General Information

For a list of COVID-19 (coronavirus) summer 2020 Arch FAQs, visit

The Arch is a unique approach to your education that provides flexibility in your semester schedule, allowing you to pursue professional and personal development opportunities that will prepare you to meet the multifaceted challenges of the 21st century.


Bursar's Office

Summer Here

For payments and payment options, visit the Bursar's Office.

Refunds of credit balances will be issued by the Bursar’s Office once Financial Aid has paid to the student’s account. If there is a payment plan on the student’s account, a refund will not be issued until the last payment of the payment plan has been made.

Refunds due to withdrawals will be based on the official withdrawal date. Tuition refunds are made according to the following schedule:

  • Less than 1 week:  100% refund
  • Less than 2 weeks:  90% refund
  • Less than 3 weeks:  80% refund
  • Less than 4 weeks:  70% refund
  • Less than 6 weeks:  60% refund
  • Less than 7 weeks:  50% refund
  • Less than 9 weeks:  40% refund
  • More than 9 weeks:  No refund

Semester Away

No tuition is due to Rensselaer during the away semester, unless you have selected an affiliated study abroad program for your away experience. For more information, visit the Bursar's Office and the Office of International Programs.

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Financial Aid

Summer Here

Federal, NY State, and Rensselaer financial aid are available as long as you meet eligibility requirements such as being enrolled as a full-time student throughout the semester. Unless your demonstrated financial need is reduced based on your FAFSA filing outcomes, you can expect to receive the same total gift aid from Rensselaer for two semesters of full-time enrollment during your Arch year as you would receive based on a traditional fall/spring semester full-time enrollment pattern. Merit-based awards are never impacted as long as you remain full-time for the entire semester.

Because the summer semester is shorter in length than the fall or spring semesters, the room and board portion of the financial aid Cost of Attendance will be less. For some students, this may reduce eligibility for need-based work or loans. Our priority is to renew gift awards before awarding need-based work or loans.

Semester Away

In most cases, students will participate in experiential learning opportunities that do not include taking Federal Aid eligible classes. Using Federal Aid during the away semester is discouraged because it can decrease the amount available to you during the two semesters you are on campus. You cannot use Federal Work Study during your away semester. For more information, visit The Office of Financial Aid.

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Early Arch

First-Year students who are accelerated in their coursework upon entering Rensselaer (incoming credits of 15 or more), curate a 3.00 GPA after initial fall term, and would like to explore the possibility of completing The Arch summer term after their first year, should complete the Early Arch Form. The Early Arch Form for summer 2023 will become available January 9, 2023 and will close March 6, 2023 with summer term registration.   

Prior to completing the form, students should work with their academic advising HUB to update their plan of study to ensure course offerings for the summer term are consistent with their academic timeline. Attaching an updated plan of study is required to complete the form.

Students will receive notification of participation after application review. Once confirmed as an Early Arch participant, students should inform the Office of Financial Aid to ensure their award package is disbursed accordingly. Students will also be prompted to determine their semester away term. Early Arch students have the flexibility to make an update to their term away designation, should an opportunity be secured in the opposing semester. Please review Arch Institute Policies to review the requirement and Arch semester away designations by major. 

Early Arch students are required to be full-time equivalent (12 credit hours or more), during the Arch summer term. The residential requirement applies to the Early Arch summer term and students need to ensure their housing is selected once they've been notified of participation approval. Students should email with any inquiries related to planning for the early arch summer term. 

Complete Early Arch Form


Career Considerations

Pursue your passion during The Arch and get ahead of the competition by building a unique portfolio of professional experience that will propel your career. Whether you are interested in graduate school, attaining a position in industry, or would like to pursue an opportunity in the healthcare field, the robust academic experience that The Arch offers will lead you in the right direction while formulating a strategic plan of study to accomplish your goals.

Healthcare Professions

An increased demand for physicians is expected in the coming decade. There are also serious shortages of dentists, optometrists, podiatrists, physical therapists, nurse practitioners, and many other health professionals.  At Rensselaer we provide the fundamental education in a variety of majors that will build the foundation for continuing your studies beyond a BS degree to become the health professional of your choice.   The Arch will provide a unique opportunity to immerse yourself in a health professional experience and increase your chances of admission to health graduate schools. 

First Year Planning

Make a plan of study in your first year that includes AP credits and the start of your curriculum.  If you are ahead in your curriculum, it becomes easier to put in prehealth courses either during the semesters or, if you are ahead in your departmental requirements, several prehealth courses are offered during The Arch semester.  Consider these options in building your academic experience. If you are in a department with a pre-health advisor, then consider interacting with the advisor early on while planning your curriculum.

