Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute


Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute has undergone what can only be described as a “renaissance.” From its roots as the oldest technological research university in the English-speaking world, RPI has launched an ambitious agenda of renewal and growth. The university has transformed itself through expanding research initiatives, massive campus building projects, and growing academic programs. Breathtaking new facilities, such as the Curtis R. Priem Experimental Media and Performing Arts Center and the Center for Biotechnology and Interdisciplinary Studies, have set the tone for a new vision for Rensselaer as a premier research university in the twenty-first century. RPI is located in New York State’s Hudson-Mohawk Valley, just a few miles north of the capital city of Albany. The university sits on a 275-acre hilltop in the city of Troy, overlooking the Hudson River. Troy provides easy driving access to New York, Boston, and Montreal, as well as the beauty and recreation of the nearby Adirondack Mountains. The campus community is one of intellectual discovery, research, and bold exploration; from engineers and scientists to artists and entrepreneurs. Students at RPI are ambitious, original, fun, and intelligent with a global perspective and sense of citizenship. The university offers academic programs across a wide range of disciplines: engineering, the sciences, business, architecture, information technology, humanities, social sciences, and the arts.

RPI was founded in 1824 as “The Rensselaer School,” the first academic institution of its kind. Stephen Van Rensselaer, visionary of the Erie Canal, created the school for the instruction of “the application of science to the common purposes of life.” That mantra has propelled Rensselaer forward as a unique institution of higher education for more than 180 years. Over time, RPI graduates have done amazing things, from building the Brooklyn Bridge to masterminding the first moon landing. They have established and led successful enterprises, from Texas Instruments (inventors of the first silicon transistor) to Vicarious Visions (creators of Guitar Hero). At Rensselaer, students walk in the footsteps of pioneers— and become pioneers themselves.

If you have those kinds of ambitions, you will find great satisfaction at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. You will enjoy access to world-class research facilities, and work alongside exceptionally talented researchers on challenges that range from eradicating cholera to combating global warming. Whether you study mechanical engineering or music, bioinformatics or business, Rensselaer is a place for those who yearn to fulfill their dreams, and change the world in the process.

As a top-tier research university, Rensselaer has produced some of the foremost entrepreneurs, innovators, and visionaries in the world. The undergraduate experience provides our students with the opportunity to walk in the footsteps of our distinguished graduates, and equips them to be driving forces behind the world’s next great innovations. Our campus culture supports an environment that encourages discovery, creativity, innovation, and diversity. Students learn and grow inside and outside the classroom through myriad opportunities to explore new interests and passions while forming lifelong friendships and social connections with their peers. The robust living-learning experience students find at Rensselaer prepares them for academic achievement, entrepreneurship, creative expression, and global leadership. This is where great adventures begin.

Information Summary

Ranks 11th in New York and 91st overall. See the entire top 2,000 colleges and universities list
Overall Score (about) 95.4
Total Cost On-Campus Attendance $71,998
Admission Success rate N/A
ACT / SAT 75%ile scores 33 / 1500
Student Ratio Students-to-Faculty 17 : 1
Retention (full-time / part-time) 92% / N/A
Enrollment Total (all students) 7,895


The research leaders who work, study, and innovate at Rensselaer share a common focus: unearthing new opportunities for solving the world’s most challenging problems. As our society becomes more interconnected and independent, solving complex problems requires the skills, drive, and imagination needed to approach life’s puzzles in more innovative ways. Tackling those problems requires both exceptional resources and curious minds.


The university offers programs across our five schools; the School of Engineering, the School of Science, the School of Architecture, the School of Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences, and Rensselaer’s business school, the Lally School of Management and Technology. The university was also one of the first in the nation to offer an interdisciplinary degree in Information Technology, offered across all five schools. Rensselaer operates an environment with “low walls,” meaning students are free to change majors and participate in classes across the breadth of the university’s offerings.

World-Class Facilities

In recent years, Rensselaer has invested hundreds of millions of dollars to build worldclass facilities that allow our research leaders to advance the frontiers of human possibility. For example, at our Center for Biotechnology and Interdisciplinary Studies, students and faculty members collaborate to make breakthrough discoveries in the life sciences. One team at the center is conducting pioneering research on peptide imbalances that could help unlock the mystery of Alzheimer’s disease.

