How to Get Into Rice: Admissions Stats + Tips
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- How Hard Is It to Get Into Rice University?
- Average Academic Profile of Accepted Rice University Students
- What is Rice University Looking for?
- How to Improve Your Chances of Getting into Rice University
- How to Apply to Rice University
- Learn more about Rice University
The saying goes everything is bigger in Texas, and that is certainly true for Rice’s focus on STEM, pool of interested applicants, and southern charm. Increasing Rice’s appeal are its rigorous academics, prestigious reputation, and extremely selective admissions—all characteristics that this Southern Ivy shares with its northern peers.
How Hard Is It to Get Into Rice University?
Like other top-tier colleges, getting into Rice is extremely challenging. Rice University’s class of 2025 acceptance rate was 9.3%, with just 2,346 students being accepted from a pool of 29,53 applicants—up from 23,443 applicants the year before.
Like most schools, Rice’s 19.78% early decision (ED) acceptance rate was significantly higher than its regular decision rate. Of the 2,346 students who applied ED, 440 were admitted.
Rice is among the most selective schools in the country, however, your odds of acceptance depend on the strength of your profile. Our free admissions calculator uses factors like your grades, test scores, and extracurriculars to help you better understand your chances at Rice University and give you tips to improve your profile!
Average Academic Profile of Accepted Rice University Students
Rice doesn’t publish the average high school GPA of admitted students, but it’s safe to say you’ll need exceptionally good grades to earn a spot at the university; 92% of students accepted into the class of 2025 graduated high school in the top 10% of their class and 98% graduated in the top quarter.
Rice’s class of 2025’s middle 50% SAT score was 1460-1570 and its middle 50% ACT score was 34-36. Of the members of Rice’s class of 2025 who submitted tests, 59% submitted SAT scores and 41% submitted ACT scores.
Of the students accepted into Rice’s class of 2025, 20% didn’t submit either SAT or ACT scores—taking advantage of the university’s suspension of standardized testing requirements for the 2021-2022 admissions cycle.
Rice doesn’t publish the class rank of admitted students, however, competitive candidates graduate at, or near, the top of their class. 92% of students accepted into Rice’s class of 2025 graduated high school in the top 10% of their class.
What is Rice University Looking for?
Rice has a holistic admissions process that evaluates the breadth of an applicant’s accomplishments, achievements, and contributions both inside and outside of the classroom. Rice considers a variety of factors through the admissions process, including academic performance, the rigor of coursework, extracurricular activities, essays, and knowledge of the Rice community.
Rice doesn’t share the bias many elite schools have against applicants from the South and especially Texas. The lack of bias for in-state students, along with a large number of excellent applicants from Texas make admission at Rice more competitive for out-of-state students compared to its peer colleges like Vanderbilt, Duke, and Cornell.
Rice has one of the best pre-med programs in the country—it’s fifth on CollegeVine’s Ranked List of the Best Pre-Med Schools, making it an excellent choice for “Ivy-qualified” students hopeful to pursue pre-med at a top 15 school. Academic standards and competition are less demanding than at HYPSM, UChicago, and Columbia, while Houston is home to many large hospitals that provide resume-boosting research, shadowing, and volunteer opportunities.
How Rice University Evaluates Applications
According to their 2020-2021 Common Data Set, Rice University considers the following factors “very important”:
- Course rigor
- Class rank
- Test scores
- Recommendation letters
- Extracurricular activities
- Character/personal qualities
These factors are “considered”:
- First generation
- Geographic residence
- State residency
- Racial/ethnic status
- Volunteer work
- Work experience
- Applicant interest
And these factors are “not considered”:
- Religious affiliation
How to Improve Your Chances of Getting into Rice University
1. Achieve the best possible GPA while taking the most challenging classes available
Rice doesn’t post the GPA of admitted applicants, however, academic performance is a considerable factor in admissions. Rice considers GPA, class rank, and course rigor all “very important” when making admissions decisions. Competitive applicants to Rice will have all (or mostly all) As in the most challenging coursework available to them. For example, applicants to top schools like the Southern Ivies will often have completed upward of 12 AP courses.
Top-tier schools like Rice use a tool called Academic Index—an applicant’s entire academic performance represented by a single number—to streamline the admissions process. If you fail to meet Rice’s Academic Index threshold, you risk getting characterized as not academically qualified and are less likely to have your application read.
If your GPA needs improvement, and you’re earlier on in your high school career, check out our tips for increasing your GPA. If you’re a junior or senior, it’s harder to increase your GPA, but you can increase your Academic Index with a high test score.
2. Aim for a 1570 SAT and 36 ACT
The middle 50% SAT of Rice’s class of 2025 score was 1460-1570 and its middle 50% ACT score was 34-36. Any score in the middle 50% is good, but the higher in the range your score is, the better your odds of admission are. Rice super scores both the SAT and ACT, using your highest score from each section across all administrations, which makes taking the test multiple times a smart strategy to increase your score.
