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PhD Program

Year after year, our top-ranked PhD program sets the standard for graduate economics training across the country. Graduate students work closely with our world-class faculty to develop their own research and prepare to make impactful contributions to the field.

Our doctoral program enrolls 20-24 full-time students each year and students complete their degree in five to six years. Students undertake core coursework in microeconomic theory, macroeconomics, and econometrics, and are expected to complete two major and two minor fields in economics. Beyond the classroom, doctoral students work in close collaboration with faculty to develop their research capabilities, gaining hands-on experience in both theoretical and empirical projects.

How to apply

Students are admitted to the program once per year for entry in the fall. The online application opens on September 15 and closes on December 15.

Meet our students

Our PhD graduates go on to teach in leading economics departments, business schools, and schools of public policy, or pursue influential careers with organizations and businesses around the world. 

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Department of Linguistics and Philosophy

Ph.d. program.

The program of studies leading to the doctorate in philosophy provides subjects and seminars in such traditional areas as logic, ethics, metaphysics, epistemology, philosophy of science, philosophy of language, philosophy of mind, aesthetics, social and political philosophy, and history of philosophy. Interest in philosophical problems arising from other disciplines, such as linguistics, psychology, mathematics and physics, is also encouraged.

Before beginning dissertation research, students are required to take two years of coursework, including a proseminar in contemporary philosophy that all students must complete in their first year of graduate study. Students are also required to pass general examinations and demonstrate competence in the following areas: value theory, logic and the history of philosophy.

Interdisciplinary study is encouraged, and candidates for the doctorate may take a minor in a field other than philosophy. There is no general language requirement for the doctorate, except in those cases in which competence in one or more foreign language is needed to carry on research for the dissertation.

Below is a detailed description of the philosophy Ph.D. program. For information about applying, see our admissions page ; we have also compiled data on placement , retention, and average completion times .

1. Your Advisor

When you join the Department you will be assigned a faculty advisor who will supervise your course of study. Your advisor must approve your program at the beginning of each term, and you should keep them abreast of your progress and problems. When forming a Fifth Term Paper committee the chair of your committee becomes your advisor. Similarly, when you form a dissertation committee.

Your teachers will write comments on your performance in subjects which you complete. These comments will be placed in your file in the Department office (your file is open to you), and they will be discussed at a meeting of the faculty at the end of each term. You should see your advisor at the end of each term to review your progress.

You may change your advisor at any time. Similarly you may change the composition of your fifth year paper and dissertation committees, as well as adjust the topics of those projects. To make a change first ask the relevant faculty if they are willing, then notify the Chair of the Committee on Graduate Students (COGS).

The current composition of COGS is: Brad Skow (Chief Cog), Kieran Setiya , and Roger White .

2. Requirements

2.1 overall course requirements.

Students must pass (with a grade of C or higher) at least 10 graduate subjects in philosophy (unless you earn a minor, in which case see section 4 below ). At least 7 must be subjects at MIT.

Students may petition COGS to use undergraduate subjects at MIT to satisfy the overall course requirement (except: in the case of an undergraduate logic subject more advanced than 24.241, no petition is needed).

Students must take at least 2 subjects in philosophy at MIT during each term of their first year, and at least 1 subject in philosophy at MIT during each term of their second year. Normally, students take 4 subjects during their second year.

2.2 Teaching Requirement

All graduate students must acquire some teaching experience. This requirement is normally satisfied by serving as a Teaching Assistant in an undergraduate subject in philosophy at MIT.

2.3 Logic Requirement

The Department has a standing committee which is charged with administering the logic requirement; the requirement may be satisfied in one of the following ways:

(a) by auditing Logic I and completing the work (Logic I may not be taken for graduate credit); (b) by successfully completing a logic assessment set by the committee; (c) by successfully completing an alternative or more advanced subject in logic at MIT (for example, modal logic or Logic II) approved by the committee. (d) by being exempted from the requirement by COGS. Such exemption does not affect the overall course requirements (2.1 above).

The level of knowledge of logic expected for exemption, or tested on the examination, is what is covered in Logic I at MIT: proof procedure and semantics for first-order predicate logic with identity, and some acquaintance with standard metalogical results (for example, those concerning completeness, incompleteness and decidability).

Students are normally expected to satisfy the logic requirement by the beginning of their second year.

2.4 Distribution Requirement

2.4.1 proseminar.

All first-year students are required to complete the two-semester sequence 24.400-24.401, Proseminar in Philosophy. The first semester is an intensive seminar on the foundations of analytic philosophy from Frege to roughly 1960. The second semester is an intensive seminar on highlights of analytic philosophy from roughly 1960 to the present. The two-semester sequence counts as two subjects.

2.4.2 History of Philosophy

Students must complete two graduate subjects in the history of philosophy. For the purposes of this requirement, the history of philosophy means philosophers or philosophical schools that flourished before 1879.

A subject that spends a substantial part of, but not all of, its time on history counts toward this requirement provided the student’s term paper focuses on the history part. If there is doubt about whether a subject qualifies, consult COGS.

History subjects designed for a mixture of graduate and undergraduate students, like 100-level courses at Harvard, also count.

COGS permission is required in order to satisfy this requirement by taking two subjects on the same philosopher. (COGS will likely reject using two subjects on Descartes’ Meditations to fulfill the history requirement; COGS will likely approve using two subjects on Kant, one focused on ethics, the other on metaphysics and epistemology.)

Students wishing to fulfill this requirement by some other means should contact COGS.

2.4.3 Value Theory

Students must complete one graduate subject in ethics or political philosophy or aesthetics.

2.5 Fifth Term Paper Requirement

By the end of a student’s third term (usually fall of the second year) the student should select a paper topic for their Fifth Term Paper and form a committee to advise them on their work. The committee will consist of two faculty members (a supervisor and a second reader). The proposed topic and names of committee members should be submitted to COGS before the end-of-term meeting.

During the student’s fourth term, the student, in consultation with the committee, should assemble a reading list on the chosen topic. As a guideline, the reading list might consist of roughly twenty papers or the equivalent; the faculty recognizes that lengths of lists will vary. The final list must be approved by the committee and submitted to COGS by the end-of-term meeting.

During the fifth term, the student will write a polished paper on the chosen topic, roughly 25 pages long, in consultation with their committee. After submitting a final version of the paper that the committee deems satisfactory, the student will sit for an oral examination with the committee on both the paper and, more generally, the paper’s topic, as defined by the reading list.

The fifth term paper project is graded pass-fail. Students must pass the oral exam by the end-of-term meeting of their fifth term. After a student passes the exam their committee will write a report on the project to be given to the student and placed in the student’s file. Successfully completing this project constitutes passing the written and oral general examination requirements imposed by MIT’s Graduate School.

2.6 Petitions

A student may petition COGS to waive a requirement in light of their special circumstances.

3. Independent Studies

While in the normal case a student’s 10 graduate subjects will be seminars, students may also take an independent study with a faculty member. Students wishing to register for 24.891 or 24.892 must obtain permission from the Chief COG. After talking with the faculty member they wish to supervise their independent study, the student should write a proposal describing how often they will meet, how long the meetings will last, a tentative list of readings, and the amount of writing they will do. The Chief COG will approve an independent study only if the amount of work proposed equals or exceeds the usual amount of work in a seminar.

Students can minor in a field outside philosophy of their choosing (for example, linguistics, psychology, science technology and society, physics, feminist theory…). To earn a minor in field X a student must (i) pass 3 graduate subjects in field X, (ii) pass one graduate philosophy subject on a topic related to field X, and (iii) obtain COGS approval. (It is best to seek approval before all 4 subjects have been taken.) A student may receive no more than two minors; in the case of two minors, a single philosophy subject may (in rare cases) be used to satisfy clause (ii) for both minors.

Students who earn a minor need only pass 8, rather than 10, graduate philosophy subjects (7 must be taken at MIT). The subject used to satisfy (ii) counts as one of these 8.

Our faculty uses pluses and minuses, but the grades on your official transcript will be straight letter grades. Here are the meanings that MIT assigns to the grades:

A Exceptionally good performance, demonstrating a superior understanding of the subject matter, a foundation of extensive knowledge, and a skillful use of concepts and/or materials.

B Good performance, demonstrating capacity to use the appropriate concepts, a good understanding of the subject matter, and an ability to handle the problems and material encountered in the subject.

C Adequate performance, demonstrating an adequate understandingof the subject matter, an ability to handle relatively simpleproblems, and adequate preparation for moving on to more advanced work in the field.

D Minimally acceptable performance.

When the faculty determines the status of a student in the program, it does so on the basis of a review of the student’s total performance, which includes weighing the strengths and weaknesses of the student’s whole record. Thus it is in principle possible to redeem a weakness in one area by excellence in others.

An Incomplete (a grade of I) indicates that a minor part of the subject requirements has not been fulfilled and that a passing grade is to be expected when the work is completed. The grade I for the term remains permanently on the student’s record even when the subject is completed. In subjects in which the major work is a term paper, students may earn an I for the subject only if they submit a draft to the instructor(s) by midnight on the day before the end of term meeting. If a student does not hand in a draft by midnight on the day before the end of term meeting, the instructor is required to give the student an F. (The end of term meeting is shortly after the beginning of exam week.)

Any uncompleted incompletes on registration day of the following term will be converted to an F.

6. Ph.D. Thesis

A student is normally not allowed to begin work on a Ph.D. thesis until they have completed all of the requirements listed above. Students must complete all of those requirements by the end of their fifth term; exceptions will be made only after petition to COGS.

Once a student has completed the requirements listed above, there is the option of taking a terminal Master’s Degree instead of the Ph.D. This requires completing a Master’s thesis — students should consult COGS for more details.

The Ph.D. thesis is a substantial piece of original and independent research that displays mastery of an area of philosophy. A student may plan to write a sustained piece of work on one topic; they may instead plan to write three or more papers on connected topics. By the second month of the student’s sixth term they will submit to COGS a short (three to five pages) description of the projected thesis.

When the plan is approved, COGS will appoint a thesis committee consisting of a thesis supervisor and two additional readers, who shall be members of the philosophy faculty chosen by the student and willing to undertake the responsibility. The student will then meet with the members of the thesis committee for discussion of the material to be dealt with in the thesis. COGS approval is required if the student wants to include a non-MIT professor, or an MIT professor who is not on the philosophy faculty, on the committee. COGS approval is also required for a committee whose members include fewer than two MIT philosophy faculty (and this will be approved only in exceptional circumstances).

The student will meet regularly with their thesis supervisor throughout the writing of the thesis, and will provide all members of the thesis committee with written work by the end of each term. This requirement holds for nonresident as well as resident students.

The following rules govern completion of the thesis.

6.1 Final Term

The student will meet with their thesis committee during the first week of the term to assess the feasibility of completing the thesis during that term. The student and the committee will agree on a table of contents for the thesis, and on a schedule of dates for meeting the following requirements; a copy of the contents and the schedule should be given to COGS.

6.1.1 MIT Deadline

MIT requires that the completed thesis be delivered to the Department office by a date set by the Registrar for all Departments. (Early in January for February degrees, early in May for June degrees.) The Department regards this requirement as met by delivery to the thesis committee by that date of what the student regards as the final draft of their thesis.

6.1.2 Thesis Defense

The student will meet privately with their thesis committee to defend the thesis and to discuss any needed revisions. This meeting constitutes the official oral examination of the thesis.

The private defense must be scheduled for a date which will leave time for the student to make revisions before the MIT deadline. Once a student has completed the oral examination, and made any requested revisions, the decision whether to recommend award of the PhD is made by unanimous vote of the thesis committee.

6.1.3 Public Defense

The public defense is open to all members of the Department and their guests; it is chaired by the thesis supervisor, and normally runs for an hour, starting with a twenty-minute presentation by the student of the main results of the thesis. The public defense is the one occasion on which the entire Department has an opportunity to learn about and participate in the student’s work, and is a central part of the Ph.D. program.

The public defense is to be held after the student’s committee has voted to recommend awarding the PhD. One week before the public defense, the student should email the revised version to the chief COG, to be made available to members of the Department. A copy of the abstract should be emailed to the Academic Administrator for distribution when announcing the public defense to the Department.

6.1.4 Final Library Copy

The final library copy must be given to the Departmental representative to MIT’s Committee on Graduate School Policy (CGSP) by the day before that committee’s end-of-term meeting at which it approves the final degree list.

6.2 September Degrees

Students who will be unable to complete their theses during the spring term may wish to petition COGS for consideration for award of the degree in September. Such petitions will be granted on condition that an appropriate thesis committee can be constituted to work with the student during the summer. A schedule analogous to that described under 6.1 — including the scheduling of private and public defenses — must be given to COGS by the end of the spring term. The final library copy of the thesis must be given to the Departmental representative to CGSP by the day before that committee’s September meeting at which it approves the September degree list.

7. Policies on Satisfactory Progress and Good Standing

A student is in good standing so long as they have not fallen behind on any deadline mentioned in this document. The most salient of these is the deadline for the 5th term paper.

If a student is not in good standing, they will be unable to use their travel funds. If a student is not in good standing or has received a grade of B or lower in two classes in the previous semester, they are at risk of failing to make satisfactory academic progress.

If a student is at risk of failing to make satisfactory academic progress, the faculty will discuss the matter at the next end of term of meeting. (If any of the student’s advisors are not present at the meeting, they will be consulted before any action is taken.) The faculty will consider the work the student has produced, or failed to produce, so far, and the progress it represents. If there are serious doubts about the student’s prospects of completing the PhD, which includes writing a thesis that meets the conditions in section 6 , the student’s academic progress will be deemed unsatisfactory, and they will be issued a written notice from the Chief COG. The notice will explain how the student’s progress is unsatisfactory, what the student should accomplish in the following semester in order to avoid an official warning from the Vice Chancellor, and what steps the faculty will take to help the student accomplish these things. If a student fails to meet the conditions of the notice by the end of the following semester, as determined by the faculty, the student will receive an official warning from the Vice Chancellor. This warning will explain why the student’s progress continues to be unsatisfactory, what the student should accomplish in the following semester in order to continue in the program, and what steps the faculty will take to help the student accomplish these things. If the student is in a position to receive a terminal Master’s Degree, the conditions for doing so will be detailed. If the student fails to meet the conditions of the warning by the end of the semester, as determined by the faculty, the student will be denied permission to continue in the program.

