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

Office of Graduate Education

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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Do you offer the degree (or research) I want? Over 100 graduate programs in more than 50 disciplines attract top students, researchers and professors. Fueled by significant support from government, industry, and private donors, Rensselaer promises a truly unique experience, a world-class education, in an environment tailored to the individual. To see all the programs click here.

Do I have to apply for the Ph.D. or can I apply for a Master’s degree? Applicants may apply for the Master degree only, the M.S. and Ph.D., or the Ph.D. only.Master of Architecture, Master of Fine Arts, and Master of Business Administration degrees are also available.

How is RPI ranked? Rensselaer's rankings show it as a leading, top-tier research university in the United States and the world. This includes the sustained rise of Rensselaer in the top 50 of U.S. News and World Report’s annual ranking of national universities. During the last 10 years, Rensselaer has risen steadily from being ranked 49th in 1999 to 42nd last year. Other more recent rankings include Bloomberg BusinessWeek’s “Best Business Programs by Specialty 2010” ranking of the Institute’s undergraduate program at the Lally School of Management & Technology as first in the area of “Top Schools for Strategy,” one of 12 areas analyzed by the annual study. Of the 139 programs analyzed in the Best Undergraduate Business Schools study, Lally at Rensselaer ranked 34th overall, up from 36th last year. In addition, The Princeton Review recently named Rensselaer as one of the nation’s most environmentally conscious colleges or universities, and ranked the Institute’s video game design program as fifth among the best programs in the United States.

How big is the student body? Is it diverse? In the fall 2010 there were 1,215 Resident Graduate Students; Full-time: 1,091 Part-time: 124. For more quick facts click here.

What is the campus like? Rensselaer’s 275-acre campus is a blend of modern style and classic design. Built into a hillside, it overlooks the historic city of Troy and the Hudson River.

What are my chances of being admitted? Admission is very competitive and every year the applicant pool is a little different from the year before. It is not possible to predict if a student is going to be admitted based on just test scores. For doctoral study, it is often about making a research match with faculty in the programs. Prospective students are welcome to contact faculty to find a fit between their goals and research interests.

My GPA is below 3.0. Should I still apply? Yes. While your GPA is important, it is not the sole determinant of admissibility.  Factors such as compatibility between your area of interest; the research efforts of your department; prior research experiences and activities, test scores, recommendations are evaluated. In other words, the competitiveness of your complete application package when compared to all applicants for the same term and discipline along with the needs of your department determine admission.  You should contact your department to find out the profile of admitted students.

What do you look for in a “Statement of Background & Goals”? In addition to providing insight into factors, attributes, and skills/potential that makes you a good candidate for graduate study in your chosen field, the Statement of Background and Goals (SOBG) provides information that cannot not be found in or gleaned from transcripts and test scores. Additionally, the SOBG is a vehicle for evaluating applicants’ writing ability to organize and present information.

What are my chances of getting financial aid? The major determinants in awarding financial aid are the competitiveness of your application, the needs of the department and the value-added you bring to the department’s research efforts. Applicants are considered for all available aid.

Will I be funded until I finish my degree? In general, students who receive an award from RPI will have the funding continued depending upon performance and progress towards completion of degree program. You should discuss this in detail once you have been made an award by your department.

If I do not get financial aid from RPI, are there other ways to fund the degree? Applicants are encouraged to seek and apply for non-Rensselaer funding such as national fellowships. Visit this link for details on external graduate fellowships. Additionally, low interest loans may be available. Information concerning funding can be found by visiting Source of Funding.

When is the application deadline? Can I apply after that date? The deadline for the fall and summer terms is in January if you want to be fully considered for admission and financial aid. The deadline for the spring term is August. Applications may be accepted after this date if the department approves. Some programs such as the MS in Information Technology and the MBA will accept applications on a rolling basis and have accepted students as late as Jly for the fall semester.

What admissions tests do I need to take? You may submit copies of the GRE/TOEFL/IELTS/GMAT scores for review with your application packet, but official scores are required to finalize admission. Please check the specific requirements for your department. Visit this link for details on specific requirements for your program.

What are the average test scores? The average GRE scores of admitted applicants for Fall 2010 were Verbal 600, Quantitative 770, and Analytical 4.5. However, applicants should not place too much importance on these numbers and should keep in mind the following points:
•Most applicants to our program have outstanding GRE scores, but only a small percentage are admitted.
•We receive applications from many different countries. Trends in GRE scores vary from country to country, so we try to compare an applicant's GRE scores with others from the same country, rather than to the entire pool of applicants.
•Strong scores and grades do not guarantee admission. Applicants must also show research potential.
In the case of non-native English speakers who are exempt from the TOEFL requirement because they have been studying in the US, phone interviews may be required at the discretion of the department Graduate Program Director.

What else do I need to submit in order to apply? Submit official transcripts (or official copies of them) of all university level studies, including all diplomas awarded if the degree is not noted on your course transcripts.  Even if you only took one course in a university, you still need to submit that transcript, even if you did not earn a degree from that school.

When and how should I schedule a campus visit? Prospective students are encouraged to visit campus anytime during the year. Typically, prospective graduate students schedule their visits during the summer and fall of the year they intend to enter graduate school.More information can found by linking to Campus Visitation Program.

