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Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute - 2016

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Admissions Information

Graduate Admission to the College of Engineering

Admission to all graduate courses and degree programs at Rensselaer is based on the electronic submission of a formal and competitive application. The applicant’s prior academic records as well as references and test scores, where required, are examined for evidence of ability to meet Rensselaer’s graduate standards and degree requirements as outlined under individual program and course description sections of this catalog.

For admission to graduate studies, a student must have a bachelor’s degree or the equivalent prior to enrollment. Degree-seeking applicants may sometimes be admitted with conditions. Admission and/or continued enrollment is dependent upon the satisfactory fulfillment of the conditions. Rensselaer admits qualified students without regard to gender, sexual orientation, age, race, color, religion, national or ethnic origin, marital status, or disability.

Graduate Student Classification

Full-Time Degree-Seeking Status The applicant who intends to complete a graduate degree on a full-time basis is considered for regular, degree-seeking status. Only full-time degree-seeking graduate students are eligible for financial support from Rensselaer in the form of research or teaching assistantship or institutionally supported fellowship.

Part-Time Degree-Seeking Status Students wishing to pursue degrees on a part-time basis may do so in most departments. Admission procedures are the same as for full-time, degree-seeking applicants. This pathway is mainly for students who wish to pursue their advanced education concurrent with full-time employment or other pursuits.

Non-matriculated Status The applicant who wishes to undertake graduate course work to improve his or her knowledge in a specific area, but not follow a degree program, is considered for non-matriculated status. A minimum B average must be maintained to continue enrollment. The Rensselaer Admissions Office coordinates advisement and approvals for registration. However, should the student later apply for and be accepted into degree-seeking status, the number of credit hours taken as a non-matriculated student that can ever be credited toward a degree varies by department, usually from a low of six to a university-wide maximum of 12 credit hours. Time limit to completion of degree begins with the first course taken as a non-matriculated student. The Rensselaer Admissions Office provides additional information and applications.

Admission Procedures
For application forms and program information, visit or contact the Rensselaer Admissions Office.

Prospective applicants should indicate their preferred academic area and whether they are interested in full-time, part-time, or non-matriculated status when they inquire about admission. Applicants must submit a completed official application form and a nonrefundable $75 application fee. An applicant holding a bachelor’s degree and wishing to register for university courses as a part-time or non-matriculated student also must apply according to these procedures.

The Graduate Record Examination (GRE) is required by most departments and is strongly recommended for applicants whose prior academic records are not clearly competitive. Submission of GRE results is especially important for applicants requesting financial aid. Complete information on individual departments requiring the GRE is available with the admission application. Department-specific requirements are available in the admissions application and on-line at

Applicants whose native language is not English must have scores from the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) submitted directly by the Educational Testing Service, Princeton, N.J. A minimum score of 230 CBT/88 iBT/570 PBT is required. An IELTS score of 6.5 or higher may be substituted for the TOEFL requirement. Some departments require a higher TOEFL score and evidence of spoken proficiency. Please see the department-specific requirements in the graduate admissions application.

Graduate Admission to an Engineering Department

Admitted students will average a 3.4 QPA and have quantitative scores above the 91st percentile. Enrolled students will generally hold UG degrees in engineering. However, in selected specializations this is not a requirement. Most departments require the GRE and applicants whose native language is not English must have scores from TOEFL. Minimum score of 230 CBT/88iBT/570PBT is required. An IELTS score of 6.5 or higher may be substituted for the TOEFL requirement.

Entrance Requirements for Foreign Students

International students are required to take the TOEFL or IELTS exams, with limited exceptions, and most academic programs required the GRE or GMAT exams. Transcripts from institutions outside of the U.S. will be reviewed for admission and all documents must be presented in English via original text or certified translation.
The TOEFL or IELTS is required of all international applicants whose native language is not English.

An Institute minimum TOEFL score of 230 on the computer-based test, 89 on the Internet-based test, or 570 on the paper-based test is required for admissions consideration. Some departments require higher TOEFL scores and may also require the Test of Spoken English (TSE). Refer to our degree listing for any specific department testing requirements. Remember to include Rensselaer’s institutional code of 2757 when requesting ETS test scores.

In lieu of the TOEFL, a student may submit the International English Language Testing System (IELTS). Only the academic format is acceptable and a minimum score of 6.5 is required by the Institute. Additional information about the test, including test center locations and test administration dates, is available at the IELTS Web site.

