From the DGPS: Faculty Senate Motion and Holiday Travel - Graduate Students

COVID-19 faculty senate change for graduate students

November 24, 2020

Dear graduate students,

I write to tell you that on November 18, Rice’s Faculty Senate approved the following motion: 

"For Fall 2020 courses, all Rice students in all programs will have until after the conclusion of the term to drop a course. For Fall 2020 degree candidates the deadline to drop a course is Wednesday, January 6, 2021; for all other students the deadline is Wednesday, January 13, 2021. For these late drops occurring after October 30, 2020 (the previously extended drop deadline), the drop will be considered a “rare situation” as defined in the General Announcements and will be noted by an “NG" on the transcript. Due to the potential negative impact of late drops on visa status, all international students (F and J visas) must receive prior approval from the Office of International Students and Scholars before the Office of the Registrar will process a late drop for an international student."

From the general announcements, the grade NG (No Grade) "signals that no credit was granted for the course. As a non-punitive grade, the NG is applied administratively and used in rare situations.” If you use this late drop option, you will not get credit for the course and the course will not factor into your GPA, but the course will remain on your transcript with an “NG” grade. If that course is required for your degree, you’ll need to retake it prior to graduation. If dropping the course moves you below full-time status, it could have complications for financial aid or for visa status, so be sure to check with relevant people. You are always welcome to consult with the Director of Graduate Study in your program. If you choose to drop a class, the late drop form is available here: and may be turned in directly to the Office of the Registrar via  Forms will be processed by OTR after the winter break holiday.  

If at any point during the extended holiday season you plan to travel or otherwise connect in person outside of your normal bubble, please remain diligent in your approach to COVID safety. We must do our part to minimize transmission and protect those most vulnerable to this disease. Please obtain COVID testing from Rice prior to any travel to help protect those you'll interact with beyond the hedges. Please consider getting tested next week if you have any close contacts over Thanksgiving. As always, the scheduling process can be accessed at

COVID testing will be done until noon on Nov. 25 and will resume normal hours on Nov. 27. Dec. 4 is the last day of independent study days, and the semester ends officially on Dec. 16. The spring semester will start later than unusual, on Monday, Jan. 25. You can review details about the spring 2021 semester on the Registrar’s page here.

The holiday season can be difficult. Many grad students experience professional, personal and financial pressure in any year and this year is certainly no exception.  If you or anyone you know is feeling anxious or would like to talk, help is available. The Wellbeing and Counseling Center is available at 713-348-3311; you can speak with a licensed counselor 24/7 for telephone support and consultation. Remember, in emergency situations, call RUPD at 713-348-6000 or 911 if it's an off-campus emergency. 1-877-GRAD-HLP (877.472.3457) is a 24/7 national crisis-line staffed by trained counselors who understand your unique pressures and know how to help. Keep this phone number handy and use it anytime. For more information about the crisis line, click here

The GPS staff and I hope that you have a safe and happy Thanksgiving Recess. 

Best regards,

Seiichi P. T. Matsuda


Seiichi P. T. Matsuda

Dean of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies

E. Dell Butcher Professor of Chemistry

Professor of BioSciences