What Does it Take to Get Into Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute?

Want personalized (and free) advice while applying to college?

We’re building a free college guidance platform for high school students like you! This means we’ll let you know exactly what and when you should be focusing on things like extracurriculars, college essays, standardized tests, and more. Sign up now to get early access to our platform and get guidance applying to college!

Only 43% of applicants are accepted into Rensselaer Polytechnic University. What does it take to get in?


Famous for being the oldest technological research university, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute is located in Troy, New York, and offers programs in science, technology, engineering, and math.


RPI is also known for its accelerated programs, including the B.S./M.D. Physician-Scientist Program, completed in seven years, and the six-year B.S./J.D. in Science, Technology and Society.


How do you get into RPI? Here’s our overview.


Applying to Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute: A Quick Review


To apply to RPI, you must submit:


  • Common App/ Coalition Application/Candidate’s Choice Application (available to students who have expressed interest in RPI)
  • RPI supplement
  • High school transcript
  • One recommendation (counselor or teacher, preferably in math or science)
  • SAT or ACT (self-reported allowed for all applicants except those applying to accelerated programs in law or medicine)
  • Neither Subject Tests nor the writing supplement are required except for in the above instances
  • Essays required for some programs
  • Portfolio required for some programs


RPI encourages you to apply to a specific program, although you may apply with an undeclared major (we recommend selecting a program).


RPI Acceptance Rate


With an acceptance rate of 43%, RPI is a selective school. In 2016, the yield was 20.6%.


Standardized Test Scores


Middle 50% range:


SAT CRW: 610-710

SAT Math: 670-770

ACT: 28-32

Not sure how to get started with the Common App?

Our free webinar will teach you how to use the Common App, organize your activities, answer the essay prompts, and more!

So, What Does It Take to Get Into RPI?

Have the right profile. This is a school for students focusing on STEM disciplines, meaning successful applicants are strong in math, science, and related subjects. You should show plenty of relevant extracurriculars, such as, for example, an engineering internship. RPI gives you the option of submitting a resume, and you should do so if it bolsters your application, detailing plenty of STEM-related work and extracurricular activities.


Declare a major. While it’s not required for admission, RPI encourages you to select a major when you apply. Given that the school is specialized, this helps the adcom see that RPI is the right fit for you and demonstrates that you are goal-oriented with a good idea of the path you want to pursue.


Recognize that it’s a self-selecting schoolThe admissions rate may seem a bit higher compared with other schools of this caliber, but you should recognize that most of the students who apply fit the profile of an RPI student since the school is specialized.


Given the smaller pool of candidates, you may assume you’ll have an easier chance of admission. This is not necessarily the case. You must still put effort into your app, emphasizing how you would fit in at RPI.


What If You Get Rejected?


Being denied admission to any college, particularly one of your top choices, is disappointing. Still, it’s important to take a step back and regroup. If you get rejected from RPI, here’s what you can do:


Take a gap year or transfer in. If you had your heart set on RPI or received bad news from the other colleges on your list, one option is to take a gap year and reapply next admissions cycle. If you do decide to go this route, make sure you have a productive plan for the year. You might undertake a research project, volunteer, study to improve your SAT scores, or take classes at a local college. Do know, however, that this path is risky, as taking a gap year won’t ensure your acceptance the second time around.

You could also begin your studies at another institution with the hopes of transferring. RPI accepts more than 200 transfer students annually.


Keep it in perspective. Even if RPI was your top choice, chances are, you’ll find a way to make a college that did accept you work. College really is what you make of it, and if you put effort into adjusting to another school by joining clubs, working hard in your classes, and cultivating a social life, you’ll likely find that you can make a fulfilling college experience for yourself, even if you end up at a college that wasn’t your top choice.


For more personalized expertise on getting into RPI, consider CollegeVines’s College Application Guidance Program. When you sign up for our program, we carefully pair you with the perfect admissions specialist based on your current academic and extracurricular profile and the schools in which you’re interested. Your personal application specialist will help you with branding, essays, and interviews, and provide you with support and guidance in all other aspects of the application process.

Want more college admissions tips?

We'll send you information to help you throughout the college admissions process.

Laura Berlinsky-Schine
Senior Blogger at CollegeVine
Short bio
Laura Berlinsky-Schine is a graduate of Johns Hopkins University, where she majored in Creative Writing and minored in History. She lives in Brooklyn, New York and works as a freelance writer specializing in education. She dreams of having a dog.