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MIT Course Catalog 2013-2014

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Academic Procedures and Institute Regulations

Academic Procedures

Registration

Information on preregistration and registration procedures is available at http://web.mit.edu/registrar/reg/index.html.

Retaining Student Status

A person becomes an MIT student at the start of the term for which he or she is admitted or readmitted. Regular student status is retained until graduation, unless the student withdraws or is disqualified.

For the fall and spring terms, undergraduate and graduate students must complete the three steps listed below in order to continue student status during that term:

Students who do not complete these steps by the published deadlines are subject to fines. Failure to pay charges and complete registration by the end of the second week of the term will result in the loss of student status.

International students are required by immigration regulations to be registered full-time when school is in session in order to maintain legal status in the US. Students should check with the International Students Office (http://web.mit.edu/iso/) for details.

Undergraduate and graduate students registered in the spring term who do not graduate or withdraw from MIT retain their student status through the following summer, whether or not they register for the summer session; they cease being students if they do not register in the fall (although the rules for student status with regard to loan repayment are somewhat different). Graduate students making progress toward a degree during the summer must register for the summer session in accordance with Office of the Dean for Graduate Education regulations.

Students do not have to register for the Independent Activities Period to retain student status between fall and spring terms.

If a student has begun the registration process but wishes to withdraw, he or she must notify Student Support Services if an undergraduate; his or her registration officer if a graduate student; and, in addition, the International Students Office if an international student.

A person wishing to be reinstated as an undergraduate must apply for readmission through Student Support Services. No application for readmission to the undergraduate program will be considered from any applicant who has received a bachelor's degree or the equivalent from another institution. A person wishing to be reinstated as a graduate student must apply for readmission through the Admissions Office and the department. International students also need to be cleared by the International Students Office.

People on campus who are not registered during a term are not considered students and have no student privileges.

Prerequisites

Prerequisites are used to indicate the sequence in which subjects are to be taken and the base of knowledge on which a particular subject will build. Before taking a subject, a student should complete any prerequisite(s) listed in the online MIT Subject Listing & Schedule, http://student.mit.edu/catalog/index.cgi, for that subject. (Corequisites, which are listed in italics, are to be taken concurrently.)

Once prerequisites and corequisites are included in a subject listing, it is the responsibility of the instructor to ensure that the subject is taught at the appropriate level. At the first class, instructors should reiterate the prerequisites and corequisites, and describe acceptable substitutions.

Students who do not have the stated prerequisites should obtain the permission of the instructor. Instructors may request that the Registrar's Office identify students without prerequisites, and in some cases, screen them from the subjects.

If the instructor allows a student to waive or make a substitution for a prerequisite, it is then the student's responsibility to master any missing background material in a timely fashion so that the content of the subject does not change for other students in the subject.

The instructor may determine that a student does not have the required preparation and knowledge to take a subject and may, with the help of the Registrar's Office, exclude the student from the subject.

Some departments require students with a D-level performance in certain prerequisite subjects within the departmental program to do additional work or to retake the prerequisite before proceeding with the follow-on subject.

Credit Hours and Designations for Subjects

The credit hours (units) for each subject indicate the total number of hours spent each week in class and laboratory, plus the estimated time that the average student spends each week in outside preparation, for one regular term. Each subject is listed in the online MIT Subject Listing & Schedule, http://student.mit.edu/catalog/index.cgi, with three credit numbers, showing in sequence the units allotted to class time (lecture and/or recitation); laboratory, design, or fieldwork; and preparation. Each unit represents about 14 hours of work per term. The total unit credit for a subject is obtained by adding together all the units shown. Additional information regarding subject designations may be found in the Explanatory Notes that introduce the online MIT Subject Listing & Schedule, http://student.mit.edu/catalog/index.cgi.

Advanced Standing Examinations for Undergraduates

Advanced standing examinations are given in August/September, December, January/February, and May. These examinations may be taken only by students who have never been registered for or attended class at MIT in the subject concerned. Special students are not eligible to take advanced standing examinations.

