Currently enrolled students register in April for the fall semester and in November for the spring semester. Student registration is prioritized based on a student's matriculation term and their hours completed and in academic history. Students matriculating in the fall complete their registration during Orientation Week before classes begin in August. Students matriculating mid-year register during Mid-Year Orientation before classes begin in January. Students are strongly encouraged to meet with their divisional or major advisor to discuss their courses for the upcoming semester.

New students may not register or attend classes until they return a properly completed health data form and meet immunization and TB screening requirements. Additionally, all first-time undergraduate students, including transfers, must meet the meningococcal meningitis vaccine requirement to live on campus. Immunizations required for admission are diphtheria/tetanus, measles, rubella, and mumps, meningococcal meningitis, with immunizations against hepatitis B and chicken pox recommended. The Mantoux tuberculin skin test is also required. A late fee of $30 is charged for failure to submit a fully completed health data form by the required date.

Each year, the Office of the Registrar publishes specific registration deadlines for the semesters of that year in the Academic Calendar. Deadline due dates for student account balances for each term are published here in the General Announcements under the appropriate sections and on the Cashier’s website. Any student not registered as of the last day to add classes or any student who is in arrears or becomes in arrears after the last day to add classes will be withdrawn from the university. Withdrawn students will not be allowed to receive credit for the withdrawn semester.

Appeals to this policy must be addressed to the dean of undergraduates. If readmitted, students must petition the Committee on Examinations and Standing to add classes late and must pay a late registration fee of $125. Additionally, students who are readmitted after being withdrawn for nonpayment will be assessed a $375 readmission fee.


During the first two weeks of classes, students may add or drop courses without penalty. After the second week of the semester, the following conditions apply for adds and drops. Undergraduate students:

  • May not add courses after the second week of classes, except in extenuating circumstances and with the approval of the Committee on Examinations and Standing (a $75 fee per course will be assessed).
  • May drop courses through the seventh week of classes without penalty.
  • May not drop courses after the end of the seventh week of classes except in extenuating circumstances and with the approval of the Committee on Examinations and Standing (a $75 fee per course will be assessed). Students who receive approval to drop a course after the designated drop deadline will receive a grade of “W” for that course.

Newly matriculated undergraduate students, both new first-time and transfer students in their first full-term semester at Rice (Fall or Spring), are permitted to drop courses up to the last day of classes. These same students, in their second semester at Rice, if that semester is a full-term Spring semester, are permitted to drop courses through the tenth week of classes without a fee.

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 Committee on Examinations and Standing who may approve a drop on an exception basis.

There are a small number of courses for which an approved drop-back provision exists. Under certain conditions, for the course pairings on that approved list, a student can drop from the advanced course into the identified lower course until the seventh week of class. More information on this, including the list of courses, may be found on the Office of the Registrar website, on the Drop-Back Provision page.

For courses with start and end dates not coinciding with Rice’s typical semester calendar, otherwise known as “part of term” courses, the Office of the Registrar will consult with the instructor and:

  • Set the add deadline approximately one-seventh of the way into the course.
  • Set the drop deadline approximately one-half of the way into the course.
  • Post these special deadlines on the Office of the Registrar’s website, under Academic Calendars.

Students may not drop courses where the Honor Council has ruled a loss of credit.

Note: Weeks are defined as academic instruction; thus, midterm recess is not included in this calculation.

Course Load

Students at Rice normally enroll for 15 to 17 semester credit hours each semester. For most students, this allows completion of graduation requirements in 8 semesters. In some instances a student may feel the need to petition for a registration overload. Petitioning for a registration overload should be a last resort and only for students with truly extenuating circumstances that would necessitate a course overload. The petition process for receiving a registration overload is dependent upon the student's matriculation semester.

For Students that Matriculated to Rice Prior to Fall 2016 Semester: 

  • Students must secure permission in writing from the Office of the Academic Advising to register for more than 20 credit hours in any semester. Guidelines and the petition form can be found on the Academic Advising website.
  • Petitions for more than 24 credit hours are not considered.
  • No student may receive credit for more than 20 semester credit hours in a semester, including courses taken elsewhere, without prior written approval.

For Students that Matriculated to Rice in the Fall 2016 Semester, and thereafter: 

  • Students must secure permission in writing from either the Office of the Academic Advising or their appropriate major advisor(s) to register for more than 18 credit hours in any semester.
  • Updated guidelines (as of Fall 2017) and a new process and timeline for petition approval can be found on the Academic Advising website
  • Music students and architecture students are not held to this semester credit hour limit due to their unique curricula; the credit hour limit for these students remains 20 credit hours per semester.

