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Fellowship Cuts Unlikely To Affect Grad Admissions

By Jenny Zhang


MIT academic departments do not anticipate a significant change in the number of graduate students admitted for next year, despite cuts in the Presidential Graduate Fellowship funds for 2003-2004.

The department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science is one of the graduate departments that will have to slightly change the number admitted partially due to reductions in presidential scholarships.

“We currently have around 2,800 applicants, same as last year. This year there will be less openings, but there will not be a significant difference,” said Calestine M. Carney, an administrator in EECS.

Provost Robert A. Brown has said there will be 99 Presidential Fellows for academic year 2003-2004, compared to 170 for this year because support from the program from the general Institute budget has been reduced.

“This decrease in Presidential Fellowships will change the form of support for some students, usually to research assistantships or teaching assistantships,” Brown said.

Most departments see little change

Most MIT departments have not observed a large change in the number of or strength of applicants. Many anticipate they will accept the same number despite budget cuts affecting the entire university.

“The numbers change every day, however right now we have 580 applications. During this time last year we had 540. The applicant pool is very strong,” said Professor Oral Buyukozturk of the Civil and Environmental Engineering Department.

“So far, we have about 700 applicants, 60 more than last year. The number of applicants has risen in the past few years,” said Brian E. Canavan, Department of Physics academic administrator.

He does not see a problem with supporting admitted students in light of the reduction of Presidential Fellowships.

“The loss from that area is evened out. We will not be affected directly because there are other fellowships to compensate,” Canavan said.

Award funds first year of school

The Presidential Fellowships program provides tuition and living stipend for “outstanding” first-year graduate students, according to the fellowship Web site. The program is intended to provide an alternative to teaching assistant positions, which often fund the first year of graduate school. Subsequent years are funded by individual departments.

Prospective MIT graduate school students must apply to specific departments that subsequently determine financial aid and degrees given. The departments have the option to nominate accepted students for the Presidential Fellowship.

Students “have the option to apply for multiple departments, however most apply to just one,” Johnson said.

The application deadlines for admission to most of the MIT academic departments fell in the past few weeks, and most departments have not observed big differences in applicant numbers as compared to last year.

“As of January 16, we had 11,662 [graduate school] applicants excluding the Sloan School of Management,” said Elizabeth S. Johnson, Associate Director of Admissions.

MIT averages a total of about 12,000 graduate school applicants per year, according to the admissions Web site.