Finding an Advisor

Undergraduate students, incoming MCP students and incoming PhD students are assigned an advisor for the fall term; after that, students may select an advisor of their own choice. In addition to assisting in registration, advisors are expected to play a strategic part in helping students to formulate their academic agenda or to deal with personal or other issues that may affect their education at MIT. Many students find it valuable to meet with their advisor a few times during the semester. This midstream review is particularly important for MCP students, who must prepare a Program Statement (signed by the advisor) by the end of the first week of the second semester. If you are interested in the work a faculty member is doing, feel free to approach him or her to discuss your interest and possible research opportunities. All faculty members have office hours and make appointments with students. We recommend that all students touch base with their advisors at least once a month.

Changing Advisors

Because the advisor is such a critical person in a student's life, there should be a good personal and academic relationship between advisor and advisee. If it becomes clear that a student would be better off with a different advisor, s/he should feel free to make a change. Initiating this change is the responsibility of the individual student, who should:

Pre-Registration Procedures for Continuing Students

For the fall and spring terms, returning students must pre-register online in December and May.

Students pre-register via WebSIS, MIT's on-line Student Information System:

Please refer to the Registrar's academic calendar for deadlines and fees associated with late pre-registration:

Subject Selection

It is valuable to spend the first week of classes gathering information before finalizing subject schedules. MIT catalogue listings represent only approximations of classes. You can access evaluation reports from previous terms online at In addition, fellow students and faculty advisors provide information on subjects offered in the department, Institute and elsewhere at universities around Boston. After your initial registration you will need to use an Add/Drop form to make changes to your registration.

Cross Registration

MIT students may take classes at Harvard University, Brandeis University, Tufts University and Wellesley College.

Harvard University

Graduate students can cross-register on-line. During any given semester, students may not take more units at Harvard than they are taking at MIT. You must abide by the rules of both MIT and the Harvard school into which you are cross-registering. Harvard's course catalogue is available at

Dates to Remember

Harvard cross-registration deadlines are different for each school, and may be earlier than the MIT deadline (in which case the earlier deadline prevails). The Harvard academic calendars can be found at:

Brandeis University

A cooperative arrangement exists between the MIT Department of Urban Studies and Planning and the Florence Heller Graduate School for Advanced Studies in Social Welfare at Brandeis University. Cross- registration is restricted to one or two subjects per term in the areas of social welfare at Brandeis and urban studies at MIT. Check first with the professor teaching the course to ensure that space is available in the class. You should register for an Pass/Fail Independent Study through the Student Services office in 9-413. Please be aware that the grading system at Brandeis University's The Heller School is Satisfactory (S) or Unsatisfactory (U).

The Heller School is located on the Brandeis campus, 415 South Street, in Waltham.


Tufts University

Department of Urban and Environmental Policy and Planning

There is an informal cross-registration policy between Tufts University's Department of Urban and Environmental Policy and DUSP.

Students who are interested in taking a course there should first get permission from the instructor. You should register for an Independent Study through the Student Services Office in 9-413.


Wellesley College

All Wellesley College courses are at the undergraduate level. If you are an undergraduate student interested in taking a course at Wellesley, please review the process on the Registrar's website (

Changing Registration, Adding, and Dropping

You may check your registration status at any time online on WebSIS ( Changes in registration can be made on this site as well. Please refer to the Registrar's academic calendar for deadlines for adding and dropping courses:

After these dates, registration status corrections can only be made by petition.

Personal Leave, Medical Withdrawal, Childbirth Accommodation

For information on special circumstances that may affect your registration status, please see the official registration page from the Dean of Graduate Education:


Petitions are required when:

  1. A student wants to add or drop a subject after the deadline

  2. A grade of incomplete is changed to a letter grade (after the five-week deadline)

  3. Credit is transferred from another school, or from an undergraduate to a graduate level

  4. A program of study is amended, such as the election of a dual degree

  5. A student requests approval to write a joint thesis

Petitions can be obtained in the Student Services Office, 9-413. Once it is filled out and signed by you and your advisor, return it to the Student Services Office. It will then be sent for approval of the Dean of the Graduate School. There is a $50 fee for petitions.

Independent Study

If there is a topic you wish to explore in depth, or if there is someone on the faculty with whom you would like to work, ask the professor to sponsor an independent studies project, or reading tutorial, for you. In some cases, fieldwork for academic credit may also be arranged as an independent study. Independent Study forms can be picked-up in the Student Services Office, 9-413.

