Architecture Design Studios & Workshops
MIT offers a broad range of architectural design studios devoted to projects of increasing complexity. Beginning studios provide the basic architectural design background by way of individual exercises, each designed to address distinct disciplinary techniques and strategies, among them canonical debates and modes of research. Option studios offer a range of expanded problems, integrating spatial, programmatic, and material strategies towards integrative thinking. They give students the chance to sharpen their skills and develop their own attitudes as a prologue to constructing a thesis, essentially honing in on the relationship between intellectual platforms and formal projects. In thesis term, graduate students take their own projects from concept to final product.
MArch students enroll in an architectural design studio every term except thesis semester. A student who enters at the beginning of the full three-and-a-half year program will normally complete a studio in each of 6 semesters, and then a thesis in semester 7. The first three studios are taught as core studios, and the final three studios are advanced option studios. The spring semester Year 2 and 3 studios are taught as vertical studios. Students entering at Year 2, with a two-and-a-half year program for the degree, will take four studios and complete a thesis.
SMArchS students who have professional degrees in architecture are automatically eligible to take option studios.
Architecture Design Studio Workspace
Each student registered for architectural design studio is assigned a studio workspace with his or her instructor’s group. This workstation includes a drafting table with a locker and stool. All Department students have use of the computers and peripherals located in the Building 3, 5 and 7 studio areas during the academic year. Access to the studios is gained by use of the student’s MIT ID card in a card swipe lock.
Each person assigned a studio workstation is responsible for leaving the assigned space clean and undamaged by the cleanout date announced by the facilities manager. A $75 penalty will be assessed directly to the student’s MIT account if these standards are not met. The charge is used to cover costs of trash removal or repair in the event a student leaves anything behind or damages his/her workstation.
Use of Studio Space in Summer
Architecture studios and computer classrooms are closed over the summer for computer and facilities maintenance. Summer studio use is usually restricted to those students who are working with faculty members on research projects that require access to equipment and software not available elsewhere. Students working directly with faculty members on research projects should ask the faculty supervisor to contact Cynthia Stewart to request studio access. Once a request is received, it may take up to a week for the user’s MIT card to be activated for studio access. The studios themselves, and the computer equipment within them, will be usable only with certain restrictions.
Other Student Workspace
The Department makes every effort to offer workspace to its students. However, the type, amount, and location of the space varies from year to year. Some of these areas are communal in nature while others may be shared office space.
Students should refer to the following individuals for specific details:
Studio Allocation Process
Students who have completed the core studios choose their advanced option studios through a studio allocation process. There are two to three sections of each option studio, taught by different instructors. Each instructor gives a short presentation about his or her studio, and the students submit their choices ranked by preference.
Placement in advanced option studio is determined by a student allocation process. A student's name must appear on the studio eligibility list posted by the MArch degree administrator to ensure participation in the studio allocation process. The process attempts to take into account previous studio allocation outcomes for each student, and, in an adjustment phase following the initial drawing, students may submit written requests for a change in studio assignment. See the studio allocation schedule and instruction memo.
Graduate studios are restricted to MArch and SMArchS students in good standing. A list of eligible students to enter the lottery for option studios posted in the Department's headquarters prior to Registration Day. A student who suspects an error has been made on this list should notify the MArch degree administrator immediately. See the eligibility list.
At the beginning of each term, every faculty member who will teach a studio makes a 10-minute presentation of his/her program to the assembled department. This is the opportunity for students to learn about studio offerings before making their lottery choices. The sessions are open to the department community, and everyone is encouraged to stop in.
Extended travel by students (both independent travel and travel under faculty sponsorship) is encouraged during the summer, Independent Activities Period (IAP) and spring break. Spring break travel should not commence before Saturday, and students should be back for their first classes after the break. During term, trips should be scheduled for long weekends in the academic calendar whenever possible. Travel extending from Thursday evening to Sunday evening will also be allowed without special permission (though consideration should be given to Friday subjects). Any travel more extensive will be considered exceptional and must be cleared with the department head.
Studio Culture Policy
The Department of Architecture promotes a learning environment that supports the diverse values of the entire MIT community of students, faculty, administration, staff and guests. Fundamental to the mission of architectural education is the stewardship of this diversity in a positive and respectful learning environment that promotes the highest intellectual integrity and cultural literacy. As architectural design learning is often accomplished through project-based activities during and outside of class times, maintaining this environment at all times is the responsibility of the entire community. Faculty and students should strive to understand and mutually respect the varied commitments of each other and work together to manage expectations of time and effort devoted to assignments, pin-ups, and public reviews.
A workshop is a specific design inquiry taught in a case study format. Selected issues of the built world are explored in depth. The problem may be prototypical or a particular aspect of a whole project. Workshops earn no more than 9 units of credit and may be repeated for credit. Students must have completed the Year 2 core studio or have the permission of the instructor to be eligible for workshop. Only one workshop may be taken in a semester during which a student is registered for studio. Workshops do not substitute for studios but are offered to increase the range of design inquiry.
Students are responsible for cleaning their own studio workstations at the end of each term. A $75 fine is charged to a student's bursar bill if the allocated workstation in the design studio is not left clean and undamaged by the cleanout date announced by the facilities manager.
Every January during the Independent Activities Period (IAP), the Department of Architecture, organizes an internship program for Architecture students to work in local architecture offices. This experience provides students with valuable hands-on training, an opportunity to improve skills, and an inside look at at the workings of an everyday architectural practice.
Internships require a commitment to work full-time for the entire month of January. Student interns earn six pass/fail units. All qualified students are encouraged to participate. Participating students must register for 4.287, Graduate Architecture Internship, during IAP. An internship planning meeting takes place in the fall, prior to IAP for all participants.
Practical Experience Internship
The Department will academically support practical experience internships for professional, full-time work performed in an architectural, engineering, landscape architecture, or planning office, or directly related to an art, architecture or building technology project. The work must be performed for a minimum of six weeks during the time frame of the summer term between the first year of enrollment and graduation. Three credit units are received the subsequent fall term upon registration for 4.190, Practical Experience in Architecture. As of 2016, 4.190 can be repeated for credit (once) over two summers. Please note that if you have reached your degree unit requirement for your degree program by the end of spring term, you are ineligible for Curricular Practical Training (CPT). You may apply for Optional Practical Training (OPT).
