Students are Asking

Tuition and Financial Aid

  • 683
    Q: As an international student, is difficult to find as many financial opportunities as U.S. students or permanent residents. Is it possible for MIT to create more opportunities? [Fall 2013]
    Read response from

    Danielle Guichard-Ashbrook, Director and Associate Dean, International Students Office

    It’s true that many financial aid opportunities are limited to US citizens and permanent residents.  However, the Office of the Dean for Graduate Education (ODGE) does list a number of fellowship opportunities specifically for international students, as well as a group of internal MIT fellowships, all of which are open to international students, and internal MIT awards.  Additionally, the ODGE Manager of Graduate Fellowships is in the process of identifying and publicizing other opportunities for internationals as part of the strategic work of the office.

    Many on campus employment opportunities (paid by MIT) are available to international students who meet the eligibility criteria, e.g. Research Assistantships, Teaching Assistantships, positions as a Graduate Community Fellow, or a Graduate Resident Tutor.    Students should check with their academic or thesis advisors, department administrators and/or the ODGE to see what  on campus employment or fellowship opportunities may be available for them.

    International students unfortunately are subject to some fairly stringent immigration regulations especially when it comes to off campus employment in the US.  However, as long as the student meets the strict eligibility criteria and applies in time, immigration does allow benefits like Optional Practical Training (OPT), Curricular Practical Training (CPT) and Academic Training (AT).  These types of employment benefits for international students may be applicable to some off campus internships during the summer and during IAP.   We recommend that students check with the International Students Office (ISO) to explore the possibilities.

    There are also additional MIT-funded opportunities for international students: Internships and research abroad through MISTI, which provides money to cover their travel and living expenses.  The Graduate Student Council (GSC) offers travel grants to support students with conference travel expenses.  The ODGE Graduate Student Life Grants offer funding for community-building events or programs. 

    Finally, the Office of the Dean for Graduate Education is currently considering ways to create more opportunities for international students.  We would love to hear your suggestions.

  • 281
    Q: Why does MIT have a yearly tuition increase? It would be nice to see the Institute eliminate what seems like a "just because" increase. Alternatively, there should be more transparency on what is being funded. [Spring 2012]

    In March, MIT announced a tuition increase of 3.25% for the coming academic year. This was one of the lowest increases among our peers.Every year, we go through a process to determine if a tuition increase is necessary and what would be reasonable. As a service industry, higher education costs are largely driven by labor costs.  MIT is no exception and our salary costs go up, on average, 3% annually.  We have also recently experienced increased costs associated with housing.

    In considering any tuition increase, we try very carefully to account for inflation and maintain our longstanding commitment to affordability.; In fact, this process is not just about setting the tuition rate but also setting the financial aid budget so that we can meet the full demonstrated financial need of all applicants we admit. For over a decade, financial aid has been increasing at a faster rate than tuition. For the coming year, the financial aid budget will increase by 4.7%.

    The process starts with a committee run by the Dean for Undergraduate Education and including the Provost, the Chancellor, the Executive Vice President, the Vice President for Finance, the Dean for Graduate Education, the Dean for Student Life, the Chair of the Faculty, and the Chair of CUAFA. The committee makes a recommendation on the necessary increases in tuition and financial aid to Academic Council and the President, which, in turn, goes on to the Corporation.

    Tuition is determined as part of a larger decision on how MIT will cover the full cost of education in the upcoming year. Tuition is the price of education. The total cost of undergraduate education is actually much higher. Based on internal studies, we determined the total current cost is about $72,000 per undergraduate student per academic year. This does not include housing and board and is consistent with the cost of education at our peers.  However, tuition for 2011-12 was significantly less, just over $40,000. In reality, MIT subsidizes the education of all students, even those who pay full tuition. Moreover, since over 60% of MIT students receive need-based financial aid, the net amount of tuition we collected, averaged over all undergraduate students, was about $19,000 per student.

    To fund the full cost of education, MIT draws from three sources: tuition, gifts and payout from the endowment.  Ultimately, the Corporation determines the exact amount of revenue that will be drawn from each of these sources. This includes setting the tuition rate and associated financial aid budget at a level that helps offset cost increases while maintaining affordability. Their decision is informed by the recommendation of the senior administrators but also considers the short and long-term goals of the Institute and the state of the economy. It is important to note that while research funds are used to fund UROPs, research funds are strictly used to fund the research enterprise and do not directly support the educational enterprise.

    Funding education is part of the complex financial management of the Institute. Periodically, the Institute holds forums to report the financial status of the Institute and these are open to students. I encourage you to attend and learn more about this process.

Housing and Dining

  • 1175
    Q: What’s going on this summer with the residence halls? [Spring 2015]
    Read response from

    MIT Housing

    Essentially, this summer’s plan is the same as last summer’s plan. East Campus and MacGregor will be open for students this summer. All full-time MIT undergraduate students who are eligible for fall registration, and Wellesley undergraduate students who will be registered for a class or doing a UROP for credit, are eligible to apply. Seniors who have graduated may apply to stay in summer housing until June 30. Click here to apply.

    Additionally, rooms in Baker House, Maseeh Hall, McCormick Hall, Next House, and Simmons Hall, as well as Pi Phi Sorority at 405 Memorial Drive, will be used for program and conference housing.

    Lastly, a number of residence halls will be closed for summer renovations and maintenance projects, including Burton Conner, Green Hall, New House, Random Hall, McCormick Annex, and Senior House. Work will also start this summer on the renovation to Sidney Pacific's HVAC system. Click here for more information on that project.

  • 1088
    Q: What’s the best way to provide feedback on dining services? [Spring 2015]

    Input from students and other community members helps MIT Dining continually improve and innovate. There are multiple ways to offer feedback depending on where you’re dining. First and foremost, diners can contact MIT Dining directly about any location on campus. Share your thoughts by completing an online feedback form or email We want to know what is on your mind.

    If you are on a meal plan:

    • Contact your House Dining Committee member. The HDC is comprised of student representatives from each of the five dining residence halls and the Unergraduate Association, as well as housemasters, Residential Life and Dining staff, and house dining provider Bon Appétit. Members work collaboratively on several aspects of the house dining program—including customer satisfaction, food quality, nutrition and health, hours of operation, and special events—and offer feedback on behalf of their communities. Click here to learn more.
    • Contact Bon Appétit directly. Click on the “Contact Us” button at and fill out their “Tell Us What You Think” form. You can also talk to dining hall staff for immediate assistance, or submit one of the comment cards available in every dining hall. Managers check for questions daily and post responses for other diners to see.
    • Contact MIT Dining. Either fill out an online feedback form or email at

    Additionally MIT Dining directly manages 17 dining partners comprising 31 locations across campus. Our dining partners comprise single-unit operators, regional chains, local franchisees, and some of the largest contract foodservice companies in the world. Each location has comment cards, some offer online feedback channels, and customers are always welcome to email with feedback.

  • 1041
    Q: What dining options and special events are planned for students who stay on campus over Thanksgiving break? [Fall 2014]
    Read response from

    Naomi Carton, Associate Dean for Residential Life and Dining

    With the holiday season upon us, students have been asking what’s going on food-wise over Thanksgiving break, and where. So, let’s get to it!

    Bon Appetit is serving a traditional Thanksgiving dinner at Baker House from 1:00-4:00 pm on Thursday, Nov. 27. Some undergraduate houses are also planning their own dinners and events during break. Please check with your housemaster or area director for more information on special happenings in your dorm.

    The entire Stratton Student Center (W20) will close at 10:30 pm on Wednesday, Nov. 26. Anna’s Taqueria will close a bit earlier at 10:00 pm, while Cambridge Grill, Dunkin Donuts, and LaVerde’s Market will be open for their regular hours. The Lobdell Food Court will be closed Wednesday, Nov. 26 through Sunday, Dec. 1 for refurbishment.

    For more details check the Dining section of the MIT app or the Retail Dining section on for specific locations and holiday hours.

    For graduate students and cook-for-yourself communities, Chef Mike Almeida and the Chartwells Culinary Team are hosting a Thanksgiving Dinner Showcase on Wednesday, Nov. 19 at 5:30 pm in the R&D Pub (32-G410). Throughout the night, Chef Mike and his team will demonstrate how to stuff, cook, carve, and serve a traditional Thanksgiving dinner. Along with the demonstrations, the Chartwells team will offer samples of dishes to grace your Thanksgiving table. Space is limited, so please RSVP to as soon as possible.

    For more information about holiday dining, visit Dining’s News and Events page.

    From the Dining team and on behalf of the Division of Student Life, Happy Thanksgiving!

  • 855
    Q: What are the plans for renovations to residence halls this summer and how will they affect on-campus housing? [Spring 2014]
    Read response from

    Dennis Collins, Director of Residential Life for Capital Renewal and Renovation, Housing Department

    Residential Life and Dining and MIT Facilities plan renovations and maintenance projects in both undergraduate and graduate residence halls for summer break. Due to the low number of students on campus and a less rigorous class schedule, this allows work to be completed that would be more disruptive during the academic year.

    Like last year, MacGregor House and East Campus will remain open for undergraduate summer student. Based on demand, we do not anticipate any impact on availability of summer housing for students. Maseeh Hall, McCormick Hall, Baker House, Next House and Simmons Hall will be open for summer conference and guest housing reserved for visiting groups and guests sponsored by the Institute.

    The following undergraduate buildings will be closed this summer for renovation and maintenance projects

    • Senior House: Parapet reconstruction, regular maintenance and upkeep, security infrastructure installation, desk renovation
    • Burton Conner: Completion of Phase 1 façade repair, regular maintenance and upkeep, security infrastructure installation, fire escape recertification
    • McCormick Annex: Reinstallation of iron balcony, re-point entire building, regular maintenance and upkeep
    • New House: Façade restoration, 4th floor kitchen renovation, security infrastructure installation, regular maintenance and upkeep
    • Random Hall: Security infrastructure installation, desk renovation, kitchen and bathroom renovation, regular maintenance and upkeep

    No graduate residence halls will be closed for the summer, but they will undergo some renovation and maintenance projects during this time. This includes kitchen renovations and regular maintenance and upkeep in Eastgate, Westgate and Tang Hall.

    If you have questions about the work please contact me at

  • 776
    Q: What’s the status of phase two of the residential security implementation process? [Spring 2014]
    Read response from

    Henry Humphreys, Senior Associate Dean for Residential Life and Dining

    Technology enhancements, professional staffing, and updated policies and procedures will be implemented in the remaining undergraduate residence halls on the MIT campus during phase II. Residential Life and Dining is meeting with all housemasters, and already met with the president of DormCon to discuss next steps. In turn, DormCon gave an update on phase II to the house presidents, who have been asked to share it with their houses.

    Residential Life and Dining will set up meetings in each community where residents can ask questions and give input on matters including guest and event policies, camera views, and the role of student desk workers. The new systems and policies will be implemented in fall 2014.

    Later this spring Residential Life and Dining will meet with graduate residence halls that weren’t part of phase I. As with the first phase buildings, the remaining graduate residences will receive upgraded security technology by the end of the 2014 fall semester.

    Click here to learn more about the residential security enhancements, policies, and procedures.

  • 773
    Q: As an international student, it seems difficult to look for off-campus housing since I am not familiar with the area and procedure. Is there someone who can assist? [Spring 2014]
    Read response from

    Tasha Coppett, Assistant Director, Graduate and Off-Campus Housing

    The MIT Housing Office maintains resources for those who decide to live off campus: not only current off-campus housing listings, but also general survival guides with essential tips and information about the legal issues of renting and the meaning of rental market jargon.  In addition, as part of my job I am happy to provide advice and guidance to all students, as well as to review your lease before you sign on the dotted line.  Send me an email anytime (  

    I am also very excited to let you know that Graduate and Off-Campus housing will be conducting webinars in the coming months! The dates of the webinars on off-campus housing are as follows:
    ·         April 25th at 10:30am – graduate and off-campus housing information for new and continuing students.  Register here.
    ·         May 1st at 1pm – off-campus housing information for the MIT community. Register here.
    There will be additional webinars throughout the summer on the topic of off-campus housing. 

    Best of luck with finding the right housing option for you.

  • 736
    Q: The Graduate Student Housing Working Group just released a report recommending construction of more graduate housing. What happens next? [Spring 2014]

    The Graduate Student Housing Working Group, chaired by former Chancellor and Department of Urban Studies and Planning Professor Phillip Clay, has released its draft report here.  At this time, the community is encouraged to read and give feedback on the report and its recommendations, which include the addition of more graduate housing and the makeup of that housing.  Please send comments to

    After taking feedback into consideration, a final report will be issued mid-spring by the Working Group.  The administration will then give a formal response to its recommendations.

    Dean for Graduate Education Christine Ortiz served as a member of the Working Group, which also included four graduate student representatives, in a thorough, rigorous, data-intensive process that involved extensive outreach to the MIT community. Read about the motivation, charge, and membership of the Working Group here.

  • 709
    Q: Why doesn't MIT offer food courts for graduate students? Many academic institutions offer subsidized dining in an effort to build culture, encourage cross-pollination between departments, and reduce financial burden on grad students. [Spring 2014]

    This question brings up two key issues: affordability of dining options, and building community through dining.

    MIT offers dining across a wide spectrum of price points at more than 30 locations across campus, all of which are open to the entire community: from the food trucks near Kendall Square to the food court in W20 to the five dining halls on the west side of campus and numerous retail options in between. There’s also the weekly farmer’s market—which just re-opened for the season in 32-100LB—for those who cook for themselves. Among these many options we believe that all MIT community members should be able to eat healthfully and in a way that fits their budgets. Read more about all the options available at the MIT Dining website.

    Community building is one of the dining program's primary goals, which it achieves through the openness of its dining options. Having mixed groups of grad students and undergrads interacting with other MIT community members in a convivial environment over a meal is one of the most important aspects of the dining program. Dining facilities for just one group would counteract the openness that, we believe, benefits the entire campus. You can read more about graduate meal plans here.

  • 685
    Q: What is planned for the residential security program’s next phase? [Fall 2013]

    To better understand what’s happening with phase two, let’s look at what was accomplished in phase one. At the start of this academic year, five undergraduate residence halls – Baker House, Maseeh Hall, McCormick Hall, Next House, and Simmons Hall – received upgraded security systems, policies, and procedures. Graduate residences Tang Hall and the Westgate Apartments received security system enhancements.

    Residential Life and Dining is gathering feedback on phase one from the undergraduate residence halls before finalizing the phase two plans. We will announce which residence halls will be included in phase two during the spring semester. Enhancements will be similar to those installed in phase one.

