Academic Information and Regulations

Registrar: Doris M. Matsikas

Students will be registered prior to the beginning of each term as specified in the academic calendar. New students are expected to contact their academic advisor for assistance in course selection. Returning students are given the opportunity to automatically get registered each term, according to the courses on their Plan of Study. Registration procedures are available online on the Student Homepage.

Residence and Time Limit
A student earning a master’s degree is required to complete a minimum of 24 credit hours at Rensselaer for each Master of Science degree sought. Students engaged in professional programs (part-time students) must complete all work for the master’s degrees requiring 30 credits within three calendar years of the original admission date. Those Rensselaer students working on master’s degrees requiring 45 credits must complete the requirements within five calendar years of the original admission date.

Extensions may only be granted if the student is in good academic standing and has an acceptable Plan of Study. Working professionals must petition their academic department for an extension. Final approval is granted by the Associate Dean for Academic Affairs.

Academic Load
A part-time student normally carries a maximum of six credit hours per term. Full-time registration requires enrollment in a minimum of twelve credit hours per term unless the student's academic program does not permit registering for twelve credit hours. In such cases, full-time status will require a minimum of nine credit hours.

Academic Standing
A student is considered in good academic standing if he or she is making satisfactory progress toward his or her educational goals. Students not making satisfactory progress are subject to dismissal.

Academic Suspension/Dismissal
Continuation in the graduate program requires satisfactory performance. Satisfactory performance is not limited to the academic record, but also includes other appraisals of the student's ability.

The minimum GPA of all grades used for credit must be 3.0. If a student's grade average falls below 3.0, the department will conduct a formal review to determine whether continuation is warranted. If continuation is warranted, an academic probation letter is mailed to the student. The student's record is flagged and monitored by the Registrar, Academic Advisio, and Associate Dean for Academic Affairs. Once the condition is met, the flag will be removed. If the student fails to meet the conditions of the warning, he/she is subject to dismissal from the graduate school.

A student will be dismissed from Rensselaer if:

  • He or she has accumulated six credit hours beyond the stated degree requirements and has not satisfied the 3.0/4.0 GPA.
  • His or her record indicates two failing "F" grades or three "C" grades where the GPA is less than 3.0/4.0.
  • He or she fails to make satisfactory progress toward the completion of course work or a degree program.

This policy applies to students who have completed only a few courses and have exceeded the three-year (M.S. and M.Eng.) or five-year (MBA) limit to complete degree requirements and non-matriculating students requesting admission to a degree program. Graduate students requesting readmission must receive the prior approval of the academic department official.

A student reapplies by completing the online Rensselaer application throught the EWP Office of Admissions.

If readmission is approved, all course work for the master's degree must be completed within three or five calendar years (depending upon degree) beginning with the date of the readmission letter. Course work taken prior to readmission will be subject to evaluation by the academic department official and faculty advisor. If coursework is more than five years old, it will not be allowed for a current degree. When a student is readmitted he or she must satisfy current program requirements.

Leave of Absence
A leave of absence is a period of time voluntarily spent away from Rensselaer. A student in good standing who finds it necessary to withdraw for an allowable period of time must complete a Leave of Absence form, stating reasons for the request, and submit it to the Office of the Registrar. A leave of absence is normally given for up to one year, starting with the term during which the leave is requested. A leave of absence does not afford additional time to complete the degree. Exceptions to this rule can be requested when the leave is taken for maternity, medical, or military reasons.

Withdrawal from Rensselaer
In order to leave in good standing, a student who voluntarily withdraws during the academic year must submit a Withdrawal Form (available here) to the Office of the Registrar.

Students are required to establish and maintain working relationships with faculty advisors during their programs of study.

Each student is assigned a faculty advisor to assist in academic program planning and the development of an approved Plan of Study. It is mandatory that students contact the faculty advisor during their first term to complete a Plan of Study. If no plan is on file prior to the next term, a flag will be placed on the student's record preventing registration.

Students should also meet with the faculty advisor annually and prior to starting their last term before graduation to assure that all degree requirements are being completed in compliance with established criteria. It is the student's responsibility to ensure that the academic regulations are met and that any deviations from these regulations are approved in advance by the advisor and the academic department official.

Requests for change of status, change in program plan, and transfer of credit should be submitted on the appropriate form to the faculty advisor for review, consideration, and processing. Supporting letters and documentation should accompany such requests as required.

