Students applying for graduate study in the Department of Materials Science and Engineering may be admitted for one of three programs of study. These are:
- Admitted for a Master's degree with an option to bypass the Master's and proceed to the doctoral program (the "S.M. Bypass")
- Admitted to the doctoral program
- Admitted to the Master's degree program only
Master's Degree with Option to By-pass (S.M. Bypass)
Applicants expressing interest in a doctorate but who have not already completed a Master's Degree with thesis at MIT or some equivalent institution are usually admitted in this category. The rules for exercising the by-pass option are that the student must take subjects 3.20, 3.21, 3.22 and 3.23 for academic credit and must take the written portion of the General Examination after two academic semesters. Those who receive a Pass on the written portion of the General Exam become "doctoral registrants" and then begin the Qualifying Procedure and need not complete the SM degree. Note: Students admitted in this category who do not take the written portion of the General Exam after two academic semesters lose the "option to by-pass" the SM and must earn the Master's Degree before taking the Written General Exam.
Some students admitted in this category may choose to complete the SM before working on their doctoral degree's thesis research. Such students may still take the written portion of the General Exam after two terms and, having passed it, begin the Qualifying Procedure.
Students who have earned the SM degree with distinction, either in this department or in a comparable program (including thesis) elsewhere, will normally be admitted as registrants for the doctoral degree. These students must complete subjects 3.20, 3.21, 3.22 and 3.23 for academic credit and must take the written portion of the General Examination the first time it is offered after the student has completed two regular academic semesters. Those receiving a Pass then begin the Qualifying Procedure.
Students admitted for the SM only are required to complete that degree before entering the doctoral program. Those wishing to continue for the doctorate should apply to the Graduate Admissions Committee a few months before completing the SM degree. Three letters of recommendation and the student's statement on plans for graduate study are required.