Rice University

Rice University Center for Civic Leadership



  1. What faculty and staff members are involved in the certificate program and from whom should I seek guidance?

    The Certificate in Civic Leadership leverages the skills, expertise, and academic knowledge of a wide range of individuals in the Rice University community. 

    • CCL Undergraduate Advisor: This individual is a staff member in the Center for Civic Leadership and is charged with advising students on certificate requirements throughout their time with the program and ensuring timely progress of certificate students.
    • Faculty Advisor: This individual is identified by student participants in the certificate program and should represent content or methodological expertise for the Civic Leadership Capstone Project. The Faculty Advisor is most involved during the development and implementation of the capstone projects. A typical commitment for this role extends from late spring or early summer through the following spring or summer, depending on when a project is implemented.
    • CCL Project Advisor: This individual may be assigned from the pool of staff members in the Center for Civic Leadership upon submission of the student's application to the certificate program, which includes a project abstract. This staff member helps to coordinate efforts between the student, faculty member, and community partner in order to ensure that students have the necessary guidance and resources to complete their projects. Similar to the role of the Faculty Advisor, this individual will work most closely with certificate students from late spring or early summer through the following spring or summer, depending on when a project is implemented.
    Staff members of the Center for Civic Leadership will play an informal advising and mentoring role throughout students' time with CCL programs. Whether as a mentee in the Leadership Rice Mentorship Experience, participant in the Alternative Spring Break program, or a researcher in a Houston Action Research Team (HART), students will be immersed in the culture and experience of civic leadership. Establishing relationships with staff members of the CCL will help identify a meaningful path to certificate completion and also allow for greater exploration of new opportunities while and Rice and after. 

  2. Who is eligible to participate in the Certificate in Civic Leadership?

    All Rice University undergraduate students are eligible to participate in CCL programs and courses. Students are encouraged to get involved in a CCL Immersion Program and CCL Action Program, as well as speak with the CCL Undergraduate Advisor early in their Rice careers to take full advantage of the range of opportunities available through the CCL. There are a variety of paths to completion of the Certificate in Civic Leadership, but students must formally apply for acceptance into the certificate program.

  3. What is the general timeline for progression in the certificate?

    A well-structured plan for participation in the program will include completion of a CCL Immersion Program in the first or second year, a CCL Action Program in the second or third year, and the Civic Leadership Capstone Course and Project in the third or fourth year. In addition, students will take two elective courses (one in leadership and one in their issue area of interest) during the first, second, or third year. Students must declare their intent to participate no later than May 1 of the semester preceding their final two semesters on campus (i.e. end of junior year).

  4. Can I still study abroad if I want to complete the certificate requirements?

    Yes, absolutely, and we actively encourage students to find ways to connect this experience with other academic experiences, whether on campus or abroad. The one component that requires an on-campus presence is the Civic Leadership Capstone Course (UNIV 402), which must be taken in the fall semester prior to the Civic Leadership Capstone Project (UNIV 403) in the spring semester or summer.

  5. I am already completing an honors thesis or other significant work product for my major, minor, or other academic program. Can I count that as my Civic Leadership Capstone Project?

    The Certificate in Civic Leadership is structured in a manner such that it recognizes the completion of unique intellectual efforts. As such, certificate participants may not receive credit or meet certificate requirement through activities that have already received formal recognition for another endeavor.

    There may, however, be opportunities for students to expand projects, deepen their understanding of issues, or utilize new approaches to solving problems previously addressed. The end result must be a unique intellectual product and meet the high standards of academic rigor associated with the certificate and plans to pursue this path should be discussed with the Undergraduate Advisor in advance of applying to the certificate program.

  6. Can I take any of the required credits as Pass/Fail?

    No. As is the case for majors and minors, all required curricular components must be taken with a standard grading -- either letter grade or S/U. Classes taken on neither a Pass/Fail nor Audit format may be accepted as meeting certificate requirements. Note that Pass/Fail courses completed in spring 2014 or earlier will be accepted as an exception to certificate requirements. Students must receive permission from the CCL to apply this exception.

