Skip to content


Graduation Checklist

The following checklist describes the procedures for preparing, submitting, and defending a Doctoral Thesis. Students must:

  • Make sure to check Institute deadlines by which they must [1] defend, [2] submit their thesis, and [3] submit their thesis title (within the thesis submission application as a separate process). Students should defend, at the very latest, a week before the BE Academic Office has to submit grades (grade deadline).
  • Complete an Online Degree Application through WebSIS to enter the February, June, or September degree lists. Submitting after the first deadline will result in a late fee (you can remove your name for free, so it is best to sign up even if you aren’t sure).
Degree ListDeadlineLate Deadline ($85 fee)
  • Register for 20.THG (48 units Fall or Spring; 24 units Summer)
  • Schedule the defense, reserve a classroom, and communicate the date, time, and location to the BE Academic Office. If the student wishes to reserve one of the BE Classrooms (56-614, 16- 220), they should contact the BE Academic Office, any other classroom reservation must be reserved through the Registrar’s Office:

Defending and Submitting the Dissertation

  1. Submit their written Thesis Dissertation to their Thesis Committee members with a Thesis Verification Form
    • Committee members have two weeks to review the Thesis and return the form to the BE Academic Office (16-267), indicating that the thesis defense may proceed (or not).
    • Therefore, students should endeavor to submit their Dissertations to their committee members more than two weeks in advance of their planned Thesis Defense to avoid rescheduling the Oral Defense.
  1. Have their Oral Defense of the Thesis and return the Oral Examination (Thesis Proposal and Defense) Form to the BE Academic Office (16-267)
  1. Complete any revisions to the Thesis Dissertation. There is no official form to verify that revisions were completed.
  1. ***NOTE: Due to COVID, printing your thesis is temporarily not required. Double check this****Submit two unbound copies of their Written Thesis Dissertation to the BE Academic Office (16-267), printed on acid-neutral paper, with the following:
    • A title page including original signatures of: the Student, the Advisor, and the Graduate Program Chair.
    • A second page with a list of all Thesis Committee members who voted in favor of the student’s defense
    • A completed UMI form for MIT Libraries
  1. Receive a receipt from the BE Academic Office confirming that the Thesis was submitted
    • Once the Thesis is submitted, the student has officially graduated, and their student status is terminated.
    • MIT Libraries charges a thesis fee of $115, which is automatically and directly added to a student’s personal MITPAY account. A student facing financial hardship may petition the BE department administrator to reimburse the thesis fee. A student’s thesis advisor may also reimburse the fee.
  1. Complete the online Graduate Exit Survey

Written Thesis Document / Dissertation

The Thesis Dissertation is document prepared by the candidate which details the original research they performed throughout their PhD. Students who would like assistance in improving their writing skills or in any stage of writing should contact the BE Communication Lab or the MIT Writing and Communications Center.

Information about the outline, formatting, submission, and storage of the Thesis is available from MIT Libraries. Students are encouraged to look at previous theses from BE Students on MIT DSpace.

Submission to Committee

At least two weeks prior to the defense, the Candidate will send copies of the final thesis document along with the Thesis Verification Form to the Thesis Committee members.

The committee members must decide within these two weeks if the Thesis document is acceptable to proceed to defense and return the completed form to the BE Academic Office. Students are encouraged to send their theses to their committees more than two weeks in advance of their scheduled Thesis Defense, in case the committee requests Major Revisions.


There is no timeline for when Revisions must be completed, however students must submit their revised theses to the BE Academic office in time to make institute deadlines for their degree list.

No Revisions: If the Thesis is acceptable in the form submitted to the committee, the student may proceed to the oral defense as proposed. The student then submits the dissertation to the Institute through the BE Academic office (below).

Minor Revisions: The Committee often requests minor revisions that are not serious enough to delay the oral thesis defense. These revisions can be completed after the oral defense, but before final submission of the Thesis to Institute through the BE Academic Office.
There is no set procedure for approval of minor dissertation revisions.  Most frequently it is up to the student to make the revisions, and then the advisor(s) approve the final versions, if they want.  The committee can ask to approve the final version, but this rarely occurs.

Major Revisions: If the Thesis is unacceptable, major revisions may be requested that require a delay of the thesis defense.

Submission to Institute

After the oral defense and the completion of any revisions, the Thesis is submitted to the Institute through the BE Academic Office (16-267). Student status is terminated when the thesis is submitted to the BE Academic Office.

The submitted Thesis must include:

  • A title page including original signatures of: the Student, the Advisor, and the Graduate Program Chair.
  • A second page with a list of all Thesis Committee members who voted in favor of the student’s defense
  • A completed UMI form for MIT Libraries

Printing: The two copies submitted to the BE Academic Office should be unbound and printed on acid-neutral paper. MIT Copytech has many services related to thesis printing.