The Arch Planning:  There are two key things that you can do to improve your chances of admission to a health related graduate school (besides getting a high GPA). 

  1. Participate in undergraduate research while at Rensselaer (  Find research as medically relevant as possible. Approximately 85% of students applying to medical school have some research experience.  Academic year experiences on campus or summer experiences at other institutions will both be useful.  If there are clinical applications, even better.
  2. Get The Arch semester away position in a healthcare related area.  Depending upon the state, it is often easy to gain employment in a hospital as a Patient Care Technician (PCT) or even as a phlebotomist.  You could take courses to become an EMT and gain experience on an ambulance crew.  You can also find a position in a biomedical company.  Check out joblink.  Be certain that the job involves some patient interaction or add volunteer work along with the job.  We also have special programs with Albany Medical College, Mt. Sinai Medical School, and the NY Center for Disability Services for Away Semester Research. Some examples of special programs can be found here.

Junior year planning:  Continue interacting with the PreHealth Committee run through ALAC (

If you haven’t done any research yet, consider finding a research position.  Assess where you are academically and with regard to your major and your prehealth courses.  Do you need to focus on coursework or are you light on experiences that have people interactions (medical and non-medical) and leadership positions.  There are no right or wrong activities.  Follow your interests.  If you are interested in sports, help at the YMCA/YWCA or the Boy’s/Girls Club.  Become a tutor or a peer academic mentor on campus or work with underprivileged youth in the Troy school system to help with their studies.  The options are only limited by your imagination.

Timeline for applying to medical or other prehealth professional schools:  The generally recommended timeline is to be prepared to take the MCAT in the summer after the junior year.  Typically students apply to, and interviewing at, health professional schools during the senior year. However, if you want additional experience then you can apply after you complete your undergraduate degree program.  The PreHealth committee will advise you and work with you to optimize your application-even after you have graduated. 

Industrial Careers

Careers in Industry:

A career in industry can include everything from starting a small company, or working for a small company, to joining a large international corporation.  While you may know already whether you want to work for a large or small company, it is always valuable to experience both.  The Arch is a great way to explore an industry experience.

Rensselaer has strong relationships with more than 500 hundred companies in a wide range of industries and locations across the country (See the Center for Career and Professional Development - CCPD).   In addition, the Severino Center currently plans to support a small number of student teams during The Arch Semester Away to further their ambitions of starting their own company.  Your advisors, parents, alumni, and contacts back home may also be great resources for you as you continue your industry search.  Don’t hesitate to apply for many opportunities to maximize and diversify your choices.

Note: Many companies require a minimum GPA of 3.0 for an internship, while other companies tend to be more flexible focusing on other components of a candidate’s application.  Keep this in mind as you continue your academic coursework each semester. Raising your GPA might increase your ability to land a future opportunity!

First Year:

The CCPD staff encourages underclassmen to engage in their services, programs, and workshops early and often. Students may schedule an individual appointment with a Career Counselor to work on writing your first resume or discussing your internship search (among other things).  In addition, the CCPD has daily walk-in hours that are designed for you receive an answer to a quick question you might have.  The CCPD staff is ready to work with you in many capacities. From resume critiques to mock interviews, the Staff is committed to helping you achieve career success.

  • FOCUS2 is a career assessment tool and inventory that can help you figure out your career interests.  You can find more information about FOCUS2 on the CCPD website and the CCPD team will gladly assist you in interpreting your results from the inventories. 
  • Freshmen Career Compass is employer-sponsored allowing students to engage with industry professionals early in their collegiate career. The Freshman Career Compass is your first step to career-readiness and exploration. 
  • Attend the Fall AND Spring Career Fair.  These are important opportunities to practice talking to companies, learning about different companies, and figuring out what companies are looking for.  The fall career fair (typically held at the end of September) is run by two student organizations on campus, NSBE and SHPE.  The spring career fair (held in early February) is run by the CCPD. Each fair brings in over 150 employers to campus and allows students to conveniently engage with them.
  • Attend Employer Events.  Attending employer information sessions will provide you with the opportunity to learn about a company in small setting.  Employers come to campus to share current opportunities at their organization.  Presenters often dispense valuable tips on how make your application stand out from others.  At the end of these sessions, you may have time make a personal connection with the industry representative.  These connections will contribute to your own professional network which you should continue to cultivate and expand throughout your undergraduate experience.
  •  Employers often like to see that students have gained experience before applying for an internship.  One practical way to gain experience before embarking on a professional Semester Away position with The Arch is to participate in undergraduate research. Working with a faculty member and a team within a lab environment will allow you to build important skills that will assist you in a future work environment.

