Graduate Policies & Procedures

Special student

A special graduate student is one whose intended program of study is essentially graduate in nature but who is not a candidate for an advanced degree. Normally, such a student will have received a bachelor’s degree. All applications are made through the Graduate Admissions Office. Applications for the desired Course(s) are evaluated by the Office of Admissions and by the appropriate departmental graduate committee. The Admissions Office assigns the student to one department as the department of registration and monitors all changes in registration made subsequent to admission. Admission as a special graduate student is valid only for one term; a new application for each subsequent term during which such status is desired must be presented and approved.

International special student applicants whose native language has not been predominantly English must submit scores from the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) or the International English Language Testing System (IELTS). In order to be issued an I-20 or DS2019 by MIT, an international applicant must register for no fewer than 36 units.

International students must attend an immigration information session and be cleared by the International Students Office before they are allowed to register. Returning students who have a past due student account balance are not permitted to enroll.

Those applying for special student status for the first time pay an application fee. Payment must be by check or money order, payable to the Admissions Office, through a US bank. A fee is not required for renewal applications within one academic year. Special graduate students must pay the appropriate minimum tuition. They are charged tuition for the length of time they are registered whether their registration is for graded credit or as a listener. All special students must obtain financial clearance from Student Financial Services prior to registration.

Admission as a special student does not imply any commitment on the part of MIT toward an individual’s admissibility to regular student status. If a special graduate student is subsequently admitted as a regular graduate student, subjects completed may be used in partial fulfillment of requirements for an advanced degree. The department determines to what extent such subjects are acceptable. Registration as a special graduate student does not count toward minimum residence requirements for an advanced degree nor for eligibility for nonresident status.

Academic performance of all special graduate students is reviewed at the end of each term by the Graduate Academic Performance Group. Special students are graded on an A/B/C/F scale; P/D/F is not an available option. Any individual who has achieved a cumulative rating lower than 3.5 in one department must get approval from the Office of the Dean for Graduate Education in order to apply for admission to another department.

For all US citizens, the application deadlines are:

Summer session May 1
Fall term August 1
Spring term January 1

The deadlines for international students are:

Summer session March 1
Fall term June 1
Spring term November 1

International students on F-1 and J-1 visas who wish to enroll as special students are required by immigration regulations to register as full time students.