Thesis and Capstone Projects

A thesis or capstone project is a requirement for every graduate student at MIT.

The project needs to be practical, relevant, and address a problem of great interest to industry or other entities with supply chain challenges. These projects are performed with a sponsoring company, NGO, government agency, or trade association. 

Students bid on projects in September, are matched with projects, partners, and SCM project advisors, and begin working with sponsoring companies shortly afterward. Residential cohort (SCMr) students visit sponsoring companies in October and have weekly calls with project sponsors throughout the academic year.

  • Since projects usually require 9 months to complete, SCMb students must do some work at home before arriving on campus – see detailed timeline info below.

In December, students prepare a one-slide “e-poster” outlining their project, and present their work-in-progress at the MIT SCALE Supply Chain Expo at the end of January.

In May, students submit completed projects and present their work to the CTL community and project sponsors. Students may be asked to travel to sponsoring companies in June to present their project and findings to management.

Examples of past SCM projects can be found on the CTL site.

Project Process for Blended Pathway Students

Because SCMb students are on campus for only 5 months they must begin working on their projects in advance. Here is the sequence of work tasks:

Before Applying

  1. Project Topic: SCMb candidates should think about what kind of supply chain problem they want to work on. They will need to create a convincing two page description of their proposed project. They should think about what kind of an entity might wish to partner with them and what kind of data they will need to perform this project. 

The Application (November to May) 

  1. All students will complete a capstone project as a component of the program. Projects may be offered by the academic program or proposed directly by applicants. Projects proposed by applicants needs to be practical, relevant, data driven, and address a problem of great interest to industry or other entities with supply chain challenges. These projects are performed with a sponsoring company, NGO, government agency, or trade association.
  2. Applicants must submit a two page (1000 words) project proposal. Although preferred, this proposal does not require any commitment or discussion on the part of your sponsor. If admitted to the program you will have the option to expand on your proposal to be considered toward the completion of your degree.
  3. You must impress upon the review committee with the importance of your project to supply chain management and convince them that you can complete the project in a timely manner. Projects will require up to 4 months of remote pre-work prior to enrollment, plus additional time once enrolled in the on campus program.
  4. Your two-page description should include the following:
    1. Describe the problem including what challenges, industries, markets, products, geographies, processes, etc. are involved?
    2. What organization or kind of organization will you seek to partner with you on this project?
    3. How do you propose to gain the cooperation of this kind of organization?
    4. What methodology would you use to study this problem?
    5. What types of data will you need to perform this project?
    6. How do you propose to obtain the data you need for this project?
    7. If accepted, what pre-work can you do before coming to campus? 
    8. Can you complete this project in a 9-month time frame, both remote and on campus?

Once Admitted but Before Arrival on campus (August to December)

  1. Selecting Projects/Forming Teams—In early fall we will follow a process to move from ~40 project ideas to ~20 detailed project plans with 2 students assigned to each. The following must then be approved:
    1. Expanded Project Proposal – provide a more detailed description including research question, project scope, methodology, data required, and timing.
    2. Sources of Data – describe where the data will come from for your quantitative analysis. Show proof that such data exists and that you can get access to it.
    3. Letter from Sponsor (if collaborating with an entity) – provide a note from any sponsoring entity demonstrating that they intend to provide data and work with you on this project.
  2. Complete the edX Introduction to Computer Science and Programming Using Python course.

Arrival at MIT (first week of January)

  1. SCMb students arrive a week ahead of the rest of the SCM and SCALE students for orientation
  2. Students work on their project, attend career development workshops, writing classes, and leadership seminars.

SCALE Connect Expo (January) and Spring Semester – February to May

  1. SCMb students follow the same project schedule and due dates as the SCMr students

MIT SCM Symposium (May)

  1. SCMr and SCMb students present the final results of their projects in a day-long event.