If you have questions, not answered here or elsewhere on our web pages, send an email to hst-phd-admissions [at] mit.edu (HST PhD Admissions staff).

What is the MEMP PhD program?

The Medical Engineering and Medical Physics (MEMP) PhD program trains students to advance human health. The MEMP program is a unique combination of curriculum, practice and community that integrates:

  • A thorough graduate education in a classical discipline of engineering or physical science
  • In depth training in the biomedical sciences and the practice of medicine through preclinical coursework alongside medical students and clinical experiences in hospital wards
  • Access to research opportunities in labs at Harvard, MIT and Harvard teaching hospitals
  • A community of peers with career paths in medicine, science, engineering, business, and government
  • Original research in the form of a doctoral thesis

What makes MEMP unique?

The MEMP program differs significantly from many biomedical engineering (BME) doctoral programs because of its breadth and its depth in multiple dimensions. It not only emphasizes grounding in a classical discipline but also provides much more exposure to the medical sciences than most BME programs. This exposure comes in many forms, including biomedical sciences coursework in which MD students are peers, as well as through multiple clinical experiences. The MEMP program also provides an open environment that allows students to follow their interests even when they cross the conventional barriers between disciplines, professions and institutions.

Alumni tell us that the HST Introduction to Clinical Medicine (ICM), which is the capstone experience differentiating MEMP from traditional BME programs, is transformative and has a major impact on their careers.

  • The clinical experience is priceless.  Provides months of real-world exposure to the challenges - and rewards - of medicine, from diagnosis to treatment
  • Doing ICM also made my coursework relevant - I saw myriad applications for engineering expertise and abundant problems needing to be tackled. ICM brought these to life in a way lectures or textbooks never would have.
  • The types of students who are drawn to MEMP because of Intro to Clinical Medicine (ICM) are those who want to understand problems from many different angles, not just their engineering discipline, and builds the interdisciplinary culture that HST strives for right from the beginning.
  • From direct observation from my peers and colleagues, HST alumni, that have entered both academia and industry, the ICM experience has prepared them in ways that may have otherwise taken years to learn in order to interact with physicians and advance translation of ideas and products... Medicine is a culture and knowledge base that needs to be experienced in the clinic, learning with patients, and cannot be appreciated solely in the classroom.

Is my background appropriate for MEMP?

MEMP applicants should have an undergraduate (bachelors/baccalaureate) degree in an engineering discipline or a physical/quantitative science field (for example, chemistry, physics, computer science, computational neuroscience). A masters degree is not required. Successful candidates will have demonstrated a sustained interest in applications of engineering and physical science principles to biology or medicine through courses, research, and/or industrial experience.

When members of the admissions committee review submitted applications, they are assessing whether applicants are prepared to succeed in graduate courses in engineering or physical sciences at MIT. To determine if your background provides sufficient preparation for our program, you can review the program’s requirements for a concentration area here and here. Materials for many of the classes listed on the TQE form are available on MIT Open Courseware, which allows you to see the level at which the material is covered.

Does HST offer fee waivers?

Applying to graduate school can present a financial obstacle for many qualified applicants. Application fee waivers are available for US citizens and permanent residents who meet eligibility requirements set by the MIT Office of Graduate Education.

How do I apply to MEMP?

All MEMP candidates are required to apply through MIT, using the MIT online Application for Graduate Admission. Note that MEMP students enrolled through MIT can work in the labs of any Harvard or MIT faculty member, including those at Harvard-affiliated hospitals and research institutes.

Can I apply to MEMP through via Harvard?

Candidates who have applied to MEMP via MIT and are simultaneously applying for graduate study with one of our partner units at Harvard – the Harvard Biophysics Graduate Program or the Harvard School of Engineering and Applied Sciences (SEAS) – may optionally follow these instructions to apply to participate in the MEMP curriculum in conjunction with their PhD at Harvard. This path is appropriate if:

  • you have a particular interest in the curriculum of Harvard's interdepartmental Biophysics Program; or
  • you are interested in joining the lab of a Harvard SEAS faculty member to work on a SEAS-based project. 