  • 655
    Q: The MIT2030 plan lists that Burton-Conner, East Campus, and MacGregor Hall are intended to be renovated. What are the current renovation plans, and are there any plans to mandate dining for those dorms? [Fall 2013]

    The MIT 2030 website includes a campus plan which highlights Burton-Conner, East Campus, and MacGregor as being higher on the program’s renovation priority list. A study completed in 2012 looked at options for renovating the East Campus parallels, but no project has resulted from that study. Other than their status on the in-need-of-renovation list, there is no additional information about the scope of potential renovations to Burton-Conner or MacGregor.

    Likewise with dining, East Campus is the only of the three residences that has been studied, and the recommendation is to maintain EC’s status as a cook-for-yourself community.

  • 656
    Q: What does the large event ban on fraternities, sororities, and independent living groups in Boston mean? How long will the ban last? [Fall 2013]

    In October the City of Boston restricted assembly numbers in 19 fraternities, three sororities, and two independent living groups based certain building codes that changed since the since last time the buildings were inspected. The restrictions prevent gatherings of people in excess of each building’s stated residential occupancy until needed enhancements can be made and the buildings re-inspected. This caused the affected FSILGs to cancel, postpone, or move social events that would normally be held at their houses.

    Two architects hired by MIT are inspecting the affected houses to create plans that will bring the buildings in line with the new codes. Leaders from DSL have been working with FSILG leaders, students, and alumni affected by the restrictions to coordinate inspections and plan submissions, while also helping them carry on some semblance of their regular activities. There is no official timeline, though the hope is that all of the plans will be submitted to Boston in December. After the plans have been approved and repairs made, Boston will once again inspect the buildings before issuing new assembly permits. We hope that this entire process can be completed for all Boston-based FSILGs early in the spring semester.

  • 627
    Q: Are there any enhancements to dining planned? [Fall 2013]

    Residential Life and Dining launched a new feature on the MIT app for iOS and Android, which shows the hours, locations, and menus of all on-campus dining halls. Users can also compare house dining menus for a particular meal side-by-side, and sort menus by type, such as vegetarian and gluten-free. Information on retail dining venues is also available by building location. Users can overviews for each venue complete with hours and payment options, with links to daily specials and more.

    This culminates efforts among Residential Life and Dining, and its many vendors (especially house dining provider Bon Appétit) to fulfill a long-stand request of students, staff, and, alumni. Now Residential Life and Dining hopes to hear from students on how to improve the app, especially as more dining offerings become available. Future updates may include the addition of Simmons Hall Late Night to the House Dining tab and more details on retail dining.
    Check out the new Dining feature by updating the MIT Mobile app, then look for the plate-and-silverware icon in the main menu.
  • 478
    Q: What is happening with Bexley Hall? [Fall 2013]

    Following the closure of Bexley Hall in June, a group of student leaders from Bexley and DormCon gathered with members of my staff and Facilities to close out a number of issues related directly to Bexley residents and the building. This group will conclude its work this month, and I am very pleased with how the students have engaged DSL staff and Facilities to learn more about the situation that led to the building’s closure. Their questions have been thoughtful and probing, and the atmosphere of the meetings has been positive and constructive. A larger group comprised of representatives from Bexley, DSL, Facilities, DormCon and other student leaders will soon to take up issues related to Bexley in the context of the MIT community.

  • 272
    Q: MIT dorms thrive in part because the residents have much autonomy with dorm governance and administration. Talk of improving dorm safety and security includes ideas that could restrict this freedom. How does MIT plan to balance these competing needs? [Spring 2012]

    A group of students, faculty, and staff tasked with reviewing dorm security considered this question very seriously during the course of its work this year.

    In March 2012, the Residence Hall Security Review Committee released its final report on security in MIT’s undergraduate and graduate dormitories. The committee, which was comprised of students, faculty Housemasters, staff, and an outside security consultant, offered some thoughtful recommendations and observations in its final report. Here’s an abridged version of what their final report states about balancing safety with community life:

    “[M]any of MIT’s residence halls are, by design, porous, and students have been entrusted with managing the affairs of dormitories in ways that suit local tastes and culture. At the same time, MIT, not residential hall residents, is ultimately accountable for the quality of residential security. These tensions are inherent in MIT’s residential system. However, in the end, the committee members trust that the diversity of this system can be used to strengthen residential security. The committee also recognizes that achieving the appropriate level of security, as a consequence, will take more effort than at other universities of similar size. …

    If residence halls are to be as secure as they can be, the residents must “own” the security of their residence halls; security must be a central part in each hall’s culture. Residential cultures and architecture vary considerably, which means that the specific ways in which residence halls respond to this challenge must vary.”

    The committee then recommends that each graduate and undergraduate residence with developing a comprehensive security plan, tailored to its own physical structure and community culture, to be submitted to the Dean for Student Life. To assist in this process, MIT has engaged a private security consultant to work with each community as they prepare their plan.

    To learn more, visit the MIT News site where you can read an article about the dorm security recommendations and also download the full report.

  • 274
    Q: I need help finding a place to live off-campus. Does MIT offer any resources? [Spring 2012]

    MIT has an Off-campus Housing Office that is free and open to the MIT community. Resources include an online rental listings database, tenant advising, reliable real estate agency listings, and knowledgeable guidance. Read all about it.

Personal Support

  • 1189
    Q: Understanding and navigating the resources available at MIT Medical is one topic my peers discuss as being important but often underappreciated. How can we approach this? [Spring 2015]
    Read response from

    Read response from MIT Medical

    Thank you for this important question. You are correct; MIT Medical is an excellent—but often underutilized—resource for graduate students. As an MIT student, you are automatically enrolled in the MIT Student Health Plan, which is included with tuition. This allows you to use most of the services at MIT Medical with no copay or additional charge. That includes our walk-in Urgent Care Service, Mental Health and Counseling, and even X-rays and laboratory tests. If you purchase the MIT Student Extended Insurance Plan, additional services are also available, including prescription coverage and a yearly eye exam at MIT Medical’s Eye Service.

    Learn more by exploring our website at, especially the Graduate Student Dashboard. That section of the site contains content especially for grad students. You’ll find information about getting care on campus, what your health insurance covers, sick notes, mental health coverage, and much more.

    In addition, our Claims and Member Services office is always ready to answer questions about your coverage under either student health plan. Just call 617-253-5979 or email

  • 1087
    Q: I didn't do well last term and I question whether I should be at MIT. I'm wondering if I should quit before I'm kicked out. [Spring 2015]
    Read response from

    Jason McKnight, Assistant Dean for Graduate Education

    Everyone struggles.  Whether in a course or research, whether for the first time or the umpteenth time, it is difficult when things do not go as anticipated or as we had hoped.  It sounds trite, but this is part of the process of learning and growth.  Now is a time to reflect, but it is not a time to quit.  Whether it is a "U" in research or the lowest grade you have ever received in a course, there are a number of people you can talk with as you wrestle with your question:

    • Research Advisor/Course Instructor - We often assume we know what our advisor/instructor is thinking; but through conversation, we can find that we made some poor assumptions. Talk with your research advisor/course instructor about your performance.  The goal is not to have the grade changed, but to instead find out what they believe you did well and what you could do to improve.  Ask them if they have concrete examples of how you could do better.  
    • Graduate Officer/Academic Advisor - If you are concerned about talking with your advisor or the impact of your grades on your future in the program, the Graduate Officer in your department/program or your assigned Academic Advisor can help.  They can offer guidance regarding how best to interact with other faculty and can offer perspective about your performance in relation to past students.
    • Graduate AdministratorThe Graduate Administrator for your program/department can also offer perspective about the faculty, academic procedures, previous classes of students, and resources at the Institute that can help as you reflect on your past term.
    • A Dean in ODGEThere are Deans in the Office of the Dean for Graduate Education (ODGE), like myself and Senior Associate Dean Blanche Staton, who are available to brainstorm with you about next steps, offer perspective on your situation, and assist you in connecting with the appropriate resources on campus.  We can also make inquiries on your behalf and support you as you continue into the next term.
    • Mental Health & CounselingWhether for long term or just a few visits, MH&C is there to assist you in exploring your potential obstacles.  They can help you to overcome the obstacles in addition to building a skill set for the future.
    • REFSThe REFS or Resources for Easing Friction & Stress in your department can help in offering perspective.  They are another student who has most likely experienced feelings similar to yours at a point; and can offer insight.  They have volunteered to be available to other students and want to help.  They can often provide information about faculty and courses that you might find helpful.
    • Other lab mates, classmates, and/or friends - Talk with your peers.  You may find that many have experienced similar emotions, had similar questions, and in some cases had almost the exact same experience.  They may offer to help as you move forward and can serve as a support in the upcoming term.

    Every person works through their struggle in their own way.  There are more people than just the ones listed above that can help you as you work to accept the term that you just completed and prepare for the term ahead.  You are not alone in the struggle.  Let us help.

  • 1059
    Q: I have been hearing a lot about “yes means yes” related to the prevention of sexual assault. What does this mean and where can I learn more about it? [Fall 2014]
    Read response from

    Kelley Adams, Program Manager & Advocate, Violence Prevention and Response, MIT Medical

    “Yes means yes” refers to the idea that consent in sexual activity is an active process and one way that healthy sexual encounters can be something that all partners are enthusiastic about. This is an evolution from the commonly-heard phrase “no means no,” which is an important slogan about respecting others’ boundaries and keeping open lines of communication. Instead, it has also created an environment where people “need” to say “no” or fight back in order for others to believe that an assault has occurred. There are many reasons why someone might not be able to say “no” – someone freezes during an attack (a common experience for survivors), someone knows their assailant (also a common experience), someone is under the influence of alcohol or other drugs, and more. A shift toward “yes means yes” means that the absence of a “no” does not imply consent.

    California passed a law that requires universities to adopt an “affirmative consent” policy, which is similar to “yes means yes.” Some people are concerned that this policy will categorize many consensual encounters as assaults and that people will be unfairly accused as a result. What is important to remember about these policies is that they only come into play when there are questions about whether or not an encounter was consensual, not for every type of encounter at all times.

    MIT has an “effective consent” policy, which is similar to California’s policy.  MIT’s policy defines effective consent as “informed; freely and actively given; mutually understandable words or actions; which indicate a willingness to participate in mutually agreed upon sexual activity.” The MIT policy goes on to list many more important components of effective consent, including that silence is not consent, any consent obtained is negated if threats, force, coercion, or intimidation are present, and that consent cannot be obtained from someone who is incapacitated. Further, the responsibility is on the initiator of the sexual activity to obtain consent.

    What we know about preventing sexual assault is that teaching individuals about consent is only one piece of the puzzle and will not totally solve the problem of sexual assault. We must also change perceived social norms and create institutional-level policies that hold students accountable for getting consent. If you are interested in learning more about how you can help make this happen, VPR offers a wide variety of training opportunities that can be tailored to your individual group or residence. Visit or contact Duane de Four at to learn more.

  • 1064
    Q: Are there any tips for discussing work and school commitments with a significant other who is not involved in research? [Fall 2014]
    Read response from

    Jennifer Recklet Tassi, Program Manager of MIT spouses&partners

    Sharing your MIT experience with a spouse or partner can be both rewarding and challenging at the same time. It can be exciting to move across the country or across the world with your partner, as you explore your new city together and bond as a couple. But as you become more engaged in your classes and research, the rhythm of your days can begin to differ greatly from that of your partner. Your work life is intense and stimulating, and at times, stressful. At the same time, your partner may be facing a different kind of stress - long empty days with nothing to fill the hours and nowhere to be. It can be hard to span that difference of experiences and find ways to connect with and understand each other.

    To your spouse or partner, grad student life seems to provide a great deal of flexibility, so it may be helpful to explain to your partner that there are other factors which impact your time that are out of your control, such as timed experiments, limited availability of a particular piece of equipment, or the whims of your advisor. Many students also feel a certain amount of “face time” is required in their department.  A visit to the lab and introductions to your colleagues could be helpful in giving your partner some insight into your work environment and the challenges you face.

    For Carolina Campos, spouse of Danilo Rocha Limoeiro, a grad student in Political Science, taking an online course gave her some insights into the pressures her husband is experiencing. "I had very tight deadlines, the course was SO hard and I really struggled to finish it. I believe this experience made me feel a little bit what my husband feels every day, and this gave me a better understanding of his difficulties."

    One way Danilo connects with his family to his work is to test his presentation skills on them. "An important skill for a researcher is to be able to present his/her research, and the field as a whole, to people who have no expertise in the area. The most brilliant and well known researchers are also good at this - think about Sagan and Hawking. Every presentation I make, I test it on my wife and my 10-year-old stepson. I share my projects with them in a way that they will find interesting. They always give me useful feedback and I have to think hard about what I’m going to tell them. In this process of trying to simplify my own work, I learn a lot about its fundamentals.” 

    How you talk to your spouse about the demands of your work may also depend on what you are looking to gain from the discussion, according to Jessica Barton, a mental health clinician in the MIT Medical Mental Health and Counseling Service and former director of MIT spouses&partners. Are you looking for sympathy or stress relief? Do you need greater flexibility and understanding from your partner? Do you need help figuring out how to navigate relationships in the lab?  At times, your partner will be able to offer you the type of support you need. But in other situations, you may find it more helpful to talk to other married or partnered grad students who understand firsthand the pressures of balancing work and family demands.

    Your partner may also benefit from speaking with other grad student spouses to understand that he or she isn’t the only person who “never sees” their partner, or is frustrated that s/he has to spend yet another long night in the lab and won’t be home for dinner. Being away far from family and friends and having only each other for support can put additional pressure on the couple, so it makes sense to find other sympathetic ears. Couples can also schedule a consultation at the MIT Medical Mental Health and Counseling service. Ms. Barton advises couples to seek help sooner rather than later, before resentments and problems build up.  The Mental Health & Counseling service can also assist with a referral, if a couple is interested in meeting with a therapist for more counseling.   Many students take advantage of this because the MIT Student Extended Insurance Plan includes a mental health benefit which includes twelve (12) visits per calendar year with no co-pay required.  

    It can be difficult to find time to connect with your partner. Ran Keren, spouse of an MIT postdoc and Master's student in the Applied Sociology program at UMASS Boston, points out that even though a couple is physically in the same room, often times they are not actually present with each other. Laptops and cell phones and problem sets can steal our attention, and couples can benefit from making sure they are truly present with each other during those precious moments when they see each other. Remembering their long term goals and reasons they took the leap to move to MIT can also help sustain a couple during the tough times that will arise during their time at MIT. 

  • 1043
    Q: If I had concerns about a friend’s substance use, what programs are available on campus to help my friend? [Fall 2014]

    The Office of Community Development and Substance Abuse (CDSA) offers a comprehensive intervention program composed of nationally recognized, evidence-based practices that support students who are concerned about or are interested in making changes to their alcohol and/or other drug use. The IP consists of a variety of programs that range from brief individual sessions to more intensive group formats. To learn more about the programs, please go to the CDSA website or if you would like to speak with someone about how to best help a friend contact Don Camelio at or 617-253-4193.

