A special student may or may not be pursuing a degree elsewhere at the undergraduate or graduate level and is admitted to take approved classes at MIT. Special students are considered non-degree students. Admission as a special student does not imply any commitment on the part of MIT toward an individual’s admissibility to regular student status; it also does not allow the individual to cross-register at partner institutions.
Undergraduate special students are individuals that have not yet obtained a bachelor’s degree, and apply through the Office of Graduate Education (OGE).
Graduate special students are individuals that have already obtained a bachelor’s degree, and apply through the Advanced Study Program (ASP).
Applicants to either program are reviewed similarly and are approved by the appropriate departmental committee, which may include the graduate officer, the graduate admissions chair, the undergraduate officer, the academic administrator, the graduate administrator, or the undergraduate administrator. Admission is valid for one academic term and a new application is required for subsequent terms. Approved applicants will be assigned to a single department.
The administering office, either ASP or OGE, will advise and monitor special student registration and notify departments of changes that require subsequent approval.
International students must meet the English language proficiency requirements set by the student’s department or program. In order to be issued a Form I-20 or Form DS-2019 by MIT, an international applicant must register for no fewer than 36 units. International students on F-1 and J-1 visas who wish to enroll as special students are required by immigration regulations to register as full time students (no fewer than 36 units).
If a special student is subsequently admitted as a regular graduate student, subjects completed may be used in partial fulfillment of requirements for an advanced degree. The degree-granting department determines to what extent such subjects are acceptable. Registration as a special student does not count toward minimum residence requirements for an advanced degree nor for eligibility for nonresident status.