Doctoral degree

MIT offers the degrees of Doctor of Science and Doctor of Philosophy interchangeably in the engineering and science departments (except biology and brain and cognitive sciences) and in the fields of medical engineering and medical physics. The degree of Doctor of Philosophy is awarded in architecture; biology; brain and cognitive sciences; computational science and engineering; economics; history, anthropology, and science, technology, and society; linguistics; management; media arts and sciences; philosophy; political science; technology and policy; bioengineering and environmental health; urban studies and planning; and from health sciences and technology. These degrees certify creditable completion of an approved program of advanced study in addition to a research dissertation of high quality based on original research.

The two Institute requirements for a doctorate are completion of a program of advanced study, including a general examination, and completion and oral defense of a thesis on original research.

The course of advanced study and research leading to the doctorate must be pursued under the direction of the departmental committee on graduate students for at least four academic terms. In some cases, the required period of residence may be reduced, but in no instance can it be reduced to less than two regular academic terms and one summer session.

A student is enrolled in a program of advanced study and research approved by the department. The thesis research is in this same area, but the program often includes subjects reaching into several departments. If the field requires substantial participation by two or more departments, an interdepartmental faculty committee, approved by the Office of Graduate Education via petition, should be appointed to supervise the student’s program.

Each doctoral candidate must take a general examination in their program of study at such time and in such manner as the departmental or interdepartmental committee approves. This examination consists of both oral and written parts.

Although there is no Institute requirement of a minor for the doctoral degree, certain departments require that candidates take a number of subjects outside their major field.

Language proficiency

Information on language proficiency expectations in various departments