Pre-campus Programs

Page updated as of July 29 2019:


The Graduate Student Council (GSC) is working with grad student clubs and organizations to develop 1-hour webinars for incoming graduate students between Friday July 5th through Sunday July 21st. 

The aim of these webinars is to help incoming graduate students get prepared for joining the MIT community by clarifying their range of questions from technical  to personal aspects and tell them about the do’s and don’ts at MIT. The webinars are to be hosted by current graduate student representatives to keep the information most relevant. Please check below for the webinar schedule. 

Please check your email (sent 1st July 2019) for the webinar meeting passwords. The slides used for each of the sessions will be made available after the sessions; the links to each of the recorded webinar sessions will be posted at the end of the series. Note that attending webinar(s) is completely optional and the basic content of all the webinar(s) is same. They are informal question and answer sessions to help you settle down in MIT and Cambridge. Also note that all the information provided in the presentations is suggestive in nature. Also, feel free to post your questions in the comment section below. When possible, we'll try to answer them here itself else will include them in the webinars.&

Date/ Time  Host(s)/ Dept/ Year Meeting Link Webinar Recording(s)  Presentation 
5th July Friday
6 P.M. EDT

Somesh Mohapatra, DMSE, 2nd 

Shashank Agarwal, MechE, 4th

 -    View
10 July Wednesday
(DAY), 10 A.M. EDT

Saviz Mowlavi, MechE 4th

Alexis Charalampopoulos, MechE 2nd

John Samuelsson, HST 4th

Shashank Agarwal, MechE 4th

Question and answers from the webinar are posted below. 
10 July Wednesday
(NIGHT), 11 P.M. EDT

Prakash Prashanth, Aeroastro 4th

Abhinav Gupta, MechE 4th

Shashank Agarwal, MechE 4th

 -    View 
 20 July Saturday
10 A.M. EDT

Tin Nguyen, EECS 2nd

Tam Nguyen, ChemE 3rd

Nhat Le, Brain & Cog 3rd

Question and answers from the webinar are posted below. 
21 July Sunday
10 A.M. EDT

Lawrence Lai, ChemE 6th (Graduated)

Amanda Chen, BE 4th

Shalini Gupta, Biology 3rd

-   View 
23 July Tuesday
2:00 P.M. EDT

Naomi Carton
Associate Dean, Graduate Student Support, Residential Education

Jennifer Recklet Tassi
Senior Program Manager
MIT Spouses & Partners Connect

-   View




Send Offs (by region)

This year the GSC is partnering with the MIT Alumni Association, regional alumni and other community members to host gatherings to welcome and connect incoming grads with MIT. If there's an event in your area, you will be contacted. Currently, these events are running from June 26- August 11, 2019. Please check back with the alumni site for details and updates.


Clarification on Questions - 1

Hello All, 
            We have tried providing brief answers to some of your queries below. All these (and many more) questions and topics will be covered in more details during the webinar(s) on 10th July. Please be there to ask your questions LIVE !!!

1) What exactly is the I-9, when does one need to complete it and when do you advise taking care of it?
The complete details of I-9 are given in the following link: You need to take care of it once you are on the campus. 

2) Where do you check student bills (tuition, housing, parking, student activity fee, ...)? 
There is a link on the website: with options like the MITPAY, For students, etc. 
MITPAY takes care of all the fees charged to you by MIT including tuition, housing, student activity fee, Medical, etc. 
FOR STUDENTS link will take care of academic records. pre-registration etc.
We suggest exploring these options by yourself on WebSIS (note that kerberos-id and webcertificates will be required to access WebSIS) and let us know in case anything remains unclear.

3) Should new students meet their supervisor before registration day to discuss course registration? 
The final step for the submission of your registration to the registrar office is the approval by your supervisor. Hence, your registration always goes through them. In rare cases, they might approve it without talking to you but Its always highly recommended to talk your advisor and take his/her viewpoint on the subject selection. 

4) The slides from the first webinar indicate to purchase an airticket to Logan Airport, but ISO said that any other airport is fine as well, because travel is allowed in the 30 day grace period before registration day. What information is correct?
ISO information is more accurate. Presentation meant that the Logan Airport is the nearest Airport to MIT, hence recommended. But you are free to arrive at any Airport.


Clarification on Questions - 2

Is there a formal process for advisor and research funding finalization after informal agreement with a Professor?I have received fellowship for the first year and a professor that I am interested to work with has informally agreed to be my advisor while allowing me freedom to explore other research groups during my first year. While the professor indicated that he can fund me for the first 3 years if I join his group, we did not further discuss the funding details. What is the general practice/ advise to ensure the funding is secure once the advisor is finalized? Are there any formal contracts or is it just based on verbal agreement? 

