Graduate Students

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

News reports of the novel coronavirus have caused understandable concern for graduate students. This is an evolving public health issue. Rice will continue to send updates as needed via 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. Please know we take the threat of this virus very seriously, and we care very deeply about your health and safety. We are carefully monitoring the situation and taking guidance from Rice and the CDC.

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. To that end, I do ask that each of you update your address information 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

Seiichi P. T. Matsuda
Interim Provost
Dean of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies
E. Dell Butcher Professor of Chemistry
Professor of BioSciences

Classes and Coursework

As part of the adjustment to remote instruction, Rice is requiring that no coursework can be due on March 23, 24, 25, and 26. Only work that was to be due the week of March 9 can be due on March 27. Other assignments and new assignments cannot be due before March 30.

Late drop and Pass/Fail

On March 25, Faculty Senate passed a motion that extends the spring 2020 course drop deadline for all graduate students to Friday, April 24. Course drops can be managed within and will not require a Special Registration Form. Please visit the Office of the Registrar’s website for details. Fees associated with dropping a course will be waived.

Students shifting retroactively from full-time to part-time as a result of a late drop will still need to seek the permission of their graduate program prior to the late drop.

International students should be cognizant of implications to their visas for dropping below full-time; while certain academic requirements have been relaxed, immigration requirements have not. F-1 and J-1 students may NOT drop below full-time (9 credit hours) without prior authorization from OISS. Additional answers to frequently asked questions by internationals can be found here.

The rules regarding the grading mode for a course have not been altered for graduate students (i.e. there will be no change to the pass/fail option). Please consult with your graduate program for individual and field-specific advising.

The Senate has also resolved that students should not be unduly penalized academically if any courses in progress cannot be offered for completion due to the university’s response to the pandemic.

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 troublespots 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.

Research Status

The university is mandating a substantial ramp-down in population density and on-campus research presence as described in the March 17 memo from Yousif Shamoo, Vice President for Research, and Seiichi Matsuda, Interim Provost and Dean of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies. Please read it.

All 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

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.

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.

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 (through May 15).
  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.

Please note that your ducks are coming; we're working on a continuity plan.

RGA and RVA Residents

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.

Student Health & Wellbeing Access

Rice Student Health Services, the Wellbeing and Counseling Center, and SAFE office services continue to be available to students. They 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. We encourage you to reach out to the Wellbeing and Counseling Center if you’d like to talk to someone. Students are also able to contact to schedule a consultation with a GPS staff member. Alternatively, please reach out to the Student Assistance Program for additional resources for those that may have added anxiety due to COVID-19.

Parking Updates

To minimize your time on campus, effective immediately through April 30th graduate students holding a Night Owl parking pass will be allowed to park in the following additional lots: BRC Garage; North Lot; the North Annex Lot; and the Entrance 3 Garage. This is in addition to the Greenbriar Lot. Please don’t take this as encouragement to come to campus-- we’re simply trying to make things a little easier for everyone.

Aetna Student Health Insurance

Since you remain a student at Rice University, annual health insurance coverage for the 2019-2020 academic year continues until 7/31/20. All customer service inquiries, 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.

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 my 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.

Advanced Degree Convocation or Doctoral Convocation

Students can register for Advanced Degree Convocation or Doctoral Convocation.
At this time, no final decisions have been made about commencement. We will communicate plans in as timely a manner as possible. As of now, the 2020 Advanced Degrees Convocation and Doctoral Convocation are planned for Friday, May 15. Information on the ceremonies can be found here; a link to register for the advanced degree or doctoral convocations can be found here. Additionally, doctoral graduates are invited to a brunch on Saturday immediately following commencement. Info here.

Academic Regalia
Academic regalia must be worn by all degree candidates choosing to participate in commencement. Regalia is available for purchase online NOW through April 19 (students who order by April 6 will save $5). Regalia pre-orders will begin arriving mid-April. A PDF guide to academic regalia is available here. For more information, visit or call the Campus Store at 713-348-2039.

Visa Status for International Students

We ask international scholars to stay in close contact with the Office of International Students and Scholars (OISS) regarding your 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. 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:

Travel Policy

Reference the latest from the university’s travel policy.