Program Overview

MIT Doctoral Program in Computational Science and Engineering (CSE)

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Program Overview

The doctoral program in Computational Science and Engineering (CSE) at MIT allows enrolled students to specialize at the doctoral level in a computation-related field of their choice through focused coursework and a doctoral thesis. This program is offered through a number of participating departments, namely

  • Civil and Environmental Engineering (Course 1),
  • Mechanical Engineering (Course 2),
  • Materials Science and Engineering (Course 3),
  • Chemical Engineering (Course 10),
  • Earth, Atmospheric and Planetary Sciences (Course 12),
  • Aeronautics and Astronautics (Course 16),
  • Mathematics (Course 18),
  • Nuclear Science & Engineering (Course 22).

Students enrolled in the CSE PhD program will also reside in one of these departments; their degree will highlight their specialization in computational science and engineering via specially crafted thesis fields. This document outlines the major steps and requirements for completion of a PhD degree in CSE at MIT. The CSE-related thesis field(s) offered by each department are given below.

Program Outline

Once admitted, doctoral degree candidates are expected to complete the host department’s degree requirements (including qualifying exam) with CSE deviations relating to coursework, thesis committee composition and thesis submission that are specific to the CSE program and are discussed in more detail below.

Academic Performance

In addition to departmental academic performance expectations, CSE students are expected to maintain a grade point average (GPA) of at least 4.5 (out of 5) in CSE subjects and an overall GPA of at least 4.2 (out of 5) during the course of their studies.

Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering

A complete description of the doctoral program in Civil and Environmental Engineering can be found at https://cee.mit.edu/resources/. Deviations associated with the CSE degree are as follows.

Major Field of Study

The major program of study consists of at least five graduate-level subjects in computational science and engineering. A list of suitable subjects can be found under “Forms” at the top of this page. Subjects taken as part of an MIT SM degree can be counted toward this requirement. Doctoral candidates are normally expected to take their major subjects at the Institute. The specific subjects will depend on the student’s thesis topic and background, and will be approved by their thesis committee.

Thesis Committee Composition

The thesis committee composition requirements are identical to those of Course 1, with the additional requirement that that either the advisor be a CCSE member or the committee contain at least two CCSE members.

Thesis Submission

In addition to approval from the Chair of Course 1 Graduate Program Committee, the complete thesis needs to be approved (signed) by the CSE program director. Original copies will need to be filed both with the host Department and the CCSE administration.

Thesis Fields

Course 1 will award degrees under the thesis fields “Civil Engineering and Computation” and “Environmental Engineering and Computation.”

Department of Mechanical Engineering

A complete description of the doctoral program in Mechanical  Engineering can be found at http://meche.mit.edu/academic/graduate. Deviations associated with the CSE degree are as follows. CSE PhD candidates are expected to pass the ME qualifying exam in Computational Engineering (present thesis in computational engineering and take computational engineering subject exam).

Major Field of Study

The major program of study consists of at least five graduate-level subjects in computational science and engineering. A list of suitable subjects can be found under “Forms” at the top of this page. Subjects taken as part of an MIT SM degree can be counted toward this requirement. Doctoral candidates are normally expected to take their major subjects at the Institute. The specific subjects will depend on the student’s thesis topic and background, and will be approved by their thesis committee.

Thesis Committee Composition

The thesis committee composition requirements are identical to those of Course 2, with the additional requirement that either the advisor be a CCSE member or the committee contain at least two CCSE members.

Thesis Submission

In addition to approval from the ME Graduate Officer, the complete thesis needs to be approved (signed) by the CSE program director and an original thesis copy be filed with the CCSE administration.

Thesis Field

Course 2 will award degrees under the thesis field “Mechanical Engineering and Computation.”

Department of Materials Science and Engineering

A complete description of the graduate program in the Department of Materials Science and Engineering (DMSE) can be found via https://dmse.mit.edu/graduate/programs. Deviations associated with the CSE degree are as follows.

