Frequently Asked Questions

FAQ for Prospective SHBT Students


Applying to SHBT:


Q: What sort of undergraduate background is required for the SHBT program?
A: Due to the interdisciplinary nature of our program, students come from virtually every field related to speech and hearing, from linguistics to molecular biology to mechanical engineering. There are no absolute requirements for entering the program beyond those required by the Division of Medical Sciences. That said, first year coursework does require solid quantitative skills, so experience with physics, calculus, and programming is recommended (but not required) for all for all entering students. Most importantly, candidates should have previous experience conducting research and a strong desire to contribute to the field of speech and hearing.  


Q: What sources of funding support SHBT students?
Most SHBT students (excluding international students) are supported for the first two years of the program through a NIH training grant. After the first two years, many students have successfully applied for the NIH F31 predoctoral fellowship or the NSF Graduate Research Fellowship. As Division of Medical Sciences students, we also receive a modest yearly travel stipend, which allows for conference attendance.


Q: What do SHBT students do once they graduates?
Graduates of our program have gone on to leading positions in academia and industry. A full listing of alumni and where they are now is found here (link).


The Interview Process:


Q: Where can I stay while I'm interviewing?

A: Interviewees are typically housed with current students. We believe that staying with a student is invaluable because it provides the opportunity for you to talk one-on-one in an informal setting. Also, please let your host know when you will be arriving and leaving, so he or she can make sure to be available for your entire stay. More information on who to contact regarding staying with a current student during your interview will be available in your interview information packet and email. If you live locally, you will also be informally paired with a current student as a buddy,

Q: What's the dress code?

A: We recommend business formal attire for the interviews. It's not required, but most men wear jackets (with or without a tie) while women wear a skirt or slacks. Interview day will be your most formal day. Any activities purely organized for students will be informal. Feel free to wear comfortable (warm!) clothing. We pack a lot into interview weekend, so be sure to layer for the cold and be comfortable enough to be at ease over the course of a long day. Be sure to check in on the weather in the week leading up to your visit. Boston can have cold winters and snow covered sidewalks in January, while other lucky interviewees may experience a beautiful, crisp sun...either way, you'll want to come prepared!

Q: Can I be reimbursed for my interview trip?

A: Yes. You will be fully reimbursed for train or air travel, and you will receive more information about reimbursement with your interview packet.

Q: How do I get around the Boston area?

A: The easiest way to get around is to take the T (Boston's way of saying "subway"). Most of the places that you will need to know about are on the T. The airport is on the Blue line (Airport stop). On the Red line, Massachusetts Eye and Ear (MEE) is at the Charles/MGH stop, MIT is at the Kendall/MIT stop, and the Harvard Cambridge campus is at the Harvard Square stop. Harvard Medical School is on the Green E line, at the Longwood Medical Area stop. See for more details. Also, you can always take a cab or Uber anywhere, although it's a bit more expensive.

Q: What is the purpose of the interview weekend?

A: The interviews are to both recruit you and to determine if you are a good fit for the program. You will likely interview with 6-8 faculty from various backgrounds, and each interview will last around thirty minutes. At the conclusion of the formal interviews, there will be a series of events on Friday night and all day Saturday which allow you to interact with current students and faculty in more informal settings. You are also encouraged to visit any labs in which you may be interested in working.

Q: Why do I keep hearing about MEE (formerly MEEI)? What is MEE? And what is EPL? Why are there so many acronyms?

A: MEE is Massachusetts Eye and Ear (formerly known as Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary), and it's the hospital where a large chunk of SHBT faculty and students have their labs and do their research. There are two big labs at MEE: EPL and JVL. EPL is the Eaton-Peabody Lab, the world’s largest research center for the study of hearing and deafness, and JVL is the Jenks Vestibular Laboratory. All of your interviews will be held at MEE.

Q: What does the SHBT program have to do with MIT? Why are some present SHBT students at MIT rather than Harvard?

A: The program was administered by MIT from its inception in 1992 until 2011.  In 2011, the program moved to Harvard to better match the overwhelming Harvard faculty participation in the program.  Many MIT faculty continue to participate in SHBT, and Harvard SHBT students may work in their laboratories. Most MIT-based SHBT researchers belong to the Brain and Cognitive Sciences department or to the Research Lab of Electronics (RLE).

Q: What should I see while I'm in Boston?

A: I really don't know--it depends on your interests! Attending the student dinner will allow you to go out with several SHBT students and see some cool parts of Boston. Some of my favorite things are wandering around Harvard Square and having a cup of tea at Lulu's Tealuxe, or a beer and meatloaf at John Harvard's; strolling down Newbury and Boylston Streets (Green Line, near the Arlington stop) to look at the fancy people; or visiting the Museum of Fine Arts or the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum (Green Line, Museum stop). Of course, there are plays, symphonies, and sporting events, but chances are there won't be much time for those this time around.

Q: How's the weather?

A: Who knows how it will be when you come! It could be 6 or 60 degrees--check the forecast. When I came up from Houston in March to interview long ago, I forgot my coat and nearly froze to death. Do not forget your coat!

Q: Can I see a lab while I'm visiting?

A: Absolutely! You are encouraged to contact faculty members and schedule appointments to talk to them. In fact, it's an excellent idea and shows that you are really interested in the program. Given time constraints for the weekend, the best time to do so would be on Thursday afternoon before the interviews. That being said, you will get to meet quite a few faculty members the day of the interview. If there is a group that you're particularly interested in visiting that you will not be interviewing with on Friday, it definitely makes sense to try and get a visit in, as it is unlikely you'll have a chance to do so that weekend after the interviews are over.

Q: Do I need to bring my papers, thesis, resume, etc.?

A: If any of these were attached with your application, then the members of the admissions committee already have them. As for your thesis, it's unlikely that anyone will have the time to read it. If you have a paper or figures from your research that were not attached to your application, you can bring along a copy if you wish. What's most important is to be able to talk about your research and interests fluently and enthusiastically. Be prepared to answer questions about your previous work.









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