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MIT Thesis FAQ: Student Frequently Asked Questions

Preparing my thesis

Yes. Thesis fees offset the direct costs of reformatting and abstracting new theses. Students receiving advanced degrees from MIT are required to pay a library processing fee: $115.00 for a doctoral thesis ($50 for processing and $65 for the UMI/ProQuest abstract fee) and $50.00 for all other advanced-degree theses. Thesis charges will be added to student bills during the semester immediately preceding graduation. Undergraduate students do not pay a processing fee.

Yes. The paper copy is MIT’s official copy. Please note! due to the COVID-19 pandemic the electronic version of May and September 2020 theses submitted through your department is the official copy for MIT.

Each student is responsible for obtaining any necessary permissions for including previously published materials as part of the thesis. Visit Scholarly Communications for additional information.  If permission is given, published material can be used in its original typeset form as long as the thesis specifications are met.  

You can submit an electronic copy of your thesis at Add Your Thesis to DSpace@MIT. Please be sure that the file is identical to the paper version you submitted to your department.

We can only accept author esubmission if it happens within 5 years of the original paper submission. The only way to get older theses like yours into DSpace is to request fee-based digitization of the official paper copy of record from our Document Services unit. You can access their thesis page here:

Styles of quotations, footnotes, and bibliographic references may be prescribed by your department. If your department does not prescribe a style or specify a style manual, choose one and be consistent.

The thesis paper must be acid-neutral or acid-free, as designated on the package and contain at least 25% cotton. It may contain some post-consumer waste (pcw) recycled material. The following 20-lb watermark acid-neutral papers are examples of those that are acceptable.

  • Mohawk Via Bright White (available at CopyTech, 11-004)
  • Strathmore Bond

While the acid-neutral papers are also suggested for the second copy, a bond paper containing 25% rag (cotton content) is acceptable for the second copy.

Recycled temporary covers and clips are available in a cabinet in Lewis Music Library. See hours.

Listing thesis readers is not a thesis requirement. If you would like to list thesis readers, you can do so on the acknowledgment page.

A thesis title page should include a thesis title; author’s name as submitted to registrar; previous degree information; a sentence that include department or degree granting program; month and year degree will be granted (June, September, February only); copyright statement; and signatures of the author, thesis supervisor and department chair. See Specifications for Thesis Preparation for title page examples.

The abstract should be thought of as a brief descriptive summary rather than a lengthy introduction to the thesis, generally less than 350 words, preferably one single-spaced page, but never more than two pages. Doctoral abstracts are submitted to UMI/ProQuest for inclusion in ProQuest Dissertations & Theses, an online database. Doctoral candidates should keep their abstracts under 350 words, as longer abstracts will be edited by UMI/ProQuest.

No. Biographical notes are optional.

For the main body of the text, including appendices and front matter, font size should at least 11-point and should not be script or italic. Italics may, however, be used for short quotations or to highlight variables in an equation, for example. Notes and the text in tables, etc., should not be smaller than 10-point.

No. All information (text headings, notes, and illustrations), excluding page numbers, must be within the text area. Oversize sheets must be folded to come within the text area so the folds will not be bound in during the binding procedure.

Double-sided printing is acceptable if the paper is sufficiently opaque so that text and illustrations on one side do not impair readability on the other side. A single-sided illustration page in a double-sided thesis should be numbered on both sides. When creating a double-sided copy, be sure that the page numbers are either in the center or on the outside edge.

Charts, graphs, tables, etc., should be reduced whenever possible to an 8½-by-11-inch format. If material is not reducible, acceptable 11-by-17-inch watermarked paper can be requested at CopyTech (11-004). Oversize sheets must be folded to come within the text area so the folds will not be trimmed off or bound in during the binding procedure.

At this time DSpace@MIT does not support additional files or media in addition to your PDF. We accept digital and magnetic materials such as cassette tapes, CDs, and DVDs alongside the written thesis. Please note that the information in these formats should also be represented in the written text of the thesis. These formats will not be reproduced on DSpace@MIT, therefore there is no size limit. The media will be available as a component to the physical copy of the thesis in the Institute Archives once it has been processed and cataloged. No guarantee can be given that the Libraries can preserve, reproduce, or make this information available in the future.

