What Does it Take to Get Into Rice University?

Strategies by School
February 27, 2020
Every Year, Rice University In Houston, Texas Eagerly Welcomes Passionate And Ambitious Students To Their Research-Based Programs...

However, Rice is unique from other private research universities thanks to their rounded out curriculum and countless opportunities for growth in academics and activities. More than that, they are located in the heart of a city that has rapidly risen through the ranks of economic hubs for American and international students.

If you’re passionate about asking tough questions and serving your surrounding community, then Rice might be the right college for you. Keep reading to find out how to get into Rice University and join other like-minded students to contribute your skills to society!

What You’ll Find In This College Guide:

Rice University's Ideal Student

The average GPA and test scores of incoming freshmen are:

  • GPA: 3.96*
  • SAT: 1510
  • ACT: 34

Rice ranks #1 in Texas for the highest average GPA for incoming freshmen, and this data accurately reflects their rigorous research-based curriculum. They want to make sure that their incoming students will succeed and flourish at Rice, so they look for students who graduated in the top percentages of their class.

Of course, while grades and class rankings are important, Rice admissions knows that they can’t get the whole picture of a student’s academic experience without looking for the qualities that support a student’s exceptional grades. To that end, Rice looks for a few key values in their students.

Note: Rice doesn’t release the official GPAs and test scores of their incoming freshmen. This data is made available by the admissions office’s predictions on current students’ test scores and GPA.


The four qualities that Rice looks for in its students function as an acrostic: Responsibility, Integrity, Community, and Excellence.

Rice students are supremely responsible with their time and resources. Finding responsibility means creating balance between taking advantage of educational opportunities and using time wisely, while still making room for family, friends, and fun.

  • Was there ever a time when you had to say “no” to a certain event so you could focus on more important things?
  • Demonstrate a situation you experienced where a balance of hard work and rest were necessary for you to succeed.
  • How did you take advantage of the tools and resources your school provided so you could succeed in your classes?


The root of integrity is honesty, and at Rice, 100% honesty is crucial to the success of your research projects. Students must be honest with themselves and others to accomplish the kind of ground-breaking work that’s done every day in Rice classrooms.

  • Was there ever a time that you were honest about a project, even if it reflected negatively on you?
  • Did you ever lead a group and had to ask your teacher for guidance, even if it was difficult to do so?


A strong sense of community is built into the Rice experience. Everywhere you go, teachers and students are cheering you on, whether you play on a sports team or lead a research team.

  • How did you participate in your community during high school?
  • How do you plan on taking advantage of Rice’s community?


Rice students pursue excellence in everything they do. Regardless of what you choose to study in college, Rice’s programs give students numerous opportunities to ask tough questions, collaborate on projects, and proudly share their accomplishments with the rest of the student body.

  • How did you pursue excellence in your high school classes?
  • What resources (study groups, AP classes, private tutors, etc.) did you utilize to go the extra mile in your studies?
  • How do you think your participation at Rice will help you in your pursuit of excellence?


Rice University has eight different schools that contain over 50 unique majors, ranging across multiple areas of study like the sciences, music, the arts, and social studies.

Rice’s academic curriculum functions like a liberal arts college: all students are required to take core classes in social sciences and humanitarian studies to give them a well-rounded and relevant foundation. These Flexible Distribution Requirements (FDRs) serve as the glue for your Rice education, connecting your specific field to relevant issues in the world today.


Students at Rice pursue excellence, create balance, collaborate with their classmates, and aren’t afraid to ask honest and open questions. If this sounds like the kind of community you’d thrive in, you should consider applying to Rice!

Continue working hard in your classes to impress Rice admissions with your excellent grades. Take advantage of your school’s resources to study for your SATs and ACTs, and don’t forget about the importance of community! No person is an island, so don’t forget to spend time with your family and friends, and establish balance in your schedule.

What You Need To Get Accepted Into Rice

In 2019, Rice’s acceptance rate hit a record low of 8.7%. Out of a total of 27,084 students who applied, only 2,364 were accepted. Like any university, Rice clearly outlines what they need on your application. Read their guidelines carefully, and do anything you need to stay on top of deadlines.

Start your essays early so you can continuously edit them, submit requests for your transcripts, and stay consistent with your SAT preparation. Rice admissions makes it simple for their applicants to keep track of their application progress; their user-friendly website and application portal will do most of the leg work for you, as long as you take note of the most important steps and keep up with necessary admissions deadlines.


To apply for Rice, you can use one of the following two application platforms:

Either one of these platforms will automatically hold all your basic information for multiple applications like school history, self-reported grades, and extracurricular activities.


As you move through your application, you’ll need to provide your official high school transcripts. Some processing times vary, so it’s better to request a copy of your transcripts from your counselor earlier rather than later.

Next, you’ll need to provide the scores you received on either your SAT or ACT. Rice admissions accepts both standardized test scores, and do not prefer one over the other. Rice also participates in a superscoring policy, in which they take the highest score you achieved if you took these tests multiple times.

Rice doesn’t have a minimum score requirement for admission.

It is strongly recommended that applicants take two SAT Subject Tests in areas closely related to the subjects you intend on studying. Lastly, when your second semester grades become available, you’ll need to provide Rice admissions with your mid-year school report.


Rice admissions requests one counselor recommendation along with two teacher evaluations. At least one of these recommendations must be from a teacher who taught the area of study closely related to your program of interest.


To complete your Rice application with a writing supplement, you must choose from three essay prompts that are Rice-specific. These prompts give you a chance to ruminate on why you’ve chosen Rice, what you can bring to the table, and what Rice can do to help you achieve your goals.


Since Rice is a private research university, they take admission to certain programs very seriously. Rice is home to a prestigious medical partnership with Baylor in which six incoming freshmen every year begin the 4-year Pre-Med program at Rice, immediately followed by medical school at Baylor University. For this medical scholars program, a separate application is required in addition to Rice’s general application. Similarly, prospective architecture students must submit a portfolio, and answer an additional essay prompt.

The final supplemental option of the Rice application is a scheduled interview either on or off campus. While these interviews are optional, they may help you better understand what life at Rice would be like, and will give you a better opportunity to show Rice admissions who you are in person.


The application fee for Rice is $75. Application fee waivers must be requested through your chosen application platform, and will then be approved by your counselor.

  • Early Decision: November 1st
  • Regular Decision: January 1st
  • Applications for Rice’s Music Program: December 1st*
Note: Students applying for Rice’s Shepherd School of Music have a different application process than other programs. These requirements include video auditions and specific essay prompts, so read up on that if you intend to apply as a music student.


Rice admissions looks for students who care about their work, communities, and overall place in the world. The administration at this Texas university hopes that students come to Rice seeking answers and to ultimately find their purpose.

In your application and essays, show Rice admissions how your participation at their university  will bring you far in your career and your personal aspirations. Through this openness and honesty, you’ll be submitting an application that’s compelling and admission-worthy.

Rice's Campus Life

Rice University is home to nearly 4,000 students during the school year. People from all over the world come to Rice to study, teach, and pave new paths in research. In fact, Rice is the 2nd most internationally diverse university in the United States, making it one of the most international-friendly colleges in the world.

Whether you’re looking for an academically rich environment, a sense of diversity, or opportunities for growth, Rice may be the college for you. Houston offers its students more than enough resources for academic growth and fun, so keep reading to learn about what Rice’s campus culture can offer you!


Rice hosts over 200 student organizations, offering students chances to try something new and excel in every activity. These clubs celebrate several areas of focus including media, the arts, culture, activism, politics, and sports.

There’s nothing exclusive about Rice’s student activities, either. Through their Student Activities program, anyone can submit a proposal for a new club, organization, or even something as simple as a workshop. Whether you want to lead a group or simply get involved, Rice’s campus culture is inherently inclusive.

Rice’s campus culture is extremely student leadership-based as well. The administration believes that if their students are the leaders of tomorrow, the best place to start teaching leadership is right in their own backyard. Rice has three student-run businesses where students can learn about business operations while still being involved in the campus culture.

The complete list of Rice’s clubs shows their focus on diversity and inclusion. You can join clubs like Wildlife Conservation, Women in STEM, Debate, Powerlifting, and even a Council on Homelessness, helping people get back on their feet. Whatever your hobby is, you’ll have no problem finding fun activities to be a part of at Rice.


Rice University has an athletic department that’s tough to beat. In addition to multiple sports, camps, and recruiters, Rice has care and therapy built into their athletic system, making sure all Rice students protected and healthy every sports season.

The reason these benefits exist for more than just Rice athletes is because all students are required to complete two Physical Education classes before graduation. Physical activity and wellness is important at Rice, and they want to build a lifestyle of fitness into their students’ everyday lives.

If competitive sports aren’t your style, you can enjoy all the benefits of Rice athletics through their intramural sports program, and their state-of-the-art recreation center. Out of their 11 recreation programs, Rice’s Outdoor Adventure Center is the most popular among students. With classes, group outings, and employment opportunities, you’ll take advantage of all that the Texas landscape has to offer.


Rice’s housing program is unique and encourages growth in the community. As freshmen, Rice students are randomly assigned to one of 11 co-ed housing assignments or “colleges”. Each college on Rice’s campus has their own systems complete with operating guidelines, leadership, intramural sports, and dining facilities. This self-governing nature of each college is designed to help you build meaningful relationships with those who share your space.

In turn, Rice’s dining program works hand-in-hand with the community housing program. Each college has their own dining facilities in addition to retail dining options that you can find off campus.


Rice University is the main publisher for the newest supplier of college textbooks, OpenStax, an open educational resource company. By the end of 2018, this free college textbook resource saved Rice students an estimated $30 million collectively.

OpenStax is slowly growing to include more college courses and become available for more colleges in the US, however, with Rice being its main publisher, there’s a greater chance of you never paying for another textbook again if you choose Rice.

From Application To Career: What You'll Experience At Rice

Rice University is serious about admitting students who will thrive in their classrooms and community. From the very start of the application process all the way to welcoming you onto campus, Rice is interested in helping their students realize their full potential, grow in their skills, and graduate ready to contribute to society.


Rice only accepts students who graduated in the top percentile of their classes, and challenged themselves all the way to the end of their senior year. Highlight the areas of your high school career where you took AP courses, volunteered with organizations, and pursued leadership opportunities.

Research Rice’s mission, vision, and values; draw connections between your goals and what Rice is seeking to accomplish with their students. Show them why you’ll be a great addition to their campus culture and why they will help you achieve your goals.


The Rice application essays are found in the writing supplement, and the three writing prompts you’ll find are available on the Rice application homepage.

While the prompts may change slightly every year, essentially, they’ll always revolve around the connections between you and Rice. Be prepared to explain why you chose your intended major, why you were inspired to apply for Rice, and what personal ideals you hold that will contribute to Rice’s mission. Remember that if you’re applying for their nationally-ranked Architecture program, you’ll need to complete an additional writing supplement as well.


Rice students have boundless options. While most colleges in the US offer nearly 1,000 student organizations, Rice offers 200 due to their relatively small class sizes, and the large amount of international students that come from all around the world to study in Houston. Rather than random, generalized groups, they prefer to host specific activities. At Rice, less really does mean more!

It won’t take long for you to find your ideal campus community. Through Rice’s conjoined housing and dining program, student activities, and wellness and recreation programs, your four years at Rice will be well-spent in their classrooms and campus, and the rest of Houston.


Rice students graduate with a clear path that either involves internships, immediate employment, or a gap year to celebrate finishing their undergraduate degree. Some notable Rice alumni include astronaut Peggy Whitson, physicist James Newman, poet Joyce Carol Oates, and astronaut Takao Doi.

In 2018:

  • 37 percent of Rice undergraduates began pursuing their Master’s and Doctorate after graduation
  • 37 percent were employed in an organization or company secured at graduation
  • Nearly 75 percent of all graduates were employed in Business and Financial Operations, Computer Science, and Architecture and Engineering

Your Future At Rice University

As you begin your Rice application, keep in mind that the Rice admissions team wants to see you succeed. Applying to college is a big step, so they want you to go wherever you will thrive the most. Every year, around 10 percent of applicants find that Rice is where they belong. If you believe that your skills and insights will contribute to Rice’s overall mission, then don’t hesitate to get started!

To help you get started, our professional counselors at WeAdmit specialize in polishing applications to make your strongest attributes shine through. If any concerns or questions arise during your application process, you can reach out and get the advice that will help Rice admissions see that you would be a strong addition to their student body.

If You Know You Belong At Rice, Get Started On Your Application Today!



Need more Information?

Gain all the information you need by getting in touch with our admissions team or booking a free 30-minute counseling session.