Graduate Admissions Frequently Asked Questions

My undergraduate experience was affected by COVID-19. What will that mean for my application?

DMSE is following MIT's policies, stated below. Please contact our office, with questions.

In response to the challenges of teaching, learning, and assessing academic performance during the global COVID-19 pandemic, MIT has adopted the following principle: MIT’s admissions committees and offices for graduate and professional schools will take the significant disruptions of the COVID-19 outbreak in 2020 into account when reviewing students’ transcripts and other admissions materials as part of their regular practice of performing individualized, holistic reviews of each applicant.
In particular, as we review applications now and in the future, we will respect decisions regarding the adoption of Pass/No Record (or Credit/No Credit or Pass/Fail) and other grading options during the unprecedented period of COVID-19 disruptions, whether those decisions were made by institutions or by individual students. We also expect that the individual experiences of applicants will richly inform applications and, as such, they will be considered with the entirety of a student’s record.
Ultimately, even in these challenging times, our goal remains to form graduate student cohorts that are collectively excellent and composed of outstanding individuals who will challenge and support one another.
Questions or concerns about this statement should be directed to the academic department or program to which the prospective student has applied. 

How do I obtain an application?
When is the application due?
What are the application requirements?

You will need to complete the Department of Materials Science and Engineering online application. The application is open until December 1; letters of recommendation must be submitted before December 31.

The following items must be submitted before an application will be evaluated:

  • The DMSE Online Application
  • $75.00 application fee 
  • One official transcript from each college/university you have attended (transfer credits, semester abroad, etc.) The transcripts must be sent by the university/college registrar’s office to or sent in an envelope sealed by the university/college registrar’s office.
  • Three letters of recommendation
  • If your first language is not English, you will need to submit an official IELTS (preferred) or TOEFL test score.
  • Applicants interested in an interdisciplinary program (e.g., PPSM, TPP) should also check with that particular program for additional requirements.

Is the Graduate Record Examination (GRE) required?

Effective the Fall 2024 admissions cycle, the department is not accepting GRE scores as supplementary material.

Where do I send my transcripts/IELTS/TOEFL?

The mailing address for all application materials is:

Department of Materials Science and Engineering
Academic Office
Bldg 6 Room 107
77 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02139

Your official transcripts must come in a sealed envelope from your university/college’s registrar's office or the registrar's office may submit your official transcripts to . Transcripts need to be received by December 31, 2022.

Is the International English Language Testing System (IELTS) or TOEFL mandatory for all international applicants?

For international applicants only who are requesting to waive the IELTS/TOEFL requirement.

Describe how you meet one of the following criteria. (1) Are you a student who has attended elementary/secondary schools that provide instruction primarily in English or (2) Are you a student who will have received an undergraduate degree from an institution that provides instruction primarily in English or (3) Are you a student who has been in the U.S. for 3 years and will have received a degree from an American institution before entering MIT?

Include a statement requesting the waiver in the Test Scores/Experience page on the online application.

What department and school code should I indicate for IELTS or TOEFL test score reports?

The institution code for MIT is 3514.

Note: If you accidentally used a different department code for the IELTS (preferred) or TOEFL, the department admissions office should still be able to access your score as long as they were sent to MIT. Students who submit an application will be informed if the scores have been received in the notification email sent out after the application has been submitted.

Can the application fee ($75) be waived?

No action will be taken on your application until the fee is paid. The MIT OGE (Office of Graduate Education) will review application fee waiver requests from:

US citizens and US permanent residents* who meet one of the criteria below:

  • Demonstrated financial hardship in the past year.
  • Participated in an MIT/OGE sponsored diversity program in the past 5 years**.
  • Participated in a special fellowship program in the past 3 years.
  • Attended a diversity recruiting event in the past 3 years.
  • Served as a current or former member of the US Armed Forces.

*US Permanent Residents must provide proof of this status, such as a copy of a green card.
**International applicants, attending US colleges and universities, who participated in the MIT CONVERGE or MSRP programs are also eligible to apply.

Eligible applicants who are requesting a fee waiver need to complete this form.

In all other cases, MIT will not allow us to consider an application unless accompanied by the application fee.

How will I know that you have received all of my application materials?

You will be notified by email when we receive your application. You will also be able to check the status of your application & supplemental materials via the online application. You will receive a final confirmation once all materials have been received and added to the application file (recommendation letters, transcripts, test scores). This confirmation will be sent before January 31.
If, on January 31, you have not heard that the application is complete, please email the department.

What is the review process timetable?

We receive over 500 applications for S.M./Ph.D. September matriculation. Our Admissions Committee reviews applicants throughout January and February. S.M./Ph.D. applicants are typically notified in writing by end of February.

Can you give me an idea of my chances for admission, based on scores or Class Rank, for example?

We can make no preliminary evaluation based on one or two qualifications. The Admissions Committee carefully reviews the entire application (recommendations, essay, grades, test scores, previous research experience, etc.) in making its decisions.

I do not have an undergraduate background in Materials Science & Engineering. Do I have any chance of being admitted?

Yes, while many of our admitted students have an undergraduate background in materials science and engineering, the remaining students have training in fields such as biology, chemistry, chemical engineering, physics, electrical engineering, or mechanical engineering.

Does the Department admit its own S.B. students to the graduate program?