Except for entering freshmen and transfer students, who may take advanced standing examinations offered during orientation, students must petition to take an advanced standing examination. The petition must be approved by the instructor in charge of the subject and the student's advisor, and then submitted to the Registrar's Office, Room 5-119, at least three weeks before the first day of the examination period.

Students interested in taking higher-level examinations should check in advance what preparation is required. The instructor may require evidence of competence in addition to the examination if the subject normally involves measures of student performance that are qualitatively different from the examination.

If a student fails an advanced standing examination, he or she may not retake the examination, but may register for the same subject in any subsequent term.

For more information, see the advanced standing examination procedures at http://web.mit.edu/registrar/ase-exams/.

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Term Regulations and Examination Policies

These term regulations and examination policies, available at http://web.mit.edu/faculty/teaching/termregs.html, derive from Rules and Regulations of the Faculty, available at http://web.mit.edu/faculty/governance/rules/. They apply to academic exercises during the fall and spring terms. Questions of interpretation and requests for exceptions to regulations should be referred to the Chair of the Faculty.

All Subjects

Class Times. Exercises should, in general, be held between 9 am and 5 pm, Monday through Friday. Exercises begin five minutes after and end five minutes before the scheduled hour or half-hour.

Beginning of Term. Early in the term, the faculty member should inform students of expectations regarding permissible academic conduct. Particular attention should be given to such questions as the extent of collaboration permitted or encouraged, and the use of prior years' materials in completing problem sets, lab reports, and other assignments.

Scheduling Final Examinations. Final examinations are held during the five-day final examination period at the end of each term, and are scheduled through the Schedules Office. Final examinations are scheduled in either the morning (9 am to noon) or afternoon (1:30 pm to 4:30 pm) on examination days. A final examination must be scheduled to last at least one hour and not more than three hours. Final examinations may not be cancelled once they are announced, and, after the final examination schedule is published, the time of the final examination may not be changed. Instructors may not administer a take-home examination as a final examination, except as permitted with respect to ex camera examinations.

Students are responsible for attending the final examinations in subjects for which they are registered. The schedule of final examinations is published on the web by the end of the third week of the term. The Schedules Office contacts students who have conflicts between scheduled final examinations to notify them of the conflict examination schedule, which is announced the day after Drop Date. The Schedules Office also provides instructors with the conflict examination schedule immediately after Drop Date.

After the Last Scheduled Class. No required classes, examinations, oral presentations, exercises, or assignments of any kind may be scheduled after the last regular scheduled class in a subject except for final exams scheduled through the Schedules Office. (The architecture design reviews that occur during finals week are considered to be equivalent to final examinations and are scheduled by the Department of Architecture.)

Formal review must be held during regular class periods. However, instructors may schedule optional reviews or sessions at which the instructing staff is available to answer questions for students who choose to attend after the last day of classes. No new material may be introduced during optional events.

An instructor may give an extension to an individual student for an assignment, but blanket extensions should not be given to the entire class.

Excused Absences from Final Examinations. A student may be excused from a scheduled final examination for reasons of illness or significant personal problems. To seek an excused absence in these situations, an undergraduate student should contact a dean in Student Support Services and a graduate student should contact the dean for graduate education; faculty members with questions about this process should contact the appropriate office. See definition of "O" and "OX" under Grades.

In addition, the faculty member in charge of a subject may excuse a student from a final examination for reasons such as a conflict with another examination or a religious holiday. In these cases, a mutually satisfactory agreement must be reached between the student and the faculty member, the agreement must be ratified in advance of the examination by the head of the department in which the subject is offered, and the faculty member must be prepared to submit a grade based on other evidence.

Faculty members are not required to provide make-up examinations to accommodate an individual student's personal plans at the end of term.

Undergraduate Subjects

Class Times. For undergraduate subjects taught on campus during the instructional period of the fall and spring terms, there should be no required academic exercises between 5 pm and 7 pm, Monday through Thursday, and between 5 pm Friday and 8 am Monday. This same restriction also applies to undergraduate subjects taught during the Independent Activities Period.

Beginning of Term. By the end of the first week of classes, the faculty member must provide:

By the end of the third week, the faculty member must provide the precise schedule of tests and major assignments.