In addition to assisting in academic program planning, faculty advisors are aware of Rensselaer policies which may affect student status. They are also familiar with future elective course options which may be of special interest to advisees.

Attendance Requirements
Requirements for class attendance are generally determined by the academic department. It is the responsibility of each instructor to make these requirements clear at the beginning of the course, and it is the responsibility of the student to abide by them. If the instructor does not inform the class of the attendance policy, he or she should be asked to state the policy for the class.

The instructor who defers a class or changes his or her class schedule for any reason is responsible for arranging for the work that is missed. The entire class must agree with any change to a class meeting schedule or final exam schedule.

Auditing is attending a course without credit. Auditors may participate in recitations, discussions, or examinations at the discretion of the instructor. Admitted students will be allowed to audit courses on a noncredit basis with the written permission of the instructor.

A student is granted auditor status when the Auditor Registration Form has been signed by all appropriate parties and returned to the Office of the Registrar.

Auditors are charged full tuition for courses audited and may not register for credit in the audited course later in the same term. They may, however, register in a future term on a credit basis for the audited course. Tuition will be charged at the time of registration. Auditors who have fulfilled the attendance requirements of the instructor will be assigned the grade of "AU" for the audited course at the end of the term.

Changes in Course Registration
Add/Drop Regulations:

  1. A student may add a course, make a section change, or drop a course by completing the Add/Drop Form. A revised Plan of Study must be submitted promptly following the Add/Drop procedure.
  2. There is no refund of tuition after the first three weeks of the term. Tuition charges are based on the number of credits for which the student is enrolled at the end of the third week of the term (Drop Deadline), independent of any further late drops.
  3. After the published Drop Deadline, a student may withdraw after submitting the Add/Drop Form and providing a detailed explanation of the reason for the late withdrawal. Such late drops are assigned the non punitive grade of "W" (Withdrawn) and the student is charged full tuition.
  4. Failure to attend a class, verbal notification, or other unofficial communication with the instructor or Office of the Registrar does not constitute dropping a course.
  5. Students who fail to submit a Drop Form will be assigned the punitive grade "FA" (Administrative Failure) by the Registrar at the end of the term.
  6. A veteran who changes his or her original credit-hour load within a term, or who withdraws, must notify the Veterans Coordinator immediately.
  7. Students are reminded that the possibility of receiving a low grade is not sufficient ground to petition for permission to withdraw during the final two weeks of the course. Late withdrawals involving extenuating circumstances beyond the student's control are given individual consideration.
Changes in Status
All changes in student status require completion of a Change of Status Form. This Form may be used to request one or more of the following:
  • Returning after an Absence
    Students in good standing who have been inactive for one year may petition to return to graduate study by submitting the Change of Status Form. All requests to return to a program after an absence or to return to study after graduation are subject to the review and approval of the appropriate academic officials. If a student has been inactive for two or more years, they will need to reapply through the Office of Enrollment Management.
  • Entry to a Second Master's Program or Alumni Returning for Additional Course Work
    Graduates of Rensselaer are welcome to return for another master's degree or additional course work. If returning as an Alumni for additional course work, a Change of Status Form is required. If seeking another master's degree, the Change of Status Form and Plan of Study Form are required. All requests to enter a new degree program are subject to the review and approval of the academic department official.
  • Change in Curriculum
    Students wishing to change from one curriculum to another (such as from Mechanical Engineering to Management) must file a new Change of Status Form and submit a new Plan of Study. All requests to enter a new degree program are subject to the review and approval of the academic department official. A student who petitions to change his or her curriculum must satisfactorily fulfill current admissions and program requirements.

Any change affecting the student's permanent record, such as change of name, address, Social Security number, or status must be reported to the Office of the Registrar as soon as possible. Questions concerning Change of Status procedures should be directed to the Office of the Registrar.

Consortium Registration
Rensselaer Students
Rensselaer is a member of the Hartford Consortium for Higher Education. Eligible students who wish to take a course through the Consortium program should contact the Registrar for information and forms.

Students who wish to register at a Consortium school must bring the Consortium Graduate Student Registration Form, validated by the Registrar at the Hartford Campus, to the other school. Rensselaer students are reminded that attendance at the other school is on a space-available basis.

