Rice University Requirements and Campus Guide

School Name: William Marsh Rice University

School Location: Houston, TX

School Type: Research University

Class of 2025

  • Total Applications: 29,523
  • Total Admitted: 2,749
  • Overall Acceptance Rate: 9.3%
  • Early Decision Acceptance Rate: 16%

General Info

Historical SAT / ACT (Test Optional)

  • SAT Composite: 1480-1550
  • ACT: 34-36


  • Reach


  • Early Decision: November 1
  • Early Results: mid December
  • Regular Deadline: January 1
  • Regular Results: April

School Info

  • Schedule: Semester
  • Curriculum Type: Distribution Requirements
  • Greek Life: No
  • Athletics: DI: Conference USA

Rice University Requirements and Campus Guide
Here’s everything you should know before you apply to Rice University

William Marsh Rice University, more commonly known as Rice University, is a relatively young university; founded in 1912, it’s the second-youngest top 20 school in the U.S. Rice University ties also with Cornell for the 17th best school in the United States. Here is everything you need to know about Rice!

How do I get into Rice?

Rice practices a holistic admissions process, meaning that they take more into account than an applicant’s grades or standardized test scores. That being said, Rice admissions does look for students who challenge themselves with a rigorous curriculum. Also, generally speaking, it is an admissions requirement to have great grades, but they will accept changed grading policies for the 2019 -2020 school year due to Covid-19. They will evaluate each application within the student’s unique circumstances.

In terms of standardized tests, Rice no longer recommends SAT IIs, but students can submit scores if they would like to demonstrate mastery over one or a few subjects. Students should check which tests are recommended for which college before registering for any tests. The middle 50% of admitted students’ scores is 1470-1560 for the SAT and 33-35 for the ACT. These scores are pretty high, but luckily Rice permits superscoring! Also, they don’t require the essay for either test.

During the unprecedented 2019-2020 school year, Rice understands that many extracurricular activities and summer programs have been canceled. Still, they are looking for students who made a valuable use of this time—whether you are a rising senior or rising Freshman. This can include supporting your family, volunteering remotely, or keeping your school community connected through hosting events. Demonstrate your ability to make the most out of these bleak circumstances.

The key thing Rice looks for is an “impact person.” That can look like many different things, but most importantly “impact people” are eager to learn about and contribute to Rice’s diverse campus and have a distinct vision of how they will function on campus.

In a Rice informational session, a Rice admissions officer advised students “Don’t be humble!” So make sure you proudly list your accomplishments in the activities list.

Where is Rice University?

Rice is located on a 300-acre campus in the heart of Houston, Texas, the fourth largest city in America. Houston is an incredibly diverse city whose residents speak 145 languages total. Rice is connected to the rest of Houston via metro, but students don’t have to venture far to get a brief escape from campus; Rice Village is a nearby shopping district where students can shop, eat, or simply people watch. Another way students connect with the surrounding area is through Passport to Houston, which gives students unlimited free access to zoos and museums.

What are academics at Rice like?

Rice consists of seven schools of study, six of which are for undergrads:

When you apply to Rice, you are required to apply to a certain school and list potential majors, but you are able to double major between the Engineering, Social Sciences, Natural Sciences, and Humanities Schools. Students in these four colleges take classes at each college fluidly throughout their undergrad years and are encouraged to take classes at each college their first year. Due to the unique rigour of the courses in the Schools of Architecture and Music, double majoring outside of these colleges is not permitted.

Some top ranked programs at Rice are Engineering, Music, Architecture, Sports Management, Medical Humanities, and Managerial Studies (which you can add onto any other major by taking classes at the Jones School of Business).The most popular majors at Rice University include: Computer and Information Sciences, General; Chemical Engineering; Economics, General; Kinesiology and Exercise Science; and Mechanical Engineering.

