The RPI Open House Nov. 14 conveyed the strength and flexibility of its programs. Rensselaer, in Troy, New York, comprises six schools: Engineering; Humanities, Arts & Social Sciences; the Lally School of Management; the School of Science; and Information Technology and Web Sciences. Apply by December 1 to receive $5,000 added to your financial aid package if you’re admitted. 

Rensselaer asks, “Why not change the world?” Dr. Shirley Ann Jackson, RPI president, envisions the technological research institution as a “collaborative endeavor” that uses “advanced technologies to unite a multiplicity of disciplines and perspectives” to tackle “large, multi-faceted challenges.” Her vision permeated the presentations as the theme of solving large problems in an interdisciplinary way came across clearly.

Because challenging problems lie between disciplines, students work in multi-disciplinary groups to solve problems from the start. In the required Arch program students take courses at RPI during the summer after sophomore year so that they can spend a junior year semester abroad pursuing professional and personal goals and still stay on track to graduate in four years. Internships and co-ops add professional experiences to students’ resumes before they graduate. Rensselaer stays true to its founder’s vision of 200 years ago: applying “science to the common purposes of life.”


 The engineering school is the oldest accredited engineering program in the U.S. and Forbes placed it among the top 15 STEM schools. With 11 engineering degrees offered, RPI doesn’t expect students to know exactly which specific field should be their major, so the early classes are exploratory so that everyone understands what a B.S. in aeronautical engineering, for example, means. (Aeronautical has three concentrations here: fixed wing, rotor, and aerospace.) You’re exposed first to the breadth of engineering before you explore the depths of a particular field.

Humanities/Arts/Social Sciences

The School of Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences explores the crossroads of technology and culture. The core curriculum requires 40 credits from HASS and has led to some interesting combinations of study, such as a B.S. in biotechnology and health economics. Artificial intelligence, sustainability, and electronic arts fall under the HASS school, and students frequently create a dual major between HASS and one of the other schools. Undergraduate research is encouraged.

Lally School of Management 

The Lally business school has AACSB accreditation and a math-heavy curriculum. Clint Ballinger, a nuclear engineer and executive entrepreneur-in-residence, said that everyone should take a business class to be prepared to lead. The Lally School recently introduced a bachelor’s of science in business analytics. Ballinger said that today, it’s data that dictates decisions rather than a room of wise old-timers putting their gray heads together to determine which way a business should go. Lally offers an accelerated M.S. or MBA where you can get your bachelor’s and master’s degrees in four years. Financial aid for the four-year accelerated programs continues even as you work on your master’s. 

ITWS: Information Technology and Web Science

ITWS takes a multidisciplinary approach to explore information technology from algorithmic, engineering, and social perspectives. You will start in groups your freshman year, ending in a capstone project sponsored by companies like Deloitte and United Airlines. The foundation of ITWS is interdisciplinary, focusing on the interface between humans and technology.

School of Science

College Factual named RPI #2 among best schools to study physics, but the School of Science includes majors in computational biology, biological neuroscience, hydrogeology, and more. The Physician-Scientist program is a seven-year B.S./M.D. with Albany Medical College. If accepted into the program, you’ll spend three years earning your B.S. at RPI and four years at Albany getting your M.D. Sophomores with a 3.5 GPA or better will be invited to the Physician/Scientist program.

School of Architecture

The School of Architecture combines creativity with the practical issues of building. It’s a an equation where architecture equals art + science + technology. Architecture students need an understanding of the humanities and the world. Rensselaer is among the top 15 architecture schools in the country. You can earn a bachelor’s in architecture or in building science. 

Rensselaer is selective, accepting only 47 percent of applicants for a total undergraduate population of 6,200. It’s a technical institute with a broad view of education and a focus on the interdisciplinary.

Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute: collaborative, interdisciplinary