Graduate Students

Latest Alerts:
All messages regarding COVID-19 that have been sent to our Rice community can be found here. Of particular note:

Rice will continue to send updates as needed via email and the Rice Alerts system, and a history of the alerts is also available. Students who have questions about COVID-19 as it relates to graduate study can find information below. A message archive can be found at the bottom of this FAQ.

Please keep in touch with your fellow scholars and friends. This is a time to take some physical distance, but not to disconnect from people. Please respond in a timely manner if someone does reach out to you; people will worry! Please alert your grad program or GPS if someone is not responding to communications. Please make sure your address information is updated in so that we can effectively follow up as needed.

Additional questions or concerns on COVID-19 as it relates to graduate study can be directed to

Campus Health & Safety

Every Monday, Vice President for Administration Kevin Kirby sends a weekly update to our campus about Rice’s planning and policies in response to COVID-19. A complete list of updates can be found here. Of note:

  • Everyone on the Rice campus must wear an appropriate face covering that covers their mouth and nose as a precaution to protect others. This includes when you are inside all indoor spaces on campus. This mask policy continues regardless of the state's lifted mandates.
  • We have established rules for physical distancing, including limits on the size of gatherings. As much as possible, everyone is expected to stay 6-feet away from other people, whether indoors or outdoors. These policies continue regardless of the state's lifted mandates.
  • Buildings have been modified to reduce the possibility of transmission and cleaning and disinfecting procedures have been enhanced.
  • We continue to enhance our ability to learn, socialize, and relax outside, since research shows that transmission of COVID is reduced in outdoor spaces.
  • All members of the Rice community will be required to actively monitor their health for signs of COVID-19 on a daily basis. This includes taking your temperature when you get up each morning, and staying home or in your room if you feel unwell. Rice offers on-campus testing for the campus community.
  • Rice will utilize contact tracing to ID those who may need to be tested and quarantine.
  • All students are required to review and sign a Culture of Care agreement, which outlines expected behaviors of those who are on campus. It is important to remember that we are all in this together.
  • Please know that if you need health or wellbeing support, there are a number of campus resources that are here to help you: your program administrator, Rice Student Health Services, the Wellbeing and Counseling Center, SAFE Office, or the GPS office are just a few places to start. All are taking appointments, but the process has been modified to follow CDC recommendations. Please see information on the best way to contact them and other after hours resources here; further information on resources available is here.
COVID Testing

Currently, all asymptomatic graduate students coming to campus are encouraged to get a PCR test weekly. Tests are available Monday-Friday, 8am-5pm. To schedule a test, click here. Even if you have been vaccinated, we ask that you continue to schedule your weekly test.

Current graduate students with symptoms should NOT go to the regular testing sites. Contact Student Health Services to schedule a televisit and for further guidance on scheduling a free test. No walk-in appointments are available.

Symptomatic students and anyone who has been in contact with a COVID-19 positive individual should also fill out the Health Reporting Form.

Student Health Services has put together a daily health monitoring checklist. Students are encouraged to follow CDC best practices to prevent COVID-19 outlined further down in this FAQ.

Test Results

Information on test results can be found here.

Culture of Care Agreement

As members of the Rice community, we have come to appreciate and value the Culture of Care that we have so intentionally fostered on our campus, reflecting Rice’s values of responsibility, integrity, community, and excellence. The Culture of Care serves to promote and protect the greater good by providing students with a framework for living and working together at Rice.

Maintaining our Culture of Care has been essential in the past months while we have navigated the impacts of the pandemic, as we remain committed to our community by uniting in times of crisis and doing our part. In order to carry on the educational mission of our university while minimizing person-to-person transmission of COVID-19 and protecting those most vulnerable to the disease, Rice puts forth this 2020-2021 Graduate Student Culture of Care Agreement that outlines the behavioral expectations for Rice students in re-opening the educational spaces and residences in our campus community. The agreement is available to all current graduate students in Canvas.

Faculty and Staff can read the full agreement (external to Canvas) here.

All current graduate students are expected to read the Graduate Student Culture of Care Agreement and indicate agreement.

Spring 2021 Course Instruction and Delivery

The university is planning for an initial delivery of online-only courses, beginning January 25 and tentatively through mid-February. Scholarship should be done from home to the extent possible. Currently, graduate students who are pursuing research degrees may come to campus consistent with a Research Stage 2 level of activity.

The tuition and fees rates for fall semester will remain unchanged. Regardless of the mode of instruction, students will have access to faculty, student services and academic facilities.

International students should consult with OISS upon arrival for specific requirements as it relates to their visa; a certain number of credit hours must be taken in-person.