Tests and Academic Exercise Outside Scheduled Class Times. Tests, required reviews, and other academic exercises held outside scheduled class times should not be held on Monday nights.

In addition, tests should:

A student who is unable to take the test owing to a conflict with a scheduled academic exercise or extracurricular activity must be allowed to do so at another time.

When a test is held outside scheduled class time, during that calendar week:

Ex Camera Finals. In some undergraduate subjects, final examinations may be ex camera (out-of-room) examinations. Ex camera examinations are a different mode of testing that gives students access to computers and libraries and evaluates their abilities to select resources and answer questions of an integrative nature. Ex camera final examinations are not intended as a way to increase the amount of material covered.

A faculty member must obtain the permission of the Chair of the Faculty to hold an ex camera final examination and permission will be granted for no more than five years. The ex camera examination must:

End-of-Term Tests and Assignments. In all undergraduate subjects, there shall be no tests after the Last Test Date, which is defined as the Friday preceding the start of the Reading Period. Unit tests may be scheduled during the final examination period.

For each subject in which there is testing during the final examination period, no assignment may fall due after the Last Test Date.

For each subject in which there is no testing during the final examination period, at most one assignment may fall due between the Last Test Date and the end of the last scheduled class period in the subject. This single assignment may include both an oral presentation and a written report if the two derive from the same project. However, students may not be required to attend additional lecture or recitation hours beyond the assigned units to accommodate oral presentations.

Optional assignments between the Last Test Date and the last scheduled class period in the subject should be for self-study and may not be used toward part of the grade in a subject, even for extra points or as substitutes for earlier assignments.

Graduate Subjects

Beginning of the Term. By the end of the third week, the faculty member must provide:

Tests and Academic Exercise Outside Scheduled Class Times. A student who is unable to take a test that is held outside of scheduled class time owing to a conflict with another scheduled academic exercise or extracurricular activity must be allowed to do so at another time.

End-of-Term Tests and Assignments. For each subject with a final examination, no test should be given and no assignment, term paper, or oral presentation should fall due after the Last Test Date.

For each subject without a final examination, at most, either one in-class test may be given, or one assignment, term paper, or oral presentation may fall due between the Last Test Date and the end of the last regularly scheduled class in the subject.

If an in-class test is given, its length is limited to one normal class period (or to one and one-half hours, whichever is shorter).

Students must not be required to attend additional lecture or recitation hours beyond the assigned units to accommodate oral presentations.

Policy for Emergency Closing during Final Exams

Every effort must be made to give final exams as scheduled during the final examination period. Because students have included the final exam in their planning for the subject, faculty members may not choose to cancel exams; they must give the exam as scheduled, or as rescheduled in the event the Institute is closed because of snow or other emergency (see below).

Student Absence for Religious Observances

Massachusetts state law regarding student absence due to religious beliefs has been adopted by the Institute as follows:

Any student who is unable to attend classes or participate in any examination, study, or work requirement on a particular day because of his or her religious beliefs is excused from any such activity. The student will be given the opportunity to make up the work that was missed, provided that the makeup work does not create an unreasonable burden upon MIT.

The Institute will not levy fees or charges of any kind when allowing the student to make up missed work. In addition, no adverse or prejudicial effects will result because students have made use of these provisions.

For more information, visit http://web.mit.edu/registrar/calendar/religious.html.

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Academic Performance and Grades

Undergraduate Academic Standards

The Committee on Academic Performance (CAP) ensures that the minimum academic standards proposed by the individual departments for undergraduate students are consistent throughout the Institute and conform to the rules and regulations approved by the faculty. In view of the individual nature of student academic performance, the CAP does not establish rigid standards of academic performance to be used throughout the Institute. The Institute generally expects undergraduate students to complete the requirements for a single SB degree in four years; the usual load of subjects is approximately 45–54 units of credit per term. Normally, however, the CAP accepts a minimum academic record of at least 36 units of credit with a term rating above 3.0 (on a 5.0 scale) at the end of any regular term, unless the Committee has specifically notified an individual student that a higher level of performance is required. (The latter would only occur as a result of previously poor performance.)

