Graduate Students

Latest Alerts:
All messages regarding COVID-19 that have been sent to our Rice community can be found at emergency.rice.edu. Of particular note, and additional information concerning fall restart:

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 the fall 2020 semester and COVID-19 as it relates to graduate study can find information below.

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 http://esther.rice.edu 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 graduate@rice.edu.

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 a 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.
  • 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. We are also limiting gatherings to no more than 50 people, whether inside or outside.
  • We are modifying buildings to reduce the possibility of transmission and enhancing cleaning and disinfecting procedures.
  • We are enhancing our ability to learn, socialize, and relax outside, since research shows that transmission of COVID is reduced in outdoor spaces. We are building temporary structures and erecting tents for use as classroom space, study space, and locations for social gatherings.
  • 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 will soon begin to offer on-campus testing (free of charge) for students currently on-campus. Details are forthcoming.
  • Rice will utilize contact tracing to ID those who may need to be tested and quarantine through a blended approach that combines a digital platform through smartphones and interviews by trained personnel. Details are forthcoming.
  • All students will be 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. Tests are available Monday-Friday, 8am-5pm. To schedule a test, click on the link: https://veoci.com/veoci/p/form/nnrc3kjrxgya Insert the following code: 83590137. Further directions are provided in the PDF here. Students who are on campus and coming in contact with many people should be tested once per week.

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 also 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

Q: I did not receive my results or I’m having trouble getting into my results email what should I do?

Please check proofpoint spam filter to see if your results email was held up. If you tested at the Roost:

https://mychart.houstonmethodist.org/mychart-prod/Authentication/Login?

If you haven’t used this service yet, please choose “new user” to get started.

Call: 832 667 5694. Press 1 for help with mychart.

If you tested at Abercrombie/East Gym:

Email: help@baylorgenetics.com

Call: 1-800-411-4363

Q. I received an email with my test results but I cannot access them. What do I do?

In your email, you should have received instructions to save the attachment. Open the attachment.

When the website pops up, click use one time passcode. When you get to that screen, in the bottom it will say "get another one time passcode" click that-do not close the window.

Go to your email and you should receive a passcode. Go back to the open window, enter the passcode and your results should come up.

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 on or before August 23, 2020.

Fall 2020 Course Schedule & Class Registration

As a result of changes to the academic calendar, and in particular the ending of instruction on an earlier date (the Friday before Thanksgiving), important contact time in classes was lost. Combining this with the need to address new classroom space issues caused by physical distancing, it became clear that a number of changes needed to be made to the Course Schedule. Some measures being put in place, include:

• A reconfigured daily class schedule (with standardized meeting time blocks, expanded throughout the day, and into the evening).
• Class durations for most courses increased by 5 minutes per class to meet contact time requirements.
• Longer “in-between” meeting times, increased to 20 minutes, to accommodate potentially longer walking distances between classes, and allow for less congestion in halls and entrances/exits.

At present the Office of the Registrar is working with Rice academic departments on other possible course-specific adjustments, based on actual or projected enrollment, etc. (such as method of instruction (online, etc.).

Incoming students should register for classes as usual, beginning August 20; students who cannot be on campus should start these courses online and then join the in-person sessions when they are able.

International students should register for classes with an in-person component. Students who cannot be on campus should start these courses online and then join the in-person sessions when they are able, to meet the six credit minimum for in-person classes in order to maintain status.

Fall 2020 Course Instruction and Delivery

The university is planning for a combination of in-person and online classes, beginning August 24 and ending November 20. All classes, with very limited approved exceptions, will be delivered in dual mode, that is available both on campus and remote delivery simultaneously. Because certain members of our community, such as those with underlying health conditions, are especially vulnerable, they may choose not to be in the on-campus classroom setting and will be accommodated. 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. More here.

For those who are beginning their fall semester remotely, 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. More information can be found here. We encourage you to stay in active contact with your instructors and work with them on particular issues of concern.