Rensselaer’s extraordinary Experimental Media and Performing Arts Center (EMPAC) incorporates a range of art and performance spaces under one roof, including a concert hall with a “tunable” ceiling and a studio containing one of the world’s only 360-degree projection screens for virtual environments. In addition to serving as a world-class performance venue, EMPAC also functions as a platform for simulation and visualization research. At the Computational Center for Nanotechnology Innovations, researchers perform simulations at speeds approaching two trillion calculations per second using one of the world’s most powerful university- based supercomputers. Our Geotechnical Centrifuge Center can produce a force 200 times the force of gravity for earthquake engineering simulation, and our engineering students also study the unique properties of atomic particles at the Gaerttner Linear Accelerator Laboratory on campus.

Multidisciplinary Research


Rensselaer also structures research activities in ways that help spark new and dazzling insights. As the name implies, our research constellations bring together some of the brightest stars in academia in teams that include undergraduates as well as faculty members and graduate students.

The Tetherless World Research Constellation, for example, focuses on radically expanding the capabilities of the World Wide Web. Other constellations, organized around topics such as “future chips” and “biocomputation and bioinformatics,” pursue—and realize—equally heady goals in areas that range from unleashing the awesome curative powers of stem cells to transforming organic diodes into light-emitting “wallpaper.”

I’ve been involved in research at RPI since my freshman year, working in a lab in the biology department. It’s great because I get the opportunity to learn, firsthand, techniques that are only taught in upper-level or graduate courses. —Katie Mahoney ’07

Projects like these reflect key facets of the Rensselaer philosophy: embracing discovery, creativity, and imagination for its own sake, while always keeping an eye toward how ideas can serve humanity. From creating a synthetic replacement for the blood-thinner Heparin to examining the design of the New Orleans levees, our researchers and students continue to honor the vision of our founders.

RPI has the resources available to give you what you want and need from the college experience. —Amanda Feather ’07

New Research Platforms

  • Center for Biotechnology and Interdisciplinary Studies Completed in 2004 The spirit of exploration and discovery is alive in the multidisciplinary research underway in this 218,000- square-foot center. Research lies at the intersection of the life sciences, information sciences, engineering, mathematics, and physical sciences.
  • Experimental Media and Performing Arts Center Completed in 2008 This 220,000-square-foot research and performance center showcases our distinctive programs in the electronic arts, while providing facilities that broaden campus discourse and allow us to fully engage the larger community in unique and experimental arts experiences.
  • Computational Center for Nanotechnology Innovations Completed in 2007 Rensselaer, IBM, and New York State joined together in a $100 million partnership to create one of the world’s most powerful university-based computing centers to advan

Study Abroad

Maintaining a global perspective is a critical component of the Rensselaer mission. Every undergraduate can participate in an overseas program such as REACH; Rensselaer Engineering Education Across Cultural Horizons. Through this program, students study at locations ranging from Denmark to Singapore. The School of Architecture maintains a robust study abroad requirement that can include trips to Italy, China, and Turkey. Other students choose to participate in their own study abroad programs, that are coordinated with and facilitated by the Rensselaer Office of Undergraduate Education.

Academic Programs

Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute is unique in its study options. For one thing, the university has a Accelerated Program, Cross-Registration, Distance Learning, Double Major, Dual Enrollment of High School Students, ESL, Honors Program, Independent Study, Internships, Liberal Arts/Career Combination, ROTC, Air Force, ROTC, Army, ROTC, Navy, Student-Designed Major, Study Abroad and Visiting/Exchange Student Program. Again, when any student is looking for some counseling or other types of support, Alcohol/Substance Abuse Counseling, Campus Ministries/Chaplain, Career Counseling, Economically Disadvantaged Student Services, Employment Service, Financial Aid Counseling, Freshman Orientation Program, Health Services, Legal Services, Minority Student Services, Personal Counseling, Placement Service and Women’s Services can help. There’s never a reason to feel alone in your studies either, since there are academic support services like Extensive Undergraduate Evening or Early Morning Classes, Learning Center, Pre-Admission Summer Program, Reduced Course Load, Study Skills Assistance, Tutoring and Writing Center. The university has disability services as well, so be sure to inquire about them if needed.

The following are the types of degrees and majors offered at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute.

Foreign Language and Literature:
Multiple or Interdisciplinary:
Biological/Physical Sciences, technology & society
Health and Clinical Sciences:
Predentistry, Premedicine
Communications & Journalism:
Communications/Rhetoric, Digital Communications/Multimedia
Physical Sciences:
Chemistry, Geology, HydrologyWater Resources, Physics
Mathematics Education, Science Teacher Education
Philosphy and Religion:
Business, Management, & Marketing:
Business Administration/Management
School of Visual and Performing Arts:
Fine/Studio Arts
Biological and Biomedical Sciences:
Biochemistry, Biology, Biophysics
Social Sciences:
Psychology – General
Computer Science:
Computer Science, Computer/Information Sciences – General, Information Technology
Mathematics – General
Popular majors:
fifty percent engineering, nineteen percent computer and information sciences, nine percent business per marketing, five percent communications per journalism

The cost per credit hour (overall) was $905 Cost & Savings Calculator Financial Aid International students eligible for non-need-based aid last fall. In addition, for international students, the application fee is 70. Are you an international student? The Fall application deadline for international students is the 1st of January.

