Further financial considerations for your decision to join Graduate School


Filling out the FAFSA application is the first step to receiving grants, loans, and work study funds provided from the Federal Government for domestic students and permanent residents.

The fastest way to apply for aid is to visit the FAFSA.GOV website, which provides detailed information and step-by-step instructions on how to begin the application process. Make sure you have all the necessary documents and information you may need to fill out the FAFSA form. For example, you will need your social security number, your permanent resident card if you have one, any W-2 forms or records of money you earned for the previous year, and your tax records,

The FAFSA site is available in English and Spanish. Online help is also available on the website.  Usually, the application process can be completed in 1/2 hour or less. There is a 3 minute introduction video available to view before filling out your application.

Students with exceptional financial need might qualify for Perkins Loans, which award up to $8000 annually and have a 5% interest rate. A Federal Perkins Loan is a need-based student loan offered by the US Department of Education to assist American College students in funding their post-secondary education.

Visit studentaid.ed.gov which provides info on the William D. Ford Federal Direct Loan – the largest federal student loan program. It offers direct unsubsidized loans and direct PLUS loans.

Also visit studentaid.gov/types for additional tips, and irs.gov for information on education tax credits you might be able to receive.


Remember that the return on your personal and intellectual investment may be measured not only monetarily but also personally and professionally. You will sharpen your skills and deepen your understanding in and beyond your field, increase your network, build life long relationships and friendships which all will situate you for a purposeful life ahead.


The PSM Degree Celebrates its 20th Anniversary nationwide

This year marks the 20th anniversary of the degree programs that gave rise to the Professional Science Master’s (PSM) initiative. The programs were developed to directly address growing national interest in partnerships between the STEM academic and employment communities. Since then, enthusiasm for academy-industry partnerships has only increased, and the PSM degree initiative has grown to more than 365 programs at more than 165 institutions. Designed in collaboration with industry professionals, the PSM degree ensures that graduates are workplace ready. PSM graduates acquire both STEM disciplinary expertise and high-value, transferable professional skills to prepare them for successful employment. Internships, group projects, and other experiential learning opportunities immerse PSM students in the workplace.

RICE UNIVERSITY joined in the excitement of the PSM movement in 2001 with the establishment of the M.S. in Environmental Analysis, Subsurface Geoscience, Bioscience and Health Policy and Space Studies. Our PSM programs currently enroll 55+ students and have graduated over 300 workforce ready professionals.

PSM students and graduates strengthen economic development and competitiveness, especially as part of the local and regional STEM workforce. Graduates from the Rice programs are employed at well-known companies and organizations, including Chevron, Shell, Cheniere Energy, GSI Environmental, CDM Consulting, Lockheed Martin, M.D. Anderson, TMC Health Policy, Boeing and Jacobs Engineering.

Souni Saengchanh, a PSM alum from the Bioscience and Health Policy program, emphasizes the competitive advantage gained in PSM degree programs. “One of Rice’s mantras is “unconventional wisdom”, and I think that the PSM program is an embodiment of this spirit, challenging students to draw from and assimilate knowledge from various disciplines in order to tackle issues that are currently at the forefront of science. The program equips students with a unique combination of skills needed to be competitive in an interdisciplinary industry.“

Employers like K+S Healthcare Management also recognize the importance of our PSM programs in preparing a capable STEM workforce. “The Rice intern’s performance has been exceptional throughout his tenure with our company. We put him into a multitude of department responsibilities across our organization and he outperformed all expectations. All of the supervisors he worked closely with praised his thoroughness, attention to detail, speed of learning and project completion, ability to follow complex direction after one instructional meeting, and his self-motivated and independent passion for his work. The PSM program at Rice prepared him well for technical and managerial challenges in this industry, and his polished and competent attitude and demeanor made him an outstanding professional. It has been a pleasure having him with our company.”

Attending a Grad Fair?

Fall will be here soon, and your school will host a Graduate Fair inviting a wide variety of universities to come to your campus and provide students with information about potential graduate programs.

Hopefully, you’re aware of why it’s so important to attend a graduate information session and also how to make the most of attending such a fair.

You cannot be a passive attendee. Coming prepared with questions will enable you to make the right decision about your graduate school aspirations.

Here are some questions we strongly recommend getting answers to.

About students in the graduate program:

  1. What undergraduate degrees do students in this program have?
  2. How varied is the demographic?
  3. Do most students come straight from undergrad, or are many working professionals?
  4. Are most students in the program full time or working full time?

About graduates of the program:

  1. Where do graduates of this program work now?
  2. How quickly did they find employment?
  3. What is the average expected salary for graduates 1-3 years after their program? Later?
  4. What do they say about their degrees?
  5. Is there an active alumni network?

About the professors:

  1. What are their areas of expertise?
  2. Are any well-known in their fields? For what?

About the curriculum:

  1. Which classes do students struggle with the most? Why?
  2. Does the program partner with any real-world companies or organizations?
  3. Will I get help finding an internship?
  4. What do students who work full-time while in the program say about the courses helping their performance at work?
  5. Are there any prerequisite classes I need to take before I enroll?
  6. What is the typical class size?

