Frequently Asked Questions

Rice - UT Public Health Scholars FAQs

Applying to the Rice - UT Program

For 2024 application: applicants will need to complete a course plan for senior year and obtain a signature from their major advisor, not an academic advisor from OAA. Be sure to complete the course planning table before you ask for your advisor's signature

I am in my sophomore year at Rice, but with AP credits I am technically a junior. Can I apply to the Rice-UT program even though I plan on staying at Rice for two more years?

No. The program is designed to accommodate students who are within one year of graduating from Rice, as they will spend part of their final year at Rice taking classes at UTSPH, with the second year of the MPH program completed after they graduate from Rice.

I'm currently in my second year at Rice, but I have enough credits to graduate in three years, so next academic year will be my last year at Rice. Am I therefore eligible to apply for this program?

Yes. The program is designed to accommodate students who are within one year of graduating from Rice, as they will spend part of their final year at Rice taking classes at UTSPH, with the second year of the MPH program completed after they graduate from Rice.

I'm an international student. Am I eligible to apply?


Is the purpose of the recommendation letter only to ensure that I am able to complete my degree in time while taking courses at UTSPH, or is it also to let the committee know more about me as a person?

The letter should both confirm your eligibility and serve as a recommendation. You can use the personal statement to provide more information about yourself.

Do I only need one letter for this program, or can I submit more than one?

Please only submit one letter.

Does admission to the Rice-UT Public Health Scholars Program guarantee that I will receive an MPH?

No. In order to complete the MPH, you must complete your undergraduate degree at Rice, be formally accepted into the MPH program at UTSPH, and complete all UTSPH requirements.

Applying to Year Two of the Program/Transition from Certificate Program to MPH Program

Can I start this program at Rice and then wait to finish the MPH at a later date (or at a different school of public health), so I can go straight to medical school after I graduate?

No. The intent of this program, and the reason Rice has agreed to provide scholarships, is to enable a select group of Rice students to complete two degrees in five years, with the MPH degree being completed at UTSPH. Our partnership with UTSPH hinges on the continuation of our students there, rather than at another school of public health. Starting with the cohort admitted for 2016, we require students to sign an agreement to comply with the intent of this program as a condition of accepting the scholarship.

Can I complete my final year (the MPH year) of the program at whichever UTSPH campus I choose, or do I have to stay in Houston?

The committee prefers that students stay in Houston, but if necessary you may move to another UTSPH campus in Texas.

Will UTSPH accept the MCAT as a substitute for the GRE?

Generally, no, the MCAT cannot be substituted for the GRE, and you should plan to have your GRE scores available for the MPH application deadline, which will occur in early December of your senior year. The only exception is for MD/MPH applicants. If you plan to pursue an MD/MPH through UT, please be sure to mention that you are making this substitution in your application.

How the Program Works

Can I take UTSPH classes online?

No. This program is designed for in-person class attendance with one current exception. PHWM 2110 Public Health Ecology & the Human Environment is only offered online and therefore will be accepted. However, only in exceptional circumstances and with the advance, written permission of one of the Rice-UT program directors, will students be permitted to take other classes online.

Does this program cost extra, or is it included in my tuition?

The first year of the program is taken while you are still a Rice student. You register at Rice for these courses, pay your usual tuition at Rice, and the UTSPH tuition and mandatory fees for the first year of the program are covered by your Rice tuition. The second year of the program is taken after you graduate from Rice, and the tuition and fees for the second year would be your obligation.

Do any of the MPH programs have prerequisites?

The MPH majoring in Environmental Health requires some prerequisites. The minimums are excellent skill in algebra (calculus preferred, not required), a semester of biology and one of chemistry. Very much preferred is two terms each of biology and chemistry. One track (industrial hygiene) also requires organic chemistry. Additional science classes are preferred. The length of time to complete the MPH in Environmental Health may be longer than one fall-spring academic year, likely adding a summer and following fall terms based on course scheduling and what, if any, practicum may have already been completed.

Do the courses taken at UTSPH count towards graduation at Rice?

Yes. In the first year of the program, you must register for Rice specially designed placeholder courses, which carry full Rice credit and count towards your degree requirements as other Rice courses do. Typically, they will be free elective, upper division credits. You will receive a grade for each course, which will appear on your transcript at Rice, just as with any other Rice course. Students in this program are required to register for courses at UTSPH and at Rice. If students fail to register for the Rice placeholder courses, they will be required to petition the Committee on Examinations and Standing to add those courses. Please note, the Committee's approval is not guaranteed and should not be assumed.

Will the classes we take at UTSPH be counted as upper-level credit courses at Rice?

Yes, the classes will all be counted as 300 or 400 level courses at Rice.

Do the Rice and UTSPH academic calendars align? If not, what do I do?

Sometimes. Since both are independent institutions there may be instances when the different academic calendars are not in synch. In reality, this usually means they may be “off” by a week either on the front or back end of the semester. When this occurs it is up to the individual student to make arrangements to begin classes at both institutions according to each academic calendar. Further, Rice does not offer or provide living accommodations to affected students during these instances and it is up to students to make alternative arrangements until both institutions are in full session.

How do I register for courses at UTSPH?

You will receive information from UTSPH admissions on how to register. Additional information can be found on the web page for newly admitted students.

How do I get Rice credit for UTSPH courses?

In addition to registering for any other courses you may take at Rice, you will also register for “placeholder” courses at Rice that will enable the Registrar to enter your UTSPH course grades on your Rice transcript. Registration for these courses is only open to students in the Rice-UT program and requires a Special Registration form.

Do you know the UTSPH course schedule yet? How can I find out when the courses will meet?

Please check this UTSPH web site for the most up-to-date schedule.

Is there a practicum?

Yes, MPH students will complete a practicum. Students can learn more about the practicum and how to find one here.

Who can I contact for more information?

For additional information, please contact the co-directors: Dr. Kirsten Ostherr ( or Dr. Cassandra Diep ( To reach somebody at UTSPH, the main contact person is Kulsoom Sizar (

UPDATED January 2020