Interdisciplinary Programs

There are three standing interdepartmental doctoral programs involving academic training and requirements outside the department that can be pursued by DMSE doctoral students. These are: the Archaeology and Archaeological Materials Program (AAM); the Program in Polymers and Soft Matter (PPSM); and the Technology and Policy Program/Engineering Systems Division (TPP/ESD). These programs have their own requirements, are overseen by their own standing committees, and may have their own General Examination formats. Generally, at least one-half of the DMSE subject requirements must be satisfied and a DMSE co-advisor must be designated if the principal thesis supervisor is not in DMSE.

Although there is sufficient choice and flexibility in these departmental Academic Programs and standing interdepartmental programs to accommodate the interests and goals of most materials students, provision is also made for the occasional student who may wish to pursue ad hoc academically sound programs that fall outside these options. Such students should address a letter to the Chair of the Departmental Committee on Graduate Students (DCGS) c/o Room 6-107 proposing an Interdepartmental Doctoral Committee, specifying the desired program in detail and giving reason for wishing to pursue it. The academic program must include 3.20 or 3.21 and of 3.22 and 3.23, and at least one-half of the departmental elective subject requirement. At least half of the committee(s) setting the General Exam and supervising the doctoral thesis must be faculty from DMSE.

If the DCGS approves it, the proposed program will be forwarded to the Dean of the Graduate School for approval. Thereafter, the Interdepartmental Doctoral Committee is responsible for setting and evaluating a General Examination and overseeing the thesis research. (The Graduate Education Manual gives detailed rules for pursuing interdepartmental degrees.)

Archaeology and Archaeological Materials (AAM)

AAM studies the field of archaeological materials that utilizes the scientific principles and laboratory methods of materials science and engineering to study the natural and cultural artifacts central to archaeological inquiry. It involves determination of the materials of early and non-industrial societies exploited from the natural environment, their processing, and the engineering design that, together, transformed them into cultural objects. Research includes archaeological fieldwork coupled with laboratory analysis and experiment in an effort to reconstruct the materials technologies of societies known principally from their archaeological remains. The Center for Materials Research in Archaelogy and Ethnology (CMRAE) provides further information on Archaeological Materials.

Program in Polymers and Soft Matter (PPSM)

PPSM, an interdepartmental program in polymers established by the Schools of Engineering and Science, is open to qualified students admitted to the graduate programs of Biological Engineering, Chemical Engineering, Chemistry, Materials Science and Engineering, or Mechanical Engineering. It consists of an initial academic phase in which all students participate (regardless of previous background and research interest), followed by research in a selected area of specialization. The program leads to the doctoral degree; if desired, a Master's degree can be obtained through the student's department.

Technology and Policy Program/Engineering Systems Division (TPP/ESD)

TPP is an interdepartmental Master's degree program centered in the School of Engineering. Students are required to develop proficiency in policy analysis and implementation for technological problems. Specific requirements are (1) an advanced competence in a specific technological area of the student's choice, (2) skills in policy analysis, (3) an understanding of the context of policy issues and (4) project and thesis work in bringing the above together. All students formulate their own detailed individual curriculum, suitable to their prospective careers, in close cooperation with their advisers. Interested students should apply directly to the Technology and Policy Program, Room E40-242A, MIT, Cambridge, MA 02139-4307, (617) 253-7693, although admission by a department in the School of Engineering is also required. E-mail:

Carlos Prieto ’59 is a world-famous cellist who has performed at MIT and with symphony orchestras throughout several countries.