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Massachusetts Institute of Technology – Technology and Policy Program

Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Technology and Policy Program

Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Technology and Policy Program
Room E40-252
Cambridge, MA 02139

Phone Numbers:
TPP Main Office: 617.253.7693
TPP Admissions: 617.258.7295
TPP Academic Office: 617.452.3187
Fax Number: 617.253.7568
Campus Office: Room 33-307
Phone: (617) 258-8799
Fax: (617) 253-4196

Program Link:



The Technology and Policy Program (TPP) educates men and women for leadership on the important technological issues confronting society. Our program prepares our graduates to excel in their technical fields, and to develop and implement effective strategies for dealing with the risks and opportunities associated with those technologies.

TPP’s primary focus is the Master of Science Program that prepares students for practical work in government and industry. Students typically require two years to complete the degree requirements, which include an interdisciplinary thesis focused on a technology policy issue.

TPP students interested in continuing their academic careers at the doctoral level often specialize in Technology, Management, and Policy (TMP). About 5-6 advanced graduate students per year enter the TMP track, which is offered within the doctoral program in Engineering Systems. Our doctorates work in academia, industry, and government.

TPP is under the leadership of Professor Dava Newman, of MIT’s Engineering Systems Division and the Department of Aeronautics and Astronautics. TPP’s Founding Chairman is Professor Richard de Neufville.

Graduate Degrees Offered

M.S. — Technology and Policy

Ph.D. — Technology, Management and Policy,  offered within the Engineering Systems Division (ESD).

Admissions Requirements

Applicants should have a strong engineering or science background with sufficient higher math; an interest in policy for technological issues; a recent academic average of 3.2 or better; and GRE scores greater than 600 (except for students who are not native speakers of English, for whom a verbal GRE score of 450 is acceptable). Applicants whose native language is not English must take the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) and achieve a minimum score of 250 on the computer-based exam.

Demonstrated evidence of leadership is especially welcome. In recruiting each class, the Program particularly tries to attract men and women who are prepared to work for the good of the larger community. Preference is given to applicants with work experience.

Degree Requirements


The core curriculum forms a common foundation on which students build a program focusing on specialized technical issues through elective courses, summer and research internships, and a master’s thesis. Current clusters of research and study include the International Motor Vehicle Program, Lean Advancement Initiative, Fast and Flexible Manufacturing, Research Program for Communications Policy, MIT Communications Forum, Materials Systems Laboratory, and Technology and Law. Recent thesis topics focused on such issues as the use of “lean” manufacturing techniques for the aircraft industry, the use of cable vs. telephone lines in community-based telecommunications, and the environmental impact of electric vehicle programs. Such issues present themselves in many areas of business, and recent graduates have been successfully employed in government, consulting, international organizations, and technology-driven corporations.


The TMP doctoral track is a focused Ph.D. for which engineers receive an education in and conduct integrative original, fundamental, generalizable research on engineering systems with an emphasis on the societal implications on the system and of the system.

This degree rests upon the fact that, while Engineering Systems provide a powerful framework for the study and treatment of complex engineered systems, there is a need for engineering systems PhDs whose domain of expertise includes not only engineering systems, but also the social systems giving rise to and being influenced by them. There is a need not only for the kind of synthesis within engineering that ESD represents, but also a synthesis across the engineering and social science disciplines. TMP enables practitioners to contribute to our understanding of the interplay between engineered and social systems, and to develop new insights into the ways in which these two domains influence the development of our technical and social infrastructure.

The conceptual model for the degree is shown in the following figure. The family of intellectual concerns at the core of engineering systems, engineering science, is represented by the ellipse at the center of the diagram. This intellectual core is surrounded by a larger domain, labeled engineering systems, implying that, while the study of engineering systems depends upon a core of engineering science, the study is also concerned with issues that lie outside that intellectual domain. Moreover, these engineering systems have interactions with and are influenced by elements that are the intellectual province of the worlds of social science. Within this conceptual schema, the domain of the TMP track is then at the boundary of the engineering systems and social science domain and is concerned with the flows across the boundary.

This framework, while locating TMP as lying between the disciplinary spheres of engineering and social science, does not address what it means to be at this frontier — or, more specifically, what is meant by the notion of “policy” at this frontier. The view of policy within TMP is based upon the norms of those working to “get something done” at this frontier, and can be defined as a plan or course of action of a formal institution taking explicit account of the technical, social and institutional contexts and their interrelationships supported through the application of appropriate and open analyses to successfully influence, guide and determine decisions, action, and other matters.

This positioning of TMP within this conceptual framework suggests the elements that comprise the intellectual agenda of the program. First, it suggests that the core elements of education and research in this field are drawn from both engineering systems and the social sciences. Second, it emphasizes that the recipients of the degree have studied an engineering system (i.e., a system constructed by human beings and involving substantial technology) as a central aspect of their inquiry. Third, it emphasizes that the students must make fundamental and generalizable contributions to the state of the art of understanding of the system. Finally, it suggests the domain of the degree lies in the implications of policy and institutions on the system and of the system.

