Rice University logoGeorge R. Brown School of Engineering
Electrical and Computer Engineering

I. MS/PhDAdministration

Select an item below to jump to the appropriate section.

Your Department Partners
ECE graduate students are welcome to ask for assistance when it is needed. ECE administrative staff and the Engineering Graduate Program staff are all available to answer questions. A directory can be found in Section VII.

In addition, each incoming Ph.D. student will be assigned two seasoned ECE graduate students, one in the student’s primary area of research and one from another area. Mentors will assist first-year students in academic matters, including preparation for ELEC 599, and social interaction with members of ECE and other interdisciplinary departments. Mentor/mentee social events will be planned over the course of the first year by the Student Mentor Committee.

ECE graduate student mailboxes can be found in Abercrombie Room A239. FedEx and UPS Packages are received in Abercrombie A204.

ESTHER is the web application for students, faculty and staff. Students will use this application to register for classes and retrieve certain data such as grades and account information. Using ESTHER, students can: update contact information; register, add and drop courses; access final grades; view holds on accounts, etc. See registrar.rice.edu/students/esther_FAQs/ for information about how to use ESTHER.

Student Health Services
Student Health Insurance: Rice University requires all degree-seeking students to have health insurance. Students electing to enroll in the Rice Student Health Plan may opt to be billed annually or semi-annually. Contact the Cashier’s Office for payment options (713-348-4946). You must complete an insurance waiver form to forego the Rice health plan.

Health Data Form (HDF): All new graduate students are required to submit a properly completed HDF to Student Health. All students under the age of 22 years, regardless of classification, must provide documentation of vaccination against meningococcal disease. See health.rice.edu for more information.

International Student Health Information: All Rice-sponsored F-1 and J-1 international students must enroll in either 1) Aetna (Rice’s Student Health Insurance Plan) or 2) SAS (Rice’s Approved Alternate Health Insurance Plan for Internationals). Visit oiss.rice.edu/studenthealth/ for more information.

Technology Support
From creating websites, paper publication citations, to research collaboration, the department has a plethora of technology resources available, as well as policies users must adhere to. See ece.rice.edu/studenttech for more information.

International Student Information
International Student Newsletters can be found at oiss.rice.edu/news/ and more information is in Section VI of this handbook. See oiss.rice.edu/ for details on international student internships with regard to Optional Practical Training (OPT) and Curricular Practical Training (CPT).

Graduate Studies Form Library
The Office of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies (GPS) keeps a very useful library of commonly needed forms for everything from leaves of absence to candidacy petition to thesis submission. Visit graduate.rice.edu/forms for more information.

Specific forms include:
         ~Leave of Absence
         ~Short Term Medical and Parental Leave
    Registration Forms
    Transfer Credit Forms
         ~Candidacy Petition Instructions
         ~Candidacy Petitions
         ~Request for Extension of time to Candidacy
    Thesis Defense
         ~Thesis Defense Instructions
         ~Webform to Announce Defense as required by General
         ~Request for Extension of Time to Defense
    Thesis Submission
         ~Thesis Submission Instructions
         ~Master’s & Doctoral UMI Agreement Forms
         ~Survey of Earned Doctorates
    Degree Conferral
         ~Registrar’s Application for Degree
         ~Petition for an Automatic Master’s
         ~Graduation Checklists

Students receiving a stipend may accept employment only with the approval of their home academic department. Students working for more than 20 hours per week are not normally eligible for full-time status. See the ECE Graduate Program Administrator for details.

International students must obtain the appropriate work authorization from OISS before starting to work. If you work even one day before or after your authorization, you must leave the U.S. or face deportation. See oiss.rice.edu/studentwork/ for additional information.

Stipend/Summer Support
All enrolled full-time Ph.D. students are supported with full tuition and a stipend. All first-year Ph.D. students are supported by fellowships. Thereafter, students in good standing will be supported as Research Assistants by their M.S./Ph.D. advisors. Compensation is calculated and paid semi-monthly from August 16 to December 31 and from January 1 to May 15. Many Ph.D. students obtain fellowships in addition to what is provided by Rice. See graduate.rice.edu/funding for more information.

Summer Support - Students should discuss their summer plans well in advance with their advisors. In order to be paid by Rice for the summer, students must register for at least 6 hours of their advisor's section of ELEC 800. Students planning a summer internship off-campus, with advisor’s approval, must inform the Lead Financial Analyst and Graduate Program Administrator by May 1 in order to complete the financial arrangements required.

Vacation/Time Off
Graduate students often receive financial support in the form of graduate stipend and tuition waivers. The termination of financial support to a graduate student, while not equivalent to dismissal, is a serious action that could deprive students of their financial ability to continue graduate studies.

Active participation in required academic activities (for example, laboratory work in certain science and engineering programs) is a basic condition for continued financial support. Students who are absent from such required activities for a contiguous two weeks without permission and without mitigating circumstances may be subject to termination of financial support. Such absences may be taken as an indication that inadequate academic progress is being made. Thus, if absences have to occur, they must be pre-arranged with the student’s supervisor, except for medical and family emergencies, in which case timely notification is required. Graduate advisors and programs should be aware of unexplained student absences and must provide immediate written warnings when students are not present and carrying out required academic activities for more than one week.

Departmental Responsibilities
In most research degree programs, students must undertake a limited amount of teaching or perform other services as part of their training. Assigned duties should not entail more than 10 hours per week, averaged over the semester, or extend over more than eight semesters. ECE students are required to complete 6 semesters of grading as part of their training. Grader assignments are made at the beginning of each semester and responsibilities include grading coursework for the instructor and possibly delivering one or two lectures for practice and/or to fill in while the instructor is away on university business. Grading positions are required to fulfill these service obligations to the department and are unpaid.

A limited number of Teaching Assistant (TA) opportunities are available for PhD students with additional stipend supplement provided. Students should discuss these positions with the faculty member teaching the course and with their own thesis advisors prior to accepting the position. A mandatory TA training is provided by the Dean of Engineering’s office each fall and additional training opportunities are provide by the Center for Teaching Excellence. See the CTE website for additional information (bit.ly/1DqoE3V). For students interested in pursuing a career in academia after graduation, the TA program provides an excellent opportunity to practice developing and delivering instructions.

Graduate Student Association
The Graduate Student Association (GSA) is comprised of degree-seeking graduate students at Rice University. The GSA mission is to enrich the graduate student experience and to represent, support, and promote graduate student interests and values. Visit gsa.rice.edu to learn more.

The ECE GSA exists to augment the organizational, educational, professional, and social aspects of the graduate student experience. It serves as a connection to Rice’s overall GSA to voice larger concerns and gain supplementary support. Email joseph.young@rice.edu for details.

Women ExCEL
Women Excel is a network of women in the ECE Department at Rice University that aims to provide community, mentoring, and cultural enrichment for students. They furnish a medium for networking and discussion of women-specific issues.  This network also serves to promote career opportunities and cultivate female leadership.  In addition, they hope to improve the visibility of women in engineering and to advocate the importance of diversity in ECE. Learn more at excel.rice.edu.