Frequently Asked Questions

Where can I find the books for my classes?

You can find textbooks from three main sources:

Tip: When buying your textbook, you may want to consider buying the international version to save money. The international version is almost perfectly identical to the U.S. versions (some problem numbers may be switched around) but has a paperback cover and can be as much as 75% cheaper. They are not available for purchase in the United States but can be legally imported (see Kirtsaeng v. Wiley) if you purchase them through an online retailer such as eBay.

Can I have a fridge or microwave in my room?

You can have a small refrigerator in your room. Microwaves are no longer allowed in students rooms (unless they are part of the official refrigerator-microwave combo from Housing and Dining). If you need a microwave, you can find one in the kitchen on each floor.

How can I access my Rice email account?

In order to have an @rice.edu email address, you first need to create a Rice Network ID. The University should have already provided you with the information necessary to do this. If you do not have this information, check the email address you provided on your application and/or the package you received in the mail.

After you have created a Network ID, you will be automatically assigned the email address <Network ID>@rice.edu. If you do not wish to use your Network ID as your email address, you can create aliases by choosing Mail Management at apply.rice.edu. You can create up to three additional vanity email addresses (e.g. whateveryouwant@rice.edu). Messages sent to any of your email addresses will all appear in one unified inbox.

You can access your email three ways:

1) Using Rice’s Web Mail Interface – sign in with your Network ID and password.

2) Using Google Mail – sign in with the following information:

Username: <Network ID>@rice.edu
Password*: <Your Rice Google Apps Password>

* The password for accessing your email using Google Mail is not the same as your Network ID password. You need to set this password separately at apply.rice.edu. If you have not set a password, you will not be able to sign in and may receive a “Not Permitted” error. After signing in with your Network ID and password to apply.rice.edu, you should choose the Change/Sync Password option and change the password for the Google account. You may also be required to accept Google’s Terms of Service.

* To use vanity addresses/aliases with Google Mail, you will need to do some additional configuration. In Gmail Settings > Accounts > Send mail as, you will need to add your vanity addresses by clicking “Add another email address you own” and following the steps on screen. You can also set the default address to use when sending mail. After adding your aliases, you will be able to select the address you wish to use in a drop-down menu each time you send or reply to a message in Gmail.

3) Using an external mail application – you can use the following information to access your email using Thunderbird, Outlook, or the native Mail application on your computer/phone:

Email Address: <NetID or Vanity Alias>@rice.edu
Username: <NetID>
Password: <NetID Password>
Incoming: imap.mail.rice.edu:993 (SSL/TLS)
Outgoing: smtp.mail.rice.edu:465 (SSL/TLS)

What furniture is included in my room?

Your room includes a computer desk with drawers, a bed (with a mattress), a chair, and a dresser.

What should I bring to O-Week?

You should bring everything that you will need at college during the school year. Detailed lists are sent out with all your orientation materials!

Where can I find a map of campus?

The University provides printable campus maps here.

You can find an interactive, searchable map courtesy of the Rice University Computer Science Club at atlas.riceapps.org.

Where is Duncan located on the Rice Campus?

Duncan is located in the north-east corner of the Rice campus. You can find Duncan on the campus map at here as number 21.

What are Freshman Service Points and what do they do?

Freshman Service Points (FSPs) are awarded to Freshman for performing a small service (usually about an hour’s work) for the college. These services usually relate to volunteering at a Duncan-hosted event.

In order to be eligible for Room Jack, you must earn at least 6 service points. Room Jack determines who will live on and off campus next year; if you do not complete your points, you will be forced to live off campus your Sophomore year. Otherwise, you will enter Room Jack and draw for the ability to live on-campus next year. You will learn more about Room Jack during O-Week. Scholarship athletes, certain government positions, and students who have already lived off-campus for at least one year are exempt from this policy.

Room Draw is the process by which rooms are assigned to students. To receive an extra point for Room Draw (which increases the chances of you receiving the room or suite that you want), you must earn at least 12 service points.

Opportunities for service points will be sent to your official Rice email throughout the year.

You will be able to view the service point standings online here.

What does the college look like?

We have prepared an online visual tour of the college at Duncan Tour.

You can find more information about the building itself at About the Building.

What does my room look like?

