This section includes course descriptions for courses which are not yet included in the Rensselaer Catalog. They include courses which may only be offered for a few semesters, those being tested by a department to deterine if they want to offer it on a continuing basis, as well as courses which have not completely transitioned to the catalog.
NOTE: You can also access these descriptions through SIS Class Search. After doing a Class Search, click on the CRN, and for Topics Courses, a complete description will be displayed.
- Spring 2019 (pdf)
- Fall 2019 (pdf)
Every undergraduate student who entered as a freshman in Fall 2006 or later, or transfer student who entered Fall 2008 and later, is required to successfully complete at least 2 communication intensive courses (chosen from the approved list) as part of the requirements for a Bachelor’s Degree.
- at least one of these must be in the student's major, and
- at least one of the courses must be writing intensive and taught in the School of Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences. (Courses taught by the School of Humanities, Arts, and Social sciences are noted on the list)
- Communication Intensive courses CANNOT be taken as Pass/No Credit (effective for students who enter Fall 2010 or later)
- Students pursuing a dual major or double degree only need to complete 1 Communication Intensive course in either of their majors in addition to the 1 course taught by the School of Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences
- Students entering as freshmen may not use AP credit, SAT scores or transfer credit from another university to satisfy the communication intensive requirement.
- Transfer students may be eligible to satisfy the Communication Intensive requirement through courses taken at another institution. To determine if your prior coursework will satisfy the requirement, contact the HA&SS Director of Student Services, Sage 5208.
- All courses approved as Communication Intensive include a "writing intensive" component.
Transfer students who entered prior to Fall 2008 must meet the Writing Intensive Requirement
Faculty who want to have a course designated communication intensive should submit a proposal to any member of the CI review committee listed below. The proposal should include the following. 1) a brief memo giving the title of the course, the course description in the Catalog, and the first semester in which the course would be offered as a communication intensive course; and 2) a course syllabus showing how the course has the characteristics identified below.
Characteristics of CI Courses
The Faculty Senate Curriculum Committee has identified the following characteristics as being essential for all CI courses.
- Students complete at least at least two formal assignments; three or more are preferable. Successive drafts of a longer assignment, such as a design report or undergraduate thesis, may count as separate assignments. However, note taking, daily logs, or journals do not count as formal assignments.
- Over the course of a semester, each student is required to compose, at a minimum, the equivalent of 15 pages (typed, double-spaced) of writing done outside class. In determining the extent to which an oral presentation meets this requirement, one rule of thumb is that it can take speakers approximately two minutes to present the amount of information contained on one page of typed text. (This assumes that the lines of type are double-spaced.)
- Each student is assessed on his or her ability to communicate orally and/or in writing. For group projects, assessment of individual students might entail such strategies as the following: assigning grades to each individual for his or her part in an oral presentation; basing individual grades for a lengthy report not only on the overall quality of the report but on each individual?s work on a section for which he or she is the principal author; asking students to write an explanation of how their portion of the group project displays communicative competencies listed below.
- Grades on formal assignments count for at least 25% of the final grade for the course.
- Grades on the formal assignments reflect students? ability to communicate effectively as well as their understanding of course content. Invariably, instructors will want to use formal assignments to assess students? understanding of course content. But a substantial portion of the grade for each final assignment should reflect students? ability to display communicative competencies listed below.
Rensselaer graduates must be able to communicate effectively in a variety of media (written, spoken, visual, electronic) and in a variety of genres (reports, proposals, etc.) Whatever the medium and genre, Rensselaer students should be able to:
Understand the context in which they are communicating,
- Identifying the goals of and audience for their communication
- Using their understanding of goals and audience to choose appropriate media, language, and content
Organize their work,
- Establishing a clear structure or principle of organization
- Creating effective introductory and concluding passages in which they identify their main point and set their work in a larger context
Develop content appropriately,
- Displaying a clear ethical sensibility (e.g., reporting data accurately, citing sources of information)
- Asserting and elaborating on claims using evidence and reasoning that are appropriate for their audience and their discipline/profession
- Addressing the questions and/or topics that are essential for success with a given assignment
- Understanding, and, as appropriate, applying principles of visual communication (graphs, charts, animations, pictures) in their written or spoken work
Edit their written work carefully,
- Observing the conventions of Standard English (e.g., correct usage, sentence structure, spelling, and punctuation)
- Observing the conventions (e.g., terminology and page format) of a particular discipline or workplace
All proposed courses will be reviewed by a committee that is appointed by the Faculty Senate Curriculum Committee and comprised of faculty from all five schools plus the Director of the Center for Communication Practices. This committee will:
- Determine whether syllabi for proposed courses display the characteristics indicated above;
- Make a recommendation to FSCC as to whether a proposed course should be designated communication intensive;
- Review all communication intensive courses at three-year intervals.
