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 email the Chemistry Education Office (questions about department policies) or MIT Libraries (for questions about thesis formatting, etc.)

Degree candidates must fill out the Degree Application via WebSIS at the start of the term. Important dates and deadlines (including late fees) for the upcoming academic year are listed below.  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.

Students must successfully complete the thesis defense before submitting their final, signed thesis.

**Please note that the Specifications for Thesis Preparation were updated in November 2022. Please make sure you use these new guidelines.**

Important Dates & Deadlines

Scheduling your Thesis Defense

All PhD candidates must have a Thesis Defense. As soon as your defense is finalized, please email the Chemistry Education Office with the date, time, location, and thesis title. Thesis defenses are strongly encouraged to be in-person.  If there are questions or concerns about an in-person defense, please reach out to Jennifer Weisman. When thesis defenses are on campus, we recommend reserving a room once the defense date is finalized, student can reserve department rooms through the online scheduling system or request a classroom via this form.

Degree candidates should provide their advisor with a copy of the thesis at least two weeks before the defense and provide their thesis committee chair and member with a copy at least one week before the defense. However, degree candidates should talk with their advisor, committee chair, and committee member to find out if they need the thesis further in advance or if there are preferred formats. Degree candidates should allow time in between their thesis defense and the submission deadline to make edits and submit the final copies.

Please note that most 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 providing the Chemistry Education Office with information about their thesis defense at least two weeks ahead of time. Following the seminar, the candidate will meet privately with the thesis committee.

Thesis Formatting

The Institute has very specific requirements for thesis preparation, which were updated in November 2022. 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 and a helpful checklist is also provided. The specifications also include information about copyright and use of previously published material in a thesis. Do not rely on any templates or prior theses from your research group – they may not reflect the most current guidelines. We have highlighted some especially important points below.

Final Thesis Submission

Thesis Hold Requests

Details about requesting a thesis hold are available here and the requests are made to different offices based on the type of request.

Written notification of patent holds and other restrictions must reach the Institute Archives before the thesis in question is received, as under normal circumstances, all theses are open and available for public inspection once they have been received by the Institute Archives.

Graduate Student Exit Interviews

In order to best serve the educational, scientific, and social needs of graduate students in the Chemistry Department, it is critically important that Departmental leadership be appropriately informed of issues of importance to graduate students, ideally on an ongoing basis. Graduate student exit interviews provide information that alert the Department to acute issues that affect graduate students and provide data for longitudinal assessments of graduate student experience within the program.Graduate exit interviews are administered to all graduate students departing the Chemistry Department. The exit interview applies equally to graduate students departing with completed degrees (Ph.D. and M.S.) and without degrees.

  • Graduating students will be sent a list of interview questions by the Chemistry Education Office when the student joins the degree list. Instructions about scheduling a time for the in-person or virtual discussion will be included with other informational correspondence from the Chemistry Education Office regarding degree completion. Graduating students will perform their exit interview after the thesis defense so as to avoid making the interview an additional burden.
  • For students departing the program without a degree, the interview questions and instructions for scheduling an in-person discussion will be sent by the Chemistry Education Office at the point in time that a date for termination of their appointment in Chemistry is determined.
  • For the majority of departing students, this interview coincides with the end of the semester, but a rolling schedule of surveys is anticipated.

Postdoctoral/Research Specialist Appointments

If you plan to transition to a postdoctoral/research specialist appointment within the Department of Chemistry at MIT, please contact Jennifer Weisman and Chemistry HR as soon as possible. Your final signed thesis must be submitted before a postdoc appointment can start. If you are an international student, it is extremely important that you start this process early to allow sufficient timing for visa processing. In addition to talking with Jennifer and HR, please consult with the International Students Office.