What is Rice University Known For? Is Rice University a Good School?

Established in 1912, Rice University is a private research university with a total undergraduate enrollment of over 4,000 students as of the fall of 2020. 

According to the US News and World Report’s annual college rankings, it is #17 among all colleges and universities in the country.

The school’s urban campus spans 300 acres and sits at the heart of Houston, the fourth largest city in the United States. 

The Rice campus is nestled right between the esteemed Texas Medical Center and the Museum District of Houston.

Rice University’s tuition and fees come to a total of $52,895. The college currently occupies the  #5 spot on the list of the best value schools in the country, as determined by calculations weighing the cost of attendance for out-of-state students who receive the average amount of need-based financial aid for that school against the quality of their degree programs.

After enrolling at the school, students are assigned to one of Rice’s eleven residential colleges, which offer housing and dining, as well as social and academic events.

No students at the school are required to live on campus for any duration, although it is recommended that those who opt for off-campus housing arrangements participate in their college’s activities, social events, and dining. 

For any students who are considering attending Rice University, here we have gathered some of the most important information regarding the school’s academic programs, athletic programs, extracurricular activity offerings, and much more. 

Read on to learn more about what Rice University has to offer, what the college is best known for, and more. 

What Majors & Academics Are Rice University Known For?

Rice University
Jim Evans, Rice University Mechanical Laboratory and Power House, CC BY-SA 4.0

Rice University has been ranked the number one college in the whole world for its research programs in the field of the material sciences, according to a 2010 report by the World University Rankings by Times Higher Education. 

In particular, the college has been acknowledged for its leadership in research in the areas of structural chemical analysis, nanotechnology, signal processing, and artificial heart research. 

Another area in which Rice University excels is that of space science. For over 50 years, the college’s Space Institute has worked closely in collaboration with NASA and their Johnson Space Center. 

In 1963, Rice also made history by establishing the first dedicated space science department in the country, as a direct response to the speech that President John F. Kennedy had delivered at Rice Stadium that same year.

Since the school’s founding, 15 Rice University alumni have gone on to become NASA administrators or astronauts.

According to the Carnegie Classification of Institutions of Higher Education, Rice University is classified as having a very high level of research activity. In 2019, the school received $156 million in research funding from private sponsors. 

Beyond space and research, Rice University is well-known for emphasizing undergraduate education and teaching. 

It is tied for the sixth place spot on the ranked list of best colleges for undergraduate teaching in the United States.

Is Rice University a Good School?

Although what makes a school good for an individual student varies according to that student’s academic interests, professional aspirations, and personal preferences, there is no question about whether or not Rice University is a good school — it is. 

Rice University’s first-year retention rate — a statistic that is generally regarded as a strong indicator of student contentment — is 97%, meaning that the overwhelming majority of freshmen students choose to stay at the school for another year. 

For comparison, the average first-year retention rate for all colleges in the United States is significantly lower at 69%. Even further, the average retention rate for universities in the state of Texas is just 65%.

Many other statistical outcomes at Rice University further support the college’s prestigious reputation. For example, 93% of students at this college graduate within six years of study.

To top it off, according to a poll by Niche, 88% of Rice students feel as though they are getting their money’s worth out of their studies at the school. 

With the continuously rising costs of college tuition, this fact should not be taken lightly. 

Prominent Clubs & Extracurricular Activities at Rice University

Rice University
Leonard Lane, Fondren Library, Rice University, CC BY 4.0

Rice University offers over 300 student clubs and organizations, which are sorted into 11 different categories according to the general subject area of the group. 

One prominent club at Rice is the Intercollegiate Speech and Debate club. Sponsored by the George R. Brown Forensic Society, students in this club have the opportunity to improve their public speaking skills and engage with significant topics under the categories of parliamentary debate, individual events, and more. 

This club also allows its members the chance to compete in the American Forensic Association National Individual Events Tournament and the National Parliamentary Debate Championships. 

The Intercollegiate Speech and Debate club has consistently been ranked in the top ten among clubs of its kind nationally. 

While clubs at many other schools that are similar in prestige to Rice University tend to be relatively exclusive and require an application process, Rice’s debate club differentiates itself by inviting all students — regardless of their level of prior experience — to join.

What Sports Are Rice Known For?

Rice University’s athletic teams, which are known as the Rice Owls, are members of the NCAA Division I. As of late 2021, the Rice Owls compete in the American Athletic Conference.  

The school is home to 14 different varsity athletic teams, but they are perhaps most well-known for their fiercely competitive baseball team. 

From 1997 through 2008, the Rice Owls won 12 consecutive championship titles in their division. Although this winning streak was unfortunately interrupted in 2009, the Rice Owls went on to win four more successive championships from 2010 to 2013. 

In addition, the Rice Baseball Owls made collegiate history in 2003 by winning the national championship — a first for any of Rice’s athletic teams across all sports. 

Although Rice’s baseball program was not so strong when it first started, things began to change in their favor starting in 1995, when the team became the school’s first to make it to an NCAA tournament. 

This was a turning point for the team and led to a remarkable streak of 20 consecutive NCAA tournament appearances.  

From 1995 to 2017, Rice’s baseball team participated in every tournament in their division, often securing solid victories. These included seven College World Series games.

Why Rice University?

There are many reasons that students choose Rice University. 

On top of its stellar degree programs, its expert faculty, and its excellent track record for producing highly-esteemed graduates, the school also boasts a student-to-faculty ratio of just 6. 

Small class sizes allow students to get to know instructors and fellow students intimately inside and outside of the classroom. Many students benefit from receiving one-on-one guidance from professors who can actually learn each student’s name. 

The residential college system at Rice University is another defining characteristic of the Rice student experience. 

Because students are randomly assigned to one of the 11 colleges, this system allows individuals to meet and interact with people they may not have encountered at another college that lacked this system. 

Beyond what Rice has to offer its students, there is also its location to take into account. 

According to Wallethub, a personal finance website, Houston was ranked #15 among all cities for best places to go to college and #5 among only larger cities. In the same report, Houston was also ranked #12 in terms of the opportunities it offers to those who live in the city during and after college.  

In short, Rice University has so much to offer its students — no matter what their interests or aspirations are.

Previous articleWhat is Johns Hopkins Known For? Is Johns Hopkins a Good School?
Next articleWhat is Princeton University Known For? Is Princeton University a Good School?