About the tuition:

  1. How much does tuition cost?
  2. Will the tuition increase while I’m still in the program?
  3. Are there scholarships available?

Again, don’t let yourself be a passive attendee! Attending an info session is great, but you won’t get nearly as much out of one if you don’t ask the right questions.

Grab a notebook, jot these questions down, and go prepared to educate yourself! You won’t regret it.

If you’re considering what it would mean to pursue a Professional Science Master’s degree at Rice University, we encourage you to reach out to us for more information and to schedule a visit or a phone call : profms@rice.edu



What you’ll need to know about a prospective employer depends entirely on your experience, your skills, and the company in question. Remember, you’re looking for particulars that can inform your resume and cover letter, and eventually make you shine in an interview. Focus on items that are relevant to you, your skills, and the position to which you’re applying.

Start with the company’s website. Read their “About Us” page. If they have a blog, read it. Read their Twitter feed and Facebook page. Get to know their voice. Get to know what they value. Get to know who their audience is and how they connect with them.

Google them. Find any and all news from the past year or so and read it. Look for pivots, successes and failures, and new product launches. Look for shake-ups in the C-suite.

Identify their competitors. Figure out who else is doing what they’re doing, and take note of how they’re doing it. Identify at least three competitors, get a handle on each one’s value prop, and know how they differ from the company to which you’re applying.

Find them on Linkedin. It doesn’t get more straightforward than this. Search for them on Linkedin. Look at who they employ. Browse the employees’ profiles until you develop a sense of the kind of person they like to hire. Take note of pedigree (where they’ve worked before) and try to develop a sense of whether they’re a fairly relaxed culture or if they’re buttoned up. Additionally, find out if you’re connected to anyone who works there, either by a first or second degree connection. If so, don’t be afraid to reach out and ask specific questions. ATTEND A LINKEDIN SESSION AT THE CCD AT RICE!


The whole goal is to differentiate you from the rest of the pack and help the recruiter and hiring manager understand that you’re the right person for the job. Take what you’ve learned, look for ways that it dovetails with your skills and the position in question, and then deploy that information strategically throughout your application materials. Use your cover letter to demonstrate your knowledge of the company and show off how your skills can help the company solve its current problems. Then drive it home by speaking knowledgeably about the company during your interview.


You have decided to pursue Graduate School

Making this decision is the first step in achieving success for your preferred future. We understand the commitment is great financially but also time-wise. Thinking of graduate school as an investment in your future, will give you a perspective that will help you to move forward. Looking at the big picture will offer you the best vantage point for understanding the return on your graduate school investment.

Make sure to investigate all avenues available to you to finance your education. The key for success is to chose a payment plan that works for your budget.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median weekly earnings of bachelor’s degree holders in 2015 was $1,137/per week, where as Master’s degree holders earned $1,341 per week. That translates in an annual salary of $59,124 versus $69,732. (Websites like Glassdoor and Payscale record updated salary scales for a wide variety of backgrounds.)

There are grants available for graduate level students. As explained on the U.S. Dep. of Education website: studentaid.ed.gov  grants are need-based assistance, and scholarships are merit-based contributions to your academic investment.  It takes time and commitment to research the many opportunities available by federal government, state government and non-profit organizations. Many of our PSM students have successfully received grants and scholarships helping them to finance the tuition of our program, and have qualified for some corporate scholarships our program receives annually.


Still need to take the GRE?

We know that navigating all of the online and print resources for the GRE can be daunting, so we collected some helpful information for useful information, practice tests, and prep courses available to you. Will add more information over the next few day/weeks, make sure to follow our blog.

Here some info on the Analytical Writing Assessment:

In this section, you will be asked to write two essays: one is called the “Issue” and the other is the “Argument.” You will have 30 minutes to complete each essay.

In the “Issue” essay you will be asked to analyze or respond to a general statement, typically about politics, culture, or education, and take a position on said issue.

In the “Argument” essay, you will be asked to examine the logic of a text (typically no longer than a paragraph). This essay requires close reading and a firm grasp on the rules of logic. Samples can be found on the GRE web site

The essay graders only have 30 seconds to grade your essay, so it needs to

be clear and coherent.  Well-written essays take much less time to grade than poorly-written essays do; if your grader has to take the entire 30 seconds to read your first paragraph because it’s so unclear, that does not bode well for your score.


Speaking of scores: the total score for the essay portion of the GRE is the average of the two essay scores. A 0.0 means that you either didn’t do the essay at all, or

just decided to type a bunch of gibberish instead of answering the prompt. Thus, it is quite difficult to get a 0.0; most students fall between a 3.0 and 5.0. A 6.0

means that you knocked it out of the park with a well-written, insightful essay of 80 lines or more.

Introduction Letters

Incoming students are working on their summer assignments. Here are some steps on how to research companies for introduction letters. 1. Start with the company’s website and read their “About us” page to get to know their values and their voice. 2. Google news about the company looking for successes, failures etc 3. Identify their competitors and see how they differ from “your” company. 4. Look them up on LinkedIn and see who they employ, maybe you are already connected to someone who works there so you can reach out to them.