Sandra De Young joined the William Paterson University faculty as a professor of nursing in 1985. She served as chair of the nursing department from 1987 to 1998, and then associate dean and dean of the College of Science and Health, and retired from that position in 2012. She returned to the University in 2018 as acting provost and senior vice president for academic affairs while a search for a new provost was conducted.

De Young has played a major role in numerous University initiatives, including serving as chair of the Faculty Senate from 1996 to 1998; coordinator of a campus-wide analysis of academic programs from 1994 to 1995; and chair of the planning council. She also initiated the Women in Science and Engineering (WISE) program at the University, which is designed to help women students overcome barriers to careers in the science professions.

While serving as interim provost, De Young helped to develop the Cannabis Research Institute, designed to provide evidence-based scientific and economic information on topics related to cannabis, opioid drugs and other substances. She also helped to introduce the new WP Online initiative, an endeavor with Academic Partnerships, a national provider of online higher education degree programs.

She is a member of the board of trustees of the Christian Health Care Center in Wyckoff, having previously served there as board chair. She is also a board member of the Western Theological Seminary in Michigan, and serves on the editorial board of the online International Journal of Nursing Education.

De Young has established two endowment funds at William Paterson, which include a student research fund and an Honors College student scholarship.