Students must secure permission in writing from the Office of the Dean of Undergraduates before registering for courses if they want to:

  • Complete graduation requirements elsewhere.
  • Register for less than 12 semester credits hours, which will move the student to part-time status.
  • Register concurrently at another university, regardless of the delivery method of the course.
    1. In the absence of extenuating circumstances necessitating concurrent registration, such permission will not generally be granted.
    2. Credit for coursework at another college or university completed in a semester while enrolled at Rice will not be recorded by the Office of the Registrar without prior receipt of written permission from the dean of undergraduates.

Students also should be aware that the Office of the Registrar must report a student’s part-time status to various groups, such as loan agencies, scholarship foundations, insurance companies, etc. It is in the student’s best interest to determine if he or she will be affected in any way by part-time status.

For more information, visit the Office of the Registrar website.

Course Numbering System

Courses numbered 100-499 are considered undergraduate-level, with the 100-299 sequence classified as lower-level (freshman/sophomore) and the 300-499 sequence classified as upper-level (junior/senior). Courses numbered 500 and above are considered to be at the post-baccalaureate or graduate-level. Graduate and undergraduate students may, with departmental approval, take certain courses outside their designated level.


Registration, official transcripts, degree verification, and other administrative processes may be impacted by a hold on a student account. Students may consult the website of the Office of the Registrar to discover why a hold exists and how to resolve the issue. The Office of the Registrar cannot remove holds governed by another office or department.

Repeated Courses

Students may repeat courses previously taken; however the record of all attempts and the corresponding earned grades remain on the transcript. Additionally the grades for all attempts are included in both the term and cumulative grade point average calculations. If students repeat courses previously passed, credit is awarded only for the course with the highest grade. For example, a student took HIST 117 and received a grade of B. The student then repeated HIST 117 and received a grade of A. Both grades—the B and the A—appear on the transcript and are included in his/her GPA; however, he/she only receives three credits toward his/her degree. On the transcript, a repeated course is indicated by one of the following values:

I – Included in GPA and earned hours

A – Included in GPA, but excluded from earned hours

E – Excluded from both GPA and earned hours

Each course attempt will be included in a student's academic history. Under no circumstances will repeated course attempts be removed from a student's academic history or official transcript, nor will a student be retroactively dropped from a course that they completed.

Some Rice University courses may be repeated for credit. They are specifically noted in the Course Offerings each semester. If a course may be repeated for credit, each grade appears on the permanent record and is included in the student's grade point average.

If students repeat courses for which they have received either advanced placement or transfer credit, the credit will be removed from the transfer or advanced placement credit. Nor can credit be received twice for students transferring in courses that repeat courses previously completed at Rice. Likewise, students will not receive transfer credit for courses previously completed at Rice with a passing grade, with the exception of courses designated as repeatable for credit. In extraordinary extenuating circumstances, an exception to the repeat transfer credit rule can be granted by the dean of undergraduates (for undergraduates).

Students may not receive credit twice for cross-listed, equivalent, or graduate/undergraduate equivalency courses taken at the same time. If the course is not repeatable, students may not receive credit for cross-listed, equivalent, or graduate/undergraduate equivalency courses taken in different semesters.

Change in Registration

The Academic Calendar lists deadlines for dropping or adding a course or section. This schedule is binding for all students. Adding or dropping a course, including transferring from one section to another or changing credit status in a course, must be accomplished online or through the completion of the appropriate forms and submission to the Office of the Registrar. Changing a course to/from audit status must be done by the deadlines as posted in the Academic Calendar for the applicable semester. If a student feels they have exceptional circumstances, they can request exceptions to these deadlines by petitioning the Committee on Examinations and Standing

Registration During Summer Sessions

Registration for the Summer Sessions begins in March of each year. Currently enrolled Rice students should register for summer courses online via ESTHER as per normal registration processes and procedures. Rice students should be aware that the registration and payment deadlines do differ, depending on the summer session, and should familiarize themselves with the Academic Calendar. Summer courses that do not generate enrollments sufficient to cover their costs may be canceled prior to the first day of class.  

Pass/Fail During Summer Sessions

Currently enrolled Rice students can designate a summer course as Pass/Fail during the summer sessions, but can do so only by visiting the Office of the Registrar in person and completing a Pass/Fail Designation form. Similarly, conversions of summer Pass/Fail grades can only be done via paper form at the Office of the Registrar. Students should adhere to the applicable Pass/Fail deadlines, as stated in the Academic Calendar.  

Auditing Courses During Summer Sessions

As noted in Auditing Courses, currently enrolled Rice students may audit one or more summer courses at Rice at the cost of the auditor fee for Rice alumni (see Cashier's Website).