  • 556
    Q: Is there an easy way to find MIT student resources online? What I do now is use a Google search. [Spring 2013]

    Yes, the Student Resources site provides a directory of key offices, programs, and resources for both undergraduate and graduate students.

  • 265
    Q: Who uses offices like Student Support Services (S3)? I am nervous about contacting someone for help and wonder what happens if I do. [Spring 2013]

    You are not alone in wanting some support. A lot of MIT students ask for help in a variety of ways when they need it. Here are some numbers:

    • Half of all freshmen - and one-third of students overall - report asking for academic assistance such as tutoring from their school or department. (The best part: of those who asked for help, the vast majority find it helpful.)
    • Over 60% of the class of 2014 used S3 at least once during their time at MIT.
    • Approximately 90 percent of undergraduate students sometimes felt they were not as accomplished as their fellow MIT students.

    What does this tell us? Asking for help is pretty normal at MIT - and so is wondering if you are the only one who needs help! In truth, seeking support is a source of strength for many students, one that helps them handle personal and academic stress at MIT. In fact, it's so common that it could be viewed as part of succeeding at MIT, like working on P-sets or signing up for a UROP.

    S3 does not provide treatment or therapy. It's an office that aims to guide students through academic and personal issues by providing support, advice, advocacy, and referrals. The staff is great for helping you navigate issues with faculty, administration, housing, financial services, and other institute offices. What happens when you contact S3 depends on who you are and what you’d like some help on. Sometimes personal trouble can lead to academic stress, and sometimes it’s the other way around. Either way, your initial experience will include:

    • Setting up an appointment with one of the S3 deans. You can even tell them your preference for a specific dean or type of dean.
    • Attending a first appointment, usually around 30 minutes. This is your opportunity to have an informal conversation about why you set up the appointment, to ask questions, and to become comfortable.
    • Working with the Dean to come up with a plan for next steps, which may or may not include another visit to S3.

    Visit the Student Support Services pages for a full FAQ.

  • 858
    Q: I would like to know more about the situation of graduate women at MIT, their participation in leadership roles, and the type of environment they usually find in their labs. [Spring 2014]

    Women currently make up 31% of the graduate population at MIT and do, in some cases, report having different experiences than their male peers. A 2009 survey by the ODGE revealed that 33% of graduate women had experienced or observed inappropriate or negatively stereotypic comments directed toward graduate women in a professional setting. More positively, the same survey showed that 54% of graduate women felt a sense of community at MIT, and 84% felt support as an individual here. Indeed there is broad support for graduate women across the Institute. In April 2013, the Office of the Dean for Graduate Education hosted a celebration of Women of Excellence at MIT; demonstrated leadership was one of the criteria for the nominations that were brought forward by faculty, administrators, and peers. The 47 fantastic women and 9 student groups were honored.

    Graduate Women at MIT (GWAMIT) is a student group whose mission is to promote the personal and professional development of graduate women at MIT. We seek to provide unique programming, highlight existing campus resources, and promote discussions on topics relevant to grad women. We hold four core events each year: an orientation welcome lunch, a year-long mentoring program, a Fall Leadership Conference, and a Spring Empowerment Conference. To encourage more positive workplace and lab environments, GWAMIT launched the Positivity@MIT campaign to help make MIT more welcoming to people of all genders, races, cultures, and sexual orientations. In addition to these programs, we also hold regular board meetings and social events throughout the year.

    Within GWAMIT, there are many leadership roles and opportunities open to students. We are currently recruiting leaders for Orientation Women’s Welcome Lunch and Leadership Conference. You can find out more about this and other opportunities at our website,

    We welcome you to join the discussion by joining our mailing list, liking us on facebook, reading our blog, following us on twitter, and attending upcoming events!

  • 846
    Q: What resources and methods are available to alleviate stress from the subconscious pressure to succeed at MIT? [Spring 2014]
    Read response from

    David Randall, Associate Dean, Student Support Services

    We get asked this question a lot. There is a lot of pressure at MIT and sometimes it’s not so subtle. For instance, from the moment freshmen step foot on campus during Orientation, they are told they can change the world. This is great encouragement, but also comes with a lot of pressure.  There is no room just to be average, even if it is average at MIT!

    There are a lot of resources on campus that can be found at the MIT Together ( and the Student Resources ( websites. However there are some relatively easy ways that you can combat this feeling on your own:

    1. Talk to friends – Talk to them honestly. Don’t get caught up in trying to figure out who is more “hosed”. Instead really tell them how stressed you are by the pressure to succeed. When students do this, they often find that others are in the same boat. Knowing others are going through the same experience can be comforting.
    2. Redefine success – Success means different things to different people. It can mean taking 72 units with a 5.0 GPA or it can mean finding a good balance between academics, extracurricular activities and friendships. Prioritize what’s important to you and mold your definition of success around this. And don’t worry how others define it.
    3. Get to know your professors – When you get to know your professors, you’ll realize quickly that they are actually human beings. They have lives outside of academics, they’ve been stressed, they’ve had failures. And, they probably have a lot to share with you about their experience and what you are going through. Take a chance and get to really know a professor.
    4. Remember your perspective is out of whack – I play basketball with a bunch of old guys in the mornings and think I’m pretty good. If I played with the Celtics, my perspective would be a little different. MIT students are “playing” with the best of the best, but this is not reality. You are at an elite institution and must remember that outside of MIT, in the real world, you are in a class of your own.
    5. Remind yourself of recent successes – Too often people focus on the negatives and skip over successes. Think about it. When you go to a restaurant and the service stinks, you let people know. But when the service is adequate or even great,  you barely notice. Don’t let the good things and accomplishments slip by without acknowledging them.
    6. Do something concrete that makes you feel good – Design opportunities for success. Work in small chunks. Make it so you can cross things off the list. No matter how small the task is, getting it done will make you feel good.
    7. Take care of yourself. Eat, sleep, and exercise. – I always get laughed at when I make this suggestion, but I’ll try again. I promise, eating, sleeping, and exercising helps. Give it a shot!
  • 785
    Q: What are the resources made available to students to support their spouses, especially foreign spouses, and family? I’m especially interested in personal counseling and career services. [Spring 2014]
    Read response from

    Jennifer Recklet Tassi, Program Manager for MIT spouses&partners

    Balancing work and your personal relationships can be challenging at MIT, especially for families coming from abroad. It is not easy to navigate a new culture, set up a home, find daycare or schools, all while you are communicating in a new language and far from your support system. It can be particularly difficult for couples because the partners can have very different experiences of life at MIT. Fortunately there are many resources at MIT to support newcomers and families.

    MIT spouses&partners is a social and professional network for the spouses and partners of MIT community members who have relocated to the Boston area. We organize activities that help spouses and partners make friends, learn English, share experiences and passions, and get information about living and parenting in Boston. Through our weekly gatherings, ongoing groups and events, MIT spouses&partners helps newcomers and parents from all over the world meet each other and create a fulfilling life here. Each semester we also offer Career Connect, a series of workshops that provide training for MIT spouses and partners who are looking for work or professional development opportunities during their time at MIT. 

    Additionally, students can find support and information from MIT’s Work Life Center in a wide range of areas including childcare, schools, family and parenting concerns, and work-life balance.   Their seminar series, discussion groups, consultations and 24/7 referral service are just a few of the ways they can help you and your partner navigate the demands of life at MIT. The Graduate Student Council Family Subcommittee also understands and advocates for the needs of graduate student families. Recent projects include the Back-Up Childcare Program, and this semester they are organizing workshops for couples.

    It can be confusing to find the information you need because many different offices support families. If anyone is having trouble navigating the resources available, MIT spouses&partners hosts a Newcomers Office Hour on most Thursday afternoons. This is a great place to ask questions and figure out your next step.

  • 760
    Q: What more can MIT do to help students who decide to take time off for mental health reasons? [Spring 2014]
    Read response from

    David Randall, Associate Dean, Student Support Services

    At MIT, and schools across the country, withdrawals are not uncommon. In fact, Student Support Services processes about 120 withdrawals every year.  Students leave for all sorts of reasons but one of the most common ones is when mental health issues get in the way of academics. As you might imagine, coming to the decision to take a withdrawal is difficult and stressful, and there is a lot MIT does to support students who request time away.

    We, along with our colleagues in MIT Mental Health and Counseling and DSL, work closely with students to smoothly transition away from MIT. This involves helping them pack their belongings, getting transportation home, and when appropriate, coordinating with families. We also help students carefully plan for the their time away. Granted, sometimes these plans are not entirely clear when a student leaves, but our hope is that everyone leaves with at least some ideas. The communication also doesn’t end when a student steps off of MIT’s campus. We encourage students to stay in touch with us, keep us updated on their activities and treatment, and to let us know about any significant changes. It isn’t unusual for plans to change, and we work with students to develop new plans that everyone believes will prepare them for a successful return to MIT. Finally, with permission from the student, we often speak with parents and mental health providers in order to make sure that everyone is on the same page.

    We have also recently been trying out some new things that have shown promise. For instance, we have begun connecting students up with other students who have taken a withdrawal. This allows students to get feedback and guidance from others who have been through the process. Also, on occasion, we have connected withdrawing students with alumni who took withdrawals during their time at MIT and who offer a totally different perspective.

    If you have additional ideas or feedback, feel free to share them with me at

  • 733
    Q: What type of support is MIT giving its upperclassmen? I feel as though a lot of resources are geared towards first-year students, like Associate Advising, but upperclassmen don’t get much support. [Spring 2014]

    After the freshman year, students are assigned a faculty advisor within their department.  The advisor serves as a consultant and mentor, who can help you consider subject offerings and educational opportunities within the department and beyond.  Advisors can also provide guidance on professional development and career options or point you to another faculty members who shares your interests. However, you should see you advisor as just one individual in a network of support resources.  No single individual has the specialized knowledge required to address every question or issue that may arise.   Instead, both you and your advisor should leverage the many other support resources available to upperclassmen:

    • Undergraduate Academic Administrators in your department not only have an intimate knowledge of the academic requirements and opportunities, but are also well connected to the support resources outside your department.  Also, because they work with so many diverse students, they have likely addressed the same questions or problem you are facing and can point you in the right direction.
    • Many departments have peer to peer mentoring and several have Departmental Associate Advisors, similar to the freshman advising system. Whether a formal peer mentoring system is in place or not, leverage the experience of other students in your department to get advice.
    • UROP Supervisors and other faculty, both inside and outside your department, can help you consider your research interests and provide advice on potential career trajectories.  The Ombuds Office wrote a helpful guide on finding mentors: Find Yourself the Mentoring You Need.
    • UAAP staff consultants are well versed the in the Institute requirements as well as all the support services on campus.  You are always welcome to walk into 7-103 or email with questions or concerns.
    • The Deans in Student Support Services (S3) can provide advice, support, advocacy, and referrals for students facing academic or personal challenges.
    • The Sophomore Year Experience (SYE) provides second-year students with the resources and tools to help them navigate their sophomore year.
    • The Advisor for the Communication and HASS Requirements  can answer questions and concerns about both the Communication and HASS Requirement.
    • The Career Counselors in Global Education and Career Development can work with you on career planning, professional development, and internship and job search strategies.
    • The Office of Minority Education (OME) supports underrepresented minority students through academic, community, and professional initiatives.
    • Student Disabilities Services (SDS) provides support and advocacy for students with disabilities to ensure reasonable accommodations.
    • Mental Health and Counseling provides support for students dealing with personal concerns including anxiety, depression, relationship problems, or stress.
  • 658
    Q: During the school year, research gets pushed aside for more immediate but less important obligations. How can I stay motivated to move my research forward? [Fall 2013]
    Read response from

    an MIT PhD alum and faculty member at a Boston-area hospital

    This is an issue of great importance not just while you are in graduate school, but beyond. Moving forward with your research is the most important thing you can do while you are in graduate school. In fact, it is the reason why you are in graduate school in the first place. Focusing on problem sets, courses, attending seminars, completing tasks for others (e.g. a more senior grad student/postdoc/advisor asks you to complete an experiment for them that is not related to your thesis) can be of value – so I am not suggesting that you drop all of these constructive activities – but you have identified a critical issue that you need to address in order to graduate.

    I think a common path for graduate students is to arrive with tons of enthusiasm but little focus, and after spending 2-3 (or sadly, more) busy years devoted to non-thesis activities waiting for someone to come and tell them “this is what you need to do to graduate,” they realize that they must take matters into their own hands. Graduate school is a time to find out what you are passionate about, what you are good at, and how you can build that into a fulfilling career. Every step you take toward achieving your goals will be beneficial to graduating and getting a great job afterward.

    Break down what you accomplish into small tasks that are rewarding. If you complete a set of experiments, will you be able to present them at a conference or write a paper? They may not be enough to graduate, but they are helpful to your career.

    There are many time-management books and resources out there that you can look into (for example, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People is a classic). Ask for recommendations from your friends and attend time-management seminars (but not too many!). Most importantly, be sure that your research is something that you are passionate about. If it is, then you will certainly devote time to it, and the small rewards along the way will keep you motivated to accomplish great things.

    (Answer courtesy of Kate H. via Graduate Women at MIT)

  • 628
    Q: How can MIT students who live outside the Boston area become more involved with the on-campus community? [Fall 2013]

    Staying active in the on-campus MIT community can be difficult when you live far off-campus. Fortunately, there are several resources available to for your assistance. One step to take is to keep informed about the rich array of academic, civic, extracurricular, and social events and programs happening daily at MIT. The MIT events calendar provides an excellent overview of on-campus events of all types. Another great source for information about events at MIT is The Anno, a weekly digest of announcements about events, programs, and initiative that is distributed by the Graduate Student Council (GSC) and targeted to MIT graduate students. Email to sign-up.  

    Getting involved with student clubs and organizations can also help with staying connected to the on-campus community. Student groups offer a great opportunity to meet a diverse group of people with common interests. Most student groups require only a modest time commitment and readily accommodate different scheduling needs. You can view a list of graduate student groups here. Also, consider getting involved with the GSC’s Off-Campus Subcommittee which brings together on- and off-campus students to generate event programming, student services, and an advocacy agenda around serving the needs of off-campus graduate students and their families.
    Lastly, don’t be afraid to take advantage of MIT’s transportation resources to lighten the transportation burden of getting to and away from campus. MIT operates and makes available to students access to several day and night-time shuttle services serving the greater Boston area such as Tech Shuttle, SafeRide, the Boston Daytime Shuttle, EZ Ride, the M2 Shuttle, as well as dedicated shuttles serving Lincoln Laboratory and the MIT-Bates Linear Accelerator. Useful for students who live outside of Metro Boston, MIT allows students with valid parking permits to park in any on-campus parking lot after 2:30pm on weekdays and all day on weekends. Even students without parking permits can park in non-gated parking facilities after 5pm on weekdays and all day on weekends.  
  • 480
    Q: What is MIT's position on graduate student work/life balance, which many graduate students feel is skewed? What efforts can/should be undertaken to help people lead more balanced lives? [Fall 2013]


    Balancing work and personal life is a challenge for everyone, especially graduate students given the multiple demands on time. MIT offers a number of resources from policy to programs to assist graduate students in finding their personal balance.

