Jul 12, 2024  
Rensselaer Catalog 2021-2022 
Rensselaer Catalog 2021-2022 [Archived Catalog]


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Undergraduate Admissions


Director, Undergraduate Admissions: Karen S. Long

Office of Admissions
Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
110 8th Street
Troy, N.Y. 12180-3590
Phone: (518) 276-6216
Email: admissions@rpi.edu

Admissions information is subject to change from year to year. For the most up-to-date information on requirements, application process, deadlines, testing, and other relevant topics, please refer to the admissions pages at admissions.rpi.edu.

Rensselaer accepts the Common Application, the Coalition Application, or the Candidate’s Choice Application and gives equal consideration to all. 

Rensselaer admits qualified students without regard to gender, sexual orientation, gender expression or identity, age, race, color, religion, national or ethnic origin, marital status, or disability.

Freshman Admission

Admission to Rensselaer is competitive. The Admissions Committee, in evaluating the qualifications of each applicant, pays particular attention to (1) academic performance throughout secondary school; (2) if submitted, results of the College Entrance Examination Board (SAT) or results of the ACT Assessment (ACT): (3) the recommendation from the applicant’s school; and (4) character and extracurricular achievements.

Students interested in Rensselaer have the option of applying to one of the five schools or as undeclared candidates. Architecture and Music applicants are required to submit a creative portfolio. Games and Simulation Arts and Sciences and Electronic Arts applicants are strongly encouraged to submit a creative portfolio.

Applications for freshman admission should be completed online and filed by January 15 of the year in which the applicant expects to begin his or her college program. The nonrefundable application processing fee for all applications submitted is $70.

Accelerated Medical Program Applicants to the Physician-Scientist programs must apply by November 1. Special requirements apply to this process. Please contact the Office of Admissions for further detail, or access Rensselaer’s undergraduate website under the appropriate heading.

Early Decision Rensselaer offers a binding early decision opportunity to students who have decided definitely that Rensselaer is their first choice. An Early Decision application must be received by November 1 (Early Decision I) or December 15 (Early Decision II) of the candidate’s senior year in secondary school. Early Decision is not available to students applying to the accelerated programs.

Early Admission Rensselaer considers candidates who have completed all admission requirements and who wish to enter the university after the junior year of high school. Early Admission is not possible for the accelerated programs in medicine, law, or for the School of Architecture.

January Admission Rensselaer does enroll students beginning in January. A full range of freshman courses is available during the spring semester, and the midyear entrant may pursue a degree through the traditional eight-semester timetable or accelerate through summer work. January admission is not possible for the accelerated programs in medicine or law, the School of Architecture, or for the program in Games and Simulation Arts and Sciences (GSAS).

Applying to Rensselaer

Academic Preparation

All applications are reviewed individually by the Admissions Committee. It is important to note that some differences in preparation and academic background may be considered. The applicants who are best suited for Rensselaer will have completed four years of English, four years of mathematics through pre-calculus, three years of science including chemistry and lab-based physics, and two years of social studies and/or history. Additionally, the admissions committee pays particular attention to candidates who demonstrate qualities and talents that will contribute to the richness of the Rensselaer community.

Note to international applicants: Official transcripts must be translated into English. The international financial statement must be completed and mailed to our office along with supporting documentation.

Portfolio Requirements

  • Architecture, Music, and Electronic Arts candidates are required to submit a creative portfolio online at https://rpi.slideroom.com/.
  • Games and Simulation Arts and Sciences and Electronic Media, Arts, and Communication candidates may submit a creative portfolio online at https://rpi.slideroom.com/.

Standardized Test Requirements

  • SAT or ACT
  • SAT Subject Tests in Math (Level 1 or 2) and Science (biology, chemistry, or physics) for accelerated program applicants only (or ACT in lieu of SAT and SAT Subject Tests).
  • English Proficiency Exam (non-native English-speakers only). There are several options for international students to demonstrate their English language proficiency. These options include achieving minimum scores on one of the following testing options: 88 (TOEFL, iBT); 570 (TOEFL PBT); 7.0 (IELTS); 59 (PTE). Official results of English proficiency exams must be sent; self reported scores will not be accepted. A waiver may be requested by applicants who have completed three of more years of secondary education in the U.S.
  • All applicants to the Physician-Scientist Program are required to complete the CASPer Test to assist with Albany Medical College’s selection process.


