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At MIT, we revel in a culture of learning by doing. Education lies at the center of the Institute’s mission, and the field of transportation is no different: we combine analytical rigor with curiosity, play, hard work, and an appetite for solving some of the world’s most complex conundrums—all in service to society. We offer a dynamic mix of programs and degrees for undergraduate and graduate students to prepare them for careers as leaders in the field of transportation.  

Graduate Programs

Shaping tomorrow's leaders in transportation

MIT provides a variety of graduate degrees for students interested in transportation studies and research. Graduate students can choose from a wide range of introductory or advanced subjects related to transportation.

The degrees offered include: 

  • Master of Science in Transportation

  • Interdepartmental Doctoral Program in Transportation

Master of Science in Transportation

The Master of Science in Transportation (M.S.T.) degree program emphasizes the complexity of transportation, lying at the intersection of technology, operations, planning, management, and policy-making. The program is interdepartmental, drawing on coursework, faculty, and research staff from across MIT. During the two-year program, students work closely with a research advisor to select an individually-designed area of focus within the realm of transportation. Requirements include coursework across different aspects of transportation, as well as specialized work in the designated area of choice. 

Requirements

66 units of graduate level subjects, including:

  • Core: three subjects

  • Individually-designed project area: two subjects

  • Policy/Technology requirement: one subject

  • Computation requirement: two subjects

  • Thesis requirement: 24 units


Admissions

The application portal will open Fall 2020

Interdepartmental Doctoral Program in Transportation

The interdepartmental doctoral program in transportation provides a structured and follow-on doctoral program for students enrolled in MIT’s Master of Science in Transportation program or other transportation-related masters degree programs at MIT or elsewhere. The interdepartmental structure of the program allows students greater flexibility in developing individual programs of study that cross both disciplinary and departmental lines. The program is administered by the Transportation Education Committee, a faculty committee responsible for admissions and oversight of program requirements.

Requirements

  • 120 units of graduate level subjects, including a doctoral core program consisting of two subject areas selected by the student

  • General exam (following the completion of academic year two)

  • PhD proposal (during academic year three)

  • PhD Thesis, equivalent to 24 units

Admissions

The application portal will open Fall 2020

Transportation Courses

Select an area of interest:

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Solving Big Engineering Problems

1.008

Introduction to big engineering problems that span our built infrastructure and natural environment. Topics promote high-level thinking and basic problem-solving skills for societal problems in domains of civil and environmental engineering. Lectures based on case studies that emphasize key challenges and opportunities in areas of digital cities, cyber-physical infrastructure systems (transportation, logistics, power), engineering of natural resources (land, water, energy), and sustainable and resilient design under the changing environment. Students collaborate to identify basic modeling issues, explore analysis tools, and engage in teamwork to discuss the design and implementation of new technologies, policies, and systems in the real-world. Laboratory and field visits illustrate interesting natural phenomena and new engineering applications. Subject can count toward the 9-unit discovery-focused credit limit for first year students.

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Planning and Design of Airport Systems

1.231

Focuses on current practice, developing trends, and advanced concepts in airport design and planning. Considers economic, environmental, and other trade-offs related to airport location, as well as the impacts of emphasizing "green" measures. Includes an analysis of the effect of airline operations on airports. Topics include demand prediction, determination of airfield capacity, and estimation of levels of congestion; terminal design; the role of airports in the aviation and transportation system; access problems; optimal configuration of air transport networks and implications for airport development; and economics, financing, and institutional aspects. Special attention to international practice and developments.

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Transportation Policy, the Environment, and Livable Communities

1.253/11.543

Examines the economic and political conflict between transportation and the environment. Investigates the role of government regulation, green business and transportation policy as a facilitator of economic development and environmental sustainability. Analyzes a variety of international policy problems, including government-business relations, the role of interest groups, non-governmental organizations, and the public and media in the regulation of the automobile; sustainable development; global warming; politics of risk and siting of transport facilities; environmental justice; equity; as well as transportation and public health in the urban metropolis. Provides students with an opportunity to apply transportation and planning methods to develop policy alternatives in the context of environmental politics. Students taking graduate version complete additional assignments.

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Global Energy: Politics, Markets, and Policy

11.167

Focuses on the ways economics and politics influence the fate of energy technologies, business models, and policies around the world. Extends fundamental concepts in the social sciences to case studies and simulations that illustrate how corporate, government, and individual decisions shape energy and environmental outcomes. In a final project, students apply the concepts in order to assess the prospects for an energy innovation to scale and advance sustainability goals in a particular regional market. Recommended prerequisite: 14.01. Meets with 15.219 when offered concurrently. Expectations and evaluation criteria differ for students taking graduate version; consult syllabus or instructor for specific details. Preference to juniors, seniors, and Energy Minors.

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Economics of Energy, Innovation, and Sustainability

14.43/15.020

Covers energy and environmental market organization and regulation. Explores economic challenges and solutions to transforming energy markets to be more efficient, accessible, affordable, and sustainable. Applies core economic concepts - consumer choice, firm profit maximization, and strategic behavior - to understand when energy and environmental markets work well and when they fail. They also conduct data-driven economic analysis on the trade-offs of real and proposed policy interventions. Topics include renewable generation sources for electricity, energy access in emerging markets, efficiency programs and fuel efficiency standards, transitioning transportation to alternative fuels, measuring damages and adaptation to climate change, and the effect of energy and environmental policy on innovation. Expectations and evaluation criteria differ for students taking graduate version; consult syllabus or instructor for specific details.

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Aerospace, Energy, and the Environment

16.715

Addresses energy and environmental challenges facing aerospace in the 21st century. Topics include: aircraft performance and energy requirements, propulsion technologies, jet fuels and alternative fuels, lifecycle assessment of fuels, combustion, emissions, climate change due to aviation, aircraft contrails, air pollution impacts of aviation, impacts of supersonic aircraft, and aviation noise. Includes an in-depth introduction to the relevant atmospheric and combustion physics and chemistry with no prior knowledge assumed. Discussion and analysis of near-term technological, fuel-based, regulatory and operational mitigation options for aviation, and longer-term technical possibilities.

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Air Transportation Systems Architecting

16.886

Addresses the architecting of air transportation systems. Focuses on the conceptual phase of product definition including technical, economic, market, environmental, regulatory, legal, manufacturing, and societal factors. Centers on a realistic system case study and includes a number of lectures from industry and government. Past examples include the Very Large Transport Aircraft, a Supersonic Business Jet and a Next Generation Cargo System. Identifies the critical system level issues and analyzes them in depth via student team projects and individual assignments. Overall goal is to produce a business plan and a system specifications document that can be used to assess candidate systems.

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Energy Systems and Climate Change Mitigation

IDS.521

Reviews the contributions of energy systems to global greenhouse gas emissions, and the levers for reducing those emissions. Lectures and projects focus on evaluating energy systems against climate policy goals, using performance metrics such as cost, carbon intensity, and others. Student projects explore pathways for realizing emissions reduction scenarios. Projects address the climate change mitigation potential of energy technologies, technological and behavioral change trajectories, and technology and policy portfolios.

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