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 FAQs specific to this program below, and 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.

I have a disability. What kinds of support does Rensselaer have to offer students?

Rensselaer welcomes students of all identities, abilities, and backgrounds, and aims to provide an equitable and inclusive experience in higher education both in our campus community, and within the classrooms.  

We have a variety of support services on campus to help your transition to college life and to help maintain your long-term success as well. Some examples include Disability Student Services and the First Year Experience Office within the Office of Student Success. We also offer 1:1 and group tutoring, mentoring, and advising services in the Advising, Learning, and Assistance Center. If you want to receive accommodations of any kind due to a diagnosis that impacts your college experience, you will work directly with the Disabilities Student Services office to determine your eligibility for specific accommodations based on your needs. They assist with housing accommodations, classroom accommodations, and even connect students with various social support groups and organizations both at Rensselaer and off-campus. 

For more information and examples of the common types of accommodations that students on campus receive, please visit: 

Types of Accommodations | Student Health and Wellness (rpi.edu) 

Questions? Email one of our Accessibility and Neurodiversity Liaisons in the undergraduate admissions office:  

  • Leslie LaBrecque (she/her/hers), Assistant Director of Undergraduate Admissions 
  • Clare Nee (she/her/hers), Assistant Director of Undergraduate Admissions 
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 2025 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 2025 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 2026 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.


Physician-Scientist Program (B.S./M.D.)

Specific questions about the Physician-Scientist Program may be directed to physician-scientist@rpi.edu

What is the deadline for Physician-Scientist Program applications?

The annual application deadline for this program is November 1. Please note that you cannot apply Early Decision/Early Action to the Physician-Scientist Program, and the application is non-binding. All applications must be made complete by November 10 in order to be considered. 

Is there a separate application for the B.S/M.D. Program?

There is no separate application for the program. You must use the Common App and select the "Regular Decision" option. You must select “Physician-Scientist Program-B.S./M.D.” as your major on your application. Students may not apply to the accelerated medical program using the Coalition Application or the Candidate’s Choice Application.

Can I apply to the Physician-Scientist Program and other B.S./M.D. programs as well?

Please be advised that Albany Medical College will consider applicants to only ONE of their three combined degree programs. Dual applications will not be considered - applicants who apply to more than one of Albany Medical College's joint programs will be administratively withdrawn by AMC. AMC also offers program through Union College and Siena College. 

You may apply to other schools, including other B.S./M.D. programs, with the exception of the Union and Siena combined programs. 

Is there a special essay for this program?

Students applying for this program will be prompted for a program-specific essay (state your reasons for aspiring to a career in medicine) when they complete the Common App. The essay should be approximately 500-750 words. Please note that this is referred to as a writing supplement within the Common App system, and is a separate submission alongside the Common App. 

Can I apply test-optional to the B.S./M.D. Program?

No - as per Albany Medical College, applicants to the Physician-Scientist Program must submit official scores from either the SAT or the ACT. 

All standardized tests must be taken by the November test date. It is recommended that students taking the November test have their scores rush sent to Rensselaer. Self-reported scores will not be accepted for applicants to this program.

Are there specific course requirements for this program?

Applicants should meet the basic requirements for admission to Rensselaer, which include three years of science (including biology, chemistry and lab-based physics) and four years of mathematics through pre-calculus (calculus recommended). 

Do I need to have any specific types of prior experience to be considered for the program?

Since this accelerated program is research-focused, it is highly recommended that applicants have some sort of research experience in high school, which should be clearly articulated on the application. Clinical experience is also highly recommended. 

Can international students apply to the B.S./M.D. program?

As per AMC, this program is only open to all U.S. citizens and Permanent Residents, so international students, including Canadian citizens, may not apply to the Physician-Scientist Program. 

However, we do accept international applicants to our general programs, and you can major in almost anything at Rensselaer while preparing yourself for medical school - 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.

Can I apply to the B.S/M.D. program and another RPI program at the same time?

No, you may only apply to one of our programs. However, if your application meets our admission requirements but is not referred to Albany Medical College for further consideration (or if it is referred but you are not ultimately admitted to the B.S./M.D. program), we may give you an opportunity to be considered for another major. If this is the case, you'd be notified by email to complete a brief supplemental form and indicate which major you'd like to be considered for. Once that is complete, you'd receive a final decision notification at the same time as our Regular Decision applicants in early March. 

Due to the nature of the program, students enrolled in the accelerated medical program are not able to dual or double major.

When are applicants notified of their acceptance to this program?

Rensselaer will review the applications and refer qualified students to Albany Medical College (AMC), who will prompt the referred students to submit a supplemental AMC application. Following the supplemental application review, AMC will select students for an interview (usually in January, February, or March). From that pool of interviewed students, AMC will make offers of admission to the program. The application review process is lengthy and notification typically begins by early April.


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 no longer has a mandatory requirement of COVID-19 vaccinations for students, faculty, and staff. We 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).