Assistance for Students and Faculty
The Center can help students with communication in a variety of media, oral and visual as well as written. In addition to working with individuals or groups of students, the Center will work with faculty in planning CI courses, devising assignments, establishing criteria that reflect the goals of specific courses, and/or annotating exemplary samples of student work for posting on course web sites or on the Center?s web site. Although Center staff will not grade papers, they will visit CI classes to explain criteria and will base their tutorial work on criteria established specifically for each CI course. For further information about this assistance, please contact Center Director Barbara Lewis (firstname.lastname@example.org).
If you are an incoming freshman who has completed (or is currently enrolled in) courses at other colleges, you may be able to transfer those credits to Rensselaer. The Registrar and the appropriate campus academic department will have to evaluate the course descriptions of the courses you took, as well as an official transcript from the other college, to determine your transfer eligibility and Rensselaer course equivalency.
Rensselaer will not award transfer credit for any college courses you took in high school if those courses were used to satisfy a high school graduation requirement. In addition, if you take an equivalent course here at Rensselaer, you will forfeit your transfer credit (you can't receive credit twice).
Please refer to the Office of the Registrar's procedures for freshman transfer credits [PDF 30KB] for more complete information.
Advanced Placement (AP) tests
If you are an incoming freshman and took any Advanced Placement (AP) courses in high school, request that the Educational Testing Service (ETS) send your AP scores to Rensselaer's Registrar's Office; the Registrar will in turn evaluate your scores and provide you with the results. Note that although you may receive credit for your AP courses, you will not receive a grade for them, and the credits are not included in any grade point average (GPA) calculations.
ADVANCED PLACEMENT / TRANSFER CREDIT
Students entering as freshmen can obtain Rensselaer advanced placement or academic credit in either of two ways:
- Advanced Placement Examinations, which are given by the College Entrance Examination Board in Princeton, New Jersey.
- Transfer credit, which is granted for work done at an accredited college before beginning your freshman year at Rensselaer.
The following are the specific details involved in obtaining credit by these methods. If you have questions regarding Advanced Placement or transfer credit, please write to the Registrar (email@example.com) or call (518) 276-6231.
Advanced Placement tests
You should request that the Educational Testing Service (ETS) send Advanced Placement (AP) scores to the Registrar’s Office at Rensselaer. The scores are evaluated by individual departments using the criteria outlined below.
When credit is granted, no grade is assigned; therefore, the grade received is not included in calculating the Quality Point Average (QPA) at Rensselaer. As an alternative to receiving AP credit, you may qualify for a course above the entry level.
You will have Rensselaer’s credit or placement decision in time for your first semester registration at Student Orientation (SO), provided your scores have been reported on time. You always have the option of declining all or part of you Advanced Placement awards. Advanced Placement credit will be forfeited if a student takes an equivalent Rensselaer course.
If you have completed, or are currently enrolled in courses at other colleges, the credit may be transferable to Rensselaer. The Registrar will have your courses evaluated by the appropriate departments on campus. You can check your unofficial transcript on SIS to see what courses have been approved for transfer. By June 25, send catalog course descriptions for each course taken, or in progress, to the Registrar, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, 110 8th Street, Troy, New York 12180-3590. Be sure your name and Rensselaer ID number are on all pages of course descriptions.
An official transcript of your grade(s) from the other college(s) must also be sent to the Office of the Registrar when the course is completed. Once the evaluation is done and the Registrar has official transcripts, the credit will be posted to your academic record. No grade is given for transfer credit and the grades are not included in calculating the QPA. Other information on transfer credit can be found in the Rensselaer Catalog.
Transfer credit will not be given for any college courses taken while in high school if these courses were used in obtaining the high school diploma. Transfer credit will be forfeited if a student takes an equivalent Rensselaer course.
Students entering as first-time freshmen can transfer a maximum of 32 credits (including Advanced Placement credit or other equivalent credit) toward their Bachelor’s degree at Rensselaer.
Only a total of two courses for a maximum of eight (8) advanced placement and/or transfer credits can be used toward the HASS Core Requirements for graduation. Only a total of two courses for a maximum of eight (8) transfer credits may be used to satisfy the math/science core requirement. Any courses beyond those two (2) can be used towards free electives.
