Doctor of Philosophy in Electronic Arts

Continuing its leadership in the experimental arts, Rensselaer has established a Ph.D. in Electronic Arts.  One of the first of its kind, the program offers an interdisciplinary arts degree that integrates arts practice with theoretical and historical research. The core of the curriculum focuses on the student's personal creative practice which is informed by coursework, individual attention from advisors, and culminates in a dissertation.

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.  During the past ten years, the character of graduate education in the arts has been changing. The most visible new features are the prominence of the electronic arts, the development of interdisciplinary approaches, and, related in part to the previous two factors, Ph.D.s in interdisciplinary arts.  New professional standards and opportunities require Ph.D.s. in several areas:

  • Many artists are now exploring new domains of creativity, which necessitate advanced research in a variety of fields--communication technologies, biology, and gaming--to name a few.

  • In the university teaching market, many art and interdisciplinary arts departments have expanded what were previously positions filled only by those individuals with M.F.A.s to candidates who hold Ph.D.s.

  • There are a number of institutions for advanced creative study that offer research positions for individuals with Ph.D.s in the creative arts.

  • Curatorial positions in museums and university galleries are another professional option for individuals with an interdisciplinary arts Ph.D.


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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