Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
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The Office of Graduate Education, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute

Office of Graduate Education


Master's Students

Degree requirements

A student is admitted to study for the master's degree when the student's record indicates ability to do advanced work in that field. When a student decides to do graduate work in a field different from the undergraduate degree, however, the department may require him or her to establish additional background by taking certain undergraduate courses.

The Master of Science degree is under the auspices of the Graduate School. The Professional School in the School of Engineering provides the Master of Engineering degree. The professional Master of Architecture degree is provided by of the School of Architecture and the Master of Business Administration degree is provided by the Lally School of Management and Technology. The School of Humanities and Social Sciences provides the Master of Fine Arts.

A candidate for a master's degree must:

  • Complete a Plan of Study, approved by the department with satisfactory grades. The master's requires 30 credit hours beyond the bachelor's degree. Certain programs have been specifically approved for additional credit hours, (e.g., the MBA and MFA require 60 credit hours). At least half the total credit hours presented toward the degree must have the suffix numbers 6000-7999, with the further limitation that no more than 15 credits of 4000-4990 courses are to be allowed.
  • Satisfy residence requirements.
  • Present an independently written (single author) thesis or project, if required.
  • Pursue a Plan of Study that will lead to the completion of all requirements, including those of the department, within two and one-half years.
  • Pay binding fee, if applicable.
  • File a degree application with the Registrar's Office by the date specified in the academic calendar for the semester in which he or she plans to be graduated. If a degree application was filed for a previous semester but the requirements were not fulfilled, a new degree application must be filed for the semester in which the student actually is graduated.
    Degree candidates who at any point in their tenure at Rensselaer are, or become, full-time students must maintain continuous full-time registration throughout their Rensselaer academic career to be eligible to graduate. These students must be registered full-time during the semester in which they intend to graduate, and:
  • Be in good academic and disciplinary standing.
  • Satisfy the culminating experience requirement as specified by the department. A student pursuing more than one master's degree at Rensselaer must meet the above requirements for each degree sought.

A student pursuing more than one master's degree at Rensselaer must meet the above requirements for each degree sought.

Thesis, Projects, and Professional Projects

Certain departments may specify presentation of a thesis or completion of a master's project as a requirement for a master's degree. Usually six, and no more than nine, credit hours are allowed for a master's thesis or multiple semester master's project. Professional projects are completed in one semester and are limited to four credit hours for each project.

In a department that ordinarily requires a thesis or project, a student may be permitted to substitute additional courses that constitute a comparable culminating experience on recommendation of the adviser and with the approval of the department chair.

The thesis or project report must be presented to the candidate's adviser for review at least two weeks before the end of the term in which the degree is to be awarded. Any final examination on the thesis or project is to be held by the date listed in the academic calendar for the year. Theses and certain multiple semester projects are graded either S (satisfactory) or U (failed). Professional projects and certain other multiple semester projects receive a standard letter grade.

The candidate must deposit a copy of the thesis (or certain multiple-semester projects), together with the adviser's written approval of both content and format, at the Graduate School at least one week before the end of classes in the term in which the degree is to be awarded. The Graduate School must certify that the approved document has been deposited before the degree is awarded. Only work meeting the highest standards of integrity will be accepted for degree requirements at Rensselaer. Academic integrity is a requirement of continued good academic standing and for the awarding of a graduate degree.