How To Get Into Rice University

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Wondering how to get into Rice University? This post will tell you everything you need to know. We’ll cover academics, campus life, and what Rice is looking for. By the end, you’ll know whether or not this school merits a place on your list and what it takes to get in.

Rice University

William Marsh Rice University is a relatively small but well-known university in Houston, Texas. Rice takes in about one thousand new students each year, maintaining a student to faculty ratio of six to one. The school maintains a high level of research activity, particularly in the applied sciences. It’s often ranked among the top universities for undergraduates. 


All applicants to Rice University must apply to a specific school and indicate up to three specific academic areas of interest. This choice won’t limit you, as you can always change majors later on. You can also adopt a second major – forty percent of Rice students do. 

Here are Rice’s colleges and the majors available at each.

  • School of Architecture
    • Architecture
    • Architectural Studies
  • Jones Graduate School of Business
    • Undergraduate Business
  • George R. Brown School of Engineering
    • Bioengineering
    • Chemical And Biomolecular Engineering
    • Civil and Environmental Engineering
    • Computational and Applied Mathematics and Operations Research
    • Computer Science
    • Electrical and Computer Engineering
    • Materials Science and Nanoengineering
    • Mechanical Engineering
    • Statistics
  • School of Humanities
    • Ancient Mediterranean Civilizations
    • Art History
    • Asian Studies
    • Classical Studies
    • English
    • European Studies
    • French Studies
    • German Studies
    • History
    • Latin American Studies
    • Medieval and Early Modern Studies
    • Philosophy
    • Religion
    • Spanish, Portuguese and Latin American Studies
    • Study of Women, Gender and Sexuality
    • Visual and Dramatic Arts
  • The Shepherd School of Music
    • Bassoon Performance
    • Cello Performance
    • Clarinet Performance
    • Composition
    • Double Bass Performance
    • Flute Performance
    • Harp Performance
    • Horn Performance
    • Music
    • Music History
    • Music Theory
    • Oboe Performance
    • Organ Performance
    • Percussion Performance
    • Piano Performance
    • Trombone Performance
    • Trumpet Performance
    • Tuba Performance
    • Viola Performance
    • Violin Performance
    • Vocal Performance
  • Wiess School of Natural Sciences
    • Astronomy
    • Astrophysics
    • Biosciences
    • Chemical Physics
    • Chemistry
    • Earth, Environmental and Planetary Sciences
    • Ecology and Evolutionary Biology
    • Environmental Science
    • Kinesiology
    • Mathematics
    • Neuroscience
    • Physics And Astronomy
  • School of Social Sciences
    • Anthropology
    • Cognitive Sciences
    • Economics
    • Linguistics
    • Managerial Economics and Organizational Sciences
    • Mathematical Economic Analysis

Campus Life

Rice’s campus is on 300 acres of land located in the museum district of Houston. There are thousands of trees and other plants, creating a green and inviting campus. Walking distance from the campus are attractions such as the Houston Museum of Natural Science, the Houston Zoo, and the Miller Outdoor Theatre.

Rice University has eleven residential colleges, each with its own cafeteria. Most students live in these residential colleges for three years. Music is a major part of campus life, with many concerts and theatrical productions being put on by students each year. 

Is it Hard to Get into Rice University?

Rice University is very competitive, with an admittance rate ranging from eight to twelve percent, depending on how many students apply each year. The average GPA for students admitted to Rice is over 4.0 – sometimes as high as 4.12 – and the average SAT score is over 1500. The average ACT scores are between 33 and 35.

What Should You Do in High School?

Here are some things that you can do now to increase your chances of being accepted.

How To Get Into Rice

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Excel in Challenging Classes

Rice seeks students who challenge themselves by taking the most rigorous courses available to them. Students wishing to study natural science or engineering will need to take trigonometry or precalculus and both chemistry and physics in high school. All students are required to complete the following in order to apply to Rice:


English 4

Social Studies 2

Mathematics 3

Laboratory Science (e.g. biology, chemistry, physics) 2

Foreign Language 2

Additional credits in any of the categories above 3

The average GPA of students admitted to Rice this past year was 4.12, so you’ll want to keep your GPA above that to be a competitive applicant. 

Earn High Test Scores

Rice doesn’t require SAT or ACT scores, but students are allowed to include them in their applications. We recommend that you include your scores unless they’re well below the Rice admitted average. It’s wise to test as early as possible, giving yourself plenty of time to study and take the test again if your first attempt doesn’t result in a satisfactory score. 

Here are the most recent stats for Rice:


SAT Composite 1500 1560

ACT Composite 34 35

Rice does not consider the writing portions of either exam. 

Build Relationships with Your Teachers

Applicants to Rice must submit two letters of recommendation from their teachers of core academic subjects and one from their school counselor. School teams, clubs, and volunteer groups are all excellent opportunities to build good working relationships with your teachers. These bonds will be very valuable to you when it comes time to solicit glowing recommendations for college applications. 

Pursue Your Passions

Passion projects and unique skills will help you to stand out amongst thousands of applications. Seek out meaningful volunteer work or internships in fields that interest you. Pursue creative hobbies, especially if you want to study art or architecture at Rice. 