AP credit and placement rules
The following rules are used to award advanced placement/credit:
Students who achieve a grade of 4 or 5 on either of these exams will receive 4 credist for ARTS-1050 Art History: Paleolithic to Contemporary
Students who achieve a grade of 4 or 5 will receive 3 credits for BIOL1010 Introduction to Biology and 1 credit for BIOL-1015 Introduction to Biology Lab.
Students who achieve a grade of 5 will receive 8 credits for CHEM-1100 Chemistry I and CHEM-1200 Chemistry II. Students who achieve a grade of 4 will receive 4 credits for CHEM-1100 Chemistry I. For students who are not required to take Chemistry II in their curriculum, the credits for Chemistry II could be applied to a science elective or free elective. Engineering students who are required to take Materials Science for Engineers should register for ENGR-1600 to complete the pre-engineering chemistry/materials requirement.
Computer Science A
Students who achieve a grade of 5 on the A test will receive 4 credits for CSCI 1100-Computer Science I. Students who achieve a grade of 5 on the Computer Science Principles exam will receive 4 credits for CSCI 1000- Computer Science Elective. Students who take both Computer Science Principles and Computer Science A, and achieve a grade of 5 on both tests, will only receive 4 credits for CSCI 1100-Computer Science I. They cannot receive credit for both CSCI 1000 and CSCI 1100.
English Language and Composition or English Literature and Composition
Students who achieve a grade of 4 or 5 will receive 4 credit hours for WRIT-1000 Writing elective. Credit cannot be used to satisfy the Communication Intensive Requirement.
Students who receive a score of 4 or 5 will receive 4 credits for IENV1000 Environmental Science elective.
Students who achieve a grade of 4 or 5 on the United States History or a grade of 4 or 5 in European History or World History will receive 4 credit hours for STSH-1000 STS (Humanities) Elective.
Students who receive a grade of 4 or 5 will receive 4 credit hours for STSS-1000 STS (Social Science) Elective.
Mathematics - Calculus
Engineering and Science majors who achieve a grade of 3 on the Calculus BC examination, or a grade of 4 or 5 on the Calculus AB examination, will receive 4 credits for Calculus I and should register for MATH-1020 Calculus II if required by the major. Students who achieve a grade of 4 or 5 on the BC exam will receive 8 credits for Calculus I and II and should register for MATH-2010 or MATH-2400 depending on the requirements of the student’s major.
Architecture, HASS, and Management majors who achieve a grade of 3 or better on the Calculus BC examination, or a grade of 4 or 5 on the Calculus AB examination, will receive 4 credits for Calculus I and take no math in the fall semester; these students enroll in MATH-1520 (Management) or MATH-1620 (Architecture and HASS) in the spring semester. Students receiving a grade of 4 or 5 on the Calculus BC exam will receive 8 credit hours for Calculus I and II.
Students who achieve a grade of 4 or 5 will receive 4 credits for ECON-1000 Economics Elective. (Beginning Fall 2019)
Students who achieve a grade of 4 or 5 will receive 4 credits for ECON-1000 Economics Elective (Beginning Fall 2019)
*(Students who achieve a grade of 4 or 5 in both Macro and Microeconomics will receive 4 credits for IHSS-1200 Principles of Economics AND 4 credits for ECON-1000 Economics Elective)
Students who achieve a grade of 4 or 5 on both Physics C: Mechanics and Physics C: Electricity and Magnetism receive 8 credits for Physics I and II. Students who receive a grade of 4 or 5 on only Physics C: Mechanics receive 4 credits for Physics 1. Students who achieve a grade of 4 or 5 on the Physics 1: Algebra-based examination and have received credit for Calculus I (AP credit, transfer credit, or have completed Rensselaer credit) receive 4 credits for Physics I.
Students who achieve a grade of 4 or 5 will receive 4 credits for PSYC-1200 General Psychology.
Students who acheive a grade of 5 in 2D Design will, subject to portfolio review by faculty, receive 4 credits for ARTS-2220 Fundamentals of 2D Design. Students who acheive a grade of 5 in 3D Design will, subject to portfolio review by faculty, receive 4 credits for ARTS-2210 Sculpture I. Students who achieve a grade of 5 in Drawing will, subject to portfolio review by faculty, receive 4 credits for ARTS-1200 Basic Drawing.
United States Government and Politics or Comparative Government and Politics
Students who achieve a grade of 4 or 5 will receive 4 credit hours for STSS-1000 STS (Social Science) elective.
IB higher-level examinations
Students who earn a grade of 5, 6, or 7 will receive 4 credit hours for a course ARTS-1000 Arts Elective.
Students who earn a grade of 5, 6, or 7 will receive credit for BIOL1010/1015 Introduction to Biology, 4 credits.
