MIT Quality of Life Survey preliminary results released

46% of undergraduate respondents indicate their workload is ‘too heavy’

MIT has released the preliminary results of the quadrennial Council on Work and Family Quality of Life Survey. The results are available here

The survey had a 50% response rate, including 13,026 faculty, staff, postdoctoral researchers, and students. The response rate was 43% for undergraduate students, 38% for graduate students, and 60% for faculty. 

Overall, 87% of respondents indicated that they are “very satisfied” or “somewhat satisfied” with their role at MIT. The percentage of student respondents who indicated they are “very satisfied” decreased from 52% to 42% between 2017 and 2020. 

85% of student, 87% of faculty, and 84% of staff respondents indicated that their primary unit or major is a good fit for them.

49% of student respondents indicated their student life experience was “excellent” or “very good,” down from 56% in 2017 and 59% in 2013. 71% of student respondents indicated their academic experience was “excellent” or “very good,” a decrease from 76% in 2017 and 78% in 2013.

In addition, 46% of undergraduate, 36% of graduate, and 41% of faculty respondents indicated that their academic or research workload was “too heavy.”

Regarding mental well-being, 65% of undergraduate, 60% of graduate, 56% of faculty, and 35% of staff respondents indicated that they “often” or “very often” felt overwhelmed by all they had to do. 33% of student, 24% of faculty, and 19% of staff respondents also indicated that they “often” or “very often” felt isolated.

Furthermore, 47% of student respondents agreed that MIT’s academic environment “negatively impacts” their “mental and emotional well-being,” up from 39% in 2017. Additionally, 71% of student respondents agreed that the academic environment “negatively impacts the mental and emotional well-being” of students they know, up from 59% in 2017.

Student respodents indicated that their top sources of stress were “balancing multiple commitments” (70%), “expectation to perform as well as my peers” (58%), and “concerns about life after MIT” (50%). Faculty respondents indicated that their top sources of stress were “lack of time to think and reflect” (57%), “scholarly productivity” (56%), and “securing funding for research” (54%). 

71% of student respondents described their overall physical health as “excellent” or “good,” compared to 55% who described their mental health as such. When asked how many days in the past week they got enough sleep to feel rested, 20% of student and 32% of faculty and staff respondents indicated fewer than three days.

Of the faculty and staff respondents, 62% indicated that they “have a voice in the decision-making that affects the direction” of their unit. 70% indicated their department or unit’s procedures are “fair and equitable.” 

When asked whether they would “feel comfortable raising ethical concerns through official channels at MIT,” 66% of faculty respondents “somewhat or strongly agreed” compared to 62% of staff and 55% of student respondents. Additionally, 66% of faculty respondents agreed that “MIT would take reports of unethical conduct seriously,” compared to 57% of staff and 61% of student respondents.

On average, both undergraduate and graduate students rated MIT’s environment as more “stressful” than “calm,” and more “harmful” than “beneficial” to mental health. Both undergraduate and graduate student respondents rated MIT’s environment as highly “embracing of diversity,” “friendly,” “collaborative,” and “safe.” Graduate respondents rated MIT’s environment as more competitive than undergraduate respondents did.