Sophomore Year and The Arch Planning:

This is the year you get ready for your Semester Away.  The CCPD starts with the Sophomore Career Experience designed to cultivate the career development knowledge and skills of Sophomores.   

  • Continue to update your resume so that it accurately reflects your academic, professional, and leadership experiences.
  • Practice your interviewing skills. 
  • Attend the Fall AND Spring Career Fair.
  • Evaluate your professional goals. What are you hoping to gain from immersing yourself in an industry?  Consider what type of professional experience you would like to obtain: an Internship or  Co-op.  Each opportunity will be a valuable experience, allowing you to imbed yourself in industry work.  Both are paid experiences.  Either experience will assist you in making informed professional decisions for your future career. 
  • Regularly review positions in JobLink, use Career Shift, and frequently check career pages on employer websites (and beyond).
  • Conduct thorough research on industries and organizations that are in alignment with your professional career goals.
  • Finally work on growing your network and tapping into resources to obtain additional information
  • Job shadowing is one way to learn about a career – a day or two with someone in your network in industry can be very valuable
  • Set up an informational interview.  An informational interview is a meeting you initiate. The purpose is to obtain information about a position, an organization, or an industry. This information can then assist you in making a career decision, or in seeking a position. It is an important tool in the networking process however; it is not a job interview.

Junior Summer Planning:

Your Junior Summer may be spent with the same company you worked for during your Semester Away.  It is also an opportunity to work at a new company and broaden your experience.  

Graduate School

If you are interested in a career in research (Ph.D.) or a management position in industry (M.S. or Ph.D.) or you have a GPA of 3.3 or higher, you should consider graduate school. With a graduate degree, you are well prepared for a career in research, as an educator, or an entrepreneur and innovator.  Not only will graduate school prepare you for these careers, you will be prepared to be a leader.

If you are unsure of pursuing a PhD, you may begin with a Master’s degree.  Some of the basic coursework is the same and can be applied later to a PhD program.  Your career goals may be met with a Master’s degree based on the program of choice.  Either advanced degree will allow the graduate to grow professionally and make positive contributions to their future endeavors.

* Continuing your education in graduate school in the STEM disciplines does not have to be an additional expense. Typically, graduate students are provided with a stipend (on the order of $20,000+) along with tuition.

The Arch Planning

There are two key things that you can do to improve your chances of admission to graduate school (besides getting a high GPA). 

  1. Participate in undergraduate research while at Rensselaer ( 
  2. Get a semester away position at a research laboratory (national laboratory, industrial laboratory, or academic laboratory).   Joblink or this link will provide more information.

Junior Summer Planning

One of the best opportunities after your junior year is to participate in a Research Experiences for Undergraduates during the Summer after your junior year at another University ( or with a Professor at RPI.

Timeline for Applying to Graduate School

  • Freshman Year
    Your freshman year is your time to craft your blueprint and build your foundation.  You should begin introducing yourself to faculty, and developing relationships with them.  During this time, you should focus on excelling in each of your academic courses, and begin to explore summer research opportunities.  Although many programs do not admit freshmen to summer research programs, there are some that do.
  • Sophomore Year
    Your sophomore year should be spent strengthening your foundation.  During this time, you should become involved in a campus research experience.  You should also begin crafting a personal statement for summer research programs, and apply to those programs.  Continue to cultivate your faculty relationships, and begin to familiarize yourself with the Graduate Record Exam (GRE).
  • Junior Year
    This is the time to prepare to launch your graduate career.  During this time, you should continue to involve yourself in research opportunities, and should study for the GRE.  You should also consider attending, and presenting at, an external research conference.  Your junior year is also a time when graduate programs will begin taking a heightened interest in prospective applicants, so consider participating in a graduate recruitment program.  There are a number of programs that will allow you to visit their campuses, and they may even cover all or part of the cost.  Note that the summer between your junior and senior years is an ideal time to take the GRE.
  • Senior Year
    This is the time to make final preparations, and launch your graduate career.  Finalize your list of graduate schools and put the finishing touches on your personal statement.  Have the statement reviewed by at least one faculty member before submitting it as part of an application.  Take the GRE a second time if necessary.  This is also the time to secure recommendations from faculty.  Keep in mind that many graduate programs like to see recommendations from summer research faculty mentors.  Finally, consider applying for external fellowships.

