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Department of Communication & Media School of Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute

  • Troy, NY
  • Private
  • Suburban
  • 30%70%
    student ratio
  • Not Reported
    total students
  • $43,350 | $43,350
    in-state tuition | out-of-state tuition
  • January 1
    fall application deadline
  • Not Reported
    acceptance rate
  • 6 Degrees
    degrees/awards offered


Communication and Media Studies at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute

The School of Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences (HASS) at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI) offers both traditional academic majors and innovative interdisciplinary programs that offer the practical skills and cultural understanding necessary for succeeding in a technologically centered global economy.

Within HASS, the Department of Communication and Media offers internationally recognized graduate programs centered on interdisciplinary education, theory development, and research. Program areas include computer-mediated communication, digital rhetoric, graphic design in print and digital media, game studies, human-computer interaction, media studies, and writing for new media environments.

Ph.D. Program Offered in Communication and Rhetoric

The Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) in Communication and Rhetoric degree program employs a unique focus on the design, effects, and uses of communication technologies. The interdisciplinary program combines elements of composition and rhetoric, game studies, graphic design, literary study, media studies, speech communication, technical communication, and visual design to emphasize how various communication processes are involved in the creation of meaning in all media. Graduates are prepared to make contributions to communications in technology with creativity, depth, and rigor.

Three Master of Science Degree Programs Offered

The Department of Communication and Media offers 3 Master of Science (M.S.) programs which each require the completion of 10 graduate-level courses.

M.S. in Human-Computer Interaction (HCI)

The Rensselaer M.S. degree program in Human-Computer Interaction is centered on understanding human interaction with technological systems and human-to-human communication via technology. Rensselaer's approach to human-computer interaction differs from other HCI programs by being centered in communication rather than computer science. The degree provides in-depth study of the fundamental principles of human/technology interaction; master of techniques for evaluation of interfaces and performance support systems, and of system usability; and design and implementation of human/technology interfaces and systems. The program combines coursework in human communication theory and HCI theory with work in allied areas such as technical communication, human factors, cognitive science, and computer science. The graduate of the HCI program will be uniquely qualified to be a leader in understanding the human in human-computer interaction, and putting this knowledge to use in designing, evaluating, and implementing the technologies of tomorrow.

M.S. in Technical Communication

The curriculum of the M.S. in Technical Communication degree program combines work in content production, information design, theory, and writing. Students acquire the capacity to generate content for electronically-based communication media. Graduates use the design skills learned to stay ahead of rapid changes in information design and technology.

M.S. in Communication and Rhetoric

The M.S. in Communication and Rhetoric degree program offers students a solid foundation in communication theory and practice-oriented research skills. Students are presented with a solid grounding in the areas of communication marketing, computer-mediated communication, Internet use, and modes of technology-mediated communication.

Two Comprehensive Graduate Certificates Offered

The Department of Communication and Media offers 2 graduate-level certificates. The Human-Computer Interaction (HCI) Certificate was designed in cooperation with industry experts to provide students with the knowledge and skills needed to create new and better ways for people to communicate with and through computers. The 4-course program covers the evolving interfaces of software, the Web, and mobile devices.

The 4-course Graphics Certificate program integrates design theory with in-depth studio work to enable students to develop a special competency in the use of visual symbols. The program gives students a command of electronic design tools for the Web, illustration, image editing, page layout, and multimedia.

Interdisciplinary Collaboration in Communication Research

As the oldest technological university in the nation, Rensselaer's prestigious community of scholars has been instrumental in creating groundbreaking research and technological developments that have helped shaped the world in which students live. Faculty member research in communication is conducted in a wide range of topics, including interaction design, multimodal and embodied reading and viewing, rhetoric, social and cross-platform media, television and film studies, and cross-cultural communication, ethnography, and fieldwork.

Faculty members are also active in interdepartmental collaborations, including in the areas of ethnocomputing, immersive environments and games, and sociocultural robotics.

State-of-the-Art Facilities for Communication Research

The Department of Communication and Media maintains 6 superb facilities for student and faculty member research and study, including the Center for Communication Practices, Games Lab, games project space, multimedia conference room, teaching conference room, and VAST (Visualization, Animation, Simulation Technology) Studio.

Successful Faculty Members

Rensselaer is home to more than 450 faculty members who are committed to excellence in teaching, experiential learning, problem solving, and the application of their fields to the common purposes of life. For instance, Professor Audrey Bennett researches the use of interactive aesthetics in affecting social change. She has won numerous awards for her graphic art, and received an NSF Career Campaign Award and a grant from the AIGA to pursue her research.

Dr. Roger Grice has been published in several works and numerous journals for his accomplishments in human-computer interactions, computer interfaces, and user-experience design. He has also received several awards from Rensselaer, including the Rensselaer Alumni Association's Directors Award, Alumni Key Award, and Teacher of the Year Award.

Financial Aid Opportunities at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute

Research and teaching assistantships and university, corporate, or national fellowships fund many of Rensselaer's full-time graduate students. Graduate assistantships are awarded by academic departments on the basis of scholastic accomplishments, academic promise, and competence.

Appointments are made on an annual basis. The positions usually require 20 hours of work each week under the guidance of Rensselaer faculty members.

Continuation of Rensselaer financial assistance depends on satisfactory academic standing, research or teaching performance, and aid availability.

Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute -- the Nation's Oldest Technological University

Founded in 1824, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI) was the first technological university in the United States.

From the design of the Ferris Wheel and the Brooklyn Bridge to the inventions of the digital camera and network email, Rensselaer's distinguished alumni have been instrumental in shaping the world. Today, Rensselaer is a top-tier technological research university with global reach and global impact that is consistently ranked among the nation's top 50 universities by "U.S. News and World Report."

Rensselaer is located in the heart of New York's Tech Valley, a region of the state known for its distinguished heritage of innovation, technology discovery and development. Global technology leaders, such as IBM, GE, Tokyo Electron, and SEMATECH have located facilities in the region. Small innovative firms, many of which were started by Rensselaer alumni, are also thriving in Tech Valley.

Location & Contact

Department of Communication & Media

School of Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences
Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute

110 8th Street
Troy, NY 12180-3590
United States

Office of Graduate Admissions

Phone: 518-276-6216

Tuition & Fees

  • Tuition & Fees
    • In-state tuition *$43,350
    • Out-of-state tuition *$43,350
    • International student tuitionNot Reported
    • *Typical tuition for this institution for full-time graduate students per academic year
  • Fees
    • Per-academic year feesNot Reported
    • Per-term feesNot Reported
    • One-time feeNot Reported
    • *Typical fees for this institution for full-time graduate students per academic year
  • Financial Support
    • Financial award applicants must submitNot Reported
    • Application deadlines for financial awardsNot Reported
    • Types of financial support availableNot Reported




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