Stony Brook University Top Questions

What are the academics like at your school?

Matt

The academics at Stony Brook are rather demanding. However they are also reasonable, and are definitely manageable with the right application.

Matt

The academics at Stony Brook are rather demanding. However they are also reasonable, and are definitely manageable with the right application.

Caterina

In many humanities classes, the professors learn your name by the second week. In science classes you will be in a room of 100-1000 students so it's hard for them to learn your name, and sometimes they won't know who you are at all....so go attend their office hours! Class participation is often important in the humanities department and is one of the deciding factors of your final grade. Many students are very competitive, especially those who are pre-med. My department is very small and has about 5 undergraduate students and about 20 graduate students. It's very disappointing, but then again Literature is not a major field at Stony Brook.

Rachel

I think the academics are fabulous. As an English major, the Humanities department is incredibly helpful. The student to faculty ratio is great, and most of the professors I've had still know me by my name. The learning doesn't stop once class ends. It continues whenever an interesting topic is brought up. I believe that the Career center is well equipped to help students figure out where they want to go with their majors, and how. I think we have plenty of job fairs and opportunities to be exposed to the options we will have in the future.

Sarah

As nerdy as this may sound I actually enjoy studying for my classes. Part of the beauty of college is that you are allowed to pretty much take the majority of your classes in a subject that you love! Asides from some non-science general education classes I have pretty much only taken science classes. Unlike in high school where I had to sit through world history and american history waiting for the period to end, I can’t wait to get to some of my classes in the morning. My favorite class that I have taken at Stony Brook is my BIO 315 Microbiology (micro for short) class! After completing my introductory level biology classes this was my first upper division biology class that I took. To be completely honest, I was terrified the first day of class. Upper division biology classes are traditionally taken by juniors or seniors – but I was a sophomore venturing into this unknown territory. To my surprise, micro turned out to be incredibly interesting and enjoyable! After I took the class, I actually recognized some of the diseases mentioned in House and Grey’s Anatomy. Even though the class was held in Javits 100 (our largest lecture hall that seats 500+ students), our professor made the class very personable and interactive. Our professor was always asking questions, making jokes and encouraging the students to participate. Weekly office hours held by the undergraduate teachers’ assistants made the class even more personable! A TA is an undergraduate student who did very well in the class in a previous semester and is now serving as a “tutor” for current students. Micro is a unique class in that the TAs also give out extra credit quizzes every week. Not only do these quizzes help your grade at the end of the semester but they also serve as a great way to keep up with the material during the semester. I loved this class so much that I actually TAed BIO 315 my spring semester junior year! Even though I pretty much live and breathe science I still wanted to venture out and explore some humanities classes. Some of my other favorite classes that I took at Stony Brook include a political science class as well as several sociology classes, Don’t be afraid to step out of your comfort zone and take a class just because it sounds interesting!

Gaby

It depends on the size of the class. A lot of professors know my name because I'm in smaller classes. If you go to the professor's office hours they'll get to know you on a first-name basis. My favorite classes are sociology classes. Least favorite are math related classes, only because it isn't my strongest subject. Some students barely study and their grades reflect that. I study hard for my grades. The conversations you have with people outside of class depend on the type of people you surround yourself with. Students can be competitive. The requirements are okay, they require you to get a rounded education which is good. Most of the classes that I have taken to fulfill the requirements have been interesting and I enjoyed them. The education is definitely geared toward learning for its own sake.

Raj

Most professors want to know your name and are very helpful. Learn a lot more than you'd expect.

Stephanie

The academics are fabulous here at SB. I am enrolled in the Theater Department and its the best experience I have ever had. The teachers all know my name, and not only that, they are genuinely interested in my success as a student. My favorite class I have taken is Acting 1. It gives students the chance to experience what its like to speak in front of large groups and explore the area of theater if you know nothing about it. Another cool class was Italian 1. My professor was so interesting. He was one of the many professors I'd just go and have coffee with and discuss things we both loved, such as Italian foods and learning languages. The only disappointing part of SB's academia is the absurd amount of general requirements. We call them DEC's and we have around 15 of them. The only redeeming thing is that many of your major requirements can also be used as DEC's.