Important updates for international students:
- As of 2016, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security has specified a date range within which employment can occur for international students. The earliest and latest dates allowed for internships authorized by CPT in summer 2016 are May 21, 2016 to August 19, 2016. If you must extend your internship beyond this time frame, you will need to also apply for OPT.
- International students must now supply ISO with a copy of the job offer letter from the organization or company. It must include specific information as referenced in this sample letter.
What to do to get clearance from Architecture and receive credit:
→ ALL Students (U.S. Citizens and International Students)
- Secure a job prior to applying for credit.
- Complete the Department Practical Experience Internship Application Form and have it approved/signed by your advisor. Your advisor will review your application for appropriateness in relation to your degree program and will be responsible for submitting a final grade in the fall.
- Submit the approved application form to Tonya Miller in 7-344A (or drop off in Architecture main office in 7-337) by April 22, 2016.
- Register for 4.190 (Practical Experience in Architecture) the fall following the internship. Three units of "G" credit will be given with a satisfactory grade.
- Upon completion of your internship, immediately have your employer complete and return the Practical Experience Internship Employer Evaluation Form directly to Tonya Miller — you cannot provide the evaluation form yourself. Be sure your employer has submitted the form by ADD DATE in the fall. The awarding of required academic credit and grade will be largely based on the evaluation of your employer which your advisor will review and submit a grade.
Additional Information and Requirements for International Students' Application for CPT
- You must be in legal F-1 visa status for one full academic year before you may participate in Curricular Practical Training (CPT).
- If you have reached your degree unit requirement for your degree program by the end of spring term, you are ineligible for Curricular Practical Training (CPT) and must apply for OPT.
- If the time frame of your internship extends outside of the parameters of the MIT summer term, you will need to also apply for OPT.
- Make an appointment with one of the International Students Office Advisors (E39-278) at least three weeks prior to the start date of employment and bring with you:
- A letter provided by Department HQ on Departmental letterhead, addressed to the International Students Office, based on a Department-provided template. You and your advisor should complete the letter template and email it to Tonya Miller. Note that the advisor does not sign the letter until it has been approved by the Department for required content and formatting and printed by the Department on letterhead. Additionally, you must provide the Department with a copy of the signed letter — hard copy or emailed scan. This letter is kept on file in the ISO and the Department as government officials may request to see it.
- A copy of the job offer letter from the organization or company — see sample letter (note that this letter is separate from the letter signed by your advisor referenced above).
- A copy of the I-94 admission record and passport identity page with expiration information.
- A completed ISO CPT worksheet.
- It is critical that you register and receive a grade and credit for CPT. Failure to do so will mean you have been working in the US illegally.
Summary of Required Documents
- Department Application Form signed by your advisor (provide to Department)
- Employer-provided Department Evaluation Form due after completion of internship (provide to Department)
Additional Required Documents for International Students:
- Department letter signed by your advisor on letterhead (return a copy of the signed letter to Department and original letter to ISO)
- Copy of job offer letter — see sample (provide to ISO)
- Copy of the I-94 admission record and passport identify page that includes expiration information (provide to ISO)
- Completed ISO CPT Worksheet (provide to ISO)
Takenaka Summer Internship in Japan
The Takenaka Corporation, one of Japan's leading full-service architecture & construction companies, offers a 3-month internship from June 1 through August 31 in the Architectural Design Section of its Osaka office. As of 2016, MIT has participated in this program for over 20 years, and past interns have found the experience to be professionally and personally rewarding. MIT Students enrolled in the MArch and SMArchS programs are eligible and welcome to apply.
The application consists of:
- A completed application form.
- A one-page statement of interest that includes student's area of interest in architecture, the student's concentration field, and/or proposed thesis topic, and comments on why student wants to participate in the internship.
- A portfolio of student's design work Applications will be reviewed by members of the Department.
For further information, contact Professor William O'Brien Jr..
Deadline for Application: Late February, in Room 7-337.
Announcement of Winner: Mid-March
- 2006 Summer Intern: Omar Rabie
- 2008 Summer Intern: Aftab Jalia
- 2009 Summer Intern: Ogheneruno Okiomah
- 2010 Summer Intern: Lisa Hedstrom
- 2011 Summer Intern: Clay B. Anderson
- 2012 Summer Intern: Menglin Jiang
- 2014 Summer Intern: Caner Oktem
- 2015 Summer Intern: Mary Lynch-Lloyd
- 2016 Summer Intern: Nicole Ashurian
The thesis comprises an original investigation, including a written report in English, on a subject approved by the Department of Architecture in advance. The Institute requires that each graduate student research and write an individual thesis and submit final copies to the Institute as a permanent record. In order for a degree to be awarded, the department must receive two copies of the thesis in accordance with the Specifications for Thesis Preparation published by the MIT Libraries Institute Archives.
Thesis work in all master's degree programs in the Department of Architecture extends over two to three terms. Thesis work in doctoral programs extends over four to six terms. Registration for thesis and pre-thesis subjects differs by degree program.
The thesis process begins with one or more terms of thesis preparation and ends with one or more terms of thesis. Thesis registration (4.THG) for all programs begins once the thesis supervisor and/or committee have approved the thesis proposal. An integral element to a successful thesis lies in choosing an appropriate thesis committee. The
Thesis Committee Guidelines document addresses the composition of a thesis committee for each degree program.
The objective of registering for thesis preparation is to produce an acceptable thesis proposal. Students in every degree program register for the thesis preparation subject(s) specific to their program.
- 4.189, Preparation for MArch Thesis, graded A-F, 9 units. A class taken the penultimate semester of the program.
- 4.288, Preparation for SMArchS Thesis, graded P/D/F, 9 units (6 units for those in Design & Computation) is taken the third semester of the program. Students in Architecture & Urbanism and Design, and Computation, will have a separate classes; students in all other areas take 4.288 as an independent study subject graded by the thesis advisor.
