College Intel

Rice University Admissions

A view of the entrance to Rice University.
JFK delivered his “WE choose to go to the Moon” speech at Rice University in 1962 (photo credit: Katie Haugland Bowen).

Rice University has a beautiful Mediterranean-style campus located in the cultural epicenter of southern Texas, Houston’s Museum District. The elite research university has been ranked number one in the world for the study of materials science, and has a historic affinity for space research bolstered by a strong relationship with nearby NASA. In 1962, U.S. President John F. Kennedy delivered his “We choose to go to the Moon” speech at Rice’s stadium to great historical significance. 14 NASA Astronauts are Rice alumni, along with many CEOs, Rhodes Scholars, political leaders, and artists. To top it all off, five Nobel laureates have been Rice alumni. 

Students admitted to Rice access a world-renowned academic program that is unique in its lack of core curriculum and its honor code system that creates a culture of mutual trust. The university’s 4,240 undergraduates do, however, have to take four classes each in the humanities, social sciences and natural sciences, as well completing a physical education requirement and a first-year writing requirement. With 3,900 postgraduates, Rice’s student body is quite intimate, ensuring each student will have the opportunity to form close-knit bonds with classmates.

Prospective students are admitted through a centralized process to the Rice University School of Architecture, the George R. Brown School of Engineering, the School of Humanities, the Shepherd School of Music, the Wiess School of Natural Sciences, and the Rice University School of Social Sciences. If you’re worried that the compartmentalization of Rice’s 50 majors into distinct schools would stress you out, fear not! Undergrads do not have to choose a major until the spring semester of their sophomore year, and switching around between schools is very common.

Rice was established in 1912, and was named for industrialist William Marsh Rice, whose immense estate provided the university with its initial endowment. These funds were only secured following the discovery of a conspiracy to create a fake will that would squander Rice’s fortune. Scandals aside, the first years at Rice were marked by a rigorous curriculum that failed most of its students. With a student body vote to adopt the Honor System in 1916, getting a bachelor’s at Rice became much more viable. By the mid-twentieth century, Rice was defined by a residential college system which fostered campus community and an institutional shift toward space research. By the end of the century, Rice became known as a diplomatic meeting point for world powers, hosting the Economic Summit of Industrialized Nations in 1990.

Today, the research university has dozens of research institutes and resources for its highly motivated students, as well as a lively communal lifestyle punctuated by traditions and diverse student organizations. When they’re not exploring the cultural offerings of the Museum District, students can be found hanging out at Rice Coffeehouse or The Pub, writing for one of many campus publications, or taking part in rowdy celebrations like the Beer Bike Race or Baker 13, which consist of the sort of revelry that only college students would participate in! The Rice Owls play in NCAA’s Division I. Recently, Rice has spearheaded the creation of the Ion Innovation District, which houses business incubators, labs, restaurants, and an outdoor plaza. 

Rice’s highly-competitive admissions process implemented a “Committee-based Evaluation process (CBE)” in 2017, which exposes an application to a variety of officers who evaluate it with holistic criteria. For admission to the Class of 2027, 31,059 prospective students applied to 2,447 spots, for an overall admission rate of 7.9%. The most competitive applicants demonstrated that they had a thorough understanding of all that Rice has to offer in their supplemental writing. In order to show why you want to matriculate to Rice, in particular, requires research and finesse into the specifics of the university. If being an Owl sounds like your destiny, with the help of Ivy Coach you have the best odds to make this dream a reality.


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