StudyQA — Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute — Troy — United States: Fees, Rankings, Courses, Admissions

Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute

Troy, United States
Website: Founded: 1824 year Type of University:Private 501–600 place StudyQA ranking: 1334 pts. No. Students: 7113 No. Staff: 478 Languages: English Phone: +15182766000
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About RPI

Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, or RPI, is a private research university located in Troy, New York, with two additional campuses in Hartford and Groton, Connecticut. It was founded in 1824 by Stephen van Rensselaer and Amos Eaton for the "application of science to the common purposes of life" and is described as the oldest technological university in the English-speaking world. Built on a hillside, RPI's 265-acre (107 ha) campus overlooks the city of Troy and the Hudson River and is a blend of traditional and modern architecture. The institute operates an on‑campus business incubator and the 1,250-acre (510 ha) Rensselaer Technology Park. Numerous American colleges or departments of applied sciences were modeled after Rensselaer.The university is one among a small group of polytechnic universities in the United States which tend to be primarily devoted to the instruction of technical arts and applied sciences.

The university offers degrees from five schools: Engineering; Science; Architecture; Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences; and the Lally School of Management; as well as an interdisciplinary degree in Information Technology and Web Science.

Institute programs serve undergraduates, graduate students, and working professionals around the world. Nearly 29 percent of undergraduate students this year are from areas outside of the Northeast. First-year students hail from 43 states, in addition to the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico, and from countries all around the world.

Rensselaer offers more than 145 programs at the bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral levels. Students are encouraged to work in interdisciplinary programs that allow them to combine scholarly work from several departments or schools. The university provides rigorous, engaging, interactive learning environments and campus-wide opportunities for leadership, collaboration, and creativity.

For almost two centuries, Rensselaer has maintained its reputation for providing an undergraduate education of undisputed intellectual rigor based on educational innovation in the laboratory, classroom, and studio.

Driven by talented, dedicated, and forward-thinking faculty, Rensselaer has dramatically expanded the research enterprise by leveraging our existing strengths and focusing on five signature research areas: biotechnology and the life sciences; energy and the environment; computational science and engineering; nanotechnology and advanced materials; and media, arts, science, and technology.

The Institute is especially well-known for its success in the transfer of technology from the laboratory to the marketplace so that new discoveries and inventionsbenefit human life, protect the environment, and strengthen economic development.

  • School of Architecture

    Here in the School of Architecture at Rensselaer, we take pride in preparing our students to become future leaders in the profession. Beyond offering a comprehensive education that leads towards licensure within our two NAAB accredited professional programs we aspire to creating an environment and culture throughout the School that rewards the nobility of ideas, the roots of theoretical inquiry, the merits of social responsibility, the resounding effects of innovative design and the impressive achievement of realizable proposals that are thoughtfully conceived as benevolent gifts to the world at large.

    In response to a transdisciplinary approach to education, the School is uniquely structured as a constellation of preeminent research areas (architectural acoustics, lighting and built ecologies) that have the capacity to realign in favor of a variety of potential collaborative arrangements. Seeking to build a more robust set of graduate study concentrations in support of our internationally renowned undergraduate program the beginning student of architecture resides within a dynamic and inspired interdisciplinary environment prepared to take on the many exciting challenges facing our profession today.

  • Lally School of Management

    We develop aspiring business leaders who have a passion for innovation with the ability to work across business functions. Our programs are built around the themes of innovation, technology, and entrepreneurship in the global economy.

  • School of Engineering

    Rensselaer School of Engineering is home to seven departments offering 11 undergraduate and 18 graduate degrees. The School has a diverse student body representing gender, race, geographical, and intellectual diversity.  Students come from across the United States and many countries around the world. In addition to a strong base in fundamental sciences and rigorous courses in engineering disciplines, our curriculum includes broad exposure to humanities, arts, and social sciences. Student experience is further enhanced by opportunities to participate in numerous co-curricular activities, leadership and team work, and community engagement. Pedagogical innovations, focused on experiential learning, innovation and entrepreneurship, and integration of new technology into classrooms place us at the leading edge of 21st Century technological education.

  • School of Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences

    The School of HASS responds to the world’s greatest challenges with agenda-setting research on human societies, institutions, minds, arts, and cultures. With outstanding undergraduate, graduate and doctoral programs and a world-renowned faculty, HASS is home to an interdisciplinary and highly creative research community. The academic mission of HASS is to conduct research and to offer degree programs that are rigorous, innovative, and responsive to contemporary problems and prospects; and to equip all Rensselaer students with the skills and outlooks needed to address complex social issues in their lives as innovators and citizens.