- 4.587, SMArchS Computation Pre-Thesis Preparation, graded P/D/F, 6 units. Taken in the second semester of the program for students in the Design and Computation area.
- 4.686 SMArchS AKPIA Pre-Thesis Preparation, graded P/D/F, 3 units. Taken in the second semester of the program for students in the AKPIA area.
- 4.687 SMArchS HTC Pre-Thesis Preparation, graded P/D/F, 3 units. Taken in the second semester of the program for students in the HTC area.
- 4.388, Preparation for SMACT Thesis, graded A-F, 9 units. A class taken in the second semester of the program. Thesis Preparation will develop a proposal for the written thesis. A ten-page thesis proposal is the final project of this class.
- 4.389, SMACT Thesis Tutorial, graded A-F, 9 units, taken in the fourth semester to support the writing of the thesis book.
- SMACT students will submit a twenty-page thesis outline, select their thesis committee, and submit a SMACT Thesis Proposal Completion form by the end of their third term. These must be submitted to the ACT administrative offices, for distribution to ACT faculty, by May 1.
- 4.481, Building Technology Seminar, graded P/D/F, 3 units. All SMBT students are required to register for 4.481 during the first term of the program. The thesis proposal is expected to be a product of this seminar, but the student may register for 4.488 to complete the proposal.
- 4.488, Preparation for SMBT Thesis, graded P/D/F, variable units. 4.488 is an independent study subject graded by the thesis advisor and taken the second term of the program, if necessary to complete the thesis proposal.
Dissertation and Doctoral Programs
- 4.481, Building Technology Seminar, graded P/D/F, 3 H-level units. All BT/PhD students must register for 4.481 during the first term of the program. The thesis proposal is expected to be a product of this seminar, but the student may register for 4.489 to complete the proposal.
- 4.489, Preparation for Building Technology PhD Thesis, graded P/D/F, variable units. An independent study subject graded by the thesis advisor and taken the second and third term of the program, if necessary to complete the thesis proposal.
- 4.589, Preparation for Design and Computation PhD Thesis, graded P/D/F, variable units. An optional independent study subject graded by the thesis advisor and generally taken after coursework is completed. 4.589 is taken as preparation for the general examination and/or the dissertation proposal.
- 4.683, Preparation for HTC Qualifying Paper, graded P/D/F, variable units. Required of HTC PhD students as a prerequisite for work on the doctoral dissertation. The qualifying paper is a scholarly article fit to be published in a peer-reviewed journal that is the result of research in the history, theory and criticism of architecture and art. Topic may not be in the area of the proposed thesis. Work is done in consultation with HTC faculty, in accordance with the HTC PhD Degree Program Guidelines.
- 4.684, Preparation for HTC Major Exam, graded P/D/F, variable units. Required of HTC PhD students as a prerequisite for work on the doctoral dissertation. The Major Exam covers a historically broad area of interest and includes components of history, historiography, and theory. Preparation for the exam will focus on four or five themes agreed upon in advance by the student and the examiner, and are defined by their area of teaching interest. Work is done in consultation with HTC faculty, in accordance with the HTC PhD Degree Program Guidelines.
- 4.685, Preparation for HTC Minor Exam, graded P/D/F, variable units. Required of HTC PhD students as a prerequisite for work on the doctoral dissertation. The Minor Exam focuses on a specific area of specialization through which the student might develop their particular zone of expertise. Work is done in consultation with HTC faculty, in accordance with the HTC PhD Degree Program Guidelines.
- 4.689, Preparation for History, Theory and Criticism PhD Thesis, graded P/D/F, variable units. Required of HTC PhD students as a prerequisite for work on the doctoral dissertation. Prior to candidacy, doctoral students are required to write and orally defend a proposal laying out the scope of their thesis, its significance, a survey of existing research and literature, the methods of research to be adopted, a bibliography and plan of work. Work is done in consultation with HTC faculty, in accordance with the HTC PhD Degree Program Guidelines. Students in this program do not register for thesis (4.THG) until all requirements except thesis have been completed.
Once the thesis proposal is approved and the degree administrators have been notified, students register for thesis and continue to do so each term until graduation. Students who do not have an approved thesis proposal may not register for thesis. The number of units varies by degree program. (Upon submission of the thesis, 12 units of the grade awarded for 4.THG are entered into the student's cumulative grade point average.)
MArch students Register for 24 units of 4.THG. Except for architectural design studio, other subjects needed to complete the degree requirements may be taken simultaneously. Five reviews of student work lead to the final thesis. The department prepares a detailed MArch review schedule prior to the fall term:
- Content Review—Week 1
- Schematic Design Review—Week 4
- Public Mid-Review—Week 8
- Penultimate Review—Week 11
- Final Review—Week 15
SMArchS students register for 36 units of 4.THG in their fourth and final term. All subjects needed to complete the degree (except architecture design studio) may be taken simultaneously. Three major reviews of the student's thesis work are held with the advisor(s) and all readers—the first in Week 7 is scheduled by the discipline area, the second is scheduled by the student with the entire thesis committee for a formal thesis defense in Week 11, and the public final review in Week 13. The department degree administrator schedules reviews. SMArchS Thesis Proposal Form.
SMBT students register for 4.THG upon approval of the thesis proposal and continue to do so each term until graduation. Units will vary according to the number of other subjects being taken. A normal course load for a term is not more than 48 credit units. SMBT students are expected to schedule a content review directly with the thesis advisor to take place near the end of the final term. At this point the thesis should be substantially complete; the content review marks the point at which the student may turn to production of the final thesis.
SMACT students register for 24 units of 4.THG in their fourth and final term. Thesis is taken in conjunction with 4.390, Art, Culture and Technology Studio, which is taken each term, and 4.389, SMACT Thesis Tutorial, which is taken the final two terms. Thesis reviews are scheduled within the forum of 4.390, which is restricted to SMACT students.