Continuing students who arrived before March 9, 2020 may take all online courses but must take a full-course load to maintain F-1 status beyond the 5-month limit of out-of-country.

Guidance for students who arrived after March 9, 2020 is forthcoming.

Please consult with OISS and see their FAQ here for the most current information.

Time-zone differences may present a unique challenge for classroom discussions and interactive exercises, but instructors are being offered considerable guidance for developing and executing active learning techniques to accommodate the time-zone differences for students. We encourage you to stay in active contact with your instructors and work with them on particular issues of concern.

Fall 2021 Course Instruction and Delivery

While many details remain to be worked out, we envision most classes being delivered in-person. Additional details will be forthcoming shortly and over the next few weeks from the Provost and the Crisis Management Team.

Rice Business Students

For information about the Jones Graduate School of Business plans, please click here.

Tuition & Fees

The tuition and fees rates for 2020-2021 will remain unchanged. Regardless of the mode of instruction, all Rice students will have access to faculty, student services and academic facilities.

Tuition and fee rates for 2021-2022 can be found at the cashier's website.

Deferrals and Leaves of Absence

Students who wish to seek a deferral or a leave of absence should contact their graduate administrator as soon as is practical. International students should also consult with the OISS prior to finalizing changes in plans, as a deferral or leave of absence can affect visa status and/or immigration benefits.

Online Learning and Teaching

Rice has compiled suggestions and helpful tips into a Student Guide to Online Learning. In addition, there is a broad Guide to Remote Learning available. Please communicate trouble spots with your instructors and with OIT as needed. The Center for Teaching Excellence has compiled a comprehensive manual to assist all Rice instructors with their online courses. OIT is also offering 1:1 tutorials on teaching platforms used at Rice. To schedule instruction, click the platform you are interested in: Zoom, Kaltura and Canvas.

Departments are optimizing arrangements for the delivery of courses. While the university is primarily engaging undergraduates to provide technical assistance for online and dual-mode classes, there are some opportunities for graduate students to obtain more teaching experience than they might have in a typical semester. Students interested in such opportunities are encouraged to alert their department leadership.

Graduate students should not be put under undue pressure to take on additional face-to-face teaching responsibilities or to place themselves at inappropriate risk. Any students at severe risk for complications from COVID-19 (as defined by the CDC) or who have or anticipate COVID-related obstacles that they cannot reasonably resolve should make these known to their department chair. Graduate students unable to make arrangements locally may contact our Student Support Specialist, Pia Byrd to arrange third-party review.

Software Installation and Support

Many courses will be utilizing the Zoom Videoconferencing platform; for information regarding how to install Zoom, visit the Rice KB article. To connect to the Rice Network from off campus, you will need to configure Duo and install VPN. Other tools for remote work are also available. For information on other software available to install on your personal computers, visit Rice IT.

COVID-specific packing list

Student Health Services has put together a COVID-specific packing list for those planning to be on campus, with an emphasis on items needed for outdoor learning.

  • Face Coverings/Masks (for daily use, so please bring enough to wear between laundering)**
  • Thermometer (necessary for daily health screenings)**
  • Lightweight, outdoor folding chair (to facilitate increased use of outdoor spaces)**
  • Insect repellent
  • Reusable water bottle
  • Reusable cooling neck scarf
  • Hand held personal fan
  • Umbrella with UV protection
  • Sunscreen
  • Sharpie to label items
  • Personal hand sanitizer with refills
  • First aid kit
  • Acetaminophen
  • Ibuprofen
  • Antihistamine (Claritin, Allegra)
  • Sore throat lozenges
  • Cough drops
  • Bandaids of varying sizes
  • Decongestant
  • Diarrhea medicine (Imodium)
  • Antibiotic ointment
  • Anti-itch cream (for insect bites)
  • Copy of insurance card
  • Tissues

Additionally, it is always good to plan to have emergency provisions such as non-perishable groceries on hand, in case you are required to quarantine or isolate, or in case of an emergency such as tropical storm or flooding.

Please be sure to save these important numbers in your phone:

Rice University Police Department/Rice Emergency Services: 713-348-6000
Rice Student Health Services: 713-348-4966
Rice Wellbeing and Counseling Center: 713-348-3311
Emergency services: 911 (only for OFF campus students; on-campus students should dial 713-348-6000)

Incoming Students: Orientation and Training

Orientation plans for 2021 are forthcoming and will be based on University social distancing principles. Currently, all required training will be available online for those who cannot be on campus; the Responsible Conduct of Research and the Sexual Harassment Prevention Training and Lab Safety Training can be found here.

