The thesis requirement gives students an opportunity to develop and demonstrate their ability to carry out and document a reasonably comprehensive project requiring considerable initiative, creative thought, and a good deal of individual responsibility. The thesis may be a design project, an analytical paper, or experimental work of a technical nature.
M.Eng. theses normally involve one or more of the following:
- Design of a system followed by construction, test, and evaluation;
- Formulation of an analytical or computational model of a system or process, simulation of the model, and comparison with actual data;
Development of a computer program that might:
- simulate a real system (e.g. Artificial Intelligence);
- aid in a diagnostic procedure;
- provide sophisticated, real-time analysis of measured data;
- develop and analyze a theory or theorem which is an abstraction or idealization of an actual process or system;
- apply some of the standard methods (of communication theory or control theory, for example) to aid in understanding of a process or system.
- Experimental study of physical phenomena.
Ordinarily the thesis is an individual effort; however, group projects are possible if the work of the individuals can be evaluated separately. Separate thesis documents must be submitted.
The research supervisor is found and the project is normally begun during the senior year or the summer after it, and completed during the graduate year. Work may be begun while the student is an undergraduate (for pay or for credit as UROP, or under 6.UAP), but the bulk of the thesis work should be done and registered for under 6.ThM while the student is classified as a graduate student. Unless you are in the VI-A Program, you must do your research at M.I.T., not at a summer or part-time job for which you received pay. Students may use a thesis topic which suggested itself during their summer jobs, but they must have an M.I.T. supervisor and do their work at M.I.T. or one of the M.I.T.-affiliated research labs (Draper, Lincoln, MGH/Harvard Medical, etc.).
The M.Eng. Thesis is administered by Anne Hunter, the Administrator of Course VI Undergraduate and M.Eng. Programs. Questions about thesis policies and procedures should be addressed to her. For lots of general information about MIT theses, go to: http://libraries.mit.edu/archives/thesis-specs/index.html.
Units and Registration: The M.Eng. thesis requirement calls for 24 units of 6.ThM. Students normally register for 12 units per term. No matter how many units of 6.ThM a student registers for over several terms, no more than 24 units of 6.ThM credit will be awarded. 6.ThM is not affected by the Add Date. It may be added or dropped up to the Drop Date, with an Add/Drop Form. However Anne Hunter's signature is required, not that of your supervisor. Unit adjustments can be made up to the last day of classes at the Course VI Undergraduate Office.
Students must be registered for thesis in the term in which they complete their thesis in order to receive a final grade. Students who fail to complete their theses on time must therefore register for at least one additional unit of thesis during the subsequent term. Graduate students cannot be on light load or pay by the unit. However there is a proration system whereby students can pay a prorated amount of tuition if they finish their theses during the first few weeks of a term, if they register for the term immediately preceding or following it. For more details about tuition proration, consult Peter Hayes in the Registrar's Office, (617)258-6406, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Summer Tuition Subsidy: Graduate students who register only for thesis and/or RAship (6.991) for a summer session will receive a full subsidy if they are registered for the preceeding or subsequent term.
Thesis research is usually carried out in laboratories operated by M.I.T. and located on-campus. There are some exceptions to this general rule which do not require explicit approval:
- Students in the VIA Internship Program who are doing their theses at the company need only arrange for the Company Letters (see Appendix A and Appendix B) to be received with their proposals and final documents.
- Students doing thesis research at Lincoln Laboratory or at the Charles Stark Draper Laboratory need only arrange for the Company Letters (see Appendix A and Appendix B)) to be received with their proposals and final documents.
- Students in the Joint Program with the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution doing research there are also excepted.
All such theses must have an M.I.T. faculty or approved research staff supervisor as well as a supervisor at the off-campus location.
Students not covered by the cases listed above must request permission of the Department Undergraduate Officer to pursue thesis research off-campus. Under no circumstances will projects undertaken at a company be approved as M.Eng. theses after the fact.