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Admissions Requirements

The following are general requirements you should meet to apply to the MIT Sloan PhD Program. Complete instructions concerning application requirements are available in the online application.

General Requirements

  • Bachelor's degree or equivalent
  • A strong quantitative background (the Accounting group requires calculus)
  • Exposure to microeconomics and macroeconomics (the Accounting group requires microeconomics)

A Guide to Business PhD Applications by Abhishek Nagaraj (PhD 2016) may be of interest.

Application Components

Statement of purpose.

Your written statement is your chance to convince the admissions committee that you will do excellent doctoral work and that you have the promise to have a successful career as an academic researcher. 

GMAT/GRE Scores

We require either a valid GMAT or valid GRE score. At-home testing is allowed. Your unofficial score report from the testing institution is sufficient for application. If you are admitted to the program, you will be required to submit your official test score for verification.    

We do not have a minimum score requirement. We do not offer test waivers. Registration information for the GMAT (code X5X-QS-21) and GRE (code 3510) may be obtained at www.mba.com and www.ets.org respectively.

TOEFL/IELTS Scores

We require either a valid TOEFL (minimum score 577 PBT/90 IBT ) or valid IELTS (minimum score 7) for all non-native English speakers. Your unofficial score report from the testing institution is sufficient for application. If you are admitted to the program, you will be required to submit your official test score for verification.    Registration information for TOEFL (code 3510) and IELTS may be obtained at www.toefl.org and www.ielts.org respectively.

The TOEFL/IELTS test requirement is waived only if you meet one of the following criteria:

  • You are a native English speaker.
  • You attended all years of an undergraduate program conducted solely in English, and are a graduate of that program.

Please do not contact the PhD Program regarding waivers, as none will be discussed. If, upon review, the faculty are interested in your application with a missing required TOEFL or IELTS score, we may contact you at that time to request a score.

Transcripts

We require unofficial copies of transcripts for each college or university you have attended, even if no degree was awarded. If these transcripts are in a language other than English, we also require a copy of a certified translation. In addition, you will be asked to list the five most relevant courses you have taken.

Letters of Recommendation

We require three letters of recommendation. Academic letters are preferred, especially those providing evidence of research potential. We allow for an optional  fourth recommendation, but no more than four recommendations are allowed.

Your resume should be no more than two pages. You may chose to include teaching, professional experience, research experience, publications, and other accomplishments in outside activities.

Writing Sample(s)

Applicants are encouraged to submit a writing sample. For applicants to the Finance group, a writing sample is required. There are no specific guidelines for your writing sample. Possible options include (but are not limited to) essays, masters’ theses, capstone projects, or research papers.

Video Essay

A video essay is required for the Accounting research group and optional for the Marketing and System Dynamics research groups. The essay is a short and informal video answering why you selected this research group and a time where you creatively solved a problem. The video can be recorded with your phone or computer, and should range from 2 to 5 minutes in length. There is no attention — zero emphasis! — on the production value of your video.  

Nondiscrimination Policy: The Massachusetts Institute of Technology is committed to the principle of equal opportunity in education and employment. For complete text of MIT’s Nondiscrimination Statement, please click  here .

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MIT Political Science

Graduate Program

Pushing the Scholarly Frontier

PhD in Political Science

Our doctoral students are advancing political science as a discipline. They explore the empirical phenomena that produce new scholarly insights—insights that improve the way governments and societies function. As a result, MIT Political Science graduates are sought after for top teaching and research positions in the U.S. and abroad. Read where program alumni are working around the world.

How the PhD program works

The MIT PhD in Political Science requires preparation in two of these major fields:

  • American Politics
  • Comparative Politics
  • International Relations
  • Models and Methods
  • Political Economy
  • Security Studies

We recommend that you take a broad array of courses across your two major fields. In some cases, a single course may overlap across the subject matter of both fields. You may not use more than one such course to "double count" for the course distribution requirement. Keep in mind that specific fields may have additional requirements.

You are free to take subjects in other departments across the Institute. Cross-registration arrangements also permit enrollment in subjects taught in the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences at Harvard University and in some of Harvard's other graduate schools.

Requirements

1. number of subjects.

You will need two full academic years of work to prepare for the general examinations and to meet other pre-dissertation requirements. Typically, a minimum of eight graduate subjects are required for a PhD.

2. Scope and Methods

This required one-semester seminar for first-year students introduces principles of empirical and theoretical analysis in political science.

3. Statistics

You must successfully complete at least one class in statistics.
You must successfully complete at least one class in empirical research methods.

5. Philosophy

You must successfully complete at least one class in political philosophy.

6. Foreign language or advanced statistics

You must demonstrate reading proficiency in one language other than English by successfully completing two semesters of intermediate-level coursework or an exam in that language, or you must demonstrate your knowledge of advanced statistics by successfully completing three semesters of coursework in advanced statistics. International students whose native language is not English are not subject to the language requirement.

7. Field research

We encourage you to conduct field research and to develop close working ties with faculty members engaged in major research activities.

8. Second Year Paper/workshop

You must complete an article-length research paper and related workshop in the spring semester of the second year. The second-year paper often develops into a dissertation project.

9. Two examinations

In each of your two elected fields, you must take a general written and oral examination. To prepare for these examinations, you should take at least three courses in each of the two fields, including the field seminar.

10. Doctoral thesis

As a rule, the doctoral thesis requires at least one year of original research and data collection. Writing the dissertation usually takes a substantially longer time. The thesis process includes a first and second colloquium and an oral defense. Be sure to consult the MIT Specifications for Thesis Preparation as well as the MIT Political Science Thesis Guidelines . Consult the MIT academic calendar to learn the due date for final submission of your defended, signed thesis.

Questions? Consult the MIT Political Science Departmental Handbook or a member of the staff in the MIT Political Science Graduate Office .

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The Microbiology Graduate PhD Program is an MIT-wide program that is designed to provide students with broad exposure to modern areas of microbiology and depth in the chosen area of thesis work.

There are more than 50 faculty in 10 different departments and divisions that study microbes. Graduate students admitted to the program will join a vibrant, thriving microbiology community on the MIT campus and will receive training in a broad range of areas in microbiology.

The major components of the training program are described in in this section, along with information on life as a graduate student at MIT.

“Is the MIT Microbiology Graduate Program the right program for me?”

This is a question we often hear, especially if applicants are considering or applying to other departments within MIT.  As you can see from our website, we have over 60 faculty from over 10 different departments participating in the Microbiology Graduate Program.

One way to help you decide where best to apply is for you to determine whether all, or almost all, of the faculty in whose research you are interested are in one department.  If that is the case, applying to that individual department would be more appropriate.  If you are equally interested in faculty and labs from different departments, then a program like MIT Microbiology can provide you the flexibility to bridge different departments and disciplines, both in your coursework and your research.

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mit university phd programs

The largest graduate program in MIT’s School of Engineering, EECS has about 700 graduate students in the doctoral program at any given time. Those students conduct groundbreaking research across a wide array of fields alongside world-class faculty and research staff, build lifelong mentorship relationships and drive progress in every sector touched by electrical engineering, computer science, and artificial intelligence and decision-making.

PhD Building Technology

Phd computation, graduate programs.

mit university phd programs

Degree Requirements

See an overview of sa+p groups and chart of all degree programs.

Details below for each graduate program’s degree requirements:

  • PhD- Building Technology
  • PhD- Computation
  • PhD- History and Theory of Architecture; and the History and Theory of Art

See MArch program overview

March curriculum chart.

Those who are admitted to MArch require 3½ academic years of residency to fulfill the degree requirements.

Faculty Advising

A faculty advisor with a design background will be assigned to each MArch student before the first term of registration. The advisor will monitor the student’s progress through completion of the degree. 

Subjects and Credit Units

The MArch is awarded upon satisfactory completion of an approved program of 282 graduate units and an acceptable 24-unit thesis for 306 total graduate credits.

Subjects required for the 3½-year program include the following:

  • Six architectural design studios (3 core studios and 3 research studios)
  • Geometric Disciplines and Architectural Skills I (4.105)
  • One Computation restricted elective (4.117, 4.511, 4.521, or 4.567) 
  • Three Building Technology subjects (4.464, 4.462, and 4.463)
  • Architectural Assemblies (4.123)
  • Precedents in Critical Practice (4.210)
  • Professional Practice (4.222)
  • Architecture from 1750 to the Present (4.645)
  • One History, Theory and Criticism restricted elective (4.607, 4.612, 4.621, 4.647, 4.241, or 4.652)
  • One History, Theory and Criticism elective
  • One Computation/Media Lab elective (4.5xx or MAS.xxx)
  • Urban Design elective (11.xxx)
  • ACT elective (4.3xx)
  • Three open elective subjects (or 24 total credits)
  • Preparation for MArch Thesis (4.189)
  • Graduate Design Thesis (4.ThG)

Credit for Previous Academic Work

MArch students who have successfully completed the equivalent of one or more required architecture subjects outside MIT (or within MIT as undergraduates) may be given advanced credit for those subjects by submitting a petition for curriculum adjustment with as much relevant material as possible (including a transcript, syllabi, reading lists, problem sets, paper assignments, or portfolios). Petitions are submitted to [email protected] before the first day of class each term and are then reviewed by the MArch Program Committee by the end of the first month of term. The Committee is composed of one faculty member from each of the discipline groups. Depending on the subject for which MIT credit is requested, students may substitute an elective in the discipline group or substitute a free elective. All requests must be resolved by the beginning of the student's penultimate semester. 

A single course at MIT must be specified for each petition (a Petition for Curriculum Adjustment cannot simply indicate “ACT Elective/4.3xx). However, a single petition may use several classes to map onto a single MIT course (i.e., Photography I and Fundamentals of Filmmaking at an undergraduate institution that together seem to cover what MIT's Introduction to Photography and Related Media course indicates).

Alternate Course Petitions

MArch students may submit a petition for an alternate course to be considered for required coursework (i.e., all non-Open Electives). Submit as much relevant material as possible (syllabi, reading lists, problem sets, paper assignments, or portfolios) to [email protected] before the first day of class each term. Please indicate the course title, number, credit units, and for which required course you are requesting the alternate course be substituted. These requests are then reviewed by the MArch Program Committee by the end of the first month of term. The Committee is composed of one faculty member from each of the discipline groups. All requests must be resolved by the beginning of the penultimate semester. *Note: Alternate Coursework Petitions asking for an Independent Study to count towards an elective will not be entertained.

Please note Restricted Electives (COMP: 4.117, 4.511, 4.521, or 4.567 and HTC: 4.241, 4.607, 4.612, 4.621, 4.647, or 4.652) may not be fulfilled by cross registration.

English Proficiency Requirement

An Institute-wide requirement, all students whose first language is not English are required to take the English Evaluation Test (EET) prior to registration at MIT. Even students who satisfy the International English Language Testing System (IELTS) or the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) requirement for admission may be required to take specialized subjects in the English Language Studies Program  (ELS), depending on their EET results. These subjects do not count toward the required units, but will prove helpful to students who need to develop the skills necessary to write a thesis.

Faculty advisors may not waive these requirements for their advisees, and students may not defer registration in any English grammar review subject. They should take the courses within their first term or year. The most common results from the EET for Architecture students are to take the following two courses, and they must be taken in sequence:

  • To be completed in the first term, for a letter grade only.
  • To be completed in the second term; may be taken as optional P/D/F grading, but not as Listener status.

However, MArch students are exempted from the Advanced Writing Workshop course, due to the nature of their research and thesis work, unless otherwise flagged by their instructors and MArch faculty. Failure to take these required courses will result in an internal registration hold being placed on your account. 

Jumpstart  

MIT Architecture's Jumpstart is designed to prepare incoming MArch students for the rigors of the first design studio and to develop basic skills. The course is intended for students with little architectural studio experience but is also open to others who would benefit from introductory exposure to unfamiliar software. Jumpstart is created for our MArch student community by our MArch student community. This experience is taught through exercises that have been handed down from year to year and taught by our esteemed teaching fellows (recent graduates).

Policy on Incomplete Subjects and Thesis Semester

MArch students may have no more than one incomplete in a required subject when they register for thesis (4.THG). This incomplete can be no older than one term (received the term prior to thesis registration).

Students who have incompletes from several subjects or incompletes from earlier terms will be denied registration until those subjects are finished and graded. This policy applies to incompletes in subjects required by the degree curriculum or necessary for units toward the degree. 

Academic Audits

A chart indicating progress through the academic requirements will be maintained as part of each student’s file. The administrator of master’s degree programs will distribute this audit to students and to faculty advisors each term.

Thesis Preparation and Thesis

An MArch thesis at MIT operates as an independent thesis project, interrogating the discipline of architecture. The thesis is developed by the student and is supported by a committee of readers and an advisor. In the next-to-last term of registration (the semester prior to thesis), students enroll in Preparation for MArch Thesis (4.189). This course guides students towards declaring a thesis statement as well as forming the thesis committee. The result of this 9-unit subject is a thesis proposal.

The MArch thesis committee is composed of two members. The thesis advisor must be an eligible faculty member* of the Department of Architecture faculty with an architecture design background. Co-thesis supervision is permitted for dual degree students as long as one of the supervisors is a permanent member of the Department of Architecture faculty with an architecture design background. Download the Thesis Committee Guidelines here .

*A list of eligible faculty is available from the degree administrator.

MArch students are required to register for 24 units of thesis (4.THG) the final term. 

The thesis proposal, including a thesis proposal form signed by both thesis committee members, is due the first week of the term in which the student registers for thesis.

The MArch Thesis Review Schedule includes deadlines for proposal review, public mid-review, penultimate review, final review, and final thesis document.

The MArch degree is awarded after all the degree requirements have been met and the approved, archival-ready thesis has been submitted to the Department of Architecture by the Institute deadline for master’s theses as published in the MIT Academic Calendar . Students must adhere to the Specifications for Thesis Preparation published by the Institute Archives.

SMArchS degree requirement chart

The SMArchS degree may be pursued in one of six areas:

Architectural Design Urbanism Building Technology Design and Computation History Theory + Criticism Aga Khan Program in Islamic Architecture

With one of these areas as an intellectual home, students are encouraged to explore connections in their research across these areas, and beyond to other programs and departments throughout MIT. See the SMArchS degree requirement chart for information on the degree requirements for each of the six areas.

The minimum required residency for students enrolled in the SMArchS program is two full academic years, to be completed in four consecutive semesters of enrollment.

