At a time when headlines about higher education focus on a shrinking pool of college-going students and delays caused by the new Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), Russell Sage College has enrolled the largest incoming undergraduate class in six years and will welcome its largest new graduate student class in at least a decade. 

“Russell Sage is no longer the ‘best kept secret’ in the Capital Region,” said President Christopher Ames. “While colleges across the country were announcing closures due to financial difficulties, Russell Sage turned around its financial picture from one of the lowest college credit ratings in the country in 2018 to an upgrade to a positive outlook by Moody’s in January 2024.

“We strategically invested in our strengths in the health professions, education, and criminal justice, adding and expanding programs to address workforce needs,” Ames continued. “We focused on meeting students where they are, embedding resume-building experiences into our core curriculum, and emphasizing wellness and well-being with Thrive@Russell Sage. This clearly resonated with students and their families.”

The incoming class of 438 undergraduate students, with additional transfer students expected to enroll throughout the summer, includes the largest group of first-year (“freshmen”) since 2018. With more room to grow, the newest undergraduate class of Russell Sage students represents the second-largest first-year and transfer class in nearly a decade, and a 37% increase over the number of new undergraduates who joined the college last fall.

So far, undergraduate transfer students from The College of Saint Rose, which will close at the end of the month, accounted for 9% of the total incoming class. 

Russell Sage will also welcome the largest fall class of graduate students with more than 600 deposited students and more to go, a 94% increase over the final total in fall 2023. New graduate programs, the addition of several education leadership advanced certificates, and a partnership with the Center for Integrated Training and Education (CITE) in New York City to deliver those certificate programs drove much of the increase. Education programs, including the master’s program in Professional School Counseling, and the M.A. in Mental Health Counseling and Community Psychology, offered both online and in person, saw the most significant bump in interest.

“Our leadership has been visionary in aligning our offerings with the needs of industry and students, and our entire team at Russell Sage has done an incredible job in making this incoming class feel a welcome part of our community,” said Katie Cooney Lesko, vice president for enrollment management. “We offer an amazing value at Russell Sage, as evidenced by our national rankings in U.S. News & World Report for Best Value and Social Mobility. We’re thrilled more students are discovering the opportunities we offer and are excited for the future.”

In 2020, Russell Sage’s leadership merged separate colleges spread across Troy and Albany – Russell Sage College, an all-women’s institution, and Sage College of Albany, a co-ed institution – into one co-educational Russell Sage College, located in the two cities and welcoming students from all backgrounds and socioeconomic experiences.

In the last year, the college launched new bachelor’s programs in Forensic Psychology and Childhood Education/Early Childhood/Special Education, a unique program that prepares students to be certified in three areas. The college also began new online master’s programs in Sport Science: Coaching and Mental Performance and Criminal Justice and Community Corrections; online advanced certificates in Instructional Leadership: School Building Leader/School District Leader, and School District Business Leader; and a hybrid-model Doctorate of Nursing Practice (DNP)

Meanwhile, Russell Sage created flexible formats for existing popular programs, including a hybrid version of the M.S. in Occupational Therapy program (with the same option for the Doctor of Physical Therapy next year); a Flex MBA and Flex format for all other graduate management programs; and an online version of the master’s program in Mental Health Counseling and Community Psychology.

The college has also started creating undergraduate and graduate programs in Communication Sciences and Disorders, with launch dates scheduled for fall 2025 (for the bachelor’s degree program) and 2029 (for the graduate program) pending approvals. The college will open The Speech and Language Center at Russell Sage College on July 8, a community-serving clinic that will include The Aphasia Center, for those with difficulty communicating after strokes, brain injuries, or other neurological conditions, and a Gender-Affirming Voice Program.

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