Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Sch. of Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences
E51-255, 77 Massachusetts Ave.
Cambridge, MA 02139-4307
History of Technology, History of Science, Ethnography of Science and Technology, U.S. National Policy and Security, Environment and Agriculture, Life Sciences and Biomedicine
MIT's doctoral program in History, Anthropology, and Science, Technology and Society (HASTS) is widely recognized as one of the best of its type in the world. The program is sponsored by three faculties in MIT's School of Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences: History, Anthropology, and Science, Technology and Society (STS). When it was created in 1988, it was the first new doctoral program approved by the MIT Faculty in over 20 years. The HASTS graduate program is deeply interdisciplinary. On one level, it seeks to integrate the perspectives of history and the social sciences in understanding the technological world. It goes further, however, by seeking to integrate both these with the study of science and engineering. For example, faculty and students in the HASTS program collaborate with other MIT faculty and students in the Engineering Systems Division and in the Health Sciences and Technology degree program.
Special Programs or Resources
To further their research and education, students, faculty, and visitors are encouraged to use an extraordinary network of academic and some non-academic organizations in the Boston area which have a mission related to that of MIT's HASTS Program. These multiple linkages significantly amplify the opportunities afforded to HASTS scholars in the Boston area. Some of these programs include: the Knight Science Journalism Fellowship Program; the Harvard-MIT Division of Health Sciences and Technology (HST); MIT's Program in Women's Studies; the Graduate Consortium in Women’s Studies at MIT; the MIT Center for International Studies (CIS); the Technology and Culture Forum at MIT; MIT's Engineering Systems Division (ESD); Environmental Studies at MIT; the MIT Science Writing Program, Technology, Policy Program (TPP), and the Comparative Media Studies Program (CMS).
Funding for HASTS doctoral students includes five years of guaranteed support. This covers all MIT tuition, nine months of stipend, and twelve months of health insurance annually. Funding is provided through a combination of fellowships (internal and external), teaching assistantships, research assistantships, and the like.
All students are strongly encouraged to seek competitive outside funding at any point in their program, and typically have a good success rate with applications for outside grants and fellowships. The director of graduate studies and the academic administrator of the doctoral program will be available to assist students seeking outside sources for support.
Students must complete at least 10 subjects in the doctoral program prior to taking general exams. All graduate students are required to complete the three core courses of the program, a seminar in historical methods, a seminar in social theory and analysis, and a seminar on the introduction to STS. Students are also encouraged to take a seminar in methods for graduate research in the social sciences. Six elective seminars complete the program's 10-subject requirement.
All students must demonstrate a reading knowledge of one scholarly language other than English (students with a first language other than English may use their native language for one of these).
First- and second-year papers are required before taking general examinations and writing a dissertation.
Students take general qualifying exams when they have completed coursework, usually in the third year. The exam, which includes both written and oral components, consists of three parts:
1. Students prepare by reading from the MIT HASTS Common Exam List. The list encompasses the areas of social and cultural perspectives on science and technology; history of technology; and history of science.
2. A field of history or the social sciences. This examination probes the student's mastery of a field of history (e.g., Imperial Russian and Soviet History)or a field of the social sciences (e.g., theory and method in the study of culture).
3. This part, tailored to each student, examines the range and depth of understanding of the history or social study of a particular science or field of engineering (e.g. the history of modern biology; the social study of information technologies). This exam ordinarily anticipates the area of the student's doctoral dissertation.
In conjunction with preparation of the dissertation proposal, students should prepare at least one proposal for research funding from outside MIT. Although we do not expect all students to obtain outside funding for their research, we expect all students to submit proposals because grant writing is an important learning experience for anyone going on to a career in academia, and can be particularly relevant while developing a dissertation proposal.
Upon satisfactory completion of the general exams, the student selects a dissertation committee of three professors to help direct the dissertation research and evaluate it on completion. The student writes a dissertation proposal that is approved by the committee. The student then presents the proposal to HASTS faculty and students. Students are expected to complete their dissertation in two to three years after passing their general exams. The dissertation defense is an open presentation consisting of the candidate's succinct summary of the work, followed by questions from the committee and audience.
Information from Department of Education
(Includes information on the size, location, and general characteristics of faculty and student body)
Information from the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching
(Includes rating of the institution's rating of the graduate instructional program and size and setting)
Full-time Faculty: 13
Relative Size based on Number of Full-time Faculty: Small [Explain]
Student Demographics (Fall 2011):
Number of Doctoral Students in Program: 27
New Doctoral Students Entering Program: 5
Proportion of Doctoral Students Receiving Financial Aid: 93%
Number of Graduate Students Enrolled: 18
Relative Size Based on Graduate Student Enrollment: Small [Explain]
First PhD conferred: 1995
History PhDs conferred to Date: 65
Number of PhDs Conferred (2011–12): 4
Relative Size Based on PhDs Conferred: Medium [Explain]
Last Updated: October 19, 2012