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Graduation Requirements

The General Announcements (GA) is the official Rice curriculum. In the event that there is a discrepancy between the GA and any other websites or publications, the GA shall prevail as the authoritative source.

 Jump to: 
        Degree Requirements for All Bachelor’s Degrees
        Writing and Communication Requirement
        Distribution Requirements
        Academic Planning for Distribution Requirements
        Applicable Academic Graduation Requirements
        Application for Degree and Degree Conferral
        Dual-Degree Requirements

Degree Requirements for All Bachelor’s Degrees

Students are responsible for making certain that their plan of study meets all degree and major requirements. To graduate from Rice University, all students must:

  • Be registered at Rice full time for at least four full fall and/or spring semesters
  • Complete the requirements of at least one major degree program
  • Complete at least 120 semester credit hours (some degree programs require more than 120 credit hours)
  • Complete at least 60 semester credit hours at Rice University
  • Complete at least 48 credit hours of all degree work in upper-level courses (at the 300 level or higher)
  • Complete more than half of the upper-level courses in degree work at Rice
  • Complete more than half of the upper-level courses in their major work at Rice (certain departments may specify a higher proportion)
  • Complete at least 60 credit hours outside of their major for Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Science degrees. Exceptions include:
       ○  Students pursuing the BA degree with a major in architecture must complete at least 45 credit hours outside the major. 
       ○  Students pursuing a BS degree in engineering are not subject to this requirement.       
  • Complete all Rice courses satisfying degree requirements with a cumulative grade point average of at least 1.67 or higher
  • Complete all Rice courses that satisfy major and/or minor requirements (as designated by the department) with a cumulative grade point average of at least 2.00 or higher
  • Satisfy the Writing and Communication requirement (see below) 
  • Complete one Lifetime Physical Activity Program (LPAP) course for one credit. Students with disabilities may make special arrangements to satisfy this requirement
  • Complete courses to satisfy the distribution requirements (see below)
  • Otherwise be a student in good academic and disciplinary standing and not under investigation

No more than three hours of credit for student-taught College Courses (COLL) may be counted toward graduation.  This includes all courses COLL 100-199 as well as COLL 200 Teaching Practicum.

No more than four hours of credit for LPAP courses may be counted toward graduation.

In order to earn a second degree, students must fulfill the requirements outlined in the Dual-Degree Requirements section below.

Writing and Communication Requirement

All students must complete and pass a First-Year Writing-Intensive Seminar (FWIS). An FWIS is a content-based, 3-credit hour seminar open only to first-year students that can focus on any topic, and in which writing and communication pedagogy plays a significant role in assignments and grading.  To facilitate success in meeting this requirement, all students must take the English Composition Examination prior to matriculating.  Students who fail the English Composition Exam, or fail to take it, must successfully complete the FWIS 100 Fundamentals of Academic Writing and Communication course during their first semester, and prior to enrolling in the FWIS course used to meet the graduation requirement.  FWIS 100 cannot be used to meet the FWIS graduation requirement. 

All first-year students must enroll in and successfully complete an FWIS during their first year at Rice, and all first-year students will be notified prior to Orientation Week if they have been assigned to take an FWIS during the fall or spring of their first year.  Students who matriculate as freshmen may not substitute transfer credit for the FWIS.  Transfer students who wish to satisfy the FWIS requirement with courses from another institution must apply for this credit before the end of their Orientation Week.  Neither freshmen nor transfer students may satisfy the FWIS requirement by taking an equivalent course at another institution after matriculating at Rice.

All FWIS courses carry the FWIS designation and cannot be taken as Pass/Fail.  Students are allowed to change FWIS sections during the first two weeks of classes each semester, but they cannot drop one FWIS section without simultaneously adding another.  After week two, FWIS courses cannot be dropped.  In extraordinary circumstances, students may submit a petition to the Dean of Undergraduates, who may approve a drop on an exception basis.

See the Program in Writing and Communication’s web site for FWIS section descriptions and for more information on the required English Composition Exam.

Distribution Requirements

Purpose of Distribution Requirements

The distribution system presupposes that every Rice student should receive a broad education along with training in an academic specialty. This goal is achieved by courses that are broad based, accessible to nonmajors, and representative of the knowledge, intellectual skills, and habits of thought that are most characteristic of a discipline or of inquiry across disciplines. There are three groups of required courses.