Successful applicants to MEMP through Harvard must be accepted by both their Harvard program and HST. If you are accepted to MEMP through both MIT and Harvard, you can choose which offer to accept.

Can I apply to multiple PhD programs in the same year?

Yes, you may apply to multiple MIT graduate degree programs in the same admissions cycle. HST encourages applicants to consider the suitability of programs at different institutions and in other MIT departments. Each application to MIT is considered separately, and MIT will charge a separate application fee for each program that you apply to.

How do MEMP students select their research advisors and thesis project?

MEMP PhD students admitted through MIT work in a wide variety of research areas and can work in the labs of any MIT or Harvard faculty member. This includes research labs located at many institutions affiliated with Harvard and with MIT. Faculty formally affiliated with the HST program are listed at http://hst.mit.edu/faculty-research/faculty, but MEMP students are not restricted to working with these individuals.

As part of the admissions process, promising applicants are invited for interviews. After offers of admission have been extended, admitted candidates will have opportunities to interact with faculty and current students as part of MEMP Open House in early March. Due to the large number of applications, we do not encourage candidates to contact potential research mentors prior to being invited to interview.

When can I begin an application?

The application website opens each year on August 1 for admission in fall of the following year.

What is the deadline to apply?

Application deadlines are typically in early December preceding the fall term in which you intend to enroll.

We appreciate receiving all letters of recommendation by the application deadline, as that will expedite the processing of your application.

We will accept letters of recommendation received shortly after the deadline. Applications will be considered incomplete and may not receive full consideration if the required three letters are not received by December 9.

Is the GRE required?

No, GRE test scores are not required or accepted.

I'm an international student. Are TOEFL or IELTS scores required, and how do I submit them?

HST places a high premium on both written and spoken communication skills. International students applying to HST should select one of the following options.

Option 1: Submit TOEFL or IELTS scores. In this case, you must schedule your testing so official results can reach us by the application deadline.

  • HST accepts all versions of the TOEFL iBT test and requires a minimum score of 100. Please have your official TOEFL test scores sent to MIT using institution code 3514. A department code is not necessary. All scores received by MIT are matched to submitted applications. 
  • HST requires a minimum score of 7 on the IELTS test. IELTS does not use a code system; please designate Health Sciences and Technology (HST) as the MIT department for sending your scores. 

Option 2: If you meet one of the following criteria, you are not required to submit TOEFL or IELTS scores:

  • English is your first language;
  • You have received a degree from a high school, college, or university where English is the primary language of instruction;
  • You are currently enrolled in a degree program where English is the primary language of instruction

In this case, please explain how you meet one of the above criteria in the appropriate space on your application. 

Option 3: If you do not meet the criteria in Option 2, but you believe that you have sufficient English proficiency for graduate study (for example, many years of professional activities reading, writing, and speaking English), you may choose not to submit test scores. In this case, you should do both of the following:

  • Describe your experience and skill levels in writing, reading, and speaking English in the appropriate space on your application. 
  • Ask one or more recommenders whose native language is English to include their subjective evaluation of your English language preparation for graduate study as part of their letter of recommendation.

If you are unable to provide current TOEFL or IELTS scores and do not meet the criteria in Options 2 or 3, you may choose to apply to HST, but we cannot guarantee that your application will receive full consideration.

How do I convert international or letter grades to GPA?

Please include the cumulative Grade Point Average (GPA) as reported on your transcript. You should not convert international or letter grades to a GPA. If there is no cumulative grade available, enter n/a for not applicable or 0 (zero).  

What supporting documents are required, and how do I submit them?

Specific instructions for submitting resumes/CVs, transcripts, and letters of recommendation follow. Please do not send copies of journal articles, certificates, photographs, or any other materials; they will not be reviewed.

Test score reports: We do not accept GRE or MCAT scores. Detailed instructions for international applicants submitting TOEFL or IELTS scores can be found here.

Resumes/CVs: The online application will prompt you to upload a resume or CV.

Transcripts: As part of the online application, you will upload grade reports or unofficial transcripts from each college or university where a degree has or will be earned.  Candidates who are offered admission and choose to enroll will be asked to arrange for an official transcript to be sent directly from each school where a degree has been awarded.