  • 13
    Q: Where can international undergraduates turn for help with culture shock? What if they are not able to describe in English the problems they are facing? [Spring 2013]

    Culture shock is a normal and expected emotional response to living in a new place. After the excitement of the move, it is natural to feel sad, exhausted, worried, irritable, fearful and/or angry. It can be very helpful to talk with someone about this experience.

    There are three main resources at MIT to assist international students who are experiencing culture shock:

    • The International Students Office (ISO), part of the Office of the Dean for Graduate Education, is extremely familiar with forms of culture shock, and how it might manifest differently for students from various backgrounds. ISO staff are available to talk with students about the issues they are dealing with, and provide them with resources. Several of their staff members are fluent in languages other than English.

    • The staff at Student Support Services, or S3, are also well-versed in the issues of culture shock, and can help students deal with academic and personal issues by providing support, guidance, advice, advocacy, and referrals. They can work with students to sort out the various parts of a problem to make sure that you have the resources you need. Translation services are available as needed.

    • If culture shock is starting to interfere with the way you function academically or socially, MIT Mental Health and Counseling can help. Their staff provides individual counseling and psychotherapy, group counseling, and consultations. Many students ask a friend to come with them for support, and/or use translation services available on-line. At MIT Medical, translation services are available for all services; please ask when you make an appointment.

    All three offices often work together, and will guide students to other offices as appropriate.

  • 264
    Q: Are there resources available for students who are facing a rough patch, but not necessarily a problem serious enough (yet) to seek help from one of the mental health resources? [Spring 2013]

    You do not need to be in crisis to get help from any of the formal or informal support systems on campus. In fact, it is better to get support before a “rough patch” becomes a crisis. There are many resources available that will lend an ear or help you get through a difficult time.

    Undergraduate resources:

    • The doors of Student Support Services are open to students with any issue or concern.
    • MedLinks students can provide a knowledgeable, friendly listening ear or advice on other resources.
    • Look to the Area Directors, GRTs, or Housemasters in your residence hall for personal advising and counseling.
    • The Undergraduate Administrator in your department can provide guidance on academic challenges and resources.
    • The staff and Deans in OME or UAAP or your freshman advisor are always available to listen and provide guidance.

    Graduate resources:

    For all students:

    • MIT Chaplains can bring a spiritual perspective to students facing personal challenges.
    • Throughout the year consider taking advantage of MIT Medical’s Community Wellness classes, groups and online resources that will help you stay balanced both physically and mentally.

    When you are looking for help, remember The MIT Together site is a portal to support resources for both graduate and undergraduate students and will help you quickly browse and find the resource that is most appropriate for your circumstance.

  • 266
    Q: Is there anything MIT is putting in place in order to combat the rise in suicides on campus? [Fall 2011]

    MIT has a reputation concerning student deaths that is not supported by the facts. People get concerned about whether or not there is an epidemic at MIT. In fact, we have had some tough years, as have other colleges; and we have had periods when things got better. Of course, we never want a student tragedy, but we know that in any large community, these events will happen, and MIT has been comparable to national statistics over the past decade or so.

    What I hope the campus will do is to stop. Take a deep breath. And think about your communities. Reach out. You're here to build communities, through student activity groups, through classes, through living groups. If you see a classmate who is looking down, ask them how they're doing. Take a moment to make sure everybody is okay. Build the community in a stronger way.

    In terms of things that the Institute is doing: it is helping the families and all others who were connected with the students and have been affected by these events. Mental health staff have been spending time in the dormitories; and other resources will be and are being fully deployed. There is a working group of people I have charged with evaluating systems currently in existence and thinking about not only internal but also external resources and practices. I will form a more traditional committee to deal with recommendations from the working group over a longer term. We will have to think carefully about potential additions or changes to our systems based on the feedback gathered, as the MIT culture could be altered by some changes and we need to be sure that the advantages outweigh the downsides.

    Finally, in my email to students, I invited people to send notes to me and I've responded to everyone personally. There have been a number of interesting suggestions, which we will consider carefully.

    Any loss of life is a tragedy. I won't be naïve in saying that this can be eliminated, but I will continue to work toward improving MIT so that it doesn't happen often. Community will make this Institute strong and I hope everyone will jump on board. This is something that pains all of us tremendously and we all want to work together to make MIT a better place.

  • 267
    Q: How can I help a friend I'm worried about? [Fall 2011]

    An individual who is distressed often wants help but doesn't know how to ask. Your first step should be to listen in a nonjudgmental way and let that person know you are concerned. Even if he or she insists nothing is wrong, it may help that person to know that you care.

    When should I suggest that someone get help?

    When you notice someone exhibiting:

    • Excessive anxiety or panic
    • Marked decline in academic work or job performance
    • Frequent absence from class or work, especially when this is a change
    • Apathy, lack of energy, change in sleeping or eating habits, or dramatic weight gain or loss
    • Marked changes in personal hygiene, work habits, or social behavior
    • Isolation or withdrawal
    • Thinking about suicide
    • Out of control drinking or substance abuse

    How do I make a referral?

    If a situation seems urgent, contact the campus police and have the person transported to MIT Medical or a hospital emergency room. Anyone thinking about suicide should talk to a Mental Health clinician right away.

    A mental health clinician is on call and available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

    • Daytime (7 a.m.–7 p.m.): 617-253-2916
    • Evenings & overnight (7 p.m.–7 a.m.): 617-253-4481

    If it is not an emergency, suggest that your friend make an appointment with MIT Mental Health and Counseling. Or, you can advise your friend to go to walk in hours. You can even help your friend make the appointment or even accompany them there.

    • Mental Health and Counseling walk-in hours: Monday-Friday from 2p.m.-4 p.m.
    • Appointments: 617-253-2916

    There are also other places on campus that you and your friend can seek support, and these places are especially helpful if there is any hesitancy about seeing a clinician. These include:

    These offices provide support and will make sure the individual gets the type of help necessary.

    Can I talk to someone if I am not sure how to approach the situation?

    Absolutely. You don't need to handle this alone. Reach out to MIT Mental Health and Counseling, Student Support Services, the Deans in the Office of the Dean for Graduate Education, or staff in your residence. They can provide support and suggestions about ways to approach the situation.

    Other resources

    The Personal Support and Wellness page on the student site lists a wide range of resources you can tap into for yourself and your friend.

    For more information, see How to Help Someone in Distress (PDF).


  • 260
    Q: What resources can MIT provide students to make an informed decision about choosing a major? [Spring 2013]


  • 289
    Q: Is there a list or calendar for all departmental seminars? I receive e-mails from my department, but I have interdisciplinary interests. [Fall 2011]

    The MIT Events calendar is a central listing for all kinds of MIT events, including departmental seminars, for the next three months.

    Make sure your department is listing its own events there, too, to increase interdepartmental visibility!  You can also contact the graduate administrator of a particular department of interest to ask to be added to seminar mailing lists. 

  • 287
    Q: Why is the option of “Voluntary Withdrawal” only available to undergrads and not grad students? Certainly undergrads aren’t the only students presented with personal growth opportunities, educational experiences and personal/family problems. [Spring 2015]

    Indeed, graduate students are presented with many different issues throughout their tenure at MIT. Whatever your reason for needing time away, Deans Staton and McKnight are happy to meet with you about your options. There are a range of leaves and withdrawals available to graduate students.

    The least disruptive option to consider is a personal leave, which has a short duration (a few days to a few weeks) and is related to personal reasons such as family business or brief personal illness. Personal leaves are granted at the discretion of the faculty supervisor.

    If you have a medical condition related to your mental or physical health that interferes with your participation in campus life and your progress toward academic goals, you may apply for a medical withdrawal. Medical withdrawals last a minimum of one semester and a maximum of twelve months, and are initiated by the student with support from a medical professional and the academic department.

    If you need more time than a short personal leave, but a medical condition is not involved, then you should consider a withdrawal. If you choose to withdraw, you may simply notify your department and the Registrar’s office; however, if you plan to return to your studies, we strongly recommend that you speak with your advisor and departmental graduate officer first. They can help with planning your return, which must include the completion of a one-page application for readmission. The application for readmission must be approved by your department’s graduate committee. If 5 years or more pass before you apply for readmission, the request must also be approved by the Dean for Graduate Education.

    Last but not least, graduate student women who anticipate giving birth may apply for childbirth accommodation, which is our version of a “maternity leave” and lasts for one to two months.

    Life changes can be confusing and distressing. Remember you have help to decide your best course of action.

  • 1037
    Q: Is there any way for students who are attending “traditional” lectures to establish a better network of support? [Fall 2014]

    The best way to establish a network of support is to be proactive.

  • 847
    Q: Why do I need to pre-register for my fall CI-H/HWs by mid-June? [Spring 2014]
    Read response from

    Enrollment Tools Team

    Enrollment in Communication-Intensive HASS (CI-H/HW) subjects is capped at 18 or 25 students each. When pre-registration began on May 1, we introduced a new CI-H/HW enrollment process which replaces the HASS-D Lottery and optimizes students’ subject choices within priority groups. In the fall it also will create waitlists for all CI-H/HW subjects with up-to-date information on openings in these subjects.  The new online process is more consistent and transparent.

    The reason for the early deadline is to help departments add or delete sections to meet student interest. This should lead to more students getting the subjects they want. It is also hoped that the early deadline will encourage you and your advisor to talk about your subject selections while you are both on campus.

    Overview of the new process:

    • Prior to the deadline, you can request to be scheduled for up to two CI-H/HW subjects and designate whether you want to be waitlisted, in case you don't get in.
    • You also have control over alternative subject choices – you can choose up to two alternatives for each subject.
    • If you miss the June 16th deadline, you no longer have the option to be scheduled. You can add yourself to subject waitlists, but your request will be prioritized lower than students who met the deadline.

    Visit the enrollment tools website to get details on the new CI-H/HW enrollment process, including all the key dates, the prioritization algorithm, waitlist process, and answers to FAQs.

    Benefits of the new process:

    • You will now know, before classes begin, in which CI-H/HW subjects you are enrolled.
    • Waitlists will be managed online in a consistent process across all CI-H/HW subjects.
    • You will be able to add and remove yourself from waitlists easily.
    • Instructors will be able to view their waitlists online and offer enrollment via email.

    Online waitlists will eliminate the confusion that occurred at the beginning of each semester as students attended multiple subjects to find openings.

  • 772
    Q: I know that a new nanoscience complex will take building 12's space. What is the timeframe and what other projects are in the works? [Spring 2014]

    Details about MIT’s planned, current and recently completed construction projects can be viewed on the Capital Projects website.  

    • Building 12 will be demolished in the spring of 2015 and the MIT.nano building will be constructed on the site as a home for nanotechnology research at MIT. It will take approximately three years to construct the building, which is targeted for completion at the beginning of 2018.
    • Over the near term, we are focusing on the renewal and renovation of our existing campus buildings. The Institute has begun a program of Accelerated Capital Renewal and MIT will devote approximately $250 million over three years, so that we may begin to address our overall deferred maintenance backlog.
    • The original Sloan Building E52 is undergoing a complete building renovation to provide high quality space for the Department of Economics. Targeted for completion in 2016, it will feature an expanded meeting and conference facility on the sixth floor and a new glass-enclosed addition as a seventh floor.  
    • In addition, the comprehensive renovation of Building 2 is currently underway. Home to the Department of Mathematics and portions of the Department of Chemistry, programmatic space will be increased with the addition of a partial top floor.

    These examples highlight some of the major renovation projects now in progress. In addition to these substantial building upgrades, we are planning for a number of partial renovations across campus over the next few years.

    The capital renewal program is complemented by a new comprehensive stewardship program for MIT’s buildings. The Comprehensive Stewardship Group is working to proactively maintain newly constructed and renovated buildings so that they will remain current with modern standards and continue to serve the needs of occupants.

  • 754
    Q: What options do international students have for international study? [Spring 2014]

    International programs provide valuable opportunities for all students to develop personally, academically, and professionally. At the undergraduate level, international students may participate in the same programs available to their U.S. counterparts. International graduate students also have a number of program options, though funding sources have varying citizenship requirements.

    MIT Global Education (part of Global Education and Career Development) helps students understand what options best fit their academic, personal and career goals. MIT offers both short and long-term options including study abroad, internships, research, and public service, among others.

    Study Abroad

    Students can stay on track for graduation by earning academic credit abroad that applies to their MIT degree. Examples for undergraduates include:

    • Cambridge-MIT Exchange allows students to spend a year studying at the University of Cambridge.
    • Departmental Exchanges provide students with the opportunity to spend a semester studying at Oxford (Course 3), Imperial (Courses 3, 22), HKU (Course 4), Tsinghua (Course 6), Delft (Course 4), SciencesPo (Course 17), ETH (Course 2), and Pretoria (Courses 2, 16).
    • IAP-Madrid is a four-week intensive Spanish II course.
    • MIT-Madrid allows students to directly enroll and take a range of classes at Complutense and Politecnica.
    • Outside provider and direct enrollment programs offer a wide range of destinations, durations, and subjects.

    As a graduate student, if you’re not already enrolled in a program that has an international component such as the Sloan Fellows Program in Innovation and Global Leadership, you can still find ways to incorporate an international experience into your primary research path.  Opportunities will be very specific to your situation, so contact MIT Global Education to start your search. 

    Internships and Research

    MIT offers a wide range of internship and research opportunities overseas. Examples include:

    • MISTI (G, UG) places students in internships and short-term teaching opportunities around the world
    • IROP (UG) serves as a way for students to conduct research abroad under MIT faculty supervision.
    • Imperial-MIT Summer Research Exchange (UG) provides a research opportunity in London for Courses 1, 3, 8, 10, 16, and 22.
    • SMART/SMURF (G, UG) allows students to conduct research in Singapore in a number of cutting edge fields.
    • MIT Community Innovators Lab (Co-Lab, G, UG) offers a variety of opportunities for students to engage with real world urban planning problems through practice and study

    Public Service, Service-Learning and International Development

    MIT highly values projects that address challenges in the developing world.

