Thesis Preparation

The following information is provided to assist Chemistry graduate students as they prepare their theses. If graduate students have any questions that are not answered by this guide, they should either email the Chemistry Education Office (chemgradeducation@mit.edu) or stop by in person (Building 6, Room 205, Monday - Friday, 8:30am - 5:00pm).

For Final Submission to the Chemistry Education Office:


1. Degree candidates must fill out the Degree Application via WebSIS at the start of the term. The deadlines for the upcoming academic year are listed below.  There is a $50 late fee if degree candidates do not apply by the initial degree application deadline, which is increased to $85 if candidates apply after the title submission deadline. It is strongly advised that degree candidates apply for the degree list even if there is uncertainty about completing the thesis defense and submission by the  deadline, as there are no penalties for being removed from the degree list. Please note that the student's last day of work in the lab must fall on or before the end of the student's RA appointment: September Degree List = August 31, February Degree List = January 15, June Degree List = May 31. Students transitioning to a post-doctoral appointment within the same group may resume work in the lab on the start date of their post-doctoral appointment. If you are graduating in June your MIT Health Plan coverage continues through August 31; December graduates are covered until Janary 31. More information about the MIT Health Plan and graduation is available online here.

2017-2018

Application Deadline Title Deadline Submission Deadline
September June 16, 2017 July 14, 2017 August 18, 2017
February September 8, 2017 December 15, 2017 January 19, 2018
June February 9, 2018 April 6, 2018 May 11, 2018

2. All PhD candidates must have a Thesis Defense. All candidates must let the Chemistry Education Office (chemgradeducation@mit.edu) know the date, time, and location of the defense so that it can be announced to the Chemistry Department Faculty. The office staff can assist with reserving conference rooms or classrooms for defenses.

BIOLOGICAL CHEMISTRY STUDENTS ONLY: Biological chemistry students receiving a PhD degree are required to present a seminar as part of the thesis defense. This seminar is open to the department. The degree candidate is responsible for reserving the room and any A/V equipment needed for the seminar, preparing and posting a seminar notice, and announcing the seminar in Chemformation. Following the seminar, the candidate will meet privately with the thesis committee.

3. All thesis committees must contain: an MIT Chemistry Department faculty member in the degree area of chemistry as Thesis Chair, a second MIT faculty member, and the research advisor. Two out of the three committee members must be faculty members within the Department of Chemistry. The committee must receive a copy of the thesis at least one week before the defense, however degree candidates are encouraged to talk with their committee members to find out if the committee requires the thesis further in advance, or if there are preferred formats.

4. The Institute designates a deadline for doctoral theses each term.  The Department of Chemistry typically extends this deadline by one week, and master's theses are due at the same time as doctoral theses. Degree candidates should allow time in between their thesis defense and the submission deadline to make edits and print the final copies.

5. The Institute has very specific requirements for thesis preparation and printing. Specifications for Thesis Preparation is available on the library's website and should be read very carefully. The MIT Thesis FAQ may answer additional questions. Some important points are:

a. margins and spacing

b. double-sided or single-sided printing

c. The department requires two (2) copies of the thesis, submitted to the Chemistry Education Office (6-205).  These copies go to the library and must be on archival bond paper (see paper list for exact types of acceptable paper). Nothing else is acceptable.

d. The first copy of the thesis must have original signatures on the Title Page and the Thesis Committee Page. Original signatures are not required on the second copy. 

e. All copies of the thesis should be submitted with thesis covers, which are available in a cabinet in the first floor stairwell of Hayden Library, near the Circulation desk. Each copy should have a label which tells the thesis title, author's name, PhD (or SM) Chemistry, and the dated degree list (e.g., February 2017 or June 2017). The copy number (1 or 2) should also be marked on the label.

f. The submitted copies of the thesis may not be pierced, folded, or bound in any way.  The Chemistry Education Office has a supply of large clips and rubber bands available to keep the copies of the thesis together during submission and transport to the library.

g. Title Page: (PDF)

  • In the section which begins "Submitted to the Department of Chemistry in Partial Fullment...", the month listed must correspond to the degree list/award date (September, February, or June) regardless of when the thesis is submitted.
  • Where the Copyright information appears, be sure to include the year: © 2017 or © 2017 (along with the appropriate MIT copyright disclaimer). If you have ever received funding via a Teaching Assistantship or Research Assistantship, or if you have utilized Institute-owned equipment for research included in the thesis, the copyright falls under MIT.
  • The date under Signature of Author should be the date the final thesis is signed and submitted to the department.
  • The final name on the Title Page should be: Robert W. Field, Haslam and Dewey Professor of Chemistry. The Chemistry Education Office staff will obtain Professor Field's signature for all submitted theses.
  • Number the pages consecutively starting with the Title Page, including figures, charts, etc. DO NOT TYPE PAGE NUMBER ON TITLE PAGE.

g. Page 2 of the Chemistry PhD Thesis should be the Thesis Committee signature page.

h. Abstract layout: (PDF) Please adhere to the abstract format, and note that the suggested word limit is 350 words. Longer abstracts will be truncated for submission to the UMI-ProQuest database. Be sure to include your Thesis Supervisor and Title at the end of the abstract. Sample layout: (PDF)