PhD students register for 48 units of 4.THG for terms in which they are resident and not taking other subjects. Students who have been granted nonresident status register for 36 units of 4THG only (nonresident status is not permitted in the term during which the thesis is submitted.) Regular meetings with members of the dissertation committee to review thesis progress is expected and left to the student to schedule. At the conclusion of the thesis, PhD students are required to hold an oral defense of their dissertation. This defense is scheduled directly with the thesis committee, and the date is reported to the degree administrator.
Policy on Incompletes and Thesis Semester
MArch, SMArchS and SMACT students entering thesis term may have no more than one incomplete in a subject required for the degree, and that incomplete can be no older than the term previous to thesis. Students with several incompletes and/or incompletes from terms further back will be denied registration until those subjects are completed and graded. This policy applies to subjects required by curriculum or needed for units toward the degree.
Policy on Credit and Thesis
MArch students must have their curriculum credits in order by the end of the thesis prep. No substitutions or petitions for advanced standing or credit will be accepted or processed during the thesis term.
Thesis for Dual Degrees
Thesis research for dual degrees must be done under the supervision of an approved member of one of the two participating departments, with the other department providing a co-advisor or thesis reader. Students expecting to receive two advanced degrees must submit all thesis materials to the department in which they register during their final semester and are bound by the thesis specifications and deadlines of that department.
Thesis Guidelines and Deadlines
The Thesis Committee Guidelines document addresses the composition of a thesis committee for each degree program. The thesis committee is established and approved before thesis registration is permitted.
- Specifications for Thesis Preparation is published by the MIT Libraries Institute Archives to assist students in the preparation of the thesis document. The Institute is committed to the preservation of the student’s thesis because it is both a requirement of the MIT degree and a record of original research.
- The department upholds the requirements of the Institute specifications. In addition, the Department of Architecture requires that each thesis contain a page listing the names and titles of each member of the thesis committee. This page is to be inserted between the title page and the abstract. Students should review the thesis checklist before submitting the thesis to the department degree administrator.
- At the beginning of the final thesis term, all students must file an online Application for Advanced Degree at MIT WebSIS. The deadline is the end of the first week of term.
- Graduate Policies and Procedures can be found on a website provided by the Office of the Dean for Graduate Education (ODGE). This document offers additional information on the thesis process, including joint theses, restrictions on thesis publication, patent protection, privacy and security, intellectual property policy and thesis holds.
- The deadline for submitting the approved, archival copies of the thesis is set by the Institute and can be found on the MIT Academic Calendar. Theses for Master's programs that require a final public review will have a later submissions date. Consult the department Degree Administrator. Only minor errors in formatting and proofing will be subject to change after this date and only at the discretion of the department administrators.
All theses are submitted to the department degree administrators:
Nonresident Doctoral Research
A doctoral student who has completed all requirements except for the dissertation may apply for nonresident thesis research status. Students granted this status pay approximately five percent of regular tuition for the first three terms of nonresident status and 15 percent for the following three terms. Students are limited to six terms of nonresident status.
Permission to become a nonresident doctoral candidate must be sought from the dean of graduate students. The request form is submitted to the Office of the Dean of Graduate Education (ODGE) at least one month before the start of term (a fee is assessed for late requests). The student’s thesis advisor and the department’s graduate officer must approve the application prior to submission.
Approval can be granted for two successive regular terms in the same academic year. (For example, Fall 2016 and Spring 2017, but not Spring 2017 and Fall 2018.) Registration as a nonresident student is not required during the summer. Students must reapply each year for additional terms of nonresident status up to a maximum of six terms. Students must return to regular status to defend and submit their doctoral dissertation.
To be eligible to apply for non-resident thesis research status, students must be:
- Registered in a doctoral program
- In residence as a regular graduate student for at least four regular terms
- Completed all degree requirements except for the dissertation and has submitted required paperwork to the Degree Administrator
- Must have an approved thesis proposal
Privileges of a Nonresident Student
Nonresident students are considered full-time students. They may retain their MIT IDs and are permitted access to the libraries and athletic facilities. They continue to have the same student health plan options as resident students, although, students are financially responsible for their own health insurance.
However, nonresident students are NOT eligible to:
- use offices, laboratories, design studios or computer facilities in the Department unless specifically approved
- reside in student housing
- serve as graduate resident tutors
- accept employment of any kind at MIT
For the first three semesters of nonresident status, a student may receive fellowship support from MIT for an amount up to 5% of the cost of tuition per semester. In subsequent terms of nonresident status, students are not eligible to receive financial support from any MIT department, lab or cost center. This includes fellowships, research or teaching assistantships or any work-study programs.
Although nonresident students are responsible for payment of tuition and appropriate fees, US citizens or Permanent Resident students may apply for federal and alternative loans. Current loans may be adjusted because tuition will be decreased to nonresident levels. Questions regarding loans should be addressed to Student Financial Services.
Thesis Research in Absentia
Thesis research is ordinarily done in residence at the Institute. However, on occasion, work away from the Institute may be essential for such tasks as gathering data. Students with compelling educational reasons to do so may therefore apply to take one or two semesters in absentia.
A proposal for thesis research to be done in absentia must be approved by both the faculty of the specific PhD degree program, the Department's graduate officer and the dean of the graduate school.
Criteria for thesis in absentia include, but are not limited to:
- Evidence that this opportunity will provide continuing intellectual growth
- Evidence of completion of required coursework and all degree requirements except the thesis.
- The thesis must continue to be supervised by an Institute faculty member or by a senior academic staff member approved by the department
- The student must be registered as a regular student during the final term
- The student must devote full time to thesis research while absent from MIT
Students approved for thesis in absentia will continue to be registered as full-time students and receive tuition plus their normal fellowship stipends.
The proposal needs to include the following and submitted to the PhD degree administrator in the Department:
- MIT ID
- Current address
- Current phone
- Current e-mail
- Degree program
- Completion date of general exams
- Completion date of thesis proposal and working title for thesis
- Proposed terms in absentia
- Expected degree date
- Reasons for requesting thesis research in absentia—the opportunity for continued intellectual growth must be evident
- Thesis advisor’s name and title
- Thesis advisor’s signature of approval
- Degree program director’s signature of approval
- Graduate officer’s signature of approval
- A copy of the signed thesis proposal
The approved and signed thesis proposal must be attached to the research-in-absentia proposal before the latter is submitted to the Department and subsequently, the Office of the Dean for Graduate Education (ODGE).