When these criteria are not met, the CAP considers each student's academic performance on an individual basis. Consideration is given not only to the grades received in the various subjects for which the student is registered, but also to the total number of subject units, the nature of the subjects themselves, progress toward the degree, and those factors in the student's own personal situation that may have affected his or her academic performance in a given term. The CAP website, http://web.mit.edu/acadinfo/cap/, gives more detailed information concerning end-of-term review procedures. For further information, contact CAP's staff associate, Room 7-104, 617-253-4164.

Undergraduate Academic Standards for Federal Student Financial Assistance

Per federal regulations, a regular undergraduate student is eligible to receive federal student financial assistance if the student is enrolled at least half time per term and maintains satisfactory academic progress in his or her course of study.

Federal student financial assistance for undergraduates includes: Federal Pell Grants, Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grants, Iraq and Afghanistan Service Grants, Teacher Education Assistance for College and Higher Education Grants, Federal Perkins Loans, Federal Direct Subsidized Stafford Loans, Federal Direct Unsubsidized Stafford Loans, Federal Direct PLUS Loans for Parents, and Federal Work-Study.

To achieve satisfactory academic progress for purposes of federal student financial assistance, an MIT undergraduate must achieve the following qualitative and quantitative standards:

Dropped subjects are not included in the GPA or pace calculations. Transfer credit, which carries no grade, is not included in the GPA calculation, but the number of units credited is included in the pace calculation. Incomplete grades are not included in the GPA calculation, but incomplete subjects are included in the pace calculation. Grades for repeated subjects are included in the GPA calculation, but repeated subjects count as only one subject in the pace calculation.

At the end of each term, the Committee on Academic Performance (CAP) considers the academic performance of undergraduate students eligible for federal student financial assistance whose performance falls below any one of the federal standards. After taking special circumstances into account, CAP decides on the appropriate action.

Students on, or eligible for, federal student financial assistance who are placed on academic warning by CAP are concurrently placed by Student Financial Services (SFS) on federal financial aid warning or federal financial aid probation.

A student under CAP review will be considered to be making satisfactory academic progress for federal student financial assistance purposes unless the CAP requires the student to withdraw from MIT.

Further information on federal satisfactory academic progress rules can be found on the Student Financial Services (SFS) website at http://web.mit.edu/sfs/index.html.

Graduate Academic Standards

It is the responsibility of the Graduate Academic Performance Group (GAPG) to monitor minimum academic standards for graduate students and special students in accordance with the rules and regulations of the faculty. Chaired by the dean for graduate education, the GAPG reviews the academic records of all graduate students at the end of each term (including the summer session), giving particular attention to students with cumulative ratings below 3.5 to 4.0. Consideration is given to low grades and factors affecting a student's ability to meet the requirements for the degree program in which he or she is enrolled.

Recommendations for action by the GAPG are made by departmental graduate committees. Unless extenuating circumstances are found, students who are not making satisfactory progress towards a degree may be denied permission to continue or may be warned that without substantial improvement the following term, they may be refused further registration. In addition, departmental graduate committees may recommend to the GAPG that a student be allowed to register only for a less advanced degree.

The GAPG operates with the authority of the Committee on Graduate Programs (CGP). More detailed information concerning procedures followed by this standing faculty committee may be found in the online publication, Graduate Policies and Procedures, at http://odge.mit.edu/gpp/. It is also important for students to be informed about individual department requirements and expectations concerning academic performance.

Graduate Academic Standards for Federal Student Financial Assistance

Per federal regulations, a regular graduate student is eligible to receive federal student financial assistance if the student is enrolled at least half time per term and maintains satisfactory academic progress in his or her course of study.

Federal student financial assistance for graduate students includes Teacher Education Assistance for College and Higher Education Grants, Federal Perkins Loans, Federal Direct Unsubsidized Stafford Loans, Federal Direct PLUS Loans for Graduate and Professional Degree Students, and Federal Work-Study.

