Admission Criteria

All graduate applicants to MIT apply to their individual departments, rather than to the Institute as a whole. AeroAstro uses a department-specific online graduate application, which can be found here. For more information on graduate admissions in general, please visit the central MIT Graduate Admissions website. Please also see our Graduate Admissions Checklist.

There's no special formula or secret that guarantees an offer of admission from MIT AeroAstro. The selection process is competitive and follows a holistic approach. Below are some of the metrics used in evaluating graduate admission applications specifically within our department.

Prior degrees

Students applying with a bachelor’s degree are eligible for admission to our Master’s program. Once accepted to our Master’s program, students can undergo in their second year the Field Evaluations. These evaluations serve as admission to our PhD program. Having passed the Field Evaluations, the students can commence their doctoral studies once their Master’s is completed. Students who already hold a Master's degree may apply for direct acceptance to our PhD program, but still must pass the Field Evaluation to become a doctoral candidate. Your undergraduate and graduate degrees need not be in aeronautics or astronautics. 


Applicants are expected to have a strong background in mathematical and physical sciences and/or engineering. If you are changing fields, you should address your reasons and preparedness for doing so in your Statement of Objectives, a very important part of your graduate application.

We ask that you upload your transcripts from each institution from which you have received or will receive a degree. We examine these documents for academic and research/project performance and general grade trends following a holistic approach.

Letters of Recommendation

You are required to submit three letters of recommendation as part of your application. We recommend that all or at least two of these come from faculty members with whom you've worked closely, especially in a research capacity. Your research and/or project experience plays an important role in the overall assessment. If you've recently completed an internship or have been out of school and working for over one year, you may wish to include an industry recommendation. You may not submit more than three letters, and these letters must be submitted using our electronic application system.

English as a Foreign Language Testing Requirements

If your language of instruction beginning in primary school was not English, you'll need to take either the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) or the International English Language Testing System (IELTS). We do not waive the TOEFL or IELTS examinations for applicants who fit this criteria. If English is your native language, or if all of your education from primary school forward has been in English, you are not required to take either of these exams.

On the TOEFL, you must score a minimum of 100 on the internet-based exam. On the IELTS you must score a minimum of 7.0 total. Applicants who do not meet or exceed these minimums are not eligible for admission. To be eligible for Fall admission, this exam must be taken on or by December 1, so that your score report will reach us by the application completion deadline of December 15.

Please note that for the Fall 2021 admissions cycle, AeroAstro will accept the TOEFL "at-home" IBT.

Statement of Objectives

Please give your reasons for wishing to do graduate work in the field you have chosen. Prepare your statement of objectives and goals in whatever form clearly presents your views. Include as far as you can, your particular interests, be they experimental, theoretical, or issue oriented. We are interested in your vision of how you want to contribute to the future of aerospace engineering and how your background and MIT's programs support your perspectives. The statement could be much like a proposal for graduate studies, in the more specific context of your professional objectives. You should set forth the issues and problems you wish to address. Explain your long-term professional goals. The Admissions Committee will welcome any factors you wish to bring to its attention concerning your academic and work experience to date. Please limit your statement to a word count of approximately 1000.

Advisor availability

Even if you have an outstanding record, vitae, recommendations, and the potential to excel in AeroAstro, we may not be able to offer you admission. We will not admit more students than our faculty can effectively advise. This number varies term-to-term, and specialty-to-specialty, depending on the composition of our applicant pool and our current graduate student population.