Paying for Graduate School

Continuing your education in graduate school in the STEM disciplines does not have to be an additional expense to achieve your goals. Typically, graduate students are provided with a stipend (on the order of $20,000+) along with tuition.

  • Fellowships Available
    In addition to Teaching and Research Assistants provided by the school, other sources of financial aid exist.  Graduate students are encouraged to work with their advisors and the Office of Graduate Education (OGE) early or just before their graduate studies to apply for funding from sources such as  the National Science Foundation, Department of Defense, and the SMART Scholarship to name a few.  OGE offers workshops on starting your search and conducts writing sessions to increase the value of your application to these agencies.   

International Students

For more information, visit the ISSS Current Students: The Arch website or contact ISSS directly.

Can I choose the fall or spring for my semester away experience?

Yes. During your sophomore year, you will need to select which semester you plan on being away during your junior year, either fall or spring. You will submit this information to The Arch office, who will communicate this to ISSS.

For my semester away, can I secure an experience in my home country?

Yes. You will need to communicate this with the appropriate department (based on which experience you choose) to have the opportunity approved. ISSS will advise you on how to best maintain your immigration status.

Are all semester away experiences the same for immigration purposes?

No. Each semester away experience will impact your immigration status differently.

Will I need a new I-20 after my semester away?

Possibly. However, it depends on your situation. You will need to speak with ISSS to determine if you will need a new I-20.

Who do I ask about how The Arch impacts my immigration status?

ISSS is your main source of information on how your immigration status is impacted by The Arch.

Stop by our office during open hours:

International Services for Students and Scholars
1528 15th Street
8:30 a.m.–5:00 p.m.
(518) 276-4966

Spring 2021 Arch and International Students Information Session

To view the Arch and International Student information session regarding Spring 2021, please follow this link

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Varsity Student-Athletes

Varsity Student-Athlete Exception Review 

Intercollegiate student-athletes have a special opportunity to participate in the complete experience of being a Rensselaer student while also representing the Institution on the field, court, track or in the pool. By planning ahead, utilizing the abundant campus resources available and communicating with coaches and other athletic department staff members, student-athletes can take full advantage of all the tremendous experiences The Arch offers. 

The Arch Athletics Requirement - All Athletes 
All athletes are required to complete the Arch Exploration and Planning course regardless of their determined status as a result of the exception process. This online course is required for completion during the spring 2021 term, where all currently enrolled Rensselaer sophomores will acquire important career competencies for maximizing success in future professional endeavors. Students will automatically be registered in the spring term. Should there be any questions, students should connect with the CCPD via 

All athletes are also required to satisfy an away semester experience, regardless of exception. The atheletic exception is only applied to participation in the Arch summer semester. Students should work with their coaches and the Office of Undergraduate Education to determine a satisfactory away experience. 

Student Athlete Responsibility
It is the responsibility of the student athletes to submit your request on time. Once the form has been submitted, the final page will provide a receipt of submission confirmation. Please keep this for your records.  When the exception process concludes, all students will receive a formal notification letter of Arch Exception Decision via their RPI email account. If there are any discrepancies with your submission, the Athletics Compliance Specialist will be notified. 

Categories for Exceptions

Students Involved in the following programs, if requested, may receive an exception if their athletic responsibility interferes with completion of the Arch summer semester. 

No matter what your program of study (Major) If your program of study requires Fall away semester If your program of study requires Spring away semester
Cross Country/Track & Field (M+W) Field Hockey Baseball
Golf, Basketball (M+W) Football Lacrosse (M+W)
Hockey (M+W) Soccer (M+W) Softball
Swimming & Diving (M+W)    
Tennis (M+W)    
Air Force ROTC    
Naval ROTC    
Albany Med/RPI Program    

Exception Process

As part of The Arch Institute policy, students are required to attend Rensselaer in the summer after their second year, and then use one of the semesters (as dictated by their program) during their third year as a professional development experience. Students Arch designation year is dictated by their entering class year. Students with extenuating circumstances for the summer semester may apply for an Arch exception to be reviewed for opting out of the summer portion of the institute requirement. All categories are still required to complete a semester away experience. (Students with a career-related Arch exception, fulfill the semester away term requirement by completing their opportunity through the exception received and registration completed via official transcript of record in ILEA 4400).