Most Popular Fields of Study


campus :: Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
building :: Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute


Students may apply to Rensselaer using one of three applications—the Common Application, the Universal College Application, or the Candidate’s Choice, Rensselaer’s official application. Students using the Common Application or Universal College Application should submit the required supplemental form.

I chose RPI because I was looking for an academically challenging school, and because I knew the student body was diverse enough for me to find a group of people who shared my interests. —Patrick Heider ’07

For the 2009–2010 academic year, Rensselaer received more than 12,000 applications, which represents a jump of nearly one hundred percent over three years. Most applicants are top students who excel in mathematics and the sciences; many (but not all) apply with Advanced Placement credit or credit from an International baccalaureate program. Rensselaer accepts scores from AP exams and Higher Level IB exams, which can allow students to place out of as many classes as they are eligible for.

Rensselaer has so many things available to its students because of its location in the Capital Region as well as activities offered on campus. I always feel that I can join a group of friends and easily find something to do.” 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, and three 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.

Standardized Test Requirements

All standardized tests for Rensselaer must be taken by December 31. Students are required to submit official scores from the SAT (critical reading, math, and writing) or ACT (which must include the optional writing component). SAT Subject Tests in a math and a science are required only for applicants to accelerated programs (or ACT, which must include the optional writing component, in lieu of SAT and SAT Subject Tests). The TOEFL is required for international applicants (minimum 230 CBT/88 iBT/570 PBT).

Application Deadlines

Rensselaer offers three application deadlines—Early Decision I, Early Decision II, and Regular Decision. Early Decision I and II offer students the opportunity to apply earlier and hear back from Rensselaer one month later, but are binding decisions (they require the student to attend the university if admitted, barring financial considerations). The Early Decision I deadline is November 1, and decisions are released December 5. The Early Decision II deadline is December 15, with decisions being released on January 16. The Regular Decision deadline is January 15, with admissions decisions becoming available on March 14.

Financial Aid

Rensselaer offers a comprehensive and robust financial aid program with more than ninety-five percent of students receiving some form of assistance. More than $135 million in aid is distributed to undergraduates each year. The university has committed $80 million of its resources for need-based and merit scholarships, including the $60,000 Rensselaer Medal Scholarship for superior high school achievements in math and science. To simplify the financial aid process, Rensselaer also provides each student/family with a financial aid counselor to provide guidance and assistance. All applicants for admission are given full consideration for all of the merit awards available at Rensselaer. Selection of awards is made after a thorough review of the information that has been included as part of the admissions application. No separate application is required for merit scholarship consideration. Entering freshmen must complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) and the College Scholarship Service (CSS) Profile to apply for institutional and federal need-based aid. More information on these applications is available on the Rensselaer Financial Aid Web site.

Student Financial Aid Details

Ranks 488th for the average student loan amount.
Secrets to getting the best scholarships and financial aid in New York.


The Rensselaer Student Experience

The Rensselaer First-Year Experience program, recognized as one of the best in the nation, is rich in resources and activities that help students make a successful transition to college life. A variety of campus living choices are available, including special-interest theme housing options such as Leadership House and a living and learning community focused on earth, energy, and the environment.

Rensselaer will provide you with the ability to benefit fully from your undergraduate experience in a place where your individual contribution truly matters. The people of Rensselaer are exceptional bridge builders; our graduates masterminded the bridges going in and out of Manhattan and completed the Panama Canal. That tradition is embodied in the Rensselaer undergraduate experience, where students’ academic pursuits are fully integrated with residential, athletic, arts, and student activity programs.

RPI students put as much passion and drive into extracurricular pursuits as they do into their academics. We encourage students to lead fulfilled and balanced lives by exploring interests ranging from ballroom dancing and improvisational comedy to playing in our pep band or writing for the school newspaper, The Rensselaer Polytechnic. There are 164 student-run clubs and organizations—from Habitat for Humanity to the ski club—help foster teamwork and leadership skills. The fraternity and sorority community at Rensselaer, which dates back to 1853, provides opportunities for both leadership development and service programming in more than thirty Greek-letter organizations.

