MIT’s newest grad housing option: What to expect for graduate students

In October 2017, MIT committed to adding 950 beds on campus for graduate students as part of the Volpe zoning agreement with the City of Cambridge. This agreement allowed the Institute to develop a 10-acre parcel in Kendall Square. As a result, MIT opened the Graduate Tower at Site 4 residential community in Kendall Square, which added about 250 new beds for graduate students and families. Additionally, 135 beds in 70 Amherst Street were allocated to graduate students.

In December 2020, MIT partnered with American Campus Communities (ACC) to construct and run a graduate housing complex on Vassar Street, located next to Simmons Hall. This collaboration fulfills MIT’s commitment under the Volpe agreement and offers a new housing option for graduate students and families. The residence, named “Graduate Junction,” consists of two buildings surrounding a central plaza and green space. It spans five- and six-story sections, transitioning to a 10-story segment beyond the park. Graduate Junction will provide a range of housing options, including efficiencies and one-, two-, and four-bedroom units, licensed by ACC to individuals, couples, and families.

With the completion of the new Graduate Junction, which offers 676 beds, and the reconfiguration of rooms in other buildings, MIT has exceeded its original commitment by providing a total of 1,076 new graduate beds. The Graduate Junction is scheduled to open in August. David Friedrich, senior associate dean for housing and residential services, shared updates on the project and expectations for potential residents.

Q: How is the Graduate Junction project progressing, and when will it be ready for occupancy?

A: The buildings on Vassar Street are taking shape, and we are on track for the opening in August 2024. This achievement is the result of collaborative efforts between students, campus stakeholders, and the MIT community, who worked together to design a housing option that meets the needs of the student housing market. Witnessing its near completion is truly exciting.

The project has been successful, thanks to our productive partnership with ACC. ACC is a well-established student housing company that has developed and managed over 100,000 beds across 90 campuses in the United States. They have expertise in graduate housing and will manage the property on MIT’s behalf. Kendra Lowery, the general manager of Graduate Junction, is a highly capable partner with extensive experience in student housing management. She will provide invaluable support to the residents of Graduate Junction.

We are proud to fulfill the recommendations of the 2018 Graduate Housing Working Group by increasing the number of beds and offering cost-effective options for students. This group, consisting of students, staff, and faculty, played a crucial role in shaping the project and providing data to inform the optimal unit types and amenities desired by graduate students. In the coming weeks, we will showcase Graduate Junction alongside MIT’s existing eight graduate residences, enabling students to select the housing option that best suits their requirements.

Q: What distinguishes living in Graduate Junction from residing in MIT-operated residences?

A: Graduate Junction introduces a unique concept that combines apartment-style living with the convenience of being located near the main campus. It offers an off-campus experience with an on-campus location. The housing license process, maintenance, building access, and IT infrastructure of Graduate Junction will be handled by our partner, ACC. While students will have access to MIT’s student support resources and on-campus social events, there will be no faculty head of house or resident governance structure. Instead, ACC will directly engage with Graduate Junction residents to address any needs or questions they may have.

Residents of Graduate Junction will benefit from the same flexibility and pricing as on-campus housing. They will not be required to make upfront payments such as first and last month’s rent, security deposit, or broker fees that are typically associated with off-campus properties. Instead, Graduate Junction will have a utility-inclusive rental rate for furnished apartments, set by MIT. This partnership with ACC allows us to explore alternative models for managing on-campus residences and meet the demand for graduate housing.

Q: What advice would you give to incoming graduate students considering Graduate Junction or other on-campus residences?

A: The MIT housing system offers students a range of choices to tailor their residential experience according to their preferences. Our aim is to make on-campus living the primary and most appealing option by carefully pricing our units below market rates. Alongside the support provided by the Office of Graduate Education, the on-campus experience is designed to meet the unique needs of graduate students.

Graduate Junction addresses the key factors deemed important by students, including location, unit configuration, all-inclusive payments, and flexibility in securing or terminating housing arrangements. Adjacent to Cambridgeport, Graduate Junction is in close proximity to Cambridge public schools, local grocery stores, and neighborhood parks and playgrounds.

It joins a diverse range of housing options available to students, accommodating various budgets. On-campus residences offer additional benefits such as easy access to labs, classes, student support, campus services, and other amenities. We encourage graduate students to review the new rate sheet for 2024-25 and consider the advantages of living on campus.

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