    Examples include:

    • Public Service Center (G, UG) provides domestic and international public service opportunities and funding.
    • D-Lab (UG) offers interdisciplinary courses that allow students to create and apply technology in the developing world.
    • D-Lab Study Abroad (UG) give students the chance to spend a semester living, working and learning in a developing country while earning MIT credit. 

    Grants and fellowships

    Worried about funding your international adventure?  There are many different potential sources of funding, including:

    Remember it is never too early to start thinking about a study abroad experience. Contact Global Education to get started! 

  • 710
    Q: Where can I learn more about studying or working abroad? [Spring 2014]

    Study and work abroad are among many incredible international opportunities available to all undergraduates. Other options include public service, development projects and research abroad.

    GECD Global Education (in building 12-189) manages study abroad at MIT and sends over one hundred students a year to many places around the globe, including the UK (Cambridge-MIT Exchange, Oxford), Spain (MIT-Madrid and IAP-Madrid), Turkey, China and South Africa, to name a few. They also offer advice and referral to students interested in international work and internships, public service and service learning abroad, research overseas, and global scholarships and fellowships.

    Global Education regularly posts programs and scholarships on their Facebook page. They also manage @MITglobal on Twitter, which shares student stories and puts MIT in global context. They can best be reached via email at

    MISTI (located on the 4th floor of Building E40) places hundreds of students every year in all-expense paid internships all over the world. They maintain an extensive global network of companies, universities and research institutes in 18 countries. Some MISTI programs have teaching and learning abroad opportunities as well.

    Contacts for the many MISTI programs can be found on their website, and you can also follow them on Facebook and Twitter (@MISTIatMIT) for up-to-date news and opportunities. For general inquiries email them at

    Those interested in learning more about public service and international development projects, including funding, should contact the Public Service Center and D-Lab, respectively. Research abroad is occasionally coordinated by MISTI; otherwise it is managed as an international UROP (or “IROP”).

  • 706
    Q: A unit is defined as one hour of work per week over the span of a full term. Is there a feedback path? If for 90% of students a course takes 24 hours a week, what is the path that would force the number of units to change? [Spring 2014]

    Academic departments use feedback from subject evaluations to inform their reviews of the classes they offer. The Committee on Curricula (CoC) follows up on any concerns raised by students about the units of credit assigned to any undergraduate subject. In addition, as part of its normal review process, the CoC pays close attention to proposals from departments to change either the total units or the distribution of units for a subject. The Committee on Graduate Programs (CGP) is responsible for reviewing graduate subjects.

    While departments are responsible for the courses they offer, the Committee on Curricula (CoC) is the body responsible for reviewing undergraduate subjects. Students should feel free to bring any concerns about units of credit to the attention of the Committee by writing to Questions about units of credit for graduate subjects may be directed to  Any such feedback will be shared anonymously, so students should feel comfortable bringing forth concerns.

  • 479
    Q: What is the graduate school administration doing to improve diversity and gender balance among the graduate student population? [Fall 2013]


    The Office of the Dean for Graduate Education (ODGE) works with partners across the Institute to increase the number of underrepresented and women students who apply to and attend MIT. Attendance at national conferences and visits to minority-serving institutions (MSIs) allows us to interact with promising scholars who may not otherwise consider graduate education at MIT. Grad Catalyst sessions are workshops hosted by current graduate students at MSIs. They teach undergraduates how to plan their trajectories so as to be the strongest graduate school candidates possible come senior year. Recruiting efforts have included, but are not limited to, participation in:

    The MIT Summer Research Program is a highly competitive nine-week summer residential research experience that involves customized matching to individual laboratory/research groups at MIT, a poster presentation, informational and motivational seminars and community service. CONVERGE, a four-day graduate school preview weekend on the MIT campus during the fall semester, is a program that features advice from MIT faculty, staff and students, including feedback on application materials, information on graduate student life, graduate admissions session with department admissions chairs, and meetings with faculty and department visits.

    Simultaneously, the ODGE administers a pool of 1st year graduate fellowships aimed specifically at enhancing the diversity of the graduate population.

    The ODGE also is committed to enhancing the gender balance in the graduate population. The Ida M. Green Graduate Fellowships are dedicated to the recruitment of graduate women and include 9-month full fellowship support. The ODGE also provides support for the MIT Office of Resource Development in fund-raising, for example, the Clare Booth Luce Foundation Graduate Fellowships for women in physics.

    A key component of recruitment efforts is developing and supporting programs that contribute to a welcoming and supportive climate. For example, each year, over 1,000 graduate women participate in ODGE-sponsored women’s events focused on improving the academic, personal, and professional success of women graduate students at MIT. Events such as, the Power LunchPath of Professorship,Graduate Women of Excellence, the Graduate Women’s Group monthly lunch, and the Graduate Women’s Reading Group bring together women and underrepresented students from across MIT to network, develop professionally, and celebrate their accomplishments. The ODGE has also been a long-standing sponsor of Graduate Women at MIT (GW@MIT) who organize an annual leadership and empowerment conference, as well as an extensive mentoring program, and the Academy of Courageous Minority Engineers, a group devoted to scholarly development, which offers a regular lunch series that provides the opportunity for technical discussions and the presentation and sharing of research ideas.

  • 477
    Q: I’m not interested in a lot of the classes that I’m required to take as part of the GIRs. I’d prefer to spend my time taking classes focused on my major. Have you thought about eliminating the GIRs? [Fall 2013]


    Central to MIT’s undergraduate mission is a commitment to equip our students with the skills necessary to go out into the world and make a difference. We strive not just to develop strong scientists or engineers or linguists or architects, but thinkers and problem-solvers. While it might not be immediately apparent, the skills that you are learning in the classes outside of your major are important to prepare you for a wide range of challenges and opportunities you will face upon graduation, particularly as exposure to different modes of thought can strengthen your range of problem solving skills. Such reasoning underlies the design of our communication intensive courses, as well as the current set of GIR subjects.

    Without the requirements, I worry that we would develop students with excellent skills in one particular area, but not necessarily creative leaders. In an increasingly global community and one that relies on cross-disciplinary interaction, the GIRs are, in my view, still very important.

  • 314
    Q: Students have expressed concern that there is not enough time to reflect on the material you are learning because you are learning so quickly. It seems we are building the skill-set necessary to be self-disciplined, but are we sacrificing something else? [Fall 2011]

    MIT has always pushed its students to learn quickly. In addition, the student culture fills up the available time. I agree that MIT students should take time to reflect and I suggest that to every freshman. Our students who go to the University of Cambridge on exchange often comment that there is more time there to reflect. MIT students should do more of this and faculty should expect more self reflection.

    If you participate in student leadership conferences at MIT, such as the Multicultural Conference and the Emerging Leaders Conference, reflection is an important element. But you do not need to participate in a formal program to incorporate reflection into your experience at MIT. You can incorporate reflection into your informal study groups, into your discussions with your peers, or even suggest that a student group you belong to add an element of reflection to your meetings.

  • 290
    Q: How can we encourage greater interdisciplinary collaboration and events between graduate students from different departments? [Fall 2011]

    Interdisciplinary collaboration and the unconstrained free-flowing of ideas and knowledge is a core component of the history, mission and culture of MIT. It is encouraged through an interconnected physical infrastructure, housing faculty and students of varied disciplines in close proximity, through the large number of cross-cutting research centers, labs and educational programs, as well as through various policies that, for example, often allow cross-departmental co-advising and the ability to take extra-departmental electives counting towards a minor concentration.

    MIT supports many activities that enable cross-talk between graduate students of varied academic interests including student groups, the Graduate Student Council, interdisciplinary scientific seminars and residential-based cultural and social community-building programs. Some opportunities are highlighted below:

    Join an ongoing effort:

    New initiatives:

    Create your own initiative:


  • 1188
    Q: Unsustainable practices causing climate change, pollution, resource depletion, and other systemic instability make me fear for the well-being of future generations. Does the university take sustainability as seriously as I do? [Spring 2015]

    You raise a complex and very important question – one that I continuously reflect upon in great depth on both a professional and personal level.

    I joined MIT in 2013 as the founding Director of Sustainability and have committed the last two decades to helping communities like MIT make real, sustainable transformations. I am also the mother of a four-year-old who will grow up in a world that faces the increasingly urgent threats of climate change, but also a world full of limitless possibilities, known and unknown.

    Yes, MIT has been taking sustainability seriously for some time. There are dozens of centers, labs, and initiatives across campus that have been grappling with issues such as climate, biodiversity, energy technology in developing countries, global food systems, and more. In 2013, MIT further strengthened its commitment to sustainability at the local level by launching the Office of Sustainability and by creating a Sustainability Taskforce to set a direction for the Institute and take ideas to action across campus. We aim to transform MIT into a powerful model that generates new and proven ways of responding to the unprecedented challenges of a changing planet via operational performance, education, research, and innovation on our campus.  

    MIT is now now calling upon students, staff, and faculty to explore and implement new ways of: supplying, distributing, and demanding energy that leads to a low carbon future; designing, building, and operating buildings with net-zero emissions; procuring and serving healthy and sustainable food; circulating people to, from, and around campus in a manner that mitigates emissions and reduces demand on parking; and maintaining our land and water systems in regenerative ways.  The sustainable tranformation at MIT will not only strengthen our campus, but will serve as a living laboratory of real-time solutions accessible to communities around the world facing similar challenges.

    While I cannot predict what the world will be like for future generations, I know that it is possible to shift our priorities, set a new course, get results, and leverage the power of institutions such as MIT to contribute to a healthy and sustainable planet in the long run. And as a mother, I am committed to actualizing that vision and raising my son to become a steward of the future.

    For more information on all of these topics, visit the MIT Office of Sustainability.

  • 971
    Q: How do we ensure that our science is not biased while also accepting large donations from companies and private donors? [Fall 2014]

    Our collaborations with industry and support from private donors always include the requirement that our faculty and students are free to present and publish their results, no matter the outcome. We also disclose sources of support in the interest of transparency, and require researchers to disclose potential conflicts of interest.

  • 286
    Q: How does MIT ensure the research ability of graduated PhD students? [Spring 2013]

    Doctoral students at MIT carry out rigorous, innovative scholarly research that spans a diverse range of fields, covering the fundamental to the applied. Graduate student research often includes state-of-the art-instrumentation and cuts across multiple disciplines. While each graduate program maintains its own academic requirements for the doctoral thesis, the Institute has some general policies and procedures which include:

    • Supervision by a faculty member of the Institute or a staff member approved by the department who may, at his or her discretion, require progress reports in oral or written form as deemed necessary.

    • Before the final written thesis document is submitted, a draft may be required for editorial comment.

    • All theses are submitted by the student to the Institute Archives; recent theses are made visible to the world online through DSpace; in addition, their abstracts are available through University Microfilms Inc. (UMI).

    • An oral examination of the doctoral thesis is held after the thesis has been submitted, and the thesis document must be signed to be accepted formally by the department.

    • Each semester students registered for thesis credits are given a grade reflecting satisfactory (“J”) or unsatisfactory (“U”) progress. The final thesis receives a regular letter grade.

    Aside from the Institute requirements, graduate programs may require periodic progress reports and thesis committee meetings which review graduate students thesis research. Lastly, in many cases, thesis research is subject to external review through peer-reviewed journal publications, conference proceedings, and other scholarly mechanisms.

  • 291
    Q: What are the steps that graduate students should take who face a lot of trouble with their advisor and feel helpless sometimes? [Fall 2012]

    The student/advisor relationship can be difficult. The first step you should take when feeling helpless is to reach out; there are a number of resources that are designed to help with advising relationships.

    • For students who prefer to speak with someone outside of their academic department, Dean Blanche Staton and Dean Jason McKnight in the Office of the Dean for Graduate Education (ODGE) are available to speak with students. They can help clarify the issues at hand and identify paths toward a resolution.
    • Within the department, the graduate officers can provide a wonderful faculty perspective on approaching the issue.
    • Each department also has a graduate administrator who can provide department-specific guidance from a non-faculty member.
    • Many departments have REFS (Resources for Easing Friction and Stress), who are graduate students that provide low barrier, informal, private services to support and encourage their peers when faced with challenging advising relationships, among other situations. REFS can provide information about appropriate resources and make informed referrals.
    • For those who reside on campus, the graduate housemaster is very experienced and wise in offering guidance to students in matters related to the academic and research sphere.
    • The Ombuds Office helps people express concerns, resolve disputes, manage conflicts, and learn more productive ways of communicating. The Ombuds Office serves as an independent, confidential, neutral and informal resource to the diverse MIT community.

Teaching and Learning

  • 1038
    Q: How important are teaching skills in the faculty hiring process? [Fall 2014]

    Teaching skills are a very important consideration in hiring faculty. Almost all of the recommendation letters, which are important inputs to the process, specifically address the capabilities of candidates as they relate to teaching. Further, all application processes require that the candidates submit a teaching statement that outlines their objectives and philosophy as educators. Candidates who advance to the interview stage are specifically asked about their teaching, and we get to see them in a public-speaking environment; this of course is only one aspect, but it does provide information about their ability to explain things. In addition, most departments have finalist candidates meet with current students who then provide input to the search committee. After the hiring process concludes and new faculty members come to MIT, they are given faculty mentors, and throughout their careers we help them work to improve their teaching and mentoring skills. These skills are an important part of the promotion processes.

  • 682
    Q: What happens to subject evaluation data? [Fall 2013]

    Subject evaluation data are used and valued by many people at MIT.

    MIT Community: Reports for students and other members of the community are published at . These include aggregate quantitative data and can be used by students as they select subjects.

    Instructors: For their own subjects, instructors can access the reports and anonymous student responses, including student comments, which they use to improve their teaching and subjects.

    New Instructors: While there is no formal mechanism to provide historic subject evaluation data to new instructors, all instructors have access to the Institute reports on all subjects and they can request other data from departmental headquarters. 

    Department Heads and School Deans: Department heads, and others whom they designate, have access to reports and data for the department's subjects and instructors, including anonymous student responses. School Deans and their designees have the same access at the school-level. How they specifically review and use the data varies, but generally the data are considered in redesigning curricula, improving instruction, considering instructors for appointments and salary increases, evaluating faculty for promotion and tenure, and nominating instructors for teaching awards.

    For example, in EECS, the Education Officer, who is a member of the EECS faculty, reviews the subject evaluation data and grades each faculty member on his or her teaching. Separately, the faculty member’s research and service is also evaluated by the department. These three assessments are combined and result in a rank listing of the EECS faculty, which the Department Head uses as a factor in determining salary increases.

  • 282
    Q: How do we teach our students moral reasoning skills? [Spring 2013]

    We know that MIT is producing leaders in science and technology, but we should also trouble ourselves with how MIT produces leaders in moral reasoning. To borrow from Einstein, “Most people say that is it is the intellect which makes a great scientist. They are wrong: it is character.”

