Requests for overloads will not be accepted for:
- First-time freshmen students (first or second semester)
- Enrollment over 21 credit hours for any student

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. 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.

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

Students who wish to submit a petition must follow this process with a deadline of Friday of the FIRST WEEK OF CLASSES for the semester you wish to overload (for Fall 2024 this is Friday August 30, 2024):

  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 earlier, please click here.)
  2. Submit (electronically) to their academic advisor a completed petition and a calendar showing a typical week’s academic and non-academic commitments.
    1. Students who have declared a major or are fairly certain of their choice of major (even if officially undeclared) should submit petitions and supporting documents to their major advisor(s). A list of major advisors and their contact information can be found here. Please note that if you have declared multiple majors, all major advisors must approve your petition.
    2. Students who remain undecided should submit petitions and supporting documents to the Office of Academic Advising (OAA) by emailing
  3. Meet or have a phone conversation with the appropriate advisor(s) to discuss the petition no later than Friday of the first week of classes (for Fall 2024 this is Friday August 30, 2024).
  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. 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, appeals must be submitted by noon on Wednesday of the second week of classes (September 4, 2024) and resolved by noon on Friday of the second week of classes (September 6, 2024).

The 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 Executive 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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Office of Academic Advising MS-529

Rice University, Ley Student Center, Suite 132

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Houston, TX 77005