Master's Degrees

Fifth-Year Master of Science Degree

MIT undergraduates in EAPS and closely allied disciplines of study at MIT are eligible to apply to the EAPS Fifth-Year Master of Science Program. The Fifth-Year Master’s may be completed simultaneously with the SB or after the SB has been completed. These students are expected to finish all degree requirements of a Traditional Master’s degree (see Traditional Master of Science Degree) within two academic terms, but continuation into a final summer term to complete thesis is acceptable. Any further extension beyond an additional summer term requires the permission of the Committee on the Education Program (CEP). Permission may be obtained by submitting a petition to the CEP that details why an extension is needed, when completion of the program is expected, and the signature of the student’s faculty advisor indicating support for the petition. Petitions should be submitted to the Academic Administrator in the EAPS Education Office.

Traditional Master of Science Degree


  1. To equip the student with a solid background in earth, atmospheric and planetary sciences.
  2. To train the student to have strong quantitative problem-solving abilities.
  3. To allow the student to pursue deeper study of a specialized area of earth, atmospheric, or planetary sciences by completion of original research via the thesis.

Program and Grades:

  1. Completion of at least 66 units of subjects. Students are permitted to take subjects offered in other departments to supplement the EAPS offerings. Satisfactory performance is defined as a grade point average of 3.5 or higher, and a grade of “A” or “B” in subjects related to the student’s program of study. Information on grade definitions and grading policies may be found here:
    Students will register for a minimum of 36 units per academic term (24 units if enrolled for summer term).
  2. Completion of a master’s level thesis and thesis defense. Students have the option for a private or a public thesis defense.

Thesis timeline:

  1. Before the Add Date (see the Institute academic calendar) in the first term of study, the student should form a Thesis Examination Committee (TEC) that is composed of the student’s advisor and at least two members of the EAPS faculty. Senior and Principal Research Scientists in EAPS may also serve on the TEC. A Thesis Committee Form should be submitted to the EAPS Education Office by Add Date in the first term for approval by the CEP.
  2. A copy of the thesis must be given to all members of the TEC two weeks prior to the thesis defense.
  3. The thesis defense must be scheduled at least two weeks prior to the date the final thesis is due to the EAPS Education Office (see number five below).
  4. All members of the TEC must attend the defense in person or by video conferencing. The defense will consist of an oral presentation by the student of at least 30 minutes detailing the results of the thesis. The presentation will be followed by two rounds of questioning by the TEC. After the defense the Thesis Chair will submit a signed form indicating the TEC’s acceptance or rejection of the thesis as well as a letter grade to the EAPS Education Office.
  5. The Education Office will announce, via email, at the start of each academic term the date that the final thesis (approved by your committee) must be submitted with signature of the student and the advisor to the EAPS Education Office.

Last Updated: August 2019