Please do not send official transcripts until you are prompted to do so. We accept both paper and electronic transcripts. Transcripts that do not already include an English version must be accompanied by a certified English translation.

Letters of recommendation: Three letters are required, and one or two additional letters (up to a total of five) will be accepted. At least two letters should be from people well acquainted with your academic work and research abilities. 

Each letter should be on institutional letterhead and include a legible signature. Letters should be received by the application deadline, but no later than December 9.

Whenever possible, letters should be submitted online. We do not accept letters of recommendation by email or fax. If your recommender encounters difficulties, instruct them to hst-phd-admissions [at] mit.edu (contact us) for assistance.

May I include a publication that has been submitted or is currently under review, in revision, accepted for publication or in press?

Yes, in the application section for Honors/Awards, Publications and Research Experience, applicants may refer to submitted manuscripts - such as journal articles or conference proceedings - at any stage of the publication process. Please clarify the current state in the review process. If you are invited to interview, you may be asked to provide an update on the current status of your manuscript. 

May I send additional supporting materials?

No, please do not send additional supporting materials. They will not be reviewed.

What happens after HST receives my application?

Once your application is complete, you will receive an email confirmation. Due to the high volume of activity near the deadline, it may take a few days to receive this confirmation. We appreciate your patience and understanding. If your application is incomplete (for example, due to missing letters of recommendation), you will receive status updates via email until the application is complete or through December 20, whichever comes first. 

Applications are reviewed by multiple members of the HST PhD admissions committee, and selected candidates are invited to participate in virtual interviews that occur in late January. Offers of admission are sent by mid-February and admitted candidates are invited to visit Cambridge for a series of Open House events in late February or early March. Admitted candidates must accept or decline their offer of admission by April 15.

Can I send an updated material after I submit my application?

Unfortunately, due to a large number of applications, we are not able to replace material within a submitted application unless there is an egregious error (i.e. wrong letter of recommendation, a file will not open, etc.)

We are not able to accept revised materials such as updated transcripts after the term ends or updated Curricula Vitae (CV)/resumes showing new publications or awards. 

When will I know if I have been selected for an interview? When are the interviews?

In mid-January, promising candidates will receive an email invitation to partcipate in video conference interviews. Candidates who are not selected to interview will receive formal notification of their status as soon as possible.

The remote interviews will be scheduled to take place in late January. Interviews will be offered at a variety of times throughout the day, Monday thru Friday. The specific time slots will be shared with candidates when they are invited to interview, and each interviewing candidate will ultimately be assigned to a single two-hour block. As part of that process, we will make every effort to accommodate scheduling constraints and preferences. 

How will I know whether or not I have been accepted?

Applicants invited to interview will be notified by mid-February of HST's decision. All notifications are sent via email.

Candidates offered admission will be asked to let us know their decision as soon as possible, but no later than April 15th. 

What are my chances of being accepted to MEMP?

The admissions committee reviews applications holistically, considering all aspects of an applicant’s life experiences in addition to academic achievements, research experience, and letters of recommendation. Successful candidates typically have a grade point average of 3.6 or higher on a 4.0 scale, strong letters of recommendation from faculty or others with whom they have worked closely, and relevant prior research experience. We understand that not all applicants have had the same access to undergraduate research experiences. 

Admission to MEMP is competitive, with approximately 10% of applicants invited to interview and offers of admission extended to roughly half of the interviewed candidates.

What types of financial support are available?

Essentially all students in good academic standing receive full financial support – consisting of stipend, tuition, and health insurance - for the duration of their graduate studies.  Almost all incoming students receive departmental fellowship support for the first academic year. In subsequent years, students receive full financial support from a combination of research assistantships (RAs), teaching assistantships (TAs), and fellowships. HST is proud that more than 1/3 of our students are supported by external fellowships. More information is available here: https://hst.mit.edu/academic-programs/financial-support/MEMPs

Where can I learn more about MIT’s tuition, fees, and estimated cost of living?