Approved courses taken at one of the Consortium colleges are entered on the student's record in the same manner as courses taken at Rensselaer , and thus carry term and cumulative hours and quality points.

Consortium Students From Other Schools
Rensselaer requires the formal admission, prior to registration, of all students or full-time employees of member institutions who wish to take a course through the Consortium program.

Students participating in the Consortium Employee Agreement are limited to one course per term without tuition obligation on a space-available basis.

Credit Hour Definition
Academic credit is assigned in terms of the credit hour. For formal course work, one credit hour is equivalent to one class hour per week for one term as specified in the academic calendar. All courses carry three credit hours except where noted.

Transfer of Credit

  1. Credit for graduate work completed in residence at other accredited institutions (management courses must be from AACSB-accredited programs) may be offered in partial fulfillment of the requirements when the grade earned is a "B" or better, the work is substantially equivalent to the Rensselaer course it replaces, the course has not been credited toward an undergraduate degree, and the course was completed within five years of admission. No more than six credit hours may be transferred toward the degree, and not more than six credit hours used for a master's degree in one area can be applied to a second master's degree.
  2. A matriculated student who obtains the approval of his/her academic advisor to take graduate-level course work elsewhere while enrolled at Rensselaer must apply for transfer of credit as soon as the credit has been earned.
  3. It is the student's responsibility to complete the Transfer of Credit Form; submit an official transcript indicating grade received, credit awarded; and any other documentation required by his or her advisor, such as a catalog description of the course and a (new or revised) Plan of Study. Courses taken elsewhere and approved for transfer to Rensselaer as part of a degree program are not considered in computing the "B" average requirement. For additional information concerning the awarding of credit by transfer, contact the Office of the Registrar.
  4. On the student's official transcript, a Transfer of Credit will record only the course title and the credit hours, but not the grade of the transferred course. The credit hours of a transferred course compute into the cumulative earned hours, but do not affect the attempted hours column.

Courses required for any degrees may be waived only with substitution. A student whose prior academic preparation is substantially equivalent to the level and content of a required core course may petition the department for a waiver from the course.

M.S. students requesting substitution(s) must fill out their Plan of Study and meet with their advisor to discuss the course or courses to be waived and include: 1) an unofficial transcript, 2) a catalog description of the course, and 3) a letter justifying the rationale for the waiver. These materials should be submitted to the advisor.

Grade Requirements
A "B" average must be maintained in order to fulfill degree requirements. When the student's academic performance is unacceptable, one of the following actions will be taken.

1) The Registrar will inform the student in writing that his or her quality point average has fallen below the stated "B" (3.0) average.

2) The Associate Dean for Academic Affairs may require that the student take a substitute course or repeat a course.

3) The Associate Dean for Academic Affairs may, under exceptional circumstances, request that the student be reexamined in a course.

For further information please refer to the section on Academic Standing. .

Grading System
Letter grades and their meanings are:

A   Excellent
A-   Excellent
B+   Good
B   Good
B-   Good
C+   Average
C   Average
C-   Average
F   Failed
I   Incomplete course work
W   Withdrawn
AU   Audit
U   Unsatisfactory in a satisfactory/unsatisfactory graded course
IP   In Progress (multiple-term course)
S   Satisfactory in a satisfactory/unsatisfactory graded course
Z   Grade unknown--see instructor
NE   Not Examined
FA   Failed (due to administrative reasons)
WI   Failed (course that was previously graded "I" in which the student did not meet the deadline for completing course work)

Grading System Explanation

FA Grade
The grade "FA" (Administrative Failure) is assigned by the Registrar to students who register for a course they do not attend and do not submit an Add/Drop Form.

I Grade
The grade “I” (Incomplete) is given when a student is unable to complete required course work due to illness or other extenuating circumstance such as a personal emergency beyond the student’s control.

The “I” grade is given only after the contract form (“Authorization for the Grade of Incomplete”) is completed and signed by the instructor and the student and received by the Registrar.

Under no circumstances may the “I” grade be given for the following situations:

  • Absence from a final exam or missing paper or project that is by choice and not beyond the student’s control
  • Student on class list who never attended class
  • Student who wishes to do additional coursework or repeat the course to improve a grade
  • Student who attended only a few classes and needs to attend most of the classes again.

The work for which the “I” grade was given must be completed within one term.

