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MIT Course Catalog 2014-2015

Home > Interdisciplinary Programs > Graduate Programs > Transportation

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Graduate Programs in Transportation

MIT provides students with a broad range of opportunities for transportation-related education. Courses and classes span the School of Engineering, the Sloan School of Management, and the School of Architecture and Planning, with many activities covering interdisciplinary topics that prepare students for future industry, government, or academic careers.

A variety of graduate degrees are available to students interested in transportation studies and research, including a master's program and a doctoral program in transportation, described below, and a Master of Engineering in Logistics, described under Engineering Systems Division in Part 2.

Opportunities are also available for students to obtain dual master's degrees. Students who wish to pursue this option must follow the regular admissions procedure to be admitted to each degree program. Common dual degree pairings include the Master of Science in Transportation with:

Information on requirements for dual degrees can be found in the section on General Degree Requirements in Part 1.

Master of Science in Transportation

The Master of Science in Transportation (MST) program is based on the premise that a common set of analytical approaches and methodologies can be applied to solve a range of transportation problems. The MST provides a common basis for addressing a wide range of problems while allowing enough flexibility to accommodate students with diverse backgrounds and interests.

Students in the MST program must complete 66 units of coursework plus a master's thesis; coursework includes two required core subjects and at least three additional transportation or related subjects. Generally, the three additional subjects relate to an area of specialization, although this is not required. Common areas of specialization include urban transportation, air transportation, planning methods, logistics, and policy. The MST degree usually takes up to two years to complete.

Course Requirements

Core Subjects

Two 12-unit subjects that reflect the interdisciplinary, systems nature of the program's educational approach, offered in the fall term:

Individually Designed Program

Three subjects totaling at least 30 units, selected by the student to further his or her educational objectives in the field of transportation. Established program areas include:

Specific subjects approved for these program areas are listed at Some students use the individually designed program to deepen their understanding of a selected area of interest, others may choose to emphasize breadth rather than depth in their studies.

For all students, at least one of the selected subjects should address policy. At least two of the designated subjects should be clearly focused on transportation, while the third can be in a field that supports transportation, for example, a subject covering methods used in transportation drawn from fields such as economics, operations research, political science, or management.

Policy Requirement

To fulfill the policy requirement, students can choose a transportation policy subject, a transportation subject with substantial policy content (nominally half), or a policy subject with little or no transportation content. A list of subjects that meet these criteria can be found at

Information Technology Requirement

Graduates of the MST program are expected to have a working knowledge of information technology, as this is a prerequisite for functioning as a transportation professional. The information technology requirement can be satisfied by taking either 1.264J Database, Internet, and Systems Integration Technologies (recommended for most students) or 1.001 Introduction to Computers and Engineering Problem Solving. Requests to waive this requirement based on prior coursework must be submitted in writing to the director of the MST Program.

Thesis Requirement

Students must complete a research-based thesis on a topic of their choice that has been approved by the thesis supervisor. Students should enroll in the minimum requirement of 24 (1.ThG) thesis units. Thesis units do not count toward the 66 units required for completion of the MST degree.

For more information, see the full MST program description at


An undergraduate degree in engineering is not necessary for admission to the Master of Science in Transportation program, but applicants are expected to have an aptitude for analytical thinking. Backgrounds in the physical or social sciences, urban planning, management, and many other disciplines are equally appropriate foundations for the program.

The only specific subjects required for admission are two subjects in calculus: one in economics and one in probability. One or more of these subjects may be completed simultaneously with application to the program, and acceptance is then conditional on satisfactory completion of these prerequisites. Applicants should have roughly the equivalent of the following MIT subjects: 18.01 and 18.02 in calculus, 14.01 in microeconomics, and either 6.041 or 1.010 in probability/statistics.

All applicants are required to submit Graduate Record Examination (GRE) scores; applicants whose native language is not English are required to submit a Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) score. Applicants to the Master of Science in Transportation degree program must achieve a score of at least 250 (computer-based) on the TOEFL.


Funding for MST students is usually offered to about 80 percent of each incoming class. A limited number of fellowships are offered each year, but more often funding takes the form of a research assistantship (RA). A student with RA funding typically works with a faculty member on a research project for 15-30 hours a week. The research that is conducted on that project generally becomes the topic of the student's thesis.

To learn more about current transportation research at MIT, visit,, and

Funding for RAs is awarded as either a half or full appointment. An award of a full RA (about 30 hours of work per week) covers the student's tuition for the academic year and provides a monthly stipend to cover living expenses. A half RA (approximately 15 hours of work per week) covers half of the student's tuition for the academic year and provides half of the regular monthly stipend.

Students who are not awarded financial aid at the time of admission may seek funding through other sources.

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Doctor of Philosophy in Transportation

The interdisciplinary doctoral program in transportation provides a structured and direct follow-on doctoral program for students enrolled in the Master of Science in Transportation or other transportation-related master’s degree programs offered at MIT or elsewhere. The interdisciplinary structure allows students great flexibility in developing individual programs of study that cross both disciplinary and departmental lines. The program is administered by a faculty committee responsible for admissions, establishment and oversight of program requirements, and conduct of the general examination and dissertation defense.

The interdisciplinary doctoral program in transportation requires completion of at least 150 units of coursework in a program of study proposed by the student, the successful completion of a general examination consisting of both written and oral components, and the submission and defense of an acceptable dissertation. The program of study includes a doctoral core program consisting of at least 66 units that represent the student’s area of specialization. At least two of the core subjects should be methodological subjects and two should be transportation subjects.

Graduates of the interdisciplinary doctoral program receive a PhD in Transportation, although students may petition for other MIT graduate fields of study as their degree designation, subject to approval by the Transportation Graduate Program Committee.


Questions about and applications to graduate programs in transportation should be directed to the MST program director, Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, Room 1-290.


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