Rice University
#90 Overall Influence#15 Desirability Rank

Rice University

University in Houston, Texas, USA

By James Barham, PhD

Rice University was founded in 1912 as the William M. Rice Institute for the Advancement of Literature, Science, and Art. Long known simply as the Rice Institute, the school acquired its present name in 1960.

The institute’s founding took place under unusual and scandalous circumstances. Its founder, the Massachusetts–born William Marsh Rice, was a businessman who had made a large fortune in real estate, railroad development, and cotton trading, much of it in the state of Texas.

Towards the end of his life, Rice decided that his estate should be directed after his death to the establishment in Houston of a tuition-free institution of higher learning of highest academic caliber.

In 1900, at age 84, Rice was found dead in his bed by his valet. It was then discovered that his will had been changed to leave everything to his New York–based attorney. It subsequently came out that the lawyer had changed the will on his own and conspired with the valet, who murdered Rice by administering chloroform to him in his sleep.

Eventually, the valet turned state’s evidence, the lawyer was tried and found guilty of murder, and Rice’s original wishes for the disposal of his estate were finally put into effect. The Rice Institute opened its doors in 1912, on the twelfth anniversary of his murder.

During the 1960s, Rice established a close relationship with NASA’s Manned Spacecraft Center (now the Johnson Space Center), which remains strong to this day.

Rice remains a small and highly selective institution, with a little over 7000 students. The school operates on the honor code system (without proctored examinations).

There are three Rice-connected Nobel laureates, namely the astrophysicist Robert W. Wilson, and the chemists Richard Smalley and Robert Curl.

Other prominent Rice-associated individuals include the following:

  • Novelists, Joyce Carol Oates and Larry McMurtry
  • Journalist and columnist, Candace Bushnell
  • Screenwriter, William Broyles, Jr.
  • Aviator, Film director, Business magnate, and Philanthropist, Howard Hughes
  • Mathematicians, George Mackey, Béatrice Rivière, George Piranian, Dennis Sullivan, Jack Morava, & Shelly Harvey
  • Astronomer, James Gunn
  • Physicist, John G. Cramer
  • Chemist, Fred C. Koch
  • Chemical engineer, Jay Bailey
  • Nanotechnology pioneer, James Tour
  • Neuroscientist, David Eagleman
  • Biomedical engineer, Antonios Mikos
  • Computer scientists, Krishna Palem & Lydia Kavraki
  • Biochemist and astronaut, Peggy Whitson
  • CBS News President, David Rhodes
  • Former US Attorney General, Alberto Gonzalez


What does this school look for?

Annual Applications




Graduation Rate


Median SAT Score


Median ACT Score



How much does it cost to attend?

Tuition (in-state)


Fees (in-state)


IncomeAverage Net Cost

After Graduation

Averages for 10 years after enrolling

Avg Earnings




Campus Life

What's it like to attend this school?

The People

Full time on-campus stats

Student Body






The Campus

Where will you be attending?


6100 S Main St, Houston TX 77005-1827

On Campus Crime Rates

Property Crime

28 per 100k

Violent Crime

1 per 100k

What is Rice University known for?

Our answer to this is to show you the disciplines in which a school's faculty and alumni have had the highest historical influence. A school may be influential in a discipline even if they do not offer degrees in that area. We've organized two lists to show where they are influential and offer corresponding degrees, and where they are influential through scholarship although they don't offer degrees in the disciplines.

Top areas of influence with degrees offered

#71 World Rank #24 USA Rank
#74 World Rank #24 USA Rank
Earth Sciences
#67 World Rank #27 USA Rank
#79 World Rank #29 USA Rank
#45 World Rank #30 USA Rank
Computer Science
#42 World Rank #32 USA Rank
#62 World Rank #34 USA Rank
#65 World Rank #35 USA Rank
#105 World Rank #52 USA Rank
Religious Studies
#175 World Rank #66 USA Rank
#163 World Rank #78 USA Rank
#138 World Rank #83 USA Rank
Political Science
#172 World Rank #102 USA Rank
#194 World Rank #110 USA Rank
#223 World Rank #120 USA Rank
#308 World Rank #126 USA Rank
#370 World Rank #159 USA Rank

Other areas of influence

#76 World Rank #66 USA Rank
#133 World Rank #105 USA Rank
#134 World Rank #100 USA Rank
Criminal Justice
#182 World Rank #95 USA Rank
#304 World Rank #190 USA Rank
#305 World Rank #155 USA Rank
#3003 World Rank #1419 USA Rank
Social Work

Influential People

Who are Rice University's Most influential alumni?

Rice University's most influential alumni faculty include professors and professionals in the fields of Engineering, Computer Science, and Biology. Rice University’s most academically influential people include Henry M. Morris, Howard Hughes, and Herman Daly.

Henry M. Morris
Henry M. Morris

American young earth creationist and Christian apologist

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Howard Hughes
Howard Hughes

American aviator, engineer, industrialist, and film producer

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Herman Daly
Herman Daly

American economist

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Joyce Carol Oates
Joyce Carol Oates

American author

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Jiankui He
Jiankui He

Chinese scientist

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Robert Wilson
Robert Wilson

American astronomer

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Robert Curl
Robert Curl

American chemist

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Maurice Ewing
Maurice Ewing

Geophysicist and oceanographer

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Zack Kopplin

Student science advocate who has launched a repeal of Louisiana's creationism law

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James R. Heath

American chemist

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Candace Bushnell
Candace Bushnell

American author

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Josh Earnest
Josh Earnest

White House Press Secretary

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