Skip to content

Student Life

Life in two campuses

Typically, students spend the first two years of the program at MIT—though where you live and how often you commute from one campus to the other depends on your specialty and the location of your advisor's lab.

Within the Joint Program, students are treated like colleagues. Much is learned from listening to and working with other graduate students. Both Joint Program offices (at MIT and Woods Hole) "feel personal." Staff know the students and are quick to move on issues that need solving.

On both campuses, students have the resources of a world-class research institution at their fingertips. They talk of the value of being around colleagues who are studying the same interdisciplinary problems from other angles. Cross-pollination of ideas creates a buzz of excitement in hallways and at lunch tables.

Harvard's cooperative agreement with MIT means you have the opportunity to classes at another world-class university just down the street (literally). Beyond the arrangement that allows for cross-registration, some students conduct collaborative research with Harvard faculty and may include them on their doctoral committees.


Polar bear swims, pig parties, intramural sports, donut hours at the WHOI student center, volunteer science coaching... students have many opportunities to build community within the Joint Program, within their MIT departments, and across disciplines.

Sports, both organized and informal, are favorite after work and lunchtime activities. There are intramural teams through MIT departments and the Joint Program, pickup soccer and volleyball games, track practice every week, and regular nights of volleyball or racquetball at the Falmouth Sports Center or the MIT gym. WHOI has an intramural softball league with a dozen teams. The coastline offers opportunities for fun as well as science: many students windsurf, kayak, sail, and swim.

WHOI employees and students maintain a community WHOI WIKI page, an online hub for all WHOI employees and students to share non-scientific, everyday life information in the Woods Hole/Falmouth area. It covers automotive, childcare, fitness and recreation, healthcare, home/apartment, restaurants, LGBT, local accomodations, outreach, pet care, public transportation, restaurants, services, sustainable living, and WHOI perks. Please fill out the Contact/Submit form on the WHOI WIKI page if you have information/resources that you think should be included or updated.

The MIT Graduate Student Council runs several committees focused on housing/community affairs, social get-togethers, fund-raising, and talks. Yet another option is a department-specific student organization such as the EAPS Graduate Student Advisory Council (EGSAC), which organizes activities for EAPS graduate students. The MIT Biology department has a similar organization called Bio99.

Going to sea—whether for the summer sail for first-year students or to conduct research—forges community in a relatively short, intense period. Joint Program students share their excitement for ocean science with local junior high and high school students by volunteering to teach Science Club, as science fair judges, serving as coaches for independent science projects, and participating in the regional competition of the National Ocean Science Bowl as judges and timekeepers.

Students participate in the social activities of their MIT departments when they are in Cambridge. In addition, the Joint Program has its own unique social calendar, kicked off by a gala at the beginning of the year.

Managing the Commute

Regular bus service joins MIT and Woods Hole during the school year, and the program covers the costs. The bus runs from MIT to WHOI on Tuesday and Thursday mornings and returns in the afternoon. This allows students who live in the Cambridge area to take classes at WHOI (which are generally held on Tuesdays and Thursdays) and to participate in other WHOI-based activities. The program reimburses students for necessary travel between institutions via public or private transportation on days the dedicated JP bus isn’t running.

In addition, the program has a car for students to borrow for the trip and offers subsidized Boston bus and subway passes. While you do not need to have a car to be in this program, public transportation within Cape Cod is limited, and a car is often useful.

Apartments are available, if you need to stay for a few days at one location or the other.

The bottom line is that students do not incur any costs commuting between the two campuses for Joint Program purposes.

Finding Housing

Housing can be particularly tight in the small village of Woods Hole. That is one reason why WHOI owns residential properties in the Woods Hole/Falmouth community. The WHOI Housing Office provides these residences for use by students and guests of the Institution. Student needs are the priority throughout the year. Policies regarding student access to housing are described here.

MIT also provides help finding housing near the Cambridge campus. Go to the Department of Housing web page for more information.

Attending seminars and classes

Both MIT and WHOI attract a multitude of top-notch researchers as guest lecturers. Go to the Event Calendars and Seminars sections for schedules.

Students typically do not have to commute to attend classes. Instead, the program uses videoconferencing to link classrooms at MIT and WHOI.