MIT Finances Explorer

A tool for viewing and searching sources and amounts of grants and contracts for MIT's departments and researchers.

Every year, MIT publishes its “Brown Book,” an in-depth account of the research grants and contracts that fund projects throughout the entire Institute. Though it contains details about the millions of dollars in funds provided by sponsors like the Air Force and Shell, as well as the expenditures of all Institute researchers, it is not well known by academics, staff, students or citizens of Cambridge.

MIT’s research money comes from a complex mix of industry and government sources. Some labs and projects rely heavily on millions of dollars per year from government organizations like the NIH and NSF. Others support their research with donations or contracts from corporate sponsors. Some departments are magnets for outside funding, while others get almost nothing.

This report focuses on the so-called on-campus research, as opposed to "off-campus" research that occurs at MIT’s external labs, like Lincoln Lab.

Nine hundred thirty-two researchers (including many professors) had funded projects across MIT's five schools — Engineering, Science, Architecture and Planning, Sloan, and Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences. Research spending on a project must come from a specific grant or contract the researcher has obtained. The researchers, called project "supervisors" in the Brown Book, together spent over $411 million on their work in fiscal 2014. But that total was far from evenly distributed, reflecting the size and influence of certain departments and supervisors.

The School of Engineering had a research volume of nearly $269 million in FY2014, and the School of Science nearly $134 million. But the School of Architecture and Planning, the School of Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences (SHASS), and Sloan spent $19.2 million, $11.6 million, and $8.6 million respectively. The funding totals and number of supervisors in these schools are dwarfed by those of some individual engineering and science departments.

Major labs and departments naturally constitute a large portion of funding, and the organization of some professors and researchers in certain labs may not necessarily correspond to their roles in student-facing academic departments. Some supervisors have projects in multiple labs. Many departments, especially in science and engineering, have a handful of star researchers responsible for several times as much funding as the median supervisor in that department. For example, in the Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Lab, where only 11 of the 78 supervisors had expenditures over $1 million in FY2014, Daniela Rus was responsible for nearly $4.4 million.

The following tool shows the funding hierarchy of MIT's on-campus research, and the associated search tool provides a more detailed breakdown of each supervisor's projects. The FY2014 expenditure best represents the funding for research done during that time period, since cumulative spending depends largely on the history and age of a given grant or contract, and authorized totals are for the length of the project and subject to future change.

FY2014 expenditures in dollars
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School Dept. Title Primary Sponsor Gov. Num 2014 Exp. Cumulative Spending Authorized Total

The original source of research funding at MIT — the "primary sponsor" in the Brown Book's parlance — is an equally important and interesting part of MIT's funding profile. Outside funding can either come from grants, which are simply sums for conducting research, or contracts, where the sponsor can require deliverables or set other parameters. Unlike the data about the research supervisors, who work for MIT in an "on-campus" capacity, this data also considers "off-campus" funding to affiliated MIT labs, with a combined volume of $678.6 million of grants and contracts in FY2014.

The U.S. federal government is the dominant source of funding throughout the Institute — its grants alone totaled $371 million in FY2014. The National Institutes of Health and National Science Foundation were major components of this, with about $111 million and $76 million of grants, respectively, with a much smaller amount in contracts. Various Department of Energy offices also provide tens of millions of dollars in funding, also mostly in the form of grants.

Grants from the branches of the U.S. Department of Defense made up a combined $82.5 million. This is in addition to more than $40 million in contracts it awarded MIT that year. The U.S. Navy is the fastest-growing source of grants and contracts out of all single government agencies. Since FY 2010, funding from the US Navy has gone up 26 percent adjusted for inflation, up to a FY2014 total of nearly $33 million.

The size of the bubbles in the following display is based on the full on- and off-campus grant and contract volume. The associated search tool breaks down the funding by on- and off-campus and by grant versus contract. It also shows how those funds were spent, such as on employees and other expenses.

Industry funding comes largely in the form of contracts, which can allow sponsors special access to results or intellectual property. MIT spent nearly $210 million on research salaries in FY2014. Industry grants made up just $9 million of this, but industry contracts with MIT totaled $104 million.

The MIT Energy Initiative, started in 2006, is the umbrella for energy research on campus and relies heavily on industry. Part of its funding appears in the Brown Book as a "Multi-Sponsored Consortium," responsible for about $15 million in FY2014. But major oil companies were also significant sources of funding — $6.4 million from Shell, $6.2 million from Eni S.p.A., $5.4 million from BP and subsidiaries, and $1.7 million from Chevron, among others. This funding is almost exclusively in the form of on-campus contracts, rather than grants.