Funding

AeroAstro graduate students generally identify funding through one of the following, but they may also assemble a combination of sources (such as a partial fellowship with an RA supplement) to fund their graduate program :

Research assistantship

  • Pays full tuition, health insurance, and monthly stipend. Most AeroAstro grad students are funded with a research assistantship. An RA works in a lab assisting a faculty member with research. Ideally, but not always, the research is the basis for the student's thesis. Generally, a research assistantship will fund a student through the duration of the academic degree program. You can find more info on how MIT's RA policies here.

AeroAstro diversity fellowships

  • Pays full tuition, health insurance, and monthly stipend. AeroAstro has a pool of fellowships used to attract and retain students that come from a wide range of backgrounds, with the goal of creating a more diverse graduate student body. These fellowships are generally for one academic year, although, in some cases, may be extended for up to three years.

Teaching assistantship

  • Pays full tuition, health insurance, and a monthly stipend. Teaching asistants support a faculty member in a classroom situation. These positions are usually offered on a course by course basis and last one semester. There are generally 20 of these positions in our department each year. Students can also do teaching assistantships on a volunteer basis for credit only, under course number 16.999, Teaching in AeroAstro. Please discuss this with your advisor, if you're interested. You can find more info on MIT's TA policies here.

MIT-sponsored fellowship

  • Pays full tuition, health insurance, and monthly stipend. Internal fellowships (i.e., those offered by MIT) are generally for one academic year and do not require a student to also work as an RA or TA. Internal fellowships generally recognize prior superior academic achievement. Because they typically last only one year, it's important that students who are awarded a fellowship secure funding for the following year. For more information please visit the Grad Student Office Internal Fellowships website.

External fellowship

  • External fellowships are funding opportunities students must apply for and receive either before being admitted to, or after enrolling in, graduate school. They vary in coverage - some cover all costs of the graduate program, others cover less. If a fellowship does not cover all expenses, the student may supplement the fellowship with an RA. For more information please visit the Grad Student Office External Fellowships website.


A Little Bit of Info About Research Assistantships

As a student who may likely be admitted to various top-level graduate programs, it’s possible that many of your funding offers will come in the form of fellowships. While we in AeroAstro do offer some fellowships, most of our funding for SM and PhD students comes in the form of Research Assistantships. 

In AeroAstro, we believe that having a Research Assistantship has many important advantages. For one, when you have a Research Assistantship, you’re on a project tied to a specific advisor and you’ll jump right into that project from the start. Many students find this very helpful, as they’re not looking to create a project the way they may have to with an internal or external fellowship, and can make great use of that first semester – they’re connected from the start. Additionally, RA-supported research is nearly always what your thesis will be based on – so students with Research Assistantships generally find their way to a thesis topic rather quickly!

Another benefit of a Research Assistantship that many students value is the connection it provides to industry and government. Most of the funding our faculty receive to support Research Assistantships comes from industry or government sponsors (such as NASA, Boeing, US Air Force, NSF and many more). A Research Assistantship on a sponsored project can be a great way to help you make contact with people in industry or government labs.

In terms of the amount of money they provide, Research Assistantships provide exactly the same funding as most fellowships offered by MIT. Both are great opportunities in different ways!

Identifying Funding

Admitted graduate students are expected to be proactive in the search for funding; don't wait for funding to be offered to you. We always recommend exploring external (non-MIT) funding opportunities. Some U.S. fellowships have application deadlines as early as October for the following academic year.

Once you've been accepted into the AeroAstro graduate program, you should contact faculty with matching research interests about possible RA opportunities in their labs. Faculty contact information is located on the faculty listings page and clicking in the "view profile" link beneath professor's names will help you determine their research interests. Faculty begin making RA offers to admitted students in March and continue right through August. RA positions may become available when students graduate, when new projects are funded, or when continuing projects receive additional funding.

Check with aagradinfo [at] mit.edu (AeroAstro Student Services)aagradinfo [at] mit.edu ( )about courses that have historically used teaching assistants. If you have any background in a course, you should approach faculty members to let them know of your interest. Students may also seek out opportunities as a TA or RA in another academic department in which they have a background.

Finally, Graduate Program Administrator bethamar [at] mit.edu (Beth Marois) can provide advice and guidance for admitted and current students in their search for RA, TA or internal fellowship funding, and help make connections to current opportunities. Please reach out via bethamar [at] mit.edu (email) for support, or to schedule an appointment.

2020-2021 funding resources

Below is a sampling of outside fellowships commonly awarded to engineering graduate students, with application deadlines - please note that not all external fellowships provide full funding, and if awarded, may still need to be supplemented by another funding source. For instance, the NSTGRO and NSF do not cover full expenses at MIT and require a supplement.  

Sampling of other fellowships, not necessarily geared toward engineering

For info on other more specialized or smaller money fellowships please visit the MIT ODGE Fellowships page. 

A Web search will reveal many sites devoted to graduate student funding opportunities. Be aware that some financial aid search companies/organizations may charge you a fee for their services.

Questions? Email aagradinfo [at] mit.edu.