This school features the Suburban setting, Small city (50,000 – 249,999) and Residential campus. Besides, the university has many unique facilities such as center for terahertz research, nanoscale science and engineering center, linear accelerator laboratory, observatory, incubator center, fresh water institute, lighting research center, social and behavioral research laboratory, center for biotechnology and interdisciplinary studies. After all, the school is located 10 miles from Albany, 150 miles from New York City.

Student Enrollment Demographics

Student Graduation Demographics


More than seventy percent of Rensselaer students participate in some form of athletics. In addition to our NCAA Division I women’s and men’s ice hockey teams, students can choose from among twenty-one other varsity teams and fifty intramural and club sports. The scholar-athletes at Rensselaer are among the best in the nation, with a record number of National Academic All-Americans. Rensselaer continues to elevate our athletic opportunities with the construction of the East Campus Athletic Village, adding a new football stadium, basketball arena, and sports medicine facility to our athletics complex.

Rensselaer is an NCAA Division III school with two NCAA Division I teams:

Men’s Varsity Sports

  • Baseball
  • Basketball
  • Cross Country
  • Football
  • Golf
  • Ice Hockey (Division I)
  • Indoor Track and Field
  • Lacrosse
  • Soccer
  • Swimming
  • Tennis
  • Track and Field

Women’s Varsity Sports

  • Basketball
  • Cross Country
  • Field Hockey
  • Ice Hockey (Division I)
  • Indoor Track and Field
  • Lacrosse
  • Soccer
  • Softball
  • Swimming
  • Tennis
  • Track and Field


The Rensselaer Medal

For more than ninety years, the university has awarded the Rensselaer Medal in conjunction with high schools around the world. It was first presented in 1916 with two purposes: to recognize the superlative academic achievement of young men and women, and to motivate students toward careers in science, engineering, and technology. The Rensselaer Medal is awarded to promising secondary school juniors who have distinguished themselves in mathematics and science. Responsibility for selecting the Rensselaer Medalist belongs to faculty and staff within the participating secondary school. This $15,000 per year merit scholarship is guaranteed for four years (five years for the School of Architecture program) to be applied to the tuition for each medalist who is accepted and chooses to enroll at Rensselaer.


Entrepreneurial thinking lies at the heart of Rensselaer’s philosophy. As a result, the university has helped our graduates launch many successful businesses including Union Carbide, Texas Instruments, Level 3 Communications, and NVIDIA. The video game giant Vicarious Visions once operated out of a Rensselaer residence hall. Drawing one-third of its employees from Rensselaer’s graduate pool, the company creates such successful video games as Guitar Hero III, Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 2, and Spider-Man 3.

The faculty and course work at Rensselaer have taught me to take on problems from many different angles, and to continually strive for success. I feel confident and ready to join the global workforce after I graduate. —Will Manning ’07, Information Technology/Finance

Rensselaer alumni have also launched dozens of businesses in engineering and the sciences. Osborn Engineering, which has designed more than 100 U.S. sports stadiums, including the original Yankee Stadium and Fenway Park, was established by a Rensselaer alumnus. Gary Burrell ’63 co-founded Garmin International, a world-class manufacturer of GPS navigation systems.

On average, more than seventy percent of Rensselaer graduates report that they have secured a job by graduation, and another twenty percent go on to attend top graduate schools for advanced degrees. The top employers of Rensselaer graduates annually include General Electric, Lockheed Martin, the Boeing Company, Accenture, Deloitte Consulting, BAE Systems, and IBM.

The Rensselaer alumni network consists of 90,000+ alumni from Switzerland to Venezuela, and from Florida to California. The Rensselaer Alumni Association operates dozens of local groups to assist alumni in connecting and networking, as well as providing special lectures and unique events, such as a “behind the scenes” tour of the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) in Colorado. Rensselaer alumni are always willing to assist recent graduates with job opportunities and contacts, and understand the tremendous rigor and thoroughness of a Rensselaer education.

Prominent Graduates

  • Myles Brand ’64, President of the NCAA
  • Claire Fraser ’77, President of the Institute for Genomic Research
  • John E. Kelly III ’78, Senior Vice President and Director of Research, IBM
  • Mark Little ’82, Senior Vice President and Director of GE Global Research
  • Don McMurtry ’86, Former Vice President at Research In Motion (creators of the Blackberry)
  • Biogen
  • Richard Sipllane, Jr. ’72, Executive Vice President for Fidelity Investment Company
  • Jackson Tai ’72, Retired Chief Executive Officer of DBS Bank, Singapore’s Largest Bank
  • Albert Lownethal ’67, Chairman and CEO of Oppenheimer
  • Ed Zander ’68, Former Chairman of Motorola

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