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* Admissions

Graduate Admissions

Department Overview

Since Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute awarded its first Ph.D. in Computer Science in 1969, we have remained in the forefront of computer technology. Initially, the discipline of computer science was in the Department of Mathematical Sciences, but in 1984 Computer Science became an independent department. Our Department has grown considerably over the years, both in the number of faculty members and in national reputation. Currently we have 21 faculty, about 85 graduate students, and about 450 undergraduate majors.

The Department is an excellent environment for graduate student training -- it offers:

  • High-quality research with a critical mass of talented researchers in algorithms, artificial intelligence, bioinformatics, computational science and engineering, computer graphics, computer vision, data mining, database systems, machine and computational learning, pervasive computing and networking, robotics, security, semantic web, and social and cognitive networks.
  • A national reputation for research that has attracted over $3.5 million in research grants this year.
  • An internationally recognized faculty that includes officers of ACM special interest groups and other professional societies such as SIAM, SPIE, and IEEE, authors of numerous books, editors of leading journals, and six winners of the prestigious NSF CAREER award.
  • Faculty members who are committed to teaching in addition to their research.
  • A well-equipped laboratory with state-of-the-art specialized scientific computers as well as a large number of general-purpose workstations.
  • Interdisciplinary research with Rensselaer's departments of Mathematical Sciences and Electrical, Computer and Systems Engineering--both ranked among the best in the nation, as well as access to world-class multi-disciplinary centers.
  • Strong links with industry that provide financial support, "real-world" research problems, and employment opportunities for our graduates.

As a result of this prominence, the Department is able to attract extremely talented graduate students. These students regularly present papers at conferences and have won prizes for their work while in graduate school. A number of Department students have founded successful computer companies, including Performance Systems International, MapInfo (now Pitney Bowes Business Insight), STEPTools, Etransmedia, and Vicarious Visions.

Admission

Admission to the graduate program is highly competitive. Admitted students generally have strong academic backgrounds in Computer Science and demonstrated research potential. We accept fewer than 15% of our applicants, and offer aid to fewer than 10% of applicants.

Financial Aid

Most Computer Science Department graduate students receive financial support. About 65 of our graduate students are supported by teaching or research assistantships. These provide both tuition and a stipend. In 2010-2011, the stipend is $17,500 for the academic year. The remainder of our students are supported by sources including fellowships, their employers, or, in the case of students earning joint BS-MS degrees, undergraduate financial aid.

Typically, students will start as teaching assistants, and then will transition to research assistant positions after they have become more familiar with the work of their research groups, but occasionally a first semester student is awarded a research assistantship. A few truly outstanding first-year students are awarded fellowships.

When applicants are admitted without aid, it is usually because they already have funding from another source. However, if applicants who need aid are admitted without aid, they will have opportunities to apply for assistantships after enrolling.

Financial awards are made on the basis of ability rather than need. To receive full consideration for aid, students should submit all required materials by January 1 for the fall semester or August 15 for the spring semester.

Graduate Degree Programs

The M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in Computer Science prepare students for solving applied problems of industry and government as well as conducting independent research. At the M.S. level, specializations are available in Computational Science and Engineering and in Robotics. At the Ph.D. level, specializations in both Computational Science and Engineering and Computational Molecular Biology are available.

Research Centers

Among the many research centers on campus are:

  • The Center for Nanotechnology Innovations (CCNI) is a supercomputing center designed in collaboration with IBM and New York State. The CCNI is designed both to help continue the impressive advances in shrinking device dimensions seen by electronics manufacturers, and to extend this model to a wide array of industries that could benefit from nanotechnology.
  • The Scientific Computation Research Center(SCOREC) is an interdisciplinary center conducting research on advanced computational techniques. Specialties include adaptive methods and parallel solution strategies.
  • The Network Science and Technology Center (NEST) is focused on studying fundamental properties of networks, the processes underlying their evolution and the paradigms for network engineering to enhance their efficiency, reliability, robustness and other desirable properties. Research on natural networks, such as social and cognitive networks in which people interact over a variety of means, focuses on cognitive models of net-centric interactions, models and algorithms of community creation and evolution, impact of mobility on network formation, dependencies between social, information and communication networks and spread of opinions and ideologies among network nodes. Research on technological networks, such as computer, transportation and energy distribution networks, focuses on their optimal design from the point of view of flow maximization, fault tolerance to failure, graceful degradation in case of partial damage, etc. In communication networks, NEST develops and studies network protocols and algorithms, especially for wireless and sensor networks and studies system issues in interoperability of communication networks with computer systems. NEST actively transitions the developed protocols and algorithms to industrial practice and commercialization.
  • A multidisciplinary group of researchers from the Schools of Engineering and Science has come together in Rensselaer's Center for Pervasive Computing and Networking to collaborate on projects that contribute to the goal of pervasive computing. This vision foresees a world in the not-distant future in which computer systems are embedded in everything: from personal digital assistants to implanted biological devices, to bridge-monitoring systems, and to teams of robots sent into a collapsed building to locate survivors. Untethered - wireless - communication is constant and, in many cases, so automated that human intervention is unneeded. Wireless, broadband community systems inexpensively bring people together for virtual town meetings, video doctor-patient conferences, and on-line business transactions. Computers in automobiles share information on congestion, quickly computing alternate routes. The promises are immense, but the challenges are formidable.
  • The Center for Subsurface Sensing and Image Systems is a National Science Foundation for Engineering Research Center (NSF-ERC) that conducts multidisciplinary research on common solutions to diverse problems for sensing and imaging objects that are hidden under a surface. Examples of applications include deep confocal laser-scanning microscopy of minute subcellular objects, electrical impedance tomography of the human body and underground waste sites, retinal imaging, surgical planning for radiation treatment, and inspection of hidden defects in roads and bridges.