Business and Management
Students who earn a grade of 5, 6, or 7 will receive credit for MGMT1100 Introduction to Management, 4 credits.
Students who earn a grade of 5, 6, or 7 will receive credit for courses CHEM-1100 & CHEM-1200, Chemistry I & II, 8 credit hours.
Students who earn a grade of 5, 6, or 7 will receive 4 credit hours for a course COMM-1000 Communications Elective.
Students who earn a grade of 5, 6, or 7 will receive credit for a course ECON-1200 Introductory Economics, 4 credit hours.
Students who earn a grade of 5, 6, or 7 will receive 4 credit hours for a course WRIT-1000 Writing Elective.
Students who earn a grade of 5, 6, or 7 will receive 4 credit hours for a course LANG-1000 Language Elective.
Students who earn a grade of 5, 6, or 7 will receive credit for a course STSH-1000 STS (Humanitites) Elective, 4 credit hours.
History of the Islamic World
Students who earn a grade of 5, 6, or 7 will receive credit for a course STSH-1000 STS (Humanities) Elective, 4 credit hours.
Information Technology in a Global Society
Students who earn a grade of 5, 6, or 7 will receive credit for a course STSS-1000 STS (Social Science) Elective, 4 credit hours.
Students who earn a grade of 5, 6, or 7 will receive credit for Calculus I, 4 credit hours.
Students who earn a grade of 5, 6, or 7 will receive 4 credit hours for a course ARTS-1000, Arts Elective.
Students who earn a grade of 5, 6, or 7 will receive credit for course PHIL-1110, Introduction to Philosophy, 4 credit hours.
Students who earn a grade of 5, 6, or 7 will receive credit for Physics I and Physics II, 8 credit hours.
Students who earn a grade of 5, 6, or 7 will receive credit for course PSYC-1200 General Psychology, 4 credit hours.
Students who earn a grade of 5, 6, or 7 will receive credit for a course STSS-1000 STS (Social Science) Elective, 4 credit hours.
Students who earn a grade of 5, 6, or 7 will receive credit for ARTS1000 Arts Elective, 4 credit hours.
Upperclassmen who wish to transfer coursework from other institutions should be sure that the course(s) will transfer before enrolling at the other institution. Since some courses are not equivalent to Rensselaer courses, transfer of credit is not guaranteed unless prior approval is obtained. All online courses need to be approved by the relevent Rensselaer academic department prior to registering for the course, even if the course is already listed in the Transfer Course Guide.
Undergraduates must earn equivalent A, B, or C grades at the other school to transfer credits. Graduate students must earn equivalent A or B grades.
Note that grades for transferred courses do not appear on the Rensselaer transcript, nor are they included in your Rensselaer QPA. They are, however, included in your Earned Hours total.
Under Rensselaer’s Repeated Courses Policy, courses taken at another college are not eligible to replace the Rensselaer grade in calculating the QPA.
Students entering as first-time freshmen can transfer a maximum of 32 credits (including Advanced Placement credit or other equivalent credit). Students entering as transfer students must complete four full-time semesters at Rensselaer and a minimum of 64 credits at Rensselaer, all of which will be applied to the baccalaureate degree. Students who participate in study-abroad programs not affiliated with the Institute may transfer in a maximum of 16 transfer credits from that program. Those credits will count toward the maximum 32 transfer credits allowed. Students who participate in study-abroad programs that are affiliated with the Institute can transfer in additional credits. Those credits will not count toward the maximum 32 transfer credits allowed.
- Go to the online Transfer Course Guide and see if the course at the other school has been evaluated for transfer. If it has been evaluated, fill in on the front of the Transfer Credit Approval Form the Visited College Course Number, Title, and Credit Hours. Check the box in the As Per Transfer Course Guide column. You do NOT need to get Departmental Approval in the column labeled Dept. Approval. Proceed to Number 3 below.
- If the course you wish to take has not been evaluated as per the online Transfer Course Guide, get a course description. These are usually available on the other school’s web site. Attach a copy of the Course Description to the Transfer Credit Approval Form, and have it evaluated by the Departmental Transfer Credit Evaluator in the corresponding Rensselaer department. For example, if you want to transfer a Math course, you will need the approval of the Rensselaer Math Department.
- Have your advisor approve transfer of the course by signing the Transfer Credit Approval Form, .
- If the transfer course is part of your last 30 credits, obtain the approval of the Advising and Learning Assistance Center.
- Submit the completed form to the Registrar's Office.
- Once you have completed the course, have the other college send an Official Transcript directly to the Rensselaer Registrar's Office, Academy Hall 2000 level, 110 8th St, Troy, NY 12180-3590.