Incoming Students: Deadlines

Incoming students should aim to turn in their Student Health Forms by July 1 (or Dec. 1 for spring admits.) Incoming students must also register for or waive Rice Student Health Insurance by August 28 (Jan. 17 for spring admits) and complete required trainings by Oct. 1 (Feb. 15 for spring admits). More information can be found here.

If you are worried you may miss the July 1 deadline: The form will still be accepted after the deadline. Students who do not submit the form by July 1 will have a hold placed on their record that will prevent them from registering for classes until it is turned in. During peak times, clearing this hold could take up to 3 days, so we encourage you not to wait until the last moment. Please note that note that you must complete the health history, TB screening questionnaire and vaccine record. A physical exam is not required for this year. More.

Incoming Students: Health Insurance

For 2020-2021, students that do not expect to arrive in the United States before August 28 (fall) or Jan. 15 (spring), will not be required to participate in open enrollment and will not be required to have health insurance until they arrive in the United States. Please make sure that your arrival plans have been updated in the Incoming Student Survey if this situation will apply to you. When you move to the United States you will be required to enroll in the Aetna Student Health plan or the Alternative SAS plan (for international students only) in accordance with the health insurance policy. Both plans will be available for enrollment as a Qualifying Life Event based on the move to the United States. The premiums will be prorated based on the date of enrollment. Domestic students arriving from abroad will still be eligible to seek a waiver if they have insurance that meets waiver requirements.

Students in the United States but not in the Greater Houston area before August 28 (fall) or Jan. 15 (spring), will be required to participate in the open enrollment/waiver process and must have health insurance that meets our waiver requirements in their current location. When they arrive on campus they are required to change their health insurance plan or re-verify that they have an insurance plan that will meet our waiver requirements in Houston. The premiums will be prorated based on the date of enrollment.

The Medical Insurance Subsidy for eligible students will be prorated based on the date of enrollment in the plan.

Additional information can be found on the Student Health Insurance website, questions related to health insurance may be directed to

Incoming Students: Deferrals

For all questions regarding deferrals, including deadlines, process to request, and opportunities, please contact your graduate program administrator to discuss the options available to you. Deferrals are not automatically granted.

International Students

Please know we recognize the unique set of challenges you are facing. We ask international scholars to stay in close contact with the Office of International Students and Scholars (OISS) regarding immigration status and other related issues to your stay in the USA. Please remember that by federal regulations, you must maintain a full-course load, and make normal progress toward completing your degree. An FAQ from OISS can be found here.

Incoming students: OISS is hard at work on I-20 processing, and began working on immigration documents as soon as your student record was created. For more information, please see the OISS portal page. Students with additional questions may refer to the OISS FAQ or set up an appointment with an OISS advisor.

For visa appointments: If you are able to request an expedited appointment once your original appointment is set, we encourage you to do so. Please update your Incoming Student Survey as you schedule your visa appointment and arrange your travel, and seek guidance from OISS if you experience complications in obtaining your visa.

You will receive follow-ups from the OISS, as the current situation evolves. During this Coronavirus outbreak, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is allowing our international students to study full-time with online education. In addition, you may wish to visit their FAQ page on COVID-19 here. You may contact the OISS at:

Research Status

The office of the Vice Provost for Research is managing the research restart process, setting rules and requirements at each stage. Updates, policies and more can be found at their site here. Currently Rice has returned to Research Stage 3, effective March 8.

Communications sent to our Rice community concerning instruction and research, as well as Rice's policies surrounding research during the COVID-19 outbreak and guidance from federal funding agencies, can be found at Updates on research restart can be found here.

It is essential that mentors and peer researchers respect and have empathy for their co-workers. Rice University will not tolerate the use of pressure or any form of coercion to compel postdoctoral fellows, graduate students, undergraduates or research scientists to be endangered. Graduate students, postdocs and staff who feel inappropriate pressure to work in these circumstances should note their concerns at the EthicsPoint site.

Disability Needs

The change to online teaching and assessment might create barriers for students with various types of visible and invisible disabilities. Contact the Disability Resource Center (DRC) at to request new or update existing accommodations if the change to online learning environments might impact your ability to fully engage in courses.

The DRC also assists faculty, staff, and visitors with accommodation requests to help ensure equal access and opportunity. For more information, please click the link provided

On-Campus and Off-Campus Housing

If you live in university owned housing, please follow the guidelines prescribed by the apartment managers and RAs and watch for announcements related to their cleaning schedules.

Later this summer, future residents of Rice Graduate Apartments (RGA) and Rice Village Apartments (RVA) will be sent detailed move-in instructions to all students.

