Students’ outside work plans should conform to MIT’s outside work policies for graduate students (https://oge.mit.edu/gpp/assistance/employment/).
So long as an international student obeys all relevant laws and MIT policies, BE places no additional restrictions on their outside work. F-1 and J-1 students with a full RA position cover the 20 hours per week of work allowed by Department of Homeland Security while school is in session.
The NSF does not allow students on the GRFP to be paid by the NSF while also being paid for outside work. If the outside work is planned well in advance, the student can use a reserve year and avoid any complication. Students on tenure can forfeit the NSF’s stipend while taking the internship to avoid being double-paid.
A BE student may take on more than 10 hours per week of outside work for up to 6 months if the student obtains the permission of their research advisor, their thesis committee chair, and the graduate committee chair. The 6-month limit may be waived if the student additionally obtains the permission of the graduate committee. “Outside work” means work not related to the student’s thesis research or department-required teaching duties.
Once the above approval is obtained, a student should register for research units, as normal. If the internship is paid, the student and advisor must work with the academic office to process that student’s appointment as appropriate.
MIT recognizes three kinds of student status (normal status, nonresident doctoral thesis research status, and thesis research in absentia). The first two are relevant for students doing outside work:
- Normal status: Students doing outside work can register for research units as normal, keeping all student privileges.
- Nonresident doctoral thesis research status: Students who have completed coursework and qualifying exams can apply through OGE for non-resident status. If non-resident status last three semesters or fewer, tuition is reduced to 5% of normal tuition (i.e., reduced by 95%). MIT funding, library access, gym access, and health insurance are unchanged, but the student cannot live in MIT housing or be a GRT.
Pay and tuition costs
Outside work during the summer is logistically easier, since there is no tuition charged during the summer. If the work’s pay is less than the BE stipend, BE will pay the difference. If the work’s pay is greater, BE will not pay the student.
During the academic year, tuition is charged. If the work is paid, then (because of federal laws) BE may need to pay the student and then demand that the student pay that money back to MIT as tuition payments. This is similar to the arrangement for students on the NSF GRFP.
If the outside work is paid, the student’s advisor and outside employer can split the cost of the student’s tuition and stipend. There is no official process for this. MIT does not require official approval.
Health insurance is given as a two awards: Spring (Feb 1 – Aug 31) and Fall (Sep 1 – Jan 31). Once health insurance is included in the Spring or Fall award, it lasts until the end of that period, regardless of whether a student takes outside work or graduates from MIT.
MIT Student Housing
If a student takes on full-time outside employment, their eligibility for MIT Student Housing is dependent on their student status (two relevant options are outlined above). Students on “Normal Status” maintain all student privileges, including eligibility for MIT Graduate Housing (often the case for students who complete summer internships). Students on “Nonresident doctoral thesis research status” lose eligibility for MIT Graduate Housing.
A BE graduate student may take on up to 10 hours per week of outside work if the student obtains their research advisor’s permission. Several common part-time opportunities are available for MIT Graduate students; a few are listed below.
A Graduate Grader position may be open in certain semesters to ease the burden on TAs in high enrollment undergraduate and core graduate subjects. These grader positions are advertised to the graduate student body at the beginning of each term. Students volunteer for these positions, and must be serving as a full-time RA or Fellow during the term of service as a grader. Graduate Graders are involved in grading homework assignments, copying material for class, and preparing project materials. Graduate Graders should not be responsible for any activity involving student contact. Graduate Graders are paid $15/hour for their services, and can work no more than 10 hours per week. These positions are open solely to citizens of the United States.
Graduate Resident Advisors and Tutors
Resident graduate students who have completed at least one graduate year at MIT or new students who were MIT undergraduates may apply to the Dean for Student Life for positions as Graduate Resident Advisors and Tutors. Such positions provide room and board but no stipend. International students are not eligible to be GRA/GRTs. More information can be found here: https://studentlife.mit.edu/beagragrt
BE Communication Lab Fellows
The BE Communication Lab is a program that offers writing, speaking, and visual design support for BE undergraduate students, graduate students, and post-docs. Communication Fellows are paid trained graduate students and post-docs from the department. Applications to join the Communication Lab are opened each spring.
Conflicts of Interest
Although there is no policy against working outside of MIT while a registered student, there are issues of conflict of interest and conflict of commitment. The student interested in working part time off campus, and who is a US citizen or permanent resident, should first speak to his or her research advisor about the nature of the proposed work. The advisor must be assured that the work will not compromise the time that the student is expected to devote to research at MIT, and that the outside work does not compromise or infringe upon patent or intellectual property rights related to the student’s MIT research. The student alsomust ensure that the outside work does not violate any departmental policy.
Under certain conditions students may benefit from part time involvement in outside professional activities of faculty members. Prior approval for students wishing to engage in such activities can be granted by the department head after suitable discussion with the faculty member and student.
In considering such arrangements, faculty should be guided by the need to avoid conflicts of interest and toavoid infringement of the student’s academic duties and rights. Generally, if the faculty member has a role in supervising the student’s thesis or in supervising the work of the student as a graduate teaching assistant or Instructor-G, such employment should not be undertaken, thus avoiding potential conflicts ofinterest in the evaluation of the student’s performance. If the faculty member does not have a role in supervising the student’s thesis and/or the student’s work as a teaching assistant or Instructor-G, the employment may be undertaken. If the outside work is related to the student’s thesis, special care shouldbe expended to avoid conflict.
Faculty members who are already associated with students in outside employment should disqualify themselves from becoming research supervisors, academic program advisors, or examiners of those students. Within an MIT research laboratory or academic unit, faculty members should take care not to give the impression of favoritism to those students with whom they are associated in outside employment.
Generally, full time research assistants should not be employed in outside professional activities of faculty, both to avoid conflicts of interest and in light of the obligations of the full time research assistant. A part time research assistant may engage in such employment if the outside work is not thesis-related and if the faculty member is not his or her supervisor.
MIT policy regarding joint outside professional activities involving faculty and students may be found in MIT Policies and Procedures section 4.5.2.
Members of the Institute community may choose to seek advice on these personal questions from their department heads, Personnel staff, Medical Department staff, the Special Assistants to the President, or other counseling resources of the Institute. In addition to these resources, students also have available to assist them their faculty advisors, the faculty in residence, and the counseling resources of Office of the Dean for Students and the Office of Graduate Education.