12th-year first-quarter grades, must be submitted as part of the student's application credentials. Applicants are required to forward the results of either the SAT I or ACT examination. SAT II tests are not required, but in some cases they may highlight the special talents of an applicant. Freshman applicants are also required to submit supplemental application information, ESF essay question response and an academic recommendation.

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Guaranteed Transfer Option for High School Seniors

Under this option, admitted students are guaranteed admission to ESF for either their sophomore or junior year provided they meet the conditions specified in the offer of Guaranteed Transfer. Guaranteed Transfer applicants may file the SUNY application or the Common Application as outlined in the section above and send an email to esfinfo@esf.edu indicating the entry semester for which they wish to be considered. Applicants must submit the same credentials as outlined under "Regular Freshman Admission for High School Seniors” (see preceding section). Successful applicants for this option must present a strong academic background including at least three years each of college preparatory mathematics and science. To satisfy the guarantee of admission, students must satisfactorily complete, with a minimum cumulative grade point average of 2.500 (A=4.000), any of the lower-division requirements, which are part of their program of study. Only coursework with grades of C or higher will transfer to meet ESF degree requirements.

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Regular Transfer Admission for College Students

Transfer students' admissibility is based on how much of their previous college-level coursework applies to the requirements of their intended major at ESF, overall academic performance at their previous colleges and specific interest in ESF programs. For most programs, a significant emphasis is placed on students' backgrounds in mathematics and science.

Transfer applicants must submit official transcripts and examination scores from all college-level coursework completed, an official high school transcript or results of the GED (for verification of high school graduation or equivalent), supplemental application information, essay question response and an academic recommendation. Students who have completed less than 30 semester hours of college-level coursework are required to submit copies of their high school transcript and SAT I or ACT test scores as part of the admissions process.

Students who apply as transfers to ESF are expected to have successfully completed some portion of the established required sequence of courses appropriate to their intended major at the College. Applicants to Landscape Architecture should have some background in art or graphic design, and they are required to submit a portfolio for studio placement (information on portfolio preparation). Students attending one of our pre-ESF cooperative transfer colleges will find information on course equivalencies for all of our programs of study on our Web page.

Transfer students applying for bachelor degree programs at the Syracuse campus should have a 2.80 (A=4.00) or higher cumulative grade point average at the last institution they attended in full-time status. Those applying for associate degree programs at The Ranger School campus should have a 2.50 or higher cumulative grade point average at the last institution they attended in full-time status. Applicants with cumulative grade point averages below these thresholds will be considered on a case-by-case basis. In some cases, transfer applicants may be updated for consideration for a future entry date, for one or two semesters beyond their original entry date, to allow them the opportunity to complete additional core degree requirements and/or improve academic performance. Students with cumulative grade point averages less than 2.00 will not be considered for transfer admission to SUNY-ESF. Only coursework with grades of C or higher will transfer to meet ESF degree requirements.

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Transfer Credit

Coursework appropriate to the ESF curriculum can be transferred to the College, but grades and grade points cannot be transferred. Courses to be transferred to meet graduation requirements for any curriculum must be acceptable in content, and credit will be awarded only for those completed with a grade of C or higher (a C- is not acceptable).

All transfer credit will remain tentative until official, final transcripts are received. It is the student’s responsibility to ensure that official, final transcripts are sent to and received by the College.

Only coursework completed at institutions that are fully accredited by one of six regional accrediting agencies will be considered for possible transfer credit toward ESF degree requirements. These agencies are the Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools, New England Association of Schools and Colleges, North Central Association of Colleges and Schools, Northwest Association of Schools and Colleges, Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, and Western Association of Schools and Colleges.

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Policy for Students Transferring from Syracuse University to SUNY-ESF

With the approval of the home institution and subject to availability, SUNY-ESF students may take Syracuse University courses, and SU students may take SUNY-ESF courses.

