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Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute

110 8th Street, Troy, NY 12180-3590, USA

Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute award
Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute award
US ranking
position: 55
Tuition & fees per year: $61,884
Acceptance rate: 58.00%
Median alumni salary: $68,912
Avg. SAT and ACT: 1429 SAT, 32 ACT
Entrance difficulty: N/A

Courtesy of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute

What is the history of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute?

Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI) was founded in 1824 by Stephen Van Rensselaer, a wealthy landowner and politician, with the aim of teaching individuals the application of science to everyday life. Initially established to train engineers for the Erie Canal project, the Rensselaer School, as it was first known, was the first school of science and civil engineering to have a continuous existence in any English-speaking country. The school opened its doors on January 5, 1825, at the Old Bank Place in Troy, New York. In 1833, the school's name was changed to the Rensselaer Institute, and in the 1850s, its purpose was broadened to become a polytechnic institution. The name was finally changed to Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in 1861.

A significant event in RPI's early history was the Great Fire of 1862, which destroyed over 500 buildings in Troy and gutted 75 acres in the city's center. The fire also destroyed the "Infant School" building that housed the Institute at the time. Columbia University proposed that Rensselaer leave Troy and merge with its New York City campus, but the proposal was ultimately rejected. Instead, the campus moved from the crowded downtown area to the hillside, providing room for expansion.

Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute has a strong history of promoting diversity and inclusion. In 1881, Garnett Douglass Baltimore became the first African-American student at RPI to earn a degree. The Institute admitted its first female students in 1953 and appointed its first female faculty member in 1971.

During World War II, RPI played a significant role in the war effort by conducting research on radar and other military technologies and training thousands of engineers and scientists. After the war, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute continued to expand its research programs and facilities, becoming a leading institution in fields such as nuclear engineering, materials science, and computer science.

In recent years, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute has continued to innovate and expand its programs and facilities. The Institute has established new research centers in fields such as biotechnology, nanotechnology, and renewable energy. RPI has also expanded its undergraduate and graduate programs, offering degrees in fields such as game design, data science, and cybersecurity.

What are the faculties and departments at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute?

Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute provides a diverse selection of faculties and departments for students to explore. The School of Science encompasses departments such as Biological Sciences, Chemistry and Chemical Biology, Computer Science, Earth and Environmental Sciences, Information Technology and Web Science, Mathematical Sciences, and Physics, Applied Physics, and Astronomy. In the School of Engineering, students can find departments like Biomedical Engineering, Chemical and Biological Engineering, Civil and Environmental Engineering, Electrical, Computer, and Systems Engineering, Materials Science and Engineering, and Mechanical, Aerospace, and Nuclear Engineering.

The School of Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute features departments such as Arts, Cognitive Science, Communication and Media, Economics, and Science and Technology Studies. Additionally, the institute houses the Darrin Fresh Water Institute, which concentrates on freshwater research, and the Multiscale Science and Engineering Center, which promotes interdisciplinary research.

Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute also offers various interdisciplinary programs, including Games and Simulation Arts and Sciences, Information Technology, and Management and Technology. The Science department provides a Bachelor of Science degree in Interdisciplinary Science and the Inverse Problems at RPI (IPRPI) department. The Language, Literature, and Communication department offers a Bachelor of Science degree in Communication, Communication with a concentration in Graphic Design, and Information Technology and Communication (IT/Comm).

What is the location of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute?

Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute is situated in the Northeastern United States, specifically in the city of Troy, New York. The campus spans 265 acres and is positioned on a hillside, providing picturesque views of the Hudson River and the cityscape. The Institute's address is 110 8th Street, Troy, with a ZIP Code of 12180-3590. For those traveling by air, the nearest airport is Albany International.

The campus itself boasts a blend of traditional and modern architecture, featuring an on-campus business incubator and the expansive Rensselaer Technology Park, which covers 1,250 acres.

What is the mission and vision of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute?

Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute is a prestigious technological research university with a history spanning nearly two centuries. Rensselaer educates the leaders of tomorrow for technologically based careers. They celebrate discovery and the responsible application of technology to create knowledge and global prosperity.

What is the accreditation of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute?

Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute holds accreditation from the Engineering Accreditation Commission of ABET, a prestigious organization that ensures the quality of engineering programs. Within the School of Engineering, each program is accredited by ABET, including the Electrical Engineering and Computer & Systems Engineering degree programs. This accreditation is a testament to the institute's commitment to preparing students for successful careers in various sectors such as industry, government, academia, and consulting.

Graduates of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute are expected to seek professional positions and/or pursue graduate studies in their chosen fields. They are also encouraged to contribute to the body of knowledge in their respective disciplines and engage in continuous professional and personal development. This may involve participating in professional societies, enrolling in continuing education courses, and engaging in community service activities.

Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute Rankings

See where this school lands in our other Rankings to get a bigger picture of the institution's offerings.

34 Best Value Colleges in New York in 2023-2024

40 Most Popular Colleges in New York in 2023-2024

43 Best Private Colleges in 2023-2024

55 Best Colleges in 2023-2024

58 Most Affordable Colleges in 2023-2024

95 Most Popular Colleges in the Northeast in 2023-2024 US

109 Best Value Colleges in the Northeast in 2023-2024 US

282 Most Popular Colleges in 2023-2024

522 Best Value Colleges in 2023-2024


Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute Profile - Basic Information

Name of the institution

Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute

Level of institution

Four or more years

Granulation by control over the institution (public/private)


School type


Setting type

City: Small

Calendar system


Foundation year


Institution size category

5,000 - 9,999

Main student body


Institutional Category

Degree - granting, primarily baccalaureate or above

Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute Programs and Degrees

iconMaster's degree
iconBachelor's degree
iconDoctor's degree - research/scholarship
iconOther degree
iconCertificate of at least 2 years, but less than 4 years
iconAssociate's degree
iconCertificate of less than 1 year
iconPostbaccalaureate certificate
iconCertificate of at least 1 year, but less than 2 years
iconPost-master's certificate
iconDoctor's degree - other
iconDoctor's degree - professional practice

Alumni Salary for Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute Degrees


Avg. salary

Architecture and Related Services


Biological and Biomedical Sciences


Business, Management, Marketing, and Related Support Services


Computer and Information Sciences and Support Services




Engineering/Engineering-related Technologies/Technicians


Mathematics and Statistics


Multi/Interdisciplinary Studies


Physical Sciences


Visual and Performing Arts