To achieve satisfactory academic progress for purposes of federal student financial assistance, an MIT graduate student must achieve the following qualitative and quantitative standards:

Dropped subjects are not included in the GPA or pace calculations. Transfer credit, which carries no grade, is not included in the GPA calculation, but the number of units credited is included in the pace calculation. Incomplete grades are not included in the GPA calculation, but incomplete subjects are included in the pace calculation. Grades for repeated subjects are included in the GPA calculation, but repeated subjects count as only one subject in the pace calculation.

At the end of each term, the Graduate Academic Performance Group (GAPG) considers the academic performance of all enrolled graduate students and decides on the appropriate action for those students not making satisfactory academic performance (e.g. academic warning or denial of further registration). If a student is placed on academic warning, a set of requirements (academic plan) is set forth and communicated to the student for the student to continue to be eligible for enrollment.

Students on, or eligible for, federal student financial assistance who are placed on academic warning by GAPG are concurrently placed by Student Financial Services (SFS) on federal financial aid warning or federal financial aid probation.

Further information on federal satisfactory academic progress rules can be found on the Student Financial Services (SFS) website at http://web.mit.edu/sfs/index.html.

Grades

In determining a student's grade, consideration is given for elegance of presentation, creativity, imagination, and originality where these may appropriately be called for. Grades at MIT are not rigidly related to any numerical scores or distribution function, that is, grades are not awarded solely according to predetermined percentages. As can be seen from the following grade descriptions, a student's grade in a subject is related more directly to the student's mastery of the material than to the relative performance of his or her peers.

Passing Grades. Undergraduate and graduate students who satisfactorily complete the work of a subject by the end of the term receive one of the following grades:

A Exceptionally good performance demonstrating a superior understanding of the subject matter, a foundation of extensive knowledge, and a skillful use of concepts and/or materials.

B Good performance demonstrating capacity to use the appropriate concepts, a good understanding of the subject matter, and an ability to handle the problems and materials encountered in the subject.

C Adequate performance demonstrating an adequate understanding of the subject matter, an ability to handle relatively simple problems, and adequate preparation for moving on to more advanced work in the field.

Note that the MIT internal grading system includes plus (+) and minus (-) modifiers for use with the letter grades A, B, and C for all academic subjects (except advanced standing exams). These modifiers appear only on internal grade reports. They do not appear on transcripts and are not used in calculating term or cumulative grade-point averages. The MIT grading system for external purposes does not include modifiers.

D Minimally acceptable performance demonstrating at least partial familiarity with the subject matter and some capacity to deal with relatively simple problems, but also demonstrating deficiencies serious enough to make it inadvisable to proceed further in the field without additional work. Some departments require students with D-level performance in certain prerequisite subjects within the departmental program to do additional work, or to retake the prerequisite, before proceeding with the follow-on subject.

P When use of the passing grade P is authorized, it reflects performance at the level A, B, or C (A+ to C- with modifiers used within MIT), with the student graded on a P/D/F basis.

Non-Passing Grades. The grades and notations used for subjects not passed or not completed by the end of the term are as follows.

DN Signifies a D grade on Freshman Pass/No Record and ABC/No Record.

F Failed. This grade also signifies that the student must repeat the subject to receive credit.

FN Signifies an F grade on Freshman Pass/No Record and ABC/No Record.

O Absent. This grade indicates that the student was progressing satisfactorily during the term but was absent from the final examination, did not turn in the final paper or project, and/or was absent during the last two weeks of the term. Like an F grade, an O grade carries no credit for the subject, but the O grade can be converted to a grade of OX. Unsatisfactory performance because of absence throughout the term should be recorded as F.

OX Absence satisfactorily explained to and excused by the dean for undergraduate education in the case of an undergraduate student or by the dean for graduate education in the case of a graduate student. The faculty member in charge of the subject will be notified when an O is changed to an OX. An OX carries no credit for the subject. However, the faculty member in charge must provide the student the opportunity to receive a credit-carrying grade. This may be done with or without the instructor requiring a make-up final examination or other additional evaluation procedure.

I Incomplete. The grade I indicates that a minor part of the subject requirements has not been fulfilled and that a passing grade is to be expected when the work is completed. The grade I for the term remains permanently on the student's record even when the subject is completed. The work should normally be completed before Add Date of the succeeding term of the regular academic year; however, the faculty member in charge, in negotiation with the student, has the right to set an earlier or later date for pedagogical reasons or extenuating circumstances.