The SAT or ACT examinations may be taken at the student’s convenience, but not later than the December test date. Early Decision applicants and accelerated law/medical program applicants must complete the tests by the November test date. The Admissions Committee cannot assure full consideration if tests are taken later than these dates. 

Rensselaer allows most applicants to self report standardized test scores on the applicaton or through the applicant portal, and only requires students to submit official scores during the enrollment process if they decide to attend Rensselaer.

Students applying to the accelerated medical or law programs are required to submit official score reports at the time of application. Official results of English Proficiency Exams (TOEFL, IELTS, PTE) for international students are also required at the time of application.

Note: Please include Rensselaer’s institutional code of 2757 for the SAT and TOEFL exams, and include the college code of 2866 for the ACT Assessment. This will ensure that the scores arrive at Rensselaer’s Admissions Office.

Accelerated Program Requirements The SAT with writing and SAT Subject Tests or the ACT with writing will be accepted in fulfillment of test requirements for students applying for the seven-year accelerated physician-scientist and six-year law programs. These students must complete the tests by the November test date and have the official results sent to Rensselaer. The SAT Subject Tests are required in Mathematics (Level 1C or 2C) and Science (biology, chemistry, or physics).

Application Fee and Enrollment Deposit A non-refundable fee of $70 is required with every undergraduate application at Rensselaer. A candidate who accepts Rensselaer’s offer of admission reserves his or her place in the class by making a nonrefundable $500 deposit by May 1 (earlier dates apply for Early Decision applicants). These funds are credited toward the student’s first semester charges. If the student does not enroll, the deposit is forfeited.


Financial Aid

Rensselaer offers students a wide range of aid options and a staff of financial aid professionals who will work with them to devise the best solutions. Students interested in federal and/or Rensselaer need-based financial aid are required to complete the College Scholarship Services (CSS) Profile application and the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).

For further information on our financial aid programs, please contact the Office of Financial Aid at (518) 276-6813, or e-mail them at finaid@rpi.edu.

Undergraduate Transfer Admission/Special Programs

Transfer students are an important part of the university community. Each year, Rensselaer enrolls more than 200 transfer students from accredited two-and four-year colleges in the United States and many other countries. Rensselaer accepts transfer students for all programs except the accelerated programs in medicine and law.

To be considered for transfer admission, a student should have earned at least 12 credit hours (after high school graduation) in the appropriate course work at another accredited college or university. Admissions requirements vary across programs. In general, Rensselaer looks for transfer students with a 3.0 GPA or higher.

Transfer applicants should submit an application by June 1 for fall entrance, November 1 for spring entrance, and by March 1 for entrance to the School of Architecture. In addition to the application form, students should submit a non-refundable $70 application fee, official transcripts from all previously attended colleges, and a faculty letter of recommendation from the major department. Applicants to the School of Architecture, Electronic Arts, and Games and Simulation Arts and Sciences programs must also submit a creative portfolio with their applications. Students with fewer than four semesters of full-time college work should also submit a complete high school record. A high school record consists of an official transcript, results of standardized tests, and a recommendation from a high school official.

Transfer admissions decisions are made on a rolling basis. Files are reviewed when they become complete and notification is sent to the student. Once a student has been admitted, the faculty will review all previous course work to determine transfer of credit. Each student will be mailed an evaluation of all previous course work. Students must send a syllabus or catalog description for all previous course work.

In order to earn a Rensselaer undergraduate degree, a student must be registered full-time for a minimum of four semesters and must complete at least 64 credits at Rensselaer, all of which will be applied to the baccalaureate degree. Two semesters of part-time study at Rensselaer will be considered equivalent to one semester of full-time study. If a transfer student elects to study abroad in a program not affiliated with the Institute, no more than 16 credits may be transferred from that program. These credits will not be considered in the 64 credits which must be completed at Rensselaer. Students who participate in study-abroad programs that are affiliated with the Institute can count those transfer credits toward the 64 credits taken at Rensselaer.

The Institute requires a degree candidate to earn the last 30 credits in courses completed on this campus or through a program formally recognized by the Institute. Transfer courses are limited to two courses or eight credits counting towards the student’s last 30 credits and require the approval of the director of the Advising and Learning Assistance Center.

