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.

A checklist of action items for incoming students can be found here. 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.

Orientation & Training

Will there be an online option for orientation?

Orientation for all incoming students will be held in an accessible online format. The Canvas site for General Graduate Student Orientation will open in early August and will be due for completion no later than Wednesday, August 18. Details can be found here.

International Student Orientation will be held virtually over a series of four dates in August & September; details can be found here. Attendance at each session is mandatory. Individual programs often host orientation activities; be sure to watch for communications from your program for details.

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

The Responsible Conduct of Research and Sexual Harassment Prevention training are already online and information can be found here and are due Oct. 1. Lab Safety Training will be available in-person on August 19. Details are here.

Fall courses

Will Rice require COVID-19 vaccinations?

Information for fall 2021 COVID-19 policies can be found here; the list will be updated as new information becomes available. All students who will be enrolled at Rice for the fall 2021 semester must complete this form in regards to our mandatory COVID testing program at Rice.

Will classes be held online this fall?

Rice's plans for returning to campus for the Fall 2021 semester are outlined here. The university plans for in-person classes, beginning August 23 and ending December 3.

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

Course registration for incoming fall students will open on August 19 at 5 p.m. 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 2022?

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 closed 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.

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.

Please submit the form as soon as you are able. 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 also required for students matriculating in 2021. More.

Will any immunizations be required?

Review any immunization requirements from Student Health Services here. Information for fall 2021 COVID-19 policies can be found here; the list will be updated as new information becomes available. All students who will be enrolled at Rice for the fall 2021 semester must complete this form in regards to our mandatory COVID testing program at Rice.

Is a physical exam required?

If you have not had a physical exam within one year prior to the start of classes, make sure to visit your doctor to get one, as a physical exam is required. Additionally, review any immunization requirements from Student Health Services.

Will the COVID-19 vaccine be required?

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.

Information for fall 2021 COVID-19 policies can be found here; the list will be updated as new information becomes available. All students who will be enrolled at Rice for the fall 2021 semester must complete this form in regards to our mandatory COVID testing program at Rice.

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

Policies regarding travel and quarantine can be found here.

Where can I find information on health insurance?

Register or waive Student Health Insurance by August 27. We realize that COVID-19 has complicated things for many. Refer to the FAQ here for details that may apply to your specific situation.

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, as well as to review a list of common questions and answers.