FAQS


graduate program faqs

Do you offer...

A master's degree program? An M.S. or M.Sc?
An online or distance-learning program? 

Can I...

Start in the spring? Start in the summer?Start in the fall?
Be a part-time student?  Continue to work while earning my degree?

 Can I apply if...

 I have a bachelor's degree in something other than sociology?  I have a master's degree in something other than sociology?
I'm an international student? 

 Before I apply, can I...

Meet with someone to discuss requirements / whether I'll be a good fit / whether I should apply?
Send you my profile/CV so you can tell me whether I should apply?
Find out what faculty have research interests similar to mine? 

 I have a question about program requirements...

Can you be a part-time student?
Can you attend just for a Master's degree?
What if I already have a Master's degree?
How long does it usually take to complete your program?
What are the course requirements?
How do you match incoming students with faculty advisors?

 I have a question about the application...

Are all my application material due by the same date?
What material do you need in hard copy?
Do you accept electronic transcripts?
How  many transcripts do you need?
Do you need transcripts from institutions where I have taken courses for transfer credits?
Can I mail the transcripts or do you need my school to do so?
I've been out of school for a while.  Do my recommendation letters have to come from my old professors?
Should my recommenders submit their letters online, on paper, or both ways?
I'm an international student.  Should I submit my financial statement with my application?
What type of written materials do you require?  Can you provide any guidelines for my written materials?
Can I submit changes or additions to my application later? 

I have a question about application requirements...

Where should my test scores be sent?
What's the minimum GPA?  What's the minimum GRE score?
Can I take the IELTS instead of the TOEFL?
How long are my GRE/TOEFL/IELTS scores valid?
What if I retake a test and earn a better score after I've submitted my application?
What specific qualities are you looking for?
How much research experience do you recommend? 

 I have a question about the admissions process...

How many students will be admitted this year?
Are phone or in-person interviews part of your decision  process?
 

I have a question about costs and finances...

What are the annual tuition and fees?
What kind of financial aid is provided?
Do I need to apply separately or submit additional information to be eligible for funding?
Do you require graduate students to serve as research assistants or teaching assistants in exchange for funding?
Does Rice offer graduate student housing? 

 Tell me about life as a Rice graduate student...

Why should I come to Rice?
Could you describe the social side of graduate life at Rice?
What is Houston like? 

Answers...

 Do you offer...

A master's degree program? An M.S. or M.Sc?
 
No. Students who enter without a master's degree may earn an M.A. en route to the Ph.D. degree, but we do not offer a terminal master's degree.

An online or distance-learning program? 
No.  

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Can I...

Start in the spring? Start in the summer?
No. Our program is fall admission only.

Start in the fall?
Application opens September 1st.  Our application deadline is December 15; if you miss the application period, you will need to wait until September, when we begin accepting applications for the following fall.

Be a part-time student?  Continue to work while earning my degree?
No. Because the graduate program requires a full-time commitment, we accept full-time students only.

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Can I apply if...

I have a bachelor's degree in something other than sociology?  I have a master's degree in something other than sociology?
Yes.  We admit students from a wide variety of backgrounds.

I'm an international student?
Yes.  We welcome applications from international students.

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Before I apply, can I...

Meet with someone to discuss requirements / whether I'll be a good fit / whether I should apply?
Out of fairness to other applicants and due to limited faculty time, we cannot accommodate individual requests to visit or tour the department.  If you are in the area, you are welcome to come walk around the campus; most of our conferences and events are also open to the public.

If you have questions not answered in this FAQ, please feel free to contact us.  However, we cannot judge your chances of being accepted based on incomplete information; you will need to go through the application process and submit the appropriate material for our graduate committee to review.

Send you my profile/CV so you can tell me whether I should apply?
No.  Again, we cannot judge your suitability for our program without a full application.

Find out what faculty have research interests similar to mine?
Absolutely!  Faculty-applicant fit is a significant factor in our admissions process, as each student is admitted to work with a primary faculty advisor.  Each Program Focus page lists the associated faculty; click on the faculty member's name to view his or her profile, or visit our faculty directory for a complete listing.  If, after reviewing faculty research interests, you would like to find out more, please feel free to email the faculty member in whose work you are interested.

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I have a question about program requirements...

Can you be a part-time student?
No, only full-time students are accepted into the program.

Can you attend just for a Master's degree?
No, this program is for students pursuing a Ph.D. degree.

What if I already have a Master's degree?
This is handled on a case-by-case basis. Ph.D. students must complete 4 semesters of residency and coursework at Rice University.  At the department’s discretion, some credits may transfer from other graduate programs, but typically no more than 9 credits from another institution will transfer.