A faculty advisor from the Department of Architecture is assigned to each SMArchS student at matriculation. The advisor weighs in on the student's initial plan of study and on each subsequent term's choice of subjects. This individual should be a faculty member with whom the student is in close contact. The advisor monitors the student's progress through completion of the degree.

The SMArchS degree is awarded upon satisfactory completion of an approved program of at least 96 graduate units and an acceptable thesis. 

Students, with their advisors, construct individual programs of study focused on their particular interests. Individual areas have slightly different requirements. See below for more information. 

English Proficiency Requirement 

All students whose first language is not English are required to take the  English Evaluation Test (EET)  prior to registration at MIT. Even students who satisfy the International English Language Testing System (IELTS) or the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) requirement for admission may be required to take specialized subjects in  the English Language Studies Program (ELS), depending on their EET results. These subjects do not count toward the required units but will prove helpful to students who need to develop the skills necessary to write a thesis.

Faculty advisors may not waive these requirements for their advisees, and students may not defer registration in any English grammar review subject. Students should take the courses within their first term or year. The most common result for Architecture students are to take either the following two courses or only the secondary course. When both are recommended, they must be taken in sequence:

  • To be completed in the first term, for a letter grade only.
  • To be completed in the second term; may be taken as optional P/D/F grading, but not as Listener status.

SMArchS students may have no more than one incomplete in a required subject when they register for thesis (4.THG). This incomplete can be no older than one term (received the term prior to thesis registration).

Students who have unresolved grades (incomplete, missing, or O/X) from several subjects or unresolved grades from earlier terms will be denied registration until those subjects are finished and graded. This  policy  applies to incompletes in subjects required by the degree curriculum or needed for units toward the degree as well as all O/X grades. 

SMArchS Thesis Preparation and Thesis Schedule

Thesis preparation.

Students enroll in Preparation for SMArchS Thesis (4.288) their third term of registration.

By Week 7, students finalize selecting a thesis advisor. The result of this 9-unit subject is a well-formulated thesis proposal and a department-scheduled presentation of the thesis proposal at the end of the term. By Week 14, students must submit an e/signed copy of the thesis proposal form and thesis proposal to the degree administrator for master's programs. Once the SMArchS Committee has approved the thesis proposals in consultation with the thesis advisor, students are permitted to register for thesis the following semester. Any student who is not able to produce an acceptable thesis proposal by the end of their penultimate term will be given until the end of IAP to produce a thesis proposal. If the proposal is still not acceptable, the student will be required to retake Preparation for SMArchS Thesis (4.288) their fourth term of registration.

The SMArchS thesis committee is composed of at least two and no more than three members. The thesis advisor must be permanent member of the Department of Architecture faculty. The first reader must be a permanent faculty member of the Department of Architecture or a related department at MIT. The optional third member (second reader) may be any member of the MIT faculty or research staff, an outside professional, or a faculty member from another institution.

Co-thesis supervision is permitted as long as one of the advisors in a permanent member of the Department of Architecture faculty.

SMArchS students who have an approved thesis proposal are required to register for 36 units of thesis (4.THG) in their fourth and final term.

During Week 7 (before Spring Vacation), each discipline area will schedule the thesis review for its students. At the review, students will submit a draft or prototype or complete conceptual design of the thesis to their thesis committee, and reviewers from across the discipline areas will attend the reviews. If a student's progress is not satisfactory, the student will not be permitted to present at the final review.

During Week 11, SMArchS students will submit one copy of the thesis book to their thesis committees and meet with their thesis committees to formally defend the thesis.

NOTE: The Week 11 defense is a penultimate review. Presenting at the Final Review is seen as a privilege, not a right. Faculty is under no compunction to pass inadequate work. If a student's work is found wanting, the student will not be allowed to present at the public final review. The committee may decide not to pass the thesis or, alternatively, pass it only after the student undertakes additional work to meet targets set by the committee (on a date agreed on by the latter). An extension beyond the academic year will only be granted in response to a written petition by the student concerned. The petition must be addressed to the SMArchS Committee, upon which the committee will reach a decision in consultation with the thesis advisor.

By Week 14, students will submit a digital copy of the final approved, archival-ready thesis to the  Department of Architecture thesis portal. Consult the SMArchS Degree Administrator to confirm the thesis submission deadline, which is prior to the Institute deadline for master's theses as published in the MIT Academic Calendar.  Students must adhere to the Specifications for Thesis Preparation published by the Institute Archives.

The SMArchS thesis final presentations are scheduled by the Department during the last week of the term (Week 15). These presentations, also known as Final Reviews, are made to the Department of Architecture community, faculty, students, and invited external reviewers.

The SMArchS degree is awarded after all the degree requirements have been met and after the approved, archival-ready thesis has been submitted to and approved by the headquarters of the Department of Architecture.

SMArchS Design

The SMArchS Design degree is awarded upon satisfactory completion of an approved program of at least 96 graduate units and an acceptable thesis. 

Students, with their advisors, construct individual programs of study focused on their particular interests. Subjects that must be taken include the following:

  • 4.221, Architecture Studies Colloquium (1st term) 
  • 4.130, Architecture Design Theory and Methodologies (1st term)
  • Six subjects within the student’s area of interest
  • Thesis Preparation: 4.288, Preparation for SMArchS Thesis (12 units, 2nd term)
  • Thesis: 4.THG, Graduate Thesis (final term)

SMArchS Urbanism

The SMArchS Urbanism degree is awarded upon satisfactory completion of an approved program of at least 96 graduate units and an acceptable thesis. 

  • 4.228, Contemporary Urbanism Proseminar: Theory and Representation (1st term) 
  • 4.163J, Urban Design Studio (1st term)
  • In Urbanism, two of these subjects must be 4.241J, The Making of Cities, and one approved Option Design Studio or a second 4.163J, Urban Design Studio
  • Pre-Thesis Preparation: 4.286, SMArchS-URB Pre-Thesis Preparation (2nd term)
  • Thesis Preparation: 4.288, Preparation for SMArchS Thesis (9 units, 3rd term) 
  • Thesis: Graduate Thesis, 4.THG (final term)

SMArchS Building Technology

The SMArchS Building Technology degree is awarded upon satisfactory completion of an approved program of at least 96 graduate units and an acceptable thesis. 

  • 4.481, Building Technology Seminar (1st term)
  • Thesis Preparation: 4.288, Preparation for SMArchS Thesis (9 units, 3rd term) 

SMArchS Computation

The SMArchS Computation degree is awarded upon satisfactory completion of an approved program of at least 96 graduate units and an acceptable thesis. 

  • 4.580, Inquiry into Computation and Design (1st term)
  • Pre-Thesis Preparation: 4.587, SMArchS-COMP Pre-Thesis Preparation (2nd term)
  • Thesis Preparation: 4.588, Preparation for SMArchS COMP Thesis (3rd term) 

SMArchS HTC / AKPIA

The SMArchS History Theory + Criticism degree is awarded upon satisfactory completion of an approved program of at least 96 graduate units and an acceptable thesis. 

  • 4.661, Theory and Method in the Study of Architecture + Art (HTC students are required to take this subject both fall terms of their residency, 1st & 3rd terms) 
  • Pre-Thesis Preparation: 4.688, SMArchS-HTC Pre-Thesis Preparation (2nd term)

The SMArchS Aga Khan Program for Islamic Architecture degree is awarded upon satisfactory completion of an approved program of at least 96 graduate units and an acceptable thesis. 

  • 4.619, Historiography of Islamic Art + Architecture
  • 4.621, Orientalism, Colonialism + Representation
  • in AKPIA, one of these subjects must be 4.612, Islamic Architecture + the Environment 
  • Pre-Thesis Preparation: 4.686, SMArchS-AKPIA Pre-Thesis Preparation (2nd term)
  • 4.THG, Graduate Thesis (final term)

See SMACT program overview

Smact degree requirements.

The minimum required residency for students enrolled in the SMACT program is two academic years. SMACT students do not register for summer term.

A faculty advisor from the Art, Culture and Technology Program is assigned to each SMACT student at matriculation. The advisor will consult on the student's initial plan of study and on each subsequent term's choice of subjects. This individual should be a faculty member with whom the student is in close contact; changes in advisor may be made to make this possible. The advisor monitors the student's progress through completion of the degree.

A minimum of 135 units of graduate-level coursework is required, not including thesis. Subjects to be taken:

  • 4.390 Art, Culture and Technology Studio is taken each of the four terms of enrollment in the program 
  • Two ACT graduate subjects, one of which must be taken with an ACT core faculty member
  • Two elective subjects that support student's area of study
  • 4.387, SMACT Theory & Criticism Colloquium, taken during first term
  • 4.388, SMACT Thesis Preparation, taken during second term
  • 4.389 SMACT Thesis Tutorial, taken during third term
  • 4.THG, Thesis (registration for thesis), taken during fourth term

Art, Culture and Technology Studio

Art, Culture and Technology Studio (4.390) is restricted to SMACT degree students and serves as the core of the curriculum. It is coordinated by an ACT faculty member and involves the participation of all faculty currently advising SMACT candidates. Students are expected to participate in all class meetings. Attendance at the ACT Lecture Series and other ACT events is expected.

SMACT Thesis

For requirements, timeline, and updates, please visit the ArchThesis Website .

See SMBT program overview

Smbt requirements form.

The minimum required residency for students enrolled in the SMBT program is three terms, one of which may be a summer term. However, many take two academic years to complete all the requirements.

Each student in Building Technology is assigned a faculty advisor at matriculation. The advisor weighs in on the student's initial plan of study and on each subsequent term's choice of subjects. This individual should be a faculty member with whom the student is in close contact; changes can be made to make this possible. The advisor monitors the student's progress through completion of the degree.

A Report of Completed SMBT Requirements form is kept by the degree administrator in the headquarters of the Department of Architecture. It is the student's responsibility to work with the thesis advisor to keep this report updated and on file.

A minimum of 66 units of graduate-level coursework is required. Credit received for thesis (4.THG) registration does not count toward this minimum.

Subjects to be taken include the following:

  • 4.481, Building Technology Seminar, taken in the fall of the first year of registration. It is expected that the thesis proposal will be a product of this subject.
  • 2 subjects in a single field of specialization (major), chosen from thermal science, structures, materials, controls, lighting, or systems analysis.
  • 1 subject from another field of specialization (minor) in Building Technology. Other fields may also be accepted for specialization with advisor approval.
  • 1 subject in applied mathematics.
  • Thesis registration, 4.THG, is allowed only if the thesis proposal has been approved and the Report of Completed SMBT Requirements has been submitted.

A thesis is required for the SMBT degree. The topic is selected from a subject currently being investigated by the faculty, and research is carried out under the direct supervision of a faculty member in the program. This faculty member will be the student's advisor and must approve the thesis proposal prior to thesis registration. Thesis readers are optional.

The SMBT is awarded after a digital copy of the defended, approved, archival-ready thesis has been submitted to Department of Architecture headquarters by the Institute deadline for master's theses as published in the MIT Academic Calendar. Students must adhere to the Specification for Thesis Preparation published by the Institute Archives.

All students whose first language is not English are required to take the English Evaluation Test (EET) prior to registration at MIT. Even students who satisfy the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) requirement for admission may be required to take specialized subjects in  the English Language Studies Program (ELS), depending on their EET results. These subjects do not count toward the required units, but will prove helpful to students who need to develop the skills necessary to write a thesis.

Faculty advisors may not waive these requirements for their advisees, and students may not defer registration in any English grammar review subject. They should take the courses within their first term or year. The most common result for Architecture students are to take either the following two courses, or only the secondary course. When both are recommended, they must be taken in sequence:

See BT/PhD program overview

Bt/phd requirements.

It is the student's responsibility to fill out the appropriate section of the Report of Completed BT/PhD Requirements upon completion of the requirements listed below. This document is submitted to the degree administrator and kept in the student's official departmental file. The degree administrator informs the MIT registrar when the degree requirements have been fulfilled.

Qualifying Paper

The qualifying paper, which often emerges from the Building Technology Seminar (4.481), should demonstrate the student's potential for work at a high standard of scholarship. The paper must be completed and accepted by the dissertation committee before a student can continue to the general examination. Insufficiencies in the qualifying paper may require remedial subject work on the part of the student.

Dissertation Proposal

The PhD dissertation is a major work that makes an original scholarly contribution to the field of investigation. Most BT/PhD dissertation research will be a portion of a sponsored research project. The dissertation is the main focus of the doctoral program and the primary indicator of a PhD student's ability to carry out significant independent research. The Building Technology dissertation must result in advances in the state of the art that are worthy of publication in a respected technical journal in the field.

Approval of the dissertation topic is gained through a proposal submitted to the dissertation committee no later than the end of the second term of registration. Once the proposal has been approved, the student may register for Graduate Thesis (4.THG).

Coursework: Major and Minor Fields

Coursework is selected in consultation with the faculty advisor. A normal registration load is 36 units, which would be a combination of specific subjects and research. Though the core group of subjects will be within the department, students are encouraged to take outside subjects. Building Technology Seminar (4.481) is the only specific subject required for the degree and is taken during the student's first term. Typically a student's program will include at least five graduate subjects in the major field and three in the minor field. Preparation for Building Technology PhD Thesis (4.489) is used as registration for research until the dissertation proposal has been approved. After that point, Graduate Thesis (4.THG) is used as registration for research.

General Examination

The purpose of the qualifying examination is to determine whether the student possesses the attributes of a doctoral candidate: mastery of the disciplines of importance to building technology and ingenuity and skill in identifying and solving unfamiliar problems. The examination consists of two parts. (1) A demonstration of mastery in three areas through coursework and (2) a presentation of research as explained below.

Subject Area Mastery Allowable subjects are listed in Discipline areas for the Building Technology PhD General Exam / Record of subject mastery. To pass the subject area mastery portion of the doctoral general exam, students must earn three As and one B (or four As) in at least four subjects chosen across three of the seven areas from Table 1. Substitutions of subjects not included in the table will be considered on a case-by-case basis and will require approval from all BT faculty.

Research Presentation The research presentation exam will take place over 120 minutes, and should include a 45 minute formal presentation by the doctoral student, followed by 45-60 minutes of questions and discussion with all BT faculty. The research presented should be ongoing research or recently completed research carried out in Building Technology. The presentation should put the work in context, present research findings and propose future work. It will be evaluated both for intellectual content and for clarity of communication. The discussion portion of the exam led by BT faculty may cover both the presented work specifically as well as a broader range of related topics to gauge the student's familiarity with their research content.

