Cost Object

Cost Objects (or Cost Collectors)

A cost object is a seven-digit number used to categorize the costs and revenues associated with a particular project or activity at MIT. The terms cost object and cost collector are used interchangeably. Each cost object number is unique and assigned to only one company code. The three types of cost objects in SAP are cost centers, internal orders, and WBS elements.

Cost Center

Most auxiliary, administrative and instructional activities are in cost centers. Funding is primarily through general funds or self-funding for revenue-producing auxiliaries. The cost center number range is 1330000-1999999.

Internal Order and WBS Element – Balance Sheet

Balance sheet cost objects are used to record activity that is either not part of MIT’s revenue and expenses or is MIT activity but requires deferral to make sure it is reflected in the financial statements in the proper time period. Internal orders may or may not have an end date and are generally self-funding, while WBS elements do have end dates and funding generally originates from an external sponsor. The internal order and WBS element – Balance Sheet number range is 1000000-1329999.

Internal Order – Fund

These cost objects are for discretionary or instructional activities. Funding is from gifts, investment income, Industrial Liaison Program (ILP) fees or miscellaneous income. Internal Order – Funds are used for non-research activities, fellowships, and discretionary purposes. They may or may not have an end date, at the DLC discretion. The Internal Order – Fund number range is 2000000-4479999.

WBS Element – Fund

These cost objects are for instructional activities. Funding is from sponsors such as, government, industry or foundations. WBS Element – Funds are used for conferences/workshops, curriculum development. Available funds are based on the authorized total and have a specific end date. The WBS Element – Fund number range is 2000000-4479999.

Internal Order and WBS Elements – Internal Operations

These cost objects support unique departmental cost tracking operations within internal MIT organizations such as Facilities, Telecomm, and Technology Licensing. The Internal Order and WBS Elements – Internal Operations number range is 4300000-4999999.

WBS Element – Research Project

These cost objects are for sponsored research activities. Funding is from sponsors; such as government, industry and foundations. Available funds are based on authorized total and have a specific period of performance. The WBS Element – Research Project number range is 6000000-9999999.

MIT Cost Object Category


SAP Cost Object Type

Cost Object Range


that are usually self-supporting, e.g., MIT Day Camp

Cost center



For administrative operations and ongoing academic activities

Cost center



Discretionary activities, scholarly allowances and special instructional projects

Internal order

Fund Expendable:

2000000-2999999 Fund Pool A:


Fund Pool C:



Sponsored non-research activities, e.g., fellowships, curriculum development, workshops

WBS element

Fund Sponsored:


Sponsored Research

Research projects funded by external sponsors

WBS element


Balance Sheet

For activities that are not part of MIT’s revenues and expenses, or are deferred revenues and expenses

WBS element when the activity is sponsored, internal order in all other cases




(telephone and network-related construction and renovation)