Rice Business Students

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

Tuition & Fees

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

Deferrals and Leaves of Absence

The university will continually re-evaluate plans for the fall semester based on the evolving COVID situation in Houston, and will inform you of changes as we approach August. Some of you may decide that you wish to defer or to take a leave of absence, rather than enrolling at Rice in the fall. 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 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. 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 to seek accommodations or modification of work assignments by July 8, 2020. 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 returning to campus this fall, 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 will be reformatted based on University social distancing principles. The mandatory plenary session on Wednesday will be offered solely online, and is expected to be available via canvas.rice.edu in early August. Other orientation events are still in the planning phases. 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 are already online and can be found here. Lab safety training will be available online; details are forthcoming.

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 have missed 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

Students that do not expect to arrive in the United States before August 28, 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, 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 studentinsurance@rice.edu.

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. International students should register for at least three credit hours with an in-person component. Students who are abroad should start these courses online and then join the in-person sessions when they arrive in the United States, in order to maintain visa status. 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. International students are expected to arrive as soon as their visa allows. Immigration laws allow us to extend the I-20 up until October 22, 2020, for the Fall 2020 semester. 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: oiss@rice.edu.

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. At the same time, we will begin a gradual return of library services, starting with remote services for Rice faculty and students undertaking research that requires those resources, as outlined in the May 5 communication to graduate students.

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 coronavirus.rice.edu/research. 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 adarice@rice.edu to request new or update existing accommodations if the change to online learning environments might impact your ability to fully engage in courses.

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.

Finding Housing: Currently, there are still openings at the Rice Graduate Apartments and the Rice Village Apartments. New university-owned graduate townhomes will also be opening in the fall. Students who have already accepted their housing offer and made a deposit may contact Housing and Dining before mid July and choose the option to be waitlisted if they do not anticipate a September arrival. Graduate housing then will be offered on a first-arrived first-placed basis until the property is filled. If the property becomes full before the end of the Fall 2020 term, Housing and Dining plans to assist incoming students that have applied to campus housing with identifying short and long term places to live. The housing market in Houston is not tight at this time; many apartment buildings that are typically 95% occupied are now seeing occupancy rates of 80%. 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.

Deposit Refunds: Students currently offered and accepting apartments will be offered an opportunity to request a full refund of their security deposit in mid July if they cannot fulfill the agreement by September 1, 2020. Students may also choose the option to be waitlisted and will be eligible to be placed in graduate housing on a first-arrived first-placed basis until the property is filled. If the property becomes full and cannot fulfill the housing request, Housing and Dining will refund the deposit.

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 (through August 1).
  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 events.rice.edu. If you have already announced an in-person defense, please send your zoom link to gradenrollment@rice.edu 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 offices resumed limited on-campus operations starting August 24th from 9 AM to 5 PM, Monday through Friday. In order to maintain appropriate physical distancing and other safety measures, the Offices will have a limited number of staff with the following changes to operations:

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 wellbeing@rice.edu.

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.

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 (graduate@rice.edu) 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 is 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.

Walgreens will be on campus administering the vaccine on a walk-up basis in the Kyle Morrow room at Fondren Library. Students will need to bring their insurance cards and Walgreens will bill their insurance. Most insurance companies cover the flu vaccine 100%, but if for some reason insurance does not cover then Walgreens will bill the student at a later date.

Walgreens walk in flu dates/times: ***BRING INSURANCE CARD***
August 31 & September 1: 8-4pm
September 3: 11:30-7
September 8, 14, 16: 10-6pm

Students can also receive the vaccine at the Student Health Services clinic. Flu shot is $18 and student must make an appointment for the service. SHS does give a coded medical receipt that can be submitted to insurance companies. Aetna student health reimburses 100% for this. Students should check with their insurance company if they hold other policies.

The above on campus vaccines are for convenience, students may choose to go to their own PCPs or to local pharmacies (Randalls, CVS, etc) who also give flu vaccines.

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

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.

Graduate students in most programs are required to have health insurance while enrolled at Rice. Open enrollment began July 1 and continues to August 28. 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. Additional dining options will become available as more community members return to campus. 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.

Transportation & Parking Updates

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

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

Travel and Quarantine Policy

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