What Is Rice’s Acceptance Rate and Admissions Requirements?

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Rice Accepts 11% of Applicants. What Does It Take to Get In?


Rice University has been one of the premier institutes for higher education since its founding in 1912. This school in Houston, Texas is probably our number one recommendation for students aiming to pursue pre-med amongst Top 15 colleges, particularly if they are “Ivy qualified.” For one, the academic standards and competition are not as stringent as HYPSM, UChicago, or Columbia. The city of Houston also offers countless medicine-related research and patient care opportunities, which is incredibly important for med school admissions.


Even if you’re not pre-med, this school is a strong choice; Rice puts undergraduate education first without compromising on the strength of its research opportunities. As a small university, students get both the attention and independence they need to thrive.


Read on for CollegeVine’s tried and true advice on how to secure a favorable admissions decision.


Want to learn what Rice University will actually cost you based on your income? And how long your application to the school should take? Here’s what every student considering Rice University needs to know.

Applying to Rice: A Quick Review


You can apply through the Coalition Application or the Common Application. We recommend the Common Application for most of the students we advise, as the the Common App is still more established than the Coalition Application.


Students may apply by November 1 for Early Decision, or January 1 for Regular Decision. If you’re unsure about whether to apply early, read our post Early Decision vs. Early Action vs. Restrictive Early Action.


To apply, be sure to send in all of the following:

  • A general university application via the Coalition Application or Common Application
  • Rice’s supplemental essays
  • ACT or SAT test scores (October 27 is your last day to take the ACT, and November 3 is the last acceptable SAT test date)
  • Two SAT Subject Tests in a field related to your academic interests
  • Two letters of recommendation from teachers
  • A school report and recommendation from your counselor
  • High School Transcript
  • $75 application fee or fee waiver
  • A midyear report


International applicants have additional requirements for demonstrating English proficiency and the state of their finances. You can find more information here.


Note that applicants to the Shepherd School of Music have different requirements that should be submitted by December 1. For more information, visit the Shepherd School of Music’s website.

Students applying to the School of Architecture must submit their portfolio by November 1, including an essay that explains their desire to study architecture.


Finally, students applying to the Rice/Baylor Medical Scholars Program must apply by December 1. You can find the application on the program website.


How Difficult Is It to Get into Rice?


It is extremely difficult to gain acceptance at Rice University, even as a qualified candidate. Of the 20,923 applicants who applied last cycle, only 2,328 gained admission, giving the school an admissions rate of 11%.


Rice is certainly a top-tier school nationwide. For students looking to go to school in the South, only Duke and Vanderbilt are similarly selective, with acceptance rates of about 10%.


If you aspire to attend a school like Rice, it’s critical to surround yourself with people who have been through the process before. CollegeVine offers mentorship for underclassmen and applications counseling for seniors to help you set yourself apart from the crowd. Even if you don’t choose to work one-on-one with one of CollegeVine’s trained near-peer mentors, connecting with someone who has successfully gained admission to a school like Rice can make the difference between rejection and acceptance.

Discover your chances at hundreds of schools

Our free chancing engine takes into account your history, background, test scores, and extracurricular activities to show you your real chances of admission—and how to improve them.

So, How Does One Get Into Rice?


Rice University is interested in the whole applicant, not just your test scores or essays. Use your application to reflect your strengths across the board in all four of these domains.


Academics.  Rice’s academic standards are more competitive than peer colleges like Duke, Vanderbilt, and Cornell because it gets countless applicants with excellent GPAs and test scores from its home state of Texas. The middle 50% of accepted students at Rice last year earned SAT scores of 1460-1550 and ACT scores of 33-35. If you already know which field you wish to pursue, it pays to have especially strong grades and SAT Subject Tests results in related subjects.


Extracurricular Activities. Rice admissions officers do not care what you love so long as you pursue it fiercely. For most students, this will mean founding clubs, leading existing organizations, and creating new opportunities at school and beyond. However, a strong extracurricular profile is not limited to formal leadership roles. Independent endeavors and supportive roles can be just as valuable. The key is demonstrating that you personally have had a strong impact on the fields that matter to you.


Character. Rice dedicates a lot of resources to its undergraduates. That’s because the school wants to send forward a new generation of intelligent, compassionate leaders. Use your essays to demonstrate your personal strengths and choose recommenders who will speak well of you in their letters.


Contributions to Community. Whether you’re a prospective Division I athlete or a Nobel Prize winner in the making, Rice is looking for students who will bring their talents and share them with the collegiate community. Draw on your past history of participation and research opportunities at Rice to show that you will bring a vibrant presence to campus.


How to Make Your Application Stand Out


Every application is different, but over the years we’ve seen these strategies give our clients applications that are three times more likely to gain favorable admissions results.


Give your application a clear, concise theme. Admissions officers only have about nine minutes to review each application, so organize your information in a way that is easy to remember. There should be one pithy sentence that summarizes your whole file, including essays, letters of recommendation, grades, etc.


An example of an application theme might be, “I have a passion for using opera to help people overcome loss.” A student with this application theme may have Community Service Chair of her choir as an extracurricular activity, self-studying music theory as an academic endeavor, and a great score on the Italian SAT Subject Test, all of which play into his or her love of opera as a tool for supporting others.


Creating one cohesive theme can be tricky for students who have many different interests. If that sounds like you, keep an eye out for common threads or similarities between your otherwise unrelated interests. This will help your application stand out.


Describe specific opportunities that Rice offers. Why have you chosen your specific academic program? What clubs do you hope to join or create on campus? Be as specific as you can, since these details let admissions officers know that you have put a lot of time and attention into your Rice application.


Partner with a professional to find your voice and talents. Saying “Be specific about how your strengths connect with Rice’s resources” is one thing—doing it is much harder. Be sure to connect with your guidance counselor often to make sure you are on the right track. If you still have questions after talking to your counselor, connect with CollegeVine or another third-party advising group to find what about your application sets you apart.


What If You Get Rejected?


For most applicants, Rice is a dream school. Realistically, very few applicants get in, so don’t be discouraged if you find yourself looking elsewhere in the spring.


Rice does not accept admissions appeals due to their long list of qualified applicants on the waitlist. We do not recommend petitioning your decision.


Some students transfer into Rice, but the transfer admissions rate is an extremely low 9.7%, and the application requires a lot of extra work. However, students who maintain a strong academic and extracurricular profile will always have a shot.


You can reapply after taking a gap year, but this path is riskier than simply committing to another school and requesting to take a gap year there. To see if a gap year is right for you, visit our posts, What Are the Pros of Taking a Gap Year? and What You Need To Know When Applying to Colleges After a Gap Year.


The good news is that dozens of schools offer programs and opportunities similar to what you would find at Rice, some of them at a fraction of the cost. For students looking to attend elite schools in the South, the University of Virginia and UNC Chapel Hill are both universities with exceptionally strong undergraduate programs.


To learn more about adjusting your expectations, check out CollegeVine’s Envisioning a New Future: Preparing for Life at Your Second-Choice (or Third, or Fourth) School.


Curious about your chances of acceptance to Rice University?? Our free chancing engine takes into account your GPA, test scores, extracurriculars, and other data to predict your odds of acceptance at over 500 colleges across the U.S. We’ll also let you know how you stack up against other applicants and how you can improve your profile. Sign up for your free CollegeVine account today to get started!


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Veronica Wickline
Blogger at CollegeVine
Short bio
Veronica is an alumna of Harvard College, where she earned her A.B. in History and Classics. After graduating, she joined CollegeVine serving as the Curriculum Development Manager. She currently lives in Cambridge, MA and is writing her debut novel.