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How many graduate students are there in the department?
There are 196 graduate students in the department. The first year graduate students class has 43 biology students and 4 Woods Hole Institute students.

What is the average time for graduation?
6 years is the average here, and that is comparable to the average anywhere else. That time really depends more on the project and the P.I.

How many faculty are there in the department?
Approximately 55 active faculty, with a small number of emeritus faculty. The MIT Biology department differs from the departments in many other schools in that all the disciplines (genetics, biochemistry, molecular biology, ...) are unified in one framework. This diversity of research approaches under one roof stimulates collaboration and fosters the exchange of ideas between different research groups.

Is there housing for graduate students?
Yes, although it's not guaranteed to every student. There are several options: single housing with shared or private bedrooms and family housing. Students need to apply and housing is assigned based on the lottery number they get. Check out Campus Life for more info.

For how many years do graduate students get funded?
The department will fund graduate students for as long as it takes them to finish their PhD. The first two years are covered by the an NIH training grant to the department, and afterwards your P.I. provides your funding.

Is the stipend enough to live comfortably?
The stipend allows you to rent an appartment (with room-mates) for $500-$700 and live on the rest. The cost of living in Boston is comparable to that in any major Metroplolitan area. How far your stipend goes depends very much on your lifestyle. It is possible to save money and alternately you can have a lot of fun with the money you get. Check out Living OffCampus as well as Campus Life for more information on housing options, which is probably your biggest expense. If you choose to live in Tang Hall, Greg Lizst puts it that you can "live like a Rock Star"...

Do graduate students study all the time?
During the first semester, graduate students take 4 courses which take a lot of time (see Classes and Rotations). However, all of us had plenty of time to enjoy ourselves (see Activities). The courses can at times be demanding but do provide you with an excellent academic background. Although you could spend all of your time studying, most people at MIT realize the importance of balancing studies with other interests. The faculty are very aware that happy graduate students make good graduate students and are careful to make sure you don't burn yourself out.

Is MIT super intense?
Despite what many people may think, the atmosphere is pretty relaxed. Professors are very aproachable and not at all intimidating. Students interact very freely and very personably with professors. Professors in the department are very dedicated to graduate education and always happy to sit down and chat with students. The department is keenly interested in the development of students both as scientists and as individuals.

So what is the atmosphere like?
21% oxygen, 78% nitrogen, ... Sorry. If you knew what time is was you'd think it was funny too. :)

When can I start my thesis?
Students finish their course requirements in the first year. Rotations end in May. With the exception of teaching, there are no other interuptions on the way to completing your thesis.

How much teaching do graduate students do?
Students are required to teach twice. Typically this is one semester during your second year and one semester during your fourth year. Students interested in teaching can teach more than this as well.

I have a degree not in biology. Will that be more difficult for me?
People come into this program with very diverse backgrounds. The core requirements in the first semester are specificaly designed to give all students a solid background in genetics, biochemistry, and scientific thinking. In truth, most learning during a graduate degree takes place outside of a classroom, in lab.

How much time is spent outside of the department?
This depends upon the individual. Dormitories are a great place to meet people from other departments as are clubs and activities on campus. Members of the department frequently collaborate with other departments at MIT such as bioengineering, chemistry, health sciences, environmental engineering, and others.

Why is it called the David H. Koch building?
It's not. We call it 68. (All the buildings at MIT are refered to by number.)

Koch (pronounced Coke), donated lots of money to the department. He also invented the Koch Machine.

How late were we up writing this page?
We'd rather not have to admit that.

If there are any other questions that you think should belong on this page, email someone from the Contact Info Page and let us know! Thanks!

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Last Updated February, 2000. Bio99@MIT