Two-Year College Affiliated Program Students graduating with an A.S. degree from a two-year or community college affiliated with Rensselaer may transfer at the end of two years with full junior status if accepted for admission to Rensselaer.

(The schools listed below have agreements for programs in the School of Engineering. Some schools also have agreements for programs in Science (SCI), Management (MGT), and Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences (HASS).)

Adirondack Community College, NY (ENGR)
Alfred State College, NY (ENGR)
Anne Arundel Community College, MD (ENGR, SCI)
Berkshire Community College, MA (BMGT, ENGR)
Broome Community College, NY (ENGR)
California Community College System, all 107 campuses (BMGT, ENGR, SCI)
Cayuga County Community College, NY (ENGR)
Corning Community College, NY (BMGT, ENGR, HASS, SCI)
County College of Morris, NJ (ENGR, SCI)
Dutchess Community College, NY (ENGR)
Erie Community College, NY (BMGT, ENGR)
Fulton-Montgomery Community College, NY (ENGR)
Greenfield Community College, MA (ENGR)
Holyoke Community College, MA (BMGT)
Hudson Valley Community College, NY (BMGT, ENGR, HASS, SCI)
Jamestown Community College, NY (ENGR)
Jefferson Community College, NY (ENGR)
Miami-Dade Community College, FL (ENGR)
Mohawk Valley Community College, NY (BMGT, ENGR, HASS, SCI)
Monroe Community College, NY (ENGR)
Montgomery Community College, MD (ENGR, SCI)
Morrisville State College, NY (ENGR)
Nassau Community College, NY (ENGR)
Niagara Community College, NY (ENGR)
North Shore Community College, MA (ENGR)
Norwalk Community College, CT (ENGR)
Onondaga Community College, NY (ENGR)
Orange County Community College, NY (ENGR)
Rockland Community College, NY (ENGR)
St. Louis Community College, MO (ENGR)
Springfield Tech Community College, MA (ENGR)
Suffolk County Community College, NY (ENGR)
SUNY Adirondack, NY (ENGR)
SUNY Canton, NY (ENGR)
Tompkins-Cortland Community College, NY (ENGR)
Ulster Community College, NY (ENGR)
Westchester Community College, NY (ENGR)

Program in Science only:
Schenectady County Community College, NY

Four-Year Affiliated College Engineering Program The Affiliated College Program combines the resources of Rensselaer and a select group of affiliated liberal arts colleges and universities. This program is designed especially for students who decide during their college careers to enter the field of engineering. Students transfer to Rensselaer after completing three years of liberal arts study, including extensive and advanced course work in mathematics and science. After two or three years of concentrated study in engineering and applied science at Rensselaer, these students receive degrees from both the liberal arts college and Rensselaer.

Interested students apply for the program during the fall of their junior year on the recommendation of the liberal arts college’s pre-engineering committee. Applicants may submit either the Common Application or the Universal College Application for transfer. An official college transcript is required in addition to a letter of recommendation from the liberal arts college’s pre-engineering committee. Most students accepted for the Affiliated College Program have achieved at least a B average with grades of A or B in calculus, calculus-based physics, and chemistry courses.

A 3-2 program is offered in which a student completes three years (through the junior year) at the liberal arts college, then transfers to Rensselaer’s School of Engineering. Two years of carefully planned study complete the requirements for the bachelor’s program of the liberal arts college and the B.S. degree with a major in engineering at Rensselaer.

Institutions participating in this program are:

Amherst College, MA
Atlanta University Center, GA: Clark Atlanta University, Morehouse College,
  Morris Brown College, Spelman College
Bates College, ME
Beloit College, WI
Benedict College, SC
The Claremont Colleges, CA: Claremont-McKenna College,
  Pitzer College, Scripps College
Colgate University, NY
The College of Saint Rose, NY
College of William & Mary, VA
Colorado College, CO
Denison University, OH
Dickinson College, PA
Earlham College, IN
Fairfield University, CT
Franklin & Marshall College, PA
Gettysburg College, PA
Grinnell College, IA
Hamilton College, NY
Hobart and William Smith Colleges, NY
Hope College, MI
Ithaca College, NY
Kenyon College, OH
Knox College, IL
Lawrence University, WI
Lincoln University, PA
Middlebury College, VT
Ohio Wesleyan University, OH
Pace University, NY, all campuses
Reed College, OR
Ripon College, WI
Roberts Wesleyan College, NY
Russell Sage College, NY
St. John Fisher College, NY
St. Lawrence University, NY
Siena College, NY
State University of New York College at Fredonia, NY
State University of New York College at Oneonta, NY
The University at Albany, NY
University of the South, TN
Washington & Lee University, VA

Part-Time Matriculated Undergraduates

Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute accepts a limited number of part-time matriculated undergraduate students. Students seeking admission must meet the same academic standards (SAT scores and previous scholastic records) as full-time entering transfer students and freshmen.

