Doctor of Philosophy in Electronic Arts


The Rensselaer Ph.D. in Electronic Arts was established in 2007 to fulfill increasing demands for a practice-based interdisciplinary arts doctoral degree within academe [the university], as well as to appeal to students who wish to pursue innovative research that integrates diverse media, performance, science-based and/or social practices, and curatorial studies into their artwork.

The Ph.D. in Electronic Arts is conferred for independent investigation comprising an original contribution to knowledge, where knowledge is understood to incorporate an integrated combination of creative practice in the arts with theoretical and historical research.

The core of the curriculum focuses on the student's creative practice, which is informed by coursework, individual attention from advisors, and culminates in a dissertation that is composed of the dissertation text and practice-based work.


Rensselaer's Department of the Arts is generally considered to be the first integrated electronic arts program within a research university in the United States, and the Electronic Arts Ph.D. was one of the first doctorates offered for practice-base interdisciplinary arts in the U.S.

The doctorate in various fields of creative arts has been established as the terminal degree in a series of adoptions in the U.S., beginning in the mid-twentieth century with music and extending in recent years to include studio arts, media arts, and interdisciplinary fields, which have integrated art with such areas as science, engineering, curation, and digital humanities.   

Ph.D. Degree and Arts Professions

Students graduating from this program are well qualified for academic positions in research-intensive academic fine arts settings, as well as visual culture, musicology/sound studies, cultural studies, humanities and media studies programs. They are also prepared for careers as artists, composers, curators, and administrators in galleries, museums, performing arts organizations, artist-run centers, and art-science programs and projects. 

University and Community Resources and Affiliates

The establishment of The Center for Deep Listening at Rensselaer in 2014 further strengthens the practice-based focus on music studies, intertwining theory and practice in unique ways. Rensselaer’s Experimental Media and Performing Arts Center presents curated performances and visiting artist residencies and serves as a hub for student research presentations. The Sanctuary for Independent Media, is a close affiliate of the doctoral program, presents a diverse range of programming, and offers a range of community media practicum opportunities focused on a broad range of social justice issues. The  Emergent Reality Lab offers a platform for research and creation in virtual and augmented reality. The Collaborative Research Augmented Immersive Virtual Environment is a facility of the School of Architecture closely affiliated with the Arts Department.

Admission to the Ph.D. program is highly competitive and is based on the submission of a formal application package. The applicant's prior academic records as well as references are examined for evidence of singular ability to meet the graduate standards and degree requirements of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. Evaluation for admission to the program includes not only artistic merit, but also evidence of a creative orientation that is research-based and appropriate for the type of in-depth interdisciplinary scholarly study the Ph.D. program will provide. Thus, the portfolio should be a representative sampling of work that best demonstrates creative practice as research-based and appropriate for an interdisciplinary Ph.D. program. Acceptable submissions include but are not limited to urls, DVDs, slides, artist books, CD-ROMs, video and audio recordings, music scores, etc. Candidates should anticipate the portfolio review to be completed in approximately 15 minutes and submit appropriately.

Required Materials:

  • Completed graduate application (online application required)
  • Non-refundable application fee of $75
  • Statement of Background and Goals
  • Research Proposal (up to 3 pages)
  • Portfolio (online submission or URL preferred)
  • Resume or Curriculum Vitae
  • Scholarly Writing Sample (previous thesis or publication)
  • Official transcripts and evidence of degrees earned, in English, of all post-secondary education
  • Two letters of recommendation
  • Official TOEFL or IELTS scores, if applicable

Applicants must submit the requested materials online in addition to sending hard copies of the required supporting credentials NOT submitted in the online application, together in one envelope, to Graduate Admissions (address below) by the application deadline of January 1st for fall entry.

Graduate Admissions
Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
110 8th Street
Troy, NY 12180-3590

Ph.D. Graduate Student Handbook

Ph.D. in Electronic Arts Curriculum

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