The thesis comprises an original investigation, including a written document on a subject approved by a departmental or interdepartmental graduate committee prior to the beginning of the research. Thesis credit cannot be granted for work done prior to registration as a graduate student at the Institute, nor for work initiated without prior approval by the department of registration. The thesis must be completed while in residence, except as noted below.

A thesis may not be presented on research work done at the Institute while on academic, administrative, research staff appointment, or hourly payroll at MIT (including Lincoln Laboratory), the Charles Stark Draper Laboratory, or other affiliated research entities. Supervision by a faculty member of the Institute or a staff member approved by the department is a fixed requirement for doctoral, engineer’s, and master’s theses. Preliminary plans for pursuing an approved thesis may be required by thesis advisors according to the requirements and time schedules of the departments. A thesis advisor may, at his or her discretion, require progress reports in oral or written form as deemed necessary. Before the final written document is submitted, a draft may be required for editorial comment. An oral examination of the doctoral thesis will be held after the thesis has been submitted. The thesis process is not complete until the thesis document is signed, and therefore accepted formally, by the department.

Nonresident doctoral thesis research status

Details and expectations for non-residential doctoral students. Students must have passed the qualifying examination to be eligible to request this status.

Holds and restrictions on thesis publication

Information on thesis hold requests related to patent protection, pursuit of business opportunities, government restrictions, privacy and security, and book publication

Copyright and intellectual property policy

Information on the Institute’s policy concerning ownership of copyrights and rights to intellectual property

Preparation of graduate theses

Information for preparing a thesis

Joint theses

Details and expectations for collaborative research

Thesis research in absentia

Details and expectations for students conducting research off-campus. Students in both master’s and doctoral programs, at any stage in their studies, are eligible to request this status.