Jenny

I'm a psychology major and I'd have to say the reason I got any of the experiences that I did was simply because of good grades and talking to people in charge. If you're a poor student, be careful because you will be looked down upon. And talk! Ask a question, give your opinion to the professor after class, it will be a bonus (make sure they're approachable first, you don't want to insult them). Classes under 40 students exist only in the arts or special seminar classes which is generally 400 + level. I have yet to have a small class. Class participation happens only when it's not a easy class that you can sleep through and never study for. Group work is done only when assigned and study groups are made up of friends so make friends with your classmates. A lot of professors like to give a massive amount of notes so bring a notebook. Sometimes a laptop isn't worth it. Only the back rows tend to have outlets and wireless doesn't exist in the lecture hall. For science courses, studying will be your life. You simply won't have a social life. Otherwise, plan your time accordingly (and you will need to have time management skills if you want a GPA above a 3.0) Art courses FYI, sound easy, but 6 hrs a week for 3 credits plus outside work is needed too, and can get expensive.

KJ

I have to say that professors are always willing to sit down and talk with a student. Sometimes if it's a big class, you may have to make an appointment but other wise, you can just stop by granted that you held onto the syllabus that says the room number of the office. In my smaller classes, I've noticed that all of my teachers recognize me and will greet me in passing, sometimes even before I see them. Stonybrook is the top 2% of the world and it is easy to see why. The professors are challenging and don't settle for anything less than what they know your potential is.

Cody

My classes have ranged from 10-200 people. Teachers have been easily accessible and very helpful for the most part and take their jobs very seriously. The fact that there are so many requirements gets in the way of taking major credits, I think. Mostly though, I think the learning environment is great.

Danny

I have classes I love, and I must admit Organic Chemistry is one of them, and mind you I'm not very good at this class. Yet I don't mind working hard and struggling for this class because it has amazing, dedicated, and funny teachers. Being a Biology major, I have to say its tough, its not easy ride here in Stony Brook, but it is worth it. A few classes will be really hard and end up hating, others are annoying yet need to be done, and some you will fall in love with. You get that at any University, so what makes up different. I really don't know, but I'll just describe a few highlights. Our core curriculum allows our students to explore all branches of academia, from sciences, to humanities, to language. We want our students to graduate well rounded. We encourage students to take minors that doesn't have to do with their major, if its purely for interests, its ok! I'm doing that with taking Spanish as my minor. Our education is about preparation, no matter where your career path may take you. And we offer a whole list of opportunities for our students, and resources to explore them.

KC

very hard and demanding which will help us in the long run.

Ashley

I specifically love taking Africana Studies classes-I find them to be highly interesting and well worth the effort. The professors do an amazing job of educating their students.

Andy

Very satisfied with academic status of university, but lack of intriguing social life makes working studiously extremely strenuous (that is, no balance exists)

Vanessa

I am a Biochemistry major in the honors college, so my requirements are different from other people. I am not too fond of the honors college classes, but it would be more enjoyable for someone more interested in liberal arts. For science classes, there are large classes of about 200 or so, which is a problem for some, so chances are that your teacher won't know your name. There is a range of study habits at Stony Brook. Many students study quite frequently, but there are also students who don't study much at all. Science majors often talk of what research they are doing and what exciting discoveries have been made recently, but not everyone is into that sort of stuff.

Jessica

Classes can be large, more commonly in the lower division level courses. However, many classes are also of a smaller size, where the professors do know their students, this is more common in course which are upper division level courses and especially within the major in which the student is matriculated. The business program is a wonderful program with extremely knowledgeable professors, who are very experienced in the topic they are teaching, and provide knowledge through the education of the course, as well as from their experience, often times, things that are only learned through years of experience.

Adrienne

In my junior year, i finally met prof that would actually get to know me. lectures are ridiculous, there's almost no learning going on there, unless you are teaching yourself. when you get to actual classes about your major is when you finally feel like you're part of a college life. my favorite classes are those that have field trips and hands on activites (labs etc). it's so much easier to learn then looking at some stuffy guys notes from 30 years ago. most of the time, in smaller classrooms people go. in lecture halls, unless they use those horrid clickers, students would rather sleep in their own bed then in a chair. students are competitive up to a point. the ones that are obsessive are annoying, but obviously everyone cares about their grades, and getting better than the other people. the most unique class i've taken is mar 340, li marine habitats. it wasnt a competitive class at all because we were all friends, and just had fun chilling on the beach, looking for crabs. the whole environmental studies/marine science dept is just wonderful. very nice people, and very well known in the real world.

Ryan

Excellent faculties in certain departments, like Biochemistry and Biology.

