What is unique about the Shepherd School admission process?
Each year we assemble a team of musicians based on very specific ensemble needs. For orchestral instrumentalists, we populate two orchestras with a specific number of students for each section. For vocalists, we need specific voice types in our vocal program. Admission for instrumentalists, vocalists, composers, and music history is also decided by reviewing studio attrition and how vacant studio slots can best be filled.
How may I tour the Rice University campus and the Shepherd School of Music?
The Shepherd School of Music and Rice University are offering tours and on-campus visits. The Rice University tour and information session schedule and registration may be found here for tours and events. If you would like to meet with a Shepherd School admissions professional, please see the Visit page.
Do enrolled students have to live on campus?
Will I live in a residential college all four years?
We believe a large part of what makes Rice a remarkable environment for undergraduates is the residential college system, so we encourage all freshmen to live on campus. New students are assigned to one of our eleven residential units, or colleges. Each college houses approximately 230 freshmen and upperclassmen; another 70 or so members of each college live off campus for one of their four years at Rice. The colleges serve not only as residence halls but also as primary centers for dining, studying, playing, networking, and developing leadership skills. Each college functions as a self-supporting unit, boasting its own government, budget, sports teams, dining facility, and commons.
What are Houston and the Rice campus like?
As the fourth-largest city in the United States and the largest in Texas, Houston offers the diversity and richness found only in world-class urban centers. The city's population totals 1.9 million, while the greater metropolitan area covers 8,778 square miles and has a population of 4.7 million. Economic vitality spans the energy, healthcare, space, high-tech, and chemical industries. Houstonians support more than 500 cultural, visual, and performing arts organizations; 75 art galleries; five major museums; resident companies in opera, theater, symphony, and ballet; and four major league sports franchises. More than 90 languages are spoken in the Houston area. As a Rice student, you will benefit from the best of two worlds—a traditional university campus located in a thriving metropolis. The campus includes about 50 major buildings, designed over a period of nearly a century and which are representative of the changes in style of 20th century American architecture. The university's earliest buildings were conceived by the architect, Ralph Adams Cram, in a revivalist style based on the medieval architecture of Southern Europe and are characterized by red tile roofs, rose-hued brick, semicircular archways, and elaborate detailing.
Are there many performing opportunities for undergraduates?
There are on average 285 students at the Shepherd School; approximately 120 undergraduates, 165 graduate students. With chamber music, studio class, choral ensembles and orchestra concerts, there are numerous performing opportunities for undergraduates. Undergraduate and graduate students perform together in ensembles, assuring that students learn from each other while maintaining the highest level of musical excellence.
Can I apply for early decision or Questbridge?
Due to the complexity of the audition process, the Shepherd School of Music only admits by regular decision.
Can I apply for the Bachelor of Arts in Music, or do you offer a minor in Music?
We do not admit directly into the BA degree, nor do we offer a minor in Music. The BA degree is reserved for enrolled students, often performance majors, who have decided to change their focus.
Can I enroll in the second (January) semester?
There are no freshmen or transfer mid-year admits to Rice University or the Shepherd School of Music.
How many undergraduate applications do you receive annually? What is your acceptance rate?
The Shepherd School receives over 400 undergraduate applications annually, and our acceptance rate is typically around 15%.
May I take trial lessons from faculty members?
Individual lessons are scheduled directly with faculty members via the email address listed on their biography page. All introductory lessons are subject to faculty availability.
Is there a chamber music program at the Shepherd School?
Depending on their field of study, undergraduate performance majors are required to participate in two to six semesters of chamber music at the Shepherd School. We believe instruction in chamber music to be critical to maintaining a successful career in music.
What undergraduate performance opportunities are there in Houston outside of the Shepherd School?
Many of the professional ensembles throughout greater Houston frequently employ Shepherd School students. Churches, museums, synagogues, private parties, and weddings are just a few of the “gigging” opportunities.
When are undergraduate applications due?
December 1 is the deadline for Shepherd School applicants to submit the Common Application and Rice Supplement OR Coalition Application, plus the required Prescreening Profile or Audition Profile Form.
When are transfer applications due?
The Undergraduate Prescreening Profile or Audition Profile Form is due to the Shepherd School by December 1. Your Common Application and Rice Supplement OR Coalition Application are due March 15. When scheduling your audition, please keep in mind auditions take place from mid-January to mid-February.
Do music applicants have to complete the Rice application?
Yes. The Shepherd School is an academic division of Rice University, and music students take academic coursework, live in residential colleges, are an integral part of Rice’s campus life, and ultimately receive degrees from Rice University.
Do I have to take the SAT Subject Exams?
All music applicants have the option to take either the SAT or the ACT. The SAT Subject Exams are no longer required for admission to Rice University.
Am I allowed to designate a teacher preference?
Yes, selecting a teacher preference in the area of strings, piano, and voice is very important. You will make this selection on the Prescreening Profile. Once your Prescreening Profile has been submitted, changes to your teacher preference must be made in writing. Please contact Phyllis Smith for specific information. Woodwinds, Brass, Percussion, Organ, and Harp all have one faculty. Composition faculty are assigned students based on a rotating studio model. More information is found here.
Would I take private lessons with a teaching assistant?
No. Shepherd School performance and composition majors study privately with faculty members.
How important are my high-school grades and College Board scores?
While it is critical that you have a successful audition, it is also important that the Shepherd School admissions committee sees your non-musical academic strengths. Music majors are required to take non-music academic courses at Rice University, some of which may be challenging. Maintaining a good high school GPA and testing well on the College Board exams help indicate what type of college student you may be.
What high school courses are required by Rice Admissions for my high school diploma?
Rice seeks students who demonstrate intellectual vitality through their course selection and their grade performance. Most applicants will challenge themselves by taking advantage of the rigorous coursework available to them. At a minimum, students must complete the following: English - 4 credits; Social Studies - 2 credits; Mathematics - 3 credits; Laboratory Science (e.g. biology, chemistry, physics) - 2 credits; Foreign Language - 2 credits; Additional credits in any of the categories above - 3 credits for a total of 16 credits.
Students admitted with curriculum deficiencies will be asked to complete the required work by taking high school or college-level courses during the summer before enrollment at Rice.