Graduate Student Handbook

Practical Information

This handbook has been prepared for the purpose of orienting new students and providing information and assistance to all students in the Department of Mathematics. Please refer to this handbook throughout your time in the mathematics department graduate studies, as revisions or additions may be made from time to time.

Registration Procedures

You should have received your student ID and PIN number, which will allow you to log onto ESTHER, Rice’s self-service web application for students. You must complete ALL required information in the New Graduate Students tab. If you haven’t yet received your ID & PIN, email for assistance. If you have received your ID & PIN, login to

  1. Go to the Registrar’s website
  2. Click on Information for Students, then Registration and follow all instructions.
  3. Make sure you download the “Course selection Worksheet” and meet with your advisor before registration.

Accident and Health Insurance

Every degree-seeking student is required to have health insurance coverage, compliant with the Affordable Care Act, while enrolled at Rice University. Therefore, all students must take action during the open enrollment period to elect to enroll in the Student Health Insurance Plan, administered by Aetna Student Health, OR request a waiver of the student insurance, by demonstrating comparable insurance coverage. Current information on open enrollment dates and forms can be found here:

Be aware that an Insurance Hold will be placed on your student account until you satisfy the enrollment or waiver requirements. This hold does not affect your ability to register for courses or restrict any other online activity. The University now offers partial subsidies for Rice health insurance. ALL on-site students are required to pay a Health Center fee, regardless of whether they purchase Rice University medical insurance or are covered by some other agency. This fee entitles students to see doctors at the Student Health Services. Visit for more information.


Students who receive a stipend from any source through Rice University will be paid semi-monthly on the 15th and last day of the month. (In the event that either day falls on a weekend or holiday, checks will be issued the Friday before.) The first academic-year check will be issued on August 31st.

All mathematics graduate students must have the form I-9 on file with Payroll in order to be paid.

It is strongly suggested that all students confirm their address on file is current, or that direct deposit is set up.

Direct deposit can be set up through ESTHER and iO. Students please note that Payroll automatically enrolls payees in the Rice payroll card program (prepaid debit card) if direct deposit is not set up. Payroll cards are mailed out to the address on file in your ESTHER and iO accounts.

Students contact information can be updated though ESTHER and iO as well.

Summer Research and Vacation Time

Rice fellowships are awarded and paid on a 9-month academic year and a 2-month summer basis.

This may be pro-rated for students not participating in the program for the full academic year or summer. Summer stipends are for studies or research work and require an eight-week campus residency; exceptions to this requirement are given by special permission of the graduate committee. Debra Purtee, the department administrator, must be notified by April 15th if you will be away on personal business for more than four weeks. Each student must discuss his/her plans with his/her advisor. Graduate students who work on campus during the summer will receive their last summer stipend check on July 15.

Procedure for Submitting Office Of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies Forms

All forms must be submitted electronically and include:

C-2 Candidacy Petition (Doctoral degree) [link to form]

C-3 Change the thesis committee

E-1 Extend Time Boundary for Approval of Candidacy [link to form]

E-2 Extend Time Boundary for Defense [link to form]

G-2 Certification of Non-Thesis Master's Degree [link to form]

L-1 Leave of Absence [link to form]

L-2 Parental Leave or Short-Term Medical Release [link to form]

L-3 Withdrawal [link to form]

R-1 Deferral or student will not matriculate

R-2 Add or update the advisor

R-5 Change full or part-time status

The forms must be filled on line before printing; once all required signatures and supporting documents are gathered turn in to Ligia Leismer for submittal to GPS.

Candidacy, Oral Defense and Thesis Submission Procedures

Students must submit a Petition for Approval of Candidacy before the beginning of their 9th semester. Bring the signed form and supporting documents to Ligia Leismer for electronic submittal to GPS.

It is the student’s responsibility to schedule the final oral examination in defense of a thesis to take place at a date, time and venue agreeable to all members of the committee. For the doctoral degree, the examination must be publicly announced and the student must submit the announcement at least two weeks before the scheduled defense. Defense announcements can be submitted to the Office of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies by filling out the following form: GPS will issue an original Approval of Candidacy form and it is the student’s responsibility to confirm the form is up to date and the committee members listed are correct. Candidates must be enrolled in the semester they defend or through Friday of the 1st week of the class of the following semester.

Complete information on Oral Defense requirements can be found here:

Within one week (7 calendar days) of passing the oral examination the student must create an account on

and upload the defended version of the thesis and the approval of candidacy form signed and dated by the thesis committee.

In order to graduate, the final thesis must be submitted to the Office of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies before noon on the deadline listed in the academic calendar (or six months after the oral defense, which ever occurs first).

Detailed instructions for the submittal of the thesis can be found here:

Computers and Printers

The Rice NetID is a unique login credential for each Rice student, faculty, or staff member. Your NetID is your default account name for your Rice email account. Upon receiving your Rice ID number, you can activate your NetID at:

Remember your password; Rice uses a Central Authentication system for almost all its online services.

