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School of Science Graduate Programs

Graduate students in the School of Science can earn a Ph.D. through any of the School’s six departments.  In addition to these core degree programs, there are several interdisciplinary Ph.D. tracks as outlined below. Information on admissions, degree requirements, and funding is available below and by visiting the program website for additional information. 

Departmental Programs:

Department of Biology
The Department of Biology has developed a unique graduate program based on a philosophy of training students broadly in modern biology. Their program is designed for students with widely diverse academic and research experiences.

By the end of their first year, our students have acquired both a strong foundation in the principles of modern biology and exposure to contemporary thinking in a wide variety of specific fields. Our graduate students become directly involved in many of the most significant research accomplishments of the Department and go on to become leaders in their fields, both in academic and industrial settings, all over the world. The Department's research labs are in the Koch Biology Building, the Broad Institute, the Koch Institute for Integrative Cancer Research, the McGovern Center for Brain Research, the Picower Institute for Learning and Memory and the Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research.  Areas of research include: biochemistry and biophysics, bioinformatics, bioengineering, cancer biology, cell biology, developmental biology, human genetics, genetics, immunology, microbiology, molecular medicine and human disease, neurobiology, plant molecular biology, structural biology, systems biology, and virology. Often, the research projects of any one laboratory involve more than one of these categories.

Department of Brain & Cognitive Sciences
The Department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences offers an interdisciplinary graduate program leading to the degree of Doctor of Philosophy. These programs are designed to prepare participants to be competent scientists engaged in original research and to teach effectively. Graduates gain expertise in both specific research areas and the broader fields of brain or cognitive science. Students may specialize in molecular and cellular neuroscience, systems neuroscience, cognitive science, computation, or (for students whose research interests encompass more than one discipline) in cognitive neuroscience.

Department of Chemistry
The Department of Chemistry offers the Doctor of Philosophy and Doctor of Science degrees. The subjects offered for these degrees aim to develop a sound knowledge of fundamentals and a familiarity with current progress in the most active and important areas of chemistry. In addition to studying formal subjects, each student undertakes a research problem that forms the core of graduate work. Through the experience of conducting an investigation leading to the doctoral thesis, a student learns general methods of approach and acquires training in some of the specialized techniques of research.

Department of Earth, Atmospheric, and Planetary Sciences
The graduate program at the Department of Earth, Atmospheric, and Planetary Sciences aims to educate outstanding young scientists—primarily at the Ph.D. level—for careers in academia, government, and the private sector. Demanding and eye-opening, our program is ranked second in the country for its number of graduates who obtain tenure-track faculty positions in the earth sciences.

EAPS graduate students pursue degrees through programs in geology, geochemistry and geobiology; geophysics; atmospheres, oceans, and climate; planetary science; and the MIT/Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) Joint Program in Oceanography. Through consultation with a department committee and a personal faculty advisor with mutual research interests, each student develops a specialized program of study and research tailored to his or her background, needs, and goals.

Department of Mathematics
The Mathematics Department offers programs covering a broad range of topics leading to the Doctor of Philosophy and the Doctor of Science. 

Candidates whose primary interest is in the field of pure mathematics ordinarily take most of their subjects in the department. In addition to their advanced specialization, students are encouraged to acquire breadth by taking basic subjects in analysis, algebra, geometry, Lie theory, logic, and topology.

Candidates whose primary interest is in applied mathematics are expected to acquire breadth by taking subjects in astrophysics, combinatorics, fluid dynamics, theoretical physics, numerical analysis, statistics and/or the theory of computation. Students are encouraged to study important aspects of one or more engineering or scientific fields closely related to research in applied mathematics. Assistance or collaboration in problems in pure or applied mathematics, which are being investigated by members of the staff, may constitute part of a graduate student's program.

Department of Physics
Graduate students in the Department of Physics are actively engaged in research at the forefront of physics, in collaboration with faculty who are acknowledged leaders in their respective fields. Learning takes place in both formal and informal settings with a broad spectrum of colleagues, including faculty members, postdoctoral fellows, research scientists, and graduate student peers.

The emphasis of the graduate program is on understanding the fundamental principles that appear to govern the behavior of the physical world, from phenomena in the small-scale domain of subatomic particles to the large-scale structure of the universe, spanning a spatial range stretching from 10-18 m to 1026 m. At each level of structural organization, active and exciting areas of investigation abound. Topics range from the basic constituents of matter (elementary particles), atomic and nuclear structure, through thermonuclear plasmas, physics at extremely low temperatures or extremely high pressures, to the evolution of stars, the large-scale structure of the universe, and the mystery of gravity.

Interdisciplinary Programs:

The Graduate PhD Program in Microbiology is an interdepartmental, and interdisciplinary program at MIT. MIT has a long-standing tradition of excellence in microbiological research, and there are over 50 faculty from several different departments and divisions who study or use microbes in significant ways in their research. The graduate program in microbiology aims to integrate educational resources across the participating departments, to build connections among faculty with shared interests from different units, and to build an educational community for training students in the study of microbial systems.

Molecular and Cellular Neuroscience MCN
Molecular and cellular neuroscience is of fundamental importance to MIT's vision to understand nervous system function and the biological basis of brain disorders.  By employing a cross-disciplinary, multi-level approach to study the nervous system, research at MIT is breaking new ground in the search for how the brain forms and functions, and how neurological and psychiatric diseases affect these basic processes. To complement this exciting expansion of MIT's neuroscience research community, a new graduate PhD Molecular and Cellular Neuroscience program has been developed to allow incoming students access to the world-class neuroscience faculty across campus.