Financial Aid Awards (First Year Graduate Students)
When an offer of admission is accompanied by a financial aid offer, those details are described in the letter of admission. Students are encouraged to review the terms and conditions. In general, awards to PhD candidates include a fellowship and stipend component, and awards to master’s degree students carry tuition support only.
Financial aid offers are guaranteed for the length of the residency requirement of the degree. In order to retain departmental funding, a student must be registered full-time, hold a 4.0 cumulative GPA at the end of each academic year, fulfill the Department's English as a Second Language requirement, and in the case of MArch candidates, make satisfactory progress through the studio sequence. Students do not need to reapply each year to retain the offer made upon admission.
MIT tuition and fees are posted by the Registrar. Tuition awards are applied directly to a student’s Bursar’s account to reduce the cost of tuition. Fellowship stipends/Teaching Assistantship/Research Assistantship salaries are paid directly to the student on a monthly basis and are taxable by United States tax laws.
Student Accounts coordinates the billing and collects payment of all official Institute charges, including on-campus housing, medical insurance, tuition and the Student Activity Fee. Questions or concerns about student accounts, billing, charges and/or payments should be directed to the Student Financial Center.
Tuition payment in full, or a satisfactory arrangement for payment, is due in advance of Registration Day each term. Students may opt to pay tuition in monthly installments under the Bursary Payment Plan, but there is a finance charge for this plan.
Graduate students do not need to reapply each year to retain the financial offer made upon admission, but must be enrolled full-time and be in good academic standing.
Financial Aid Awards (Continuing Graduate Students)
A central component of our financial aid plan for continuing MArch, SMArchS, and SMBT students is the ability to apply for additional tuition support through Merit Fellowships.
(ACT will determine the policy and procedures for second-year SMACT students separately).
Each spring we convene one application process for two types of tuition fellowships:
- Master’s degree students admitted without a guaranteed tuition fellowship will be able to apply for a limited number of merit-based, half-tuition fellowships, for the remainder of the degree program.
- All continuing master's degree students will be eligible to apply for a limited number of one-year merit-based, full-tuition, fellowships.
Applications must be submitted in digital format. The application deadline for AY16-17 is in early June. Recipients are notified by late June.
Merit Fellowship Application Instructions
Application Process and Guidelines Merit-Based Tuition Fellowships for Continuing Master’s Degree Candidates (MArch, SMArchS, SMBT)
Minimum Eligibility Requirements:
• be enrolled as a full-time student, and have remaining semesters of financial aid eligibility, in one or both terms of 2016-2017.
• be enrolled in Architecture as their home department.
• have completed two semesters of the master’s degree prior to Fall 2016.
• hold a minimum of a 4.0 cumulative grade point average.
• have completed any English as a Second Language requirement.
• made satisfactory progress through the design studio sequence (MArch candidates only).
1) Application Form.
2) A digital copy of a project or paper produced during your graduate education at MIT. Choose ONE of the following:
a) a design or creative project (maximum 10 pages)
b) a research paper from a class or one submitted to a professional conference (maximum 20 pages)
Documentation of the design or creative project may take the form of images, drawings, or web-site pages (no links please). The project or paper is intended to give the selection committee a sample of your work. Do not spend an excessive amount of time producing this document; more is not better. Simply include an example of your best work, and do not exceed the page guidelines above. Keep in mind that faculty will be reviewing applications electronically, so think in terms of average screen size per page.
3) A recommendation from two Department of Architecture faculty members (permanent faculty or visitors), using a standardized form. All you need to do is to secure the faculty member’s agreement to submit the Faculty Recommendation Form.
Note: please do NOT complete/save form using Firefox. Mac users should complete and save the form using Safari. Google Chrome is recommended for PC users. Save the file to your computer by clicking "File Save As" using the following naming format: A-REC-B.pdf, where A is the student’s last name and B is the faculty member’s (yours) last name. Email completed forms to Andreea O'Connell, by the deadline.
Step 1: Prepare your work and complete the Application Form.
Step 2: Save your work (project or paper) as X-TYPE.pdf, where X is your MIT username. Your username is your email address without "@mit.edu". For example: jtkirk-WORK.pdf
Step 3: Save the file to your dropbox folder, and send the link to Andreea O'Connell at email@example.com.
Submissions are final. Once your files are uploaded, no changes can be made. Please email firstname.lastname@example.org if something goes wrong during the transfer process. Submission deadline: Completed applications must be uploaded by 5:00 pm, Monday, June 6, 2016. Recipients will be notified by July 1, 2016. ￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼
MIT has a limit on the total amount of financial support a student may receive from/through MIT. All graduate students are limited to full tuition in any combination of external tuition awards, department tuition awards, or those associated with a Research Assistantship. In the case when obtaining a Research Assistantship or external Fellowship results in exceeding this limit, it will supplant any tuition award offered under the program described above. The student will not forfeit eligibility for tuition support in other terms for which aid has been promised.
Grants, Awards and Prizes
The Department of Architecture sponsors a number of special awards and travel fellowships throughout the year. These include, but are not limited to, travel opportunities to support thesis or dissertation research, participation in a conference (for PhD students only), and six-month internship opportunities to work abroad in an architectural firm. Awards and prizes are given at the end of each academic year in recognition of outstanding scholarship and promise. Most include a financial award. View Grants, Awards and Prizes
Other MIT opportunities may be found on the Office of the Dean of Graduate Education (ODGE) website, under Financial Aid:
Teaching Assistants (TA)
The duties of a TA include assisting faculty members in grading homework, quizzes, classroom and laboratory instruction, preparing apparatus or material for demonstrations, and conducting tutorials and discussion sections. They may also include tasks such as ordering supplies for design studio projects, preparation of class readers, contacting outside reviewers, reserving special lecture and jury spaces, securing audio visual equipment, etc. There is a mandatory TA training for all TAs.