Major Field of Study

The major program of study consists of at least five graduate subjects in computational science and engineering. Doctoral candidates are normally expected to take their major subjects at the Institute. The specific subjects will depend on the student’s thesis topic and background, and will be approved by Thesis Committee. The DMSE post-core electives and minor requirement may be satisfied through courses that simultaneously satisfy the computation option’s five course requirement. CSE subjects that a student may have applied towards a MIT SM degree may also be applied towards a CSE doctoral major field of study requirement.

Thesis Committee Composition

The Thesis committee composition requirements are identical to those of DMSE, with the additional requirement with the additional requirement that that either the advisor be a CCSE member or the committee contain at least two CCSE members.

Thesis Submission

In addition to approval from the Chair of the Departmental Graduate Program Committee, the complete thesis needs to be approved (signed) by the CSE program director and an original Thesis copy be filed with the CCSE administration.

Thesis Field

DMSE will award degrees under the Thesis field “Computational Materials Science and Engineering”.

Department of Chemical Engineering

A complete description of the doctoral program in Chemical Engineering can be found at http://web.mit.edu/cheme/academics/grad/advising.html#phdscd. Deviations associated with the CSE degree are as follows.

Minor Program

CSE students in Course 10 are expected to complete the ChemE core curriculum with a CSE minor consisting of at least four graduate level subjects in computational science and engineering.  A list of suitable subjects can be found under “Forms” at the top of this page. The minor subjects shall not include 10.34, which is already part of the Chemical Engineering core curriculum. Subjects taken as part of an MIT SM program can be counted toward this requirement. Doctoral candidates are normally expected to take their major subjects at the Institute. The specific subjects will depend on the student’s thesis topic and background, and will be approved by the student’s thesis committee.

Thesis Committee Composition

The thesis committee composition requirements are identical to those of Course 10, with the additional requirement that either the advisor be a CCSE member or the committee contain at least two CCSE members.

Thesis Submission

In addition to approval from the Chair of the Departmental Graduate Program Committee, the complete thesis needs to be approved (signed) by the CSE program director and an original thesis copy be filed with the CCSE administration.

Thesis field

Course 10 will award degrees under the thesis field “Chemical Engineering and Computation.”

Department of Earth, Atmospheric and Planetary Sciences

Once admitted, doctoral degree candidates are expected to complete the Course 12 degree requirements as outlined at https://eapsweb.mit.edu/academic-resources/grad-resources, except those relating to coursework in the Major Field of Study, Thesis Committee Composition and Thesis Submission that are specific to the CSE program and are discussed in more detail below.

Degree candidates are expected to pass the qualifying exam in Course 12.

Major Field of Study

The major field consists of five graduate level subjects in computational engineering. The specific subjects will depend on the student’s thesis topic and background, and will be approved by the Thesis Committee. A list of suitable subjects can be found under “Forms” at the top of this page. Subjects taken as part of an MIT SM program can be counted toward this requirement. Doctoral candidates are normally expected to take their major subjects at the Institute.

Thesis Committee Composition

The Thesis committee composition requirements are identical to those of Course 12, with the additional requirement that either the advisor be a CCSE member or the committee contain at least two CCSE members.

Thesis Submission

In addition to approval from the Examination Committee, the completed thesis needs to be approved (signed) by the CSE program director and an original Thesis copy be filed with the CCSE administration.

Thesis field

Course 12 will award degrees under the Thesis field ” Computational Earth, Atmospheric and Planetary Sciences “.

Department of Aeronautics and Astronautics

A complete description of the doctoral program in Aeronautics and Astronautics can be found at http://aeroastro.mit.edu/graduate-program/doctoral-degree. Deviations associated with the CSE degree are as follows. CSE PhD candidates are expected to pass the Aerospace Computational Engineering track qualifying exam in Course 16.