As described above, all students in good academic standing receive full financial support – consisting of stipend, tuition, and health insurance - for the duration of their graduate studies. For more detailed information regarding the cost of attendance, including specific costs for tuition and fees, books and supplies, housing and food as well as transportation, please visit the MIT Student Financial Services website at https://sfs.mit.edu/graduate-students/guide/grad-cost-of-attendance/.

I'm an international student. How does that effect my chances of being admitted and receiving first-year funding?

All applications are evaluated without consideration of nationality or citizenship. Similarly, funding offers to admitted candidates are typically the same for domestic and international candidates.

If I'm accepted, can I defer my admission until the following year?

You should apply to MEMP by the application deadline that immediately precedes the fall term in which you intend to enroll. HST does not grant deferrals for students to pursue business ventures, work experience, public service opportunities, travel or educational programs unrelated to medical engineering. HST will consider requests for deferrals in cases where applicants receive opportunities for international study via the Churchill Scholarship, Whitaker International Fellowship, Rhodes Scholarship and other similar programs.

Can I apply to MEMP if my undergraduate major is in the life sciences?

A traditional life sciences curriculum is generally not adequate preparation for MEMP.  However, some successful applicants have an undergraduate (bachelors/baccalureate) degree in life sciences augmented by extensive coursework in mathematics, physics, engineering, and/or computer science. This may take the form of a formal minor program or a less-formal collection of courses that provide a similar level of expertise in a quantitative field.

When the admissions committee reviews submitted applications, they are assessing whether applicants are prepared to succeed in the relevant graduate courses at MIT. To determine if your background provides sufficient preparation, you can review the program’s requirements for a concentration area and the classes that fulfill that requirement. Materials for many of the concentration area classes are available here, which allows you to see the level at which the material is covered and to assess your preparation.

Can I apply to MEMP if I already have a medical degree?

The MEMP curriculum combines training in engineering or a physical/quantitative science discipline with classes in biomedical sciences and clinical experiences. The admissions process generally favors candidates who would benefit from both elements of the training over those candidates who already hold a medical degree. If you apply, your statement of purpose should specifically address the rationale for your proposed training in MEMP (as opposed to traditional science or engineering PhD program), given that you already have medical training.

Additionally, if you have not studied an engineering or physical/quantitative science discipline in addition to medicine, you should consult the FAQ here.

Can I apply if...

... I'm a first year grad student at MIT in Mechanical Engineering (or another engineering or physical/quantitative science discipline)? I didn't know about HST when I applied to graduate school, but now I'm really interested in MEMP.

Yes, you may. If admitted, you would transfer from Mechanical Engineering to MEMP. It's very likely that the coursework and research that you are doing in your first year of graduate school can be used to satisfy requirements towards your MEMP degree.

Will I have to take MEMP Quals if...

...I'm a first year grad student at MIT in Chemical Engineering (or another engineering or physical/quantitative science discipline), I've already passed my quals in my department, and I've been accepted to MEMP for next year?

If you've already passed doctoral qualifying exams in another department at MIT, then you can submit a petition requesting to substitute that qualifying exam for your MEMP quals. The faculty committee that oversees MEMP quals will decide on your petition by reviewing your academic performance and comparing the ChemE quals to the MEMP quals.

Do MEMP students get a master's degree on the way to their PhD?

Master's degrees are not required in MEMP, and HST does not typically grant master's degrees to MEMP students. It is possible for MEMP students to earn a master's degree in a related field (for example, electrical engineering or mechanical engineering). If you are interested in this option, you must apply directly to the appropriate department for their master's program and notify HST if admitted.

In most cases, the coursework and research required for the master's degree can also be used to satisfy requirements towards your MEMP degree. Students will be assigned an Academic Advisor from both graduate departments and will complete master's degree requirements first.

Who do I contact for other questions?

We're happy to help. Just email us at hst-phd-admissions [at] mit.edu (subject: MEMP%20Admissions%20question)

MIT Admissions Blog

HST student sitting behind cymbal

MEMP PhD student, Yong-Chul Yoon, enjoying life outside of lab

Learn more directly from HST students via MIT's Admissions Blog.