Oral Defense of the Thesis

The defense can only be scheduled after all deficiencies identified in the Final Thesis Committee Meeting report (Plan to Defend Meeting) have been addressed.

The Thesis Defense is open to the public.

The Oral Defense must be attended by all members of the Thesis Committee. Members may attend via video-conferencing. In highly unusual circumstances, the Graduate Program Committee Chair may approve faculty absences or substitutions. Such approval must be obtained in writing at least one week in advance of the meeting. Approval is only possible with written support from the Thesis Committee Chair and the faculty member to be replaced or absent.

Format of the defense

The defense begins with a formal presentation of approximately 45 minutes based on the thesis. The floor is then opened to questions from the general audience, which is thereafter excused. The Thesis Committee, and any other MIT faculty that wish to remain, continue the examination of the Candidate in private. The Candidate and any non-Thesis Committee faculty still present are finally excused from the room for the final Committee deliberations and decision.

Defense Outcome Form

Students must give a copy of the Oral Examination Thesis Proposal and Defense Form to the Thesis Committee Chairperson. To verify that the Thesis Defense was acceptable, the student will return the completed and signed form to the BE Academic Office (16-267) within two weeks.


A majority yes vote is required to approve the thesis. It is the responsibility of the Thesis Committee Chair to give the Committee’s decision whether the thesis is satisfactory or unsatisfactory to the Candidate and to the BE Student Office.

In the event of vote not to pass, the Thesis Committee will make recommendations as to needed changes to render the thesis satisfactory. The revised thesis will then be submitted for a second final defense.


When do I stop being a student? There are multiple answers depending on who is asking. For most logistical purposes, the Termination of Student Status (which occurs after you submit your revised dissertation to the BE Academic Office) and your Degree List (February, June, or September) is what matters.

When does department admin (BE Academic Office) terminate student status? Normally, student status is terminated when the (revised, finalized) Thesis Dissertation is submitted to the BE Academic Office.

When do I stop getting paid? When the BE Academic Office terminates your student status.

What happens if I work in my lab after submitting in my thesis? You will need to set up a postdoctoral appointment with your advisor since you will stop being paid after your thesis is submitted.

How do I get paystubs and W2s after graduating? Students who are not currently active (including recent graduates) will not be able to access the electronic W2 or paystubs. At the end of January, the Payroll Office sends paper copies of the W2 to all former students and employees. The W2 is sent to the Home address. Make sure your home address on Athena is up to date and you will be able to access mail sent there the year after you graduate. Follow these instructions to request a replacement copy of your W2.

When do I stop paying tuition? Students pay tuition up until their student status is terminated. For example, if a student graduates in October, the full fall tuition will be charged to their account and then pro-rated for just the month of September (once the student changes their student status is terminated, the student’s account will receive a reimbursement for tuition costs for the rest of the semester).

When does my health insurance stop? If you are graduating in June, your MIT Health Plan coverage continues through August 31. December graduates are covered until January 31. While it is not stated, it appears that insurance for February graduates expires on January 31. More information on the MIT Medical website.

When does my ID card stop working? In general, ID cards for graduating students expire the January or June after their graduation date. All members of the MIT community may find their ID expiration date on the front of their ID card in the bottom right corner. Once this card expires, you will no longer have access to any buildings or services requiring your MIT ID, including print quotas, TechCash accounts, and library borrowing. General building access will be revoked at midnight the day of card expiry, but this information will remain in the system for two weeks in the event your card is renewed. Graduating students may request a free Alumni ID card, which allows basic building access privileges to select buildings on campus, provides eligibility for Coop membership, and enables free admission to the MIT Museum. For more information, contact Card Services.

When does my email/Kerberos/Dropbox access stop? Typically Athena accounts are deactivated in the first week of the January after you graduate (a notice is sent in November). Your access to Dropbox, MIT Email, MIT Certificates, and other services is tied to your Athena account. Around the time of graduation, students will receive an email with instructions on how to prolong their licenses to some software (ex. Microsoft Office). Students can also request an alumni email address. More info from IS&T

What happens to my housing status? Students in MIT Housing are able to complete the full year of their leases, or they can terminate their status early without a fee.

What classes do I need to register for? Sign up for 48 units of 20.THG (no department seminars) or 24 units during the summer

Do I need to pay my student life fee? Yes. This seems to depend on a student’s degree list (so students on the June degree list will need to pay the Spring semester student life fee even if they defend in January or February).

I am an international student: what else should I worry about? If you have not yet found a postdoc or job to sponsor a new visa, you can apply for OPT (optional practical training) which allows you to continue your stay for another 12 months (24 months for STEM fields). You can apply no earlier than 90 days before degree completion and no later than 60 days after completion (this is your MIT degree list date). Note that USCIS processing times can take up to 3-4 months. Check with the ISO for more information.