Logistics Examinations are offered in January (last week of IAP) and May (the week after final exams). Students must obtain permission of their advisor to take the exam. In case a student is working on a multidisciplinary research topic with a significant component falling outside the expertise of any BT faculty, an expert (ideally MIT faculty) representing the topic area should participate in the general exam. The advisor will invite this expert in consultation with the student. All students must complete the coursework and research presentation portions of the exam by the end of their fourth semester in the PhD program. Advisors of PhD students will submit to the BT faculty the proposed plan for coursework completion for each of their advisees at least three months before the research presentation. Students who do not pass may be invited to retake certain subjects or repeat the research presentation, or they may be asked to terminate their enrollment in the PhD program.

Dissertation Defense

A dissertation committee of three or more people, generally assembled in the first semester of registration, supervises research and writing of the dissertation. The student's advisor is always a member of the dissertation committee and typically serves as its chair. The chair must be a member of the Building Technology faculty. In special circumstances, one of the three members of the dissertation committee may be selected from outside the Department of Architecture. The student is responsible for arranging meetings with the committee at least once each term.

A final draft of the completed dissertation must be delivered to each committee member one month prior to the scheduled defense. The dissertation is presented orally in an open meeting of the faculty of the department; at least three faculty members must be present. After the presentation, the dissertation is either accepted or rejected.

The PhD is awarded after two copies of the defended, approved, archival-ready dissertation have been submitted to the Department of Architecture at its headquarters. The copies must be submitted by the Institute deadline for doctoral theses as published in the MIT Academic Calendar . Students must adhere to the Specifications for Thesis Preparation published by the Institute Archives.

Nonresident Research Status

Students are expected to carry out thesis research while in residence at the Institute. It is rare that a PhD candidate in BT will need to apply for nonresident status. However, should a student who has completed all requirements except for the dissertation need to continue thesis research in years beyond the awarded funding, he or she may opt to apply for nonresident research status with the permission of the dissertation advisor.

All students whose first language is not English are required to take the English Evaluation Test (EET) prior to registration at MIT. Even students who satisfy the International English Language Testing System (IELTS) or Test of English as a Foreign Language requirement for admission may be required to take specialized subjects in  the English Language Studies Program (ELS), depending on their EET results. These subjects do not count toward the required units, but will prove helpful to students who need to develop the skills necessary to write a dissertation.

See Computation/PhD program overview

Computation/phd requirements.

It is the student's responsibility to fill out the appropriate section of the Report of Completed Computation/PhD Requirements upon completion of the requirements listed below. This document is submitted to the degree administrator and kept in the student's official departmental file. The degree administrator informs the MIT registrar that the degree requirements have been fulfilled.

Subject Work

PhD Students are expected to complete at 144 units of subject work while in residency at MIT. This is usually accomplished over two years by enrolling in an average of 36 units per term, which equals three or four subjects per term. In those special cases where the student is awarded advanced standing at admission, the unit requirement is lowered accordingly. The only specific subject requirement is 4.581 Proseminar in Computation. All other subjects are selected in consultation with the faculty advisor and may be taken both in and out of the Department of Architecture. Registration in 4.THG, Graduate Thesis, does not count toward the 144-unit requirement.

PhD students in Computation are expected to enroll in 4.581, Proseminar in Computation, during their first year in residence. The Proseminar is meant to provide a rigorous grounding in the field with a focus on specific research topics related to architecture and design practice.

Major and Minor Fields

Major and minor fields must be approved by the student's advisory committee, which is selected with the assistance of the advisor in the first year of enrollment. Normally, the minor field requirement will be satisfied by outstanding performance in three related subjects (not less than 27 units). The major field requirement is satisfied upon successful completion of the general examination.

The general examination is given after required subject work is completed and is taken no later than the third year of residency. The general examination is meant to show broad and detailed competence in the student's major field of concentration and supporting areas of study. The content and format of the general examination are decided by the student's advisory committee in consultation with the student. The committee evaluates the examination upon completion and may 1) accept the examination, 2) ask for further evidence of competence, or 3) determine that the examination has not been passed. In the event that the general examination is not passed, the committee may allow the student to repeat the examination or may recommend that the student withdraw from the PhD program.

The PhD dissertation is a major work that makes an original scholarly contribution. It is the main focus of the doctoral program in Design and Computation, and it serves as the primary indicator of a PhD student's ability to carry out significant independent research.

The dissertation committee comprises a minimum of three members — one thesis advisor, who also serves as the dissertation committee chair, and two readers. The chair must be a permanent member of the Computation faculty and the student's advisor. The first reader must be a permanent faculty member of MIT. The second reader may come from Computation or may be a faculty member appointed from outside the department or the Institute. Students may add more members in consultation with their advisor. The student is responsible for arranging meetings with the committee members on a regular basis.

Formal approval of the dissertation topic is gained through a proposal, which the student submits and defends to his or her dissertation committee prior to the completion of the sixth semester of registration. The proposal should contain these elements:

  • General statement of scope of the thesis
  • Significance of the thesis
  • Survey of existing research and literature with critical comments and an assessment of the extent to which this material will be utilized
  • Method of the thesis work
  • Outline or brief sketch of the thesis
  • Working bibliography
  • Resources for primary material
  • Plan of work, including a timetable

An oral examination in which the candidate meets with the dissertation committee to discuss the proposal marks the formal acceptance of the topic. The result of the defense can be that the thesis proposal is accepted, accepted with revisions or rejected.

Students will often register for Preparation for Computation PhD Thesis (4.589) in the term leading up to their proposal defense. Once the proposal has been approved, the student may register for 4.THG, Graduate Thesis. The student may be asked to present his or her dissertation proposal in the class Research Seminar in Computation (4.582).

Students are advised to meet with committee members to obtain comments and guidance throughout the writing phase of the project. Regular contact with committee members during the process of drafting the thesis can ensure a student's readiness for thesis defense. The final draft should be submitted to committee members at least one month prior to the defense. The defense should be scheduled at least two weeks prior to the published Institute PhD thesis deadline.

The dissertation is defended by oral presentation in front of the dissertation committee. At least three faculty members must be present. If a member of the committee is not able to attend, he or she must contact the committee chair with comments and questions. That member must also inform the committee chair of a vote.

The result of the defense can be that the thesis is accepted, accepted with revisions or rejected. If the thesis is accepted with revisions, the student makes the necessary changes to the document and submits them within an agreed time frame to all or some of the committee members. If rejected, the student must re-defend according to a timetable agreed upon at the defense.

The PhD is awarded after a PDF copy of the defended, approved, archival-ready dissertation has been submitted to the Department of Architecture through the Thesis Submission Portal . The copy must be submitted by the Department  deadline for theses as published on the archthesis website . Students must adhere to the Specifications for Thesis Preparation published by the Institute Archives.

Students are expected to carry out thesis research while in residence at MIT. It is rare that a PhD candidate in Design and Computation will need to apply for nonresident status. However, should a student who has completed all requirements except for the dissertation need to continue thesis research in years beyond the awarded funding, he or she may opt to apply for nonresident research status with the permission of the dissertation advisor.

All students whose first language is not English are required to take the English Evaluation Test (EET) prior to registration at MIT. Even students who satisfy the International English Language Testing System (IELTS) or Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) requirement for admission may be required to take specialized subjects in the English Language Studies Program (ELS), depending on their EET results. These subjects do not count toward the required units, but will prove helpful to students who need to develop the skills necessary to write a dissertation.

See HTC/ PhD program overview

PhD students complete 204 units (not including registration in 4.THG) during their residency at MIT. This is usually accomplished over the first three years of residency by enrolling in an average of 36 units per term, the equivalent of three subjects. The breakdown of required subjects is as follows:

  • 4.661, Methods Seminar, is taken each fall term for first two years—2 x 12 = 24 units
  • Nine subjects completed by the end of the second year: lecture, seminar and/or independent study—9 x 12 = 108 units
  • 4.684 Preparation for HTC Major Exam = 27 units; taken in the 5th semester
  • 4.685 Preparation for HTC Minor Exam = 15 units; taken in the 4th semester
  • 4.689 Preparation for HTC PhD Thesis = 27 units; taken in the 6th semester

Independent study subjects may be taken with advisor approval after the first year of residency. No more than one independent study project may be taken per term, and no more than 12 units may be devoted to any one research project. Registration for an independent study project requires completion of a departmental  Independent Study Project  form, this constitutes a contract for the deadlines and deliverables for the subject and the definition of supervisory involvement.

Advancement to Candidacy

A student is advanced to doctoral candidacy upon completion of the following “hurdles,” which should be completed by the end of the third year 

  • General exam: major field—register for 4.684 (27 credit units)
  • General exam: minor field—register for 4.685 (15 credit units)
  • Language requirement
  • Dissertation proposal—register for 4.689 (15 credit units)

Students are responsible for planning their hurdles in consultation with their advisor in a timely manner, in order to complete degree requirements by the end of semester 6 or the third year. The planner is submitted in the fall of the second year, with updates as needed. The sequence of hurdles completion is determined by the student in consultation with his/her advisor.  All pre-thesis requirements* must be completed and approved by the end of the third year. Failure to complete pre-thesis requirements by the end of the third year (term 7) may result in recommended or required withdrawal from the program.  When the Dissertation Proposal/Prospectus is filed, with all other hurdles completed, the student may enroll in “Thesis,” 4.THG.

Copies of each hurdle are submitted to HTC Staff for filing and completion. The HTC faculty meet at the end of each semester to review student progress in general and advance students to ABD candidacy status. . The degree administrator communicates with the Registrar when degree requirements have been fulfilled, and allows the Institute to certify candidacy.

General Examination: Major and Minor Fields

The fields of examination are set by mutual agreement between the student and their advisor. The purpose is to demonstrate the breadth and depth of the student's critical awareness of the discipline in which he or she works. Most universities, research institutions and other potential employers require assurance that a graduate has areas of competency beyond his or her specialization.

It is strongly recommended that work on the minor exam be completed in three months. The minor exam may cover a different time period from the major exam, or it may have a theoretical focus that complements the historical focus of the major exam, or it may cover in depth a topic within the broader field covered in the major exam. The minor exam may be a three-hour written test, or it may consist of preparing materials for a subject: specifically, a detailed syllabus, a bibliography, an introductory lecture and at least one other lecture. Register for 15 credit units of 4.685 the term in which the minor is completed (the fourth term). 

It is strongly recommended that work on the major exam be completed in three months. The major exam is a three-hour written test covering a historically broad area of interest that includes components of history, historiography and theory. Preparation for the exam will focus on four or five themes agreed upon in advance. Register for 27 credit units of 4.684 during the term in which the major is completed (the fifth term).

Although it is possible for one professor to supervise both exams, such an arrangement limits the student's collaboration with the faculty. With approval, a faculty member outside HTC may administer one of the exams. In this case, an HTC faculty member will also read the exam and submit the grade.

Topics and examiners for the Major and Minor exams should be finalized no later than the fourth semester. 

Language Requirement

It is recommended that students complete their language requirement by the end of the fourth semester.  Because of the foundational role French and German have played in the discipline of art and architectural history and theory, successful study or testing in these two languages constitutes the usual fulfillment of this requirement. For students working on topics for which there is another primary language, a substitution may be approved by the advisor. The MIT Global Studies and Languages department administers graduate language examinations.

The language exam can only be waived under the following circumstances:

  • The student is a native speaker of the language needed
  • Two years (or four semesters) of university courses have been completed for a language not administered by the language department, and a “B” or better average grade was maintained

Credits accumulated from language subjects taken to fulfill this requirement cannot be used toward the 204 credits of coursework required for the degree.

A dissertation advisor should be selected by the end of the fourth semester.  During the sixth semester, the Dissertation Topic will be presented to students and faculty colleagues.  It is estimated that the writing and revision of the proposal should take no more than four months. 

Following the Thesis Topic Presentation in the sixth semester, an appropriate dissertation committee should be proposed by the student and approved in principle by the advisor. (The committee may be changed with the approval of the advisor up to the eighth semester.) The  dissertation committee  comprises a minimum of three members; two must be MIT Department of Architecture faculty members, and the chair a member of the HTC faculty (and the student's main advisor). The third member may come from HTC or appointed from outside the department or outside the Institute. Students may add additional members in consultation with their advisor. 

The dissertation proposal should be drafted and defended by the end of the sixth semester.  Formal approval of the dissertation topic is gained through a proposal, which the student submits and defends to his or her dissertation committee prior to the end of the sixth semester of registration. The student is strongly advised to have an informal meeting of the committee some weeks prior to the formal defense, to reach a consensus that the thesis topic is of the right scale and the prospectus itself is ready to be defended. Register for 15 credit units of 4.689 the term in which the dissertation proposal is submitted.

A dissertation proposal (also called a prospectus) should contain the following elements:

  • General thesis statement
  • Scope, significance or “stakes” of the thesis
  • Method of the thesis work 
  • Outline or brief sketch of the dissertation, e.g. summaries of proposed chapters
  • Archives and proof of access; IRB approval if required
  • Plan of work, and may include a timetable

The formal defense of the prospectus consists of an oral examination in which the candidate meets with the dissertation committee; the committee decides whether the prospectus is approved as is, requires further revision, or does not pass the defense.

When the approved proposal is filed with the HTC administrator in acknowledgment of successful completion, the dissertation topic and proposal are approved, advancing the student to candidacy. At this point, the student registers for 4.THG, Graduate Thesis. 

Regular contact with committee members during the process of drafting the thesis can ensure a student's readiness for the final thesis defense. Students are advised to meet with committee members to obtain comments and guidance throughout the writing phase of the project. The final draft should be submitted to committee members  no later than one month prior to the defense.  The defense cannot be scheduled any later than two weeks prior to the published Institute PhD thesis deadline.

The dissertation is defended in the presence of the full dissertation committee. If a member of the committee is not able to attend or participate by virtual means, he or she must contact the committee chair with comments and questions. That member should also inform the committee chair of a vote.

The result of the defense is either accepted, accepted with revisions or rejected. If the thesis is accepted with revisions, the student makes necessary changes to the document and submits them within an agreed time frame to committee members, as determined at the defense meeting. If rejected, the student will re-defend to the committee in a timely manner.   Students are strongly advised to set a defense date three months in advance of the deadline to allow for revisions by the committee.