How long does it usually take to complete your program?
The program is designed to be completed in 5 years, and funding is provided for that period.

What are the course requirements?
Current course requirements can be viewed here .

How do you match incoming students with faculty advisors?
The Director of Graduate Studies, in conjunction with the Graduate Committee and based on faculty needs, makes the initial assignments of students to advisors.  

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I have a question about the application...

Are all my application material due by the same date?
Yes.  All materials must be received by December 15.

What material do you need in hard copy?
Official transcripts (also see below), which must be provided by your college or university and in an official, sealed enveloped.  All other materials (except for official GRE/TOEFL scores which  must be sent to us by ETS) can be submitted with the online application.

Do you accept electronic transcripts?
We do.  However, e-transcripts must be sent directly from your institution (not from you) to the department (soci@rice.edu); if your institution sends them to a different Rice email address, we cannot guarantee that they will reach us.

How  many transcripts do you need?
One from each college or university you have attended.

Do you need transcripts from institutions where I have taken courses for transfer credits?
Even if those courses are listed on your home institution's transcript, we may need the original institution's transcript.  Transferred courses often appear on transcripts as "transfer credits" without grades attached; if your home institution's transcript does not include the grades you received for your transferred courses, we do need the original institution's transcript.

Can I mail the transcripts or do you need my school to do so?
As long as the transcripts are official (provided by your college or university and in an official sealed envelope), you can mail them.

I've been out of school for a while.  Do my recommendation letters have to come from my old professors?
No.  Your recommenders should be people who are able to provide information about your skills and assess your ability to succeed in our program.  However, sociology professors and others in academia may be better able to assess your ability to succeed in our academic environment.

Should my recommenders submit their letters online, on paper, or both ways?
The online application allows your recommenders to submit online recommendations.  This is the preferred method. If your recommender submits their letter on paper, we cannot guarantee that it will be received and upload with your application in time for the graduate committee to review. Your recommenders will be contacted with requests and instructions only after you have submitted your application.  Please do not have your recommenders submit their letters until after they have been contacted with instructions.

I'm an international student.  Should I submit my financial statement with my application?
You do not need to submit a financial statement with your application.  If you are admitted and choose to enroll at Rice, the Office of International Students and Scholars will coordinate with you to obtain the necessary information.

What type of written materials do you require?  Can you provide any guidelines for my written materials?
All required written material should be uploaded on the online application including the three required recommendation letters.  Required written materials include: 
*Curriculum Vitae or Resume 
*Writing Sample - Applicants are required to submit a sample of their best writing. This might be an undergraduate course paper or research term paper. The writing sample may be from any discipline. And while there is no official limit on the length of writing samples, most submissions are between 10 and 30 pages in length. 
*Statement of Purpose - In addition to the writing sample, applicants must submit a statement of purpose of between 2-4 pages in length describing your intended plan of study. This statement should also explain why the applicant is a good fit for the program as well as possible research interests and professional goals. 
*Additional Information - There is space on the online application for you to write about any additional factors you would like to bring to our attention.  
*For International Students - Rice University's Office of International Students & Scholars (OISS) provides comprehensive information about studying in the United States - visa requirements, etc. Please visit the Office of International Student Services (OISS) Web site for more information.

Can I submit changes or additions to my application later?
Once you have submitted the online application, you will not be able to make any changes or additions.  You can email additional materials (preferably as PDFs) to soci@rice.edu and we will make an effort to add them to your file.

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I have a question about application requirements...

Where should my test scores be sent?
The code for the GRE test is:  School code:  6609    Sociology Department code:  6761

What's the minimum GPA?  What's the minimum GRE score?
Students are admitted on a competitive basis. Admitted students must have at least a Baccalaureate degree (BA or BS) or equivalent, and a minimum 3.0 (B) GPA. There is no minimum entrance requirement in terms of GRE scores.

Can I take the IELTS instead of the TOEFL?
Yes. Students must score at least 600 on the paper-based TOEFL or score at least 90 on the internet-based TOEFL. For students who choose to take the IELTS in lieu of TOEFL, the minimum score is 7.

How long are my GRE/TOEFL/IELTS scores valid?
GRE scores are valid for 5 years after the testing year (July 1-June 30) in which you took the exam; for example, if you are applying for the 2013-2014 school year, you may submit GRE scores earned on or after July 1, 2007. TOEFL and IELTS scores are valid for 2 years after the test date.

What if I retake a test and earn a better score after I've submitted my application?
Just request that the testing service report your scores to us, and they will be added to your application file as soon as we receive them.