If you are considering the study abroad program, more detailed information can be found on the Office of International Programs website.
One important aspect of study abroad is choosing courses which transfer back and fulfill degree requirments. This is initiated through completion of a separate transfer credit approval form that is specific to your major.
- A student may register for no more than 2 courses per summer term (or winter break).
- The course must be at least 5 weeks in duration.
- A student must register for summer and winter break courses directly with an appropriately accredited college or university—NOT through a third-party agency.
- Online versions of courses in Rensselaer’s Transfer Course Guide must be reviewed and approved by the appropriate school official in advance of registering for the course.
- Once the student completes the course, an official transcript must be sent directly from the college or university to Rensselaer’s Registrar’s Office. The transcript will not be accepted if it is issued or delivered through a third party agency.
You can make a number of changes to your undergraduate Academic Program using the Undergraduate Change of Major / Change of Status Form.
You may change from one curriculum to another with the approval of the Curriculum Coordinator in the department into which you want to switch. Your new department will assign an adviser to you, and you should arrange to meet with him or her as soon as possible to outline the program necessary to complete your degree in your new major.
You may become a candidate for a second baccalaureate degree when you have completed the following:
- The equivalent of at least two terms (30 credit hours) of additional work beyond the requirements of a single degree.
- The courses in the department in which you are registered, and such other courses as are required for the second degree.
If you fulfill all the degree requirements for two curricula and have met the conditions below, you will have completed a dual major. (Please note that you will receive one diploma noting both majors.)
- You must designate a first-named and second-named major by filing an Undergraduate Change of Major Form at least one semester prior to graduation and have the appropriate department(s) approve this designation prior to filing the dual major form with the Registrar.
- You will be assigned an advisor in each department who will monitor your progress in that department.
- The degree clearance officer in the department will certify that you have met all degree requirements in that department.
Note that the 24 credit hour mathematics/science requirement and the 24 credit hour humanities and social sciences requirement will satisfy the Institute's requirements for both majors.
If you are a graduate student here at Rensselaer, you may use the Graduate Request for Change of Status Form
- Change your degree program or curriculum
- Add an additional degree program
- Change campus
- Return to "active" status
Note: This form requires signatures from your department, the Office of Graduate Education, and in some cases, the Student Health Center and/or International Students Office before the Registrar's Office will accept it.
As an undergraduate student, you may choose a number of courses to form a minor -- that is, a set of courses based on subject, methodology, or other factors. Many departments offer one or more such minors, several of them interdisciplinary.
- Minors vary in their requirements from 15 to 21 credit hours, with most having 15 credit hours.
- Students may not take courses for the minor on a pass/no credit basis.
- Upon graduation, your minor will be documented on your transcript. However, it will not appear on your diploma.
If you wish to complete a minor:
- Consult with the adviser for that minor before completing the second course in it
- Submit an approved Minor Approval Form to the Student Records office.
You may request an official or unofficial transcript through the Student Records office by submitting a transcript request form.
NOTE: Current students, or graduates who still have access, can order transcripts online through the Student Menu in the Student Information System (SIS).
- An official transcript bears the Registrar's signature and is printed on red security paper. It is provided in a sealed envelope with a facsimile of the Registrar's signature stamped across the seal.
- An unofficial transcript does not bear the Registrar's signature and seal. It contains the same information as an official transcript but also includes information on any "in progress" courses.
Transcripts include all courses taken at Rensselaer, semester and cumulative Grade Point Averages, and degrees awarded, as well as ranking information (undergraduates only).
- Transcript requests must be made in writing, and include your signature to authorize its release.
- Transcripts cannot be sent via fax or email. You must pick them up in person or have them mailed.
There is no charge for transcripts. However, you cannot receive your transcript if you have an outstanding financial obligation with the Bursar or the Student Loan Office.
Once you have printed and completed your Transcript Request Form, you may do one of the following:
- Fax it to:
- Mail it to:
Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
Office of the Registrar
Academy Hall 2000 Level
110 8th Street
Troy, NY 12180-3590
- Scan the completed and signed form and email it to:
You may also request your transcript in person by visiting the Registrar's Office in Academy Hall.
If you are not able to access the form, you may mail a written request to the above address. Be sure that your letter includes your name, student number, dates of attendance, the address where the transcript is to be sent, and your signature.
The Registrar's Office staff processes transcript requests every business day. Requests received by noon are normally mailed within one to two business days. Please note, however, that students who attended Rensselaer prior to 1980 generally have a microfilm record rather than a computerized record, and it may therefore take additional time to process these requests.