In its efforts to shape tomorrow’s leaders, Rensselaer’s faculty has created innovative interdisciplinary curricula. Students are encouraged to work in inter- and cross-disciplinary programs that allow them to combine scholarly work from several departments or schools.
The Master of Science degree traditionally has been in a single discipline, such as chemistry, physics, or mathematics. However, college graduates today and in the future face working environments where jobs increasingly bridge more than one area of specialization. The M.S. in Applied Science Program is based upon Rensselaer’s belief that science graduates need different types of preparation for today’s interdisciplinary world. Students are encouraged, in cooperation with academic advisers, to design a degree program that crosses different subject areas, including at least one field of science. Options exist in many areas of science in which Rensselaer faculty have expertise.
Biochemistry and Biophysics
Two such closely related fields as biochemistry and biophysics are a logical choice for combination into an interdisciplinary degree program. Biochemical and biophysical research is advancing the frontiers of research in the basic life sciences and making possible advances in more applied fields such as medicine and agriculture. Rensselaer’s B.S. in Biochemistry and Biophysics provides exceptional preparation for graduate school and/or employment in various sectors of the rapidly developing biotechnology industry. It also provides an excellent background for students planning careers in medicine. M.S. and Ph.D. degrees are also available in this interdisciplinary field and are ideal preparation for jobs in biotechnology, pharmaceuticals, and other areas of fundamental research related to medicine.
Bioinformatics and Molecular Biology
Computational biology has changed the approach to biotechnology. Now there is a demand for graduates with strong backgrounds in biology, biochemistry, mathematics, and computer programming. Rensselaer offers an interdisciplinary B.S. degree that covers the theory and practice of bioinformatics and molecular biology, with core topics such as sequence alignment, database searching and design, phylogenetics, molecular modeling, statistics, biotechnology, drug discovery, and genomics. M.S. and Ph.D. degrees are also available through one of several departments and programs.
Design, Innovation, and Society
Design, Innovation, and Society (DIS) merges the technical with the creative and stimulates originality. The DIS major combines engineering courses, STS courses, and design studios. The Design, Innovation, and Society degree is offered by the School of Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences. This program offers a B.S. degree in DIS as well as the opportunity to dual major in Mechanical Engineering, Management, and other curricula.
Ecological Economics, Values, and Policy (Professional Master's)
The professional master’s program is aimed at early and mid-career professionals in state and local government, secondary education, business, and the nonprofit sector who are looking to upgrade their skills and advance their careers. The program helps students to acquire the skills they will need to address the complex multidisciplinary problems any society faces in such areas as environment and health and sustainable development.
Electronic Media, Arts, and Communication (EMAC)
The EMAC degree combines communication theory and practice with electronic media arts studio and theory. This program combines offerings in the Department of Communication and Media and the Arts Department.
The challenges of sustaining a habitable Earth, of maintaining and enhancing the quality of the physical environment, and providing energy, food, and shelter for an increasing population will be met by a new generation of environmental scientists. Undergraduate training in this area requires broader perspective than any single science discipline affords, and a transformative education that explores the basic science of natural systems and human modification of the environment. Rensselaer’s B.S. in Environmental Science addresses these challenges with a multifaceted program.
Games and Simulation Arts and Sciences
The GSAS program is a comprehensive B.S. that also offers an opportunity for a dual major. GSAS stresses acquiring both fundamental principles and skills in a range of disciplines and also obtaining some depth in a single area of concentration in game studies. The curriculum provides many team experiences and cycles of design, analysis, and iteration, as well as a formal research component. This core curriculum will help ensure that graduates can develop as leaders in the game industry as well as in other fields that make use of highly interactive media, e.g. training and simulation applications found in business, education, and government; business management in emerging new media fields.
Information Technology and Web Science
Rensselaer’s unique multidisciplinary degrees offered in the Information Technology and Web Science program allow our students to explore the World Wide Web and other IT technologies from the algorithmic, engineering, and social perspective. Students in the program learn about the physical science underlying the Web and the social science of its impact, as well as the skills involved in running large-scale information systems, developing Web applications, or dealing with the social and policy implications of IT and Web deployments. Students take a core set of courses on Web and IT development, data, HCI, and management, as well as developing an expertise in a concentration involving multiple courses from a selection of over 20 options including arts, engineering, management, information security, data science and analytics, Web systems, and medicine among many others. The program leads to a Bachelor of Science in Information Technology and Web Science, a Master of Science in Information Technology, or a Ph.D. in multidisciplinary science with a focus on advanced Web and Informatics Technologies.
The most exciting discoveries and innovations today often occur at the boundaries between the traditional science disciplines and result from the application of basic principles and knowledge across many of these disciplines. Rensselaer’s B.S. program in Interdisciplinary Science provides students with the opportunity to explore these boundaries in meaningful ways and to combine this study of science with non-science disciplines such as management, law, education, communication, public service, economics, policymaking, or community affairs.
Interschool Minor in Energy
Rensselaer offers this interschool minor as an opportunity for students in any undergraduate major to learn about a wide variety of issues involved in understanding energy. It includes fundamental courses in architecture, engineering, management, science, and the humanities and social sciences.
Today’s college graduates with traditional discipline-oriented backgrounds are discovering that their jobs bridge more than one area of specialization. Rensselaer’s M.S. and Ph.D. programs in Multidisciplinary Science focus on helping graduates perform more effectively in multidisciplinary environments. Students in these programs interact with faculty representing a variety of disciplines. They also participate in interdisciplinary research that crosses at least two science disciplines, or at least one in science and one or more in engineering.
Master of Engineering Program in Systems Engineering and Technology Management (SETM)
The School of Engineering and the Lally School of Management jointly offer a unique Master of Engineering program in Systems Engineering and Technology Management (SETM) through the Department of Decision Sciences and Engineering Systems. This is a 30-credit-hour program leading to the Master of Engineering degree that is open to qualified undergraduates from other institutions, but is primarily intended as a co-terminal degree option for Rensselaer engineering undergraduates. It is designed to provide engineering students with an opportunity to extend their technical depth within their disciplines while providing fundamental background in technical decision making methods and technology management. The program will introduce the metrics of business performance, the analytical modeling tools for applying these metrics in organizational and technical decision making systems, and the critical challenges associated with new models of value creation and business growth across different industries. Graduates of the program will have technical depth in the engineering discipline beyond the Bachelor’s level and be prepared to assume management responsibilities sooner upon entering the professional workforce.