For other ways to improve your SAT/ACT score, check out these free CollegeVine resources:
- How to Get a Perfect 1600 Score on the SAT
- How to Get a Perfect 36 Score on the ACT
- More SAT Info and Tips
- More ACT Info and Tips
Due to the challenges presented by COVID-19, Rice instituted a test-optional policy for the 2020-2021 admissions cycle and has extended that policy to the 2021-2022 admissions cycle. While 20% of Rice’s class of 2025 did not submit an SAT or SAT score, CollegeVine recommends taking the SAT or ACT if you can do so safely.
Despite its test-optional policy, Rice considers standardized test scores “very important,” and students with applications that include test scores are accepted at a higher rate than those who don’t. CollegeVine recommends submitting test scores in the 25th percentile or above. Not sure if you should submit your score or not? You can get recommendations on whether or not you should apply test-optional using our free chancing engine.
3. Write engaging essays
After meeting Rice’s academic criteria, essays are the best way to distinguish yourself from other applicants. Rice considers character/personal traits “very important” to admissions decisions and essays are an excellent platform to show them off.
In addition to the personal essay requirement of the Common Application or Coalition Application, Rice applicants are required to submit the Rice Supplement, which consists of two short answer questions and a longer essay:
1. In 150 words or less, explain why you wish to study in the academic areas you selected.
2. Based upon your exploration of Rice University, in 150 words or less, explain what elements of the Rice experience appeal to you.
3. Rice is lauded for creating a collaborative atmosphere that enhances the quality of life for all members of our campus community. The Residential College System and undergraduate life are heavily influenced by the unique life experiences and cultural traditions each student brings. In 500 words or less, what life perspectives would you contribute to the Rice community?
Rice also requires applicants to certain programs, such as those to the Rice School of Architecture, to include additional essays. In general, a compelling essay is written in your unique voice and shows why you’re a great fit for the school. For Rice-specific essay advice, read our article, “How to Write the Rice University Essays 2021-2022.”
4. Cultivate at least one or two Tier 1-2 extracurriculars (find your “spike”)
Extracurricular activities are a great way to separate yourself from other applicants. Rice and other top schools look for applicants with one or two well-developed interests and a highly developed interest known as a “spike.” Rice views extracurricular activities and talent/ability as “very important” to the admissions process and the more impressive your extracurricular activities, the brighter spotlight you shine on your talent and abilities, and the better your odds of admissions.
The best way to understand the effect your extracurricular activities have on your odds of admission is through the Four Tiers of Extracurriculars.
- Tier 1 activities are the most influential. They’re rare and demonstrate exceptional achievement, talent, or leadership—for example, winning a national award or attending a prestigious merit-based summer program.
- Tier 2 activities showcase high levels of achievement, talent, and leadership but are more common than Tier 1 activities—these include winning a regional competition, making an all-state team, and holding a leadership position in a well-known club.
- Tier 3 extracurriculars don’t have the same significance or weight as activities in the higher tiers, but serve to demonstrate your interests. Tier 3 activities include lesser leadership positions in clubs and lesser distinctions, such as being captain of a varsity team.
- Tier 4 activities are the most common and least influential extracurriculars. Common tier 4 activities are participation (but not leadership) in a club and general volunteering.
5. Letters of Recommendation
Rice requires applicants to submit three letters of recommendation: one from their high school counselor/advisor and two from teachers. Teacher recommendations should highlight your academic strengths and classroom contributions. Recommendation writers should be teachers in core academic courses and one ideally relates to your intended field of study. You can also submit a supplemental letter of recommendation if you believe that it provides unique and personal insight into your talents and abilities.
Teachers are not compensated for writing letters of recommendation and your approach to requesting them can impact their quality. In general, leave teachers plenty of time to write your letter and provide them with the relevant information they need to compose a compelling recommendation—whether it’s your transcript, a resume, or an interesting anecdote. For more advice about requesting a letter of recommendation, check out our article, “9 Rules For Requesting Letters of Recommendation from Teachers.”
6. Apply Early Decision
The early decision (ED) acceptance rate at Rice is more than twice as good as its overall acceptance rate—19.78% vs. 9.3%. Consequently, applying ED is a surefire way to bolster your odds of admission at Rice.
Applying early decision to Rice isn’t without its drawbacks. ED at Rice is a binding agreement; you can only apply to other colleges through non-binding processes, and you’re committed to attending Rice if accepted. This limits your ability to compare financial aid offers from other schools.
In general, applying ED to Rice is a great option if you’re positive it’s the school you want to attend and are sure you and your family can afford it.
How to Apply to Rice University
Rice accepts both the Common Application and the Coalition Application—both applications also require the applicant to submit Rice’s Supplement. Other requirements include:
- Counselor recommendation letter
- Teacher recommendation letters (2)
- Official transcript
Other optional materials include:
- SAT/ACT scores
- AP/IB exams
Learn more about Rice University
Interested in learning more about Rice? Check out these other informative articles:
- What is Rice University Known For?
- What Does it Cost to Attend Rice University?
- How to Get into Rice
Want to know your chances at Rice? Calculate your chances for free right now.