Admissions | Fall FAQ

FAQ - Fall Incoming Students

A list of frequently asked questions for fall incoming students can be found below. For all other questions, including questions on stipends, travel to Houston, or questions about your specific case, you are encouraged to reach out to your graduate program administrator.

Plans for fall 2021 are still being finalized; information for students related to the COVID-19 pandemic can be found here.

Rice Systems Access

When will I be able to access my student account?

Once your offer is accepted, Rice begins the process of setting up your student record, including your ESTHER login, netID and Rice email. This process is typically complete by early June, or within 2-3 weeks of offer acceptance. If you have not received a ‘Welcome to Rice’ email from after this time has passed, please check your spam mail first, then contact for assistance. Please refer to this email to set up all of your Rice accounts.


Will there be an online option for orientation?

Orientation will be structured based on University social distancing principles. Orientation events are still in the planning phases.

Will all required training be available online for those who cannot be on campus?

Yes. Details are forthcoming and will be emailed to you as plans are finalized. The Responsible Conduct of Research and Sexual Harassment Prevention training are already online and information can be found here. Lab Safety Training will be available online, and details will be forthcoming.

Fall courses

Will classes be held online this fall?

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.

If classes are offered asynchronously this fall, how will classes be held online for students in different time zones? Will classes be recorded? Will there be flexibility in communicating with professors?

If classes are offered asynchronously, we anticipate sessions will be recorded solely for access by those in the class, particularly to enable those who are in substantially different time zones to reasonably access the classroom instruction. 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.

If I am able to arrive in Houston this fall, am I able to take online classes instead of in-person classes, due to COVID-19 concerns for myself or those close to me who may be high-risk?

Plans for fall 2021 have not been finalized yet, but we will share them as they are announced. During the 2020-2021 year, all classes, with very limited approved exceptions, were 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 were able to choose not to be in the on-campus classroom setting and were accommodated. International students should consult with OISS upon arrival for specific requirements as it relates to their visa. More here.

When will we choose our classes? How do we sign up for classes?

Course registration for incoming fall students will open on August 20. Course selections can be found here, and students can register for courses via ESTHER.

When should I contact my advisor to talk about classes I need to take?

Students are advised to consult with their graduate program advisor(s) prior to registering for courses. Your graduate program administrator should be your first point of contact to determine how advising will work within your graduate program. You will find your program handbook helpful in determining your course selection. Your administrator can help you locate this handbook. Handbooks, as they are updated for 2021, will also be listed in your program’s General Announcements Page. (Example.)


What should I do if my visa appointment is later than expected?

If you are able to request an expedited appointment once your original appointment is set, we encourage you to do so. Please stay in close communication with the Office of International Students and Scholars on your specific situation. We look forward to welcoming you to campus whenever you are able to arrive. Please update your Incoming Student Survey as you schedule your visa appointment and arrange your travel.

When will I receive my I-20?

The Office of International Students and Scholars will begin working on your immigration documents as soon as your student record has been created. At that point you will be able to upload all the necessary documents through your secure OISS Portal account, where you can also track the progress of your I-20 processing. Between the months of April and June the OISS office is handling a very high volume of admissions paperwork and our goal is to get I-20s out as quickly as possible. For more information, please see the OISS Portal Info Page


In the event that I am not able to travel for fall semester, is it possible to defer until spring 2021?

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.


I may not be able to get to Houston before the semester begins. Are there resources to help me search for housing?

Graduate housing applications will open March 1 and close April 20. 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 term, Housing and Dining plans to assist incoming students that have applied to campus housing with identifying short and long term places to live.

Once your student record has been created, you will begin receiving the GSA weekly announcements. Sublets, roommate requests and apartment shares are frequently listed here and in several Rice Facebook groups such as the GSA Facebook Group,Rice University Housing, Sublets & Roommates, and Rice Students Selling Things(you’ll need a Rice email to join this one). The Graduate Student Association has a searchable tool of off-campus housing available here.

Health Data Forms, Health Insurance

I am worried I cannot make the July 1 deadline for the Health Data Form.

We anticipate that 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 requirement is under consideration. More.

Will any immunizations be required?

All information regarding required health data can be found here.

Will the COVID-19 vaccine be required?

At this time coronavirus vaccines are not required for students, faculty or staff; subsequently no specific vaccine brand requirements have been identified. The Crisis Management Team would take into account the worldwide availability of various vaccine options when considering implementing this requirement.

Currently there are a number of places on and around campus that facilitate vaccine administration of each of the vaccines available currently in the United States and these locations do not currently have waitlists; we do not anticipate that obtaining a vaccine upon arrival to Rice will be difficult.

Both of the above may evolve over the summer and as plans for incoming students are finalized. We will announce any changes to requirements or opportunities for vaccination through our orientation emails for incoming students and the GradNews newsletters.

Will the university require me to quarantine upon arrival in the United States?

Policies regarding travel and quarantine can be found here.

Rice University and the Coronavirus

How will the campus be different given the current pandemic?

Because of the circumstances surrounding COVID-19, we are sure you have many questions about fall semester at Rice. Please know that everyone at Rice is working diligently on details of the precautions we will take on campus this fall. Please feel free to review our website to learn more about measures Rice is taking to keep our community healthy.