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Academic Calendar and Commencement Timing

Rationale and Process

Why the Change?

MIT’s current academic calendar took shape when faculty approved it in 1994. Among the changes instituted at that time was an expansion of Independent Activities Period (IAP) by half a week and the lengthening of time between the end of finals and Commencement to two weeks.

Over time, members of the community have complained that Commencement is too late, occurring on June 9 in some years.

Changes in this schedule, which would be implemented in the 2019-2020 academic year, could address the various concerns and lead to benefits to students, faculty, and staff, but also present potential downsides.

With that in mind, we sought feedback from the MIT community about a proposal to change the academic calendar, including moving the Commencement and hooding ceremonies into late May for most years.

Possible Options

To move Commencement earlier by one week, seven days must removed from the current calendar between the start of IAP and Commencement.

Four of these days could feasibly come from the administrative period between the submission of final grades and commencement, and one from the grading period after finals. The remaining two must come from IAP and/or Spring semester and/or the Reading and Final Exam periods.

Three plans for doing so were considered:

  • Option 1: Remove the final day of IAP classes and instead begin Spring classes on that day (i.e. IAP ends on Thursday and Spring semester begins on Friday).
  • Option 2: Reduce the Patriots’ Day holiday to a 3-day-weekend and hold classes on the Tuesday.
  • Option 3: Use a Saturday as one of the four days of final exams.

All three involved registering for spring subjects during the final week of IAP to make better use of our online registration period, and thus, the spring semester would start on a Monday.

All three also reduce spring exams from five days to four, though in most cases these days would overlap with a weekend, enabling Options 1 and 2 to add an extra day to the reading period for Spring finals.

Options 1 and 2 also add an extra day to the reading period for spring finals.

Each option provides a different method for gaining back the last day.

Feedback and Community Engagement

  • Student Forum on 2/12 at 7 PM in 4-270
  • Online form for all MIT community members (anonymous)
  • Faculty: Dean’s Group, Academic Council, Undergrad Officers, CGP, Commencement Committee
  • Students: UA and GSC Officers, Commencement Committee
  • Staff: S3, OME, Global Education
  • Faculty: Grad Officers, FPC, CUP, CAP, Heads of House, MISTI
  • Students: All students are invited to a forum on 2/12 and can submit feedback via online form for all MIT community members (anonymous)
  • Staff: Grad and Undergrad Administrators
  • March: Motion proposed at Faculty Meeting to move forward with Option 2
  • April: Vote taken at Faculty Meeting; motion approved

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