Rice enforces a few flexible distribution requirements: 3 humanities courses, 3 applied science courses, 3 social science, and 1 writing course. Within these fields, students exercise a great deal of agency and creativity in fulfilling their requirements while also satiating their unique curiosities. The only two classes that are specifically required are the Freshman Writing Intensive Seminar and the Lifetime Physical Activity Program, which is a physical fitness class).

As a research university, there are many opportunities for undergraduates to conduct research, often as early as Freshman Fall. By graduation, around ⅔ of Rice students will have conducted research. Even outside of the lab, students can get to know world class professors well since Rice has a 6:1 student to faculty ratio. Other noteworthy opportunities include the 150 study abroad programs Rice offers in 60+ countries (including the continent of Antarctica!) and the Rice Baylor Medical Program. This program is an 8 year BS/MD program, which only admits roughly 6 students accepted per year. If you are not one of those lucky 8, don’t worry— 90% of Rice graduates who apply to medical school get accepted.

Overall, Rice offers strong academic support from staff and peer academic advisors within your residential colleges. Several pre-professional advising programs are also available, such as pre-health, pre-dental, and pre-law.


How do I apply to Rice?

You can apply to Rice through three application portals: the Coalition Application, the Common Application, and Questbridge (which is a college match program for high-achieving low-income applicants). When you apply, you’ll need one letter of recommendation from your and two from teachers from junior or senior year. You also have the option to interview, but interviews are not required for admission. If you are applying to the schools of architecture or music, you will need to submit a portfolio and audition, respectively.

Should I apply to Rice Early Decision?

Rice has two deadlines: November 1 is their Early Decision deadline and January 1 is their Regular Decision deadline. If you are certain that Rice is your top choice, you should consider applying ED, which is a binding application. Applying early helps demonstrate your interest to Rice, which can give a slight boost to your chances of admission over the RD applicants.

How do I demonstrate interest at Rice?

Rice is one university that really considers demonstrated interest, a key indicator in a student’s likelihood to matriculate at Rice should they be accepted. The best way to demonstrate interest is to apply ED, because that shows your commitment during the application cycle. However, there are other smaller ways to demonstrate interest that you should do:

  1. When possible, attend info sessions and campus tours at Rice
  2. If you can’t make to you Rice in person, attend virtual info sessions and local events
  3. Show knowledge of school through your essays. Mention specific classes or professors you’re interested in when you talk about the school.
  4. Engage with Rice on social media on their Instagram, @riceuniversity or their Facebook
  5. Get to know your territory manager, who is the person who will review your application and decide whether or not to advocate for you in admissions.

How is Campus Life?

Rice is ranked 5 in the nation for happiest students and 2 for best quality of life according to the Princeton review, which is really impressive for a top 20 school! There are 280+ student organizations and 14 Division I sports teams where you can find your community within the greater Rice community. Students live in the 11 residential colleges which are more than just dorms. In the residential colleges there are also clubs and organizations for students to participate in making for a very connected campus feel.

Is Rice diverse?

Rice is ranked #1 for race and class interactions, which is very unique for research universities. As of Fall 2019, 41% of students hailed from Texas, 47% from other parts of the U.S., and 12% from outside of the U.S.. In the class of 2023, China was the most represented country outside of the U.S., followed by Canada and India. Of domestic students who enrolled in 2019, 35% identify as Asian American, 35% as Caucasian, 18% as Hispanic or Latino, 8% as Black or African American, and 5% as Multiracial. The class of 2019 has slightly more men than women, with 52% of the class identifying as male and 48% identifying as female, compared to 56% of all college students in America identifying as women.

Can I afford Rice?

Rice has been need blind since its founding date in 1912. Today, thanks to the Rice Investment, Rice meets 100% of demonstrated need. The Rice Investment is a sliding scale of tuition; students whose families earn under $65,000 per year receive a full ride, those whose families earn $65,000 to $13,000 receive full tuition scholarships (but are not guaranteed aid to cover room and board) and students whose families earn between $130,000 and $200,000 receive half-tuition scholarships at least. Additionally, roughly 20% of students are granted merit awards to help cover the cost of attendance.