DMSE graduate students are eligible to receive financial support for their studies from a variety of sources, including outside fellowship programs (government fellowships, private-company sponsorship, or competitive fellowship opportunities), special programs, or departmental arrangements.

Financial support from DMSE can take three forms: a research assistantship (RA), a teaching assistantship (TA), or a departmental fellowship. The department offers fellowships to incoming doctoral track graduate students in their first semester. After that, support may be from RAs, TAs, or fellowships.

Here are some specifics about funding opportunities at DMSE:

  • Doctoral track students with outside fellowships that provide less support than our own full awards or appointments are eligible to receive supplemental funding. This supplemental funding will be in the form of a fellowship in the first term and may take the form of a partial TA or RA appointment or a supplemental fellowship award in subsequent terms.
  • Master of Science only students are eligible to seek RA or TA support.
  • RA and TA appointments are only available to full-time resident students registered for an advanced degree.
  • Financial support situations vary; after admissions decisions are made, admitted students can contact the DMSE graduate academic office with specific questions.

For more information concerning financial assistance, refer to the MIT Bulletin or the Office of Graduate Education.

The principal duty of a research assistant (RA) is to contribute (under supervision and direction of a faculty member, principal investigator, or other designated individual) to a program of departmental, interdepartmental, or sponsored research. This contribution can include but is not limited to the gathering and analysis of data or evidence; the development of theoretical analyses and models; and the production or publication of scholarly journals and research reports. The appointment is made with the understanding that the overall work experience will contribute to the professional training of the employee.

Applicants are advised not to contact DMSE faculty about research assistantships until after they have been admitted.

Graduate students holding research assistant appointments must register as full time resident students and are charged full tuition during the period of appointment. The RA appointment comprises a monthly salary as well as a tuition scholarship which is credited directly to the student’s account. Research Assistants are compensated on the basis of the time devoted to research activities. A 100 percent graduate RA appointment typically includes payment of full tuition for the period of the appointment. A 100 percent research assistantship requires no more than 20 hours of effort per week. MIT recognizes that graduate students may spend additional time conducting research in support of their academic studies. International students considering an RA appointment should review information regarding on-campus work.

Partial appointments (for effort less than 100 percent) are also possible, and are frequently used to supplement outside fellowships, scholarships, or teaching assistantships. Students who receive financial support from multiple sources must do so in accordance with Institute and department guidelines.

The research assistant observes Institute holidays and is entitled to a vacation of two weeks per calendar year. Specific details concerning work hours and duties and the scheduling of vacations should be arranged with the faculty supervisor. 

For doctoral candidates, an increase in stipend to $3790 per month will follow upon successful completion of the doctoral qualifying procedure. Federal and State taxes will be withheld. A full tuition award and health insurance award for the term is credited to the student’s account. If a student has waived the health insurance then this award amount will not be credited to the student’s account.

In most cases research assistants continue through the summer. However, in some instances, it some accept other summer employment. Students considering other employment should discuss the situation with their RA supervisor and with the DMSE Graduate Academic Office as early as possible. International students should also consult with MIT’s International Students Office.

MIT OGE Terms of Appointments provides additional information about time commitment, renewals, termination of appointment, rules and requirements, duties, and special cases.

A limited number of teaching assistantships are administered by the DMSE Teaching Assignments Committee. This committee announces openings for the following semester and accept applications around early May for the fall semester and around later November for the spring semester.

A teaching assistant is an employee of the Institute and is expected to devote full time to teaching and research with the exception of time spent in scheduled lecture or laboratory classes for which the student is registered. The teaching assistantship appointees observe normal Institute holidays and are entitled to two weeks of vacation with pay if their appointments are for the full calendar year. The vacation schedules must be approved by their supervisors.

Appointments are made on a term-by-term basis. Teaching assistants must be regularly enrolled students pursuing advanced degrees, and all appointments are contingent on being a graduate student in good standing during the period of appointment.  All appointees, whether US citizens or not, must present evidence of employability meeting current Immigration Service requirements. Teaching assistants may also be asked by the Student Financial Aid Office to provide information about financial need, in an attempt to secure College Work Study Program funds for the Institute.