A full-time (100%) TA pays $12,231 per semester and requires 20 hours of work per week at the master's level. Half-time TAs (10 hours per week) are also available, with a corresponding rate of pay of $6,115 per semester and 8-10 hours of work per week. Note that these positions are salaried and not hourly jobs, so the number of hours quoted may vary from week to week.
TA salaries are set by the Department in conjunction with Institute guidelines and are paid at the end of each month. The Institute is obliged to withhold Federal and Massachusetts State income taxes, and the appropriate forms must be filed before payment can be made.
Instructors have the opportunity to pre-select their TAs before the start of the term. A link to the list of filled and open TA positions is available at the top of this section. Students interested in any open position must complete the TA application form, also located at the top of this section. Complete a form for each position and send the form to each instructor noted (see directory for email address).
First preference is given to students enrolled in graduate programs in the Department of Architecture. If there is no Architecture graduate student available or qualified for the position, next preference will be given to undergraduate students enrolled as majors in the Department.
Note: some graduate students are admitted on a TA/tuition package, which carries a TA salary plus a tuition component. These TA assignments are made by the discipline group directors and communicated directly to Architecture Headquarters, therefore, these students do not need to submit an application. All other guidelines, such as the 20 hour per week work requirement, taxability of salary, completion of forms, maximum funding guidelines, etc., are applicable.
Research Assistants (RA)
The principal duty of an RA is to contribute, under supervision, to a program of departmental or interdepartmental research. RAs are compensated on the basis of the time devoted to the research activities. RAs offer students the chance to participate as junior colleagues of the faculty in ongoing research; this experience frequently influences the choice of thesis topic.
RAs are compensated on the basis of the time devoted to research; the appointment generally carries a tuition component in addition to the salary. A 100% graduate RA appointment includes payment of full tuition and carries a salary of $12,231/term for master's degree candidates, and $13,387/term for Ph.D. candidates. A 100% RA appointment carries an expectation of 20 hours of work per week. Partial RAs are also possible with a corresponding reduction in workload and financial remuneration. Note that these positions are salaried and not hourly jobs, so the number of hours required may vary slightly from week to week.
RAs are paid directly through a sponsored research project and, in general, are scarce in Architecture; however, they can materialize at any time during the year. Occasionally, faculty members will advertise the availability of these positions, but will generally contact students directly whose interests and skills are appropriate to the particular research project.
RA salaries are set by the Department in conjunction with Institute guidelines and are paid at the end of each month. The Institute is obliged to withhold Federal and Massachusetts State income taxes, and the appropriate forms must be filed before payment can be made.
The Department also offers employment in a number of hourly positions which pay $15/hr. These positions can be short-term or a full semester in length and include such positions as audio visual assistants, shop monitors, Registration Day and Orientation aides, tour guides, lecture series support, etc.
Students with hourly positions are paid on a weekly basis, upon the submission of electronic time cards approved by the supervisor of the position. The student's supervisor must contact the fiscal officer in the Headquarters Office in order to be put on the weekly payroll and students must complete the appropriate paperwork (e.g., I-9).
Hourly positions are posted prior to the beginning of each term. To express interest, contact the staff member responsible for the position.
Maximum Funding Guidelines
MIT limits the total amount of financial support a student may receive from/through MIT. All graduate students are limited to a maximum of a full stipend and full tuition per term. When the receipt of a Research Assistantship or an internal or external fellowship would push a student over the funding limit, the Research Assistantship or fellowship supplants the departmental award for that term. The student does not forfeit eligibility for financial support in other terms for which aid has been promised.
All master's degree students are limited to a maximum of 20 hours of work per week, a stipend of $12,231 in any combination of TA/RA salaries/fellowship stipends, and full tuition, per semester. (These guidelines apply to Ph.D. candidates but the stipend limit is $13,387/term.)
It is possible to carry more than one type of appointment (for instance a partial RA and partial TA), or combine two partial appointments of the same type (for instance, two half-time TAs), or even combine a partial TA or RA with an hourly position, providing the combination does not exceed the guidelines stated above.
One exception to the 20 hour work week limitation can be made for students who are United States citizens, and then only with the permission of the faculty TA/RA supervisor and the department's Administrative Officer. Such students may be eligible to work on campus up to 10 additional hours per week on the hourly payroll on an occasional basis throughout the term. Under no circumstances, however, will the Payroll Office issue payment for additional work beyond this ten hour per week limit.
Regulations for international students are stricter due to US immigration laws. International students are not authorized to work more than 20 hours per week in any combination of types of employment during the academic year. Summer (June 1 through August 31) and Independent Activities Period (IAP) (January 1 - 31) are not considered a period of regular enrollment for immigration purposes; thus, during these times international students may work on campus in addition to their full-time RA or TA, and then only with the permission of the RA/TA faculty supervisor.
Students are advised to confirm eligibility requirements before accepting more than one position. International students should also contact MIT's International Students Office (web.mit.edu/iso) for more information on determining how/if visa status and the Department of Homeland Security regulations affect employment eligibility.
Maximum Employment Guidelines
Graduate students may hold a maximum of one full-time appointment during term. A full-time appointment is defined as the equivalent of 20 hours per week. Normally this takes the form of one full-time TA or RA appointment. Students may combine partial appointments provided the combined hours do not exceed 20 per week. Students are advised to check with the Department of Architecture to confirm eligibility requirements before accepting more than one position.
Graduate students who hold full-time Research or Teaching Assistantships or who receive full support on a fellowship are not usually eligible for additional employment. A US citizen or permanent resident who applies for work in addition to his or her full-time RA or TA appointment may be permitted additional compensated employment at MIT up to a maximum of 10 hours per week. But, this is a rare occurrence and requires prior permission from the faculty TA/RA supervisor and the departmentís administrative officer.
Regulations for international students are stricter due to US immigration laws. International students must be full-time registered students; their work cannot exceed 20 hours per week when school is in session; and those who hold full-time Research or Teaching Assistantships are not allowed to take any other employment on or off campus.