This form must be signed by the supervising professor, countersigned by your advisor, and submitted to the Student Services Office before you can register for the subject. At the completion of independent study, the professor must submit an evaluation of your work.


While students are expected to register for a full class load, many students also choose to work part-time. In addition to classes, fieldwork is a means of acquiring practice-related skills, and provides experience to bring back into the academic setting for reflection. Students are encouraged to speak with the chair of their degree program committee; to pursue contacts in outside organizations (graduate students); or to see UROP listings (undergraduates).



Most subjects given in the department are graded with letter grades. Some classes, by pre arrangement with the Institute, are graded pass/fail.


Incompletes may, under some circumstances, be given for subjects taken in the department. Past experience indicates that it is infinitely preferable to take a class load that can be completed during the semester than to be burdened with incompletes. Individual professors or the degree committee may set deadlines by which a subject must be completed in order to receive credit.

Incompletes from the previous semester should be finished by the fifth week of the following term. When you complete the work for a subject in which you received an incomplete, the professor should submit your grade to the Student Services Office to be recorded.

Policy on Registration in Case of Course Schedule Conflict

The Department of Urban Studies and Planning does not allow registration in subjects with conflicting schedules. (Marginal conflicts, e.g., one-half hour of a recitation session once per week, may be accepted by explicit permission of the instructor(s) involved.)

The Department of Urban Studies and Planning expects attendance of registered students at scheduled meetings of subjects. Whether explicitly stated by an instructor or not, she or he may weigh attendance in evaluation of the student's work.

Grades Policy

Warnings and Other Disciplinary Actions—Graduate Students

While we would all prefer that it would never be necessary to take any disciplinary actions for DUSP students, from time to time such action becomes unavoidable. At the end of each semester the department holds a grades review to determine the progress of every student during the just-completed semester. Often, it becomes necessary to seek further information from academic advisors whose students’ records are under review. There are four levels of disciplinary action. From least to most severe they are the following:

  1. Committee Letter;

  2. Department Warning;

  3. Dean's Warning (from the Dean for Graduate Education); and

  4. Denial of Further Registration.

Table 9.1: Warnings and Actions
Action MCP Committee PhD Committee
Committee Letter - Low cumulative units
- Two or more incompletes
- Paperwork incomplete [program statement, missing petitions, missing add/drop cards]
- Low cumulative units
- Two or more incompletes
- Paperwork incomplete [program statement, general exam proposal, non-resident forms, dissertation summary, dissertation proposal]
- Slow progress in program.
Departmental Warning - One grade of C in core.
- Failure to rectify problems that led to a Committee Letter.
- Low grades.
- Failure to rectify problems that led to a Committee Letter.
Dean's Warning - Two C's in core courses.
- A grade lower than a C in a core course.
- U (unsatisfactory progress) in thesis prep or in thesis.
- Chronic low grades.
- U (unsatisfactory progress) in 11.800.
- Doctoral Research Paper not completed by program deadline.
- U (unsatisfactory progress) on dissertation.
- Failure to pass General Exams first time.
- Non-resident student not in touch with advisor.
Denial of Further Registration - Inability to successfully complete core courses.
- Failure to complete an acceptable thesis within a reasonable amount of time.
- Failure to complete any other conditions set out in a Dean's Warning letter.
- Failure to complete an acceptable Doctoral Research Paper.
- Failure to pass General Exams second time.
- U (unsatisfactory progress) on dissertation over more than one semester.
- Failure to complete any other conditions set out in a Dean's Warning letter.

All four levels must be voted at the departmental grades meeting. The third and fourth levels must also be voted by the Committee on Graduate School Policy (CGSP) upon recommendation of the department. Generally, the department begins with the mildest action that it feels appropriate in a particular situation, moving to more severe actions in later semesters. Before a student can be denied further registration at MIT, the Committee on Graduate School Policy normally insists that the student have spent at least one semester under a Dean's Warning. Though circumstances vary from case to case, the Department of Urban Studies and Planning generally uses each level of action according to tab:warnings. On very rare occasions the Department has taken disciplinary actions that are not listed in this table — e.g. circumstances involving plagiarism or fraud in research — and these actions are determined on a case-by-case basis in consultation with the Dean for Graduate Education and the Committee on Graduate School Policy.