Doctoral Fellowships at MIT

Doctoral Fellowship Application

The Progetto funds 6-12 month research stays at MIT for 5-6 Politecnico PhD students every year. High-quality profiles are sought. Priority will be given to students who participate in collaborative projects between MIT and Politecnico research groups. Please note that in addition to academic excellence, the fit between the applicants’ interests and those of the hosting labs is a major criterion for selection.

Application Deadlines

April 15th, for the Fall Semester
October 1st, for the Spring Semester

Application Information and requirements

Applications are due April 15th, for the Fall Semester, and October 1st, for the Spring Semester. All documents must be submitted electronically.

Applications must include:

  1. A one-page description of the student’s research project at MIT.
  2. The name of the MIT faculty who will “host” the student
  3. An indication of the desired length of stay at MIT (one or two semesters)
  4. A letter of recommendation from a Politecnico faculty,
  5. A letter of acceptance from the hosting MIT faculty
  6. The authorization to study abroad by the candidate’s Ph.D. coordinator
  7. A recent Curriculum Vitae that specifies the applicant’s place and date of birth, citizenship and current residence
  8. The student’s graduate and undergraduate academic record
  9. Proof of English Proficiency (TOEFL or similar test)

Applicants will be assessed by members of the Progetto Rocca Board.

Selected applicants must satisfy all the necessary MIT financial and visa (J-1) requirements. Admission to MIT as a visiting student is conditional to the successful completion of the following procedures, which should take about 100 days:

  • Your host faculty needs to have your visit approved first by the department’s head, and then by MIT VP for research. Your host department also needs to enter your basic data in the MIT database and give you a MIT ID number. Your host professor needs to initiate these procedures: you need to make sure the lab/department assistants are following your case.
  • Once you have received your MIT ID, please email the info to We need the number to pay your term fees.
  • Once your visit to MIT has been officially approved, and your host department sends you your official MIT ID # the MIT International Student Office will request a DS-2019 form on your behalf. You need this form in order to make an appointment at the US consulate in Italy and apply for a J-1 visa. 
  • To initiate the visa procedure, you will need to provide the ISO the following documents. Have them ready to avoid delays in the visa process:
      – Upload LETTER OF ENROLLMENT from the Politecnico di Milano on letterhead certifying the student’s current enrollment in a degree program, expected graduation date, good academic standing.
      – Upload INVITATION LETTER FROM THE HOST DEPARTMENT/LAB ( will be provided by MIT hosting department)
      More than 51% of the total funding must come from a source other than personal or family funds.  The Rocca Fellowship counts toward the 51% and you can use your award letter as proof of funding.
      – All Visiting Students must either purchase the MIT Student Extended Insurance Plan or provide proof that their insurance meets the requirements specified by Federal Regulations for J-1 student visa holders. MIT Student Health Plan Office requires all Visiting Students insurance to cover preexisting conditions. All Medical Insurance questions should be directed to the MIT Student Health Plan Office at
  • MIT currently estimates living expenses as shown in the table below and will ask you to provide evidence of funding for these amounts. You can ignore the terms fees, which are covered by the Progetto Rocca, and fellows have used their health insurance instead of buying into the MIT Health plan.
Estimated monthly expense Single student Married student
Average Living Expense $ 2,935 $ 3,635
Student Health Plan Insurance per month $ 272 $ 577
Total expenses per month $ 3,207+Term Fee(s) $ 4,212+Term Fee(s)

Frequently Asked Questions

What costs does the Roberto Rocca Doctoral Fellowship cover?

The Roberto Rocca Doctoral Fellowships amount to $ 8,500 for the first semester, and $ 7,500 for the second semester. Fellowships also cover the visiting students’ processing and term fees, and bench fees if charged, but do not cover health insurance nor visa processing costs.

What will I have access to?

Successful applicants come to MIT as visiting students. As such, they have access to MIT facilities and their labs, and can audit seminars and classes with instructors’ permission.

How long does it take to complete the MIT approval process and obtain a J-1 visa?

After being granted a Rocca Fellowship, you need to be approved by MIT as a visiting student, and, after this is done, apply for the J-1 visa. The approval procedure is entirely in the purview of your host department, while the visa procedure is managed by MIT International Student Office, which only acts on it after your department has assigned you a MIT ID number.  The length of the process varies somewhat, but it usually takes about 100 days. You are responsible for making sure it moves along the various steps.

When should I plan my fellowship for?

Because of the term fees charged by MIT and to facilitate their integration in the host research groups, students should time their stays to coincide with MIT semesters: from the beginning of February to the end of May for the Spring semester, and from the beginning of September to the third week of December for the Fall semester.

Are there any restrictions?

You cannot receive credit or enroll in language classes and are not eligible for an MIT degree.

How and when will I receive my fellowship funds?

MIT will not wire your fellowship funds, but will make them available by check upon your arrival at MIT.  You will need to open a bank account —but this is much less time consuming and much less costly than in Italy. To make sure your check will be ready, please inform of your confirmed date of arrival.

How many Rocca Fellows have been funded by the project?

The Progetto has sent more than 150 Rocca Fellows from POLIMI to MIT, and it views the Fellows as a community.  We recommend reaching out to past Rocca fellows for insights about how to contact a MIT faculty, labs that might be willing to host you, housing, and visa procedures. For a list of previously funded research topics, and MIT host faculty and labs, please visit the “Fellows” page.