    HASS is home to five academic departments—Arts; Cognitive Science; Communication and Media; Economics; and Science and Technology Studies (STS)—each of which combines a unique breadth and depth of scholarly expertise to create innovative educational programs and pursue interdisciplinary research. 

  • Information Technology and Web Science

    ITWS at Rensselaer presents a unique opportunity for students to combine a mastery of Information Age technologies with an academic discipline of their choice.

  • School of Science

    Here in the School of Science, we discover answers to humanity's most compelling questions, define new fields of study, and invent solutions to global challenges. Moving seamlessly across disciplinary boundaries, we bring together the best of all fields in order to advance the cause of science.

RPI History


Stephen van Rensselaer established the Rensselaer School on November 5, 1824 with a letter to the Rev. Dr. Samuel Blatchford, in which Van Rensselaer asked Blatchford to serve as the first president. Within the letter he set down several orders of business. He appointed Amos Eaton as the school's first senior professor and appointed the first board of trustees. The school opened on Monday, January 3, 1825 at the Old Bank Place, a building at the north end of Troy. Tuition was around $40 per semester (equivalent to $800 in 2012). The fact that the school attracted students from as far as Ohio and Pennsylvania is attributed to the reputation of Eaton. Fourteen months of successful trial led to the incorporation of the school on March 21, 1826 by the state of New York. In its early years, the Rensselaer School strongly resembled a graduate school more than it did a college, drawing graduates from many older institutions.

Under Eaton, the Rensselaer School, renamed the Rensselaer Institute in 1832, was a small but vibrant center for technological research. The first civil engineering degrees in the United States were granted by the school in 1835, and many of the best remembered civil engineers of that time graduated from the school. Important visiting scholars included Joseph Henry, who had previously studied under Amos Eaton, and Thomas Davenport, who sold the world's first working electric motor to the institute.

In 1847 alumnus Benjamin Franklin Greene became the new senior professor. Earlier he had done a thorough study of European technical schools to see how Rensselaer could be improved. In 1850 he reorganized the school into a three-year polytechnic institute with six technical schools.In 1861 the name was changed to Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. A severe conflagration of May 10, 1862, known as "The Great Fire", destroyed more than 507 buildings in Troy and gutted 75 acres (300,000 m2) in the heart of the city. The "Infant School" building that housed the Institute at the time was destroyed in this fire. Columbia University proposed that Rensselaer leave Troy altogether and merge with its New York City campus. Ultimately, the proposal was rejected and the campus left the crowded downtown for the hillside. Classes were temporarily held at the Vail House and in the Troy University building until 1864, when the Institute moved to a building on Broadway on 8th Street, now the site of the Approach.

One of the first Latino student organizations in the United States was founded at RPI in 1890. The Club Hispano Americano was established by the international Latin American students that attended the institute at this time.

Since 1900

In 1904 the Institute was for the fourth time devastated by fire, when its main building was completely destroyed. However, RPI underwent a period of academic and resource expansion under the leadership of President Palmer Ricketts. Named President in 1901, Ricketts liberalized the curriculum by adding the Department of Arts, Science, and Business Administration, in addition to the Graduate School. He also expanded the university's resources and developed RPI into a true polytechnic institute by increasing the number of degrees offered from two to twelve; these included electrical engineering, mechanical engineering, biology, chemistry, and physics. During Rickett's tenure, enrollment increased from approximately 200 in 1900 to a high of 1,700 in 1930.

Another period of expansion occurred following World War II as returning veterans used their GI Bill education benefits to attend college. The "Freshman Hill" residence complex was opened in 1953 followed by the completion of the Commons Dining Hall in 1954, two more halls in 1958, and three more in 1968. In 1961 there was major progress in academics at the institute with the construction of the Gaerttner Linear Accelerator, then the most powerful in the world, and the Jonsson-Rowland Science Center. The current Student Union building was opened in 1967.

The next three decades brought continued growth with many new buildings (see 'Campus' below), and growing ties to industry. The "H-building", previously used for storage, became the home for the RPI incubator program, the first such program sponsored solely by a university. Shortly after this, RPI decided to invest $3 million in pavement, water and power on around 1,200 acres (490 ha) of land it owned 5 miles (8.0 km) south of campus to create the Rensselaer Technology Park. In 1982 the New York State legislature granted RPI $30 million to build the George M. Low Center for Industrial Innovation, a center for industry-sponsored research and development.