  7. Can courses not on the list of sample electives be considered to meet the social issue and leadership electives requirement?

    The list of electives is intended to serve as an aid to students who wish to identify courses that have already been determined to have significant components of issues-specific content knowledge or leadership theory. They are not, however, exhaustive or fully representative of the wide range of expertise available from Rice University faculty. Student's wishing to substitute another course should consult with the Undergraduate Advisor and be prepared to submit a course syllabus and statement of how the course met the intent of the electives requirement. Decisions on substitutions will be made by the CCL Undergraduate Advisor in consultation with the Faculty Director of the Center for Civic Leadership.


Declaration of Intent 

  1. What does it mean to declare my intent to participate the certificate program?

    Declaring your intent to participate in the program is the first step in the application process. It is the point at which students formally declare the certificate to be part of the academic program. In order to formally be admitted to the program, students may declare their intent to participate in the certificate program by completing the form available through Esther. At the end of each spring semester, all students that declare their intent to participate in the program will be contacted by the Undergraduate Advisor to arrange an initial advising appointment. The purpose of this appointment is to review the program requirements, timeline, and various components, as they relate to the students individual circumstances. While the program has specific components that build core competencies in civic leadership, it is intended to be flexible enough to allow students to follow their personal passions and apply content knowledge from a variety of prior academic and civic experience.

  2. What happens if I declare my intent to complete the certificate but later cannot meet the requirements?

    Through regular advising appointments, students' progress towards completion is tracked over time. While meeting the program requirements is ultimately the responsibility of the students, advisors will provide guidance if timely progress is not made. Failure to complete the certificate does not adversely impact a student's academic standing, but students are held to the policies in the General Announcements with respect to individual course completion for the elective courses and the capstone course and project.


Civic Leadership Capstone Course 

  1. Who is eligible to register the Civic Leadership Capstone Course (UNIV 402)?

    The Civic Leadership Capstone Course (UNIV 402) is a 3-credit course offered each fall by the Center for Civic Leadership. The course is open only to students seeking a Certificate in Civic Leadership and is designed to prepare students to carry out high-level, independent, community-based projects. In order to receive instructor permission to register, students must formally declare their intention to participate in and apply to the Certificate in Civic Leadership. 

  2. How do I progress from the Civic Leadership Capstone Course (UNIV 402) to the Civic Leadership Capstone Project (UNIV 403) and implement my project proposal?

    Before the end of the fall semester, students will submit their completed proposal to the course instructor and a committee of Center for Civic Leadership staff members, the student’s faculty advisor, and a designated representative from the project’s community partner for approval. Students whose proposals are approved by all parties listed above will be invited to apply for the 3-credit Civic Leadership Capstone Project course (UNIV 403) for project completion in the spring or summer following UNIV 402. Graduating students must fully complete the requirements of the certificate during or before the spring semester of their intended graduation date.

  3. Should I take the Civic Leadership Capstone Course (UNIV 402) in my junior or senior year?

    There is an advantage to completing the Civic Leadership Capstone Course during the junior year, but many students may not have the academic preparation to complete the course at this time. Students who take the Civic Leadership Capstone Course in the fall semester of their junior year and whose project proposals are not approved at the end of that fall semester may revise their proposals under the guidance of the the Faculty Advisor and the community partner. In this case, students may complete the project during the summer between their junior and senior years. Students who take the Civic Leadership Capstone Course in the fall semester of their senior year and whose project proposals are not approved by the end of fall semester will be eligible neither to move forward with their projects nor to complete the remaining certificate requirements.

  4. When will the Civic Leadership Capstone Course (UNIV 402) be held for the fall 2015 semester?

    The course will be held Thursdays from 2:00-5:00PM.


Civic Leadership Capstone Project 

    What is required to complete the Civic Leadership Capstone Project (UNIV 403) component of the certificate?