We have prepared an online visual tour of the residential rooms at Duncan Tour. As a new student, you will most likely be staying a double. However, you may also be assigned to a single or (rarely) a suite.

How fast is the internet at Rice? Is anything blocked? Is there WiFi?

Rice offers WiFi in every building and public area. You should be able to connect to WiFi from almost anywhere on campus. The internet at Rice is among the fastest in the world and can reach speeds of up to 1000 mbps (125 MB/s) over ethernet. Rice does not block any websites, services, games, or protocols. However, if you are caught downloading or torrenting copyrighted content on the network, you will receive a hefty fine.

Do I need to know anything about the classes before I get to O-Week?

No. There will be advisors available at O-Week to help you plan your classes. If you really want to get a head start, you can check out the available courses at courses.rice.eduscheduleplanner.riceapps.rocks, and/or scheduleplanner.rice.edu.

What AP/IB credit can I expect to get?

The Office of the Registrar provides a spreadsheet that will show the credit you receive for AP/IB courses.

AP: http://registrar.rice.edu/students/ap_credit/

IB: http://registrar.rice.edu/students/ib_credit/

For each AP course, the list shows what class Rice offers (if any) that is equivalent to the AP course and the credit hours that it is worth. You will essentially receive credit for taking the listed equivalent class at Rice. You will also notice that there are some AP classes that do not offer any credit at all.

You can also see the distribution credit group (if applicable) that you will receive for the class. You will receive distribution credit in the indicated group equal to the number of credit hours received from the equivalent class. Notice that not all AP courses give distribution credit. If you do not receive distribution credit from an AP class, the credit hours received from that class will still count towards the 120 hour graduation requirement. However, as you will more than likely reach the 120 hour requirement from the classes you take at Rice alone, the benefit received from these courses is negligible.

For example, if you get a 5 on the AP BC Calculus exam, you will receive credit for MATH 101 and MATH 102. This gives you a total of 6 credit hours and counts as 6 hours towards your D3 requirements from the math department. You will also have met the requirements for any course that requires you to take MATH 101 and/or MATH 102 and you will have met the MATH 101 and MATH 102 requirement for your major (if applicable).

Be aware that you do not have to take the AP credit. For example, if you do not feel comfortable with jumping straight into MATH 212 (Multivariable Calculus) or MATH 211 (Differential Equations) during your freshman year, you can opt to take MATH 101 and/or MATH 102 again. However, you can not receive credit for these classes twice. That is, you cannot both take MATH 101 at Rice and claim the AP credit for it. If you are planning on going to graduate, medical, or law school, you should be aware of their policies before you choose whether or not to accept the credit.

What am I required to take to graduate?

In order to graduate, you must have a total of 120* credit hours, meet your distribution and physical activity requirements, and meet your major requirements. The university also requires a minimum GPA of 1.67 and you must take 48+ hours of 300-level courses.

* Some majors require more than 120 credit hours. Hours gained from AP/IB credits count towards these hours.

Where can I find my major requirements?

You can find the requirements for your major on your department’s website. For example, the major requirements for Computer Science can be found at compsci.rice.edu.

Do I need to know what I want to major in before I get to Rice?

No. A great many students enter Rice without having any idea what they want to major in. This is perfectly okay – you will have plenty of time to discover your interests before you have to decide. At Rice, you do not need to decide on a major until the second semester of your sophomore year. However, you may find it advantageous when planning your schedule to know your major ahead of time.

How do distribution credits work?

In order to graduate from Rice, you must meet the following distribution requirements:

  • 12 hours of credit in D1 (Arts and Humanities) classes from at least two different departments
  • 12 hours of credit in D2 (Social Sciences) classes from at least two different departments
  • 12 hours of credit in D3 (S.T.E.M.) classes from at least two different departments
  • 1 hour of credit in a Lifetime Physical Activity Program (LPAP)
  • 3 hours of Freshman Writing Intensive Seminar (FWIS)


How can I tell what department a course is in?

At Rice, courses have a department prefix and a course number. For example, MATH 211 is Differential Equations. Math is the name of the department and 211 is the course number.

When do I sign up for my classes?

You will sign up for your classes during O-Week after meeting with various faculty and peer academic advisors throughout the week.

How does signing up for courses work?

