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* Admissions

Graduate Admissions

What is the application deadline?

In order to give you full consideration for financial aid, we need to receive all your materials by January 1 for fall admission or August 15 for spring admission. We will not look at your application until we have received all required documents. After the deadline, we will look at your application whenever we receive all required documents, but the later it is, the less likely it is that there will be aid available and that we can get the decision to you in time for you to make arrangements to enroll.

How do I apply for financial aid?

There is no separate application for financial aid. On the admission application, just indicate that you want to be considered for aid, and you'll be considered for all types of RPI aid available. RPI aid includes fellowships, research assistantships, and teaching assistantships. For non-RPI aid, such as external fellowships and federal student loans, contact the institution offering the aid to apply. For example, to apply for federal student loans (available to US citizens and permanent residents), go to http://www.fafsa.ed.gov/. The Office of Graduate Education maintains information on external fellowships.

I do not have a Master's degree. May I apply directly to the PhD program, or do I have to apply to the MS program, and then apply to the PhD after completing the MS?

You may apply directly to the PhD after receving a 4-year undergraduate degree. If you are interested in earning both the MS and the PhD while in our program, you should apply for the PhD.

I have a 3-year bachelor's degree. Am I eligible to apply for your graduate program?

No, you need four years of study before you can be admitted to our graduate program.

I am interested in a Master's degree. Should I apply to the Computer Science Department or the Information Technology Department?

The Master's in Computer Science is a research-oriented program. Students will join one of the research groups listed at http://www.cs.rpi.edu/research/groups.html and will complete a Master's thesis.

The Master's in Information Technology balances the study of management strategies and technology leadership with advanced course work in an IT concentration. Nine concentrations are currently available, ranging from Networking to Financial Engineering.

What are the chances I'll be admitted? What are the chances I'll be granted financial aid?

Research. Our graduate program is research-oriented. We are seeking students with research experience in an area related to the research done by the department. When you apply, you should indicate on your application which research group you wish to apply to. A list of research groups is available at http://www.cs.rpi.edu/research/groups.html.

Financial aid is normally given to the applicants with the strongest potential to make a research contribution to the department. Because it takes some time to get up to speed as a research group member, those most likely to make a contribution are those who will stay for a PhD, or M.S. applicants who have already joined one of our research groups while an undergraduate.

If you are seeking an M.S. and are more oriented toward business applications than academic research, you may be a better fit for our Hartford program or for our Information Technology program.

Academic background. An undergraduate major in Computer Science is not required, but some academic background in Computer Science is needed. At a minimum, applicants should have taken the equivalent of the Rensselaer course CSCI-2300 Introduction to Algorithms. You should also have some math background, including courses in calculus, discrete structures, and linear algebra.

An academic background in Computer Science is more important than professional experience in the field.

GRE. The average GRE scores of admitted applicants for Fall 2014 were Verbal 160, Quantitative 163, 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.

Rensselaer expects that applicants will score at least 156 on the verbal section, 146 on the quantitative section, and 4.0 on the analytical section. Applicants who do not meet the Rensselaer expectations are encouraged to strengthen their applications by having at least five evaluators complete the PPI Evaluation. Applicants to the Computer Science Department are expected to greatly surpass Institute recommendations on the quantitative section, and a quantitative score of at least 160 is recommended.

TOEFL. The minimum TOEFL score is 88. If you are required to take the TOEFL and you submit a score that is below 88, your application will be considered incomplete until you re-take the TOEFL and earn a score of at least 88.

General chances. Meeting the minimum requirements does not guarantee admission. In fact, because we have hundreds of applicants with outstanding qualifications, we must even turn away many who have undergraduate degrees in the field as well as very high GRE scores and grades. Often what distinguishes admitted applicants from other highly qualified applicants is research accomplishments.

For Fall 2014, we received 285 applications to our graduate degree program. Fifty-nine applicants were accepted, and 32 received aid offers. Many of the admitted applicants who did not receive aid offers either did not request aid or withdrew before an aid decision was made.

Do you offer financial aid in the spring semester? Do you offer financial aid to international applicants? Do you offer aid to MS students?

Financial aid is offered to international and domestic students in both the Fall and Spring semesters.
Because our graduate program is research-oriented, PhD students receive preference for admission and aid.

What kind of aid is available to first year students?

Financial aid for new students is usually in the form of a teaching assistantship which pays for tuition and provides a stipend for living expenses. Research assistantships are usually awarded to students after they have been enrolled in the program for a while, but occasionally a new student with significant research experience is awarded a research assistantship.

A few fellowships are awarded to outstanding students applying for fall admission. These fellowships most often go to domestic applicants.

Do I have to take the TOEFL?

The TOEFL is required for international applicants (those who are not US citizens or permanent residents) whose first language is not English, except for those who will have completed two academic years of course work in the U.S. immediately prior to enrolling at Rensselaer.

The International English Language Testing System (IELTS) or the Pearson Test of English (PTE) may be substituted for the TOEFL. For the IELTS, the minimum required score is 6.5. Only the academic format is acceptable. For the PTE, the minimum score is 60.

Do I have to take the GRE General test?

Waivers are usually not granted. We do not waive the GRE based on an applicant having already received another graduate degree.

Is the GRE Subject test required or recommended?

The GRE Subject test is not required. Most of our applicants don't take it. For those who do take it, it is not weighted heavily in the admissions process.

Is the TSE required or recommended?

No. The TSE is not taken by most applicants and failure to take it will not decrease your chance of admission.

If I apply online, can my recommenders submit hard copy letters?


Will you accept a photocopy of my test scores or transcripts?

The Admissions office will consider your application incomplete until official copies are received. However, the Computer Science Department will review your application with photocopies. If you are admitted and choose to enroll, official copies will be required.

Will you waive the application fee?

The application fee is not required for Rensselaer students, alumni, or staff. For others, it will not be waived.

My school does not compute rank/GPA. Is that okay?

Yes, just submit your transcript.

What address shall I mail my application materials to?

Graduate Admissions
Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
110 8th Street
Troy, NY 12180-3590

Can I send my materials directly to the department?

No, your materials must be processed by Admissions before they can be reviewed by the department. If you send your materials to the department, we will then send them to Admissions, and then after Admissions processes them, they will send them to us. You can save a step and speed up the process by sending your materials to Admissions.

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