The PhD is awarded upon submission of the defended, approved, archival-ready dissertation to the Department of Architecture, via the PhD Academic Administrator. The final dissertation is submitted by the Institute deadline for doctoral theses as published in the MIT Academic Calendar. The final document conforms with Specifications for Thesis Preparation published by the Institute Archives.

Thesis Research in Absentia

Acceptance into the program is granted with the presumption that students will remain in residence at the Institute during their degree. However, on occasion, work outside the Institute may be essential to gather archival or other materials. Students who have completed all requirements apart from the dissertation may apply to take one or occasionally two semesters in absentia. A proposal for  thesis in absentia , which outlines work to be accomplished, should be delivered to the director and administrator in HTC no later than the drop date of the semester prior to the one in which the student plans to be away. The student should consult with the Academic Programs Manager in Headquarters as well as HTC staff for a review of the financial and academic implications of TIA status. The HTC faculty, the Department, and the dean of the graduate school grant approval.  Students must return to regular registration status for the final term the dissertation is submitted for their degree.  However, the dissertation draft may be submitted to the student’s primary advisor and committee members at any time during the TIA period. Similarly, the defense may be scheduled at any time (as long as the committee has at least 4 weeks to read the full and final draft). Regular registration status is required in order to file the final archival copy for the degree. Students are required to apply for the degree in Websis during the term prior to degree completion.

Graduate Thesis

The thesis comprises an original investigation, including a written report in English, on a subject approved by the Department of Architecture in advance. The Institute requires that each graduate student research and write an individual thesis and submit a final digital copy to the Institute as a permanent record. In order for a degree to be awarded, the department must receive the thesis in accordance with the Specifications for Thesis Preparation published by the MIT Libraries Institute Archives. Please refer to  archthesis.mit.edu  for timelines, specifications, and other useful information.

Thesis work in all master's degree programs in the Department of Architecture extends over two to three terms. Thesis work in doctoral programs extends over four to six terms. Registration for thesis and pre-thesis subjects differs by degree program.

The thesis process begins with one or more terms of thesis preparation and ends with one or more terms of thesis. Thesis registration (4.THG) for all programs begins once the thesis supervisor and/or committee have approved the thesis proposal. An integral element to a successful thesis lies in choosing an appropriate thesis committee. The  Thesis Committee Guidelines  document (updated January 2024) addresses the composition of a thesis committee for each degree program.

The objective of registering for thesis preparation is to produce an acceptable thesis proposal. Students in every degree program register for the thesis preparation subject(s) specific to their program.

MArch Program

  • 4.189, Preparation for MArch Thesis , graded A-F, 9 units, taken the penultimate semester of the program.

SMArchS Program

  • 4.288, Preparation for SMArchS Thesis , graded P/D/F, 9–12 units, is taken the second semester of the program for students in Design, and in the third semester of the program for students in Urbanism as a coordinated class with regular meeting times. Students in all other areas (BT, HTC, & AKPIA) take 4.288 as an independent study subject graded by the registration advisor.
  • 4.587, SMArchS Computation Pre-Thesis Preparation , graded P/D/F, 6 units, taken in the second semester of the program for students in the Computation area.
  • 4.588, Preparation for SMArchS Thesis - Computation , graded P/D/F, 6 units, taken in the third semester of the program for students in the Computation area. 
  • 4.686 SMArchS AKPIA Pre-Thesis Preparation , graded P/D/F, 3 units, taken in the second semester of the program for students in the AKPIA area.
  • 4.687 SMArchS HTC Pre-Thesis Preparation , graded P/D/F, 3 units, taken in the second semester of the program for students in the HTC area.

SMACT Program

  • 4.388, Preparation for SMACT Thesis , graded A-F, 9 units, taken in the second semester of the program. Thesis Preparation will develop a proposal for the written thesis. A ten-page thesis proposal is the final project of this class.
  • 4.389, SMACT Thesis Tutorial , graded A-F, 9 units, taken in the fourth semester to support the writing of the thesis book.
  • SMACT students will submit a twenty-page thesis outline, select their thesis committee, and submit a SMACT Thesis Proposal Completion form by the end of their third term. These must be submitted to the ACT administrative offices for distribution to ACT faculty, by May 1.

SMBT Program

  • 4.481, Building Technology Seminar , graded P/D/F, 3 units. All SMBT students are required to register for 4.481 during the first term of the program. The thesis proposal is expected to be a product of this seminar, but the student may register for 4.488 to complete the proposal.
  • 4.488, Preparation for SMBT Thesis , graded P/D/F, variable units. 4.488 is an independent study subject graded by the thesis advisor and taken the second term of the program, if necessary to complete the thesis proposal.

Dissertation and Doctoral Programs

  • 4.481, Building Technology Seminar , graded P/D/F, 3 H-level units. All BT/PhD students must register for 4.481 during the first term of the program. The thesis proposal is expected to be a product of this seminar, but the student may register for 4.489 to complete the proposal.
  • 4.489, Preparation for Building Technology PhD Thesis , graded P/D/F, variable units. This is an independent study subject graded by the thesis advisor and taken the second and third term of the program, if necessary to complete the thesis proposal.
  • 4.589, Preparation for Design and Computation PhD Thesis , graded P/D/F, variable units. An optional independent study subject graded by the thesis advisor and generally taken after coursework is completed. 4.589 is taken as preparation for the general examination and/or the dissertation proposal.
  • 4.683, Preparation for HTC Qualifying Paper , graded P/D/F, variable units. Required of HTC PhD students as a prerequisite for work on the doctoral dissertation. The qualifying paper is a scholarly article fit to be published in a peer-reviewed journal that is the result of research in the history, theory and criticism of architecture and art. Topic may not be in the area of the proposed thesis. Work is done in consultation with HTC faculty, in accordance with the HTC PhD Degree Program Guidelines.
  • 4.684, Preparation for HTC Major Exam , graded P/D/F, variable units. This is required of HTC PhD students as a prerequisite for work on the doctoral dissertation. The Major Exam covers a historically broad area of interest and includes components of history, historiography, and theory. Preparation for the exam will focus on four or five themes agreed upon in advance by the student and the examiner, and are defined by their area of teaching interest. Work is done in consultation with HTC faculty, in accordance with the HTC PhD Degree Program Guidelines.
  • 4.685, Preparation for HTC Minor Exam , graded P/D/F, variable units. This is required of HTC PhD students as a prerequisite for work on the doctoral dissertation. The Minor Exam focuses on a specific area of specialization through which the student might develop their particular zone of expertise. Work is done in consultation with HTC faculty, in accordance with the HTC PhD Degree Program Guidelines.
  • 4.689, Preparation for History, Theory and Criticism PhD Thesis , graded P/D/F, variable units. This is required of HTC PhD students as a prerequisite for work on the doctoral dissertation. Prior to candidacy, doctoral students are required to write and orally defend a proposal laying out the scope of their thesis, its significance, a survey of existing research and literature, the methods of research to be adopted, a bibliography and plan of work. Work is done in consultation with HTC faculty, in accordance with the HTC PhD Degree Program Guidelines. Students in this program do not register for thesis (4.THG) until all requirements except thesis have been completed.

Thesis Registration—4.THG

Once the thesis proposal is approved and the degree administrators have been notified, students register for thesis and continue to do so each term until graduation. Students who do not have an approved thesis proposal may not register for thesis. The number of units varies by degree program (upon submission of the thesis, 12 units of the grade awarded for 4.THG are entered into the student's cumulative grade point average).

MArch students Register for 24 units of 4.THG. Except for architectural design studio, other subjects needed to complete the degree requirements may be taken simultaneously. The e/signed Thesis Proposal form is due by 8:59am the first Friday of a student's final term. Several reviews of student work lead to the final thesis.

  •  Proposal Review—Week 2
  •  Mid-Review—Week 7 or 8
  •  Penultimate Review—Week 10
  •  Final Review—Week 15

SMArchS  students register for 36 units of 4.THG in their fourth and final term. All subjects needed to complete the degree (except architecture design studio) may be taken simultaneously. The e/signed SMArchS Thesis Proposal form is due to [email protected] by 8:59am the Drop Date of a student's penultimate term. The penultimate semester, a Preliminary Thesis Review is held during Reading Period. These Preliminary Reviews serve as an opportunity for SMArchs students to present a summary of their proposed Thesis Projects in a forum where thesis ideas can gain exposure and feedback from faculty and peers. The final semester, three major reviews of the student's thesis work are held with the advisor(s) and all readers — the first, in Week 7, is scheduled by the discipline area, the second is scheduled by the student with the entire thesis committee for a formal thesis defense in Week 11, and the public final review in Week 14. The department degree administrator schedules final reviews during Reading Period.

SMBT  students register for 4.THG upon approval of the thesis proposal and continue to do so each term until graduation. Units will vary according to the number of other subjects being taken. A normal course load for a term is not more than 48 credit units. SMBT students are expected to schedule a Content Review directly with the thesis advisor to take place near the end of the final term. At this point the thesis should be substantially complete; the Content Review marks the point at which the student may turn to production of the final thesis.

SMACT  students register for 24 units of 4.THG in their fourth and final term. Thesis is taken in conjunction with 4.390, Art, Culture, and Technology Studio, which is taken each term, and 4.389, SMACT Thesis Tutorial, which is taken the final two terms. Thesis reviews are scheduled within the forum of 4.390, which is restricted to SMACT students.

PhD  students register for 36 units of 4.THG for terms in which they are resident and not taking other subjects. Students who have been granted nonresident status register for 36 units of 4.THG only (nonresident status is not permitted in the term during which the thesis is submitted). Regular meetings with members of the dissertation committee to review thesis progress is expected and left to the student to schedule. At the conclusion of the thesis, PhD students are required to hold an oral defense of their dissertation. This defense is scheduled directly with the thesis committee, and the date is reported to the degree administrator.

Policy on Incompletes and Thesis Semester

MArch, SMArchS, and SMACT students entering thesis term may have no more than one incomplete in a subject required for the degree, and that incomplete can be no older than the term previous to thesis. Students with several incompletes and/or incompletes from terms further back will be denied registration until those subjects are completed and graded. This policy applies to subjects required by curriculum or needed for units toward the degree.

Policy on Credit and Thesis

MArch students must have their curriculum credits in order by the end of the thesis prep. No substitutions or petitions for credit will be accepted or processed during the thesis term.

Thesis for Dual Degrees

Thesis research for dual degrees must be done under the supervision of an approved member of one of the two participating departments, with the other department providing a co-advisor or thesis reader. Students expecting to receive two advanced degrees must submit all thesis materials to the department in which they register during their final semester and are bound by the thesis specifications and deadlines of that department.

Thesis Guidelines and Deadlines

The Thesis Committee Guidelines  document (updated January 2024) addresses the composition of a thesis committee for each degree program. The thesis committee must be established and approved before thesis registration is permitted.

  • Specifications for Thesis Preparation  is published by the MIT Libraries Institute Archives to assist students in the preparation of the thesis document. The Institute is committed to the preservation of the student’s thesis because it is both a requirement of the MIT degree and a record of original research. The library also publishes a guide for following copyright law, which students should review carefully to make certain they remain in compliance and the thesis is acceptable by the MIT Archives .
  • The department upholds the requirements of the Institute specifications. In addition, the Department of Architecture requires that each thesis contain a page listing the names and titles of each member of the thesis committee. This page is to be inserted between the title page and the abstract. Students should review the  thesis checklist  before submitting the thesis to the Department.
  • At the beginning of the final thesis term, all students must file an online Application for Advanced Degree at MIT via  WebSIS.  The deadline is the end of the first week of term.
  • Graduate Policies and Procedures  can be found on a website provided by the Office of Graduate Education (OGE). This website offers additional information on the thesis process, including joint theses; restrictions on thesis publication; patent protection, privacy and security; intellectual property policy; and thesis holds.
  • The deadline for submitting the approved, archival copies of the thesis is set by the Department, and can be found on the  Department Thesis website . Only minor errors in formatting and proofing will be subject to change after this date and only at the discretion of the department administrators.

All theses are submitted to the department degree administrators:

  • Master's programs:  Kateri Bertin
  • Doctoral programs:  Tessa Haynes

Nonresident Doctoral Research

A doctoral student who has completed all requirements except for the dissertation may apply for nonresident thesis research status. Students granted this status pay approximately 5% of regular tuition for the first three terms of nonresident status and 15% for the following three terms. Students are limited to six terms of nonresident status.

Application

Permission to become a nonresident doctoral candidate must be sought from the Dean of Graduate Students. The  request form  is submitted to the Office of Graduate Education (OGE) by July 15 for the fall term, and November 15 for the spring term (a fee is assessed for late requests). The student’s thesis advisor and the department’s graduate officer must approve the application prior to submission. 

Approval can be granted for two successive regular terms in the same academic year (for example, Fall 2021 and Spring 2022, but not Spring 2022 and Fall 2023). Registration as a nonresident student is not required during the summer. Students must reapply each year for additional terms of nonresident status up to a maximum of six terms. Students must return to regular status to defend and submit their doctoral dissertation.

Eligibility

To be eligible to apply for non-resident thesis research status, students must be 

  • registered in a doctoral program,
  • in residence as a regular graduate student for at least four regular terms,
  • have completed all degree requirements except for the dissertation and have submitted required paperwork to the Degree Administrator,
  • and have an approved thesis proposal.

Privileges of a Nonresident Student

Nonresident students are considered full-time students. They may retain their MIT IDs and are permitted access to the libraries and athletic facilities. They continue to have the same student health plan options as resident students, although, students are financially responsible for their own health insurance.

However, nonresident students are NOT eligible to

  • use offices, laboratories, design studios or computer facilities in the Department unless specifically approved;
  • reside in student housing;
  • serve as graduate resident tutors; 
  • nor accept employment of any kind at MIT. 

For the first three semesters of nonresident status, a student may receive fellowship support from MIT for an amount up to 5% of the cost of tuition per semester. In subsequent terms of nonresident status, students are not eligible to receive financial support from any MIT department, lab, or cost center. This includes fellowships, research or teaching assistantships as well as any work-study programs.

Although nonresident students are responsible for payment of tuition and appropriate fees, U.S. citizens or Permanent Resident students may apply for federal and alternative loans. Current loans may be adjusted because tuition will be decreased to nonresident levels. Questions regarding loans should be addressed to Student Financial Services.