For students seeking off-campus housing, Housing and Dining has a searchable tool for off-campus housing available here.

Residents of RGA and RVA will be permitted to remain in their apartments for the duration of their lease, regardless of their need to be physically on campus. We encourage you to engage in disciplined self-distancing practices in these and in all other spaces.

Office and Lab Spaces

All faculty, staff, and students must practice physical distancing in all shared spaces on campus. Departments and schools are authoring and implementing local plans to implement and communicate the University practices this distancing within their spaces. This may include arranging for alternating scheduled use of the space, cleaning the space between users, and other health and safety measures. Every Rice community member is expected to follow all building, school, and departmental guidelines for physical distancing and cleaning. Students are furthermore encouraged to proactively discuss physical distancing plans with their office and lab mates.

Thesis Defenses Process

GPS has updated thesis announcement, defense, and submissions procedures, and we are currently updating our website and other materials to reflect these changes. These include:

  1. The suspension of the requirement that all committee members must be physically present for the defense.
  2. The requirement that all thesis defenses must be held via a zoom or other videoconferencing approach.
  3. Thesis defenses will continue to be announced as required before and advertised at If you have already announced an in-person defense, please send your zoom link to so we can add it to your announcement.
  4. The advancement to candidacy form and the thesis cover page will be signed electronically through an AdobeSign signature process that will be initiated by GPS following the announcement of your thesis. You will receive this by email. If you have recently defended, GPS will email you an AdobeSign online title page in about a week.
  5. You can finalize the submission of your thesis through a webform. You can expect a receipt once the form has been processed in its entirety.

If a change in committee must be made, follow the procedures outlined here in section B.

Student Health & Wellbeing Access

Student Health Services and the Wellbeing & Counseling Center remain available to students and will see students virtually through HIPAA protected Zoom services and by phone.

Students can call the main number at 713-348-3311 during normal business to schedule appointments such as same day or urgent appointments. The Gibbs Wellness Center will not be open for scheduling or rescheduling appointments in person.

The SAFE Office will temporarily be housed in the Gibbs Wellness Center until further notice. Students have the option to schedule meetings to be over phone or zoom. The SAFE Office will continue to provide students with emotional support, education, safety planning, information on reporting options, accompaniments to appointments, assistance with supportive measures, referrals to on and off campus resources, and navigation support for reporting and responding students in sexual misconduct matters. The SAFE Office will also continue to provide virtual prevention education to the Rice community on sexual and domestic violence.

The Rice Counseling Center is currently offering services by video and telephone, often referred to as "telehealth." Telehealth services are confidential and effective, and students will receive the same individualized care as meeting in person.

As always the Office of the Student Wellbeing, Rice Counseling Center, and The SAFE Office are available for any further questions.

The Student Wellbeing Office will continue to provide services on Wellbeing Advising, Case Management, Program and Education Outreach to address a wide range of wellbeing issues such as stress management, adjustment issues, relationship concerns, identity issues, medical withdrawal and readmission, and navigating other resources on or off campus. Virtual appointments and consultations are available and can be scheduled by phone 713-348-3311 or email

All offices will continue to be available to consult with staff and faculty for any concerns about students.

The main number at 713-348-3311 will be available 24/7 for any urgent concerns.

Students who wish to be tested for COVID should refer to the section higher up in this FAQ. Symptomatic students and those that have come into contact with a positive case should also enter their information in the Health Reporting Form.

Please note: The $285.50 Health and Wellness Center Fee continues to be required for all students 2020-2021 academic year. For students within the continental U.S., this includes access to telemed services through the RCC and SHS. In addition, please note that RCC has a referral specialist who can help any student, regardless of location, find a local provider if they will be studying remote this fall. If you have any questions about the Health and Wellness Center fee or obtaining access to services, please contact Allison Vogt, Associate Dean of Students, at

Precautionary Health and Hygiene

According to the CDC, people with preexisting health conditions or are immunosuppressed are at higher risk of developing complications from a COVID-19 infection. Your health is paramount, so public health officials may recommend that you stay home if there are more community infections. The CDC has created guidelines to help you plan and prepare in the event of needing to limit time in public or if you become sick. Your health care team can also help you assess your current medications and conditions to help you think about actions that can minimize risk to you and your household. For immunosuppressed residents of the RGA and RVA, some accommodations are available. In addition, the Office of the Dean of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies can help all graduate students navigate your situation and advise on resources that are available at Rice. For more information on resources for students that have preexisting health conditions or are immunosuppressed, please contact the GPS office ( to explore your options with GPS staff. Alternatively, if this situation applies to you, you can fill out this survey, and someone will contact you.

