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Thesis Defense

The completion of the thesis is the culmination of the graduate program. The thesis is expected to represent original research at a standard required for publication in a high-level research journal. The thesis must conform to MIT specifications for thesis preparation.

When the thesis approaches completion, a Thesis Examination Committee of three or four faculty members in related fields is formed. At least two members of the committee should be MIT math faculty from within the student's program (Pure or Applied), and one of these must be selected as Examination Committee Chair. Typically the thesis advisor serves as the chair, except when the advisor is external to the department.

By the middle of their final semester, students must obtain approval of their Thesis Examination Committee as follows:

  • Submit by email to Bill Minicozzi (for Pure Mathematics) or Jonathan Kelner (for Applied Mathematics) the proposed composition of the Thesis Examination Committee
  • Having obtained approval by return email, students should submit the Proposal for Thesis Examination Committee Form, complete with signatures from all examiners, to Math Academic Services.
  • The student presents his/her work at a public Thesis Defense. The student's successful defense of the thesis, along with the submission of final copies and paperwork, completes the doctoral program. All members of the Thesis Examination Committee must sign the Thesis Approval Form, which the candidate brings to the defense.

The members of the committee should receive a copy of the thesis two weeks before the defense presentation, and the presentation should be announced on the web and department bulletin boards one week in advance. The defense usually takes place in an Institute classroom. The Math Academic Services Office will assist degree candidates in scheduling a room and posting notices announcing the event.