    So, what is moral reasoning and how can students get it at MIT?

    Lawrence Kohlberg, the parent of moral development theory, suggests that moral reasoning has three components, all of which are necessary.

    1. Moral sensitivity, meaning that we see the needs of others as a moral problem to be solved.

    2. Moral motivation, the decision to pursue a moral end to the problem.

    3. Moral action, in which an individual puts those identified issues and motives into bringing a solution to life.

    Every time I walk into Lobby 7, I am struck by how clearly moral reasoning ties to MIT’s lived mission, summarized there, “Established for Advancement and Development of Science, its Application to Industry, the Arts, Agriculture, and Commerce.” In this brief sentence, MIT encourages students to develop moral sensitivity in considering the problems of others in a variety of fields. The word “advancement” speaks to our motivation to improve ourselves and humanity. Finally, “application” empowers us to put this sensitivity and motivation to use. As the Institute encourages students to examine and solve “real world” problems of others, moral reasoning opportunities appear.

    The question remains, however, how do we increase moral reasoning for students? Disequilibrium is essential. MIT students encounter disequilibrium (uncertainty) every time they question what they can do with what they should do and every time they are faced with two competing goods or two competing evils. These very moments are often those when students may feel the least morally competent, because they are daunted by the competing values before them. Moral development studies, however, indicate that it is from these moments of moral crisis and confusion that increased moral competency emerges. Your student leadership role, balancing the concerns of new technology implementation in a culture of limited technology, and evaluating how your behavior in your residence impacts others are all examples of disequilibrium that leads to moral development.

    We also know that exposure to broader moral concerns is a catalyst for moral development. Early in moral development, an individual is primarily concerned with their own needs. As students develop social connections, they become concerned with the needs of others. Progressively, as students consider other identities, nations, and human cultures, they develop increasingly broad and complex moral sensitivity. That professor or advisor who is urging you to consider the global applications of your research—they’re not just developing your thesis or your marketability, they’re developing your moral reasoning.

    What all of this suggests is that though students may have applied to MIT hoping to learn more about Python code, tensile strength, or the acquisition and loss of language in the human brain, they simultaneously learn moral reasoning. As students develop competence in leading a team, whether in a lab, on the athletic field, or in their student activities roles, they also become increasingly competent in moral reasoning. Indeed, any time you recognize the problems of another, consider the competing best outcomes, and strive to apply those, you create moral reasoning. While some students may find these the most challenging moments of their academic career, they are (at least according to Einstein) what makes a good scientist.

  • 283
    Q: What is the role of art in a tech-focused university? How can synergies be created between the arts and sciences? [Fall 2012]

    The arts at MIT are rooted in experimentation, risk-taking and imaginative problem solving and thus have a natural affinity with the forces that drive science education and research at the Institute. As Institute Professor and Nobel Laureate in physics Jerome I. Friedman has said, “Serious engagement with the arts encourages disruptive thinking and requires students to explore new problems, not just find solutions to existing ones.”

    MIT has a history of efforts to integrate artistic thinking and art-making in a research institution focused predominantly upon science and engineering, from the Center for Advanced Visual Studies (CAVS) in the 1970s to the Program in Art, Culture and Technology (ACT) and the Media Lab today, just to name a few. The newly established MIT Center for Art, Science & Technology (CAST) was created to foster this tradition. A joint initiative of the Office of the Provost, the School of Architecture and Planning (SA+P) and the School of Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences (SHASS), CAST will encourage the creation of new cross-disciplinary subjects and bring visiting artists to MIT whose practices are embedded in new media and innovative technologies. This semester, Bang on a Can composer, guitarist and instrument-maker Mark Stewart and Glass Lab Director Peter Houk will teach MIT students how to design and build a glass orchestra from scratch – which involves all kinds of interesting sonic, technical and material complexities, including the problem of the “Prince Rupert Drop.” Tomás Saraceno, an artist who creates inflatable and airborne biospheres with the morphology of soap bubbles, spider webs, neural networks, or cloud formations, will participate in an Art/Science seminar, architecture studios and meet with numerous research groups in EAPS, chemistry, physics and elsewhere. Learn more about CAST.

    Students themselves are one of the most important reasons that new synergies will emerge. MIT students today possess a distinctive combination of artistic aptitude and proficiency in scientific, engineering or technological domains. A majority of freshmen participated in the arts in high school -- 80% in the class of 2016. Many students have advanced skills, and will pursue design, visual or performing arts at the highest level throughout college, while majoring in science and engineering. More than 2800 take an arts class each year, and many minor or concentrate in the performing arts. Alumni from MIT’s graduate programs in art, architecture and media have transformed the creative industries and the cultural landscape. I would say that having the arts “in the mix” with science, engineering and technology will become even more crucial to MIT’s culture of creativity and innovation in the future.

    For further insight, view The Arts at MIT, a white paper published in 2011 that details the role of the arts at MIT.

  • 273
    Q: I feel that community service should be an integral part of one's education while in college. Do you have any thoughts on how to promote the value of local public service to MIT students? [Spring 2012]

    We think you are absolutely right about the educational value of public service. It's an opportunity for students to use or gain skills, explore career options, meet new people, gain confidence and personal satisfaction, re-energize, and have fun, while they are providing a much-needed resource to community organizations and the people they serve. Public service comes in so many forms, from philanthropy to one-time commitments to ongoing engagements to in-depth project work and more. At the PSC, we have many programs and resources to help students get involved in local service (see the list below), but we'd also be thrilled to hear your thoughts.

    And you can help get other students involved in local service. Share your experiences and excitement about service through social media, post what you do on Facebook and Twitter, talk to your friends, attend service-related social events, keep us updated on your service accomplishments, and keep the spirit of service fresh.

    One of the best ways to get advice on engaging in service in the local community is by meeting with a Public Service Center staff member to discuss your interests. Email us at

    Here are some ways you can get involved locally:

  • 285
    Q: Are there ways to provide incentives for professors to be better lecturers? [Spring 2012]

    In the promotion/tenure process, the categories evaluated are: research, teaching, and service. One of the best ways for students to provide feedback is through subject evaluations at the end of the semester. Departments value student input and do consider it when determining promotion and tenure cases. At the same time, many faculty members and their Department Heads review the evaluations and make necessary adjustments and improvements when the subject is taught in subsequent semesters. In many cases, they are not aware of the issues until they are pointed out.

    I encourage all students to take the time to complete subject evaluations. It makes a difference.

    As another incentive, most departments have a teaching award voted upon by the students. There are also Institute-level awards for teaching excellence, such as the MacVicar Faculty Fellows Program.

Digital Learning

  • 1067
    Q: What are the plans for improving MIT Open CourseWare (OCW)? [Spring 2015]
    Read response from

    Joe Pickett, Publication Director, and Curt Newton, Publication Manager/Site Curator, MIT OpenCourseWare

    To keep up with MIT’s evolving curriculum, OCW is continually adding new courses to the site. In 2014, OCW published a total of 130 courses. Some 59 of these are subjects previously unpublished in OCW, including many recent additions to the curriculum; 71 are updates to previously published subjects. While video production is expensive and time-consuming, we also know it’s highly valued, so we’re including video in many more courses than we did a few years ago.

    For new initiatives we have been focusing on three areas:  finding courses with improved search and browse, interactivity, and what we call “OCW Educator.”

    Finding Courses

    With over 2,250 courses in our collection, we know finding the right course can be a challenge.  We improved our site search behavior to return entire courses by default, rather than individual resources within courses. And we reanalyzed and restructured the topics in our find by topic browser.

    Some courses have multiple versions on OCW that reflect different pedagogy, different materials, or different instructors, but this is not always apparent to users. To help users understand how these courses relate to one another, we’ve added an “Other Versions” tab to certain course homepages, like the ones showing the different versions of Single Variable Calculus 18.01 and Introductory Biology 7.012, 7.013, and 7.014.

    In the coming year we will focus our efforts on improving site search with faceted categories, allowing users to drill down to very specific resources that best align with their needs.


    One of the most interesting technical innovations incorporated into on-campus and online learning is interactivity, notably via the MITx platform.  Both instructors and students rave about the value of instant feedback when they are attempting problem sets, and this interactive capacity is sure to be extended to more and more course offerings on campus. Many classes now use online readings and videos with interspersed concept questions to help students prepare for hands-on experiences in the classroom.

    We recently published 18.05 Introduction to Probability and Statistics that includes interactive reading questions (both multiple choice and numerical) and an interactive problem set checker providing instant feedback on the problems (we also include the solutions, so you can see the full answer).

    Developing and enhancing such interactivity tools is a key goal for MIT’s Office of Digital Learning, the new organization that integrates OCW, MITx, Strategic Engineering Initiatives and AMPS. OCW will be working closely with faculty and our MITx and Engineering associates to share MIT’s best tools with the world.

    OCW Educator

    OCW Educator encompasses a number of initiatives. The most developed to date is This Course at MIT, which adds a page to OCW courses explaining how the course materials were used on campus, what the course context was (where it was taught, what kind of students took it, how they were assessed, and so on), and in many cases how the instructor thought about the course’s structure and pedagogy. These pages are aimed primarily at educators, but anyone who is interested in teaching will find lots to think about. Some prime examples are Eric Demaine’s 6.849 Geometric Folding Algorithms: Linkages, Origami, Polyhedra, Andrea Walsh’s SP.401 / WGS.401 Introduction to Women and Gender Studies, Philip Tan and Richard Eberhardt’s CMS.608 Game Design.

    OCW Educator allows us to share how experiential and project-based courses work—courses that have no set syllabus or body of knowledge that the instructor hopes students will take away. These are courses that do not fit the traditional OCW model of publication, but that deserve to be showcased along with the rest of the curriculum. The best example of this to date is 18.821 Project Laboratory in Mathematics. We hope to publish more of these courses in the coming year.

    We plan on expanding OCW Educator into other areas as well. We want to show how MIT teaches communication skills, for instance, and to represent something of the dynamic learning that students engage in outside of the classroom.

    If you have suggestions for what other new directions OCW might travel, by all means let us know by emailing Joe Pickett at

  • 981
    Q: What are DSL’s plans for its new online education initiative through MITx? [Fall 2014]
    Read response from

    Sally Susnowitz, Director, DSL-MITx Student Development Initiative

    The new MITx platform makes it possible for MIT and MITx students to access academic curriculum from anywhere any time. We want to create the same access for the important education that we provide in the Division of Student Life (DSL), which includes project management, team dynamics, civic engagement, diversity, collaboration, and leadership.

    With alumni support, DSL is developing creative new ways to present the fundamental skills and principles usually developed through DSL-sponsored activities through an online platform. I’m excited about the opportunity to lead this effort, so I have left the Public Service Center and taken on a new role as director of the DSL-MITx Student Development Initiative, which will manage the division’s online learning strategy and assets.

    This initiative has just begun, and I have been talking with colleagues within DSL and across MIT, with alumni, and most importantly, with students. I’m looking for additional perspectives and ideas, so if you’re interested in this initiative, please contact me at There’s a lot to do in order to create the experiments, refinements, and expansions that will result in well-developed, well-tested online student life assets by fall 2019.

  • 657
    Q: How can we incorporate digital tools in a way that enhances the sense of community among MIT students? [Fall 2013]

    This is the digital generation, and we all use digital tools to stay in touch already -- whether it is Facebook or LinkedIn or Skype. We use digital tools in the operation of MIT -- whether it is SAP or Concur or COEUS. It is a puzzle to me that we don't leverage the digital world to conduct our primary business though -- teaching. That is about to change with the availability of the edX platform, which MIT has pioneered. Now we can create teaching and social content not just for one-time use but for repeated global use. Moreover, imagine if we could leverage the community to develop content in a way that is modular and of value to the community.

    I suggest starting small. Perhaps we start with an internal MITx class on "what every grad student should know about research." One of you might volunteer to shoot a 10 minute module on intellectual property. Another might shoot a module on basic statistics. A third on issues like ethics, and reporting. A fourth on styles of writing papers, quoting results and on referencing. Pretty soon you might have a mini-class on the topic, and in doing so, you will likely become experts on the use of the edX platform which can be accessed by thousands of graduate students not just at MIT, but worldwide as well. Creating content is only one piece of the puzzle. Content must also be maintained. For example, IP law changed in the US this year (but stayed the same in Europe). Content must be owned and updated by the community.

    An effort like this will build community, as well as give it an adopted project with global reach that the community must take charge of for the foreseeable future. I can think of no better way to build community than to create a lighthouse project that the community owns, administers, sustains and celebrates. And if you need help doing this, come ask us. Trust me when I say that MIT graduate students should able to master the edX platform and make it their own.

  • 5
    Q: Can students get MIT credit for taking and passing MITx subjects? [Spring 2013]
    Read response from

    Professor Susan Silbey, Chair of the MITx Subcommittee, and Professor Samuel Allen, Chair of the Faculty

    At present students cannot earn MIT credit for taking and passing MITx subjects. Rapid developments in areas associated with online education, including the launch of MITx, have generated a number of policy questions that the Institute’s faculty governance system is working to address. Currently MIT students may get credit for an MITx subject only by passing an Advanced Standing Examination created specifically for that MIT subject for this purpose. This spring, the Faculty Policy Committee charged an ad hoc subcommittee to examine this and other issues in more detail. The subcommittee expects to submit a final report in the early fall to guide the faculty committees’ discussions about setting policy for matters related to MITx.

  • 9
    Q: What's the plan for engaging students in using online education to reimagine the residential learning model? [Spring 2013]
    Read response from

    Sanjay Sarma, Director of Digital Learning, Office of Digital Learning

    Last month President Reif charged an Institute-wide Task Force on the Future of MIT Education to consider ways that online education can be used to strengthen the residential learning experience and deliver MIT content to those around the world. Executive Vice President and Treasurer Israel Ruiz and I are co-chairing that Task Force.In addition, the Office of Digital Learning (ODL) has established an extensive network of studies to examine all angles of MIT's online learning strategy, from learning environments, to video, to gamification.

    The Institute-Wide Task Force and those being run out of ODL all include representatives of the undergraduate and graduate student bodies. If you have specific comments, questions, or suggestions, I encourage you to engage the student reps so that your feedback can be shared with the appropriate bodies. The UA and GSC can help you to identify the students who are serving on the task forces.

    In addition, in the near future, I expect that we'll have a mechanism, such as an "Idea Bank," for engaging the entire MIT community in these important discussions. Bottom line, the student voice is an essential part of the conversation and will be invaluable in shaping MIT for future generations.