Prospective part-time students from outside the Institute and currently enrolled non-matriculated students should apply through the Office of Admissions.

Part-time undergraduates will be assigned an academic adviser in the department of their major and must select courses from the regular day or evening course offerings at the Institute. Part-time students must pay a continuing registration fee and are subject to changing requirements given in the Rensselaer Catalog.

Part-Time Non-degree Students

Rensselaer welcomes students who wish to take one or more courses on a non-matriculated basis for personal enrichment or professional development. Such students should contact the Office of Admissions in order to complete the necessary application procedure at least one week prior to the last day of registration before each semester. An official transcript of former academic work is required. The admission decision is based on the student’s demonstrated academic ability, the appropriateness of the course(s) requested, and the availability of space in the course(s). Non-matriculated students receive transcripts and full academic credit for courses successfully completed. However, only 12 hours of such credit may be applied toward a Rensselaer degree should the student later apply and be accepted for degree-seeking status.

Rensselaer also accepts a limited number of qualified secondary school students who wish to enroll in appropriate courses in conjunction with their secondary school programs. All course work receives full credit, which may be applied toward degrees at Rensselaer or other universities. For application information please visit admissions.rpi.edu.

International Students

More than 1,200 international students representing more than 60 nations are enrolled at Rensselaer. Through the Offices of Admissions and International Services for Students and Scholars, Rensselaer provides special services to ensure that international students make a seamless entrance into Rensselaer’s academic community and are geared to success in their endeavors. Freshman and transfer international applicants should begin planning at least a year in advance of application deadlines. International students, including Canadian citizens, are not eligible for the accelerated medical program.

Freshman International Applicants Submit a completed application with official copies of all academic transcripts for secondary school, with English translations; results of SAT exam; and results of an English language proficiency exam. For students who will study on an F-1 or J-1 visa, evidence of financial support to cover two years’ worth of educational and living expenses is also required. Please also refer to the Freshman Admission section on general admission, standardized test, and portfolio requirements.

Transfer International Applicants Submit a completed application with official copies of all academic transcripts with English translations; official results of an English language proficiency exam; and a letter of recommendation from a college official. Students with fewer than four semesters of post-secondary study must also submit official transcripts of secondary school studies and SAT results. For students who will study on an F-1 or J-1 visa, evidence of financial support to cover two years’ worth of educational and living expenses is also required. Architecture, Electronic Arts, and Games and Simulation Arts and Sciences applicants are required to submit a portfolio.

English Language Requirement There are several options for international students to demonstrate their English language proficiency. These options include achieving minimum scores on one of the following testing options: 88 (TOEFL iBT); 570 (TOEFL PBT); 7.0 (IELTS); 59 (PTE). Official results of English proficiency exams must be sent; self reported scores will not be accepted. Other exams, such as A-levels, IB, etc., may not be substituted for the TOEFL, IELTS, or PTE.

Financial Aid Rensselaer does not offer financial assistance to international students (with the exception of the Rensselaer Medal). Canadian citizens are eligible for aid and should complete the CSS Profile form. The International Student Financial Statement (ISFS) must be completed and mailed to our office along with supporting documentation. Electronic submissions of the ISFS and financial documents will not be accepted.

Graduate Admissions


Director, Graduate Admissions: Jarron P. Decker

Office of Graduate Admissions
Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
110 8th Street
Troy, New York 12180-3590
Phone: (518) 276-6216
Email: gradadmissions@rpi.edu


Students pursuing graduate study may elect to do so in residential programs offered on the Troy, NY campus, or by participating in non-residential online and hybrid programs offered through the Hartford, CT campus, which are specifically designed for working professionals.  On either campus, students may study full-time or part-time.

