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MIT Thesis FAQ: Student Frequently Asked Questions

Preparing my thesis

Starting with February 2022 degrees, students no longer need to pay a thesis fee to MIT Libraries.

Journal publishers usually acquire the copyright to scholarly articles through a publication agreement with the author. Their policies then determine what authors can do with their work. Visit Theses and Article Publishing to see if your publisher's policy is already listed.  If your publisher is not listed or if you have any questions about a listed publisher, contact  

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 formatting requirements are met.  

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.

Listing thesis readers is not a thesis requirement. If you would like to list thesis readers or extra committee members, you can do so on the second page of your thesis like in this example.

Supplemental material that may be submitted with your thesis is the materials that are essential to understanding the research findings of your thesis, but impossible to incorporate or embed into a PDF. Contact early in your thesis writing process to determine the best way to include supplemental materials with your thesis.

You may also have other research data and outputs related to your thesis research that are not considered supplemental material and should not be submitted with your thesis. Research materials should be deposited in appropriate research data repositories and cited in your thesis. You may consult the MIT Libraries’ Data Management Services website for guidance or reach out to Data Management Services (DMS)(, who can help answer questions you may have about managing your thesis data and choosing suitable solutions for longer term storage and access.

Students can use this Overleaf Template. Please contact with any questions about the template.

There are nuances to accessibility with different thesis formats, and there often isn't one perfect solution. If your thesis is in the form of a graphic novel or comic strip and alt text for images feel cumbersome, you could forgo alt text in favor of an Appendix with transcripts or long descriptions for the story(ies) depicted in graphics. Here are a couple of resources you can view for more information:

"Accessible Comics???" by Abby Kingman, LastCallMedia.

"Alternative Descriptions for Graphic Novels" from the University of Illinois, Accessible IT.


Starting with the June 2023 degree period and as reflected in the MIT Thesis Specifications, all students retain the copyright of their thesis.

For theses prior to 2023, MIT generally holds ownership of the copyright to MIT theses. To request permission to republish contact

You may optionally choose to apply a Creative Commons License to your thesis. The Creative Commons License allows you to grant permissions and provide guidance on how your work can be reused by others. If you choose to apply a CC license to your MIT thesis please follow these guidelines.

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. If it is an older thesis where the 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).

For information about requesting a temporary publication hold on your thesis from the OGE:

Request for temporary holds must be submitted prior to graduation

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.

If your thesis is available in DSpacehere, 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

Request for temporary holds must be submitted prior to graduation.

Thesis holds are temporary restrictions on the distribution of theses, which may be granted from the Technology Licensing Office (TLO) or the Office of the Vice Chancellor (OVC). Holds can be authorized by the TLO for MIT-initiated patent applications. The Office of the Vice Chancellor (OVC) can grant holds for student-initiated patents, business pursuits, government restrictions, organization reviews, privacy and security, and scholarly journal and book publication.

For more information on requesting OGE temporary thesis publication holds:

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 their designee, in consultation with the Vice President for Research & Associate Provost.

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 their 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 their designee. Students and supervisors should vet thesis content carefully before submission to avoid both scenarios whenever possible.