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get involved

A comprehensive overview of the classes, research, student groups, support programs and living groups that contribute to the international development community at MIT

support programs

MIT is home to an extensive support network for students who want to work in international development. The list below represents a number of the programs that are available to students who want to get involved.

The Center for International Studies (CIS)

The Center for International Studies (CIS) aims to support and promote international research and education at MIT. Whenever possible, CIS capitalizes on MIT's great strengths in science and engineering, examining the international aspects of these fields as they relate to both policy and practice, and focusing on those issues where science and engineering intersect most closely with foreign affairs.

Media Lab Entrepreneurship Program

The Media Lab Entrepreneurship Program is a cross-cutting theme within the Media Arts and Sciences academic program that helps students translate promising ideas at the Media Lab from compelling prototypes towards real-world products or services—i.e., translating ideas into impact. Such translation has historically occurred when sponsors absorb promising concepts and hire graduating students and also when new businesses or even NGO organizations are formed, sometimes with Media Lab sponsors as co-investors, co-developers, or lead customers.


The MIT International Science and Technology Initiatives — better known as MISTI — connects MIT students and faculty with research and innovation around the world. MIT's largest international program, MISTI is a pioneer in applied international studies — a distinctively MIT concept. Working closely with a network of premier corporations, universities and research institutes, MISTI matches over 400 MIT students with internships and research abroad each year.

Legatum Center for Development and Entrepreneurship

The Legatum Center for Development and Entrepreneurship at MIT was founded on the belief that economic progress and good governance in low-income countries emerge from entrepreneurship and innovations that empower ordinary citizens. It administers programs and events that promote and shape discourse on bottom-up development, including a highly competitive fellowship for MIT graduate students who intend to launch enterprises in low-income countries. In addition, the Center convenes an annual conference; hosts a lecture series; and supports, with seed grants, teams of MIT students passionate about starting viable businesses in the developing world.

Public Service Center (PSC)

The PSC offers advising, planning, and financial assistance for students interested in all types of public service work, including international development work. Through a range of exploratory and implementation programs, including Internships, Fellowships, Grants, Service Learning, the MIT IDEAS Competition and the Global Challenge, the PSC supports students by providing effective and collaborative services for communities worldwide.  Some of our programs also support alumni participation.

UROP/International Research Opportunities (IROP)

IROP opportunities are available to MIT undergraduates who are interested in engaging in international research projects. Overseas research opportunities provide many of the same benefits offered through conventional study abroad experiences—they provide a forum in which to connect with individuals from diverse cultural backgrounds, who share similar intellectual goals. In addition, IROP experiences help students enhance commuication and leadership skills and refine collaborative and decision-making skills, while increasing understanding and awareness of ethical issues.

Other Fellowships and Internships – MIT Administered

Carroll L.Wilson Award The Carroll L. Wilson Award is a grant for up to $7,000 awarded to graduate students, in any MIT department, who wish to pursue exciting and challenging opportunities abroad.

Peter J. Eloranta Fellowship Student-originated and/or directed research, investigation, or creative study in any field. Each individual fellowship is $6,000. The Eloranta Summer Fellowship Committee makes the award based on its review of submitted proposals. In making awards, the selection committee looks for the WOW quality: Well-written, Original, and Workable. The stipend may be used to cover living expenses, travel, or materials and services costs.

IDI Technology Dissemination Fellowships allows for targeted dissemination and transfer of appropriate technologies developed at MIT in recent years along with suitable open-source technologies.

Kelly Douglas Traveling Fellowship A grant up to $1,000 to enable MIT undergraduates who are committed to further work in the humanities, arts, or social sciences to travel in order to pursue an independent project in an HASS field, or to collaborate in a humanitarian project.

The Office of the Dean for Graduate Education (ODGE) Fellowships The ODGE administers a number of endowed fellowships through an annual competition in March, many of which have unique restrictions. All nominations (both for new awards and for renewal requests) must be submitted by the departmental graduate office on behalf of the student.

Tau Beta Pi Service and Engineering Fellowships TBP's Fellowship Program is for MIT undergraduates seeking to pursue a service engineering project during this coming summer. The purpose of this program is to support students who seek to apply their engineering and technological understanding to better society, both domestic and abroad. Successful fellows should be prepared to guide a student-led project that can leave behind lasting, sustainable benefits for a community. The work may be arranged with non-governmental or inter-governmental organizations and other community-conscious groups. Students of all disciplines are welcomed to apply. Awards are generally between $2000 to $5000 each.

Fellowships – non-MIT administered

The Awesome Foundation The Awesome Foundation for the Arts and Sciences is an ever-growing, worldwide network of people devoted to forwarding the interest of awesomeness in the universe. The Foundation distributes a series of monthly $1,000 grants with no strings attached to projects and their creators.

Ashoka Fellowship For leading social entrepreneurs who are recognized to have innovative solutions and the potential to change patterns across society.

Echoing Green Fellowship For individuals with innovative ideas for creating new models for tackling seemingly unsolvable social challenges. These Fellowships offer them the opportunity to develop and test their ideas.

Fulbright Program for US Students. Advanced research, graduate study, or teaching at the university, secondary or elementary level.

MIT competitions

IDEAS Global Challenge The annual MIT IDEAS Competition encourages teams to collaborate with a community partner to develop and implement projects that make a positive change in the world. IDEAS — which stands for Innovation, Development, Enterprise, Action and Service — awards up to $7,500 to winning teams based on the innovation, feasibility, and community impact of the projects. IDEAS staff work closely with teams to help them refine their proposals and development grants are available to assist teams during the application process. Final entries are judged by a panel of experts during a judging and poster session in April and awards are made during an Awards Ceremony in May. Winning teams have up to one year to implement their projects.

$100k Competition D-track The MIT $100K Entrepreneurship Competition is designed to encourage students and researchers in the MIT community to act on their talent, ideas and energy to produce tomorrow’s leading firms. Now in its 20th year, the Competition has awarded hundreds of thousands of dollars in cash and business startup services to outstanding teams of student entrepreneurs who submitted business plans for new ventures showing significant business potential in areas ranging from cutting edge technology to social, economic and environmental development. The $100K launched the Development Track in 2006 to jumpstart transformative change in emerging markets. Since its inception, the Development Track has helped launch over 50 revolutionary business ideas, ranging from income-generating bicycles to cell phone-enabled medical diagnos¬tics for the rural poor.

$30,000 Lemelson-MIT Student Prize The prestigious $30,000 Lemelson-MIT Student Prize serves as a catalyst to help today’s young inventors rise into tomorrow’s technological and entrepreneurial leaders. It is awarded annually to an inventive graduate student or graduating senior at MIT. Publicity around the award can lead to invaluable exposure to science, business, and investment communities. Past winners and finalists include Amy Smith, who invented low-tech devices that address problems in developing countries; Nathan Ball, who invented life-saving technologies such as a device for rapid vertical mobility; and Aviva Presser for her work with microbial fuel cell technology. The Lemelson-MIT Program recognizes outstanding inventors, encourages sustainable new solutions to real-world problems, and enables and inspires young people to pursue creative lives and careers through invention. Application deadline is Friday, December 10, 2010.

If you think your project should be on this list, email with a short write up, a link to your website, and a contact email.