In 1999, RPI gained attention when it was one of the first universities to implement a mandatory laptop computer program. This was also the year of the arrival of President Shirley Ann Jackson, a former chairperson of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. She instituted the "The Rensselaer Plan" (discussed below), an ambitious plan to revitalize the institute. Many advances have been made under the plan, and Jackson has enjoyed the ongoing support of the RPI Board of Trustees. However, her leadership style did not sit well with many faculty; on April 26, 2006, RPI faculty voted 149 to 155 in a failed vote of no-confidence in Jackson. In September 2007, RPI's Faculty Senate was suspended for over four years over conflict with the administration. On October 4, 2008, RPI celebrated the opening of the $220 million Experimental Media and Performing Arts Center. That same year the national economic downturn resulted in the elimination of 98 staff positions across the Institute, about five percent of the workforce. Campus construction expansion continued, however, with the completion of the $92 million East Campus Athletic Village and opening of the new Blitman Commons residence hall in 2009. As of 2015, all staff positions had been reinstated at the Institute, experiencing significant growth from pre-recession levels and contributing over $1 billion annually to the economy of the Capital District. That same year, renovation of the North Hall, E-Complex, and Quadrangle dormitories began and was later completed in 2016 to house the largest incoming class in Rensselaer's history.


  • Institutional Accreditation or Recognition - Middle States Commission on Higher Education
  • Year of first Accreditation - 1927


  • RPI ranks among the top 40 national universities in the United States according to U.S. News & World Report.
  • The same source ranks RPI 24th for "Best Value" in undergraduate education.
  • In 2005, the School of Engineering was ranked 16th in the nation for undergraduates, and 34th in the nation for graduates.
  • Four of the graduate engineering programs are ranked in the top 20 (electrical engineering, materials science and engineering, industrial engineering and mechanical engineering), seven of 11 are ranked in the top 25, and all are ranked in the top 40 in the nation.
  • In 2006 U.S. News put the graduate applied mathematics program at 20th.
  • The Leiden Ranking (2011/2012) placed RPI at 23 among 500 world universities according to the proportion of top 10% most frequently cited publications of a university. The Leiden Ranking 2011/2012 explained that the ranking "is based on publications in Thomson Reuters’ Web of Science database in the period 2005–2009. Only publications in the sciences and the social sciences are included. Furthermore, only publications of the Web of Science document types article, letter, and review are considered in the Leiden Ranking." Therefore the result is normalized by university size. If ranked by number of publications in that period, RPI is 258/500.
  • The Newsweek/Kaplan 2007 Educational College Guide named Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute one of the 25 "New Ivies", a group of 25 schools described as providing an education equivalent to schools in the Ivy League.
  • The Lally School of Management and Technology's entrepreneurship programs ranked 21st in the United States, and its technological entrepreneurship program was ranked sixth by Entrepreneur magazine.
  • The Lally School's corporate strategy program was ranked eleventh in the nation by BusinessWeek.
  • The electronic arts program is one of the highest ranked departments at RPI. For four years in a row, 2003, 2004, 2005 and 2006, U.S. News ranked the iEAR program 8th in the US.
  • The Master of Fine Arts in multimedia/visual communications program was ranked 6th in 2008 and 2009 by U.S. News.
  • In 2008, a new ranking called America's Best Colleges released by placed RPI at 49, and then at 42 a year later in 2009.
  • As of 2016, Forbes' America's Top Colleges list ranks Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute at #135; #109 in Private Colleges; #62 in Research Institutes; #62 in the Northeast.
  • In 2009, Forbes and reported that among U.S. colleges, RPI had the 21st highest average starting salary and 36th highest average mid-career salary for graduates, based on actual earnings information.
  • The 2008 Times Higher Education–QS World University Rankings ranks RPI at 174 among the top 200 universities worldwide for overall academics, and number 50 among the top 50 universities for technology.
  • The 2010–2011 Times Higher Education rankings show RPI moving up to 104 among the world's top 200 universities.
  • The Global University Ranking, which utilizes a combination of major international ranking systems, ranked RPI in the range 74-77 in 2009.
  • In 2012, RPI was ranked as the 4th best engineering school in the world by Business Insider.
  • In 2016, The Economist ranked Rensselaer #18 amongst four-year non-vocational colleges and universities and #6 in the nation for highest median earnings by recent alumni.

Student life @RPI

The students of RPI have created and participate in a variety of student-run clubs and organizations funded by the Student Union. The Union is unusual in that it is entirely student-run and its operations are paid for by activity fees. About 170 of these organizations are funded by the Student Union, while another thirty, which consist mostly of political and religious organizations, are self-supporting. In 2006 the Princeton Review ranked RPI second for "more to do on campus."

Phalanx is RPI's Senior Honor Society. It was founded in 1912, when Edward Dion and the Student Council organized a society to recognize those RPI students who had distinguished themselves among their peers in the areas of leadership, service and devotion to the alma mater. It is a fellowship of the most active in student activities and has inducted more than 1,500 members since its founding.

