You’re hired — Now what?
The 6-A Program allows students to get an EECS M. Eng. Degree while doing the thesis work at a company. More than 2500 Course 6 students have gone through the program over the years, including Amar Bose (founder of Bose Corporation), Cecil Green (founder of Texas Instruments), Andrew Viterbi (founder of Qualcomm), Ray Stata (founder of Analog Devices), Thuan Pham (Uber CTO), and many others.
The 6-A program currently has two different tracks to provide maximum flexibility to students:
Track #1 consists of two work assignments at 6-A companies. The first one during the summer of the Junior Year, while the second one covers a six month period during the summer and fall of the MEng year. It is during the second work assignment when the student works on his or her M.Eng. Thesis.
Track #2 is ideal for students who are now seniors as it focuses on the M.Eng. year. There is only one work assignment, a six month internship at the 6-A company during which the student works on his or her M.Eng. Thesis.
The timeline for the two tracks is shown below.
Any Course 6 junior or senior in good standing may apply to the 6-A program. Thousands of Course 6 students have joined the program since its beginnings in 1917. Seniors applying should have previous experience, either from a summer internship in industry, or a SuperUROP research internship, although exceptions may be possible on a case-by-case basis.
Anyone interested in joining 6-A must file a formal application, which includes resume, letter of recommendation (optional), grade report, and interview preference list in October for the fall recruitment. Check the Key Events section of this website for specific due dates.
It is best to request a letter of recommendation from faculty or others who know you and your work well (e.g., UROP, SuperUROP, project or summer job supervisor), instead of someone who only knows you superficially.
The 6-A office forwards student applications to 6-A companies, based on the information provided on students’ interview preference list. 6-A companies preview the applications and select the students they wish to interview. Company representatives the visit MIT, usually in late October or early November, to interview prospective interns over a two-day period. Based on the formal interviews and applications, companies then submit a ranked list of students selected for consideration. Ranked students, in turn, rank their preferences for 6-A companies. The 6-A office then makes placements by matching company lists with student lists.
Yes, when a student joins the 6-A Program they keep the same academic advisor assigned to them when they joined course 6. Your faculty counselor continues to handle registration matters and should be consulted for education advice.
The 6-A Program assigns one EECS faculty advisor to each company. An important role of the 6-A faculty advisor is to work with the 6-A students interning at the company in order to identify the best MIT M.Eng. Thesis Advisor for a given Thesis topic. The faculty advisor also assists the student, and student’s MIT M.Eng. Thesis Advisor, with issues relating to 6-A work assignments and generally visits their 6-A students at the 6-A company once each summer.
Students are required to submit a mid-term and final report on each work assignment. You will receive an “Incomplete” if you do not return complete reports on time. Additionally, we require company mentors to complete an “Employer’s Evaluation Report” at the conclusion of each assignment. All of these reports enter into the granting of academic credit for 6-A work assignments. If you meet all the reporting requirements and have performed satisfactory work at your 6-A company you will receive a “P” grade in your 6-A registration (6.921, 6.922, or 6.951).
Because a 6-A student in the M.Eng. Program has one less term on campus, some planning is necessary so that all requirements can be met on time. Some general notes appear below:
By registering for 6.921 and 6.922 during the first two summer assignments, you pick up two unrestricted electives for 24 (UG) units. By registering for 6.951 during the graduate 6-A assignment in the fall term, you pick up an additional 12 (G) units of the 66 units required for M.Eng.
6-A students also register for 24 thesis units (6.ThM) (during the graduate Summer and Fall assignments) to complete the M.Eng. thesis. If the thesis is not submitted by the beginning of the Spring Term, students register for another 12 thesis units.
Plan your M.Eng. program so that during your last term on campus you need two classroom subjects or fewer to meet your M.Eng. degree requirements. Then you can be a teaching assistant, if selected, during your last term, both for its educational value and to obtain full teaching assistantship funding including full term tuition, a stipend, and paid medical insurance. If you are a TA or RA a maximum of 27 classroom subject units (two classes) are allowed.
Every M.Eng. program must include four subjects (42 units) of Approved Advanced Graduate Subjects (AAGS) as well as two M.Eng. Restricted Electives. Do not leave this for the last term as the work load will be too large, especially if you also are trying to finish your thesis. Take AAGS classes and/or M.Eng. Restricted Electives during your senior year. You can use 6.921, 6.922 and 6.951 credit towards your undergraduate units, and then use the AAGS classes for the M.Eng. requirements.
6-A students admitted to the M.Eng. Program may, by mutual arrangement with their company, select either a Spring/Summer or Summer/Fall schedule for their six-month internship Some students prefer to remain at MIT during the spring in order to take graduate subjects, which will aid them with the work they will be doing on their graduate assignments. Others find that due to the sequencing of related subjects on a fall-spring basis, they need to select the Spring/Summer schedule in order to remain at MIT during a Fall Term of graduate study.
The purpose behind making six-month internship contiguous is to provide the student sufficient time to do an in-depth piece of engineering work at the company which will be acceptable to the Department’s Faculty as the basis for the M.Eng. Thesis. For special circumstances, with the agreement of their 6-A Company, 6-A students can request from the 6-A Program a different graduate internship schedule.
Yes. However, we believe salary should not be the main determinant in the selection of a particular company. 6-A student salaries are established by the individual companies and are not necessarily uniform among all 6-A companies. Salary information is available from the individual company only, not from the 6-A office.
Yes. You will generally receive an increase in salary for each successive work assignment. By the time you complete your senior year you will have completed the academic work for your S.B. degree, and a company normally increases salaries during the 6-A M.Eng. year.
