Admissions

MLS admission requirements for academic background, application materials and enrollment dates.

Prospective Students

Since its inception in 2005, the Rice MLS program has attracted a wide spectrum of students. Medical doctors, attorneys, homemakers, recent college graduates, retirees, teachers, a range of business professionals and others have been accepted into the program. Such diversity – in age and profession – adds a level of broad-mindedness not typically found in the traditional classroom.

In 2015, MLS celebrated a 15 year commitment to lifelong learning. View video here to see program highlights.

Participants study a wide range of academic subjects in small, intimate classrooms encouraging interactive thought and discussions.

The program seeks committed, energetic adult students with bachelor’s degrees from an accredited college or university, who have significant life experiences and who are able to communicate effectively.

Applicants must have a bachelor’s degree (or equivalent) from an accredited university or college. A minimum GPA of 3.0 from the applicant’s undergraduate work is expected, though the admissions committee also gives consideration to applicants’ postgraduate experiences and recent accomplishments. Because the MLS program is part-time only, international applicants requiring a student visa (F-1 or J-1) cannot enroll.

How to Apply

The following materials must be submitted by the application deadline to be considered for admission:

  • Completed Application for Admission
  • $85 non-refundable application fee, payable online
  • Current resume
  • Personal statement (Please review personal statement instructions before submitting your application.)
  • Writing sample (Please review writing sample instructions before submitting your application.)
  • Official transcripts from all previous colleges or universities attended, mailed directly to the Graduate Liberal Studies office
  • Two letters of recommendation, each accompanied by a completed Letter of Recommendation form
  • Application interview

All application documents, including resume, personal statement, writing sample, and letters of recommendation will be submitted online. Official transcripts must be mailed directly to the MLS program. Electronic transcripts are accepted and should be sent to mls@rice.edu. Application materials become property of Rice University and will not be returned.

Mailing Address:

Rice University
Master of Liberal Studies - MS 550
6100 Main Street
Houston, TX 77005

Application Deadlines

  • Spring 2020 Application deadline: October 15, 2019
  • Fall 2020 Application deadline: May 1, 2020

To access the personal statement and writing sample information in a printable format, please download the MLS Application Instructions.

apply online

The initial processing begins once we have received the complete set of application materials and the application fee. Please be sure your application is complete by the appropriate deadline. You will receive a status message via email. Interviews as appropriate may be scheduled after the initial screening of applications. The MLS admissions committee normally meets twice a year to make admissions decisions. Decisions are usually made in July for fall admissions and November for spring admissions. Candidates will be notified of their status as soon as possible after those dates. If you are offered admission, the letter of admission will include an acceptance form. The process of admission is not complete until you have returned the acceptance form to the MLS office. The deadline for returning the form, usually within 15 days from the date of the acceptance letter, will be noted in the admission letter. Satisfactory progress is required to remain in the program. Payment of tuition is not a guarantee of a degree.

This portion of your application is extremely important, and we urge you to take care in the preparation of it. The persons reviewing your application will be assisted in their decisions by a brief and well-written statement from you (no more than two pages in length) which should include the following:

  • Various influences than have been important in your intellectual development
  • Your academic and professional objectives in applying to the MLS program

The document should be typed in 12-point font, double-spaced, one-inch margins and should include your full name, title of the document and page number on each page of the document.

In addition to the Personal Statement, you are asked to submit a writing sample that demonstrates your ability to think and write critically. The writing sample should:

  • Demonstrate a coherent and concise argument through well-organized paragraphs;
  • Provide support for the assertions made;
  • Lead to a logical, meaningful and clearly stated conclusion;
  • When applicable, properly credit all ideas and quotes taken from other sources.

The writing sample must not be edited by anyone other than the applicant prior to submission. You may use resources such as texts, encyclopedias or the internet but all sources must be fully credited.

Choose ONE topic from the three options listed. The writing sample must be at least four to five pages in length and should include citations for all references as appropriate. The document should be typed in 12-point font, double-spaced, with one-inch margins. Your full name, title of the work and page number should appear on each page of the document.

Humanities: Niccolò Machiavelli in his famous work “The Qualities of the Prince” is known for his cynical advice on Princely leadership. Describe Machiavelli’s recommendations to the Prince. Next, imagine that you have been elected President of the United States. You find yourself in a harsh, adversarial political relationship struggling for the success of your political agenda. Describe the pros and cons of adopting the Machiavellian philosophy.

Social Sciences: Shortly after the 2018 election, President Donald Trump endorsed a bipartisan criminal-justice reform bill, a bill that emerged from the work of a bipartisan group of U.S. Senators over the preceding summer. The context of this bill includes the alarming facts that 1) the U.S. has the highest incarceration rate in the Western world, 2) despite a minor decrease in recent years, there are still more than 2 million persons in our state and federal prisons, and 3) according to the U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics in 2013 black males accounted for 37% of the total male prison population, white males 32%, and Hispanic males 22%. In light of these points, argue the pros and cons of either 1) one or more theories about how the U.S. came to have this high rate of incarceration, including the high rate of incarceration of blacks, or 2) whether this bill or some other bill (specify its basics) would do more to improve the situation.

Natural Sciences: Natural disasters, or potential disasters, have a way of catching the public’s attention and causing more thinking about scientific questions than is typical. One such potential disaster is a major volcanic event at what is described as one of the last remaining large, nearly intact ecosystems in the northern temperate zone of the Earth, the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem. How could such a thing happen? How bad could it be? Has it ever happened before? How likely is it?

Students under 22 years of age before their first day of classes must be vaccinated against bacterial meningitis. Please see more information on the meningitis policy.