Graduate students may extend the five-week deadline with the explicit approval of the faculty member in charge. To complete an Incomplete after the five-week deadline, graduate students must petition the dean for graduate education. A final grade will not be posted until an approved petition is received in the Registrar's Office.

The instructor is required to submit an Instructor's Report Form for a grade of I reported for an undergraduate. On the form, the instructor provides the date by which the outstanding work is to be completed and a default final grade. The default final grade represents the grade the student would have earned, using appropriately low scores for the missing work. If the subject has not been completed by Add Date of the succeeding regular term, the default final grade will be posted to the student's record unless a later deadline has been specifically agreed upon by the instructor and the student.

No grade of I can be assigned to any undergraduate in the term in which he or she graduates. All grades of Incomplete must be resolved prior to graduation.

J Notation assigned for work such as thesis, UROP, Special Subjects, or At Plant registration (internship or industrial practice), which has progressed satisfactorily, but has not been completed. Grade given upon completion of the work in a later term also covers this term. Faculty members must obtain approval from the Committee on Curricula or the Graduate Academic Performance Group to use the grade of J in subjects other than those mentioned above.

U Notation for thesis work that has not been completed and in which progress has been unsatisfactory. Grade given upon completion of the work in a later term also covers this term. Unless a student's progress improves significantly, the student may expect that grade to be failing.

T Temporary notation. Used for subjects which cover the equivalent of one term's work, but are scheduled over parts of two normal grading periods. Prior approval must have been obtained from the Committee on Curricula for undergraduate subjects or the Committee on Graduate Programs for graduate subjects. This notation is recorded only on the student's internal record. A permanent grade must be assigned when the subject is finished.

Other Notations. The following notations are also used on the academic record.

S Notation for credit awarded for work done elsewhere.

SA Notation for satisfactorily completed doctoral thesis. Doctoral theses are not graded.

DR Notation used only on the student's internal record for a subject dropped after the fifth week of the regular term.

LIS Notation used only on the student's internal record for a subject the student registered for as a listener.

URN Notation for a subject in UROP taken for pay or as a volunteer rather than academic credit.

VIS Notation for a research subject taken as a non-degree visiting student.

Alternate Grades. When a significant disruption of academic activities is declared, as described in the Rules and Regulations of the Faculty at http://web.mit.edu/faculty/governance/rules/2.100.html, the use of the grades below may be authorized. These grades are not included in the calculations of grade point averages.

PE Performance at any of the levels A, B, or C, under the circumstance of an Institute emergency closure.

NE Performance at the level of D or F for which no record will appear on the external transcript.

IE Incomplete. Indicates that a portion of the subject requirements has not been fulfilled, due to a major disruption of the Institute’s academic activities. A letter grade may be assigned if the work is subsequently completed. The grade IE remains permanently on the student’s record even when the subject is completed. To receive a letter grade, the work must be completed prior to a date set by the Chair of the Faculty. If the work is not completed prior to the established completion date, the grade will remain an IE on the student’s record and transcript. A grade of IE does not carry credit but need not be resolved prior to graduation.

Additional information regarding freshman grading, hidden grades, and the sophomore exploratory and junior-senior P/D/F grading options is available in the Undergraduate Education section.

Grade Reports and Transcripts

Students may view their internal grade reports on WebSIS. Transcripts are available in an unofficial version free of charge or in an official version at a cost currently set at $8 per copy. Students wishing to request a copy of their academic record should see the Registrar's Office website, http://web.mit.edu/transcripts/.

Graduation

Degrees are awarded by the Corporation of the Institute in September, February, and June upon recommendation of the Faculty. Favorable faculty action is based upon approval by the Committee on Academic Performance or the Committee on Graduate School Programs on recommendations from departmental committees.

Students must submit an online SB degree application or advanced degree application by the deadline for each regular term or the summer session, as established in the academic calendar. A degree will not be awarded unless all financial obligations to the Institute are clear and there are no pending disciplinary actions.

More information is available at http://web.mit.edu/registrar/graduation/index.html.

 

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