Students at the Joint Program

A key aspect of our mission is to cultivate the next generation of global change researchers. While we do not grant degrees, students participate directly in our core work, within collaborative, multidisciplinary research teams. The program's graduate student research assistants hail from a wide range of departments and disciplines, such as climate and ecosystems science, economics, urban planning and political science. Undergraduates may contribute to our work through the Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program (UROP).

UNDERGRADUATE STUDENTS: How to Become a Joint Program UROP

We often work with MIT Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program (UROP) students to advance our research goals. To learn more, visit  

GRADUATE STUDENTS: How to Become a Joint Program Research Assistant

To become a Joint Program Research Assistant, a student must first be enrolled in an MIT academic degree program. While a student enrolled in any department at MIT may pursue Joint Program research, most of our research assistants have an academic advisor (a faculty member or senior scientist/engineer) who is affiliated with the Joint Program. Prospective students should therefore apply to whichever academic department best fits their interests, and consult with potential advisors about research possibilities. To learn about how to apply to MIT and departmental requirements, please visit the MIT admissions website.

Common departments, programs and schools for Joint Program research assistants include:

Earth, Atmospheric and Planetary Sciences / Program in Atmospheres, Oceans and Climate

Institute for Data, Systems and SocietyTechnology and Policy Program

Civil and Environmental Engineering

Urban Studies and Planning


Sloan School of Management

Political Science

The Joint Program Graduate Student Experience

Supported by unique access to state-of-the-art computing and policy analysis, graduate students involved in Joint Program research find many opportunities to publish and present their research, to teach and to develop other professional skills.

Guided by Joint Program faculty and research scientists, our student research assistants have:

  • developed an aerosol-cloud interaction model to enable more accurate assessments of the climate’s response to aerosols
  • led a study on how China can dramatically increase its use of wind power
  • developed a model of natural emissions of methane from the biosphere
  • coauthored a study on U.S. economic benefits of a global mercury emissions reduction treaty

For more examples, see our lists of current students and student publications below.

Joint Program students meet regularly to discuss global change issues, present their work and teach one another about research methods. They also develop and lead innovative sessions for the MIT Independent Activities Period, sharing their knowledge on the science and policy of global change while gaining invaluable teaching experience. Graduate students engaged in Joint Program research have gone on to faculty positions at U.S. and European universities, taken highly responsible government posts and assumed leadership roles in their field.


Joint Program Student Publications

Student Dissertation or Thesis
Benavides, K. (2023).
MS Thesis, Technology and Policy Program [Download]
Student Dissertation or Thesis
T. Dlamini (2022).
MS Thesis, Technology and Policy Program [Download]
Student Dissertation or Thesis
Hong, S. T. (2022).
MS Thesis, MIT System Design and Management Program [Download]
Student Dissertation or Thesis
Kumar, H.  (2021).
MS Thesis, MIT System Design and Management Program , [Download]
Student Dissertation or Thesis
Smith, E.E. (2021).
MS Thesis, MIT Institute for Data, Systems and Society, [Download]

Joint Program Affiliated Students

  • Earth, Atmospheric & Planetary Sciences