Academics | FAQ

Frequently Asked Questions

Students who have questions about the application process, application, or departmental information, should first confer with their program of interest. A list of programs with contact information can be found here. Some commonly asked questions, with solutions, can be found below.

I have questions about admission and the application process.

A list of frequently asked questions regarding admissions can be found here. We encourage you to reach out to your program of interest for guidance on specific questions related to the application.

I am a new student and I would like to start using my Rice email. How can I do this?

New students will get an email about their NetID, Esther account, and Rice email soon (often within 2-3 weeks) after accepting an offer of admission and uploading an official transcript. Once you receive this email, please activate these accounts. Please note that student record creation for Spring starts in early October. Student record creation for Fall starts in early March. We thank you for your patience.

Why do I have a hold on my account, and how can the hold be removed?

Please consult the information here to discover why you have a hold on your account and what to do to resolve the issue and to whom you can address any questions. If this page does not answer your question, please contact the graduate program administrator in your department.

I just submitted my thesis and my future employer is requesting a letter stating that I am on track to graduate. Can GPS provide one?

Yes. Send an email to with your request and student information, and we will draft a letter regarding your upcoming conferral. This is also available following a thesis defense, with slightly different language.

I have questions about thesis defense and submission. What should I do?

First, carefully review the webpages related to thesis and defense submission, and consult our FAQ page for candidacy and defense here. If your question is not answered here, reach out to your graduate program administrator for support.

I am feeling stressed or anxious and need to talk to someone confidentially.

To talk to someone confidentially about a sensitive matter, you can email Student Support Manager Pia Byrd at or Rice's Wellbeing and Counseling Center at or (713) 348-3311. This line is answered 24/7. Both locations provide a safe and confidential environment for a graduate student to discuss items of concern.

I need to take a leave of absence, switch to part-time status, etc.

To request a leave of absence or switch to part-time status, first consult with your program of study. If you need to take a medical leave or have a question that is more sensitive in nature, you can reach out to Pia Byrd, Student Support Manager, at Information on these processes can also be found in the General Announcements.

My adviser is leaving Rice - what are my options?

This option will vary depending upon where you are in your research. Please consult with your director of graduate study and/or Pia Byrd, Student Support Manager, for your options and for support.

A. Stay at Rice and earn a Rice degree.

You may remain at Rice and keep your compensation or stipend, however, you may need to identify another adviser or a co-adviser. If you have already achieved candidacy and filed your candidacy paperwork, your departing adviser may still serve on your thesis committee as the committee chair or in another position.

B. Move with your adviser and still earn a Rice degree.

If you have already completed your Rice coursework, you can become an away student, moving with your adviser to the new institution. You would register at Rice as a full-time student taking research hours. You would still be required to maintain health insurance coverage as in the past. You would have access to the Rice Student Health Insurance plan. You would be eligible for the Medical Insurance Subsidy if you would otherwise have been eligible. If you do not wish to enroll in the student health plan, you will need to submit a waiver. You should investigate if this is the right plan for you in your new location. How your graduate student payments are managed will depend upon restrictions at your advisers home institution and where funds for your work will reside. If you are paid through your adviser’s new institution, your department will need to submit a “Tuition Waiver Exception Request” to cover your Rice tuition. Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies is available to consult with you or graduate program to determine the best path forward for your unique situation.

C. Move with your adviser and earn a degree at their new institution.

You would need to be admitted to the new institution’s graduate program and accept their offer of admission. In many cases, the work that you have done to date will be accepted at the new institution, but this is at their discretion, not Rice’s. After being admitted to the new program, you would need to withdraw from Rice formally. International students will also need to transfer their immigration records, as applicable. International students should always consult with the Office of International Students and Scholars while deciding whether to stay or leave.

I am a parent. Are there any childcare resources available to me, or any resources for students with families?

The Office of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies has subscribed to a database of childcare centers in the greater Houston area. The Collaborative provides the resource for Children and is available to all of our graduate students and postdocs and is not intended for use by others. The database lists important information such as ages served, special services, quality information and more so you can easily identify which childcare providers you would like to contact. Click here for the childcare search. Select "Find Child Care Now" to login. If prompted:

  • Username: Rice
  • Password: Riceowls01

Please note that many childcare centers in Houston have waiting lists and it can be important to find childcare well before the child's start date. Some graduate students have found assistance with child care costs through Workforce Solutions.

The Collaborative for Children suggests the following if identifying child care through licensed facilities:

  • Ask how well the provider is following the state standards designed to protect the health and safety of children in childcare.
  • Ask the licensing worker for results of any investigations conducted and if they have received any complaints.
  • Call the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services, Child Care Licensing Division at 713.940.5200 or visit their website: Know the full name and zip code of the provider you are considering.

More information here.

Updated November 2023