For Syracuse University transfer students, Syracuse University is the college of record. SUNY-ESF does not maintain a transcript record of ESF courses taken by Syracuse University students. A student previously matriculated at Syracuse University, who is subsequently admitted to SUNY-ESF, except graduate students admitted to concurrent master’s degree programs between the universities, will have all coursework taken while a Syracuse University student, including SUNY-ESF courses, treated and evaluated as transfer credit from Syracuse University. Such Syracuse University courses will not appear or calculate on the SUNY-ESF transcript, except as they are included in a block of transfer credits, i.e., total credit hours, accepted from Syracuse University. However, such Syracuse University courses do not count toward the SUNY-ESF residency requirement. Departments at their discretion include such courses in manual calculations, e.g., for determination of subsequent intra-university transfer eligibility.

Syracuse University courses taken by matriculated ESF students appear on the SUNY-ESF transcript and calculate in the same way as ESF courses, except for graduate students admitted to concurrent master’s degree programs between the institutions. Syracuse University courses do not count toward the SUNY-ESF undergraduate residency requirement. 

The ESF transfer credit policy requiring a minimum grade of C will be waived for Syracuse University students only and any coursework taken at Syracuse University with a passing grade will be treated as if it was taken at SUNY-ESF. 

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Advanced Placement

The College will consider for advanced standing credit the results of examinations from standardized testing agencies such as the College Entrance Examination Board's Advanced Placement Program (AP) or the College Level Examination Programs (CLEP) as well as the Higher Level Exams of the International Baccalaureate (IB) program.

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Ranger School Admission

The SUNY-ESF Ranger School does not enroll freshmen. Students complete their freshman year requirements at ESF’s Syracuse campus or at the college of their choice. They complete the sophomore year of their A.A.S. program in residence at The Ranger School campus. Candidates may apply for acceptance into these programs under the guaranteed transfer option or as a regular transfer admission student.

High school students who wish to enroll in these programs should apply during their senior year to receive a guaranteed entry date one year later. A limited number of freshman applicants will be offered admission to the Syracuse campus for the first year of the A.A.S. program, if desired, and eventual completion of the bachelor degree, usually in a program of study in the Department of Forest and Natural Resources Management. Transfer students apply for sophomore year entry during the academic year prior to their intended fall semester entry at The Ranger School (spring admission is not available). For further information on The Ranger School, visit the website or refer to The Ranger School section of this catalog.

International students are not eligible for admission to programs at The Ranger School.

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Educational Opportunity Program

Offered only to full-time students who are New York state residents, freshmen and transfer students who qualify, both academically and economically, may be eligible for the EOP program. Students cannot apply for both EOP and Early Decision programs.

High school seniors who wish to apply for freshman enrollment and EOP status at the College must file a SUNY application or The Common Application and indicate they want to be considered for EOP. In addition, they must submit a copy of the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), indicating ESF as a receiving institution.

In order for transfer students to participate in the program at the College, they must have been enrolled in or qualified for EOP, Higher Education Opportunity Program (HEOP), Search for Education Elevation and Knowledge (SEEK) or similar program at their prior college. Therefore, students who are applying to ESF as high school seniors through the Guaranteed Transfer option should also apply for EOP, HEOP or SEEK at their lower-division college, and must enroll in or be qualified for such a program in order to continue in EOP at ESF.

All EOP applicants must file applications for undergraduate admission and financial aid as described in those two sections of this catalog. For further information, contact the director of the Office of Financial Aid and Scholarships, 315-470-6670.

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Deferred Admission

Students accepted to ESF who wish to defer their enrollment for one or two semesters beyond their original entry date must make this request in writing directly to the Office of Undergraduate Admissions. Students will receive written notification if their request has been approved.

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Graduate Admission Policies & Requirements

Admission to graduate studies is conditional upon review and acceptance of an applicant's credentials by appropriate faculty members and upon the recommendation of the appropriate department chairman or program director to the Associate Provost for Instruction and Dean of the Graduate School.

INSTITUTION CODE FOR OFFICIAL SCORE REPORTS: 2530

Application Requirements
  • Transcripts of an earned bachelor's degree from a recognized institution with an academic record showing at least a "B" average for junior and senior years of the baccalaureate program or for the master's program;
  • The graduate application;
  • A nonrefundable $60(US) application fee;
  • Scores from the Graduate Record Examination (GRE) and for some degree programs, advanced test scores;
  • Three letters of recommendation from individuals who can attest to your academic or professional skills. This should NOT include personal friends and family;
  • A resume; and
  • A statement of educational and professional goals.