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Serve Your Community

More than anything, colleges are looking for applicants that will be valuable additions to their communities. They want students who work well with others, think creatively and show leadership potential. You can join clubs dedicated to community service, spearhead your own projects, or volunteer with a local nonprofit.

Rice applicants are permitted to submit an additional letter of recommendation from an employer, supervisor, coach, or mentor. This is an excellent opportunity to show your involvement in your community and highlight your team and/or leadership skills. 

Rice Supplement

Essays are your chance to distinguish yourself from a stack of similar candidates. 

Writing outstanding college essays starts long before you put pen to paper or pull out your laptop. It starts with rich life experiences, with struggle and perseverance that give you something worth writing about. This is one reason that extracurriculars are so vital. 

Supplemental essays questions are your chance to tell the admissions board what you have to offer their community and why their school appeals to you. Here are the Rice University essay prompts for 2022-2023.

  1. Please explain why you wish to study in the academic areas you selected. 150 word limit.

Rice requires students to choose a major before applying. These choices aren’t binding, so if you’re not certain of what you want to study, choose the majors that you can make the best case for. If you excelled in a certain subject in high school, you’re more likely to be accepted under that major. 

Choose something that you’re passionate about now, and don’t stress too much about whether you really want to devote yourself to that field for the rest of your life. You can always change your major or choose a second major down the line. 

  1.  Based upon your exploration of Rice University, what elements of the Rice experience appeal to you? 150 word limit.

On the university website, they stress that it’s “important to do your research, be genuine, and share what specific aspects of Rice excite you.” You can research by visiting the campus or attending virtual events like information sessions, student chats, and admission workshops.

  1. Rice is lauded for creating a collaborative atmosphere that enhances the quality of life for all members of our campus community. The Residential College System and undergraduate life is heavily influenced by the unique life experiences and cultural tradition each student brings. What life perspectives would you contribute to the Rice community?500 word limit.

This is your time to shine. This section is the longest one for a reason. Rice wants to get to know you as a person and understand how you’ll fit into their community. The university emphasizes that they’re “looking for voracious lovers of life, diverse thinkers with an unquenchable curiosity about the world – students who will bring different life experiences and unique perspectives to our campus.” Really think about what makes you stand out from the crowd (in a positive way, of course), and focus on that.

How to get into Rice

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Rice Box

Rice University has a unique quirk to their application called the Rice Box. All applicants are asked to “share an image of something that appeals to them.” This picture must speak for itself, with no explanation attached – but it might be smart to submit something with an obvious connection to your field of interest or passions that you’ve described in your essays. Their site says that the image will not be used as part of the application for evaluative purposes, but it allows you to put your unique stamp on your application and make yourself more memorable. 

Additional Materials

Applicants to the Shepherd School of Music must submit additional materials depending on their area of study. 

  • Students wishing to pursue composition must submit a minimum of three original pieces with audio recordings and additional recordings demonstrating proficiency on their instrument of choice. 
  • Applicants wishing to study Music History must upload a writing sample (preferably a substantial paper on a musical topic), a statement addressing why they wants\ to study music history, and an audio file of a movement from the standard repertoire performed with accompaniment.
  • Performance majors must meet various audition requirements.

Students applying to the School of Architecture must submit a portfolio of creative work. This work doesn’t necessarily need to relate to architecture, and examples of computer drafting are actively discouraged. The school recommends sketches, paintings, photography, and models. They also need to submit additional essays answering the following prompts: 

  • Why are you determined to study architecture? Could you please elaborate on your past experiences and how they have motivated you to apply to Rice University and the School of Architecture in particular? 250 words.
  • Please expand on relevant experiences and motivations outside of your academic trajectory that have inspired you to study architecture, focusing on aspects that are not accommodated by other prompts in the application. 250 words.

Students who wish to study Visual and Dramatic Arts with the School of Humanities are also encouraged to submit a portfolio of creative work.


Many colleges and universities have done away with interviews. Not so with Rice. 

While interviews are not required, and the university website claims that the lack of one will not have a negative impact on your application, it is strongly recommended that applicants schedule a virtual interview. These interviews are conducted by alumni and university seniors. Interview slots are on a first-come, first-served basis, so be sure to book yours early. 

Should You Apply Early to Rice University?

Students who would prefer Rice to any other university are encouraged to apply through their Early Decision Plan, a binding decision plan with a deadline of November first. Students accepted through Early Decision must accept Rice’s offer of admission and withdraw all other college applications. 

The admission rate for the latest round of Early Decision applicants was double that of Regular Decision applicants – eighteen percent versus nine percent. So if Rice University is your first choice, there’s a definite advantage to applying early. 

If Rice isn’t your top choice, you can apply Regular Decision by January fourth. 

Final Thoughts: How to Get Into Rice University

In order to gain admission to Rice University, you should aim to maintain a GPA over 4.1 and score at least a 1500 on the SAT. More importantly, you’ll need to excel in challenging classes and pursue passion projects that will distinguish you from your peers. If you’re sure that Rice is the school for you, applying to their Early Decision program doubles your chance of admission. Good luck!

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