    In order to complete UNIV 403, students must: 

    • Complete their proposed project during the following spring or summer;
    • Formally present the findings or final product of the capstone project at Rice Undergraduate Research Symposium (RURS) or similar on-campus or community event; 
    • Formally present the findings or final product of the capstone project to the community partner; and
    • Submit a final reflection paper synthesizing their civic leadership experience; project outcomes; and future career, personal, and academic goals.

    A successful final evaluation of the project by the Civic Leadership Capstone Course Instructor, Faculty Advisor, and CCL Project Advisor is required to pass UNIV 403. Upon the recommendation of the Civic Leadership Capstone Course Instructor and the Faculty Advisor, the certificate will be awarded by vote of the CCL Faculty Advisory Board and recognized on the official transcript.

    What types of Civic Leadership Capstone Projects will be considered?

    As a general rule, projects must primarily benefit a non-profit organization (other than Rice University), social enterprise, or government entity. Projects must work to identify, analyze, or address pressing community needs. Students' work should advance the mission of the identified community partner and work to promote a public good. This is accomplished by addressing or studying the needs of a community in such a manner that a product or new knowledge is created that enhances their services, capacity, advocacy, or public policy. 

    Civic leadership is exercised by individuals but in a group or community context. It is expected that projects be developed and implemented primarily through the efforts of an individual student, but, in many cases, projects will entail the collaborative efforts of others outside the certificate program. Groups of certificate program students may not together work on one collective Civic Leadership Capstone Project together to meet the certificate requirement.

    Certificate students are encouraged to consider broadly their personal experiences, academic preparation, and public commitment when identifying potential projects. A wide range of final products and outcomes will be meet the capstone project requirements and efforts that build on prior experiences in coursework, research, leadership, and service will be considered equally valid. Students should not be bound by convention, but should explore creative and unique ways of developing and exercising civic leadership. 

    Capstone projects can work with a local, domestic, or international community partner.  Houston based projects are encouraged to spend 10 hours/week with community partners on their capstone project. Students conducting a domestic or international project would need to fulfill a similar time commitment. 
    Capstone students can collaborate on their projects. Collaborative/team-based projects are defined as projects with multiple students working with the same partner organization but proposing individualized projects or students working on the same project but engaging different partners. In either of these cases students are responsible to apply and complete their capstone project individually.

    Capstone projects may benefit the Rice community. Rice-based projects within the following guidelines may be considered.
    1.     Projects may not start new student clubs or initiatives that cannot be supported after the capstone project
    2.     Students must work with community partner(s) to develop their project.  The national chapter of a student organization may be one of the community partners but cannot be the lead partner organization.
    3.     Projects must clearly show a substantial, ongoing engagement and direct benefit to the community partners, not just the Rice community.

      Is there funding available for Civic Leadership Capstone Projects?

    Students may apply for project funding of up to $2,500. Funding may be used for costs specific to the project, including project supplies and materials, printing costs, and transportation to and from project site. Students requesting funding must submit a detailed budget as part of the Capstone Project. Students are encouraged to discuss their budgetary needs with the Program Director in advance to receive advice on appropriate expenses. Students who propose projects with budget needs exceeding $2,500 are encouraged to apply for additional institutional funding (e.g. funds from major department), external funding (e.g. grants), and/or raise additional funds on their own in order to meet their project budget needs. 


    Exceptions to Certificate Requirements 

      1. What general exceptions to the certificate requirements may be granted to all currently enrolled students?

        Students who completed the social issue and/or leadership elective in spring 2014 or earlier, but chose the Pass/Fail option, may be allowed to count the courses towards certificate requirements.

      2. What exceptions to the certificate requirements will be granted for May 2015 and May 2016 graduates?

        • The requirement for participation in a CCL Immersion Program will be waived.
        • The requirement for the leadership elective will be modified to allow students to concurrently enroll in a leadership elective and UNIV 400 during the fall 2014 semester. Note that exceptions will not be granted for the social issue elective, which must be completed in spring 2014 or earlier for May 2015 graduates.