Full-time teaching assistantships carry a stipend and health insurance and are accompanied by full tuition scholarships.  Any required fees are to be paid by the student.

Teaching assistants register for a maximum of 27 units of academic credit per academic semester, including thesis credit (3.THG). Teaching assistants receive letter grade academic credit for their participation in a teaching program. They must register for 12 units of “Teaching Materials Science and Engineering” (Subjects: 3.693-3.699), in addition to the 27 units mentioned above. 

Teaching assistants must not be registered for the subject to which they are assigned as a TA.

The principal duties of a teaching assistant include, but are not limited to, assisting faculty members in classroom and laboratory instruction, preparing apparati or materials for demonstrations, conducting tutorials and discussion sections, holding office hours, counseling students, proctoring exams, maintaining course websites and monitoring discussion boards, and grading homework, quizzes, and exams. Teaching assistants must be available for duties in the subject to which they are assigned throughout the period of their appointment. They are also expected to be available for proctoring examinations and grading papers after the end of scheduled classes.

A teaching assistant usually finds that teaching duties and studies leave no time for other employment. If, for some compelling reason, it is necessary to consider an additional obligation, explicit permission must be obtained in advance from the teaching assistant’s subject supervisor(s), thesis supervisor (if applicable at the time of the TA), the chair of the Department Committee on Graduate Studies, and the Teaching Assignments Chair.

Teaching assistants receive a monthly stipend of $3,878.89 (effective June 1, 2023) and support for tuition and health insurance. This salary is somewhat larger than that of a research assistant because teaching duties will not allow the student to advance at quite as fast a pace as either a research assistant or fellowship holder.

MIT OGE Terms of Appointments provides additional information about time commitment, renewals, termination of appointment, rules and requirements, duties, and special cases.

Fellowships are provided by a number of sources, both within MIT and outside MIT. The Department has a limited number of graduate fellowships, most of which are offered to first-year graduate students and may have restrictions for citizenship, research interests, etc. There is no application process for these fellowships—they are an award conferred by the Department. Students are encouraged to apply for fellowships outside MIT, for which our students have an enviable record of success.

Departmental fellowship awards carry, in most cases, a stipend of $3,643.76 per month (effective June 1, 2023), plus a tuition award. Doctoral candidates who have completed their qualifying procedure will have their stipend increased to $3,988.88 per month. Where the amount of the supporting fellowship is inadequate to cover the per month stipend, the student may seek a supplemental research appointment from his/her advisor if funds are available.

US students are also eligible for a range of outside fellowships sponsored by various governmental (NSF, NDSEG, Department of Homeland Security, Department of Energy) and private organizations (Intel, Hertz, MathWorks). In some cases, the student applies directly to the fellowship agency. In other cases, the Department may nominate the student.

Some international students are supported by their home country governments and/or companies (for example, Anandamahidol Foundation, Canadian NSERC, SBS Foundation, RAFAEL Defense Systems).

Partial appointments (for effort less than 100%) are also possible, and are frequently used to supplement outside fellowships, scholarships, or teaching assistantships. Students who receive financial support from multiple sources must do so in accordance with Institute and department guidelines.
For more information regarding graduate student fellowships, please visit the Office of Graduate Education’s Fellowships page.

Normally, graduate student time is fully occupied with academics, thesis work, and assigned duties as a research assistant or a teaching assistant. Therefore, graduate students who are considering accepting other employment should review the policies and information provided by the Office of Graduate Education (OGE) and then discuss with the DMSE academic office, if necessary.

Participation of the graduate student in the advisor’s outside professional activities may be mutually advantageous. Advance approval is required; further details about such a situation and possible conflict of interest issues are available from the OGE.

International students with a full-time teaching assistantship or research assistantship usually cannot apply for other employment during a period of regular enrollment. They should consult with the International Students Office.

Students holding fellowships should review the award details to confirm whether they are permitted to accept employment offers.