The OAA strongly discourages overloading and taking more than the maximum threshold of 18 credit hours in a given semester. Rarely, circumstances may warrant an overload. Even in these rare circumstances, every effort should be made to avoid needing to take more than 18 credit hours. See the overload information page for more details on taking more than 18 credit hours. Students must secure permission from either their appropriate major advisor(s) or the Office of Academic Advising to take more than 18 credits in any semester.

NOTE: Current freshmen may not overload in either semester of their freshman year.

Background Information

President Leebron and former Provost Miranda appointed a committee of students, faculty, and staff to study and provide recommendations on guidelines and processes for governing student requests to enroll for more than 18 hours. The committee—the Approval Threshold Committee—met and solicited student input via email and college government meetings, and at several meetings of the Student Association. The committee submitted a report and recommendations to President Leebron and Provost Miranda in spring of 2017 They accepted the committee’s recommendations and approved implementation of those recommendations , effective July 1, 2017.

The most notable aspects of implementation are explained below. Please take care to review the new guidelines and, in particular, the new process and timeline for petition approval. For the fall 2017 semester and onward, the new guidelines and process will govern requests (petitions) to enroll in 19-21 credit hours by all students who matriculated as freshmen in fall 2016 and forward, except for Architecture and Music students, who are exempted from the new rule. Since this is a pilot effort, the process will be reviewed and revised as needed as we move forward.

Overload Petition Process

Please note that in some cases, petitions submitted to OAA may be referred to a major advisor(s).

Students who wish to submit a petition must follow this process with a deadline of Friday, September 3, 2021 for the Fall 2021 term:

  1. Complete the petition form including a clearly articulated, written rationale for enrolling in more than 18 hours, along with an academic plan. (If you matriculated to Rice in the Fall 2015 semester or before, please click here.)
  2. Submit (electronically) to an academic advisor a completed petition and a calendar showing a typical week’s academic and non-academic commitments.
    1. Students who have not declared a major and remain undecided should submit petitions and supporting documents to the Office of Academic Advising (OAA) by emailing
    2. Students who are certain of their choice of major or have declared a major should submit petitions and supporting documents to their major advisor. A list of major advisors and their contact information can be found here.
  3. Meet or have a phone conversation with the appropriate advisor(s) to discuss the petition no later than Friday, September 3, 2021 (Friday of the first week of classes).
  4. If a petition is approved by the advisor, the advisor immediately emails to notify the Office of the Registrar (OTR) by formal email.
  5. The Registrar will then adjust ESTHER access to allow for overload registration.
  6. Student manages registration and updates course registration as approved.
  7. If a petition is rejected by the advisor, a student may appeal. Appeals must be submitted by noon on Wednesday, September 8, 2021 and resolved by noon on Friday, September 10, 2021. Students whose petitions are rejected by the advisor may choose, in consultation with the advisor, to submit a revised petition for reconsideration by the advisor. Students who have not identified or declared a major and wish to appeal a decision by their advisor may submit an appeal to the Director of the Office of Academic Advising. The Director is the final level of review. Students who have identified or declared a major and wish to appeal a decision by their advisor may submit an appeal to the Dean of Undergraduates. The Dean is the final level of review. To be considered, an appeal must be submitted by noon on Wednesday of Week 2 of the appropriate semester. Appeals must be resolved before noon on the last class-day of Week 2 of the appropriate semester.

The Offices of the Provost and Dean of Undergraduates will work with OAA and department chairs to ensure adequate advisor availability for students in the time frames indicated. Please remember that you may enroll in up to 18 hours without special permission. Though permission is required to enroll in more than 18 hours, the approval threshold advising meeting is intended to be an opportunity for an open discussion in which you can share academic and personal goals, and your advisor can determine whether enrollment in more than 18 hours is beneficial and appropriate given your academic record, course of study, and outside commitments.

If you have questions about the guidelines and process, please direct them to Associate Vice Provost Matt Taylor ( or Director of Academic Advising Christine Martinez (

Overview of Petition Approval/Denial Process for Major Advisors

  1. Review the student's petition with the student via telephone or in person.
  2. Make a decision to approve or deny the petition.
  3. Retain a copy of the student's petition form within your department. The original form should be retained by the student.
  4. Email only if the decision is an approval, and include the student name, ID number, and number of credits approved.

Note: If a student has declared multiple majors, all major advisors must approve and be involved in the overload petition process.

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Phone | 713.348.4060, 713.348.2637

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