Summary of Deadlines and Typical Timeline

Getting Started

During your first term at MIT, get a sense of the research going on across the Department and its associated Laboratories. Try to meet faculty, research scientists, and other students, and find out about what they are doing. Get started early with the process of identifying a suitable research group (and research advisor!).

This is not a formal requirement so early in your graduate career, but we strongly recommend that you do it anyway. There are certain more "structured" requirements that every student must complete on the way to PhD, such as the TQE, RQE, minor, etc. It's important not to lose sight of getting started on research even while attending to these more structured elements.


  1. Students must file a TQE plan form by registration day of the second term.
  2. The TQE must be completed by the end of the third term.


  1. Students must file a RQE form by registration day of the fourth term.
  2. Students may not schedule an RQE to occur before completion of the TQE requirement.
  3. The RQE must be completed by the end of the fourth term.

Doctoral Thesis Proposal and Formation of Doctoral Committee

The thesis proposal, including a designation of the Doctoral committee, must be submitted by the end of the eighth term (registration day of the ninth term).

Minor Program

  1. The minor application is typically filed after completion of the RQE and formation of the Doctoral Committee, but it can be submitted earlier.
  2. The minor must be completed by registration day of the ninth term.

Thesis Examination and Public Thesis Defense

  1. The thesis examination (by the student's Doctoral Committee) should be held during the first half of the student's final term.
  2. The public thesis defense should be held during the first half of the final term.
  3. Thesis examination and defense are often held concurrently, but need not be. Consult your committee.

Signed Thesis

The signed thesis is due approximately two weeks before the end of any regular term, or one week before the end of the summer session.