Note that the summer term is not considered a period of regular enrollment for immigration purposes; thus, from June through August only, international students may work on campus in addition to their full-time RA or TA positions. However, they may do so only if they are registered for the summer and have the permission of the RA/TA faculty supervisor.
International students should contact MITís International Students Office (ISO) for more information on determining how/if visa status and US Department of Homeland Security regulations affect employment eligibility.
Employment Outside the Department
On-campus and some off-campus job listings are posted at the Student Services Center, Room 11-120, or online at the Student Financial Services Office. On-campus jobs are available in technical and non-technical fields within academic departments, laboratories and administrative offices.
MIT offers a number of student loan programs, and also participates in alternative loan programs. The Office of Student and Parent Loan Services, assists students in financing their education and with repayment. Loans are generally limited to graduate students who are United States or Canadian citizens or permanent residents; however, continuing international students may apply for a loan providing certain criteria are met.
MIT will authorize only loan amounts that, when combined with family resources, financial aid and other assistance, do not exceed the cost of attendance. Standard student budgets reflecting these costs have been developed by Student Financial Services and are used to determine financial need.
Application forms and specific information may be obtained from Student and Parent Loan Services, Room 11-320, 617-258-8600, or http://web.mit.edu/sfs/loans/index.html.
Requirements for Student Employment
All students who work on campus must have a social security number (http://web.mit.edu/iso/students/ssn.shtml) and complete the following forms which are available from the Student Services Center (11-120) or on the web, http://sfs.mit.edu/forms.
I9 Employment Eligibility Verification
Everyone in the United States, not just students, must complete the Employment Eligibility Verification Form (I-9) from the Department of Homeland Security. The most common documents needed to complete this form are an original Social Security card, birth certificate (certified copies are acceptable) or passport.
Federal law mandates that your US. Workers must provide a completed I-9 form,and original document(s) identified in Lists A, B and C of the form. You cannot work or be paid until you provide the I-9 form and documents to the Welcome Center (W20-021H). Detailed instructions and required documentation are available at: http://hrweb.mit.edu/i-9.
W4 & M4: Federal and State Tax Forms
By law, the Institute must withhold federal and Massachusetts state taxes from all salaries. All individuals who receive salary payments must complete the federal (W4) and state (M4) forms. After the start date of your appointment, you can complete tax withholding forms and arrange for direct deposit online at: https://atlas.mit.edu/atlas/Home.action.
Direct Deposit Authorization Form
All MIT employees, including students, are required to have their paychecks directly deposited to a US bank account that they designate. (Visit the Atlas site, go to About Me/Direct Deposit Preferences.)
Inventions & Proprietary Information Agreement
Graduate Research Assistants must also sign the MIT Inventions and Proprietary Information Agreement (IPIA), acknowledging that all inventions created at MIT, with MIT funds, become the property of MIT. Signing the form is required, and it should be submitted to the headquarters of the Department of Architecture.
Students should have up-to-date portfolios. Among other things, portfolios are needed to apply for departmental travel awards and prizes. It is in the student's interest to update his/her portfolio after each term.
Graduate Academic Review Policy
All of the following graduate degree programs within the Department of Architecture are expected to comply with the stated policy: PhD, SMArchS, SMACT, SMBT, MArch.
Minimum Academic Standards and Ratings
Graduate students in the Department of Architecture are considered to be making satisfactory academic progress towards their degrees if they maintain a grade point average of 4.0 or higher and meet their degree requirements and the Department English as a Second Language requirement. In addition, MArch candidates must make satisfactory progress through the studio sequence, and PhD students must progress satisfactorily through their additional requirements (qualifying paper, language exams, major and minor exams, thesis proposal, etc.) on a timeline determined by each of the PhD programs. Continuing registration and financial aid is based on satisfactory academic performance.
End of Term Academic Reviews
It is the responsibility of the academic advisors, degree program heads, academic administrators and the Graduate Officer to monitor the academic progress of the graduate students and to make recommendations at the end of the term if any action is necessary.
- The academic administrators will send a reminder to all advisors to review their advisee’s academic record on WebSIS after the final grade deadline for the term (last week in December for fall term and last week of May for spring term).
- The academic administrators upon request will distribute copies of the term grade summary report generated by the Registrar to discipline groups (fall term summary reports are published the first week of January; spring term reports the last week of May) .
- Discipline areas will meet to discuss student academic progress as needed. If there is a need for action it is brought to the attention of the academic administrator in charge.
- Design studio faculty will have a regularly scheduled meeting the last week of the term to discuss the academic progress of the MArch students. All MArch registration officers, graduate studio instructors, and all faculty teaching non-studio required subjects are required to attend this meeting.
- The academic administrators and the Graduate Officer meet to decide on recommended action for the Institute Committee on Graduate Programs (CGP) grade meeting. The CGP meeting, chaired by the Dean of Graduate Education, takes place the second week of IAP for fall grades and the week of Commencement for spring grades. The Dean pays particular attention to students with term GPA ratings below 3.5 and students who are taking an unusually long time to complete their degrees.
- The end-of-term pre-grades design faculty meeting reviews studio progress based on available studio grades and faculty discussion. Faculty as a whole will decide upon appropriate action. Because this meeting is held prior to the posting of all final grades, adjustments can be made subsequently by the student’s advisor and the administrator.
Informing the Student of Inadequate Progress
Depending upon the degree of a student's academic problems or issues, one or more of the following actions will be taken:
- Advisor meeting (advisor + student) The advisor will call a meeting to discuss difficulties in academic progress, the perceived causes, and identify steps needed to be taken towards improvement. Some degree programs provide mid-term evaluations and/or final evaluations, which will be taken into account.
- Department warning letter (advisor + student) This letter is used to let a student know there is an academic deficiency or lack of progress through the degree program and outlines what the student needs to do to improve. Students are given an opportunity to respond in writing and the advisor will schedule a meeting prior to the start of the next term to discuss steps needed towards improvement. The letter is crafted by the degree administrator and the advisor and signed by the Department Head.