Student Health Services has put together guidelines for daily health monitoring for all on campus. To review the daily checklist, click here.

Students who wish to be tested for COVID should refer to the section higher up in this FAQ. Symptomatic students and those that have come into contact with a positive case should also enter their information in the Health Reporting Form.

Flu Vaccines

Flu vaccinations will be required for all students, as outlined in the July 2 email from Dean Matsuda. The deadline for the vaccine was Oct. 30.

In September, holds will be placed on student accounts. Students need to submit proof of vaccination with their student ID number and health services will remove the hold.

If a student does not want to be vaccinated, the student must have a televisit with an MD to discuss risk vs benefit of vaccine. If they have an official state of Texas vaccine exemption form on file that is valid (within past two years), we will accept that. These exemptions must be requested via the state and take several weeks to process.

For more information, email Student Health Services:

Daily Health Monitoring

Student Health Services has put together guidelines for daily health monitoring for all on campus. To review the daily checklist, click here.

Aetna Student Health Insurance

Health Insurance coverage questions, including provider network questions, should be directed to Aetna Student Health by calling 1-877-375-7908 or emailing Customer Service. Additionally, Aetna members have access to Telehealth consultations through TelaDoc. Rice Student Health Insurance has more information on how to see a physician via phone or video consultations.

Graduate students in most programs are required to have health insurance while enrolled at Rice. Open enrollment for spring begins Dec. 10 and goes through Jan. 15. There is some flexibility to this with regards to the ongoing pandemic, and more information can be found in the section on insurance for incoming students higher up in this FAQ, or at the Student Health Insurance website.

Campus Dining

Curbside at the Club is offering grab-and-go options for all members of the Rice community. We have welcomed Little Kitchen HTX to the Brochstein Pavilion.

There will be more grab-and-go options at several locations around campus. Spaces will be reconfigured to ensure physical distancing with clear signage to manage flow and seating. Facial coverings are required while not eating. Dining staff and vendors will all be wearing PPE, and additional cleaning protocols will be implemented in the facilities.

Graduate students are welcome to patronize the following campus public dining facilities: “Curbside at the Club”, “Ambassador’s Café at Sammy’s”, “Little Kitchen HTX at Brochstein Pavilion”. Meal plans are available for purchase on the dining site

Student activities and events

Gatherings. No group activities that involve more than five people will be permitted indoors. Outdoor gatherings up to ten people are permitted if all are wearing masks and physically distanced at least six feet apart. We expect to relax these restrictions as our environment improves.

Transportation & Parking Updates

Information on parking for students can be found here. Student parking is being offered at 50% off the original rates; adjustments were made automatically.

Shuttle services have been modified to facilitate physical distancing and cleaning protocols. Information can be found here.


All current Rice students with a valid NetID can print using personal computers or from OIT-managed computers configured for Mudd Lab 101, Residential Colleges, and Fondren Library. OIT charges a printing fee for each page printed by the user to recover the paper, toner and maintenance costs. Please note that some printers contain special paper (such as resume or thesis quality paper). Please visit and

Study Spaces

There are limited study spaces available in Fondren Library to allow for physical distancing. You may go to the website to reserve a space. Services and hours will be limited through February 8, 2021. The Circulation Desk will be available for Rice faculty, students, and staff during building hours. All other departments including Woodson Research Center, Reference, Kelley Center, GIS/Data Center, DMC, Friends of Fondren and Digital Scholarship Services will offer their services remotely.

Travel and Quarantine Policy

Reference the latest from the university’s travel and quarantine policies.

COVID-19 Message Archive

December 2020 Convocation Update (Nov. 6)

Research reactivation stage 3 (Sept. 23)

Storm preparedness tips from Student Health Services Invitation to Aug. 20 town hall (sent Aug. 17)

Culture of Care Agreement (sent via the Grad Digest Newsletter on August 12)

From the Dean of Graduate Students: Fall 2020 Updates for Graduate Students (July 2)

From the Office of the Registrar: Fall 2020 Course Schedule (June 25)

Message to graduate student regarding research activities and fall plans (May 5)

Faculty Senate on Academic Accommodations for spring 2020 (April 23)

Parking and Recreation Center Fee Refund during the COVID-19 Outbreak (April 6)

Student and faculty international summer travel (April 3)

Update on Spring 2020 Commencement (March 30)

Message from Vice-Provost for Research Yousif Shamoo and Interim Provost Seiichi Matsuda regarding Rice's new research policy during the outbreak (March 17)

Latest Grad Digest Newsletter (March 26)

Latest message to students in doctoral or thesis-based graduate programs (March 18)

Latest message to students in non-thesis graduate programs (March 18)