Please Note: There is no guarantee an exception will be granted by simply filing, but rather identifies a student's unique concern to be mitigated. 

Exception Process Guidelines - 2023
Any student who plans to submit an exception form for review, should understand the following guidelines as it relates to the Exception Process:

1) The Exception Process has four categories of submission only. Academic-Related, Career-Related, Athletic-Related, and ROTC-Related. These are the four areas that submissions will be reviewed. The Arch Exception form will become available, on January 9, 2023 and will close March 6, 2023 when summer term registration begins. 

The Arch Exception Form: Academic-Related

The Arch Exception Form: Career- Related 

The Arch Exception Form: Athletics

The Arch Exception Form: ROTC

2) The Exception Review Committee does not review or render a decision regarding concerns of Student Health and/or Finances. Any submissions who cite concerns related to these specific areas will be referred to the appropriate office for follow-up and mitigation of concerns. 

3) A formal notification with a decision rendered is sent via RPI email to any student who has submitted a form for exception committee review. All decisions will be sent on a rolling basis during the exception process. Additionally, the following departments on campus will be notified of the decisions:

  • The Arch/Student Transitions 
  • Athletics 
  • ROTC 
  • CCPD
  • Undergraduate Education
  • Registrar
  • Office of Financial Aid
  • Associate Dean of the School for the Student’s primary degree

4) If there are any general questions about this process, please contact (Undergraduate Education) where your question will be fielded appropriately.  

5) Please refer to The Arch Calendar for the timeline of the Exception Process, Semester Away Selection dates, and other important information. 




    When will I be expected to take the Arch?

    Students in the Class of 2021 ane beyond will be required to participate in The Arch program in summer after their sophomore year. There is an exception process for athletes, ROTC, and a few other select cases.

    Will it take more than four years to graduate?

    No. With the exception of students in the five-year bachelor of architecture program, matriculation to degree completion is not intended to take more than eight terms at Rensselaer. To accelerate your academic progress, and graduate in fewer than eight semesters, you may take classes elsewhere prior to enrollment at Rensselaer, obtain AP/IB credit from high school, take summer courses in subsequent summers, study abroad during the away semester, or some combination of these options. Students with accellerated plans of study should consult their advisor about participating in The Arch summer semester after their first year at Rensselaer.

    Do I have to pay tuition during my Semester Away?

    *No. The semester away is an opportunity to pursue internships, co-ops, and collaborative research, as well as athletic, entrepreneurial, philanthropic, and community service activities. This is a good opportunity to earn money while gaining valuable professional experience.

    *students who participate in affiliated study abroad during the semester away will pay regular Rensselaer tuition and may use one of their eight semesters of Rensselaer financial aid, subject to eligibility

    What will I do during my Semester Away?

    You can take advantage of numerous co-curricular and experiential activities available off campus, including international experiencesinternshipsCo-opsresearch opportunities, and engagement in community service projects. 

    Will I have assistance finding a Co-op or internship?

    Students seeking a Co-op or internship experience during their “away” semester will have the full resources of the Center for Career and Professional Development available to assist them in their search.

    What if I want to study abroad?

    The flexibility of the Arch offers students the opportunity to pursue international activities such as research, study abroad, volunteer service and internships (international internships coordinated in cooperation with the Center for Career and Professional Development, CCPD).  Both affiliated exchanges and non-affiliated programs are available during the Semester Away.  Students who participate in affiliated study abroad will pay regular Rensselaer tuition and may use one of their eight semesters of Rensselaer financial aid, subject to eligibility. The Office of International Programs (OIP) will support students in their search for a suitable opportunity during both regular semesters and the Semester Away. 

    Additional information can be found at the Office of International Programs website.

    Will there be air conditioned residence halls and classrooms for all students during The Arch?

    All residence halls and classes for Arch students will be air conditioned.

    Where is my semester away listed?

    Your confirmed semester away is listed in your SIS account in the "Student Menu," under "Registration Information." You can view your confirmed semester away term by selecting "The Arch."

    How can I participate in Early Arch?

    Freshman students with accelerated credits (15 or more transfer or AP) and a GPA of 3.0 for fall are encouraged to connect with their advisors to discuss the possibility of completing Early Arch. Instead of completing Arch the summer after the sophomore year, students will have the opportunity to complete Arch after their full freshman year. Students can complete this webform to apply for Early Arch and they will receive more information upon review of their credits and academic plan. 

    Early Arch applications for Summer 2021 are currently open and will close in late April.