- Dean’s warning letter (advisor + student + program director) This letter is used to let a student know there is a more serious academic deficiency and outlines what the student needs to do in order to improve his or her academic performance. Students are given an opportunity to respond in writing and the advisor will schedule a meeting that includes the student and the program director either before or after the Dean’s warning is issued but prior to the start of the next term. The degree administrator customizes the letter, with input from the advisor and the program director. The Dean of Graduate Education signs it.
If the student does not make satisfactory progress the next term, the department may request a required withdrawal.
- Dean’s required withdrawal letter (advisor + student + program director + department head) This action is taken when a student experiences serious academic difficulties over a period of two or more terms. Generally a student has previously received both a Departmental and a Dean’s warning letter. For every student who is required to withdraw, the advisor will schedule a meeting prior to issuing the withdrawal letter that includes the student, the director of the degree program and/or the department head. In addition to the letter from the Dean of Graduate Education, the Department will issue a letter documenting the reason(s) for required withdrawal and the terms (if any) under which the student may apply for readmission to the same program.
Withdrawal and Readmission
A medical withdrawal may be granted or required for mental and/or physical conditions that interfere with a student's ability to participate in campus life including their ability to complete or make satisfactory progress towards academic goals. The policies and procedures for requesting a medical withdrawal and return from medical withdrawal are outlined by the Institute and handled by the Graduate Students Office. Students in need may initiate procedures with their graduate administrator. Approval is assessed term by term. The Department may not be able to guarantee funding beyond two terms of leave.
Graduate degree programs should be completed without interruption. If there are compelling reasons for withdrawal that are supported by the advisor and faculty within that student's degree program, a request is to be submitted to the administrator of the degree program. Approval may be given for one or two terms without affecting initial funding package. International students must notify the International Students Office prior to departing MIT.
Students should submit the readmission application to the Institute, two months prior to return, through the student's degree administrator. Applications must be approved by the student's degree program advisor and the Department. If the period of interruption exceeds five years, the request must be approved by the student's degree program faculty, the Department's Committee on Graduate Students, and the Dean for Graduate Education.
The Graduate Student Office website describes policies and procedures for withdrawal and readmission:
Grades and Incompletes
Students can access their most current grade report on WebSIS. Most subjects in the Department of Architecture are graded with letter grades—A through D are considered passing grades, but students may need to repeat subjects in which they earned the grade of C or below. Graduate and undergraduate grading systems are slightly different and students should familiarize themselves accordingly.
Some classes, by prearrangement with the Institute, are graded pass/fail. In addition, graduate students may elect to register for one subject per term in which they receive pass/fail grading rather than regular grades. The subject cannot be used to fulfill degree requirements, including the required subject units for any degree program. During their junior and senior years, undergraduate students may register for up to a total of two elective subjects in which they choose to receive a P/D/F rather than regular grades. Unit credit is given for subjects graded P/F, however, these classes are not included in the grade point average (GPA).
Graduate students registered for undergraduate subjects will not receive credit units for the class regardless of the grade received. The subject may still satisfy a degree requirement when approved by the advisor and degree administrator. For more information, consult the degree administrator.
A student may request an "I" grade in a class where only a minor part of the requirement is incomplete and a passing grade is expected. The instructor ultimately decides whether to allow an "I" grade and sets the deadline for completion of work. The instructor will also provide a default grade to be submitted if the work is not completed by the deadline.
Experience indicates that it is infinitely preferable to take a class load that can be completed during the semester than to extend the previous term's work into the current term. Therefore, the deadline will be set no later than Add Date of the subsequent term, and it is highly recommended that the work be completed prior to the start of the new fall or spring term.
When the student submits the final work, the instructor will send a confirmation to the student that it has been received and submit the final grade to the Registrar. If the student does not submit the final work by the deadline, the instructor will send the default grade to the Registrar.
MArch, SMArchS and SMACT students entering thesis semester may have no more than one incomplete in a subject required for the degree, and that incomplete can be no older than the semester previous to thesis.
Students with several incompletes and/or incompletes from semesters further back will be denied registration until those incompletes are finished and graded. This policy applies to incompletes in subjects required by curriculum or needed for units toward the degree.
If a student requests an incomplete and the instructor agrees, the instructor is requested to set a specific deadline for work to be submitted and provide a default grade at the time that all term grades are due. That deadline is likely to be set prior to the start of the subsequent regular term in order to prevent hidden workload in the new term. The deadline will be set no later than the 5th week of the subsequent regular term (coinciding with ADD DATE) in accordance with Institute policy.
• A Course 4 graduate student who requests and receives an incomplete grade is expected to complete the work by the deadline date set by the instructor, which will be no later than the Institute deadline (fifth week of the following regular term). An incomplete grade should not be given unless the student requests the extension.
• At the time that the Course 4 instructor assigns an incomplete grade to a Course 4 graduate student, the instructor will also submit a default grade to be used if the work is not completed by the instructorʼs deadline.
• The instructor will inform the student of this deadline and the default grade stating that the default grade will be submitted to the Registrar in the absence of final work by the Institute deadline (Add Date of the subsequent regular term).
• When the student submits final work, the instructor will send a confirmation to the student that it has been received.
• If the student has not submitted final work by the set deadline, the instructor will submit the default grade to the Registrar.
Preventing and Addressing Sexual Misconduct
Any student, faculty, or staff member who has concerns about gender discrimination, including any concerns pertaining to sexual misconduct, is encouraged to seek the assistance of those listed below. Coordinators will provide information on resources for assistance and options to address concerns. Those options may vary depending on the nature of the complaint, whether the Complainant is a student, faculty, or staff member, the wishes of the Complainant regarding confidentiality, and whether the Complainant prefers to proceed formally or informally. Together, the advisors play an integral role in carrying out the Instituteís commitment to provide a positive learning, teaching, and working environment for the entire community. You can reach out to anyone listed below for an informed conversation or to report a concern. For any questions regarding Title IX options, please email TitleIX@mit.edu.
Institute Title IX Coordinator
Title IX Investigator
For Undergraduate Students:
Senior Associate Dean for Student Life
For Graduate Students
Assistant Dean for
For School of Architecture and Planning: