FAQs for Prospective Students

Please find answers to frequently asked questions for prospective students below. If you have any other questions, please feel free to reach out to us at admissions@rpi.edu or finaid@rpi.edu.

We are currently offering in-person tours to prospective students. Tour Registration Page


General Questions

Do I need to apply to a specific major?

While there is flexibility to change your major once you are here, you are encouraged to be as specific as you can when you choose a major (or school) on your application. If you are interested in the Architecture, Electronic Arts, Music, or Games and Simulation Arts and Sciences program, we recommend that you apply directly to that program. Students interested in the Accelerated Physician-Scientist (B.S./M.D.) Program must apply directly to that program.


  • Declare specific major
  • Undeclared to a specific school (i.e., undeclared engineering)
  • Undeclared general studies
I'm interested in going to medical school. Do you have a "pre-med" major?

You can major in almost anything at Rensselaer while preparing yourself for medical school, but most students who want to pursue medical school choose something in our School of Science (often biology or chemistry). Interested students may enlist the assistance of the Pre-Health Committee, a group of professors who will guide students interested in medical school (or other health professions) through their four years, making sure they are putting themselves in the best position possible when it comes time to apply to the professional school of their choice. Questions about the advising process may be addressed to prehealth@rpi.edu

Is the application process different for the Physician-Scientist (B.S./M.D) Program?

Yes, the application process for the B.S./M.D. program is very different than for our general programs. Please be sure to review the information for Physician-Scientist Program (B.S./M.D.) Applicants

Do you offer admissions interviews?

No, we do not offer interviews as a part of the application process. 

Are first-year students required to live on campus?

Yes, all first and second-year students are required to live on campus and participate in a meal plan. Living on campus is a critical component of the CLASS (Clustered Learning, Advocacy, and Support for Students) experience. It provides students with the opportunity to live, learn, and experience Rensselaer and the local Troy area with members of their cohort.

Students with extenuating financial or medical/health-related circumstances can request a housing waiver; however, waivers are only granted for extreme and extenuating circumstances. Signing a lease off-campus, living locally, or roommate concerns will not typically result in a housing waiver.  

Student Living & Learning Website

I have special dietary needs. Who can I speak to about support for me on campus?

Dining Services at Rensselaer takes great pride in serving the needs of all of our students. We meet one-on-one with any student with individual dining needs to ensure their dining experience is safe, delicious, and social. For more information or to contact our Registered Dietitian Nutritionist, visit the Dining Services website.

How do I express demonstrated interest in Rensselaer if I cannot visit campus?

There are plenty of ways to express demonstrated interest without leaving your house!

  • Check out our Virtual Tour of campus, or join our Admissions Team and student ambassadors for a virtual Information Session for a chance to have your questions answered.
  • Follow us on Instagram and Facebook to stay connected with the Office of Admission.
  • We'd love to hear from you and direct you to answers, so come introduce yourself on EPIC by recording a quick message and giving us a High Five.
  • We have regional counselors that represent all areas of the country and world. Find the contact information for your regional counselor here and reach out to us.
  • If you’d like to submit questions to our student ambassadors, feel free to email their dedicated email address at admambassadors@rpi.edu.

We look forward to connecting with you!

Can I take a gap year before starting at Rensselaer?

Yes! We do allow students to defer their start at Rensselaer for one or two semesters. Please note that we only defer enrollment, not admission, so you will need to place your $500 enrollment deposit before your defer request will be reviewed. 

Students who wish to defer their enrollment may take courses on a non-matriculated basis at another institution. If you matriculate elsewhere, or take 12 or more transferrable credits, you will need to re-apply as a transfer student.

It is recommended that students studying the following majors NOT request a deferral to the spring semester due to the layout of the course curriculum:

  • Architecture
  • Design, Innovation, and Society
  • Electronic Arts
  • Games and Simulation Arts and Sciences
  • Music

Please email us at admissions@rpi.edu with any questions about our deferral policy. 

How is Rensselaer addressing the recent Supreme Court ruling regarding affirmative action?

In the past, a student’s race/ethnicity has been just one aspect of a holistic review process at Rensselaer. Moving forward, in accordance with the recent U.S. Supreme Court Decision SFFA v. Harvard and SFFA v. UNC (2023), Rensselaer will be suppressing all student race/ethnicity data (collected in the recruitment and application phases) during the application review process.


High School Coursework & Testing

Does RPI require specific high school courses?

Yes! The applicants who are best suited for Rensselaer will have completed:

  • Four years of mathematics through pre-calculus* (calculus recommended)
  • Three years of science (including chemistry and lab-based physics**); biology recommended & required for bio-focused majors
  • Four years of English
  • Three years of social studies and/or history

*IB Mathematics: Applications and Interpretation SL does NOT fulfill the precalculus requirement. 

**Physical Science or Conceptual Physics courses do NOT fulfill the lab-based physics requirement. 

Rensselaer does not have a foreign language requirement. 

Will Rensselaer require SAT or ACT scores for Fall 2024 applicants?

Rensselaer has renewed the test-optional admissions policy for another year. Any student who applies to attend Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute as an undergraduate in the fall of 2024 will be able to choose whether or not to submit SAT or ACT scores.

This continues to be a temporary suspension of our standardized testing requirement, and it will be re-evaluated for the fall 2025 application cycle. Test-Optional FAQs

Please note: Students applying to the Physician-Scientist (B.S./M.D.) Program will be required to send official SAT or ACT scores in order for their application to be reviewed.

Does RPI accept dual enrollment credits/transfer credits from other institutions?

In general, yes. However, it is important to note the following:

  • Transfer credit will not be given for any college courses taken while in high school if these courses were used in obtaining the high school diploma. 
  • Rensselaer does not grant credit for courses not offered here (i.e., Rensselaer does not offer any math courses below Calculus I; so college credits for a course such as precalculus would not be granted). 

An official transcript of grade(s) from the other college(s) must be sent to the Office of the Registrar to be considered for credit.

Transfer Student Course Guide

How do I take a course at RPI on a non-matriculated basis?

We do have students choose to take a course on a non-matriculated basis. Please note that no more than twelve credit hours of work taken on a non-matriculated basis may be credited toward a Rensselaer degree, should you later decide to apply as a matriculated student. 

There is no application fee for non-matriculated applicants. Please have most recent transcript(s) sent to the address shown in the sidebar. Transcripts being sent electronically may be addressed to adm_updates@rpi.edu. Please note that the Rensselaer computer store is not able to sell laptop computers to non-matriculated students.

Center for Talented Youth (CTY) Scholarships

If you are interested in using a CTY scholarship to take courses at Rensselaer, you should complete the Non-Matriculated Undergraduate Student Application (including an indication of the class desired) along with an uploaded copy of the CTY award letter. We will also require an official copy of your high school transcript.

Please have your transcripts sent to the address shown in the sidebar, attention Center for Talented Youth. Transcripts being sent electronically may be addressed to adm_updates@rpi.edu.

If you have any questions, please contact Ulysses deArmas.


International Students

I am currently in the U.S. on a temporary, nonimmigrant visa (E, H, L, or O visa). Is there anything special I need to know about the application process?

You should apply to RPI as an international student; however, if you are currently in the U.S. on a valid, temporary, nonimmigrant visa and do not intend to apply for an F-1 student visa, you do not have to submit the ISFS. Please email adm_updates@rpi.edu to confirm your intentions and request the ISFS waiver.

If your circumstances or your intentions change once you apply, please notify the Office of Admissions immediately. The ISFS is required if you intend to apply for an F-1 student visa.

I am currently in the U.S. as an asylee or refugee. How is the application process different for me?

You should apply to RPI as an international student; however, if you have an Arrival Departure Record (I-94) from Customs and Border Protection (CBP) with one of the following designations: “asylum granted” or “refugee”, please send a copy, as an attachment, to adm_updates@rpi.edu once you have submitted your application.

If you do not have an I-94 with either of those designations, you may submit other documentation that demonstrates that you have applied for asylum. Please send a copy of your documentation, as an attachment, to adm_updates@rpi.edu. We will review your documentation and either waive the ISFS requirement or be in touch to request additional information.   

How should DACA & DREAMer students indicate citizenship status on the application?

Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) & DREAMer students should follow the application instructions for an international applicant. Detailed instructions may be found above. At Rensselaer, our definitions of domestic versus international, as far as the application process goes, are aligned with the federal government’s definitions of eligibility for federal financial aid (versus residency, for example). So, without U.S. citizenship or a green card, a student would be considered an international applicant versus a domestic applicant.   

For the question, "Select your citizenship status," please choose  "DACA, undocumented, Deferred Enforced Departure, or Temporary Protected Status".


COVID19-Related Questions

Are incoming students required to be vaccinated for COVID19?

RPI will no longer have a mandatory requirement of COVID-19 vaccinations for students, faculty, and staff. We will strongly recommend and encourage everyone to remain up to date with their COVID-19 vaccinations in keeping with CDC guidelines.

COVID-19 Policy Website

During the pandemic, many of my school-sponsored extracurricular activities were cancelled, or very limited. How can I show the Admissions Committee that I am well-rounded?

We completely understand that over the past few years, most extracurricular activities could not be completed in the same manner as they were in prior years. We will take this into account when reviewing your application activities section and/or your resume. Be sure to include what you did before COVID-19 and what you hope to continue to do after. Let us know what you have been doing during the pandemic as well!

My course grades changed to pass/fail for Spring 2020. How will this affect the review of my transcript?

We understand and support the move to pass/fail grading options that many schools and colleges have adopted as a valid COVID-19 accommodation. As such, we will be accepting pass/fail results in the normal review of transcripts during this time.

I was not able to take my IB/AP exams in 2020. How will this impact my application review?

If you were unable to take your Advanced Placement (AP) or International Baccalaureate (IB) exam(s) in 2020, this will not affect your admission decision. AP/IB examinations are not required for admission (but may be used for credit).