Careers and Jobs

  • 1039
    Q: How does MIT help international students develop their career path? [Fall 2014]
    Read response from

    Melanie Parker, Executive Director, Global Education and Career Development Center

    The Global Education and Career Development Center (GECD) offers a number of services for international students:

    Services tailored to international students
    GECD collaborates with the International Students Office (ISO) for various workshops throughout the year, including a Job Search for International Students workshop at least twice per year and a lecture by Dan Beaudry, an expert in this area and author of "Power Ties: The International Student's Guide to Finding a Job in the United States."

    Individual appointments
    Information from the Job Search workshop is also distributed throughout the year during individual sessions with students.

    Online resources
    MIT GECD subscribes to Going Global, a resource hub for both international opportunities and job search guides and also information about employers who have submitted an application for H1B visa sponsorship in the past.  This is accessible through CareerBridge under "Premium Resources." In addition, all of our general career resources are available to all students, including internationals

    International student guide
    A step-by-step guide on how to navigate the job search process in the United States, including resources and tools available on campus.

    International-focused career fairs
    The European and Asian Career Fairs, for example, take place in the spring and focus on opportunities in those regions.

    Please visit our web site to view upcoming events, browse resources, or schedule an appointment.  We look forward to helping you!

  • 859
    Q: Every MIT grad student will need to transition to 'the real world' at some point, be that academia, industry, a national laboratory, etc. What advice and mentorship on making career decisions is available? [Spring 2014]
    Read response from

    Read response from Marilyn Wilson, Associate Director, Career Counseling & Education | MIT Global Education & Career Development

    The graduate career advisors at GECD are specialists in helping graduate students navigate the transition between graduate studies and “the real world.”  We do that in a variety of ways.  We meet individually with students to provide personalized one-on-one attention.  Students meet with us to talk about big picture issues like "I’m not sure what I want to do once I get my degree," as well as more specific requests like "Can you review my Teaching Philosophy statement which I’m submitting for an academic position?".  Students of all different stages in their studies meet with us; newly minted graduate students and those who are nearing – or even after – graduation. 

    We also provide programs to help educate graduate students about how to discern and manage their careers, develop essential career skills and get exposure to salient career options.  For example, we give workshops on how to write a quality CV or resume, interviewing skills, how to negotiate a job offer, developing a strong LinkedIn profile, and more.  Some of our speaker events have focused on career options such as Big Data, Product Design, Patent Law, and Policy Careers.  We bring in national speakers to provide experienced perspective to students about developing careers.  A popular speaker is Peter Fiske, a scientist and an entrepreneur who gives an engaging, powerful talk about “Putting Your Science to Work.”  Peter will probably be back on campus next fall to talk with graduate students.

    In the summer we co-present a series of events with the GSC called the Academic Career Series.  It consists of two or three panel events geared toward helping students who have an interest in academic careers, or at least are considering them.  These events have titles such as “Academia, Industry or Both,” “Finding a Good Postdoc,” and “The Nuts and Bolts of an Academic Job Search.”  Keep an eye out for information about these events this summer.  In fact you can get updates about graduate career events by joining a listserv called Graduate Career News.

    But since this is MIT, there are lots of career resources scattered around the institute in addition to the ones we provide.  We help connect students to these resources as well.  For instance, if you are curious to understand what options might be out there for you (this is perhaps the most common question graduate students have), you can learn about different lines of work by attending Employer Info sessions.  Many employers come to MIT for the express purpose of meeting and talking with students.  You can find out who these employers are and when they are coming to campus by searching for “Company Presentations” on our website.

    Last but not least, we have valuable career-related resources and information for graduate students to read on our website.  We publish a Career Development Handbook each year which you can read online or in hardcopy (free copies are available in our office, now 12-170, changing to building E39 in late June). There are pages of our website designated for graduate student career topics, including annotated lists of valuable career resources, workshop slides on relevant topics, event listings, and more.  If you haven’t browsed CareerBridge yet (our online job postings service) take a look at the job postings and lists of employers eager to connect with MIT students (including graduate students).  On the CareerBridge homepage you can also click on Additional Resources where The Versatile PhD is linked.  The Versatile PhD is an online community of PhD students and alumni interested in exploring career options beyond academia.  The site features web panels with professionals who have followed many different career paths, and members can post questions to them about their work and their field. 

    This is a quick overview of resources we have to help grad students make the transition from MIT to the next chapter of their careers.  We would be delighted to talk with you about your career path. 

  • 711
    Q: In addition to producing high-quality scientific results, what other steps are necessary as a PhD student for a good start in an academic career? [Spring 2014]

    Great question! By an academic career, you probably mean a tenured (permanent) professor position. There are also less permanent research or teaching positions at colleges or universities that may be a good fit.

    But it’s important to note that while an academic career is one excellent option, a PhD is a stepping-stone to anywhere. Many MIT PhD candidates will make outstanding contributions in other careers such as industrial research, finance, management, health professions, law or K-12 teaching to name just a few.

    Okay, here are some key aspects of getting a good start on an academic career.

    1. Ask yourself how much you like doing research, as it is a huge part of life in academia. You need to love thinking about what questions are important as well as carrying out the research to answer them.
    2. Learn how to write well scientifically, since publications are an integral part of research.  You will also need to find funding for your research by writing grant proposals. Ask your advisor if you can help with one s/he is submitting, or write a fellowship application for the NSF or NIH, for example. 
    3. Teach! You will need to be a competent teacher in academia. Try being a TA if you have not, and see whether you enjoy teaching recitations.
    4. Supervising experience. You will need this to run a research group. Supervise a UROP or two, or a summer student during your PhD period.
    5. Communicate your research through talks or posters. Give posters, and when possible, give talks at MIT meetings, nationally or beyond. You’ll make lots of useful contacts, and a smart graduate student catches the eye of future employers.
    6. Get three referees in place for letters of recommendation. These should be faculty members, including your thesis advisor, one or more members of your thesis committee, your graduate program officer or a collaborator at MIT or elsewhere.
    7. Finally, in Science and Engineering, you will likely become a postdoctoral researcher before looking for an academic faculty position. Start planning for this about a year in advance of graduating. You’ll want to apply for several positions and think strategically about the research area and mentoring commitment of a potential postdoc advisor.
  • 684
    Q: Is there a way to make Career Services opportunities more visible to graduate students as they approach the end of their tenure at MIT? [Fall 2013]
    Read response from

    Natalie Lundsteen, Assistant Director of Graduate Student Career Services, MIT Global Education and Career Development Center

    As part of the office's core services, MIT Global Education & Career Development (GECD) works with graduate students as they explore career choices and pursue job opportunities.  Our broad range of services for graduate students is detailed on our website.  We advertise by sending e-mails of upcoming opportunities to departmental graduate administrators and our career news list. We also post events to the Institute calendar, the GSC Anno, and to our Facebook page and Twitter feed.   We put up posters along the Infinite Corridor, in most buildings including Stata, and in all Athena clusters.  We also partner with the Graduate Student Council's Academic, Research, and Careers committee to advertise any relevant events. We are always looking for ways to let students know about our offerings. 

    We'd like to turn this question around for you: how can we make opportunities more visible?  We look forward to your reply!

  • 288
    Q: I'd like to discuss the possibility of having more career help / mentorship for graduate students. [Spring 2012]
    Read response from

    about career and mentorship resources for graduate students

    Current career and mentorship resources for graduate students include:

    • MIT Global Education and Career Development provides a wide range of career development support including individual advising and counseling, job search assistance for both academic and industry jobs, real time and online workshops, and a PhD transition group to assist with self-exploration and career decision making.

    • Path of Professorship is a one-and-a-half day workshop for graduate and postdoctoral women who are considering a tenure-track position in the fields of science and engineering.

    • Graduate Women at MIT (GWAMIT) promotes the personal and professional development of MIT's graduate women.

    • ODGE Mentoring Program connects underrepresented junior graduate students with mentors who are senior graduate students or post-docs. Contact Monica Orta in the ODGE at

    • The Institute Career Assistance Network (ICAN) connects MIT alumni with students to facilitate career strategies, gather quality advice, and open up important networking connections.

    • International Graduate Student Mentoring Program, jointly sponsored by the GSC Academic, Research and Careers Committee and the Alumni Association, matches current MIT graduate students and alumni as mentors to incoming international graduate students.

    • The GSC Academic, Research and Careers Committee works to improve the quality of mentoring and advising for graduate students by promoting best practices in all departments and exploring new ways to improve the resources available.

    • Professional Development Videos - ODGE maintains a growing archive of professional development video content that you can access 24/7.

  • 276
    Q: Are there any short-term on-campus jobs for students? [Fall 2011]

    Student Financial Services keeps a central listing of campus jobs. You may find part-time work during the term, or part-time or full-time work during the summer. Be sure to check on any relevant employment policies.

Student Activities

  • 787
    Q: I've noticed that compared to other schools, the administrative barriers to setting up events seem much higher at MIT. Can the process be streamlined? [Spring 2014]
    Read response from

    Leah Flynn Gallant, Assistant Dean and Director for Student Leadership and Engagement

    SAO (Student Activities Office) and CAC (Campus Activities Complex) staff are available to meet with all student groups - undergraduate and graduate student organizations alike - on events in order to help them put on a successful event. We work as a team to assist students on the varied steps along the way. Of course, planning an event involves some red tape; however, we find that when students meet with us in a timely manner and we are able to walk them through policies and procedures, they find it easier to navigate event planning processes. 

    In regard to streamlining the future process for registering events, there is a working group of representatives across the Institute (including offices such as CAC, SAO, Institute Events, MIT Police, student representatives, etc.) working with IS&T on getting all event registrations online. This is planned to go online in June 2014, expanding on the Atlas system. Included within online event registration, we will also have a training module for students in order to bring them up to speed on event planning processes. We hope that these improved methods streamlines event planning for students and staff alike. 

    We are always open to suggestions from students and addressing their specific needs, since events can vary from group to group.  Please send any comments to

  • 783
    Q: If students are unhappy with some aspect of campus, what is the best way to effect change? [Spring 2014]

    One of the hardest things about affecting change on campus is knowing who the decision-makers are. If a student is curious about whom to contact, they might want to begin by contacting a member of the UA, GSC, DormCon, IFC, Panhel, or LGC. These student leaders can direct people to the right people to speak to. Students can also contact the UA Student-Admin Collaboration Committee (SAC) at

    After figuring out who ultimately makes the decision, students should talk with them to understand how much they can influence the decision. When doing so, they should make sure to have data which could be collected from tools like surveys, that highlight the problem and provide support for a solution. Moreover, student buy-in helps show admins that many students actually want a change. This buy-in can be shown with data, Tech articles, or other methods of providing student input.

    The timeliness of knowing about an issue can also make it difficult for students to have enough of an opportunity to provide input. Some issues, like DAPER cutting varsity sports or the Chancellor instituting a new residential life position (the Residential Life Area Directors - RLADs), were brought to students’ attention at such times that students were very pressed for time to give actual input. In other areas, though, like in planning for MIT 2030, students have had a voice in most of the process and continue to be involved with the relevant Institute and UA committees.

    The UA SAC committee encourages students to check out its research document on past actions related to student-admin communication  at The SAC will be releasing a report this semester in which it will delineate specific methods to improve communication between both students and admins, and students and students. To see and comment on a draft of the report, students should contact their UA Councilor, the UA Council at, or SAC at Once the report is finalized, we will email it to all undergraduate students.

  • 686
    Q: How is the Institute addressing the lack of storage space and space in general for the student organizations? [Fall 2013]

    As the number of student groups grows—there are more than 470 now!—and the amount of available space stays the same, room for group storage and activities is at a premium. The Association of Student Activities’ biennial reallocation process looks at each group’s stated needs in relation to its membership and allocates space as equitably as possible among hundreds of applicants. There is no easy solution for the space crunch; ultimately groups need to work together and share the space as best as possible. If there are issues regarding the sharing of space among students groups, please contact the Student Activities Office.


  • 1119
    Q: What can students do personally to better their mental health state and better manage the stresses of MIT life (or life in general)? [Spring 2015]
    Read response from

    Zan Barry, Senior Program Manager in Community Wellness at MIT Medical

    In my work with hundreds of students on the issue of stress and mental resilience, I have learned that being ruthlessly efficient and ignoring one’s body, friends, and hobbies might work for a while, but we eventually reach the point of diminishing returns. We get really stressed or feel burnt out and can’t maintain ruthless efficiency forever.

    An alternate approach is to treat each day like a sprint and a recovery period. Whenever possible, work in a few solid blocks (60-90 minutes each). Try to do the most difficult tasks during the time of day when you feel you have your best energy. In between your work blocks, do something to recover your energy and attention. Physical activity, connecting with friends, doing a hobby you enjoy, or practicing a form of mindfulness (such as meditation) all have been researched for improving stress resilience. 

    If your food and sleep are of the highest possible quality, your stress resilience will be even better. For more information on all of these topics, visit the Community Wellness website. If you would prefer to talk with someone about your feelings of stress, contact Mental Health and Counseling Service, the graduate REFS, the chaplains, or any of the many supportive resources on campus.

  • 980
    Q: As a cyclist around MIT and Cambridge, what do I need to keep in mind relative to safety? [Fall 2014]

    Cambridge is a busy city, and staying safe on a bike relies on a combination of visibility, awareness, and safety equipment. Here are a few things you should always do to make your commute as safe as possible:

    1. ALWAYS ALWAYS ALWAYS wear a helmet. Even at a slow speed, a knock to an unprotected head can have devastating consequences. Make sure it is properly fitted.
    2. Lights. It’s illegal (and just a bad idea) to be riding after dark without lights. Use a bright white light on the front, and a red light on the back. Flashing lights help bring more attention to you. You should also wear bright, reflective clothing.
    3. Make sure your bike is in good working order. Working brakes can help prevent accidents, and good tires mean you’re less likely to skid on slick roads.
    4. Follow the rules of the road. Although it can be tempting to blow through the odd stop sign, or ride through a pedestrian crossing, this can potentially lead to accidents, and increases the tension between motorists, pedestrians and cyclists.
    5. Assume cars don’t know you’re there. Most motorists are used to looking out for other cars, but not bikes. Make eye contact with drivers whenever possible, and be especially aware of cars turning right at intersections and parked cars whose doors might suddenly open into the bike lane.
    6. Be aware of your surroundings so you can react predictably. For example, if there is a dumpster in the bike lane 100 yards ahead of you, move safely into the road ahead of time, rather than swerving around it at the last minute.

    A ton of information has been written on bike safety, and the above are just a few of the most important points. For more information, including Boston-specific bike laws, check out some of the following links:

  • 269
    Q: Most MIT students don't get enough sleep on a routine basis. I think that sleep is incredibly important. Are there resources on campus to help advise us on balancing sleep, school, and our social life? [Fall 2012]

    Absolutely. Adequate sleep is associated with better memory and academic performance, supporting the immune system, and maintaining a healthy weight, among others. Community Wellness at MIT Medical maintains a number of resources to help, including downloads to help you sleep (print or mp3), information (books, CDs, DVDs), and one-on-one consultations.

