Rice University

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Updated August 7, 2020

Rice University began in 1891 as the William Marsh Rice Institute for the Advancement of Literature, Science and Art. Rice was born the second of ten children to David, who worked at a forging shop making rifle barrels and bayonets, and Patty, who was a homemaker. Rice left school at 15 to clerk in a grocery store and, within three years, had established his own store. In 1838, he traveled west to Texas, but struggled with his business ventures. He lost a shipment of goods to bad weather and the economy in Texas had dipped into a recession due to the bursting of the speculative bubble. However, he eventually prospered, owning many different businesses, including cotton shipping, mortgage lending, making bricks, running a hotel, refining vegetable oil as well as buying and selling land and timber. He also was instrumental in starting a railroad.

By 1860, he was the second wealthiest men in Texas. Although he never owned a plantation due to his dislike for the erratic prices of cotton, he did own slaves that he received as payment for a debt. Although he was not outspoken about it, he more than likely opposed the Civil War due to the effect it would have on the economy. After the war, his businesses thrived, but as a northerner, his existence in the south became suspect after the war. His first wife, Margaret Bremond, had died in 1863, so he moved to New York in 1866. He married his second wife, Elizabeth Brown, while in New York, and the two returned to Texas.

In 1895, Mrs. Brown suffered several strokes. During the same period, she met an unscrupulous lawyer, who convinced her to sign a will separate from her husband that distributed half of the couple's fortune to family members and provided for a ten percent payment to the attorney to distribute the funds. A portion of the estate would go to an orphanage that the Rice's supported as well. Her husband was unaware of the will until after Mrs. Brown's death in 1896, believing that the couple would leave their estate to the orphanage and to establish a university in Houston.

Rice filed lawsuits to invalidate the will, claiming that Mrs. Rice was not a resident of Texas as the will claimed. Although the couple lived in Texas, Mrs. Rice did not claim the state as her residence during her lifetime. While the lawsuit worked its way through the court system, Rice returned to New York, hiring a valet, Charles Jones, to travel with him. While in New York, Rice was introduced to A.T. Patrick, an attorney, who was an acquaintance of Jones. The two men hatched a plot to kill Rice and assume control of his fortune. They began manipulating Rice and slowly began poisoning him with mercury.

On September 23, 1900, Rice, who was just over five feet tall and weighed 90 pounds, died when Jones pressed a chloroform-soaked rag over his nose and mouth. Patrick had already forged a will that left the estate to himself. A month before the murder, a hurricane destroyed a vegetable oil plant owned by Rice. Using his available cash, Rice wrote checks for $180,000 for reconstruction, but Patrick managed to get the checks written out to himself just before the murder. Because Patrick's name was misspelled on the checks, a bank teller became suspicious, learning that Rice had died. Patrick produced the forged will, infuriating Jones, who cooperated with police. Jones was permitted to return to Texas while Patrick was sentenced to death. His sentence was commuted to life eventually and his wealthy family was able to arrange a pardon.

Rice's lawyers were able to convince the courts that the will signed by Mrs. Rice and the one leaving the estate to Patrick were invalid. The case cost more than $1 million in legal fees, but $4.6 million returned to Texas and was used to found the university that Rice dreamed of. His goal was always to create a university that would give back to the area that helped him make his fortune. The school opened on September 23, 1912, the anniversary of Rice's murder, with 77 students. The school held an international academic festival three weeks later, bringing worldwide scholarly attention to the new school.

Today, more than 3,879 undergraduate and 2,744 graduate students attend Rice which operates with an endowment of $871,488.

Rice University Accreditation Details

Rice University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges. Accreditation indicates that the school meets or exceeds criteria set forth by the organization which indicates excellence in education as well as a focus on continual improvement in areas where necessary. Specific programs may be accredited by agencies or organizations that set similar criteria in a certain industry or field of study.

Rice University Application Requirements

Freshmen who wish to attend Rice University must complete either the Common Application or the Universal College Application. Students must provide an official high school transcript as well as official SAT or ACT scores. A school report and teacher evaluation is also required.

Students who have earned at least 12 semester hours of college credit are considered transfer students. Students must complete at least four semesters of course work as a full-time student at Rice University to receive a bachelor's degree. Candidates must have a GPA of at least 3.2 in their most recent college work, although most transfer students have a GPA of 3.5 or higher. Students should complete either the Common Application or the Universal College Application as well as official SAT or ACT scores. Students must provide an official high school transcript, official college transcripts from all colleges and universities attended as well as a transcript listing courses currently being taken. Students must submit a college report and two college instructor evaluations.

Graduate students must contact the Office of the Registrar in order to learn what is required to apply for post-baccalaureate study. Each graduate program at Rice University has their own admissions criteria.

Rice University Tuition and Financial Aid

Undergraduate full-time tuition at Rice University is $43,220 per year and $41,560 for full-time graduate study. Financial aid is available in the form of grants, scholarships, loans and work-study. Graduate students may also qualify for departmental stipends of $21,000 to $30,000 per year to cover living expenses. Students must complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) in order to qualify for financial assistance.

Rice University Degree Program(s) Available

Full-Time Master of Business Administration

The full-time Master of Business Administration at Rice University is designed for students who are willing to step out of the workplace for two years to immerse themselves in business studies. The program is cohort-based with a summer internship. The program is designed for students who want a career change, exhibits leadership potential and wants to contribute to a competitive learning environment. The program is 22 months with the first year building on a solid foundation of fundamental business principals. Students may customize their studies in the second year using electives or may choose concentrations in a particular field. At the end of the first year, the Action Learning Project puts classroom education into practice.

Master of Music

The Master of Music program is a two-year degree that emphasizes intensive work with world-class faculty through lessons, coaching and research. Students are provided a wide range of performance opportunities in large ensembles, chamber groups and as solo artists. All performance majors are required to complete four credit hours of Music Career and Skills Enhancement Courses. The program creates informed musicians, whose artistry, creativity and intelligence have a lasting impact on the classical music world. Students may specialize their study in the following areas:

  • Bassoon
  • Cello
  • Clarinet
  • Composition
  • Double Bass
  • Flute
  • Harp
  • Horn
  • Musicology
  • Oboe
  • Orchestral Conducting
  • Organ
  • Percussion
  • Piano
  • Piano Chamber Music and Accompanying
  • String Quartet
  • Trombone
  • Trumpet
  • Tuba
  • Viola
  • Violin
  • Vocal Coaching
  • Voice

In order to apply for the Master of Music degree, students must complete the application with all supplemental materials and pay the applicable fee. Three letters of recommendation are required as well as official transcripts from high school as well as all colleges and universities attended. Students must have a GPA of 3.0 on all undergraduate coursework and must have earned a bachelor's degree or higher. Students must provide copies of two to four performances during undergraduate study and/or the last two years as well as a current resume. Students must submit to an audition. Composition applicants must submit an online portfolio while musicology applicants must submit GRE scores.

Rice University began in a colorful way, considering the legal battle that ensued in order to bring William Marsh Rice's dream into reality. Today, Rice University offers top-level education to undergraduate and graduate students, allowing them to advance in a current career or move into a new career.

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