How do I get to RPI? The Albany International Airport is located about 20 minutes from the Rensselaer campus by car. The Albany-Rensselaer Amtrak rail station is located approximately 20 minutes from RPI in the town of Rensselaer, NY. The Greyhound bus station is also located approximately 20 minutes away in Albany.

What extra-curricular opportunities are available? Rensselaer has more than 160 clubs, sports, and organizations to choose from — everything you’ll find at most universities, and quite a few clubs you may not see anywhere else. The Mueller Fitness Center contains treadmills, cross-training machines, free weights, aerobics, kickboxing, and more. It is located right next to the Alumni Sports & Recreation Center (AS&RC), which has an indoor track, basketball and tennis courts, and the Robison Pool. In fact, The Princeton Review ranked Rensselaer #2 on their 2007 edition “More to Do on Campus” list. And on October 3, 2009, the Institute officially unveiled the new East Campus Athletic Village (ECAV) a multipurpose lighted stadium with field turf and seating for 5,200 and a 1,200 seat basketball arena and a fully equipped 4,800 square foot strength and conditioning center connects to a professional-caliber sports medicine suite, and within the arena are offices for athletics administrators and coaches, numerous meeting spaces, a new Athletics Hall of Fame, a pro shop and a café. A additional phase that is still being developed will feature an indoor pool, outdoor tennis courts, and an indoor sports facility complete with a track and tennis courts.

Is the campus safe? Because Rensselaer is an open campus, we recognize the importance of addressing the safety of our students. Our Public Safety professionals take a proactive approach to safety, teaching students what they can do to minimize safety risks.The Office of Public Safety has 58 emergency call boxes throughout campus and provides walking as well as riding escorts for students 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.

Do I need a car? A car is often unnecessary since many shopping areas and services are within walking distance of student housing areas near campus. Many students however do bring a car to campus or purchase one when they arrive.

Where is Troy, New York? What is the city like? Troy is located in the heart of New York's Capital Region. Our location is central to cultural, historical, and outdoor attractions. The Troy Savings Bank Music Hall, a two hundred-year-old theater, offers musical venue located right in downtown Troy. The antiques district, boutique shops, and the local farmers market contribute to the spirit of Troy’s community. The local region offers a perfect trail mix for skiers, snowboarders, hikers, and mountain bikers. We're about an hour from the Adirondack Mountains of New York and the Green Mountains of Vermont. Grafton Lakes State Park is a quick 30-minute drive from campus, and gorgeous Lake George is only 45 minutes away.

What is the cost of living in Troy? In general, it is relatively inexpensive to live in Troy. The cost of housing is the lowest in the region. Troy is home to thousands of college students who keep the prices competitive.

How do I find out about housing? Rensselaer graduate students have the opportunity to live either on campus or in housing off-campus.

On-Campus Graduate Housing Option: is available to matriculated full-time students only and is available for single graduate students as well as married students with families, as space permits. This alternative is attractive to students who value the convenience of amenities such as utilities, maintenance, local telephone service, cable television, and high speed internet included in their rent. Students interested in on-campus alternatives should contact Residence Life at (518) 276-6284 or Visit the Residence Life Web site to learn about the availability of on-campus housing units and confirm check-in for housing assignments or contact the Residence Life Office at 518-276-6284.

Off-Campus Graduate Housing Option - College Suites at City Station: is a new apartment complex on the corner of our campus in Troy, New York. It will provide 184 graduate students apartment living.

Each spacious apartment comes fully furnished, with kitchens, washers and dryers, and most important to you, a private bedroom and a private bathroom. Additional features include internet and cable hook up, 24-hour security monitoring, street level restaurants and retail stores, common areas, dishwashers, air conditioning, and study areas.

Should you decide to live at City Station you will also have all of your utilities paid for throughout the year. Cable, Internet, Heat and Air Conditioning are included in the price.

This new community is just steps from the Rensselaer campus, located on the southwestern corner of campus in a new mixed-use development that promises to bring exciting new growth to Troy for years to come.

Rensselaer’s Office of Graduate Education is working closely with The United Group (owner, developer, and manager of College Suites @ City Station) to ensure a dynamic experience for all the students living at City Station. The Office of Graduate Education will be receiving application materials for College Suites at City Station apartments and will be coordinating a review of academic standing of all applicants. Approved applications will be forwarded to The United Group, a nationally recognized and award-winning corporation with over 35 years of successful experience in development, financing, acquisitions, repositioning, and professional management of a wide variety of real estate assets, who are responsible College Suites at City Station apartments.

Visit College Suites at City Station web site.

Off-Campus Graduate Housing Option: Students may also search the Off-Campus Housing Database, which not only provides access to available housing units near campus, but also allows students to search for apartments by rent, number of bedrooms, furniture, etc.

What is the weather like? Troy weather varies greatly through the four seasons of the year. Temperature ranges from 60 degrees to 85 degrees Fahrenheit (18 degrees to 29 degrees Celsius) in the summer to 0 degrees to 38 degrees F (-17 degrees to 3 degrees C) in the winter.

Are there daycare facilities for children? Some options include: Rensselaer Cooperative Children's Playschool Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Bryckwyck Entry E, 518-276-6102 Samaritan/Rensselaer Children Center Samaritan Hospital, 518-271-3748 YWCA Daycare Center, 518-274-7100 The Campus Playschool at Rensselaer, 518-276-6102.

What are the most recent Tuition and Living Expenses? Visit this link for updated cost information.