Starting in 1955 with the Master of Fine Arts, RIT has continually created new graduate programs to meet employers’ and students’ expectations for education in particular functional areas, thus molding brilliant professionals for today's society.

Nowadays, with more than 90 graduate programs in high-growth and high-tech career fields including business, computer science and information technology, engineering, science and art, RIT supports high level education in emerging career fields.

Graduate Programs: An Overview

RIT's graduate programs teach students to make connections and build knowledge networks in the chosen subject. This is an essential tool for leading technological change in the professions. They also build an educational foundation for lifelong learning and for the generation of new insights through research.

The programs themselves focus on fields that combine theoretical knowledge and practical applications, especially those that can provide the graduate with a unique niche in the market, such as those professional careers in the STEM disciplines.

These programs garner attention for international students who wish to enter the U.S.'s labor field. For many, they wish to bring the professional experience they gained in the U.S. to their home country.

Many programs require a dissertation, thesis or project, and encourage other avenues for professional experience, such as cooperative education and institutional internships.

Research topics are often directly related to situational concerns, rather than theoretical discourse. As is the project that Austin Simmons, a Data Science graduate student carries out for his project advisor, Marcos Zampieri, a natural language processing professor at RIT.

Graduate Students at RIT

Graduate students often contact employers for their research and special projects. Previous RIT students have partnered with companies like Amazon, Boeing, Google, Microsoft, NASA and more for said projects.

This application-oriented approach attracts teachers who value students' problem-solving skills. Whether a professional dissertation, thesis, project or portfolio is required of them, graduate students are encouraged to incorporate both independent study and experiential learning into their programs.

Simmons began his academic career at RIT at the recommendation of a friend.

“I was looking for a university to transfer to after my second year of classes in undergrad, and my friend was going to RIT. He recommended me RIT, so I went for it,” he said.

For Simmons and other graduate students, RIT has been their home since their undergraduate degrees, and the opportunities, networking and training have made them want to continue to a higher level of education at RIT.

“I've learned a lot about the job market and technology. RIT has a great reputation among businesses that gives students opportunities other schools don't offer,” Simmons said.

“I've learned a lot about the job market and technology. RIT has a great reputation among businesses that gives students opportunities other schools don't offer.”

Graduate students may also assist in undergraduate education such as teaching, research or laboratory assistants, which is the case of Mariam Sharangia, a graduate student majoring in Technology Innovation Management and Entrepreneurship. Sharangia chose to come to RIT because she believes innovation and entrepreneurship connect perfectly with her previous experiences.

“My goal now is to strengthen my knowledge, experience and connections to ... set up my own company and to become a woman entrepreneur in the tech industry,” she said.

Sharangia has benefited from the Rochester’s startup ecosystem where she has been able to use her experience as a business analyst.

The graduate experience creates an environment where students are not only welcomed but are also expected to discover and innovate.

“Being a Saunders student during these interesting times is particularly interesting, prestigious and beneficial,” Sharangia said.

“Being a Saunders student during these interesting times is particularly interesting, prestigious and beneficial.”

Shivram Mahendran is a graduate student in RIT's Software Engineering program.

Born in India, Mahendran studied across the globe. He joined RIT to strengthen his career, and combine his design skills with engineering.

Apart from academics, he emphasized the connections you make during this time.

“I met some amazing and super smart people that I'm going to be friends with forever,” Mahendran said.

Simmons, Sharangia and Mahendran have taken advantage of what RIT offers.

Impacting the World

Simmons's current project focuses on detecting hate speech in tweets.

The project uses a schema, a type of data structure, and helps you identify whether or not the tweet is offensive. It then moves on to determine if the offensive tweet is targeted or not.

If the tweet is targeted, the information provided by the tweet is then further examined to see if the target is an individual, a group or other.

Once the target is identified, a dataset is formed for the schema, and that allows the use of machine learning models to try and accurately predict each level of the hierarchy.

Previous work on hate speech detection has identified this problem, but many studies still tend to conflate hate speech, language that attacks a particular group and offensive language.

The importance of this project lies in the fact that if it is possible to detect a behavior, measures can be established that restrict possible future actions of these individuals.

Sharangia is also working on designing an app that will provide a local, fast and convenient service for people who are relocating and want to network in the area.

"With an intuitive and easy-to-use interface, we are helping businesses find customers, as well as helping people find a quick stop to network," Sharangia explained.

Apart from being a highly profitable project, this idea solves an ongoing problem for non-local students who come to RIT.

Mahendran, on the other hand, is creating an app that tracks food waste. He plans to participate in the RIT's Tiger Tank competition and the Innovation Fellowship with the Simone Center.

"Food waste is a problem that exists both on a large scale and small scale — 30 to 40 percent of the U.S. food supply is wasted," Mahendran said.

To address this problem, Mahendran is working towards building a mobile app that helps you to track all your food purchases, notifies you before food expires and provides resourceful solutions to pollution.

Graduate school may be intimidating for many students, but it is the place to expand your mind and create new connections.