When the thesis is substantially complete and fully acceptable to the thesis committee, a public thesis defense is scheduled for the student to present his/her work to the thesis committee and other members of the community. The thesis defense is the last formal examination required for receipt of a doctoral degree. To be considered "public", a defense must be announced to the community at least five working days in advance. At the defense, the thesis committee determines if the research presented is sufficient for granting a doctoral degree. Following a satisfactory thesis defense, the student submits the final thesis document, approved by the research supervisor, to Traci Anderson via email (see instructions below).
[Friendly advice: Contact jrstein [at] mit.edu (Joseph Stein) at least two weeks before your scheduled date to arrange for advertising via email and posters. A defense can be canceled for insufficient public notice.]
[12.16.2021 UPDATE - Thesis defenses through September 2022 may be conducted virtually, in-person or hybrid. The policy will be reviewed again in fall 2022.]
Before the Thesis Defense
Committee Approves Student to Defend: The thesis committee, working with the student and reviewing thesis drafts, concludes that the doctoral work is complete. The student should discuss the structure of the defense (general guidelines below) with the thesis committee chair and the research supervisor.
Schedule the Defense: The student schedules a defense at a time when all members of the thesis committee will be physical present. Any exceptions must be approved in advance by the IMES/HST Academic Office.
Reserve Room: It is the student's responsibility to reserve a room and any necessary equipment. Please contact imes-reservation [at] mit.edu (subject: E25%20Room%20Reservation) (IMES Reservation) to reserve rooms E25-140, E25-141, E25-119/121, E25-521.
Guidelines for a Zoom Defense: Download PDF
Final Draft: A complete draft of the thesis document is due to the thesis committee two weeks prior to the thesis defense to allow time for review. The thesis should be written as a single cohesive document; it may include content from published papers (see libraries website on "Use of Previously Published Material in a Thesis") but it may not be a simple compilation of previously published materials.
Publicize the Defense: The IMES/HST Academic Office invites the community to attend the defense via email, flyers, and a notice on the HST website. This requires that the student email a thesis abstract and supplemental information to jrstein [at] mit.edu (Joseph Stein) two weeks prior to the thesis defense. The following information should be included: Date and time, Location (Zoom invitation), Thesis Title, Names of committee members, with academic and professional titles and institutional affiliations. The abstract is limited to 250 words for the poster, but students may optionally submit a second, longer abstract for the email announcement.
Thesis Defense Guidelines
Public Defense: The student should prepare a presentation of 45-60 minutes in length, to be followed by a public question and answer period of 15–30 minutes at discretion of the chair.
Committee Discussion: Immediately following the public thesis presentation, the student meets privately with the thesis committee and any other faculty members present to explore additional questions at the discretion of the faculty. Then the thesis committee meets in executive session and determines whether the thesis defense was satisfactory. The committee may suggest additions or editorial changes to the thesis document at this point.
Chair Confirms Pass: After the defense, the thesis committee chair should inform Traci Anderson of the outcome via email to tanderso [at] mit.edu.
Submitting the Final Thesis Document
The student submits the signed thesis document to Traci Anderson in E25-518. Please refer to the thesis formatting guidelines.
Title page notes.
The Program line should read, "Submitted to the Harvard-MIT Program in Health Sciences and Technology, in partial fulfillment of the the requirements for the degree of ... "
Both the student and research supervisor should sign the title page. Thesis committee members are not required to sign. On the "Accepted by" line, please list: Emery N. Brown, MD, PhD/Director, Harvard-MIT Program in Health Sciences and Technology/Professor of Computational Neuroscience and Health Sciences and Technology. The Academic Office will obtain Professor Brown's signature.
Download sample thesis title page
Thesis Submission Components.
As of 4/2021, the MIT libraries have changed their thesis submissions guidelines and are no longer accepting hard copy theses submissions. For most recent guidance from the libraries: https://libguides.mit.edu/mit-thesis-faq/instructions
Submit to the Academic Office, via email (tanderso [at] mit.edu)
pdf of the final thesis should include an UNSIGNED title page
A separate file with a SIGNED title page by the student and supervisor, the Academic Office will get Dr. Emery Brown's signature.
Submit a UMI ProQuest form
For the MIT Library thesis processing, fill out the "Thesis Information" here: https://thesis-submit.mit.edu/
File Naming Information: https://libguides.mit.edu/
Survey of Earned Doctorates. The University Provost’s Office will contact all doctoral candidates via email with instructions for completing this survey.