Group I—These courses have one or more of the following goals: They develop students’ critical and aesthetic understanding of texts and the arts; they lead students to the analytical examination of ideas and values; they introduce students to the variety of approaches and methods with which different disciplines approach intellectual problems; and they engage students with works of culture that have intellectual importance by virtue of the ideas they express, their historical influence, their mode of expression, or their critical engagement with established cultural assumptions and traditions.

Group II—Three types of courses fulfill this requirement. The first are introductory courses that address the problems, methodologies, and substance of different disciplines in the social sciences. The second are departmental courses that draw on at least two or more disciplines in the social sciences or that cover topics of central importance to a social science discipline. The third are interdisciplinary courses team-taught by faculty from two or more disciplines.

Group III—These courses provide explicit exposure to the scientific method or to theorem development, develop analytical thinking skills and emphasize quantitative analysis, and expose students to subject matter in the various disciplines of science and engineering.

Academic Planning for Distribution Requirements

Each student is required to complete at least 4 courses of designated distribution courses of at least three credit hours each in each of Groups I, II, and III. The 4 courses in each group must include courses in at least two departments in that group. Divisional or interdisciplinary designations, e.g., HUMA or NSCI, count as departments. For the purpose of this rule, a course taken at another institution and transferred to Rice as an equivalent distribution course will be counted as one of these courses, provided that the course earns at least 2.5 credit hours.

Students must complete the distribution requirements in each group by taking courses that are designated as a distribution course at the time of course registration, as published in that semester’s Course Offerings. Courses taken outside of Rice and transferred in can be used to satisfy distribution requirements, assuming they are on the list of approved and designated distribution courses at the time they were taken. Completed courses taken prior to matriculation are subject to the list of designated distribution courses at the time of matriculation.

Applicable Academic Graduation Requirements

Students enrolled in four- (or five-) year bachelor’s programs may decide whether to follow the graduation general and major requirements in effect when they first matriculated at Rice, or those in effect when they graduate. This is known as the GA Year, or Catalog Year in the university's degree audit system, Degree Works. 

If the student graduates more than seven (or eight) years after their matriculation, they must graduate under the regulations in effect at the time of their last readmission or those in effect when they graduate. Also, departments may review courses completed in a major more than seven (or eight) years before the student’s anticipated graduation. If the department concludes that a course no longer satisfies the requirements of the major, it is not credited toward the major program, although it remains on the student’s record.

Departmental major requirements may vary from year to year during the period between a student’s matriculation and graduation. The department may, at its discretion, make any of these variations available to a student for completion of the major requirements. When declaring the major or minor, students and advisors should identify and clearly document the set of major requirements to be followed. Each should retain a copy of the documented major requirements. If a new degree program, major, or minor is created during the student’s time at Rice, the new program will be available to the student as if the program appeared in the General Announcements at the time of matriculation.

Application for Degree and Degree Conferral

All students must complete and submit an Application for Degree Form available in ESTHER. This form is required for all students who plan to complete their degree requirements at the end of the fall or spring semester. A late fee will be assessed for applying after the deadline (please consult the semester-specific Academic Calendar External Link for deadline).

Upon completion of degree requirements, degrees are approved by the faculty and conferred only in December and May. Degree recipients may then participate in the annual commencement ceremony, celebrated each year after the conclusion of the spring semester. Under specific, limited circumstances, an undergraduate student may participate in commencement without being a degree recipient, provided that the student would be joining his or her matriculating class in that commencement. The specific policy, rules and procedures are available on the Office of the Dean of Undergraduates' website.

Dual-Degree Requirements

To earn a second four-year bachelor’s degree, also known as a dual degree, currently enrolled undergraduates who have not yet completed their first bachelor’s degree must:

  • Be accepted for the second major by the major department
  • Fulfill all requirements for the second degree
  • Complete at least 30 additional semester hours at Rice beyond the hours required for their first degree (these hours are applied to the second degree)

Students seeking a second degree should submit an additional declaration of major form with the Office of the Registrar External Link. This paperwork should include the addition of the proposed degree and major programs along with the approval of the chair or undergraduate advisor of each department involved, indicating that the proposed course program satisfies all major and degree requirements.

Students with a previously earned bachelor’s degree from Rice who wish to earn a second bachelor’s should look at the Non-Traditional Student section.

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Last Revised : August 19, 2016