Frequently Asked Questions

Questions about the department can often be answered from the department website.
You can also contact GMC Officers for information or the DMSE Academic Office.

General MIT resources can be found at https://resources.mit.edu/ and through the Office of Graduate Education.


Institute Resources

Where can I go and who can I talk to if I'm having an issue?

See this flowchart on what to do if you're struggling in graduate school.

For sexual assault and reporting options, see this pdf from the Title IX office.

To help someone (or yourself) in distress, this pdf from MIT Medical may be helpful.

The GMC Well-Being Chair and DMSE REFs can point you to some common resources as well.
Some of these resources will include:

Where do I find my grades or transcript?

Go to websis, "For Students", then "Academic Record"
Note that an unofficial transcript from MIT is just a printout of the grade page.

Where do I see pay stubs and other payroll information or tax forms?

Atlas, "About Me" tab
For tax information, see the OGE tax page.

How do I pay MIT bills (activities fee, rent if living on campus, etc.)?

MITPAY through Student Financial Services

Where is the Academic Calendar?

The MIT Academic Calendar can be viewed and added to your personal calendar if you'd like from the registrar.

There is also an MIT-wide events calendar which shows things such as seminars and social events around campus.

How does course registration work?

The registrar office provides all necessary information regarding course registration and pre-registration.

Pre-registration occurs weeks to months prior to the semester and the selections made here are used to prepopulate registration. Registration occurs immediately before the semester and is when your official choices are made. Deadlines (and fees) for pre-registration, registration, and Add/Drop are found in the academic calendar

In addition to the official subject listing and schedule available from the registrar, there are also external websites that will help with scheduling that can be found linked from the course catalog page. Some options include Firehose and MIT Course Picker which both show a visual calendar to easily see course conflicts.

How do I apply for a fellowship?

The department frequently sends information regarding fellowships via email and there is more information on the Office of Graduate Education site.

How do health insurance and MIT Medical work?

The MIT Medical site has information about your health insurance plan options and FAQs.
Note that DMSE PhD students often have the MIT Student Extended Insurance Plan.

MIT Medical is located in Building E23 and is staffed by a variety of care providers including an on-site pharmacy, optical (eye exams), dental care, mental health & counseling, primary care, urgent care, medical specialties, the Community Wellness office, and more. They also can refer you to other facilities/hospitals if needed.
To see a provider, you can go to MIT Urgent Care any time or schedule appointments online following website instructions.

How can I find housing?

Information about housing, including on-campus housing in graduate student dorms can be found on the Student Life website.

Where can international students find information about visas, taxes, emplyment policies, or other concerns?

The ISO office contains tons of information for international students. Additional information such as emplyment policies can be found is found on the OGE website.

What resources are there for finding a job or internship?

The Career and Professional Development office has extensive career fairs, data sets, and help available.

Academic Requirements and Associated Forms

What units and courses should graduate students be registering for?

DMSE graduate administrators will send instructions for registration every semester.

Typically you register for 48 units total which include courses and 3.THG. If you are TAing, there are further instructions included in your TA assignment. When necessary, you can also register for 3.998, the Doctoral Thesis Update Meeting.

During IAP (the gap between semesters in January), MIT has courses and activities you can take for credit or not for credit. Only students on the February degree list typically register for units during IAP, though all students are expected to work in accordance with the terms of appointment.

During Summer, you will receive instructions for how much 3.THG to register for.

How much vacation do graduate students get?

Graduate student vacation is outlined in the terms of appointment and follow normal Institute Holidays. If you need to miss other days due to extenuating circumstances, you can use OGE resources, including contacting a OGE GradSupport Dean.

What is the minor requirement?

Minor requirements can be found on the DMSE website.

What and when is the DMSE Doctoral Qualifying Exam?

Qualifying exam information is found on the DMSE website. GMC Academic Chairs can be used as resources about quals and DMSE graduate admins will send information prior to the exams.

What is 3.998, the Doctoral Thesis Update Meeting, aka the "3rd year update meeting"?

Requirements are discussed on the DMSE website. You need to select your thesis committee with your advisor in preparation for this meeting. At the meeting, a form from the grad office must be filled out. 3.998 should also be included on your registration as a course for that semester.

What is the Plan to Finish Meeting?

Approximately 6 months to 1 year before expected graduation, this meeting takes place. Requirements are discussed on the DMSE website.

What do I need to do for my PhD Thesis Defense?

Requirements, including timeline for prior meetings, drafts, and communication requirements are found on the DMSE website. Note that there are specific requirements for how to print an MIT thesis and forms that must be filled out at the defense.

Students are responsible for reserving a room and supplying food or beverages if desired.

What do I do if I'm in PPSM (the Program for Polymers and Soft Matter)?

PPSM requirements, including the PPSM Course Completion Checklist for Students, are found on the PPSM website.

Requirements for the departmental minor, thesis proposal, Doctoral Thesis Update Meeting, and PhD Thesis Defense are a collaboration between DMSE and PPSM administrations.

What do I do if I'm writing a Master's thesis?

Requirements are found on the DMSE website and include several forms.

Facilities and Equipment

What equipment can I use at MIT?

The equipment available to DMSE students will vary depending on laboratory affiliation, but could include facilities in:

  • MRL
  • MRSEC 
  • Koch Center
  • ISN
  • RLE
  • Harvard Link CNS
  • MTL
  • Some additional listings can be found here
  • Common laboratory supplies can be bought at the VWR stockroom (56-068), and a limited selection of solvents is available at the VWR solvent room (E25-169)

Department Resources

What email addresses should I use for what, and what lists are available to graduate students in DMSE?

DMSE graduate administration sends a complete list of email lists periodically. Email lists are created through Mailman or Web Moira, and instructions from removing yourself from either type of list can be found here, though note that several email lists are required and you will not be able to unsubscribe.

What should I do if I'm considering switching research groups or have an issue with my advisor, department, group, or other MIT affiliate?

OGE (the Office of Graduate Education) may be a good start. If desired, meetings with the Department Head, an Ombuds Person, an iREF, or a DMSEREF could be helpful as well. The "Institute Resources" section above outlines more potential resources.

What do I need to know to be a TA?

There is a call for TAs prior to each semester that outlines courses, requirements, and financial information. The Teaching Minor is also an option for DMSE graduate students, but this is not a requirement to be a TA.

Once selected as a TA through the application process, there will be a TA training prior to the beginning of class.

What is GMC (the Graduate Materials Council)?

GMC organizes both fun events and informational sessions throughout the year to improve the graduate experience in DMSE.

How do I book a room for a department event, recitation, thesis defense, etc.?

DMSE conference rooms (such as the Chipman Room) are booked through the DMSE website.

The DMSE graduate admins can help you book other rooms around campus.

For last minute rooms, MIT QuickRoom can be used to find available space at a first come first serve basis.