Student Information

Each applicant to the Technology and Policy Program must have a strong technical background, typically represented by an undergraduate degree in engineering or science. Each must also be prepared to follow the curriculum of advanced subjects in economics, political science and management.

Most students came to MIT after one or more years of work experience, the rest directly after receiving their undergraduate degrees. Approximately 130 students are in the Program at any time. 100 of these are pursuing their Masters degree and 30 their Doctorate.

The students recruited each year are carefully selected to constitute a broad range of interests so that the class itself provides an intensive learning experience for its members. A broad spectrum of technical issues is represented, as are different cultures (about half the students are foreign) and professional ambitions.

Faculty Information

The core TPP faculty are in the Engineering Systems Division and are listed in the Faculty section of the TPP web site. At any time about 40 different faculty members and senior researchers ?? drawn from Engineering, Management and the Social Sciences ?? work with TPP students on their theses. Students thus have extensive opportunities to work on a wide range of exciting issues in technology policy.

The faculty members represent a variety of research interests in policy issues and methodology. Major research themes focus on large?scale projects in automobile and aircraft manufacturing, information systems, environmental issues, new materials, transport and water resources, space, energy, and computers and communications, in addition to methodological interests in regulatory law and economics, decision strategies and industrial policy.

Note: all email addresses are “”

Prof. Dava Newman

  • TPP Position: Director
  • MIT Appointment: Professor of Aeronautics & Astronautics and Engineering Systems, MacVicar Faculty Fellow
  • Office: 33-307, E40-375
  • Telephone: (617) 258-8799
  • E-Mail: dnewman

Dr. Frank R. Field, III

  • TPP Position: Associate Director for Education
  • MIT Appointment: Senior Research Engineer, CTPID
  • Education: SB 1978, MIT (22); SM 1981, MIT (TPP); SM 1981, MIT (22); PhD 1985, MIT (Interdisciplinary)
  • Office: E40-419
  • Telephone: (617) 253-2146
  • E-Mail: furd

Krista Featherstone

  • TPP Position: Academic Program Administrator
  • Office: E40-371
  • Telephone: (617) 452-3187
  • E-Mail: kfeather

Ed Ballo

  • TPP Position: Administrative Assistant
  • Office: E40-369
  • Telephone: (617) 258-7295
  • E-Mail: eballo

Sally Chapman

  • TPP Position: Administrative Assistant to Director
  • Office: 33-309
  • Telephone: (617) 253-4926
  • E-Mail: sallyc

Positions for Graduates

The Technology and Policy Program equips its graduates with skills that may be applied to careers in the public or private sectors. The graduates work about half and half for the private sector and for government organizations.

Placements have been excellent in leading companies (Ford, Boeing, Xerox), major consulting and investment firms, and at the highest levels of government (the White House, World Bank, Japan Ministry of Trade and Industry). For a comprehensive representative sample, consult the Internship section of the TPP web site.

Doctorates have also found excellent opportunities in universities, both in the United States and overseas, in Industry and Government. The Doctoral section of the TPP web site provides full details.

Financial Information

Tuition for the 2011?12 academic year is $40,460. MIT offers a variety of sources of funding to its students both from within the institution and from outside sources. Almost all students in the program receive some form of support.

Students are encouraged to apply for fellowships offered by professional societies and various organizations. The program offers about six fellowships each year, in addition to teaching assistantships.

Research assistantships are available at MIT through departments and groups such as the Center for Technology, Policy and Industrial Development, the Energy Laboratory, the Lean Aerospace Initiative, the Center for Environmental Initiatives, and the Global Climate Change Project. Research and teaching assistantships cover MIT tuition and provide a living stipend of $2,246 per month for 2011?12.

Students who are self?funded, funded by their employers, or who have fellowships or scholarships may be able to take a heavier course load than those with teaching or research assistantships. Such students may be able to use their funding to accelerate their program.

Other Information

The MIT Technology and Policy Program maintains extensive professional and international contacts as a way of developing the profession of technology policy. TPP has about 700 graduates well-placed throughout North America, Europe, Asia and elsewhere. It also is in constant contact with employers through its Internship program. TPP thus offers students a broad range of effective contacts for excellent placements.

The Technology and Policy Program also maintains active cooperative relationships and exchanges with similar programs internationally, with the Technology, Management and Policy program at the Technical University of Delft (Netherlands), the Instituto Superior Tecnico of Lisbon (Portugal) and other institutions in Britain, France and Japan.

The Technology and Policy Student Society (TPSS) is a student group devoted to the welfare of graduate students in MIT’s Technology and Policy Program. In addition to providing a welcome social outlet, TPSS also coordinates lunch talks with prominent figures, maintains relationships with alumni, cultivates contacts for career opportunities, advises the TPP faculty and staff on student issues such as curriculum, and coordinates intramural sports teams.