Enterprise

The Incubator Center has been cited by The New York Times as an "example being copied nationwide." Founded in 1980, the center offers newly formed high-technology companies office space at low rent, business service at low cost and opportunities for consultation with Rensselaer faculty. More than 100 companies have joined the Incubator Center; many of them have gone on to become highly profitable independent companies in the Northeast.

The Rensselaer Technology Park, a 1,250-acre tract located just south of Troy, is home to several major companies, including the Genomics Institute, NYSERNet, OneVision Solutions, and Pitney Bowes Business Insight (formerly MapInfo). It opened in 1983 with the aim of spurring industrial growth in the Capital District, and now houses more than 70 high-tech firms, both large and small.

The GE Global Research Center Headquarters is located in Niskayuna, 15 miles west of Troy. It is the primary research laboratory for GE and has a staff of more than 1,900 people representing all areas of science and technology.

Rensselaer's placement office provides services to graduate as well as undergraduate students. Most of the major technical corporations in the nation actively recruit at Rensselaer, and Computer Science students, both undergraduate and graduate, usually have a choice of several job offers from major firms.

Graduate Student Life

Although the graduate curriculum is challenging, students still have time for other activities. Hobbies enjoyed by students in the department include soccer, tennis, skiing, hiking, reading, writing, listening to music, playing musical instruments, and cooking. Students often get together to go out to eat, play board games, go bowling, or go to movies, concerts, or hockey games.

On the Rensselaer campus, there are many opportunities for recreation and entertainment, including movies, plays, concerts, sports events, athletic facilities, and more than 175 student organizations. Rensselaer.s Experimental Media and Performing Arts Center (EMPAC) presents concerts, installations, exhibitions, and other artistic offerings. The Houston Field House is used for ice hockey games, rock concerts and other major entertainment programs.

Troy, Albany, and Schenectady offer numerous concerts, plays, museums, sports events, nightclubs, and restaurants serving food from many different cultures and countries, including India, China, Vietnam, Turkey, Italy, Indonesia, Ireland, and Japan. The near perfect acoustics of the Troy Music Hall attract some of the world's outstanding musicians. The Saratoga Performing Arts Center, summer residence of the New York City Ballet and the Philadelphia Orchestra, is only a half-hour away. An hour away in the Berkshires are Tanglewood (the summer home of the Boston Symphony Orchestra), the Jacob's Pillow Dance Festival, and the Williamstown Theater Festival. Three major metropolitan areas, New York City, Montreal, and Boston, are within a three hour drive.

The area is an ideal mix of urban and rural environments. There are nearly a million people living in the Capital District (Troy, Albany, Schenectady, Saratoga, and their suburbs), but Troy is within a few minutes of rural countryside. The upstate New York area provides many opportunities for outdoor activities. There are a number of downhill ski areas within driving distance, and many students are also involved in cross country skiing, climbing and hiking in the nearby Adirondack Mountains, the Berkshires, and the Catskills. There are numerous rivers and lakes in the area for swimming, boating, fishing, and white water rafting.

There are numerous other colleges and universities in the area. Russell Sage College is also in Troy, and the State University of New York at Albany is across the river in Albany. Other colleges in the region include Skidmore, Union, Williams, Siena, St. Rose, Bennington, Albany Medical College, and Albany Law School.

Students can live on campus in graduate student housing or off campus. There are many inexpensive apartments within a short distance of the campus, and the low cost of living is one of the appeals of the area.

* Return to main Graduate Admissions page


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