Thesis research is ordinarily done in residence at the Institute. However, on occasion, work away from the Institute may be essential for such tasks as gathering data. Students with compelling educational reasons to do so may therefore apply to take one or two semesters in absentia. 

A proposal for thesis research to be done in absentia must be approved by both the faculty of the specific PhD degree program, the Department's graduate officer, and the Dean of the Graduate School. 

Criteria for thesis in absentia include, but are not limited to the following:

  • Evidence that this opportunity will provide continuing intellectual growth.
  • Evidence of completion of required coursework and all degree requirements except the thesis.
  • The thesis must continue to be supervised by an Institute faculty member or by a senior academic staff member approved by the Department.
  • The student must be registered as a regular student during the final term.
  • The student must devote full time to thesis research while absent from MIT.

Students approved for thesis in absentia will continue to be registered as full-time students and receive tuition plus their normal fellowship stipends.

The proposal needs to include the following and submitted to the Department's PhD degree administrator:

  • Current address
  • Current phone
  • Current e-mail
  • Degree program
  • Completion date of general exams
  • Completion date of thesis proposal and working title for thesis
  • Proposed terms in absentia
  • Expected degree date
  • Reasons for requesting thesis research in absentia—the opportunity for continued intellectual growth must be evident
  • Thesis advisor’s name and title 
  • Thesis advisor’s signature of approval
  • Degree program director’s signature of approval
  • Graduate officer’s signature of approval
  • A copy of the signed thesis proposal 

The approved and signed thesis proposal must be attached to the research-in-absentia proposal before the latter is submitted to the Department and, subsequently, the Office of Graduate Education (OGE).

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Master’s Degrees

The master’s degree generally requires a minimum of one academic year of study..

Admission to MIT for the master’s degree does not necessarily imply an automatic commitment by MIT beyond that level of study.

In the School of Engineering, students may be awarded the engineer’s degree. This degree program requires two years of study and provides a higher level of professional competence than is required by a master’s degree program, but less emphasis is placed on creative research than in the doctoral program.

Below is a list of programs and departments that offer master-level degrees.

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Cybersecurity Guide

From scholar to expert: Cybersecurity PhD options

In this guide

  • Industry demand
  • 2024 rankings
  • Preparation
  • Considerations
  • School listings

The cybersecurity landscape is not just growing—it’s evolving at a breakneck pace. And what better way to stay ahead of the curve than by pursuing a PhD in cybersecurity?

This advanced degree is no longer confined to the realm of computer science. Today, it branches into diverse fields like law, policy, management, and strategy, reflecting the multifaceted nature of modern cyber threats.

If you’re looking to become a thought leader in this dynamic industry, a PhD in cybersecurity offers an unparalleled opportunity to deepen your expertise and broaden your horizons.

This guide is designed to give prospective cybersecurity PhD students a general overview of available cybersecurity PhD programs. It will also outline some of the factors to consider when trying to find the right PhD program fit, such as course requirements and tuition costs. 

Industry demand for PhDs in cybersecurity

Like other cutting edge technology fields, until recently, cybersecurity PhD programs were often training grounds for niche positions specialized research, often for government agencies (like the CIA, NSA, and FBI),  or closely adjacent research organizations or institutions. 

Today, however, as the cybersecurity field grows to become more pervasive and consumer-oriented, there are opportunities for cybersecurity PhDs to work at public-facing companies like startups and name-brand financial, software, infrastructure, and digital service firms.

One trend that is emerging in the cybersecurity field is that cybersecurity experts need to be well-versed in a variety of growing threats. If recent headlines about cybersecurity breaches are any indication, there are a number of new attack vectors and opportunities for cybercrime and related issues. Historically, committing cybercrime took resources and a level of sophistication that required specialized training or skill.

But now, because of the pervasiveness of the internet, committing cybercrime is becoming more commonplace. So training in a cybersecurity PhD program gives students an opportunity to become an expert in one part of a growing and multi-layered field.

In fact, this trend of needing well-trained, but adaptable cybersecurity professionals is reflected by the move by cybersecurity graduate schools to offer specialized master’s degrees and many companies and professional organizations offer certifications in cybersecurity that focus on particular issues related to cybersecurity technology, cybersecurity law , digital forensics , policy, or related topics.

That said, traditional research-oriented cybersecurity positions continue to be in demand in academia and elsewhere — a trend that will likely continue. 

One interesting facet of the cybersecurity field is trying to predict what future cybersecurity threats might look like and then develop tools and systems to protect against those threats.

As new technologies and services are developed and as more of the global population begins using internet services for everything from healthcare to banking — new ways of protecting those services will be required. Often, it’s up to academic researchers to think ahead and examine various threats and opportunities to insulate against those threats.

Another key trend coming out of academic circles is that cybersecurity students are becoming increasingly multidisciplinary.

As cybersecurity hacks impact more parts of people’s everyday lives, so too do the academic programs that are designed to prepare the next generation of cybersecurity professionals. This emerging trend creates an enormous amount of opportunity for students that have a variety of interests and who are looking to create a non-traditional career path.

The best cybersecurity PhD programs for 2024

Georgia institute of technology, northeastern university, marymount university, school of technology and innovation, nova southeastern university, college of computing & engineering, purdue university, stevens institute of technology, worcester polytechnic institute, university of illinois at urbana-champaign, mississippi state university, new york institute of technology.

These rankings were compiled from data accessed in November 2023 from Integrated Post-Secondary Education Data System (IPEDS) and College Navigator (both services National Center for Education Statistics). Tuition data was pulled from individual university websites and is current as of November 2023.

What is required to get a PhD in cybersecurity?

Good news first: Obtaining a PhD in a field related to cybersecurity will likely create tremendous employment opportunities and lead to interesting and dynamic career options.

Bad news: Getting a PhD requires a lot of investment of time and energy, and comes with a big opportunity cost (meaning you have to invest four to five years, or longer, or pursuing other opportunities to obtain a doctoral degree. 

Here’s a quick breakdown of what is required to get a PhD in cybersecurity. Of course, specific degree requirements will vary by program. One growing trend in the field is that students can now obtain degrees in a variety of formats, including traditional on-campus programs, online degree programs , and hybrid graduate degree programs that combine both on-campus learning with online learning. 

Related resources

  • Online Ph.D. in cybersecurity – A guide to finding the right program
  • Cybersecurity degree programs
  • Podcast episodes and expert interviews

Preparing for a cybersecurity doctorate program

Cybersecurity is a relatively new formalized technology field, nonetheless, there are a number of ways that students or prospective PhD candidates can get involved or explore the field before and during a graduate school program. A few examples of ways to start networking and finding opportunities include: 

Join cybersecurity organizations with professional networks

Specialized professional organizations are a good place to find the latest in career advice and guidance. Often they publish newsletters or other kinds of information that provides insights into the emerging trends and issues facing cybersecurity professionals. A couple of examples include:

The Center for Internet Security  (CIS) is a non-profit dedicated to training cybersecurity professionals and fostering a sense of collaboration. The organization also publishes information and analysis of the latest cybersecurity threats and issues facing the professional community.

The SANS Institute runs a number of different kinds of courses for students (including certification programs) as well as ongoing professional cybersecurity education and training for people working in the field. The organization has several options including webinars, online training, and live in-person seminars. Additionally, SANS also publishes newsletters and maintains forums for cybersecurity professionals to interact and share information.

Leverage your social network

Places like LinkedIn and Twitter are a good place to start to find news and information about what is happening in the field, who the main leaders and influencers are, and what kinds of jobs and opportunities are available.

Starting a professional network early is also a great opportunity. Often professionals and members of the industry are willing to provide guidance and help to students that are genuinely interested in the field and looking for career opportunities. 

Cybersecurity competitions 

Cybersecurity competitions are a great way to get hands-on experience working on real cybersecurity problems and issues. As a PhD student or prospective student, cybersecurity competitions that are sponsored by industry groups are a great way to meet other cybersecurity professionals while getting working on projects that will help flesh out a resume or become talking points in later job interviews.

The US Cyber Challenge , for example, is a series of competitions and hackathon-style events hosted by the Department of Homeland Security Science and Technology Directorate and the Center for Internet Security with the goal of preparing the next generation of cybersecurity professionals.

Internships

Internships also continue to be a tried and true way to gain professional experience. Internships in technical fields like cybersecurity can also pay well. Like the industry itself, cybersecurity internships are available across a wide range of industries and can range from academic research-oriented to more corporate kinds of work. 

Things to consider when choosing a cybersecurity PhD program

There are a number of considerations to evaluate when considering any kind of graduate degree, but proper planning is essential in order to be able to obtain a doctoral degree. It’s also important to note that these are just guidelines and that each graduate program will have specific requirements, so be sure to double-check.

What you will need before applying to a cybersecurity PhD program:

  • All undergraduate and graduate transcripts
  • A statement of intent, which is like a cover letter outlining interest
  • Letters of reference
  • Application fee
  • Online application
  • A resume or CV outlining professional and academic accomplishments

What does a cybersecurity PhD program cost?

Obtaining a PhD is a massive investment, both in terms of time and money. Obviously, cybersecurity PhD students are weighing the cost of becoming an expert in the field with the payoff of having interesting and potentially lucrative career opportunities on the other side.

Most traditional, campus-based doctoral programs range between $1,300 and $2,000 per credit hour. Degree requirements are usually satisfied in 60-75 hours, so the cost of a doctoral degree can be well into the six-figure range. 

The good news is that by the time students get to the PhD level there are a lot of funding options — including some graduate programs that are completely funded by the university or academic departments themselves. Check out the cybersecurity scholarship guide for more specifics .

Additionally, funding in the form of research grants and other kinds of scholarships are available for students interested in pursuing cybersecurity studies. 

One example is the CyberCorps: Scholarships for Service program. Administered by the National Science Foundation, PhD students studying cybersecurity are eligible for a $34,000 a year scholarship, along with a professional stipend of $6,000 to attend conferences in exchange for agreeing to work for a government agency in the cybersecurity space after the PhD program. 

Frequently asked questions about cybersecurity PhD programs

Most traditional and online cybersecurity graduate programs require a minimum number of credits that need to be completed in order to obtain a degree. On average, it takes 71 credits to graduate with a PhD in cybersecurity — far longer (almost double) than traditional master’s degree programs. In addition to coursework, most PhD students also have research and teaching responsibilities that can be simultaneously demanding and really great career preparation.

At the core of a cybersecurity doctoral program is In a data science doctoral program, you’ll be expected to learn many skills and also how to apply them across domains and disciplines. Core curriculums will vary from program to program, but almost all will have a core foundation of statistics.  

All PhD candidates will have to take a series of exams that act as checkpoints during the lengthy PhD process. The actual exam process and timing can vary depending on the university and the program, but the basic idea is that cybersecurity PhD candidates generally have to sit for a qualifying exam, which comes earlier in the program (usually the winter or spring of the second year of study), a preliminary exam, which a candidate takes to show they are ready to start the dissertation or research portion of the PhD program, and a final exam where PhD students present and defend their research and complete their degree requirements. 

A cybersecurity PhD dissertation the capstone of a doctoral program. The dissertation is the name of a formal paper that presents the findings of original research that the PhD candidate conducted during the program under the guidance of faculty advisors. Some example cybersecurity research topics that could potentially be turned into dissertation ideas include: * Policies and best practices around passwords * Ways to defend against the rise of bots * Policies around encryption and privacy * Corporate responsibility for employee security * Internet advertising targeting and privacy * The new frontier of social engineering attacks * Operation security (OpSec) strategy and policy * Network infrastructure and defense * Cybersecurity law and policy * The vulnerabilities of biometrics * The role of ethical hacking * Cybersecurity forensics and enforcement

A complete listing of cybersecurity PhD programs

The following is a list of cybersecurity PhD programs. The listing is intended to work as a high-level index that provides enough basic information to make quick side-by-side comparisons easy. 

You should find basic data about what each school requires (such as a GRE score or prior academic work) as well as the number of credits required, estimated costs, and a link to the program.

Arizona State University

  • Aim: Equip students with in-depth expertise in cybersecurity.
  • Study Modules: Delve into advanced computer science subjects and specific cybersecurity courses.
  • Research Component: Students undertake groundbreaking research in the cybersecurity domain.

Carnegie Mellon University

  • CNBC Collaboration: A joint effort between Carnegie Mellon and the University of Pittsburgh to train students in understanding the brain's role in cognition.
  • Training Program: Students take four main neuroscience courses and participate in seminars and ethics training.
  • Course Integration: Whether students have a B.S. or M.S. degree, they can combine the CNBC and ECE Ph.D. courses without extra workload.

Colorado School of Mines

  • Research Focus: Cybersecurity: Studying online security and privacy.
  • Cost and Financial Aid: Provides details on program costs and available financial support.
  • Current Mines Community: Offers specific information for those already affiliated with Mines.

Indiana University Bloomington

  • Focus Areas: Options include Animal Informatics, Bioinformatics, Computer Design, and more.
  • Information Sessions: The university holds events to guide potential students about admissions and study options.
  • Minor Requirement: All Ph.D. students must complete a minor, which can be from within the Luddy School of Informatics or from another approved school at IU Bloomington.

Iowa State University

  • Details: The program is open to both domestic and international students.
  • Time to Complete: Ph.D.: About 5.2 years
  • Goals: Students should gain deep knowledge, follow ethics, share their findings, and do advanced research if they're writing a thesis.
  • Learning Goals: Master core areas of Computer Science, achieve in-depth knowledge in a chosen subfield, obtain expertise to perform original research, and demonstrate the ability to communicate technical concepts and research results.
  • Duration: Median time to earn the doctorate is 5.8 years.
  • Application Information: The program is open to both domestic and international students.
  • Program's Aim: The Ph.D. program is tailored to produce scholars proficient in leading research initiatives, undertaking rigorous industrial research, or imparting high-level computer science education.
  • Entry Routes: The program welcomes both students holding a B.S. degree for direct admission and those with an M.S. degree.
  • Dissertation's Role: It stands as the pivotal component of the Ph.D. journey. Collaboration between the student, their dissertation director, and the guiding committee is essential.

