Important Thesis Forms, Dates, and Guidelines
- Thesis Registration Instructions and Proposal Form
- Fillable Thesis Proposal Form (no instructions)
- Thesis Preparation Guidelines
- Example Title and cover pages - PDF - Word document
- Example Table of Contents and List of Figures - PDF - Word document
- Thesis proposals are due: Add Date of the semester that you register for thesis. (If you are doing a multi-term thesis, it is OK to turn in the thesis proposal when you add thesis to your registration.)
Spring 2020: March 6
*It is HIGHLY RECOMMENDED that students find a thesis project and supervisor prior to Spring term of Senior year.
- Add Thesis to your Registration: Drop Date
Spring 2020: April 21
- Submit your final draft of your thesis to your thesis supervisor.
Note: You must leave time for your thesis supervisor to review and for you to make revisions before submitting the final thesis to 1-110!
Recommended Dates to submit to your supervisor - Spring 2020: April 22
- Submit final thesis: Submit 1 copy, title page signed by you and your advisor, and 1 additional copy of the title and abstract pages (unsigned) to 1-110.
Final thesis due dates: Spring 2020: May 8
Patents and Thesis Holds
You must go through the TLO or DUE in order to get a thesis hold.
- If you share ownership of the patent with MIT, then complete a Technology Licensing Office (TLO) disclosure form. For more information: http://web.mit.edu/tlo/www/community/students.html
- If you requesting that MIT waive the right to your patent (the form for this is also on the link above), you can request a thesis hold from the Dean of Undergraduate Education. A request for a thesis hold must be made jointly by the student and advisor, using the DUE Thesis Hold Request Form, which you can download from the DUE website. For more information:http://due.mit.edu/faqs/frequently-asked-questions#Thesis_Hold
The SB in Mechanical Engineering requires a thesis with a minimum of 6 units credit. The objective of this requirement is to give students an opportunity to learn about a topic in depth through independent study under the guidance of an advisor who is knowledgeable in the field.
The nature of the work may be the review of an engineering topic of interest to the student, an original research project, or a design project. In any case, the work must involve additional learning of a substantive nature. The work must be documented by a thesis document graded by the advisor. With the approval of the advisor, up to 15 units of credit are permitted.
Finding a Thesis Supervisor
Students have the responsibility to find their own thesis supervisor, and it is best that this be done by the beginning of the senior year. Your thesis supervisor should be an MIT faculty member (not necessarily MechE), or an approved MechE lab instructor or researcher. Many students develop theses from UROP projects that they have had during the junior year or summer between junior and senior years. In that case, the UROP supervisor becomes the thesis supervisor. In other cases, students will contact faculty members whose research is of interest to them, and a thesis project can be developed by discussion between the student and the faculty member. In still other cases, students may have their own clear idea of the subject of their thesis, and the task will be to find a faculty member who is interested in working with the student on that topic.
The thesis advisor of record must be an MIT faculty member or select members of the research staff (graduate students and postdocs are ineligible to act as thesis advisors). Students who are looking for an appropriate thesis advisor should consult the Undergraduate Office (Room 1-110). Theses may be done off campus, but students are cautioned that off-campus supervisors usually are not familiar with the thesis requirements which may put the student at risk when seeking approval of the Department. Also, work done at an industrial firm may be considered proprietary by the firm which would prevent the student from submitting the thesis to the Department. In such cases, a representative of the firm must sign a release letter, a sample text of which is available at the MechE Undergraduate Office.
You can search MechE faculty by topic areas.
Thesis Registration and Grading
Students may elect to start and/or finish the work in the Fall Term, the Spring Term, or IAP, and they may choose to extend the work over several terms. In the latter case, a progress report is required for each term of registration. If the work in progress is judged satisfactory by the advisor, a grade of "J" will be awarded. Unsatisfactory progress will be awarded the grade "U". Students must be registered for subject 2.ThU for the term in which the thesis is submitted.
Before registering for thesis, students must complete the thesis proposal form and attach a brief paragraph summarizing the work planned. (The form is available on the "download forms" page in this web site.) The form must be signed by the thesis advisor and returned to the MechE Undergraduate Office (Room 1-110). In the event of a change of advisor or project, the proposal must be updated in the Undergraduate Office as soon as possible. Students who submit the completed forms on or before Registration Day may register for 2.ThU on the Registration Form for the number of units agreed upon with the thesis advisor. Students who complete the thesis proposal after Registration Day, but before the Add Date, must add 2.ThU by submitting to the Registrar a completed Add/Drop Form signed by both the thesis supervisor and the student's faculty advisor. To add thesis after the Add Date the Undergraduate Administrator (Jared Embelton) must also sign the Add/Drop Form. Drop date is the absolute deadline for adding or dropping 2.ThU. Students may not register for the thesis after the drop date.
