To those who wants to see “Congratulations!” in the MIT admission letter.


This is the word you want to read first when you are waiting for your admission results.

Paulina Gisbrecht – MEng in SCM – class 2018

 This is a truly special, once in the life-time moment. One year ago, 1st of August 2017, I was sitting with my friend Alyona and waiting for my results. We had a nice dinner and prepared a bottle of wine to celebrate …or to just have a drink in case I wasn’t admitted. Well, after a few hours the bottle was empty but still no news from MIT. My MM SCM friend Bona and I had an email countdown of the days before the decision announcement. Waiting for so long, being nervous and no message on the 1st of August! It can’t be good. At 2 a.m. on the 2nd of August I took my bicycle and went home …I was very sad.

Well, next morning I woke up for work, automatically stretched my hand to grab my phone, opened my mails and suddenly saw this word “Congratulations!”. A few seconds I was staring at it without understanding what does this mean. However, eventually I got the message, jumped out of my bed and started to run around laughing and dancing. Six months later, my classmates and I shared this experience of reading “Congratulations!”. This was the first second of being a part of this wonderful SCM family. And for everyone this second was very special.

But let’s come back to the 2nd of August. With the message of admission, we received the guidelines how to proceed next. The next step was to confirm the admission and you have one month to do it. One month is not long! There is a number of requirements to meet for the confirmation.

Admission req

  • $2,500 deposit transfer (which is a part of your later tuition payment)
  • Official Transcript of Records
  • Proof of funding for the tuition, medical insurance and living expenses

The $2,500 deposit is non-refundable. If you pay and then decide to drop the program, you won’t get this amount back. However, if you have a very good reason to postpone the program for one year and the admission committee grants the postponement, this deposit will serve as the “reservation” of the seat in the program. Once you join the program, this deposit will be set off against your tuition.

The official Transcript of Records can be easily managed from your former university. However, I had a few difficulties with mine. It was a while ago that I graduated with my first master’s degree. By that time, it was not common to issue an electronic Transcript of Records. As I asked, the International Office from my former university –  University of Mannheim – requested from me a list with all my subjects, teaching persons, number of credits and grades. Help! I had over 50 subjects and I couldn’t possibly remember all these details! It took me a week of research until I completed this list. Subsequently, this list was supposed to be checked and used as the source for the official Transcript of Records from the university. This should take another week. Having only one month for confirmation and spending two weeks to get the Transcript of Records requires time management. Plus, you should keep in mind, that MIT needs the original document. You need to send it whether in paper by post mail (which is not the most secure way from the remote countries) or as a direct electronic mail from the student offices of your former university – add a few more days.

The most interesting and challenging requirement is to provide the proof of funding . To get the proof you need the funding in the first place. Well, my classmates and I don’t have a clear answer to this problem, but we do have our experience. Please keep in mind that all the recommendations are unofficial, without any guaranty and without any feedback from MIT and CTL in particular.

And that’s what we did….

Starting with the easiest: some of my classmates were able to save enough money and just needed an official letter from their home bank with the statement of the current amount in the checking/draft, savings, or certificate of deposits accounts. This letter is an official document stating the exact required amount in USD and must be signed by the bank authorities. For more details see proof of funding.

MIT Scholarship: try this option. We could not meet the deadlines due to our late admission (1st of August) and confirmation (1st of September) dates. But since you have similar dates as the residential SCM applicants, you should definitely try this.  Here are some other scholarship options listed on the MIT site

Fellowships: When applying/ registering for the program, you were asked (or will be asked) if you are interested in fellowship. I somehow thought I wouldn’t get any support, so I didn’t even try. But some of my classmates did and got the student fee partially covered. It doesn’t hurt to put the mark into this option and see what might happen. The criteria for the fellowship are your grades (GPA and/or MM SCM) and personal factors, which can be everything. For instance, you are the first student in this program from your country. This is a little bit like a lottery. Try it! SCMb fellowship application has no clear criteria and no written rules, but SCMr criteria could help you as guidelines. Check the general MIT fellowship options here as well.

Company sponsorship: you have applied for the SCMb program which means you must have submitted a research project proposal. This is mostly based on some ideas from your work environment and your company might be interested in the results of a comprehensive study in cooperation with MIT (this is a very good selling proposition!). In some cases, large companies are aware of the MM SCM program, sponsor this and would be probably interested in full or partial coverage of the SCMb program tuition. Push it internally! One of my classmates went this way and got the 80% sponsorship for the student fee and living expenses from his company.

Informal applications for funds – companies, research institutions, philanthropic organizations: send emails or even better letters to the companies which a. could be interested in the project you propose; b. could be interested in you as their future employee. One of my classmates had sent letter, which is genius! An email would most probably never pass the mail box of the assistant of the executive manager you are trying to reach. But a letter, printed or written on paper, packed into an envelope, will eventually land on the table of the target person. This person will open it and see how impressive is your proposition and how clever you were to use this way of communication;) And that’s what one of my classmates would like to recommend you:


“As soon as I received the acceptance letter from MIT, I thought that financial help could be found. Hence, I designed my strategy: searching persons or institutions eager to help students of good universities with valuable stories or backgrounds, I was able to make a list of about 30 individuals, namely banks, philanthropic foundations, lobbies, etc. The way to approach them was the most important element of the plan: written letters. Nowadays everyone receives thousands of e-mails. Everyone has a spam folder in their inbox. Very important people may have assistants who help them managing their inbox so certain e-mails would never reach these persons. But, what about hand written letter? It is not common anymore. If you receive one, would you read it? My understanding was that I could have more chances to have those persons reading my message by written letter rather than e-mail. The result was that one philanthropic foundation of my country found my story very interesting and granted me funds to pay all my tuition fee.

