SUNY Korea offers computer science, technology systems management and mechanical engineering as majors. (PHOTO CREDIT : BLOG.SUNY.EDU)
SUNY Korea offers computer science, technology systems management and mechanical engineering as majors. (PHOTO CREDIT : BLOG.SUNY.EDU)

SUNY Korea, a Stony Brook University affiliated campus, was the first American university to be established in Incheon, South Korea on March 3, 2012. Now, two years later, the program has exceeded expectations and is continuing to grow.

“The idea Korea had was to build this campus with the notion of bringing international universities to offer degree programs,” Dr. David Ferguson, a distinguished service professor and associate provost for diversity and inclusion, said. “SUNY is one of the campuses there with some of the other universities, but that too will be growing.”

While Stony Brook was the first to partner with Incheon Global Campus, IGC, which was formally known as Incheon Free Economic Zone, on July 25, 2008, it was not the last.

In 2014 alone, George Mason University Korea, Ghent University Global Campus and the University of Utah Asia Campus opened in Incheon, South Korea.

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“Korea’s own development over the last 50 years has been an amazing development,” Ferguson said. “There are a lot of exciting things going on in Korea, so having an American university offered in that kind of context offers all kinds of possibilities for learning about new technology, learning about
education.”

Today, SUNY Korea is seeing exponential growth in applicants. The Korea campus started with its first undergraduate class of 38 in the spring of 2013. Now, in the fall of 2014, 133 students are enrolled in undergraduate classes. In addition there are 65 graduate students.

However, because SUNY Korea is still new and developing, there are not many statistics about the graduation rate for the masters and Ph.D. students. Also, no undergraduate students have graduated yet, but the first class is expected to graduate in 2016.

“Since we are the first students from SUNY Korea the Stony Brook campus, we are kind of pioneers,” Phit Ahn, one of the undergraduate student from SUNY Korea studying technology systems management, said. “But it is a good thing. We get to experience a lot of different stuff.”

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Like Ahn, 37 other students are here at Stony Brook as a requirement for their course sequence for each major. At SUNY Korea, the sequence is a little different; instead of taking a mix of major requirements and DECs each semester, students take only major-related courses during their freshman, junior and senior years.

Then when students are sophomores, they are required to spend the year at the Stony Brook campus, where they take a combination of both DECs and major courses.

“We are used to the intensity of classes,” Ho Joong Lee, a SUNY Korea student studying technology systems management, said. “So right now life is good at Stony Brook. We are taking 17 credits with a mix of decs and maybe one really hard course.”

Besides the sequence of courses, SUNY Korea only offers computer science, technology systems management and mechanical engineering as majors.

“A difference is that at Stony Brook people have told me that they have taken a course and then decided to change their major,” Ahn said. “That doesn’t really happen at SUNY Korea. It kind of can’t because this what you are experiencing and kind of stuck with because there are only three majors.”

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However, there has been talk of a possible business major and other programs down the road, but nothing has been confirmed yet.

“SUNY Korea is still expanding,” Ahn said. “We are expecting to see the Fashion Institute of Technology and that will be our ‘art program.’ The reason that this would be considered our art program is because Korea is a technology hub, so any new programs would have to be based off of technology.”

Besides the schoolwork and nicer dorms, according to students, everything else about SUNY Korea is basically the same as Stony Brook. This includes tuition price, course work, application process, Blackboard, My Cloud email, and even professors.

“Back at SUNY Korea there is a small community amongst students and the professors actually live on campus if you need help,” Tasdid Hossain, a SUNY Korea student majoring in technology systems management, said. “However, my experience here has been good overall. There are a lot of similarities even when it comes to the weather.”

While SUNY Korea is only two years old, the students and professors alike have described it as positive learning experiences that are benefitting both campuses even though they are 11,085 kilometers apart.

“I think that SUNY Korea is an important part of Stony Brook’s global engagement,” Ferguson said. “And the way I would like to think of it is that people need to think of problems in a holistic approach meaning global. That the major issues and problems of the world have global issues to them whether you’re dealing with energy and environment, health, education, that we are interconnected.”

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