FAQs

Below are some of the most asked questions we receive in the MIT/WHOI Joint Program. We have broken them down into areas of particular interest. We hope this helps in making your decision for graduate school. Please note if you have a question that is not answered here email us at mit-whoi-www@mit.edu.

General

I want to get a Master’s Degree, not a Ph.D.  Can I still apply to the Joint Program?
Applications are only accepted for the doctoral program.  We do not accept students who are only interested in receiving a Master’s Degree from the Joint Program.  (This is in exception to the agreement we have with the U.S. Navy where students are accepted only for a Master’s Degree.)

How long does it take to get a Ph.D.? 
The Joint Program is designed for students to achieve their doctoral degree in five years.   

Are there faculty that I can talk to about my research?
Yes, you can contact any of the faculty listed on the MIT/WHOI Joint Program website who has similar research interests to you and with whom you may want to work with or have questions for.  You can find these listings under each field of study, or a comprehensive list of all faculty within all disciplines under “Academics”.

Is the MIT/WHOI Joint Program the right graduate program for me?
While the MIT/WHOI Joint Program is one of the premier programs in ocean science and engineering, we acknowledge that this program may not be for everyone.  Choosing what graduate school you want to attend is an important decision and one that you be dedicated to for at least five years for a doctoral degree.  In the MIT/WHOI Joint Program, you have access to the faculty and resources at two institutions in very different locations; MIT in Cambridge, a vibrant and diverse city, and at WHOI, a seaside village on Cape Cod.  In all estimates, it is the best of both worlds.  And we are able to provide forward-looking research methods and applications to current world-wide issues.

What are the graduates of the Joint Program doing now?
Many of the MIT/WHOI Joint Program graduates go on to postdoctoral research at an academic institution and may then remain in academia as faculty and/or researchers at both small, liberal arts schools, as well as large universities.  Among our over 860 graduates, we also have people working in private industry, in petroleum-based research, are U.S. Naval officers, hold governmental jobs, and those who have started their own companies.

Does the Joint Program offer a part-time attendance option?
The MIT/WHOI Joint Program does not offer a part-time option.  Students who enroll in the Joint Program do so as a full-time student, and it is based on a five year program.

I just want to take a Joint Program class, but am not a Joint Program student.  How do I do that?
If you would like to take a class in the Joint Program, but are not an enrolled student, you can apply to be an MIT special student (details can be found on the MIT web site at http://web.mit.edu/registrar/reg/instructions/specialstudents.html) or you can call the MIT Office of Admissions at (617) 253-2917. 

Application Questions

What do I list as “Area of research or interdisciplinary program” in the application?
This is where you will list what area of research you are interested in studying.  These research areas are:  Applied Ocean Science and Engineering, Biological Oceanography, Chemical Oceanography, Marine Geology and Geophysics, Physical Oceanography.

What if I am interested in more than one of the disciplines in the Joint Program?
If you are interested in more than one field, you may list up to three that you are interested in; but, please list them in order of your interest (most interested first).

Do I need to pay two application fees if applying to the Joint Program and a separate MIT department?
If you are applying to more than one departments or programs, you must submit separate applications and fees for each department.

Do I need to mail my transcript to both MIT and WHOI?
No, unofficial copies of transcripts are uploaded in the online application.  If you are admitted, you will be asked to send sealed official copies of your transcripts, and the address to which those should be sent will be given to you at that time.

Is the GRE subject test required?
No, the subject test is not required for admission.  The general GRE test is required for every applicant. 

What is the average GRE score for someone who is admitted?
There is no GRE score minimum students must achieve in order to be admitted to the MIT/WHOI Joint Program, yet we still receive questions on what students normally receive.  This can be a difficult question to answer because the average may differ from year to year.

For students admitted in 2014, the average GRE score was: 
Verbal: (88%); Quantitative: (87%); Analytical/Writing: (79%)

GRE scores are valid for five years.

What is the minimum TOEFL or IELTS score for international students applying to the Joint Program?
The minimum acceptable TOEFL score is 100. We understand the paper-based test is no longer being offered.

The minimum acceptable IELTS score is: 7.0

TOEFL and IELTS scores are valid for two years.

Can I get a waiver for the TOEFL or IELTS?
Students whose primary language was English during their primary and secondary schooling, and students who attended a US university or college and graduated with a bachelor's degree may be eligible for a waiver of the English proficiency exam requirement.  Please send a written request to mit-whoi-www@mit.edu regarding this

What is the application deadline date?
January 5 of every year. 

When will I be notified of a decision?
Joint Program offers are normally made by early March each year.  If you are on a wait list, you will be notified of that as well.

Can I come and visit either MIT or WHOI?
MIT and WHOI welcome applicants interested in applying to the MIT/WHOI Joint Program, although no visit is required for application or admission to the program.  If you wish to meet with faculty or students, please email the Joint Program (mit-whoi-www@mit.edu) in advance so we can assist in arranging appointments.  Be sure to state your research interests, include your CV, dates of your availability, any time constraints and the parties you are interested in meeting with in your email.  We will do our best to accommodate your request, but please note that faculty may not be available on the dates you wish to meet them. Keep in mind that the two offices are approximately 80 miles from each other and approximately one and one-half hours apart by automobile or bus.  The bus line that travels from Boston to Woods Hole is Peter Pan Bus Lines (link to www.peterpan.com)

We are unable to arrange visits for prospective students during the height of the admissions season. 

I would like to transfer to the Joint Program.  What is that process?
You will need to apply with the regular application process as other applicants using the January 5th deadline, submitting all the same documents as regular applicants.  See the website for a formal explanation. 

I applied to the MIT/WHOI Joint Program last year and was declined.  How do I reapply?
You must submit a new application with updated demographic information, as well as pay another application fee. 

Financial Aid

If I’m not accepted to the Joint Program with a fellowship, can I be accepted and pay for the tuition myself?
Unfortunately, that is not an option in the MIT/WHOI Joint Program. Students admitted to the program are admitted with funding (i.e. they receive a stipend and tuition is paid for) and we do not have the option of having students pay their own tuition.

Student Life

What is the average age of a Joint Program student?
The average age of our current students is 27 years old.

Do most students have a master’s degree before they come to the Joint Program?
Many students come directly from undergraduate school.  We do have some that go on to get a master’s degree before enrolling in our program and others that have been in the work force for some time before returning to graduate school.

Other

I’m seeing “MIT/WHOI Joint Program” and “Joint Program” used in language here and throughout the website.  Are these all the same program?
Yes, it’s the same program.  The “Joint Program” is used synonymously with “MIT/WHOI Joint Program”.  It is just a shorter way of writing or saying the same thing.  MIT has several joint programs with other facilities, but WHOI only uses the "Joint" label for the MIT/WHOI Joint Program.

Can I defer my offer of admission?
Deferral requests are handled on a case-by-case basis for admitted students and must be approved by the Associate Dean.