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Pay and Benefits


The Department strives to offer financial support in the form of departmental fellowships for the fall term of the first academic year to all regular first year doctoral graduate students. Support for spring term of the first year and succeeding years thereafter is generally available in the form of a Research Assistantship from the student’s research advisor(s). Students may find financial support from outside fellowship programs (such as government fellowships, sponsorship by a private company, or from abroad for international students).

Stipend (Salary)

The stipend (or salary) of BE students is similar to the average stipend for MIT Science & Engineering Doctoral Students. This stipend includes health insurance for the full calendar year.

Research Assistants (RA), Teaching Assistants (if arranged), and students supported by fellowships, scholarships, and training grants are paid semimonthly on the 15th of the month and the last day of the month.

Health Insurance

Graduate students are automatically enrolled in the MIT Student Health Insurance Plan (MIT SHIP) on September 1st of each year. Once insurance is included in the spring award, it lasts until August 31 regardless of whether a student takes outside work. To learn more about how graduating will affect your Health Insurance, see the Graduating FAQ.

The MIT Graduate Student Dental Plan is available to all MIT graduate students enrolled in a degree-granting program. The dental plan is offered through Blue Cross Blue Shield (BCBS) and is separate from the MIT Student Health Insurance Plan (MIT SHIP). You are not automatically enrolled in the dental plan. If you want dental coverage, you must enroll during the annual enrollment period or have a qualifying event. The dental coverage plan year lasts from September 1–August 31. 

Other benefits of being an MIT graduate student

MIT tuition is paid on behalf of the student through research grants, fellowships, or other support. Tuition gives students free access access to several facilities on campus, including athletic facilities and libraries. Students are also able eligible to live in MIT Housing and take paid parental leave.


For Research Assistantships, taxes are automatically withheld from each paycheck. Although fellowship, scholarship, and training grant funding may be taxable, taxes are NOT automatically withheld from these payments. You may need to arrange to make estimated quarterly payments on your own.

The Office of the Vice President of Finance has some resources available concerning taxes on some types of income. The International Student Office has tax information and resources relevant for international students.

Vacation Policy

The year is broken into three periods:

Period 1: Sept 1 – Jan 15

Period 2: Jan 15 – May 31

Period 3: June 1 – August 31

During each period, students receive five days of vacation (excluding Institute holidays).  There is a “use it or lose it” stipulation where vacation days do not carry forward from period to period.  In other words, if you do not take vacation in period 1, you cannot take 10 days in period 2. This applies to all students in the dept regardless of funding.

Research Assistantships

Research assistants (RAs) are supported from research contracts or grants, and are supervised by faculty members of the Department. In this case, the research advisor(s) has a responsibility to the funding organization to conduct research in specified areas. In most cases, an appointment as a research assistant (RA) coincides with the selection of a research topic and a research advisor(s). That is, the student declares that their thesis will be conducted in the area specified in the research project’s grant (contract).

In the case of research assistants (RAs), an arrangement is made with the research advisor(s) to provide project funds for tuition and stipend. The research advisor(s) will notify the BE Student Office each semester about the funding source, so that appointments can be processed.

A research assistant is an employee of the Institute and is required to devote full time to the research project, at the very minimum during normal working hours, with the exception of the time spent in scheduled lecture or laboratory classes for which the student is registered. Specific details concerning work hours and duties will be explicitly stated in the financial appointment letter sent to student once appointment is processed.