If you forget your password you will need to go to the Help Desk in the Mudd Building with your student ID to get it reset.

The departmental server ( has a number of math packages you can access, including Matlab, Mathematica, and Magma. It also hosts the department and personal webpages. Contact the Help Desk to verify that an account has been created for you

The department maintains several laser printers for educational and research purposes. Room 40 in the basement has an HP Laserjet 600 and off the Commons Room (438) on the fourth floor there is an HP Laserjet M806. The Laserjet M806 is capable of printing 2-sided copies; to save paper please make sure that the duplex option is set up in your printer preferences. For printer setup guides, please email Theresa.

For any IT-related problems or questions, including webpages, printers, and computer problems, send an email to or use the web form at

Copying and FAX Machines

a) Departmental

Students may use the department’s copying machine located in HBH 215 for their studies and research work. The copier also has high volume printer and scanner capabilities. Please see Theresa Cisneros in the front office and she will issue you the ID number and password required to use the machine.

There is a department fax machine available for your use in the mailroom off of the main office. Instructions on its use are posted on the machine.

(b) University

IT supplies and supports B/W printers networks that can be found in the RMC, classrooms and labs, Fondren Library and Mudd Lab. Mudd Lab also has color and thesis paper printers, as well as poster printers called plotters. Students can print to these lab printers from their personal computers, college lab computers and academic classroom/lab computers. Printing charges are nominal and can be tracked in the IT Self-Service web site. Student printing charges are sent to the Rice Cashier's Office in the middle of each month and will appear on the next bill.

Office Keys

Each student will be issued a door key to his/her office. Office keys and after hours building card access are issued by RUPD at the request of the mathematics department office. Students must go to the RUPD office located on the west side of campus to pick up and return keys. A photo ID is necessary to pick up keys. Offices are routinely reassigned each academic year as students arrive and/or graduate and keys are exchanged at the RUPD office. There is a replacement cost of $25 payable to RUPD for lost or stolen keys. Keys may not be duplicated under any circumstances. All keys must be returned to RUPD when a student permanently leaves Rice.


Each student will be issued a personal mailbox and will have the option to obtain a key to access the mailbox from the hall outside the department office. Mailboxes are located in the workroom adjacent to HBH 220. Mailboxes are routinely assigned each academic year as students arrive and/or graduate. If you would like a key, one may be obtained from Theresa Cisneros and must be returned when there is a change of mailbox assignment and/or when a student permanently leaves Rice. There is a replacement cost of $5 payable to the Math Department for lost or stolen keys. Keys may not be duplicated under any circumstances. Each student should check email (and her/his mailbox) at least once a day for mail or messages.

Student Parking

Parking is available for graduate students by purchasing a permit. For further details, check


Supplies that are needed for research and university work are available in the mailroom off the main department.


Desk copies are provided for the use of instructors, TA's and graders; the books are the property of the department and must be returned at the end of the semester. All books, desk copies, and references must be checked out and returned to the Math office. All books are checked out on a semester-by-semester basis; if you would like to retain the book for more than one semester please notify Theresa Cisneros in the Math office.

Society Memberships and Journal Subscriptions

The department pays for graduate student membership to the American Mathematical Society (AMS) and Associated Women in Mathematics (AWM). Student membership rates to other professional societies and journal publications are substantially less than the normal rates and can be found on the web.


There are limited travel funds within the department available for student travel for the purpose of furthering their educational and research goals. Many mathematics conferences will provide graduate student funding, and graduate students who wish to attend should apply for such funds first.

Student travel supported by the department must be authorized well in advance of the planned date of travel. If the students do not follow the requirements outlined below, he/she will NOT receive travel reimbursement.

  • Travel authorization should be requested via email from the graduate student’s advisor first. After receiving the approval from his/her advisor, the graduate student should send an email to the Department Chair providing the information about the travel (i.e. link for the conference, seminar, workshop etc., as well as the estimated expense for the trip, information about the financial support provided by the organization, etc.). Department Administrator, Debra Purtee and Leyla Watt from the Finance Office should be on cc on any email sent. Graduate students should not purchase any airfare ticket before consulting Leyla Watt.
  • If you are traveling to a conference, you must try to first obtain funding from the conference before requesting travel reimbursement from the department. In addition, you must submit proof that you applied for funding (in a timely manner) from the conference before you will be reimbursed by the department.
  • Once the travel request is approved and if the student requires flight arrangements, he/she should immediately start the booking process and provide at least three comparative price quotes to Leyla Watt.
  • Hotel Occupancy Tax Exemption Certificate

Prior to traveling to one of the 14 states listed below, you need to request a hotel occupancy tax exemption form for that state by emailing the Rice’s Controller’s Office at and also informing Leyla Watt at Math department. You will be sent the appropriate exemption form for the state in which you’ll be traveling. You’ll need to present this form at the hotel prior to making payment.