TOEFL/IELTS scores older than two years are no longer available and will not be considered. Therefore, if you took the TOEFL test more than two years from the date of your intended enrollment, you must take the test again in order to have your scores reported.

The TOEFL/IELTS requirement may be waived if the applicant is currently enrolled in full-time studies in the United States and will have completed two academic years of coursework in the United States immediately prior to enrolling at Rensselaer. The TOEFL requirement may also be waived for applicants who will complete and be awarded a master’s degree in less than two years of U.S. study immediately prior to the intended entrance term.

The TOEFL requirement may also be waived for applicants who have been working in the U.S. for at least two years immediately prior to enrolling at Rensselaer. We highly recommend that applicants who have been working in the U.S. for at least two years immediately prior to enrolling at Rensselaer submit Personal Potential Index (PPI) results to possibly enhance their competitiveness and request for financial aid.

Residency Requirements

A student working for a master’s degree is required to be registered for at least two terms and to complete a minimum of 24 credit hours of resident instruction for each master’s degree sought. Department residency must be met in addition to the Office of Graduate Education requirements. Residency requirements for the Troy campus may also be met within programs offered at certain off-campus sites (branch campuses).
By New York State Education Department policy, doctoral programs shall require a minimum of three academic years (consecutive fall and spring semesters) of full-time graduate level study, or their equivalent in part-time study. Rensselaer requires that two of the three academic years are spent as a full time student, or part time equivalent, in a Rensselaer doctoral program. A student working for the doctoral degree must earn a minimum of 72 credit hours, and in some programs 90 credit hours, toward their doctoral plan of study. Of these credits, at least 48 credit hours in course and/or thesis work must be taken while in residence at Rensselaer Troy, Rensselaer Hartford, via Rensselaer Distance Programs, or a combination of these.

For full-time students, all work for the doctorate must be completed within seven years of registration for the first credits applied toward the degree, whether enrolled in a 72- or 90-credit program. All doctoral candidates must pass the appropriate examinations as determined by their department within two years of registration for the first credits applied toward the Ph.D. Full-time students entering with a master’s degree in their field of study must finish all degree requirements for the Ph.D. within a continuous five-year time period. Students who have not met their applicable time limit will be dismissed from the program unless the Office of Graduate Education has given advanced approval for additional time to complete the degree. Extensions are granted for only the most compelling reasons and are extremely rare.

Individuals who leave Rensselaer without obtaining an authorized leave of absence and who have not requested an extension before the seven-year limit will be dismissed from the program. Individuals who do receive authorized leaves because of serious illness, involuntary military service, or maternity leave can, with the submission of the medical or military documentation, request the Office of Graduate Education to exclude up to two years of authorized leave time from the seven-year limit.

For full-time students, all work for a master’s degree, whether done at Rensselaer or elsewhere, must be completed within two and one-half years of registration for the first credits applied toward the master’s degree. Full-time students not fulfilling the master’s degree requirements by the end of two and one-half years will be dismissed unless the Office of Graduate Education has given advanced approval for additional time to complete the degree. Extensions are granted for only the most compelling reasons and are rare. If approved, the student must register full-time for any additional terms and tuition is charged at the normal full-time rate. The student must be in good academic standing and have an acceptable Plan of Study. Satisfactory performance is not limited to academic record, but includes other appraisal of the student’s record and ability.

Students engaged in working professional programs (part-time students), must complete all work for the master’s degrees requiring 30 credits within three calendar years of the original admission date. Those working professionals working on master’s degrees requiring 60 credits must complete the requirements within five years, beginning with the date of the original admission letter. Extensions may only be granted if the student is in good academic standing and has an acceptable Plan of Study. Working professionals must petition the Vice President responsible for Education for Working Professionals for an extension. Final approval may be granted by the Dean of Graduate Education.

The Office of Graduate Education may initiate an academic review of any student who has accumulated more than 36 credits on a master’s degree program (more than 66 for a 60-credit master’s) without satisfying degree requirements.

A Master’s Plan of Study must contain no more than the minimum number of credits required for the degree, that is, 30 for the M.S., (except the M.S. in Lighting which requires 48), and 60 for the MBA and M.F.A. Credits earned in addition to these degree minimums may not be added to the Plan of Study.

Admissions Requirements for Transfer Students

Students transferring to Rensselaer from other graduate programs with or without graduate degrees or graduate study should apply using the same procedures described previously.