That's a great question. Can you specify your department ?. Knowing the department will help us answer your question better. 
This question is better responded in person and I highly recommend attending the webinar you mentioend (10 July 10 am EDT) I'll ask presenters to add this question in their Q&A section. In the mean time, I'll try to give a brief answer.
Based on what you have described being your situation, I think you are pretty safe. You have a year to decide your advisor, an option which not many people have while coming here. 
Now, the way funding works varies from department to department and group to group. But in general, it's based on a verbal agreement between you and your adviser that you will be going for a Ph.D. and that he has funding for it. Once they say it, they take care of it (They are MIT Profs, they can manage ;) ). In terms of a formal agreement, you do receive a funding letter same as what you must have received at the time of admission indicating your stipend/insurance, etc.

NOTE: All these questions will be covered in all the coming webinars, so if you cant make it to 10 July 10am EDT webinar, attend the next one (10 July 11pm EDT) and we'll cover it there.


Clarification on Questions - 3

Can you please throw some light on subject selection process? Many courses indicate certain pre-requisites or permission of instructor. How and when do we contact the instructors? How do they determine if one is eligible to take a course? In some cases the instructors for the courses are not provided, then who should be contacted? Also, if I have already taken equivalent courses in my undergrad or Masters, would those qualify for prerequisites?

That's a great question. Note that MIT is pretty flexible and liberal about the subject selection. On the Registration day, you make the choices on the subjects you plan to take (in consultation with your advisor). After this date, you have a window of a few weeks to adjust your selection by adding/dropping the classes. This is the time window in which you attend a few classes and meet the instructor in person to discuss whether this class is a good fit for you or not. In general, the pre-requisite requirements are meant for making sure that you are comfortable enough with the basics for the class. So talking to the instructor is the best way to go about it. You can also meet the instructor before the very 1st class if he/she is available. 

NOTE: All these questions will be covered in all the coming webinars, so if you cant make it to 10 July 10am EDT webinar, attend the next one (10 July 11pm EDT) and we'll cover it there.


Clarification on Questions - 4

(1) If we have health insurance through our parents and are granted a waiver from the MIT Student Extended Plan, are we still given the money from our department that would have gone toward the insurance? Or is this entirely separate from our stipend, and our department will only apply these funds to our account if we have insurance through the school? 
It will be helpful if you can mention your nationality/background along with your email here. I can connect you to someone from a similar background. 

(2) Is the $170 graduate student life fee something that our department pays for, or is that something that has to come out of our stipend?
Students are responsible for paying the student life fee. It's a per semester fee that you have to pay to the institute by yourself (like any other bill). Remember to pay it on time else there is a late payment fee also. 

NOTE: All these questions will be covered in all the future webinars, so if you cant make it to 10July 10am EDT webinar, attend the next one (10July 11pm EDT) and we'll cover it there.


Clarification on Questions - 6

How does the MITPAY works for the PhD students? I recently received an email that my Fall statement is due on August 1. Since I am from ChemE and the department funds the first year, when my financial aid will get updated into their system? Thanks!

As a funded Ph.D. student, you are supposed to take care of every bill on your account except tuition fee and the insurance. The major bills among those that you have to pay are 1) Student life fee, 2) Housing (if you are living on-campus), 3) Medical (In special cases like specific vaccination given to you), 4)Fines (just in case), 5) Thesis submission fee (when you graduate) etc. You are supposed to pay them all on time else there is a late fee.
Don't worry about the tuition fee and the insurance, department will take care of that. Sometimes its early other times its late.  


Clarification on Questions - 7

What are the expenses on the food if one cooks it herself ?
It completely depends on your eating habits. You can get a basic idea of the prices of regular staples like milk, eggs, bread, spices, etc from Amazon-fresh. In terms of vegetables/meat, price-range varies. The organic stuff is more expensive than normal. Places like Haymarket, MarketBasket, Target are cheaper than H-mart, Wholefoods, Farmers market etc. I suggest exploring them all once you are here. Hence, net food expenses can vary anywhere between $300-$600 per month if you are making all meals by yourself. 

Clarification on Questions - 8

Can international students open a bank account with FCU before arrival?
Yes, they can. We will try to cover that in brief in today's webinar(s). Else, we'll post some details about the same here by tomorrow. 


Questions from webinar-2 (Clarifications - 10)

1) Any specific carriers or special phone plans for MIT students?
No there are no MIT-specific carriers. You can search online for students specific plan in general.

2) Which bank do you recommend? Any good digital bank?
Bank of America and MITFCU are recommended. Both have their branches in the MIT-student center. The latter allows you to open a bank account back from home also. Just email them and they'll get back to you. (

3) Can you use alternatives to flywire for paying fees? eg. Transferwise has better rates.
You can give it a try on MITPAY website. It might take some time.

4) Do we need to pay for the Extended Medical Plan, or is it covered by MIT?
The insurance is covered by MIT. Not that there is an optional dental insurance plan that you have to pay for in case you want to take it. 

5) If international students arrive before Sept 1, do we have to arrange separate insurance for the period before or will it be covered by MIT?
It's always a good idea to arrange for a short term travel insurance (maybe for a month or few weeks) but it's not 'required'. 