Students whose primary language is not English are also required to provide evidence of English language proficiency.

Applying for Admission

Faculty seek graduate students who are well prepared for rigorous study, responsive and receptive to constructive feedback, and a good fit with their programs. The most effective way for applicants to demonstrate these qualities is to communicate with faculty prior to applying and to understand the programs ESF has to offer. Therefore, individuals who are interested in applying for graduate study should contact ESF faculty to discuss degree programs and learn about specific opportunities for study and research at ESF. Faculty Web pages provide contact information and additional insights about ESF degree programs. We also encourage applicants to visit campus and meet with faculty and current graduate students.

Semester of Matriculation Application Deadline *
Fall January 15
Spring November 1
*Applications completed by these deadlines by these dates will normally receive decisions by mid-March for fall matriculation and by early December for spring matriculation.
Application Deadlines

While the following dates are particularly important for applicants wishing to be considered for fellowships, assistantships, and other forms of financial assistance, ESF will continue to accept and fully consider graduate applications beyond each of the noted deadlines:

Graduate Record Exam Subject Tests

Subject tests are recommended by the following programs:

Graduate Program

Subject Test

Environmental and forest chemistry

Chemistry - recommended

Biochemistry area of study within environmental and forest chemistry

Chemistry or Biology - recommended

Environmental and forest biology

Biology - recommended

Transfer Credit

Credit hours appropriate to the graduate degree in which a minimum grade of B was earned from an accredited institution can be transferred to the College, but grades and grade points cannot be transferred.

Up to six credits of graduate coursework not used to complete another degree may be accepted toward completion of a master’s or doctoral degree as approved by the steering committee.

Up to 30 credits of graduate level coursework earned as part of a conferred master’s degree may be transferred (by petition) to a doctoral degree with approval of the steering committee.

Students may transfer no more than nine credits of credit-bearing non-degree ESF coursework to graduate degree programs.

All transfer credit will remain tentative until official, final transcripts are received. It is the student’s responsibility to ensure that official, final transcripts are sent to and received by the College.

Part-time Study

Part-time study at the graduate level provides an excellent opportunity for working professionals to extend their educational credentials or broaden their general knowledge by enrolling for courses on a part-time basis. The M.P.S. or M.F. professional degrees are available for students who are initially matriculated on a part-time basis. Part-time students apply, matriculate and register through the same processes that all ESF graduate students complete. During any semester, students who enroll in part-time programs may register for the equivalent of full-time study, which is at least 12 credit hours. Part-time students are held to the policy for continuous registration, but not to the policy for time to degree (delimitation).

Deferred Admission

Students accepted to graduate programs at ESF who wish to defer their enrollment beyond their original entry date must make this request in writing directly to the Office of Instruction and Graduate Studies.

Faculty as Students

Employees of the College who carry faculty status in accordance with SUNY-ESF Faculty Bylaws and are at or above the rank of assistant professor or equivalent, may not enter into matriculated status at the College.

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International Student Admission Policies & Requirements

NOTE: International students are not eligible for admission to programs at The Ranger School. However, we encourage international students to inquire about ESF's bachelor degree programs in Forest and Natural Resources Management.

Requirements for International Applicants

In addition to the admission requirements that all prospective students must meet, international applicants must provide the following:

  1. Evidence of proficiency in the English language that meet one of the following standards established by the faculty of SUNY-ESF:
    Standard Undergraduate Admission Score (Minimum) Graduate Admission Score (Minimum)
    TOEFL (paper-based) 550 550
    TOEFL (computer-based) Scores accepted until October 2008 213 213
    TOEFL (internet-based)
    As of September 2007
    79 80 (with no individual component score < 17)
    IELTS Total: 6 (with no less than 5 in Writing) Total: 6 (with no less than 5 in Writing)
    STEP EIKEN Grade pre-1   (University level) Grade 1
    Syracuse University -  English Language Institute (ELI) Successful completion of ELI "Level 4" Successful completion of ELI "Level 4"
    ELS Successful completion of Level 112 Successful completion of Level 112
    Previous college-level instruction in English

    Completion of at least one three-credit English course at an institution where the language of instruction is in English. ESL courses will not count toward meeting this requirement.