Greek organizations are popular with 29 social fraternities and five sororities. There are two co‑ed fraternities, Psi Upsilon, a social fraternity, while the other, Alpha Phi Omega, is a service fraternity. As such, about a third of men are in fraternities and about a fifth of women are in sororities. Theta Xi fraternity was established by RPI students on April 29, 1864, the only national fraternity founded during the Civil War. The Theta Xi Chapter House is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.(See the List of RPI fraternities and sororities.)

RPI has around twenty intramural sports organizations, many of which are broken down into different divisions based on level of play. Greek organizations compete in them as well as independent athletes. There are also thirty-nine club sports.

Given the university's proximity to the Berkshires, Green Mountains and Adirondacks, the Ski Club and the Outing Club are some of the largest groups on campus. The Ski Club offers weekly trips to local ski areas during the winter months, while the Outing Club offers trips on a weekly basis for a variety of activities.

The Rensselaer Polytechnic is the student-run weekly newspaper. The Poly prints about 7,000 copies each week and distributes them around campus. Although it is the Union club with the largest budget, The Poly receives no subsidy from the Union, and obtains all funding through the sale of advertisements. There was also a popular student-run magazine called Statler & Waldorf which prints on a semesterly basis.

RPI has an improvisational comedy group, Sheer Idiocy, which performs several shows a semester. There are also several music groups ranging from a cappella groups such as the Rusty Pipes, Partial Credit, the Rensselyrics and Duly Noted, to several instrumental groups such as the Orchestra, the Jazz Band and a classical choral group, the Rensselaer Concert Choir.

Another notable organization on campus is WRPI, the campus radio station. WRPI differs from most college radio in that it serves a 75-mile (121 km) radius including the greater Albany area. With 10 kW of broadcasting power, WRPI maintains a stronger signal than nearly all college radio stations and some commercial stations. WRPI currently broadcasts on 91.5 FM in the Albany area.

The RPI Players is an on‑campus theater group that was formed in 1929. The Players resided in the Old Gym until 1965 when they moved to their present location at the 15th Street Lounge. This distinctive red shingled building had been a USO hall for the U.S. Army before being purchased by RPI. The Players have staged over 275 productions in its history.

RPI songs

There are a number of songs commonly played and sung at RPI events. Notable among them are:

  • The Alma Mater (Here's to Old RPI) – sung at formal events such as commencement and convocation, also played and sung by the Pep Band at hockey and football games. It was published in the first book of Songs of Rensselaer printed in 1913.
  • Hail, Dear Old Rensselaer – used to be the fight song during the 1960s. It is still played today by the Pep Band at athletic events.
  • All We've Learned at Rensselaer – sung at the RPI commencement ceremonies by the Rensselyrics. Although the Rensselyrics are an a cappella group, this song is accompanied by piano. Each verse or section has a different musical style, several of which are closely based on Billy Joel songs or other popular songs.

First Year Experience and CLASS programs

Another notable aspect of student life at RPI is the "First-Year Experience" (FYE) program. Freshman begin their stay at RPI with a week called "Navigating Rensselaer and Beyond" or NRB week. The Office of the First-Year Experience provides several programs that extend to not only freshman, but to all students. These include family weekend, community service days, the Information and Personal Assistance Center (IPAC), and the Community Advocate Program. Recently the FYE program was awarded the 2006 NASPA Excellence Gold Award, in the category of "Enrollment Management, Orientation, Parents, First-Year, Other-Year and related".

Since 2008, Jackson's administration has led an effort to form the CLASS Initiative ("Clustered Learning Advocacy and Support for Students"), which requires all sophomores to live on campus and to live with special "residence cluster deans". The transition to this program began in early 2010 among some resistance from some fraternities and students who had planned to live off campus.

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Study mode:On campus Languages: English
Foreign:$ 68.8 k / Year(s)
Deadline: Jan 2, 2023 501–600 place StudyQA ranking: 1463
Study mode:On campus Languages: English
Foreign:$ 68.8 k / Year(s)
Deadline: Jan 2, 2023 501–600 place StudyQA ranking: 2498
Study mode:On campus Languages: English
Foreign:$ 68.8 k / Year(s)
Deadline: Jan 2, 2023 501–600 place StudyQA ranking: 811
Study mode:On campus Languages: English
Foreign:$ 68.8 k / Year(s)
Deadline: Jan 2, 2023 501–600 place StudyQA ranking: 2297
Study mode:On campus Languages: English
Foreign:$ 68.8 k / Year(s)
Deadline: Jan 2, 2023 501–600 place StudyQA ranking: 774