All sign-ups for courses are handled online via ESTHER. Priority for registration is given based on seniority. You should be able to get all or most of the classes you register for Freshman year.

The sign-up process starts with a registration period during which all students indicate their preferences for courses, including alternate choices. You can only enter up to 18 hours of courses. At the end of the period, the computer system will attempt to assign all students to courses.

After the registration period, there is an add/drop period. The add/drop period opens in ten minute tiers, starting with seniors and allowing freshman thirty minutes later. During this period, you can see which courses you have successfully enrolled in and which ones you were not able to get into. You can then freely add or drop courses (subject to the availability of each course) until your schedule is the way you want it. You can also sign up for course waitlists at this time. The add/drop period remains open until the conclusion of the second week of classes. At that point, you can only drop courses.

If you wish to take a class that you do not meet the requirements for, you can print out a special registration form on ESTHER. You will need to get the form signed by the professor teaching the course and turn it in to the registrar’s office. You can also use this process to register for classes that are marked as full by the online system (but you will need the professor’s permission).

There are several tools provided by the university and/or student organizations to make planning your schedule easier. You may find Rice Apps Schedule Planner and Rice Schedule Planner useful. Note that choosing your courses in these tools does not actually register you for these courses. You must register through ESTHER.

How many hours can I take?

You are required to take at least 12 credit hours to be considered a student at Rice. You may register for up to 18 hours per semester. As a freshman, you are not able to take more than 18 hours. Each year after, you can petition to take more hours.

If you take less than 12 hours (or if failing a class puts you below 12 hours) in any given semester, you will need to make up the difference during your next semester to continue to be a student at Rice.

When is the last time I can add a new course?

You can add a new course any time within the first 2 weeks of the semester.

When is the last time I can can drop a course?

During your Freshman year, you can drop a course at any time before the last day of classes.

During later years, you will only be able to drop a course during the first half of the semester. The registrar will send you an email warning you when the deadline approaches.

IMPORTANT: You must be enrolled in at least 12 credit hours at any given time to be considered a student at Rice.

Can I designate courses pass/fail?

Yes! You may designate most of your courses as pass/fail using ESTHER. You must do this during the first 10 weeks of the semester.

The following restrictions apply:

  • May only take one P/F course per semester
  • May not take more than 4 courses or 14 credits as P/F
  • May not designate a course used towards or required by your major as P/F
  • May not take FWIS courses as P/F

During the first two weeks of the next semseter, you may choose to convert a P/F grade back to a letter grade using ESTHER.

How can my family and friends send me mail at school?

Your family and friends can send you mail at the following address (for Duncan students only):

Student Name
Duncan College
1601 Rice Boulevard
Houston, TX 77005

You can pick up your mail in the College Coordinator’s Office/Mailroom on the first floor (see Rooms Tour).

NOTE: Please do not mail items that will arrive before the start of O-Week. We do not have sufficient space to store everyone’s items and they may be returned to sender.

Where can I do laundry? What do I need to do laundry? Is it free?

You can do laundry in the laundry room on the first floor for free, but you must bring your own high efficiency laundry detergent.

You can view photos of the laundry room at: Rooms Tour

You can view the availability of laundry machines in real time at: Laundry Status

How can I contact the coordinators?

You can contact the O-Week coordinators with any questions, comments, or concerns at: duncaroos@gmail.com

Where can I print or scan documents?

You can print or scan documents for seven cents a page in the Duncan Computer Lab (located on the first floor) or in Fondren Library.

If I require medical assistance or the police, who should I call?

If you have an emergency on campus you should call the Rice University Police Department and Rice Emergency Medical Service dispatch at (713) 348-6000. You can also dial 911, but your request will be handled quicker if you call the university police department directly.

Rice values the safety of its students above all else. If you (or another student) has an emergency involving alcohol, you will be protected by the Rice E.M.S. Amnesty policy. The amnesty policy protects both the caller and the person in need of assistance from disciplinary action and criminal liability for underage drinking as long as they conduct themselves respectfully throughout the event. The policy ensures that students do not endanger themselves or others by hesitating to get help due to fear of the possible consequences.

If I have questions during the school year, who can I ask?

You can ask any upperclassmen (we’re really friendly), your O-Week advisors, or any of the adult staff at the university.