No. At this time we do not offer any thesis templates. Please refer to the Specifications for Thesis Preparation for any questions regarding the proper formatting for you thesis.


In most cases the Institute will hold ownership of the copyright to a thesis. In general, students may retain ownership of thesis copyrights when the only form of support is from (1) teaching assistantships (the duties of which do not include research activities) and (2) NSF and NIH traineeships and fellowships (although the trainee or fellow may be required to grant certain publishing rights to NSF or NIH). See the current Specifications for Thesis Preparation for more details.

Students may request a waiver of the Institute’s copyrights by written application to the Institute’s Technology Licensing Office (NE25-230). Specific questions on permission to copyright should be referred to the Technology Licensing Office (617-253-6966,

In general, MIT holds ownership of the copyright to MIT theses. To request permission to republish contact

If a student holds the copyright to his/her thesis, he/she can assign a creative commons license to it. Typically this is done by indicating the specific CC license on the title page. Students may request a waiver of the Institute’s copyrights by written application to the Institute’s Technology Licensing Office (NE25-230).

© Author Name. Some Rights Reserved.
This work is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 United States License. To view a copy of this license, visit
The author here by grants to MIT the permission to reproduce and to distribute publicly paper and electronic copies of the thesis document in whole or in part in any medium now known or hereafter created.


The copyright year on the thesis title page is the same year your degree is issued. For example, if you are graduating in February 2014 but submit your thesis to the Institute Archives and Special Collections during the fall of 2013, your copyright date will be 2014.

The student is authorized to post electronic versions of the student’s own thesis, in whole or in part, on the internet. When copyright is held by the Institute, students and third parties should contact the to obtain permission to reuse thesis content in other publications.

Access to my thesis

The two offices authorized to temporarily restrict access to theses are the Office of Graduate Education (for government restrictions, privacy and security) and Technology Licensing Office (for patent claims). A request for a hold should be directed to the appropriate office. See the Specifications for Thesis Preparation for contact information.

There is currently no policy on removing theses from public view after degrees are granted. Thesis publication online is considered part of the process of completion of the MIT degree. Each thesis is part of the legal and scholarly record of work completed at MIT, and neither the paper copy nor the electronic copy can be removed from public viewing.

We can only accept author submitted electronic copies of a thesis if the e-submission occurs within 5 years of the original paper submission. To submit a thesis that falls within the 5-year limit click here.

The only way to get older theses into DSpace is to request fee-based digitization of the official paper copy of record from the Department of Distinctive Collections here.

We make every effort to ensure that access copies of MIT theses are an accurate reflection of the original (print) copy of record. As time goes on, the likelihood of significant revision rises, and we are not staffed to perform comparisons between print and electronic versions.

If your thesis is available in DSpace here, you can download the thesis free of charge. Otherwise, a request can be made through the Distinctive Collections Request System here, or contact the Department of Distinctive Collections

Holds, errata, and page substitutions

Once certified by your thesis supervisor, accepted by the chair, and transferred to the MIT Libraries, all thesis content becomes part of the formal record. Changes, including the excision of content or the correction of significant errors in content, must be approved by the thesis supervisor or department chair and by the Vice Chancellor or his/her designee, in consultation with the Vice President for Research & Associate Provost. Consult the current version of the Specifications for Thesis Preparation for forms and procedures.

Thesis holds are temporary restrictions on the distribution of theses, which may be related to a patent, government restriction, or privacy or security issue. Holds can be authorized by the Office of Graduate Education for government restrictions, privacy, and security and the Technology Licensing Office (TLO) for patent claims.

Thesis holds are typically granted for only two reasons: exploration of patent potential and prevention of harm to an individual or organization. For details and procedures, please see the most up-to-date version of the Specifications for Thesis Preparation.

Both errata and page substitutions require approval. When the purpose is to correct significant errors in content, the student should create an errata sheet using the form and instructions and obtain approval from both thesis supervisor or program chair and the Vice Chancellor or his/her designee.

If the purpose of change is to excise classified, proprietary, or confidential information, the student should fill out the application form and have the request approved by the thesis supervisor or program chair and the Vice Chancellor or his/her designee. Students and supervisors should vet thesis content carefully before submission to avoid both scenarios whenever possible.