If the agreements made in the “I” grade contract are not faithfully observed, or if the “I” grade is not cleared in the time specified by the contract, the grade automatically becomes a “WI.” Once the “I” grade is changed to “WI”, no other grade change will be accepted. The “I” is considered a penalty grade in the calculation of the term GPA. Until changed, it is calculated as if it were the grade of “F.”

IP Grade
The "IP" (In Progress) grade is given at the end of preliminary term of multiple-term courses such as thesis, project, seminar, culminating experience (CAPSTONE), or practicum.

NE Grade
The "NE" (Not Examined) grade is given by the instructor to a student who has been excused from taking a final exam at the scheduled time. The "NE" grade is recorded on the student's record when the instructor submits the "NE Grade Authorization" to the Office of the Registrar.

The grade of "NE" must be made up on the day specified by the instructor and prior to the end of the subsequent term.

If the examination is not taken by the date specified, the grade automatically becomes an "F."

Once the "NE" grade is changed to an "F", no other grade change will be accepted.

It should be noted that the grade of "NE" is not considered in the calculation of the term GPA.

S Grade & U Grade
"S" (Satisfactory) and "U" (Unsatisfactory) grades can only be assigned in courses specifically approved for such grading by the Curriculum Committee. Examples of such courses are seminar, thesis, project, or certain general electives.

W Grade
The grade "W" (Withdrawn) is assigned by the Registrar when a student is permitted to withdraw from a course after the drop deadline.

WI Grade
This letter grade is assigned by the Registrar to students who received an Incomplete ("I") grade but failed to meet the criteria or the deadline specified in the "I" contract. The grade is calculated as an "F" in the student's grade point average. Once the "I" grade is changed to "WI", no other grade change will be accepted.

Z Grade
The "Z" grade (Grade Unknown) is assigned by the Registrar when the grade roster is not submitted by the instructor in time to print the term grade reports. The student should see his or her instructor for the grade.

AU Grade
The grade "AU" (Audit) is assigned to students who have officially registered as auditors and who have fulfilled the instructor's attendance requirements.

NOTE: The grades A, B, C, F, FA, S, U, or WI cannot be appealed or changed six months after award by instructor.

Grade Point Average (GPA)
A student's grade point average is determined on the basis of the following numbers assigned to the letter grades: A=4.0, A- = 3.67, B+=3.33, B=3.0, B- = 2.67, C+=2.33, C=2.0, C- =1.67, F=0, I=0, FA=0, WI=0*. The grades U, S, IP, NE, W, AU, and Z are not considered when computing averages. The grade point average is computed by multiplying the number corresponding to the grade in each and every course by the number of credit hours for the course, totaling these products and then dividing the sum by the total number of credit hours for the courses considered. Credit granted for work taken at another institution other than a member of the Hartford Consortium for Higher Education and credit granted by waiver and examination are not included in the GPA.

The grade point average for the term is computed at the end of each term. The cumulative quality point average is computed at the end of each term for the full period of attendance at Rensselaer .

If a Graduate student repeats a course, both grades are entered on the record. However, course credit will count only once and, although both grades appear on the transcript, the grade received in the repeated course is always the one used in computing the GPA. The grade for a repeated course for which the student receives a grade of "W" or taken at another institution cannot be used in place of the original course grade in calculating the GPA.

Grade Calculations
Grade Contributes To Quality Hours Quality Points Earned Prior to Fall 2005 Quality Points Earned Effective Fall 2005 Contributes To Earned Hours Temporary Grade Grade Interpretation
A   Yes 4.00 4.00 Yes No Excellent
A- Yes NA 3.67 Yes No Excellent
B+ Yes NA 3.33 Yes No Good
B   Yes 3.00 3.00 Yes No Good
B- Yes NA 2.67 Yes No Good
C+ Yes NA 2.33 Yes No Average
C   Yes 2.00 2.00 Yes No Average
C- Yes NA 1.67 Yes No Average
F   Yes 0 0 No No Failed
I   Yes 0 0 No Yes Incomplete
W   No 0 0 No No Withdrawn
AU  No 0 0 No No Audit
U   No 0 0 No No Unsatisfactory
IP  No 0 0 No No In Progress
S   No 0 0 Yes No Satisfactory
Z   No 0 0 No Yes Grade Unknown (Grade due, but not submitted)
NE  No 0 0 No Yes Not Examined (Missed Final Exam)
FA  Yes 0 0 No No Failed due to administrative reasons
WI  Yes 0 0 No No Failed (Did not complete course that was previously graded incomplete)