Now, I would kindly ask you to think about your personal story as a blended student. I do not know a word about it, but, given the characteristics and requirements of the program, I know your story is unique, peculiar, interesting and worthwhile to know more about it, Try to explain other your story! You are going to do a great program on one of the best universities in the world. Try to get some funds! Be creative, expand your mental boundaries about your funding!”

Crowdfunding: one of my MM SCM classmates who became our SCMb fellow from Zaragoza ZLG, Dima – Dmytro Rizdvanetskyi – compiled a detailed story of his journey through the triple AAA – Application, Admission and Arrival in two super interesting blogs. Google translator will give you an approximate description of his  application, admission and arrival experience since Dima comes from Ukraine and posted in Russian. Except of the funding endeavors, I had a similar experience and the way of thinking. I guess many of us did. In his blog, Dima says:

By the time [I considered to pursue my further education at MIT], the tuition was around $100,000. I had approximately $150 in my pocket.”

Once admitted, Dima started to apply for fellowships and sponsoring programs in his country. In parallel, he established his own crowdfunding campaign, which is in my opinion a brilliant idea! Dima decided to go for the program in Zaragoza, which requires funds of around $25,000. By the time he posted his blog (26th of September, 2017, 26 days after the final confirmation), he got 15% of the tuition funded, 10% of which were bitcoins:)  He has successfully finished the program at ZLC by now, which confirms that he was able to get the necessary amount for the tuition on time. He thanked some of the sponsors officially in his second blog from the 27th of March. So don’t forget to thank the persons who have helped you to fulfill your dreams! By the way, Dima will post his graduation and post-graduation experience. I am sure, this will be extremely exciting! I recommend to follow him online.

Bank loan:

  • Local student loans: some countries support education programs by granting student loans with small interest rates and postponed pay-back. Usually, the state steps in as the guarantor for student’s credit standing towards the bank. In Germany, we have a few interesting options to receive a student loan. The interest rate is between 1.5-4% (if any of you are Germans, these are the information pages: Studienkredit, myStipendium, Deutsche Bildung. Unfortunately, I was not able to meet the requirement to receive such a loan. I was over 35 and had a good job, which disqualified me for any options. Or maybe I should search further!
  • U.S. student bank loan:
    • Usual: There is a number of banks offering student loans. The requirement are in general everywhere the same: provide information about your credit scores, GPA from previous university program (or results from your MM SCM), information about your current job and salary etc. Additional challenge: for an U.S student loan you need an American co-signer. The average interest rate is around 7-8%. Just check online.
    • Special: Prodigy Finance with almost the same conditions but without the need for an U.S. co-signer. This is really an interesting option, if you have difficulties in your own country!

Check the International Student page for other individual options to get student loan in U.S.

  • Just a bank loan: since I could not meet the criteria for the student loan in Germany, I took a usual private loan. If you live in EU, this might be an option. Currently, the European interest rate is kept quite low. Furthermore, in Germany you can take a private loan online up to 50,000 €. I used Smava, which was rated in Germany as the best platform to get an online loan without a special reason, e.g. for new furniture. I just recommend you to keep your education plans out of the information flow between you and the bank. I was rejected by one of the banks even after providing a statement from my company that they grant me a six-month educational leave to MIT. The next bank gave me a loan as I said that I need the money for a private matter. All I had to provide were my salary statements from the last three months, the declaration of my monthly expenses (rent, car, other loans etc.) and the proof of my identity. You can have more than 50,000 €, but in this case the banks are looking a little closer at how you are going to pay the loan back.

That’s it for the time being. I am sure you will find new interesting ways how to fulfill your academic dream. Please, share them with the next generations! Let’s stick together and make the SCM programs great and famous! If you are interested in the 3rd A – the Arrival at MIT – blog. Please, let me know and leave a comment. I would share with you the experience between the first kick-off meeting of the program and until the arrival on campus in Cambridge: research deliverables, housing, visa application, etc.

P.S. All of us “failed” to meet the last of the requirements in the admission letter – to attend the first orientation program day on the 4th of January, 2018:) We had no chance, because the wild Boston winter had other plans. MIT was closed due to a huge snow storm…This was magic, white and frosty outside – the Dome was empty, but open, lit with light and promising me some of the hardest and the best months of my life….

Special thanks to Rafaela Nunes, who helped me to collect the information!



  1. Thank you, Paulina, for sharing your experience with the SCMB program admission process. I’ve enrolled the first 2 courses SC0x and SC02 in 2018 and will be finishing in June 2018.

    I’m delighted the detail information you put together to help us understand the steps of the process. Definitely, your guide will be helpful if I’m able to reach the first my milestone. BTW – I live in Boston please let me know if I could be any help!

    Best of Luck!

    Mohamoud Hiray

    1. Thanks Mohamoud! I’ll keep it mind:) Good luck with the MM! You are located right at the birth place of our program. I’d recommend you to follow the announcements and open events. If possible to participate some and to meet the MIT CTL team. If you’re going to apply, it could help. Also consider to become a CTA in MM. The most of my fellow CTAs and I met each other in person in the SCMb program.

  2. Lina, great blog! Very informative. I too took a loan. I just never told the financial institution that it was meant for my studies. It worked! Those who get admitted should be brave, such opportunities are rare.

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