6) For non-furnished dorms, do previous students often leave things like cutlery behind?
It depends. If all the previous tenants are leaving the apartment, they have to clear the apartment completely so you won't get anything. But in case a few of them leave and others remain, you might have some cutlery/furniture etc. It varies from person to person and place to place. I suggest exploring it 'after' coming here and do not rush about it.

7) Can we store our luggage in subway?
If you mean lockers, you can't. If you mean for carrying, yes. But carrying more than 2 pieces might not be very convenient.
8) Can we use MITFCU for international payments like sending money home?
MITFCU debit and credit cards work like any other visa card. I suggest contact bank for the rate and other formalities for transferring via personal account for the most updated information. 

9) For international students, do we need an SSN before opening a bank account?
No. But SSN is required later for tax purposes and other administrative stuff later. 

10) Can you talk a little bit about how pre-requisites for courses are evaluated? If we have taken similar courses during undergrad or masters in a different university, would they suffice? How and when do we obtain the permission of the instructor?
As I mentioned earlier. The pre-requisites are just suggestive in nature to make sure you are on par with other students for the course. You can contact the instructor in the very 1st class to talk about it.  

11) After we arrive in the US, is there anything (other than the state I.D) we need to apply for before attempting to travel again?
Within the US: Carry passport OR any government-id (like state id).
Outside the US: Get the I20 signed at ISO and carry with you every time crossing US border.
*State-ID is not required, just an alternative to a passport for domestic travel if you want.

12) Can we swap an EU driving license for a US one?

13) Is there any website with reviews and ranking of classes (from previous students)?

14) Can we register for master courses from our home?
Yes. Refer:

15) So, we can drive with our foreign driver's license (plus International driver's license) for a while? No time limit to exchange it for US one right away?
Yes, but there is a time limit. I suggest checking online.

16) How much cash money do you suggest to bring with us?
Make sure you have enough at least for housing and food. You will get 1st paycheck around 15 september. To be on the safer side assume you will get it on 31st september and bring money accordingly.

17) Where could we find the slides of this presentation?

18) Can you type the name of the Office for the state ID you mentioned? my audio got cut.

19) Is there a gym on campus? Which one is best?
All the grad housing have gyms. Some of them are better than others. There are two central gyms at MIT.  The one at Zesiger center is the biggest one. Refer to the following website to learn more about the facilities like running track, squash courts, swimming pools, and gyms. 


Questions from Webinar-4

Please post any question/topic that remains at Link 

1) Move-in date and time
We highly recommend conveying the date and time of your arrival to your housing. In case you want to move-in early or are coming at odd timings, do talk to the housing, they might be able to help you with those issues. It varies from case to case. So don't assume that they certainly won't be able to help. 

2) Using cisco VPN internationally
The VPN can be used from anywhere in the world but before that, you'll have to install DUO Mobile app. The latter is an authenticating system for enabling you to access Websis and Atlas from anywhere in the world using your mobile device. Note that on duo-factor authentication system, you can register multiple devices as well as mobile-numbers, hence it can be used when you are traveling and your mobile network is not working. Exact details of the same are available online.

3) Getting MIT ID
Once you check-in with ISO (check presentation), you can go to IS&T office and get it printed in person. 

4) Pool schedule and rushhours
The schedule of the pools can be checked at the MIT-recreations website. We recommend visiting the athletic center once you are here. You will be able to figure out the most suitable timing accordingly. In general, they are not busy and few lanes are always. 

5) MITFCU vs Private banks
I think we have answered the advantages of MITFCU before. Refer to the related question above.

6) Mint Mobile service: 
Google it.

7) Websis and SEVIS
I think we have covered it too. Explore websis to see the facilities available there (registration, MITPAY, academic records etc ). SEVIS details are available on the orientation website. 

8) Bringing drugs and food
Bring only what you can declare at US customs. The link to their website is given in the presentation. Specially for drugs, carry a prescription. 

9) Atlas vs Websis
In general, Atlast is for administrative purposes while Websis is meant for academic purposes. We suggest exploring the websites.

10) MIT ID for T fares
Yes, MIT ID has a charlie chip embedded in it. You can use it as a charlie card too. Google charlie card Boston for more details. 

11) Tuition, Insurance fees and student life fees on my account
If you are on an RA or Fellowship, the department will take care of tuition and insurance and the remaining fee(s) are on you. Refer to the question on this topic above.

12) EET exam 
Please see the question about English exam above.

13) Medical form submission?
For any queries like delays,authetic doctor/nurse etc please contact MIT-medical directly and they will be able to give exact guidance. 


Questions from Webinar-4 (Part-2)

1) In particular, does MITFCU provide credit card services? 

2) If one uses Atlas to order T-passes at the discounted price, will the charges be put on the MITPAY account or will the money be taken directly from their direct deposit account? 
From the direct deposit account. T is a city service and has nothing to do with MITPAY. MIT is just helping you availing the corporate discount and MITPAY is unaffected.

3)  Are there recommended resources to prepare for the EET test?
Please see the question about English exam above.


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