At mid-term, the thesis advisor will be asked for an assessment of the student's progress on the thesis. Thus, it is important for the student to maintain contact with the advisor so that an accurate assessment can be made. If the thesis advisor judges progress to be unsatisfactory, a grade of "U" will be submitted and the number of units for 2.ThU registration will be reduced to 1. The grade of "U" will remain on the transcript and the Course 2 degree requirements cannot be completed until another thesis is started and completed with a passing grade. Students who are making satisfactory progress but fail to complete the thesis by the Thesis Due Date will receive the grade "J" indicating that at least one additional unit of registration for 2.ThU will be required to complete the Course 2 degree. Upon satisfactory completion of the thesis, the thesis advisor will assign a grade which will apply to all units of 2.ThU registration from previous terms, up to an absolute limit of 15. For thesis credit during IAP, students should register during the first week of IAP in the Undergraduate Office.
During the semester in which the student expects to graduate, it is the responsibility of the student to maintain contact with the thesis advisor. In the event that thesis progress is reported as unsatisfactory, the student's name will be removed from the Degree List. Students are reminded that graduation also can be delayed by late submission of an acceptable thesis or by submission of a thesis that fails to conform to the current Thesis Specifications. Theses may not be submitted after 5:00 PM on the Thesis Due Date.
Consult the MIT Academic Calendar for Add Date, Drop Date, and Thesis Due Dates for the semester in question.
Be sure to submit a draft version of your thesis to your thesis supervisor well before the thesis due date. Your thesis supervisor may have edits for you to incorporate into your final thesis. One copy of the final thesis must be submitted to the Undergraduate Office in 1-110.
1. Be sure that the thesis meets the library’s published thesis specifications, published online here
2. Pay special attention to the title page and abstract page – examples are provided online.
- Title page (required, please look at the example for formatting)
Signature of Author:
Department of Mechanical Engineering[Date of thesis submission]
Certified by:[Your thesis advisor’s name]
[Thesis advisor’s title]
Thesis Supervisor Accepted by: Maria Yang
Professor of Mechanical Engineering
- Abstract page (required, please look at the example for formatting)
3. Print one copy of the thesis on archival bond paper. You can print to the Athena printer “Thesis” in 11-004, or request printing on thesis quality paper at Copytech. Covers and clips are available at the Mech E Undergraduate Office – covers are also available at the Library Archives in 14N-118.
4. Sign the title page, and get your thesis advisor’s signature, and bring it to 1-110. The Undergraduate Office will get Prof Yang's signature.
- The thesis specs website says: If you are writing your thesis on Athena, follow the formatting and typeface instructions under the LATEX or FRAME olc stock answer topics by typing the command "olc_answers" on any Athena workstation.
General Thesis Writing Information
For formatting guidelines, please see the Thesis Specifications. This website has information relating to required pages (title and abstract), as well as suggestions for fonts and formatting figures/graphics. Note: One copy of the thesis must be submitted to the Undergraduate Office in 1-110. (The thesis specs state that 2 copies must be submitted, but that only applies to a graduate student thesis).
The usual structure of a thesis is:
- Title Page
- Abstract Page
- Acknowledgements (optional)
- Table of Contents (optional)
- Content, in chapters for a long thesis
- Appendices (optional)
The content of the thesis is to be determined by the student and faculty supervisor. Your thesis will be letter graded.
The WCC at MIT (Writing and Communication Center) offers free one-on-one professional advice from lecturers (who all have advanced degrees and who are all are published writers) about all types of academic, creative, and professional writing and about all aspects of oral presentations (including practicing your presentations). We help you think your way more deeply into your topic, no matter what department or discipline you are in. The WCC is located in E18-233). To register with our online scheduler and to make appointments, go to https://mit.mywconline.com/ . To access the WCC’s many pages of advice about writing and oral presentations, go to http://cmsw.mit.edu/writing-and-communication-center/ . The Center’s core hours are Monday-Friday, 9:00 a.m.-6:00 p.m.; evening hours vary by semester–check the online scheduler for up-to-date hours.