Nelle

I am a Studio Art and Sociology dbl major with a minor in Art History. I'm involved mostly in the Studio Art Department, and I talk to my professors like they are my friends. Although Stony Brook is set up to have a great Sculpture and Ceramics department, if you are serious, you might be the only one (as there are very few people who concentrate in them). Painting, Drawing, Printmaking, Digital, and Photography Classes have much more people in them. The number of students in classes is small, except for one class, Technology in the Arts, which is required for the theatre & music departments also. The digital arts program which is being set up looks like it's going to be pretty great. I wish there was a collaboration between the Music, Theatre, and Art undergraduate classes in some way, since they are all right there in the same building. Some of the professors are the "real deal" while others are questionable. One good thing that Stony Brook's art history department set up is required trips to museums like the Met or MoMA for class papers and assignments. They really force you to get in there and look around. Some art history classes are just a hell of a lot easier,more fun, interesting... than others like the History of Photography is pretty fun. Beware, others may require a ten page paper or ridiculously hard tests. As for Sociology, I have never in my life gotten through material so easily, and aced it, before without studying or preparing. I don't know if they recruit under-educated people to join the classes or if people really are that dumb. The teachers seem pretty cool, but I feel bad for them as there are always students jumping down their throats for bringing up the issues that are discussed in Sociology. The Sociology classes are like a zoo, it's a place for people with big mouths and small tolerance it seems. But I have taken classes elsewhere and it was almost just as bad as here at Stony Brook.

Anne

I've pretty satisfied with the difficulty of the classes. I am challenged without feeling like things are ridiculous or impossible. A lot of class participation, and the teachers have been very open and welcoming to the students to come to talk to them.

Jacquelyn

Teachers rarely know your name. Science and math class are the worst. I think it is discriminatory to force you to take courses you really suck at! Class participation is common. Depends on what subject basically and how well the teacher presents the materials. Students are very competative. I rarely spend time with professors outside of class because they usually have office hours when i have another class or on opposite days i got to school. Usually when you schedule and appointment you have to fit their schedule which causes me to either not go or skip on another class to see them.

Reese

Stony Brook University is a large community of students, faculty, staff.... you will be able to let yourself know to the professors if you are bugging them constantly as the classes are very large specially general science classes such as biology, chemistry, etc... I trully enjoyed my psychology classes...wonderful professors!!! Please, take "Violence and the family" prof. Kalish rocks!!!

Jessica

A lot of the professors at Stony Brook are VERY difficult to understand. When it comes to the sciences it is all about how much you can teach yourself, not how well the instructors teach. My freshman year when I took chemistry I had a T.A. who just came to America from China less than 2 months before classes started. He could barely speak English and I got a C in the class. The only reason I passes was because I paid hundreds of dollars extra to have a tutor teach me chemistry the way the professors should be teaching chemsitry. (Stony Brook eventually kicked that very valuable tutor off campus)

Casey

I like the big classes that they offer (although theres some of every size) My favorite classes are the ones that are associated with my major, business management. I loved my marketing classes. One of the best classes I've taken, I had to do a marketing plan for a local business and present it to the owner of the business. I really liked being able to use my creative side to help someone els.e

Harper

Very high level of education. Every professor is knowledgeable and approachable. I definitely wouldn't trade this experience for anything. I think that no matter what field you are in, there are amazing professors as well as not so great ones but it is up to the individual to decide.

Parker

The one thing you have to remember when going to a school this size is that you can't expect your professors to know who you are, and care how well you do. You have to make an effort to make your face known, and get help when you need it. It REALLY depends what major you are in, but I have found that students are (for the most part) very intelligent and competitive. I like the way the SUNY system works, in that you are required to take a number of "DEC" requirements. Most people hate this, but if they stopped trying to perfect their GPA's and stopped to actually learn something, they'd realize that taking a variety of courses actually makes you a more well-rounded, intelligent person. I have found that all of the professors I have had are highly qualified, however some of them are disinterested in teaching. I think this is mainly because Stony Brook is such an incredibly strong research university, that that alone is the reason many of these professors are here to begin with. On the bright side, it is extremely easy to find a research position and dive into the research community, which (I think) is the best part of being at a university!