    If you get to a point where your lack of sleep or level of stress is affecting your health or you are feeling overwhelmed or out of control, MIT Medical has a 24-hour Urgent Care number you can call 617-253-4481 or you can make an appointment to see a doctor or talk to someone in MIT Mental Health and Counseling.

  • 705
    Q: What is MIT doing to provide more of an opportunity for discussion and training around issues of sexual violence and assault on campus? [Spring 2014]

    Campuses around the country are figuring out how best to address sexual violence, including sexual assault, in their communities and MIT is no different. Right now each incoming freshman is required to complete an online training program called Unless There’s Consent. This program debunks rape myths, shows the inherent sexism in our language, features bystander intervention tactics, educates students about what to do in case of a sexual assault, and more.

    In addition to strong learning outcomes, long-term studies of this program are beginning to show reported behavioral changes. For instance, of those women who found themselves in applicable situations, 73% used information from the program to stop unwanted sexual activity. Of those men who found themselves in applicable situations, 70% used information from the program to make themselves or someone else safer.

    At the same time, MIT’s Violence Prevention & Response program (VPR) that runs out of Community Wellness at MIT Medical, works hard to provide opportunities for trainings and discussions across campus. They offer programs to any student group that is interested. Topics range from consent, to men and masculinity, to healthy relationships and beyond. There have been several extensive training programs in various graduate residences including Sidney & Pacific and Ashdown. MIT is also potentially developing its own on-line training module for graduate students. There is also a student group, SAFER2 (Students Advocating for Education and Respectful Relationships), that offers peer trainings around campus on similar topics. SAFER2 is hoping to sponsor an event on February 28th called One Night Stand for Student Rights featuring anti-violence activist Staceyann Chin and nationally recognized anti-sexist activist Jackson Katz.

    MIT takes this topic very seriously. While there are many things happening on campus, there is always room for improvement. If you are interested in getting involved, or would like a program for your student group, you can contact Duane de Four or 3-1307.

    If anyone has any questions or is in need of victim advocacy services, there is a 24-hour hotline available at (617) 253-2300. All of those calls are strictly confidential.

  • 626
    Q: What is MIT doing to support/promote cycling? [Fall 2013]

    At the MIT Parking and Transportation Office, we are committed to providing amenities to support and encourage students to commute by bicycle.  Over 3,000 outdoor bike racks have been installed and replaced to provide secure, accessible, and well-lit spaces close to building entrances.  We have placed bike racks indoors or in covered areas when possible.  We continue to provide additional parking spaces to meet the needs of our growing and enthusiastic cycling community.

    We currently have 6 fix-it stations on campus, and will be installing a new indoor fix-it station in the basement of the Stata Center.  Last month we replaced all the tools on all six fix-it stations for the new school year.
    We encourage everyone who brings a bike on campus to register their bikes with us.  This will grant bike owners access to the four indoor bike compounds to keep their bikes safe from inclement weather, and allows them to store their bikes during the school year. Registering a bike gives access to these compounds via their MIT ID at no cost.  
    We offer a $25.00 subsidized Hubway membership, and we are currently working with the City of Cambridge to put two new Hubway racks in the northwest and west campus.
    We have partnered with Cambridge Bikes and given away free helmets, 1,500 bike lights, 1,000 reflective leg bands, and 500 flat tire kits to students, and Cambridge Bikes does several free small repair clinics throughout the year on campus.
    Lastly, our most recent annual bike auction netted almost $4,000 that will go to pay for the free bike repair clinics and for more Dero bike racks on campus.
  • 270
    Q: I tend to be very social and hate to miss out on things, but I of course want to excel in my classes. How can I make the most of the resources at MIT while I take a 'drink out of the fire hose'? [Fall 2012]

    Finding the right balance between academics and extracurriculars is an ongoing challenge for everyone at MIT (and not just students!). As public speaker Michael Altshuler said, "The bad news is, time flies. The good news is, you’re the pilot."

    When prioritizing your time, it may be useful to treat each day like you’re building a terrarium. Big rocks (your top priorities, the must-do items) go into the space first and take up the most room. Second, there is room for some pebbles and sand (your less urgent priorities and less time-consuming activities). Finally, pour in the "water"; it flows around everything else in your day, it's is not time sensitive, and you can add more or less of it depending on the other elements.

    The number and type of "rocks," "sand," and "water" will be different for each person based on your interests, goals, and time management. Learning to say "yes" to balance sometimes meaning learning to say "no" to great opportunities that don't fit in today's terrarium; and it means always knowing what your "rocks" are. Here are some more resources to help you find your own solution:

    • Community Wellness at MIT provides resources and designs programs to help all members of the MIT community learn about making healthy choices that will allow you to get the most of your time at MIT.

    • Time Management on the MIT Center for Academic Excellence site offers specific suggestions and resources to help you with time management and a well-balanced schedule.

    • The MIT Work Life Center offers consultations on balancing academic work with family and personal life, work-life stress, and many other topics such as the timing of childbearing and child care. It also has a 24-hour resource hotline.

    Specific to Grad Students:

    Specific to Undergrads:

    • The Deans in Student Support Services can suggest strategies and resources to help you maintain a better balance.

    • The MedLinks student in your residence can offer insight and suggests on what resources would be helpful to you.

  • 268
    Q: There were a lot of interactive events to start the year, but as classes and labs get going, academics definitely become the focus. What do you recommend to help keep them in balance and avoid a burnout? [Fall 2011]

    Though opportunities may be somewhat less visible after September, there are always great ways to engage with other students and the MIT community. Here are just a few:

    You can find great events every day on the MIT Events calendar, and other ways to connect on the Life on Campus page.


  • 951
    Q: I hear the MIT Chapel will close soon for renovations. What will happen to services and other programming that are usually held in the Chapel? [Fall 2014]
    Read response from

    Phil Walsh, Director, Campus Activities Complex

    Yes, the historic MIT Chapel (W15) has closed as of Monday, September 15. A safety fence has been erected around the structure to allow for important repairs, and to keep community members safe as the work is performed. The project is expected to be completed in spring 2015. In the meantime services and programming will be moved to other locations around campus. Information about alternate locations is posted at the Religious Life website and near the Chapel itself. If you can't find the program you need, click here to contact the MIT chaplain who runs your program.

  • 734
    Q: How does spiritual life at MIT affect the other aspects of MIT life? [Fall 2012]

    This is not an easy question to answer. We live in an environment that often demands data to answer questions and the spiritual realm does not lend itself to data driven answers. I find it helpful to think of much of MIT life as driven by problem solving. We know how to solve problems, but often do not think about the why of what we do. It is our spiritual side that challenges us by asking the "why" questions. Value questions come out of our more reflective nature. We can do such and such, but should we? If so, why?

    So often we get caught up in the challenge of the moment, but in our reflective moments we step back and look at the big picture. Education as a holistic enterprise demands that we draw on our talents for doing as well as our talents for analysis; it is the difference between what we do and why we do it. I think of the spiritual side of our nature as the side of our intellect that asks the "why" questions.

    If you’re interested in reflecting on those “why” questions, I encourage you to reach out to me or one of the Chaplains. You can also attend our weekly “Tuesdays in the Chapel,” which offers a chance to pause, reflect, and meditate every Tuesday at 8:30 am in the MIT Chapel. It’s a short service, each week featuring different speakers who bring their own reflections to share with the group. All are welcome to attend this gathering. Here is a list of the speakers for the spring and if you are interested in reading the words of earlier speakers, explore my blog, The Spire.

Future Direction of MIT

  • 1121
    Q: I’ve heard the concept of OneMIT around campus (e.g., working cross-functionally and breaking down silos between groups). How does MIT leadership view the current state of “One MIT,” and where do you want it to go from here? [Spring 2015]

    OneMIT is a theme President Reif introduced at his inauguration in 2012 to signify the unity of MIT as a community with a common mission, goals, and values. In 2013, he described his vision as follows: “One of my goals as president is to cultivate a caring community focused on MIT’s shared values of excellence, meritocracy, openness, integrity and mutual respect.”

    Below are some of the efforts MIT has made since that time to advance President Reif’s vision:

    • Creation of the Institute Community and Equity Office (ICEO) in 2013, charged with making tangible strides toward cultivating equity, inclusion, community, and diversity at MIT. I am honored to serve as MIT’s first ICEO.  Since assuming the role, I have met with hundreds of members of the MIT community who embrace President Reif’s call and who seek to advance a respectful and caring community that is far more than the sum of its parts.  Last month I released a report, Advancing a Respectful and Caring Community, which summarizes what I have learned and makes concrete recommendations for reaching our goals.
    • Institute-wide events, including the Institute Diversity Summit 2015, and the annual MLK Celebration. The two-day summit, held last month, brought us together as a community for dialogue and workshops on a variety of topics, including intercultural communications and responding to bias. At the MLK celebration, students, President Reif, and MLK award recipients reflected on the theme “iActivism: Individuals Empowering the Collective.
    • Chancellor Cynthia Barnhart’s survey on sexual assault, the results of which were released last fall. The survey was designed to ascertain students’ perceptions and opinions about different types of social behavior, and their experiences with sexual assault and sexual misconduct. Following the release of the survey results, Chancellor Barnhart announced new educational programs, staff trainings, and policies designed to combat sexual assault.
    • The Chancellor’s MIT Together website, an online portal to support resources, launched in 2012. The site extends the theme of community, supporting one another, so that everyone at MIT—students, faculty, and staff alike—can thrive.

    While these four examples have, I believe, helped us begin to realize President Reif’s vision, it is the work being done in Schools, departments, labs, student groups, and all across campus that I find most exciting and encouraging.  Visit the ICEO’s website to learn more.

  • 257
    Q: Will MIT be more focused on new building projects and new laboratories, or renovations of old buildings? What construction plans in general are in the works, and for what departments? How are these building plans and projects decided? [Fall 2012]
    Read response from

    the Associate Provost Martin A. Schmidt and the Executive Vice President and Treasurer Israel Ruiz

    The continuous renewal and renovation of MIT’s physical facilities is an essential component of the Institute's mission to advance knowledge and educate students. As we respond to evolving needs, we are guided by the MIT 2030 framework, which defines our overarching objectives and principles and helps the Institute make thoughtful, well-informed choices about its physical development and renewal in support of its mission.

    Details about MIT’s planned, current and recently completed construction projects can be viewed on the Capital Projects website. In addition, the Institute has recently launched a program of accelerated capital renewal, and we are now in the process of prioritizing work. The Institute will devote $250 million over the next three years, so that we may begin to address our overall deferred maintenance backlog.

    The capital renewal program is complemented by a new comprehensive stewardship program for MIT’s buildings. Our goal in launching the Comprehensive Stewardship Group this fall is to proactively maintain newly constructed and renovated buildings so that they will remain current with modern standards and continue to serve the needs of occupants.

    The ongoing physical renovation and renewal of MIT’s campus is a collaborative endeavor under the stewardship of the Executive Vice President and Treasurer Israel Ruiz and Associate Provost Martin Schmidt working together with the Provost, Chancellor and Deans. All parcels that abut the campus under consideration for development require the oversight through our governance structure. This includes review and endorsement by the Committee for the Review of Space Planning (CRSP), the Building Committee and the Executive Committee, and this process is followed rigorously to ensure that academic interests are protected.

    MIT invites anyone in the community to offer insights and ideas about the future of the MIT Campus. Share your thoughts by emailing:

  • 293
    Q: There are fewer manufacturing resources for the growing number of students here. Is MIT planning to improve the facilities to insure a true mens et manus research experience for students? [Spring 2012]

    MIT places a high value on manufacturing, as evidenced by President Hockfield’s participation as co-chair of the White House Advanced Manufacturing Partnership (AMP), as well as broad faculty involvement in Production in the Innovation Economy (PIE).

    Ensuring appropriate space for manufacturing activities by students here on campus is an endeavor that requires a lot of planning, so change will take time. Here are some things we’re working on:

    • We are in the process of creating of a set of co-located spaces in N51 and N52 where we can relocate the Edgerton Center, D-Lab, the International Design Center as part of our collaboration with the Singapore University of Technology and Design (SUTD), part of the Gordon Engineering Leadership Program, and several student clubs. The vision includes common access to shops with built-in supervision for those with less experience.
    • We hope to be able to expand the MIT Hobby Shop, although this may require identifying additional space and funding sources.
    • New space for innovation, entrepreneurship, and manufacturing is very much under consideration. The MIT 2030 process is currently engaged in developing a thoughtful vision for the future of MIT’s campus; this is a great place to share your ideas about manufacturing space with those most involved.

    If your need is immediate, consider networking with other labs or centers at MIT. It may be possible to work out an agreement that allows use of specialized equipment within the Institute.

    The Institute is committed to the principle of mens et manus. Finding an existing space to re-envision and the funding to make it happen is challenging, but high on my list.

Administrative Structure of MIT

  • 789
    Q: Why are there so many administrators at MIT? Why is the number growing? [Spring 2014]
    Read response from

    Israel Ruiz, Executive Vice President and Treasurer

    While it is true that the total number of administrative, support and service staff combined have grown from just under 4,000 in 1981 to about 4,600 today, an increase of 15% over a 33 year period, the overall number of individuals engaged in research and teaching have also grown significantly, as has the size of the student body. The number of research and academic staff including postdoctoral researchers has more than doubled during that same time period to over 5,100 today. This year, 11,300 graduate and undergraduate students are enrolled as compared to about 9,000 in the early 80’s. On campus research expenditures have more than tripled to $674.3M in fiscal 2013, and the physical footprint of the campus has expanded. Our infrastructure continues to evolve to meet MIT’s expanding academic and research needs.

    The Preliminary Report of the Institute-wide Task Force on the Future of MIT Education (Figure 28) shows how the headcount on campus has evolved since 1981. The ratio of administrative staff per faculty member hovered at just over 4.0 over a thirty year period. Download the preliminary report.

  • 280
    Q: Can you please share with me an administrative map or "org structure" for the university? [Fall 2011]

    There are several online resources that can help you understand the administrative structure of MIT.

    Each of these links can be accessed by browsing the MIT homepage.

    The Chancellor's Office includes the Offices of Dean for Undergraduate Education, Graduate Education, and Student Life as well as the Office of Digital Learning. Together, the programs and services within these offices support and enhance the undergraduate and graduate student experience at MIT.

    If you are unsure of where to send feedback, you can email The Offices of the Dean for Graduate Education, Undergraduate Education, and Student Life jointly manage this email and will follow up with a response or route your question to the right person.