    • Completion of at least two years of college (academic studies, not English language instruction) at an institution where the courses were taught in English.
    • Successful completion of at least one semester at SUNY-ESF
  2. Transcripts and international academic credentials—International applicants must provide complete translations into English of all transcripts required by the admissions application without any additions or deletions by the translators. Translations of documents by the applicant will not be accepted. Credential evaluator and translation services for academic documents may be found through the National Association of Credential Evaluation Services (NACES).
    • International freshman applicants are required to demonstrate the completion of a college preparatory secondary school program by submitting academic credentials translated into English. This evaluation must be completed by an approved international credentials evaluation agency.
    • International transfer applicants are required to submit a detailed course-by-course evaluation of all international academic credentials in English. This evaluation must be completed by an approved international credentials evaluation agency.
  3. Submission of the State University of New York Foreign Student Admission forms. No fee is required for processing these forms.
  4. Copy of the passport should be submitted with application materials.
International Students Currently Attending an Educational Institution in the U.S.

In addition to the entrance requirements for other international students, international students who are currently enrolled at a U.S. educational institution must obtain permission (usually through a Transfer-Out Form) from their current educational institution to transfer their SEVIS record to ESF. Students will also have to complete a SUNY-ESF SEVIS Transfer-In Form (F-1 Students / J-1) so that ESF is aware of when your current institution will release your SEVIS record to ESF so that a new I-20 or DS-2019 can be issued for the ESF program of study. Additional information about transferring your SEVIS record to ESF is available online.

I-20 Issuance for International Students

An I-20, required for the F-1 student visa application, will be issued once a student has:

  1. Been officially admitted to ESF;
  2. Submitted adequate financial support documentation for at least one year of expenses at ESF;
    In order to obtain an I-20 from ESF, a potential F-1 student must complete the “FSA-4 - Foreign Student Financial Statement Form” and submit credible documentary evidence that they have enough readily available funds to meet all expenses (tuition, fees, and living expenses) for the entire first year of study. (It is expected that barring unforeseen circumstances, students will have adequate funds available for each subsequent year of study from the same source or from one or more other specifically identified and reliable financial sources.)

    Documentation of sufficient funding may come from any combination of dependable sources, including scholarships, assistantships, fellowships, sponsoring agencies, personal funds, or funds from a student's family. Documentation of scholarships, assistantships, and fellowships must be in the form of an official award letter from the school or sponsoring agency; documentation of personal or family funds should be on an official signed letter of support from the bank that includes the U.S. dollar amount of support and certified bank statements which indicate that the sponsor has sufficient funds to meet a student's first-year expenses at ESF (the bank statement does not have to show the full amount of the account), or in the form of a legally binding affidavit. The Form I-134, "Affidavit of Support," can be used to document support being provided by a U.S. citizen or U.S. legal permanent resident. Government-sponsored applicants should submit a certified copy of the award letter that includes the U.S. dollar amount of the award per year, the duration of the award and a list of expenses covered by the award.

  3. Submitted the "Commitment to Enroll Form" (included in the acceptance materials) indicating that you will attend ESF in the upcoming semester;
  4. Submitted the New Graduate or Undergraduate International Student Information Form received with your ESF acceptance letter.
  5. Submitted a passport copy.

Once all of the above materials have been received, an I-20 will be issued and mailed to the prospective international student by either Undergraduate Admissions or the Graduate School.

Health Insurance Requirement

ESF students who are not U.S. citizens or permanent residents are required by SUNY policies to maintain comprehensive health insurance with medical evacuation and repatriation coverage for themselves (and their dependents in the United States) for the duration of their ESF program of study. International students are automatically enrolled in the SUNY Health Insurance Plan unless proof of comparable health insurance is provided to the Bursar's Office within 30 days of the start of each semester.


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State University of New York College of Environmental Science and Forestry
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