Application Philosophy

Contextual Review

We holistically evaluate the breadth of students’ accomplishments, interests and contributions to their communities within the context of their life experiences. We consider a variety of factors including the rigor of a student’s coursework, academic performance, extracurricular activities and achievements, essays, and knowledge about Rice. We are careful not to emphasize any single academic metric, such as class rank, grade point average, or test scores. We evaluate each student within the context of their school and personal environment and consider what opportunities they have had access to as well as the challenges that they may have faced. We value the breadth of socioeconomic, cultural, geographic, racial or ethnic, educational and other perspectives that each student brings to the table.

Committee-Based Evaluation (CBE)

Rice evaluates all applicants using a Committee-Based Evaluation process, also known as CBE. Rice began using CBE in 2017 as a method to more holistically review student applications. Some colleges and universities may have one person reading an application at a time, but in CBE each application is evaluated by pairs of admission officers who are assessing the strength of the student’s file, articulation and alignment to their academic areas of interests, and knowledge of the Rice undergraduate experience. In the CBE process one admission officer will focus on the academic components of an application, such as transcripts, school profiles, and letters of recommendation. This officer is typically the territory manager and is therefore more familiar with the student’s geographic region. At the same time, a second admission officer will focus on the personal components of an application, such as activities, honors and awards, essays, and any additional elements of the application. The CBE evaluation facilitates a dynamic dialogue between the officers that allows them to thoughtfully analyze each application and assures that each application is discussed and reviewed by a minimum of two admission officers.

Schools of Study

Rice offers more than 50 undergraduate majors across seven academic schools of study, including architecture, business, engineering, humanities, music, natural sciences and social sciences. All applicants must specify which one of our seven academic schools is their primary intended area of study. In addition, applicants will be asked to indicate up to three specific academic areas of interest (majors, minors, pre-professional tracks). Our academic schools are looking for different strengths and qualities in applicants, so you should choose the school that most accurately reflects your intended area(s) of academic interest.

The choice of school you make as an applicant does not limit the courses you can take at Rice. If admitted to Rice, you may change your mind as to your school of study, or your major, at any time, though this should be given thoughtful consideration. Enrolled students have until the second semester of their sophomore year to declare a major, and they may declare up to three. About 40 percent of our students have more than one major, many of them in separate academic schools. The exception to the rule is music and architecture – you must be admitted to the music or architecture schools either as an entering student or as a current Rice student who applies and is accepted for the major.

Articulating your Understanding of the Rice Experience

In addition to learning about your story and accomplishments, we also want to get a sense of your understanding of the Rice undergraduate experience. We hope that you will have spent time exploring the breadth of Rice’s offerings and community through our website prior to applying. Students who are able can visit campus or attend virtual or in-person Rice events such as information sessions, admission workshops, student chats, campus tours, high school visits and events in your area. An interview is another opportunity you may want to take advantage of. Remember to register or complete a prospective student form if you connect with us through these different options. To register for virtual or on-campus visit options please visit our Schedule My Visit page.

You should also articulate your understanding and enthusiasm for Rice in the supplement. It is important to do your research, be genuine, and share what specific aspects of Rice excite you. In the process we will learn what you hope to gain from your undergraduate experience and get to know you better as well.


In accordance with the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act, only matriculated students have access to their permanent records. Applicants who are deferred, waitlisted, denied, or decline our offer of admission are not provided such access.

(Published on 10/20/21)





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