Major Field of Study

The major program of study consists of at least five graduate-level subjects in computational science and engineering. A list of suitable subjects can be found under “Forms” at the top of this page. Subjects taken as part of an MIT SM program can be counted toward this requirement. Doctoral candidates are normally expected to take their major subjects at the Institute. The specific subjects will depend on the student’s thesis topic and background, and will be approved by thesis committee.

Thesis Committee Composition

The thesis committee composition requirements are identical to those of Course 16, with the additional requirement that either the advisor be a CCSE member or the committee contain at least two CCSE members.

Thesis Submission

In addition to approval from the Chair of the Departmental Graduate Program Committee, the complete thesis needs to be approved (signed) by the CSE program director and an original thesis copy be filed with the CCSE administration.

Thesis field

Course 16 will award degrees under the thesis field “Computational Science and Engineering.”

Department of Mathematics

A description of the plan of study for the Applied Mathematics option of the PhD degree in Course 18, can be found at http://math.mit.edu/academics/grad/timeline/plan.php. Deviations associated with the CSE degree are as follows.

Major Field of Study

The major program of study consists of at least five graduate level subjects in computational science and engineering chosen from the Approved CSE Subjects List, found under “Forms” at the top of this page. Subjects taken as part of an MIT SM degree can be counted toward this requirement. Doctoral candidates are normally expected to take their major subjects at the Institute. The specific subjects will depend on the student’s thesis topic and background, and will be approved by the Chair of the Applied Mathematics Committee in the Mathematics department and the CCE administration.

Thesis Committee Composition

The thesis committee composition requirements are identical to those of Course 18, with the additional requirement that either the advisor be a CCSE member or the committee contain at least two CCSE members.

Thesis Submission

In addition to approval from the Examination Committee, the complete thesis needs to be approved (signed) by the CSE program director and an original thesis copy be filed with the CCSE administration.

Thesis field

Course 18 will award degrees under the Thesis field “Mathematics and Computational Science”.

Department of Nuclear Science & Engineering

CSE PhD candidates must satisfy all NSE requirements for doctoral students, including passing the 22.15 module final exam with a satisfactory grade and completing an NSE Field of Specialization requirement. A complete description of the NSE doctoral program  and its requirements can be found at: http://web.mit.edu/nse/education/grad/phd.html.

Deviations associated with the CSE degree are as follows. The oral exam committee must include at least two CCSE-affiliated faculty members (one or both of whom may be NSE faculty members). The content of the oral exam must address some aspects related to computation.

Major Field of Study

In addition to satisfying a NSE Field of Specialization requirement, students pursuing the computation option must take at least five graduate-level subjects in computational science and engineering. A list of suitable subjects can be found under “Forms” at the top of this page. Subjects taken as part of an MIT SM program can be counted toward this requirement. Each of these subjects can be applied towards either the Advanced Subject requirement or the Minor requirement (but not both).  None of these subjects can count towards the Field of Specialization requirement. Doctoral candidates are normally expected to take their major subjects at the Institute. The specific subjects will depend on the student’s thesis topic and background, and will be approved by thesis committee.

The Minor requirement may be satisfied by two courses that simultaneously satisfy two of the computation option’s five course requirement, but in order to satisfy the Minor requirement, the course topics must be clearly distinct from the Field of Specialization and from the area of PhD thesis research.

Thesis Committee Composition

The thesis committee composition requirements are identical to those of Course 22, with the additional requirement that either the advisor be a CCSE member or the committee contain at least two CCSE members (who may be NSE faculty members).

Thesis Submission

In addition to approval from the Chair, Department Committee on Graduate Students, the complete thesis needs to be approved (signed) by the CSE program director and an original thesis copy be filed with the CCSE administration.

Thesis field

Course 22 will award degrees under the thesis fields “Nuclear Engineering and Computation” and “Computational Nuclear Science and Engineering”.  Student may choose either; the requirements are identical.

Doctoral candidates in general may petition to change the name appearing on their degree certificates. However, petitions to include the keywords ‘computation’ or ‘computational’ in the degree name will only be approved if the student has satisfied requirements listed above.