Institutional Requirements
A candidate for a master's degree must:

  • Be in good academic and disciplinary standing.
  • Satisfy the culminating experience requirement as specified by the academic department.
  • Complete a Plan of Study with at least 30 credit hours (45 for the Master of Business Administration) beyond the bachelor's degree with satisfactory grades.
  • Satisfy grade requirements with a minimum of 3.0/4.0 GPA.
  • Satisfy residence requirements.
  • Satisfy the department's practicum or seminar requirement, if applicable.
  • Present a thesis or project, if required.
  • Pursue a Plan of Study that will lead to the completion of all requirements.
  • Satisfy all financial obligations.
  • File a Degree Application with the Office of the Registrar by the date specified in the academic calendar, for the term in which he or she plans to fulfill degree requirements. If a degree application was filed for a previous term but the requirements were not fulfilled, a new degree application must be filed for the term in which the student actually is graduating.
A student pursuing more than one master's degree must meet the above requirements for each degree sought.

Master's Thesis and Master's Project
Certain departments may specify presentation of a thesis or completion of a project as a requirement for a master's degree. Usually three, but no more than six credit hours are allowed for a master's thesis or project. Thesis is for six credit hours only. Theses and projects are graded either "S" (Satisfactory) or "U" (Unsatisfactory).

In a department that ordinarily requires a thesis or project, a student may be permitted to substitute additional courses on recommendation of the advisor and with the approval of the Associate Dean for Academic Affairs.

Submission of the thesis or project report and any final examination on the thesis or project must occur by the dates listed in the academic calendar for the year. Students who wish to undertake a thesis or project in Management should contact the Associate Dean for Academic Affairs for information and guidelines. Students in the Engineering and Computer and Information Sciences curricula would complete the thesis or project under the guidance of a thesis/project advisor. Details concerning deadlines, proposal, and defense are available in the guide "Project/Thesis Requirements and Guidelines" which can be obtained from the department.

The candidate must submit the final original copy of the thesis or project, together with the advisor's written approval of both content and format, to the Office of the Registrar at least one week before the end of the term in which the degree is to be awarded.

Additional original copies, as specified by the individual department, may be requested. The record of completion is forwarded to the Office of the Registrar and the thesis or project will be bound by the Cole Library.

Degree Completion
At the beginning of the term in which the degree is expected, eligible degree candidates who have fulfilled all departmental requirements and satisfied all financial obligations must file a Degree Application Form and current Plan of Study Form with the Office of the Registrar. Please see the Academic Calendar for the specific deadline date for the form.

No student is considered a degree candidate until he or she files the Degree Application Form.

Students who apply for degree completion but do not fulfill degree requirements must reapply for degree completion by submitting a new Degree Application Form for the term in which completion is anticipated. Degrees are conferred in August, December, and May.

Degree candidates not registering for course work in their final term will be registered for Degree Completion, which is a no fee/no credit designation.

Commencement exercises are held on the grounds of Rensselaer's Troy, New York Campus in May to honor graduates for the entire academic year. Information concerning the degree clearance procedure and deadlines may be obtained by contacting the Office of the Registrar. Please see the Academic Calendar for the specific date.

Transcript Requests
Students in Rensselaer's Hartford Campus programs may request an official transcript by writing to: Student Records and Financial Services, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, 110 8th Street, Academy Hall 2000 Level, Troy, NY 12180-3590; request via Rensselaer's Web site: , or fax the request to the Registrar's Office in Troy, New York, at (518) 276-6180.

Former students/graduates of The Hartford Graduate Center's Biomedical Engineering, Health Care Management, and Corporate Fellows programs may request an official copy of their transcript by writing to the Office of the Registrar, Rensselaer at Hartford 275 Windsor Street, Hartford, CT 06120-2991

All requests for transcripts should include the student's full name, Social Security number, signature, and the name and address of the recipient. The transcript will be mailed at no charge.

Note: Official transcripts bearing the seal of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute will be issued only after all financial obligations have been met.

Please note that transcripts submitted as part of the application process cannot be photocopied, faxed, or given to the student. Students requiring these documents must, therefore, obtain these records directly from their college or university.

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Updated: 2016-05-16, 15:33