Rice will no longer reimburse hotel occupancy taxes paid in these states.

Participating States:

1. Connecticut

2. Florida

3. Indiana

4. Kansas

5. Kentucky

6. Michigan


8. New Jersey

9. Ohio

10. Tennessee

11. Texas (Sales Tax and Occupancy Tax Exemption Apply-provided in your orientation documents)

12. Utah

13. Wisconsin

14. Wyoming

  • Air transportation supported by an NSF grant must be booked in accordance with the Fly America Act and/or the Airlines Open Skies Agreement. This means travel must be performed by or under a code-sharing arrangement with a U.S.-flag air carrier if service provided by such a carrier is available. Leyla Watt must first approve all travel in foreign airlines.
  • In order to assist with upfront travel costs, the department has a university issued credit card available for the students’ use. The rules governing the use of the credit card are listed in this handbook. Please see Leyla Watt for the use of the card for travel.
  • A detailed travel expense statement filled in its entirety, with supporting receipts, must be submitted to Leyla Watt (travel Expense Reimbursement – Room 214) within ONE WEEK of completing travel. When attending a conference an agenda or proof of attendance must be included with the travel statement.
  • Meal reimbursement for graduate student travel will be limited to at most $25 dinner per day for dinner and at most $15 per day for lunch. If you are traveling someplace where the cost of food is extraordinarily high and/or breakfast is not provided by the hotel or conference, you may ask the graduate chair to authorize a higher amount.
  • In order to receive full reimbursement all receipts must be original and itemized. Note that a receipt must be provided for each reimbursement request. Per department policy this includes meal amounts less than $25.00. A reimbursement will not be given without an itemized receipt – no exceptions.
  • Allowable reimbursements may include the following:
    • Reasonable airfare costs - Airline ticket receipts should clearly show itemized cost of ticket and proof of payment, include boarding passes if available
    • Lodging - Hotel receipts must detail all applicable charges and clearly state room rate and taxes
    • Local transportation costs
    • Auto rental receipts should detail daily rate and total cost. Cost of rental must not exceed, and be compatible to reasonable local transportation costs. Optional rental agency car insurance will not be reimbursed; Rice is self-insured and will cover all Rice authorized domestic travel.
    • Registration fees
    • Meals - because of the complicated nature of our reimbursement process, it is most appreciated if each person asks for his/her individual itemized receipt from the restaurants and submits it separately for reimbursement.

Departmental Credit Cards

The Mathematics department has two university issued credit cards for the use of the graduate students. The credit cards are to be used strictly for department-approved purchases such as business related travel and other mathematics department business or event expenses.

Graduate students may check out a purchasing card with the understanding that the following rules apply:

  • The student agrees to comply with the card user responsibilities as outlined in the Controller’s Purchasing Card Program Users Manual
  • The student is responsible for the return of the card and all receipts for purchases made while in his/her possession.
  • The student is liable and must pay back any and all unauthorized purchases made while the card is in his/her possession

If the card is lost or stolen the student must immediately notify the Mathematics department staff

Use of the card is a privilege that must be taken very seriously as its purpose is to mitigate the financial burden of out of pocket expenses for the student engaged in departmental approved travel or event purchases. Failure to comply with the any of the stated rules will result in immediate loss of card user privileges.

Tutoring Policy

Graduate students may tutor outside students independently for extra income as long as this work does not prevent satisfactory progress to their degree as determined by the graduate committee.

Title IX support

Rice encourages any student who has experienced an incident of sexual, relationship, or other interpersonal violence, harassment or gender discrimination to seek support. There are many options available both on and off campus for all graduate students, regardless of whether the perpetrator was a fellow student, a staff or faculty member, or someone not affiliated with the university.

Students should be aware when seeking support on campus that most employees are required by Title IX to disclose all incidents of non-consensual interpersonal behaviors to Title IX professionals on campus who can act to support that student and meet their needs. The therapists at the Rice Counseling Center and the doctors at Student Health Services are confidential, meaning that Rice will not be informed about the incident if a student discloses to one of these Rice staff members. Rice prioritizes student privacy and safety, and only shares disclosed information on a need-to-know basis.

If you are in need of assistance or simply would like to talk to someone, please call Rice Wellbeing and Counseling Center, which includes Title IX Support: x3311 / (713) 348-3311

Policies, including Sexual Misconduct Policy and Student Code of Conduct, and more information regarding Title IX can be found at

Tel (713) 348-4829

Mailing Address:
Rice University
Math Department -- MS 136
P.O. Box 1892
Houston, TX 77005-1892

Physical Address:
Rice University
Herman Brown Hall for Mathematical Sciences
6100 Main Street
Houston, TX 77005