No. M.Eng. admission is primarily determined by a minimum grade point average of 4.25 in your technical subjects. While it is the intent of the 6-A Program to guide you through the M.Eng. degree at MIT, this, of course, depends on the academic admissibility of each student.
Decisions on M.Eng. admissions are generally made in June after the student’s junior year, but if their academic record is borderline they may be placed on HOLD until the following January to include the last 6-A assignment and fall term grades in the student’s credentials for admission.
The M.Eng. Thesis should be the result of a reasonably comprehensive 6-month effort where the student shows considerable initiative, creative thought, and good deal of individual responsibility. The thesis may be a design project, an analytical paper, or experimental work of a technical nature.
DUE TO TIME CONSTRAINTS OF BOTH YOUR MIT AND 6-A COMPANY THESIS ADVISOR, IT IS IMPORTANT THAT YOU GIVE THEM ADEQUATE TIME (I.E. AT LEAST 45 DAYS BEFORE THE M.ENG. SUBMISSION DEADLINE, ALTHOUGH YOU SHOULD CHECK WITH THE COMPANY AT THE BEGINNING OF THE WORK ASSIGNMENT TO SEE IF THEY WOULD NEED MORE TIME) TO REVIEW AND COMMENT ON YOUR THESIS BEFORE THEY SIGN YOUR THESIS.
Examples of previous 6-A thesis projects can be found here:
And more information on the logistics can be found here:
A 6-A student, although doing an M.Eng.Thesis while at the company, requires an MIT faculty member as an M.Eng. Thesis Supervisor just like any other EECS student. The 6-A faculty advisor to the company or the 6-A Director may also assume this added responsibility for some of the students, but other members of the faculty will, of necessity, be asked to assist some students.
Because the Institute values the time spent by company thesis supervisors in the work which eventually becomes a student’s thesis, the company thesis supervisor is also asked to sign the thesis title page as an acknowledgement of their contribution to this work.
A company can be a member of the 6-A program either as a 6-A Core Partner or as a 6-A Affiliate. From a student perspective, there are two important differences between Core Partners and Affiliates. First, students doing their internship at a Core Partner will typically receive a 6-A Fellowship through MIT during the fall term of their 6-month internship. This Fellowship pays the student’s salary, MIT tuition, and health insurance during the fall term (See the questions below for more information on what a 6-A Fellowship is). On the other hand, Affiliate companies do not offer a 6-A Fellowship but they pay the students directly during the fall term. In this case, students are responsible for paying the MIT tuition and health insurance expenses directly. To make sure students interning at a 6-A Affiliate company receive the same level of benefits than the ones at a Core Partner, the 6-A office asks 6-A Affiliate companies to set a minimum salary for their 6-A interns of $1,560 per week in 2018, which is typically higher than what the students who are in the 6-A program receive, in order for them to pay these additional expenses.
The second important difference between interning at a 6-A Core Partner and a 6-A Affiliate is that 6-A Core Partners will pay (through their membership fees) the tuition of the student during the spring term of his or her MEng degree, if the student has not been able to secure a Teaching Assistantship that term. Students interning at 6-A Affiliate companies do not have this guaranteed support due to the reduced membership fees paid by 6-A Affiliate companies.
Most 6-A Core Partners offer a 6-A Fellowship to 6-A graduate students in lieu of salary after the first three-months of their six-month internship. This 6-A Fellowship gives 6-A graduate students essentially the same benefits that full-time on-campus research assistants receive: one-term full tuition and one term medical insurance and stipend while interning at the company. The 6-A Fellowship also guarantees a Teaching Assistantship appointment or tuition support during the last term of their M.Eng. year, when they are back to campus full time. Lincoln Laboratory and Draper offer a Research Assistantship instead of 6-A Fellowship, but the benefits are similar.
For most 6-A graduate students, the 6-A Fellowship has more value than receiving salary during an academic term. Please note that, typically, you receive a salary during the summer term, not a Fellowship (except for Draper Laboratory who offers a summer Research Assistantship).
If your 6-A company participates in the 6-A Fellowship Program (i..e. it is a 6-A Core Partner) and you have no other Fellowship or other financial support (e.g. your 6-A company is not planning to pay you directly after the summer term), you must send the 6-A office the following signed and dated statement by the drop-date of the academic term before the Fellowship is desired:
“I have no other fellowship support during the (year)
(Summer, Fall or Spring) term and would like to receive the 6-A Fellowship in lieu of salary.”
Yes and no. Additional tuition is not charged for the required summer session registrations for undergraduate students, but reduced tuition is due for non-Draper and non-Lincoln Laboratory 6-A graduate students during summer and regular academic year term work assignments. Non-Draper and non-Lincoln Laboratory 6-A Core Partners generally offer financial assistance to 6-A graduate students through the 6-A Fellowship Program, while Draper and Lincoln Laboratories generally offer regular MIT Research Assistantships.
6-A Affiliate companies pay the student directly (i.e. they are not involved in the 6-A Fellowship program) and therefore the student is responsible for paying his/her tuition and health insurance (if applicable) directly to MIT. The 6-A office asks 6-A Affiliate companies to set a minimum salary for their 6-A interns of $1,560 per week, which is higher than what the students who are in the 6-A Fellowship program receive, in order for them to pay these additional expenses.
Keep in mind, 6-A undergraduate students generally still pay the regular two semester academic year MIT tuition.
If for some reason the 6-A student does not complete the M.Eng. thesis on time, tuition must be paid for later terms while the thesis is still being completed. If MIT enrollment has to be extended beyond the normal period, additional terms of registration will be billed at the prevailing rates for regular term and/or Summer Session tuition.