Admission to all graduate courses and degree programs at Rensselaer is based on the electronic submission of a formal and competitive application. The applicant’s prior academic records as well as references and test scores, where required, are examined for evidence of ability to meet Rensselaer’s graduate standards and degree requirements as outlined under individual program and course description sections of this catalog.

For admission to graduate study, an applicant must have a U.S. bachelor’s degree or the equivalent of a U.S. bachelor’s degree prior to enrollment. Degree-seeking applicants may sometimes be admitted with conditions on continued enrollment. In these cases, continued enrollment is dependent upon the satisfactory fulfillment of the conditions. Rensselaer admits qualified students without regard to gender, sexual orientation, age, race, color, religion, national or ethnic origin, marital status, or disability.

Graduate Student Classification

Full-Time Degree-Seeking Status The applicant who intends to complete a graduate degree on a full-time basis is considered for regular, degree-seeking status. Only full-time degree-seeking graduate students are eligible for financial support from Rensselaer in the form of research or teaching assistantships or institutionally supported fellowships.

Part-Time Degree-Seeking Status Students wishing to pursue degrees on a part-time basis may do so in most departments. Admission procedures are the same as for full-time, degree-seeking applicants. This pathway is mainly for students who wish to pursue their advanced education concurrent with full-time employment or other pursuits.

Non-matriculated Status The applicant who wishes to undertake graduate course work to improve his or her knowledge in a specific area, but not follow a degree program, is considered for non-matriculated status. A minimum B average must be maintained to continue enrollment. The Office of Graduate Admissions coordinates advisement and approvals for registration. However, should the student later apply for and be accepted into degree-seeking status, the number of credit hours taken as a non-matriculated student that can be credited toward a degree varies by department and program, usually from a low of six to a university-wide maximum of 12 credit hours. Time limit to completion of degree begins with the first course taken as a non-matriculated student and applied to the degree program.

Admission Procedures

Applicants must submit an online application form and a nonrefundable $75 application fee. An applicant holding a bachelor’s degree and wishing to register for university courses as a part-time or non-matriculated student also must apply according to these procedures.

The Graduate Record Examination (GRE) is required by most departments and is strongly recommended for applicants whose prior academic records are not clearly competitive. Submission of GRE results is especially important for applicants requesting financial aid. Department-specific requirements are available in the admissions application and online at admissions.rpi.edu/graduate/admission.

The Graduate Management Admission Test (GMAT) is preferred of all applicants to the Lally School of Management. The Lally School also accepts the Graduate Record Examination (GRE).

Applicants whose native language is not English must submit official score reports from the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL), International English Language Testing System (IELTS), or Pearson’s Test of English (PTE). A minimum score of 230 CBT/88 iBT/570 PBT is required for the TOEFL. An IELTS score of 6.5 or higher or a PTE score of 60 or higher may be substituted for the requirement. Some departments require a higher TOEFL/IELTS/PTE score. Please see the department-specific requirements at admissions.rpi.edu/graduate/degree-requirements.

Dual Degrees

Rensselaer’s Lally School of Management partners with Albany Law School to offer the JD/MBA and JD/MS dual degree programs. Students interested in this program are first admitted to Albany Law School, and apply to the Lally MBA or M.S. program after completing their first year of law school. 

Co-terminal Degree Program

The co-terminal degree program allows Rensselaer undergraduates to apply for a master’s degree before completing their bachelor’s degree(s) in the same or a different department. Undergraduate students wishing to pursue the co-terminal degree can begin the application process once they have completed 90 credits of course work (101 credits for B.Arch students), with an overall GPA of 3.0 or above, towards their undergraduate degree. This includes any credits received through Advanced Placement, courses in progress, or transfer from another institution. Students must be accepted prior to the end of the first semester of the senior year. The co-terminal application is available at info.rpi.edu/co-terminal. Specific admissions requirements (e.g. minimum GPA, test scores, recommendations, etc.) vary by department. Basic requirements include:

  • students must complete the application process with all required materials and signatures submitted to the Office of Graduate Education by the deadline dates listed on the co-terminal application. Students cannot be admitted after their normal Bachelor’s degree graduation date.
  • written approval of graduate program director (GPD) or graduate admission director of the program of which the student is applying.
  • approval of the Office of Graduate Education.