Rensselaer Prepares for Full Implementation of The Arch

April 25, 2019

Rensselaer Prepares for Full Implementation of The Arch

Transformative program will accelerate opportunities for undergraduates

TROY, N.Y. — After years of planning and two successful pilots, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute will break down the barriers of the traditional academic calendar this summer by fully implementing The Arch. This transformative program, developed in collaboration with faculty, staff, students, alumni, and industry leaders, will provide undergraduate students with unique academic and professional opportunities. 

Beginning this summer, all undergraduate students will live on campus during the summer after their sophomore year, taking junior-level courses and participating in unique co-curricular activities. More than 210 academic courses and numerous field trips, evening programs, and pop-up courses are scheduled for the inaugural summer. Along with other aspects of The Arch, these activities will help prepare students for a mandatory off-campus experiential learning experience during the fall or spring semester of their junior year. 

“Under The Arch, our students not only expand their academic horizons—they also develop professional skills and exposure to new cultures of all kinds,” said Rensselaer President Shirley Ann Jackson. “Rensselaer graduates are already in high demand from employers and graduate schools. The Arch will only make them more outstanding.” 

Built on the cultural richness of New York’s Capital Region, The Arch encourages students to take advantage of opportunities, both on campus and off, that might not be available to them during the traditional academic calendar year.  

As the only cohort on campus during their summer semester, rising juniors will have enhanced access to the university’s world-class research facilities, undivided attention from members of the faculty and administration, and the ability to take in the area’s many seasonal offerings. During their semester away, students will pursue their passions, broaden their perspectives, and enhance their career-readiness through domestic and international opportunities, including co-ops, internships, research, civic engagement, entrepreneurship, and other individual learning experiences. 

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.

The Arch is consistent with the principles of CLASS—Clustered Learning, Advocacy, and Support for Students—the comprehensive model for the Rensselaer student experience centered on time- and location-based clustering. As they do with CLASS, students will enjoy the benefits of The Arch as soon as they step onto campus as freshmen. 

Beginning in their first year, students receive services from career and academic advisers and participate in workshops that increase their professional awareness and development. This provides them a strong foundation, enabling them to maximize the value of The Arch. The strength of this preparation is reflected in the caliber of the companies that have partnered with the university to offer away experiences, including Amazon Robotics, Lockheed Martin, ExxonMobil, and many more. 

While The Arch represents a significant change from the traditional academic calendar, students will complete this robust program in the same number of semesters and without the need for additional financial aid. The efficiency of the university as a whole will also be improved by the year-round use of the campus. 

While The Arch does not change the overall length of students’ undergraduate careers, this shift in the calendar will significantly improve and distinguish the Rensselaer experience. At the pivotal mid-point of their undergraduate careers, Rensselaer students will come together as a cohort and engage with each other across disciplines in a way that will further their studies and future careers. This is a critical component of The New Polytechnic, the Rensselaer model for education and research that emphasizes interdisciplinary collaboration to address the global challenges facing humanity. 

As the oldest technological research university in the country, Rensselaer was among the first educational institutions to offer organized instruction in field work and to use laboratories as a systematic part of education in the sciences. The Arch is a continuation of this tradition of reinventing education in ways that yield the discoveries and innovations that change the world for the better. 

“Rensselaer continues to encourage exploration, to make our students active participants in their own learning, and to use different modes of teaching to spark unpredictable synergies and new ideas,” President Jackson said. “One of the most transformative ways we are doing this is with The Arch.”


For general inquiries:

About Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute

Founded in 1824, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute is America’s first technological research university. Rensselaer encompasses five schools, over 30 research centers, more than 140 academic programs including 25 new programs, and a dynamic community made up of over 6,800 students and 104,000 living alumni. Rensselaer faculty and alumni include upwards of 155 National Academy members, six members of the National Inventors Hall of Fame, six National Medal of Technology winners, five National Medal of Science winners, and a Nobel Prize winner in Physics. With nearly 200 years of experience advancing scientific and technological knowledge, Rensselaer remains focused on addressing global challenges with a spirit of ingenuity and collaboration. To learn more, please visit