Frequently Asked Questions

Find the answers to the most commonly asked questions regarding the Master of Liberal Studies Program at Rice University.

Must I take the GRE (Graduate Record Examination) before I apply to the Rice MLS program?
No, the MLS program does not require its applicants to have taken the GRE or any other standardized test. You must complete the application form in its entirety.

Can I create my own area of specialization within the MLS program?
Yes. After completing a core course in each of the three areas – social sciences, humanities and natural science – students can choose to take courses (or a majority of courses) in one of those tracks to complete their degree.

Can I take courses outside the MLS program at Rice?
No. Like most graduate-level programs, the MLS program is a stand-alone program. All courses must be taken within the program.

Can I transfer credit I’ve earned from other graduate-level liberal arts programs?
No. As stated above, all courses must be taken within the Rice MLS program.

Does the program accept CEUs (continuing education units) I’ve earned from the Glasscock School of Continuing Studies at Rice or other continuing education programs?

Does the program accept life-experience credits?

Where are classes held, and how often do they meet?
Classes are held on the Rice campus and meet once a week for three hours.

Are any courses held in the daytime?
No. Classes meet during weekday evenings.

How large are the classes?
The program stresses small classes and most classes will have 12 students, although some classes may be slightly smaller or larger.

How long will it take to earn the degree?
If you take one course per semester, you can earn your degree in 11 semesters or in a little less than four years. You could earn it sooner by taking two courses per semester. Students are required to take only one course during their first semester, but may take up to two courses per semester after that. Given that scenario, you could finish in two and a half years. It is the policy of the MLS program that you must finish your degree requirements within seven years from the date you first began the program.

Can I skip a semester?
Yes, but you must take at least two courses per academic year. Students who fail to take courses in two or more consecutive semester must submit a leave of absence request.

Will I be writing a Master’s thesis?
No, but a lengthy paper or project will be required in the capstone (final) course. Also, research papers will be required in all courses.

What will it cost to attain the degree?
Please see the Tuition page. For students entering this year and completing their degree within four years, we estimate the program will cost approximately $35,000 in tuition and fees.

Do Rice staff get a tuition discount?
Benefits-eligible Rice staff receive a 10 percent tuition discount.  Tuition waivers (50%) may also be available for Rice staff who demonstrate a financial need The MLS is not eligible for the Rice tuition waiver, but eligible students may be eligible for Rice tuition reimbursement.

Do Rice alumni get a tuition discount?
Graduates of Rice University receive a 15 percent tuition discount.

When I graduate, will I get to participate in a Rice graduation ceremony?
Yes. MLS program graduates will be able to attend graduation ceremonies with all other Rice graduates.

Do you offer online courses?

Can I choose to attend full time, instead of part time?
Currently, the MLS program is a part-time program designed for adults, not full-time students. If you are interested in completing the program quickly, you may take two courses per semester (following your initial semester), in which case you could graduate in two and a half years.

I am an international student. Will the MLS program sponsor an F-1 student visa for me?
No. The F-1 student visa requires a full-time course of study. Because the MLS program is part time only, international applicants requiring a student visa cannot enroll. International applicants who are legally in the United States (such as permanent residents) may enroll in the program since a student visa will not be required.

I received my baccalaureate degree from a non-U.S. university.  Do I need a foreign credential evaluation?
Students seeking admission to the MLS program who completed coursework and/or degree(s) at institutions outside the United States must present a professional course-by-course evaluation of the foreign official transcript. The professional evaluation must verify that the degree obtained is equivalent to baccalaureate degree from a regionally accredited U.S. academic institution and must include an explanation of credits earned (including U.S. semester hour equivalents), grade equivalents, and course levels (lower or upper level). Two reliable services with course-by-course evaluations that include this required information are:

All professional evaluations should be obtained from one of these two recommended credential services and submitted to the MLS Program. Payment for the professional evaluation is the responsibility of the applicant.

Do you accept e-Transcripts?
Official transcripts must arrive in the original sealed envelope issued by the institution. The Rice University Master of Liberal Studies Program accepts electronic transcripts from U.S. institutions via secure electronic transcript providers. Consult with your institution to see if they are part of a secure e-delivery network. All electronic transcripts should be sent to Please note transcripts are not accepted by fax or personal email.