What specific qualities are you looking for?
Since each student is admitted to work with a primary faculty advisor, your research interests are an important factor--if you are admitted, we want to be sure that we have a faculty member who is capable of advising you in your areas of interest. We are aware that your research interests may change over time, so provided there is at least a rough match between applicant and faculty interests, there is no single "make-or-break" quality that we seek; we evaluate each application as a whole.

How much research experience do you recommend?
Research experience helps to provide applicants with a realistic sense of what research involves, as well as the basic skills needed, but it is only one of several factors involved in our selection decisions. While we do take it into account, we admit students with a wide range of experience.

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I have a question about the admissions process...

How many students will be admitted this year?
Typically, we admit about 4-5 new students each year.

Are phone or in-person interviews part of your decision  process?
Yes.  Applicants chosen as finalists for possible admission to Rice University’s sociology Ph.D. program are invited to attend a two-day interview on campus. This two-day event is an important part of the selection process. Faculty may choose to interview some applicants by phone before making an offer, but this is entirely up to the individual faculty members.

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I have a question about costs and finances...

What are the annual tuition and fees?
The university posts current tuition and fees online. In fall 2013, most matriculating students will receive full tuition waivers for their first five years in the program. Tuition waivers are usually based on stipend support, so advanced graduate students may be eligible for waivers beyond the fifth year if funding is available.

What kind of financial aid is provided?
Students accepted into the graduate program will be fully funded. In addition to tuition waivers, each student will receive a generous stipend. Some will be eligible for summer funding as well.

Do I need to apply separately or submit additional information to be eligible for funding?
No. While we encourage students to apply for external fellowships, all students admitted to our program are eligible for the tuition waiver and stipend support described above.

Do you require graduate students to serve as research assistants or teaching assistants in exchange for funding?
Research has shown that the best paradigm for successful graduate education is the Research Assistant model.  Our students will be paired with a faculty member from the time they enter the program (with an opportunity to change if desired) so that they will be involved with the ongoing process of research from the very beginning of their graduate careers.

Every graduate student in our department is required to work approximately fifteen hours per week doing research with a faculty member as part of the degree program (including the summer months, with the exception of two weeks’ vacation time). On occasion this will consist of being an assistant to a professor in an undergraduate course.  Both of these are meant to be opportunities to improve your teaching and research skills and for faculty to invest in your professional development.

Does Rice offer graduate student housing?
Rice graduate students live off campus, either in nearby rental properties or at one of the University-owned graduate housing properties.

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Tell me about life as a Rice graduate student...

Why should I come to Rice?
We offer a small, well-funded graduate program, strong in basic theoretical and methodological (both qualitative and quantitative) instruction, and focused on four thematic areas.  With the Kinder Institute for Urban Research, The Hobby Center for the Study of Texas, and The Houston Education Research Consortium as well as The Texas Medical Center across the street, we are well positioned to offer special resources for ongoing research in those areas: Race and Ethnicity, Population Health, Culture and Religion, and Urban/Community Sociology.  The Rice Sociology faculty is young, dynamic, extremely active in pursuing both research and funding, and very collaborative in orientation.  We also have an excellent post-doctoral program that will allow graduate students more opportunities for collaboration, and enable them to see what the next stage of an academic career can look like.  We are also a highly awarded teaching department, and the program is structured around close working relationships with faculty. Beyond our department, Rice University is a small, highly selective institution ranked in the Top 20 among all colleges and universities in the United States. 

Located in the heart of Houston, a metro area of about 6 million people, the city is growing rapidly and offers many opportunities for residents.  According to a recent article by Forbes magazine, “Houston, perhaps more than any city in the advanced industrial world epitomizes the Rene Descartes ideal . . . of a great city offering ‘an inventory of the possible’ to longtime residents and newcomers alike.”  It is an exciting time to study in the city where urbanologist Joel Kotkin says “the outlines of the 21st century are already being created and exuberantly imagined.”  Students who come to Rice interested in issues involving urban areas and communities will find a city rich with study possibilities. 

Could you describe the social side of graduate life at Rice?
Rice and Houston are vibrant communities with many opportunities for sports, fine arts, dining, and a variety of other activities. Students often gather in neighboring Rice Village for dinner or drinks; Rice's Graduate Student Association sponsors social events, organizes cultural festivals, and coordinates volunteer activities. The department holds picnics, start-of-the-school-year parties, and other get-togethers throughout the year. 

What is Houston like?
Houston – Kiplinger's Best City in the Nation for 2008 and Forbes' Best City for Young Professionals in 2010 – is home to a blend of ethnic groups and cultures matched only by New York City and Los Angeles. Houston is a center for the visual and performing arts, an international business hub and home to the second-busiest port in the United States. Visit "Houston: It’s Cooler Than You Think" to explore the wide array of opportunities available to visitors and locals.

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