Naval Postgraduate School

  • Program Essence: The Computer Science Ph.D. is a top-tier academic program in the U.S.
  • Admission Criteria: Open to military officers from the U.S. and abroad, U.S. governmental employees, and staff of foreign governments.
  • Curriculum: Designed to deepen knowledge in computing, with a focus on the needs of the U.S. Department of Defense.
  • Emphasis on Research: The college showcases its strength in research through sections dedicated to Research Areas, affiliated Institutes & Centers, ongoing Research Projects, and specialized Labs & Groups.
  • Holistic Student Growth: The college promotes a comprehensive student experience, spotlighting Clubs & Organizations, campus Facilities, and tech Systems.
  • Guidance for Future Students: Provides tailored insights for students considering joining at various academic levels, from Undergraduate to PhD.
  • Broad Learning: The program covers many areas, from software and policy to psychology and ethics, reflecting the wide scope of cybersecurity.
  • Course Design: Students learn foundational security topics first and then dive into specialized areas, like cyber forensics.
  • Successful Alumni: Past students now work in places like NASA, Amazon, and Google.
  • Feature: Students can apply to up to three different campuses and/or majors using a single application and fee payment.
  • Preparing for a Globalized World: Courses such as Global Supply Chain Management equip students for international careers.
  • Tech-Forward Curriculum: Purdue's commitment to advanced technology is evident.

Rochester Institute of Technology

  • Cyberinfrastructure Focus: The program dives deep into how hardware, data, and networks work together to create secure and efficient digital tools.
  • Broad Applications: The program uses computing to solve problems in fields like science, arts, and business.
  • Success Rate: All RIT graduates from this program have found relevant roles, especially in the Internet and Software sectors.

Sam Houston State University

  • Program's Objective: The course aims to nurture students to be technically adept and also to take on leadership roles in the digital and cyber forensic domain across various industries.
  • Assessments: Students undergo comprehensive tests to evaluate their understanding.
  • Research Paper (Dissertation): Once students reach the doctoral candidacy phase, they must produce and defend a significant research paper or dissertation.
  • Funding: All Ph.D. students get financial help, so they can start their research right away.
  • Teachers: The program has top experts, including those who've made big discoveries in computer science.
  • Research Areas: Students can study the latest topics like AI, computer vision, and online security.

The University of Tennessee

  • Study Areas: Options include Cybersecurity, Data Analytics, Computer Vision, and more.
  • Tests: You'll have to pass a few exams, including one when you start, one before your final project, and then present your final project.
  • Courses: Some specific courses are needed, and your main professor will help decide which ones.
  • Big Exam: Before moving forward, you'll take a detailed exam about your research topic.
  • Final Step: You'll present and defend your research project to experts.
  • Overview: This program is for those with a degree in Computer Science or similar fields. It has special focus areas like Cybersecurity and Machine Learning.

University of Arizona

  • Study Plan: Students start with learning research basics and then dive into modern tech topics.
  • Support for Students: All PhD students get funding that covers their studies, a stipend, and health insurance. Money for travel to conferences is also available.
  • After Graduation: Alumni work at top universities and big companies like Google and Microsoft.

University of California-Davis

  • About the Program: Students engage in deep research, ending with a dissertation.
  • Jobs After Graduation: Roles in companies or academic positions.
  • Vibrant Community: Beyond academics, students join a supportive community, enriching their Ph.D. experience.

University of Colorado - Colorado Springs

  • Recognition: UCCS is recognized by the National Security Agency (NSA) and the Department of Homeland Security for excellence in Information Assurance Education.
  • Course Approval: The NSA has approved UCCS's courses as meeting national security training standards.
  • Overview: This program focuses on vital areas like cyber security, physical security, and homeland security.

University of Idaho

  • Partnership with NSA and DHS: The university is part of a program to boost cyber defense education.
  • Recognition: The University of Idaho is among the institutions recognized as Centers of Academic Excellence in Cyber Defense.
  • Objective: To minimize vulnerabilities in the national information infrastructure.
  • Overview: This program is meticulously crafted to deliver premier legal education to its students.
  • Courses: Encompasses a balanced mix of traditional legal doctrines, theoretical viewpoints, and hands-on practical experiences.
  • Aim: The primary objective is to equip students with top-notch legal education.

University of Missouri-Columbia

  • Seminars: PhD students should attend 20 seminars. If they were previously Master's students, their past attendance counts.
  • Timeline Requirements: Comprehensive Exam must be completed within five years of starting the program.
  • Dissertation and Publication: At least one journal paper must be submitted, accepted, or published.

University of North Carolina at Charlotte

  • Faculty: The faculty members are renowned for their impactful research contributions on a global scale.
  • Curriculum: The curriculum is versatile, catering to individuals aiming for academia as well as those targeting roles in the corporate, commerce, or public sectors.
  • Program: A blend of theoretical and hands-on research is emphasized, offering a well-rounded educational experience.

Virginia Tech

  • Seminars and Ethics: Students attend special seminars and complete training on scholarly ethics and diversity.
  • Guidance: Each student gets a faculty advisor. A group of faculty members, called a committee, also guides them.
  • Major Exams: Students go through four main stages: a qualifying process, a preliminary proposal, a research presentation, and a final defense.
  • Strong Research: WPI's PhD program is recognized for its excellent research contributions.
  • Practical Focus: The program teaches students to tackle real tech challenges.
  • Modern Labs: Students use the latest labs like the Human-Robot Interaction Lab.

Dakota State University

  • Program Goal: Train students to handle and prevent cyber threats.
  • Awards: The university has received top cybersecurity awards.
  • What You'll Learn: Research skills, cyber defense techniques, and ethical decision-making.

New Jersey City University, College of Professional Studies

  • About: Focuses on best practices in areas like national security, cyber defense, and crisis communication.
  • Recognitions: The program has been honored by the National Security Agency since 2009 and was recognized for excellence in intelligence studies.
  • Jobs: Graduates are prepared for top roles in sectors like government and education.
  • Program Content: The course dives deep into modern cybersecurity topics, from new tech and artificial intelligence to specialized research areas.
  • Location Benefits: The university is near many cybersecurity companies and government agencies, giving students unique opportunities.
  • For Working People: It's crafted for professionals, allowing them to experience various cybersecurity roles, from tech firms to government.
  • Completion Time: Students have up to ten years from starting to finish their dissertation.
  • Program: Trains students for roles in academia, government, and business.
  • Multidisciplinary Approach: The program combines both technical and managerial aspects of cybersecurity, offering a comprehensive understanding of the field.

The University of Rhode Island

  • Research Focus: The Ph.D. program is centered around a big research project in Computer Science.
  • Qualifying Exams: Students take exams on core topics, but some might get exemptions if they're already skilled in certain areas.
  • Equal Opportunity: The University of Rhode Island is committed to the principles of affirmative action and is an equal opportunity employer.

University of North Texas

  • Team Effort: The program is a collaboration between various UNT departments for a well-rounded view of cybersecurity.
  • Goals: The course aims to develop critical thinkers who are passionate about the role of information in our lives and can work across different fields.
  • Skills Gained: Students will learn about research, teaching methods, decision-making, leadership, and analyzing data.

New York University Tandon School of Engineering

  • Scholarships: Many students get scholarships that pay for tuition and give a monthly allowance.
  • Research Interest: Research areas include cybersecurity, computer games, web search, graphics, and more.
  • Experience: Students can also research in NYU's campuses in Shanghai or Abu Dhabi.
  • One Degree for All: Every student gets the same Ph.D., regardless of their specific area of study.
  • Research Focus: The program emphasizes deep research and prepares students for advanced roles.
  • Major Project: Students work on a big research project, adding new knowledge to the computing world.
  • Program: Prepares students for leadership roles in different sectors.
  • Opportunities: Qualified students might get opportunities as Research or Teaching Assistants.
  • Overview: Focuses on advanced research and modern technologies.

Augusta University

  • Goal: The program prepares students for research roles and to make new discoveries in tech.
  • Benefits: A Ph.D. opens up leadership opportunities in tech sectors.
  • Overview: It focuses on new discoveries in areas like security, artificial intelligence, and virtual reality.

University of Texas at San Antonio

  • Financial Support: Full-time students can get funding, which covers tuition and offers roles like teaching assistants.
  • Job Prospects: UTSA trains students for jobs that are in high demand, using data from official sources.
  • Overview: The program focuses on in-depth research and teaching.

University of Central Florida

  • Mix of Subjects: Students can take courses from different areas, giving them a broad view of security topics.
  • Many Job Options: Graduates can work in government, big companies, or teach in universities.
  • Hands-on Learning: The program offers research, study projects, and internships for real-world experience.
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PhD & Postdoc Career Series: Spring 2024

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Join us for a series of programs tailored to your unique needs as an advanced trainee! See additional details and register at the links below.

Logo: PhD & Postdoc Career Series

Careers in Environment, Energy and Sustainability for Graduate Students and Postdocs Friday, February 23; 3:00-5:00 PM ET; 1-190

Careers in Biotech/Pharma/Life Sciences for PhDs and Postdocs Wednesday, March 6th; 5:00-6:30 PM ET; 2-190

Careers in Chemistry and Materials Science for PhDs and Postdocs Monday, March 11th; 5:00pm – 6:30 PM ET; Virtual

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FT MBA RANKINGS 

Top 10 global b-schools of 2024, university of pennsylvania: wharton, columbia business school, sda bocconi school of management, iese business school, kellogg school of management, london business school, cornell university: johnson, university of chicago: booth.

Ph.D. Program Requirements

The Doctor of Philosophy program at the College of Education prepares students for careers of research or scholarly inquiry and teaching at the college/university level. The program consists of: (1) continuous research and faculty discussion inquiry, (2) courses in education and related fields designed to develop a comprehensive academic basis for future work in research and teaching, and (3) teaching and other related experiences tailored to individual needs and career goals.

Table of Contents

  • Enrolling in First & Second Year Courses
  • Research & Teacher Preparation
  • Advancing to Prospective Candidacy 
  • Forming a Supervisory Committee
  • Research and Inquiry Conference
  • Eligibility
  • General Exams
  • Completing the Oral General Exam
  • Dissertation Credits
  • Preparing the Dissertation Proposal
  • Forming the Reading Committee
  • Conforming to Stylistic Standards
  • Completing the Final Exam (Dissertation Defense)
  • Submitting Your Dissertation to the Graduate School
  • Maximum Allowable Time

1) Enrolling in First & Second Year Courses

Upon admission to the Ph.D. program, you are designated "Post-Master's," meaning that you have been assigned to an adviser, but do not yet have a doctoral Supervisory Committee. The goal of the post-master's phase is to arrange research/inquiry experiences and coursework that will qualify you for Prospective Candidacy. You are assigned a first-year adviser whose research and scholarly activities are in your field of intended specialization. During the first year of study, your adviser will be a central figure, helping you plan academic life.

Working with your adviser, you will: (1) identify a research topic and secure ways and means for participating in the selected project, (2) select first-year courses, and (3) prepare documentation for advancement to Prospective Candidacy. Although the role of faculty advisers is designed to assist you in completing the Ph.D. degree, it is your responsibility to follow all procedures of the Graduate School and College of Education.

In the College of Education's LSHD program, post-bachelor's students may be admitted to work toward a Ph.D. without formally completing a master’s degree program. Post-bachelor's applicants to the Ph.D. track are expected to have research experience and/or research potential, as well as research interests that align with faculty expertise. Post-bachelor's students in the LSHD Ph.D. program may choose to complete an M.Ed. along the way.  Those who would like to complete their M.Ed. along the way must meet the minimum 45 credit Graduate School requirements for the LSHD M.Ed. program. The 45 credits include a minimum of 21 credits in EDPSY coursework, 18 minimum numerically graded credits at the 400 or 500 level, and 18 minimum credits at the 500 level or above.  

If you are a post-bachelor's student working within the prospective Ph.D. track and plan to obtain your M.Ed. along the way in LSHD, you will complete a qualifying paper no later than the quarter in which you complete 45 credits. The qualifying paper is designed to be the equivalent of a master’s final exam or thesis in quality, and must be evaluated by two members of the graduate faculty. This paper must be separate from your R&I paper.

2) Research & Teacher Preparation

A number of useful methods exist for inquiry into educational problems and issues. You will need to develop an appreciation for the diversity of options available. Initial preparation consists of studying the fundamental differences and similarities among various approaches to inquiry in education through the required Educational Inquiry Seminar Series (EDLPS 525 and 526; see the General Catalog for course details). Please note that these courses are sequential; EDLPS 525 is the prerequisite for EDLPS 526. You should complete this sequence as early in the program as possible, preferably in your first year.

Additionally, you will be required to complete a minimum of four additional 500-level courses (combined total of no less than 12 credits) relating to methods of educational inquiry; in these four courses, you must earn a grade of at least 3.0 (or written verification that you would have received a 3.0 in courses that are offered C/NC). You are strongly encouraged to select coursework representing at least two broad approaches to inquiry (quantitative, qualitative, philosophical, historical, etc.) offered both inside and outside the College of Education. The final selection of appropriate courses will be made with the advice and consent of your adviser. The required Inquiry series must be completed prior to your advancement to Prospective Candidacy; two of the four additional research courses must be completed prior to your Research and Inquiry Presentation.

Each Supervisory Committee will design experiences to promote excellence for students who will seek teaching positions. The nature of these experiences will vary according to your prior experience. Some students come to programs in education with substantial experience as teachers, and for them, fewer graduate school experiences may be required.

For some students, the annual Research and Inquiry Presentation will be enough to polish their instructional skills and to demonstrate mastery of instructional approaches. Other students may need to serve as teaching assistants, either formally or informally. Your Supervisory Committee will see that you have appropriate, supervised experience as needed to promote effective teaching skills.

The advancement to Prospective Candidacy process--including the materials and discussions involved in it--is an opportunity for students, advisers, and the broader faculty to evaluate the student’s progress up to that point and to plan for future course taking, committee member selection, and dissertation interests.

You may be considered for advancement to Prospective Candidacy after completing 24 credits of study, including the Inquiry Seminar Series if required (EDLPS 525 and 526) and a minimum of nine credits within your chosen field(s) of study.  Individual programs may require additional coursework, and your adviser will inform you of any additional requirements early in your first quarter of study.  

