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Undergrad Profile

Why not change the world?

Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI) is a laboratory of innovation and technology where scientists, artists, engineers, architects, and business students learn and work together to create a collaborative learning environment unlike any other.

Founded nearly two centuries ago, Rensselaer was the first technological research university founded in America, yet it is one of its most modern in terms of technology and innovation. It’s composed of five schools—Engineering, Science, Architecture, Humanities, and Arts and Social Sciences—and the Lally School of Management. Each has its own distinct characteristics and traditions, but through cross-discipline courses and programs, they work as one to ensure that students receive a well-rounded education.

Its students come from near and far to learn. Among the current freshman class, 49 states and 62 countries are represented. While here they’re part of a rigorous learning environment that’s devoted to educational innovation in the laboratory, classroom, and studio.

Learning with CLASS
At Rensselaer students receive a comprehensive education where they’re exposed to a wide array of topics and people. Central in this is CLASS, or Clustered Learning, Advocacy, and Support for Students. This initiative involves the entire Rensselaer community working together to engage students in multiple facets of the educational experience at Rensselaer. Through time-based clustering, residential commons, interdisciplinary programs, and a support network of peers, staff, and faculty, students develop the intellectual agility, multicultural sophistication, and global awareness that will enable them to change the world.

Students at Rensselaer also have the opportunity to lead or assist with projects that have lasting and far-reaching effects. They’re tackling such societal challenges as clean water, safe food, climate change, renewable energy, and disease control. They’re also building bridges, planning cities, and exploring the deepest reaches of outer space. In short: they’re changing the world.

Real-world experiences
At Rensselaer students learn by doing. Engineering undergraduates, for instance, work alongside acclaimed faculty on fuel cell research, earthquake engineering, and electricity transmission. Other students perform environmental research at the Darrin Fresh Water Institute or take part in the annual GameFest, where they can showcase the computer games they’ve designed in front of industry professionals, gaining valuable insight into the profession.

Location is another benefit Rensselaer students enjoy, as the school is a short drive from the tech hubs of Boston and New York City. Rensselaer’s Center for Career and Professional Development can help students strengthen their résumés by arranging internships and co-ops in not only these two cities but also at corporations, labs, and startups around the world. Amazon, Google, IBM, and NASA are just some of the places where Rensselaer students learn on the job.

Turning ideas into action
Rensselaer is at the center of some of the most groundbreaking research taking place today. It’s home to 33 research centers across five schools, with annual funding awards topping $110 million. Its primary research areas include biotechnology and the life sciences; energy and the environment; computational science and engineering; nanotechnology and advanced materials; and media, arts, science, and technology.

Starting their freshman year, students have the opportunity to don lab coats and take part in research. Each year more than 700 students participate in Rensselaer’s Undergraduate Research Program, which allows them to work on projects that could conceivably culminate with presentations at conferences or publication in journals.

When class is over
From Street Dance club and Space Society meetings to kung fu class and rugby practice, days at Rensselaer are never dull. The school offers more than 200 student clubs and organizations as well as numerous intramural sports. Also adding to the school’s vibrant atmosphere is the abundance of undergraduates who call campus home. More than 60% of the students live in Rensselaer’s 21 residence halls. Some of the halls are themed to match interests, such as Design and Arts Housing, Leadership House, Wellness House, and the Vasuda Living and Learning Community, which is focused on issues related to the Earth and its natural resources.

When off campus, Rensselaer’s hometown of Troy packs a punch in terms of cultural, entertainment, and dining options. One Friday a month, the town hosts Troy Night Out, a popular night of museum and musical events. Other events include the Troy Pig-Out, Victorian Stroll, and Chowderfest, when, as you guessed it, chowder tasting takes center stage.

Another important aspect of student life at Rensselaer is studying abroad. The Rensselaer Education Across Cultural Horizons provides students with a variety of short- and long-term international study options in more than 15 countries on five continents. Some programs are professor led, while others are service opportunities or internships at overseas corporations. At Rensselaer exposure to the world is not only encouraged but expected of all students.

Come see for yourself
At Rensselaer seeing is believing, which is why it’s suggested that prospective students visit the picturesque campus. Information sessions are held Monday through Saturday, during which admission counselors are available to answer questions and tours are led by current students, giving you the inside scoop on why Rensselaer is one of the world’s most innovative and forward-thinking universities.




Type of School: Private, coeducational, four-year university in a suburban setting

Founded: 1824

Founders: Stephen Van Rensselaer and Amos Eaton

Home: Troy, New York; 275-acre campus overlooking the Hudson River; branch campus in Hartford, Connecticut

Enrollment: For fall 2015 undergraduate enrollment was 5,781; 69% male, 31% female.

Class of 2019: 12% were Rensselaer Medalists; 72% were in the top 10% of their class; average high school GPA was 3.77.

Faculty: 429 full time; memberships include National Science Foundation Presidential Faculty Fellows, National Academy of Engineering, and National Academy of Sciences

Student-Faculty Ratio: 15:1

Costs for 2015–2016:
Tuition: $48,100
Fees: $1,241
Room/Board: $14,095
Books/Supplies: $2,736

Financial Aid: More than 90% of students receive aid, totaling $179 million annually.

Varsity Teams: 23 under the name Engineers competing in the Liberty League; Division III competition with Division I men’s and women’s hockey teams 

RPI Majors
• Aeronautical Engineering
• Applied Physics
• Architecture*
• Biochemistry and Biophysics
• Bioinformatics and Molecular Biology
• Biology*
• Biomedical Engineering*
• Building Science
• Business and Management
• Chemical Engineering
• Chemistry*
• Civil Engineering*
• Cognitive Science
• Communication*
• Computer and Systems Engineering*
• Computer Science*
• Design, Innovation, and Society
• Economics*
• Electrical Engineering*
• Electronic Arts*
• Electronic Media, Arts, and Communication
• Environmental Engineering*
• Environmental Science*
• Games and Simulation Arts and Sciences
• Geology*
• Hydrogeology*
• Industrial and Management Engineering*
• Information Technology and Web Science*
• Interdisciplinary Science
• Materials Engineering*
• Mathematics*
• Mechanical Engineering
• Nuclear Engineering*
• Philosophy*
• Physics*
• Psychology*
• Science, Technology, and Society*
• Sustainability Studies*
• BS/JD–Albany Law School
• BS/MD–Albany Medical College

* Also offered as a minor