Graduate Policies & Procedures

Graduate academic standards

Continuing registration of graduate students is contingent upon satisfactory academic performance. It is the responsibility of the Committee on Graduate Programs (CGP) to monitor academic standards for graduate students and special graduate students in accordance with the Rules and Regulations of the Faculty. It is the department’s responsibility to inform students about individual department requirements and expectations concerning academic performance. The Graduate Academic Performance Group reviews the academic records of all graduate students at the end of each term (including the summer session), giving particular attention to students with cumulative ratings below 3.5 to 4.0, and students with U grades in thesis. Consideration is given to low grades and factors affecting a student’s ability to meet the requirements for the degree program in which he or she is enrolled.

Recommendations for action by the GAPG are made by departmental graduate committees. Unless extenuating circumstances are found, students who are not making satisfactory progress towards a degree may be denied permission to continue or may be warned that without substantial improvement the following term, they may be refused further registration. In addition, departmental graduate committees may recommend to the GAPG that a student be allowed to register only for a less advanced degree.

All such recommendations shall be acted upon by the Graduate Academic Performance Group no later than its last regular meeting in the term during which the deficiency in the student’s performance is recognized. The vote of the committee in each case shall be transmitted in writing by the Dean for Graduate Education to the student, the student’s department, and the Registrar.

Warnings and refusals approved by the committee are recorded by the Registrar for Institute purposes, but are not reported on transcripts issued to other institutions and employers.

Graduate Academic Standards for Federal Student Financial Assistance

Per federal regulations, a regular graduate student is eligible to receive federal student financial assistance if the student is enrolled at least half time per term and maintains satisfactory academic progress in his or her course of study.

Federal student financial assistance for graduate students includes Teacher Education Assistance for College and Higher Education Grants, Federal Perkins Loans, Federal Direct Unsubsidized Stafford Loans, Federal Direct PLUS Loans for Graduate and Professional Degree Students, and Federal Work-Study.

To achieve satisfactory academic progress for purposes of federal student financial assistance, an MIT graduate student must achieve the following qualitative and quantitative standards:

  • Have a cumulative grade point average (GPA) exceeding 4.0 on MIT’s 5.0 scale; and
  • Pass 67% of cumulative credit units attempted (defined as “pace”); and
  • Make satisfactory progress in his/her academic milestones, as evaluated by his/her graduate program; and
  • Not exceed five terms of enrollment for a Master’s candidate and 13 for a PhD or ScD candidate.

Dropped subjects are not included in the GPA or pace calculations.  Transfer credit, which carries no grade, is not included in the GPA calculation, but the number of units credited is included in the pace calculation.  Incomplete grades are not included in the GPA calculation, but incomplete subjects are included in the pace calculation. Grades for repeated subjects are included in the GPA calculation, but repeated subjects count as only one subject in the pace calculation.

At the end of each term, the Graduate Academic Performance Group (GAPG) considers the academic performance of all enrolled graduate students and decides on the appropriate action for those students not making satisfactory academic performance (e.g. academic warning or denial of further registration). If a student is placed on academic warning, a set of requirements (academic plan) is set forth and communicated to the student for the student to continue to be eligible for enrollment.

Students on, or eligible for, federal student financial assistance who are placed on academic warning by GAPG are concurrently placed by Student Financial Services (SFS) on federal financial aid warning or federal financial aid probation.

  • The status of federal financial aid warning is assigned to students who were not on academic warning in the prior term, but are now placed on academic warning by GAPG.  Students on federal financial aid warning may continue to receive federal student financial assistance for the academic warning term.  Federal financial aid warning status has no effect on the amount of financial aid a student is eligible to receive from MIT, the federal government, or any other source during the federal financial aid warning term.
  • The status of federal financial aid probation is assigned to students who were on academic warning in the prior term and continue to be placed on academic warning by GAPG.  Federal regulations mandate that students may only be placed on federal financial aid probation, which allows them to retain eligibility for federal financial aid, after a successful appeal.  At MIT, graduate students on academic warning are encouraged to engage with and provide relevant information to their academic programs during the GAPG review of the students’ academic progress, which constitutes the required appeal process.  Any decision by the GAPG other than requiring the student to withdraw from MIT constitutes a continuation of the student’s academic plan and enables students to be placed on federal financial aid probationFederal financial aid probation status has no effect on the amount of financial aid a student is eligible to receive from MIT, the federal government, or any other source during the federal financial aid probation term.

Further information on federal satisfactory academic progress rules can be found on the SFS website.