Once you meet the minimum requirements, your adviser will help you prepare documents for presentation to the faculty. Those documents include (1) a course of study form (including grades received in each course), and (2) a revised goal statement.  You will revisit and revise the goal statement you wrote when you applied for your program to reflect your current thinking and goals.  Your adviser may require other materials, such as a curriculum vita or a paper from a course.  Check with your adviser to see if additional materials are necessary.  Together, the student and the adviser are required to meet to discuss the materials and to make any appropriate changes before the adviser presents the student’s case to the larger faculty for consideration.  Advancement to Prospective Candidacy needs to be completed before you can do your R&I.

The faculty in your program will review your work, judge the adequacy of your progress, offer suggestions about future course taking, and make a recommendation on Advancement to Prospective Candidacy to the Graduate Program Coordinator (the Associate Dean for Graduate Programs).  While we encourage as much faculty input as possible, a minimum of one faculty member besides your advisor will take part in this review. Advisers are then required to meet with the student to provide a summary of the collective input gathered from the larger program faculty meeting. 

Once you have advanced, you should initiate the  Prospective Candidacy Form  to notify the Office of Student Services about completing this milestone.

A summary of the process is below: 1. Meet minimum requirements for advancing to prospective candidacy. 2. Prepare course of study, revised goal statement, and whatever materials your advisor or program requires. 3. Meet with advisor to go over documents and revise as needed. 4. Advisor meets with program faculty and presents the student’s case for consideration. 5. Faculty in program review work, judge adequacy of progress, offer feedback, and make recommendation on advancement. 6. Advisor meets with student to give feedback and decision of the faculty. 7. Student initiates the  Prospective Candidacy Form  online. Once signed by the faculty advior, the completed form is then automatically submitted to the Office of Student Services.

Probationary language: If, after reviewing the student’s case, the program faculty decides that the student will not be Advanced to Prospective Candidacy, the student will be warned or placed on probationary status per the Graduate School's policy on Unsatisfactory Performance and Progress. At that time, the advisor must call a meeting with the student, one other faculty member, and the Associate Dean for Graduate Programs.  This group may require additional materials (i.e. course papers), and the student may offer additional materials as well.  The meeting should take place no later than the second week of the following academic quarter.  At this meeting, the faculty members and student will discuss what is necessary to lift probationary status. Examples might include: improving grades, revising the goal statement further, and requiring certain courses. 

4) Forming a Supervisory Committee

Once you have been advanced to Prospective Candidacy, you should direct your attention to forming a Supervisory Committee. In concert with your adviser, you should explore which members of the graduate faculty would be willing to serve on your Supervisory Committee. Each member of a Supervisory Committee will devote substantial time to working with you and should formally indicate willingness to serve. The chairperson of the Supervisory Committee, who must be a graduate faculty member from the College of Education, should express the willingness and availability to supervise a dissertation, since this is normally the most time-consuming responsibility.

Supervisory Committees will be formed in accordance with Graduate School policy

  • A minimum of four voting faculty (at least three with graduate faculty appointments) must represent, respectively, your (a) specialization within their broad areas of study, (b) first cognate, (c) second cognate, and (d) specialization outside of the College of Education (definitions of broad area, specializations, and cognates can be found ( here ).
  • No more than two voting faculty from your broad area may be on the committee.
  • An additional graduate faculty member, the Graduate School Representative (GSR), must also serve on the committee. GSRs must be members of the graduate faculty with an endorsement to chair doctoral committees, and must have no conflict of interest (such as budgetary relationships or adjunct appointments) with the College of Education. Members of Supervisory Committees representing students’ specializations outside of the College of Education may also serve as GSRs, provided they are qualified to serve in both roles.

Once you have identified appropriate graduate faculty who are willing to serve, their names should be submitted to the Office of Student Services using the Committee Formation Request Form .  Your faculty adviser must approve the form to indicate their approval.

NOTE: The Graduate School requires each doctoral student who is forming a committee for the first time to submit a Use of Animal and Human Subjects Form to the Office of Student Services.

You should form a Supervisory Committee no later than the quarter prior to your General Exam. It is not imperative that the Supervisory Committee be formed before your Research and Inquiry Presentation. It is necessary, however, for you to have arranged for a group of faculty to evaluate your Research and Inquiry work.

The next task is to meet with your Supervisory Committee to develop a research program for the Research and Inquiry Presentation and to plan a course of study in preparation for the General Exam. Between Supervisory Committee meetings, your chairperson is responsible for serving as your adviser.

The Supervisory Committee may recommend against continuation in the program if your progress toward the degree is unsatisfactory. This may include, but is not limited to, an excessive number of course withdrawals or incompletes, a grade point average of less than 3.0, unsatisfactory performance in field placements, or unsatisfactory performance on the General Exam.

5) Completing the Research & Inquiry Presentation

Research preparation is the foundation of the Ph.D. program, as research will play a paramount role in students’ professional careers. Training to be an effective researcher requires (a) concentrated focus to learn the various methods of inquiry and practice, and (b) employment of these methods in various research projects while pursuing your degree. You will begin research activities during the first year of the program, and will continue to develop skills by conducting various research projects, culminating with a dissertation. The Research and Inquiry milestone consists of two major components: A major product of your research preparation effort is the R&I paper and presenting at the Research and Inquiry Conference annually during autumn quarter.

The purposes of R&I are to:

  • Immerse you in issues of content and method directly pertinent to your chosen specialization.
  • Provide you with practical experience in the use of methods and the application of content learned in coursework.
  • Convey aspects of substance and method that characterize the topic studied, but are not taught in general method or content courses.
  • Afford an opportunity for you to present research to a professional audience and for the audience to learn about the research.

The design, implementation, and presentation of the R&I research shall be under the supervision of your chair and at least two additional faculty members or your Supervisory Committee. At least three faculty members must approve a thoroughly developed research papers prior to taking the General Exam.

In general, your R&I paper should hold substantial promise of contributing to preparation for a dissertation, and at its inception should have a good chance of being publishable in a juried journal. At each meeting, members of the Supervisory Committee will reassess the extent to which your R&I activities are contributing to stated goals, and will provide advice in accordance with their assessment. Between committee meetings, the chairperson will assume primary responsibility for advising and assisting you with preparation of your R&I plan.

After successful completion of the written portion, Students will be required to present at the annual CoE R&I Conference held in autumn quarter. 

5.1) Research and Inquiry Conference

The R&I Conference is a half-day event where students will present their research in two types of session formats. All formats provide a means for grouping related papers into sessions, with different opportunities for moderators and audience participation. Students, with the approval of their advisor, determine which format is optimal for future preparation. Successful participation of in the Research ad Inquiry Conference is required prior to defending a dissertation.

The purposes for R&I conference:

  • To mentor student research experience.
  • To support professional practices toward becoming part of a community of scholars.
  • To build community in the College

Session format options: 

Panel presentations  typically group together 2-5 student presenters with similar topics for a shared presentation and discussion opportunity. Each student will present an abbreviated version of her/his R&I paper, followed by summarizing comments from the moderator and then facilitated audience discussion and questions. A typical structure for a session allows approximately 5 minutes for the moderator’s introduction to the session, 10 minutes per presenter, another 5 minutes for moderator comments and summary, and finally 15 minutes for audience discussion. Individual presenters must be attentive to the time allocation for presenting their work in paper sessions.

Structured poster sessions  combine the graphic display of materials with the opportunity for individualized, formal discussion of the research. Depending on how many individuals plan to participate and how many intellectual areas will be presented, there could be anywhere from 1- 4 individuals in a 60 minute session. These sessions begin with attendees viewing poster presentations, then move into brief oral presentations to the audience gathered as a group, followed by direct discussion with poster presenters. Posters are linked conceptually in terms of education research issues, problems, settings, methods, analytic questions, or themes. 

5.2) Eligibility

To be eligible to participate in the R&I Presentations, you must meet the following requirements:

1.  You must be registered as a graduate student at the University of Washington during the quarter of the R&I Presentation. 2.  You must have completed the following research course requirements: six credits of the Inquiry series (EDLPS 525 and 526), plus two additional research methodology courses at the 500-level.   3.  You must have been advanced to Prospective Candidate status through your academic area.

4.  You must have identified a group of faculty who have agreed to evaluate your R&I work. In some cases, this group will be your Supervisory Committee; it is not imperative, however, that you formally establish your Supervisory Committee before R&I. As an alternative, a group of three faculty members can agree to evaluate your R&I work. 

5.  Some papers might require might need Human Subjects Form approval. If you and your advisor have determined you need this, you must have a Human Subjects Form approved prior to starting the research if the investigation is conducted with human subjects. See Louise Clauss in 115J Miller hall if you have questions regarding Human Subjects applications.

6.  The final copy should be submitted to the faculty evaluators and the Office of Student Services with the approval of three faculty members (or instructors). Instructions on completing the R&I submission process can be found on the Graduate Student Forms page . Please keep in mind that the faculty members have other time constraints. It is to your benefit to submit your research paper for evaluation as early as possible.

6) General Exams

When both you and your Supervisory Committee concur that you are prepared and have completed all course requirements (except the dissertation) — including the completion at least 60 credit hours of coursework, per Graduate School requirements (or 30 hours if you already completed a master’s degree that will be less than 10 years old at the time of graduation from the UW) — your Course of Study and research activities will be evaluated through Written and Oral Exams conducted by the Supervisory Committee.

The General Exam is given in two parts. The first part is written and examines content area in your broad area, specialty areas, and cognates. Upon satisfactory completion of the written portion of the General Exam, the oral portion may be scheduled. During the Oral Exam, members of the graduate faculty may ask any questions they choose. By majority vote, the Supervisory Committee will rule on whether you pass.

7) Completing the Oral General Exam

You are responsible for scheduling the oral portion of the General Exam (locating an adequate room, determining a date and time that is acceptable to all members of the Supervisory Committee, etc.), as well as submitting a Request for General Exam to the Graduate School. You should submit the request after forming your Supervisory Committee (see above) and at least three weeks prior to the date of the General Exam by using the Graduate School’s online process. During the Oral Exam, members of the graduate faculty may ask any questions they choose. By majority vote, the Supervisory Committee will rule on whether you pass. Once you have passed, the Office of Student Services will convey the exam results to the Graduate School. This will result in Candidacy being awarded at the end of the quarter in which you pass your Oral Exam.

8) Candidacy

After successfully completing the General Exams, you enter the Candidacy stage of your program. The main tasks of this phase include preparing a dissertation proposal, completing dissertation research, writing the dissertation, and conducting your final defense.

9) Dissertation Credits

When you and your adviser determine that you are completing dissertation-related work, you may register for dissertation credits (EDUC 800).   The Graduate School requires a minimum of 27 dissertation credits for degree completion, and these credits must be taken over a minimum of three quarters. 

10) Preparing the Dissertation Proposal

Upon successful completion of the oral portion of the General Exam, you and your Supervisory Committee will shift attention to the dissertation proposal. The purpose of the dissertation proposal is to provide you with constructive criticism from the entire Supervisory Committee prior to the execution of your dissertation research. The written dissertation proposal should be approved unanimously by the Supervisory Committee members; approval will be indicated by completing the Dissertation Proposal Form . Approval does not guarantee that the Supervisory Committee will approve the dissertation at the Final Oral Exam, but it does guarantee that the committee may not later disapprove the dissertation on the grounds that the research was poorly conceived. The approved proposal becomes the working paper for conducting your dissertation research.

Once the proposal receives Supervisory Committee approval, you will likely need to submit an application for review and approval by the Human Subjects Division. On its website, the College of Education has summarized some of the most important aspects of the Human Subjects Review Process . You should also consult the website of the UW’s Human Subjects Division .

For additional information about the process, the type of review suitable for a given project, application forms, and general assistance, contact Louise Clauss at [email protected] or 206-616-8291.

11) Forming the Reading Committee

The Reading Committee will be composed of a minimum of 3 members of your Supervisory Committee members, including the chairperson. It is also advisable to include a member who is knowledgeable in the chosen research methodology. The Reading Committee will read and review your dissertation in detail and make a recommendation to the larger Supervisory Committee about readiness to schedule the Final Exam. Once you identify appropriate graduate faculty who are willing to serve on the Reading Committee, their names should be submitted to the Office of Student Services using the Committee Formation Request Form on the Graduate Student Forms page .

12) Conforming to Stylistic Standards

It is your responsibility to ensure that your dissertation meets current Graduate School formatting requirements. You may find information about these requirements on the Graduate School Dissertation page .

13) Completing the Final Exam (Dissertation Defense)

You are expected to pass the Final Exam. The final defense of the dissertation is intended as an opportunity for all involved to celebrate the good results of their work during your career in the College of Education.

You should schedule the Final Exam after submitting your dissertation to the Supervisory Committee. You are responsible for scheduling the Final Exam (locating an adequate room, determining a date and time that is acceptable to all members of the Supervisory Committee, etc.), as well as submitting a Request for Final Exam to the Graduate School. You should submit the request after forming the Reading Committee and at least three weeks prior to the date of the Final Exam by using the Graduate School’s online process. You should also note that you must be enrolled for credit hours during the quarter of the Final Exam. If your Final Exam occurs during a period between academic quarters, then the Final Exam will be considered to have taken place the following quarter, and you must register for that quarter.

The Final Exam will cover your dissertation and related topics, and it may also cover other areas deemed appropriate by the Supervisory Committee. While the committee alone votes on acceptance of the dissertation, any member of the graduate faculty may participate in the Final Exam.

14) Submitting Your Dissertation to the Graduate School

Once you pass the Final Exam and complete any revisions requested by the Supervisory Committee, the remaining step is to submit your dissertation to the Graduate School.

In preparation for submitting your dissertation, you should keep the following Graduate School policies in mind:

  • If you wish to submit your dissertation in the same quarter as your Final Exam, make note of the submission deadlines established by the Graduate School.
  • You may submit your dissertation up to two weeks after the end of a quarter without having to register for the following quarter by using the Registration Waiver Fee . The Registration Waiver Fee option is available to a student who has completed all other degree requirements except submission of the dissertation. You will then be permitted to graduate the following quarter by paying a $250 fee in lieu of registering for credit hours.
  • Submission of the dissertation is done electronically and involves several steps. You should carefully review the degree completion information  available from the Graduate School. All Reading Committee members must approve the dissertation online and you must also complete the Survey of Earned Doctorates .

Specific questions about the electronic submission of dissertations should be directed to Graduate Enrollment Management Services (GEMS) at 206-685-2630.

15) Maximum Allowable Time

In planning your program of study and timeline, keep in mind that all requirements for the Ph.D. must be completed within a 10-year time limit.

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