Yes, we consider our own undergraduates for admission to all of our graduate programs.

Would it help my chances to send my application directly to a specific faculty member?

Admission decisions are made by a departmental committee. The decision is based on overall qualifications, independent of research interest. If you bypass the regular admissions route, you risk having your application misplaced. Please direct all admission related inquiries to

Should I contact faculty members to try to secure a Research Assistantship before I've been admitted?

Students are urged to wait for official admission to DMSE before contacting faculty regarding research assistantships and thesis supervision.

What kind of funding is available to support students in the program?

S.M./Ph.D. students are generally supported by a variety of fellowships, research assistantships, and teaching assistantships during their time at MIT. These appointments pay tuition, a competitive stipend, and health insurance. Students are encouraged to apply for outside fellowships to help finance their graduate studies. Some domestic students are supported by NSF, NDSEG, Hertz, and Whitaker fellowships, as well as other government and corporate sources. Some international students are supported by their government or a scholarship agency (e.g., Samsung scholarship, ILJU, Royal Thai government) Kwanjeong Scholarship, Canadian NSERC.

Is it possible to take courses on a part-time basis or as a visiting student?

The DMSE graduate program requires on-campus attendance at classes that are offered during the day and generally meet 2-3 times per week. Please refer to the MIT Office of Graduate Admissions for information about special student admissions and MIT advanced study program.

How long does it take to earn the doctoral degree in the Department of Materials Science and Engineering at MIT?

DMSE graduate students normally take about 5 years to earn the Ph.D.

I already have a master’s degree. Can I apply it to the DMSE Ph.D  requirements?

MIT has a qualifying procedure for the doctoral degree, so, even though you have already earned a master of science degree at another institution, if you receive admission here, you would be admitted as a master of science degree student with the option to bypass the master's degree and go directly into the doctoral program provided that you successfully pass the qualification procedure. Some students admitted in this category may choose to complete another Master's degree in DMSE before working on their doctoral  program. 

Specific questions about transfer credits and other matters can be discussed with the Academic Office after admissions letters have been sent.

Students applying to the PPSM or Archaeological Materials interdepartmental doctoral program should review those programs' qualification procedure.

Can I visit the Department?

Prospective applicants are welcome to visit MIT. You can arrange a tour of the campus through the MIT Admissions Office. Admitted students are encouraged to visit on one of our two weekend-long visits (arrive Thursday early evening and depart Sunday morning) in March to become acquainted with the department, with MIT as a whole, and with Boston and Cambridge. Food and lodging are supplied as is part of the airfare.

Are other interdepartmental programs available?

The MIT Department of Materials Science and Engineering participates in several interdepartmental programs. Admission procedures vary; please contact these offices to obtain information and instructions.

I applied last year and was not accepted. Will the Admissions Committee either reevaluate my application this year or accept a new application?

Previous applications to our graduate program are not taken into consideration during the current review process. For fairness purposes, all applications are considered new every year.

I am currently in a Ph.D. program and would like to transfer to MIT's Department of Materials Science and Engineering. Is that possible?

We regret that you are not eligible to apply to the Department of Materials Science and Engineering at MIT because you are already enrolled in a Ph.D. program (this restriction also applies to graduate students enrolled in a doctoral program within another department at MIT). We welcome applications from those who have completed or are completing the B.S. or M.S. degree. Those who have received a PhD are not admitted.

Does the department have different admissions criteria for the Master's and PhD graduate programs?

The criteria for admissions is the same. The Admissions Committee does not make a distinction in the application evaluation process.

Do I need to complete the "Record of Subjects Taken" in the online application?

No. The Department of Materials Science and Engineering does not require applicants to complete the “Record of Subjects Taken” in the online application.

What are recent career paths alumni from the graduate programs have taken?

Academia Recent alumni of the graduate programs have academic careers as professors, researchers, or staff in universities/research centers including: Brigham Young University, Tufts University, Northeastern University, California Institute of Technology, Stanford, Case Western Reserve University, ESPCI CNRS (Ecole Supérieure de  Physique et de Chimie Industrielles, Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique), Texas A&M, University of Oxford, and MIT.

Industry  Our recent alumni have pursued industry positions at: 3M, Accenture, Applied Materials, Cambridge Energy Research Associates, Desktop Metal, Dow Corning, Draper Labs, Embr Labs, General Electric, Intel, Johnson Electric Group, Lawrence Livermore National Labs, KaZaK Composites, Kiva Systems Inc., Laboratoire Matiere Molle et Chimie charge de recherche CNRS, Lam Research, Northrop Grumman, Omni-Guide Communications; RTI International, Samsung Electro-Mechanics, Sandia National Laboratory, Teradyne Connector Systems, Texas Instruments, Transform Pharmaceutical Inc, the US Food & Drug Administration, Xtalic Corp

Some alumni are pursuing careers in government, consulting, or law: BlueCross BlueShield Association, Choate Hall & Stewart, DJS Consulting Group, LZT investment, McKinsey, World Bank

What is the departmental mailing address?

Department of Materials Science and Engineering
Academic Office
Bldg 6 Room 107
77 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02139

If admitted, can I defer my admission?

On rare occasions, deferral requests are approved for one year. Approved deferrals will only be for admission and not for any departmental financial aid award a student received upon admission. Applicants must contact the department to ask about a deferral before February 1.