Toby

The professors do not know my name, if you do not go to their office hours or visit them regulary they will only know your face and nothing less. Any class is good if the professor possess a good grasp of the english language, otherwise it sucks. Students spent a significant amount of their time studying, but it varies with the major. Engineering and Science students are much busier then philosophy students. Class discussion is about average, happens a lot in smaller classes but is obiously non-existant in 600 peoople lecture halls. If you have some people you talk to regulary you will generally hear a lot of intellectual conversation as people generally are pretty smart. I wouldn't say that students are competitive, we just don't have that here. I can't name a unique class I've taken as most of them seem pretty typical. Comptuer Science is definitely one of the best departments to be in, the departments makes an effort(all do not always) to provide quality instructors and is probably the only department to hire lecturers whose primary concern is to teach. Of course, you will receive little guidance beyond that. I spent less time with professors outside of class then I should, I do need those reccomendation letters later on. I have no problem with stonybrook's academic requirments, except perhaps the fact that majors are unbalanced, major requirments range from about 32 credits to 110 credits. Its not quite clear if the education is geared towards a job or learning for its sake. In a way the university is trying to get you to get a job yet makes it difficult to understand how these things can be applied to your job.

Christine

Certain professors know at least my face, depending on the class size and on how often I visit them during office hours. Students here in Stony Brook are competitive. Those who choose to be on the Pre-Med track, the competition is more fierce and highly challenging. Science lectures are very large, which can have from about 560 to 1200 students for a given course. Since lectures are very large, it is easy get distracted and lose your concentration when there are people talking during class.

Brett

Some do, in my smaller classes. I really enjoy most of my DEC classes especiall AAS 102 and EUR 101, as well as JRN 110. Least favorite was AST 101. Some study often, some not so often. Class participation in the larger classes is required by clicker and that's about it. Yes, they do. A lot of students are very competitive. The most unique class I've taken is...JRN 110. My major department is large and oftentimes I find it hard to get things done without being shuffled around or put off. Sometimes. I feel they're setting a great standard. I feel some is towards getting a job, some is towards learning.

Tristan

SBU isn't only about the work in the classroom. One of the great things here is that undergraduates are given the opportunity to work as research assistants in the research labs. These help to give them hands-on experience in their field of interest. There are certain classes where professors will knw you by name. In the larger classrooms that is a little harder, no doubt. But, again...if students go to prof's office hours then they increase the chances of the professor recognizing and knowing them. It's all about initiative of the student at the end of the day. I'm a psychology major... i really like my deptartment. We have some very distingished faculty and professors. The graduate students are extremely helpful... and the various groups such as Psi Chi and MIPs help facilitate interaction between students and faculty.

Rory

Academically Stony Brook is pretty good unless you're a science major. Most of the math and science classes are taught by foreigners and if you're taking chem good luck. The DEC requirements are a joke and usually just keep you here an extra year.Otherwise academically it prepares you pretty well for the real world.

Mel

Most of my classes are really big, and students are not too competitive. My major is business, which when I first started was not so great, but at this point it has gotten much better. Stonybrook seems to be geared toward getting a job though.

Theodore

For the first couple of years professors will not know your name. If you're going to be an engineering major, by the end of four years you will no longer know what happiness feels like. There are many little, stupid requirements students have to take to graduate. All of that being said, there are many distinguished professors (though not all are good teachers), and the science programs are very good. However, if you are a non-science/math major,the reputation of the school is worth more than the education itself

Jordan

Professors know my name in the smaller classrooms. There's no hope in the large lecture halls. But classes are really informative, and I love taking a class on a subject that I'm interested in. I also enjoy stimulating my mind outside of class with peer discussions.

TJ

Only the one professor in LRN actually kbnows my name. Not even my TA's know my name. My favorite class is LRN because everyone knows each other. It is small and i have met my best friends in it. My least favorite class is Biology because my professors are the worst rated in history and i can totally see why they are rated as such. Varies upon the person for studying habits. Class participation is not very common. Stony Brook students do have intellectual convo's if they are intellectual people. Yes students are competitive to a point. LRN. Biochem is where the hood people are. I do not spend time with professors ever. Stony Brook is bad when it comes to academic requirements. They are very easy on some majors. Well education sucks because professors dont teach and if they do, the TA's run the class afterwards so you have to fend for yourself to get ahead.

Bevan

If you are a science or business major, classes are too large for any professor to remember your name. You have to go to their office hours. My favorite class had to be my first aid class. My least favorite was economics. The professor was extremely hard, we had no textbook and had to rely solely on our notes. Students are very competitive, especially those in the sciences. Stonybrook's academic requirements are not joke. The school is tough but it does help you in the long run. You will be adequately prepared for the next step whether it is grad school or a full time job.

