What is the Arch?

The Arch was developed to be intentionally transformative by providing the following:

  • An acceleration of immersion in both the academic and professional worlds;
  • Structured academic advising, career counseling, and leadership development;
  • Unique academic and co-curricular summer experiences;
  • Re-clustering of the junior-year cohort across disciplines;
  • More focused and meaningful engagement with the faculty; and
  • An opportunity for students to engage in self-discovery, leading to increased intellectual agility, multicultural sophistication, and a global perspective.

To make our undergraduate educational experience even more robust and transformative, we have freed it from the traditional academic calendar.

Summer Here
During The Arch, students remain on campus for the summer after their sophomore year, taking junior-level classes, and receive focused attention from professors at this pivotal point in their academic progression. 

The World Away
Then, students leave the Troy campus for a semester during the traditional junior year—either fall or spring—to pursue their passions in the form of co-ops, internships, civic engagement, research, or international experiences. Students who pursue these opportunities during their academic career are better prepared for future professional careers and graduate school.

Graduate in Four Years
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. 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, enroll in your Arch summer term one semester early (Early Arch), take summer courses in subsequent summers, study abroad during the away semester, or a combination of these options.

Academic Semester Experience

Freshman On Campus* On Campus* You Choose
Sophomore On Campus* On Campus* Arch Semester *
Junior Semester Away** Semester Away** You Choose
Senior You Choose  On Campus  

*On Campus Housing requirement
**Juniors must participate in a fall or spring semester away experience following The Arch summer semester.
Note: You Choose option refers to student capability to determine how they will spend that particular semester. This is a general academic overview and may vary based on academic curriculum. 

Architecture Students

Freshman On Campus* On Campus* You Choose
Sophomore On Campus* On Campus* You Choose
Junior On Campus On Campus Arch Semester*
Senior Semester Away** Semester Away** You Choose
Fifth Year On Campus On Campus Graduate

*Housing requirement
**Fourth year Architecture students must participate in a fall or spring semester away experience following The Arch summer semester
Note: This is a general academic overview and may vary based on academic curriculum

Text Block

Arch Productivity Workshops

Februay 5 – April 29 
(Every Wednesday)

*March 11, 2020 - Spring Break, No Session 
Off Campus Commons | 3:00pm - 5:00pm 

Led by the Office for Students Transitions, the Arch Planning Workshops will focus on semester away planning and productivity. Students will utilize this time to:

  • Planning & productivity sheets, tracking your progress in planning for your semester away.
  • Spend time working on your Arch Course Modules.
  • Speak with CCPD about semester away opportunities.
  • Work with peers on achieving similar productivity goals. 
  • Detailed understanding of the steps to register your plans. 
  • Questions and answer session with Arch Resource Personnel
Text Block

Arch Family Webinars

At the beginning of the 2019 spring term, faculty and staff at Rensselaer hosted two webinars to further inform family members of The Arch program structure and how to best support their student. Each webinar can be viewed by clicking the links below.

Class of 2021

Class of 2022

Class of 2023

Family Weekend 2020

Text Block

Arch Discovery Day

Arch Discovery Day is an annual event that is attended by all Rensselaer sophomores as the onset to the school year, preparation for The Arch summer term, and the semester away experience. During this time, students have the opportunity to engage with key areas such as their Academic Departments, the Career and Professional Development Center, and Undergraduate Education to begin exploration and planning. This year, we will have a week of sessions, a Percipio module, Handshake profile completion, and focused engagement prior to the start of classes. Arch Discovery online sessions will be held from Monday, August 24th through Friday, August 28th. Opening Session begins Monday, August 24th at 11am.

Download The Arch Calendar Brochure - Important Dates Please Note: The start of spring term courses has changed to begin on Monday, January 25, 2021. All January dates for The Arch have changed to the 25th in accordance with the institute academic calendar. 

Arch Discovery Day 2020 - Opening Session Livestream