KJ

I had a lot of wonderful professors at stony brook and was fortunate enough to take some small classes and get to know professors personally. My professors within the political science department were always very encouraging & were open to talking to me about everything from class assignments to law school applications. In addition, I really enjoyed working as a teaching assistant & research assistant and getting to know the faculty outside of just the classroom. ppl like Professor Myers & Professor Segal really inspired me and impressed me with their depth of knowledge. For the most part, I felt like it was a very laid back environment and students weren't really competitive at all, but that could just be the crowd I hung out with.

Brett

depends on the class whether a professor knows your name. The most unique I took was definately CCS 401 it was a senior class with topics that made everyone discuss different points of view.

Will

You have to be a very good student to get any attention. But the professors are pretty good.

Kelly

Yes. MEC 310: great engineering design of machinery class. In engineering, studnets are always studying. In engineering, not as much as in a liberal arts class. Yes. Studnets are very competative. My major is mechanical engineering.. great departement with great teachers. Dont really spend time with teachers outside of class. Speak with them when we have questions. The requirements are good..tough. Education in Stony Brook I think is geared towards both getting a job and learding for the sake of learning.

TJ

I have only had one professor know my name in all my years at Stony Brook and that was only because it was an intimate music class with 20 students as opposed to the usual 200 students in a normal lecture class. The same people usually participate in lecture classes because its hard for a professor to know who students are and the ones that participate are usually kiss asses who want the extra points for a higher grade since the school is very competitive.

Emmerson

kids study a lot. upper div bio classes are tuff but great. professors in bio are good, dept is great. students are competitive tho! esp the pre meds. good education quality at stony. cant complain, ive learned a lot the hard way and wudnt trade it for a pansy ass education elsewhere.

Tommy

Some classes have like 200 people or more and some have like 30-50 people so professors can get to know your name. Participation depends on the class, there are alot of intellectual conversations that i've had with other student. depends on what your studying, students can be very competitive. if your into politics, the most unique class i've taken was a United Nations class where we had video conferences every week with ambassadors of the U.N. Probably the best class i've ever taken. the political science department doesn't give you many classes to choose like they do in the business major. it was hard to get into classes that i thought would be very interesting. there are alot of internship opportunities but not really alot of job fairs.

Carolyn

Some of them do. My favorite class would have to be PSY 310. Least favorite- THR 104. A lot. Very. Yes. Very. THR 104. The psychology department is regarded as one of the best programs in the country. The professors, for the most part, are well informed, adaptable, and very intelligent people. No. They are hard to fulfill in 4 years. Absolutely.

Stephen

Professors do not know your name. My favorite class is Biology my least favorite is math. Students study all the time. Class participation is not common. Yes, stonybrook students have intellectual conversations outside of class. Students are very competitive. I love the biology department. No i do not spend time with my professors outside of class. Stony brook is preparing me well for the work ill do after college.

Andy

Certain professors know my name. Professors in my major know my name since it usually has small class sizes, but in classes like math and science, it's hard for a teacher to get to know a student personally. My favorite class was Modern Art History with Professor Kuspit, a brilliant man and definately an asset to the Stony Brook Art History faculty. Yes, intellectual conversations take place outside the classroom. I wouldn't say students are so much competitive against each other as much as they simply want to reach their highest possibly abilities. The art history department seems to be growing and becoming more popular as a major among the students. I feel Stony Brook's academic requirements help us to become more well-rounded and take classes in all types of academic fields that help us find out what we're really interested in. While education itself seems to be geared towards learning for its own sake, there are many workshops and organizations on campus that help guide a student towards careers that will be best suited for them.

Sasha

Depends on the class size. I love film/women study classes, science classes are often dry. How much studying depends on the student and so does if the student participates. There are a lot of competitive students at stony brook. My major is insanely hard at this school, and sometimes i feel like stony brook just makes it hard because they want to be a top notch schoo. So the average on tests is a 35 and they just curve it. But whats point of teaching and testing when students dont even know half the information.

Morgan

in my major professors know my name other wise they do not. in general ed classes i feel as if i am just a number

Casey

Not many professors know your name. I think my favorite class so far has been CLS215 with Professor Burrows. She is a fantastic teacher. I major in Sociology and I wish they had more clubs like the Psychology major has. I think some of the academic requirements are unnecessary. Like DEC D.

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