Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)

“Mind and Hand” is the thought-provoking motto of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, known also as MIT. This motto enigmatically encapsulates this famous institution’s mission to advance knowledge in science, technology and areas of scholarship that can help to make the world a better place.

At its founding in 1861, MIT was initially a small community of problem-solvers and science lovers eager to bring their knowledge to bear on the world. Today, MIT has evolved into an educational behemoth, with some 1,000 faculty members and more than 11,000 undergraduate and graduate students.

MIT is now an independent, coeducational, privately endowed university organized into five schools (architecture and planning; engineering; humanities, arts, and social sciences; management; science). Yet the principle of educational innovation remains at the core of MIT’s educational philosophy.

MIT researchers are at the forefront of developments in artificial intelligence, climate adaptation, HIV, cancer, and poverty alleviation, while in the past MIT research has fuelled scientific breakthroughs such as the development of radar, the invention of magnetic core memory and the concept of the expanding universe.

Science and technology are not the only strings to MIT’s bow, however. Approximately 20 percent of MIT undergraduates join a sports team, and with 33 varsity sports MIT boasts one of the broadest intercollegiate athletic programs in the world.

A vibrant arts culture also permeates college life. There are 12 museums and galleries on campus, with the MIT Museum drawing nearly 125,000 visitors each year. Students participate in more than 60 music, theatre, writing and dance groups, and faculty members of MIT even include Pulitzer Prize winners and Guggenheim fellows.

MIT is set in 168 acres of grounds that extend for more than a mile along the Cambridge side of the Charles River basin. The campus features stunning landmarks designed by the likes of architects Alvar Aalto, Frank Gehry, and Steven Hollin, as well as buildings in a range of architectural styles, from neoclassical to modernist and brutalist.

At its edges, the campus merges with various Cambridge neighborhoods, including Kendall Square which is one of the most innovative square miles on the planet. The close association of industry and research has helped MIT alumni go on to launch more than 30,000 active companies, creating 4.6 million jobs and generating roughly $1.9 trillion in annual revenue. No wonder then that a nation of MIT graduates would be equivalent to the 10th-largest economy in the world.

Applying to study at college is a huge life decision, and the thoroughness of the MIT application process reflects this. Candidates apply through an online application system known as MyMIT. The application fee is US$75 and initially candidates submit biographical details. They then answer short response questions and essays before listing and writing about four activities of particular significance to them and submitting information about coursework and grades.

Additional requirements include letters of recommendation from two teachers (one math/science, one humanities), plus extra materials from a school counselor (typically including a transcript, a school profile and letter of recommendation).

Applicants also complete standardized tests: native English speakers must submit SAT/ACT scores as well as undertake two SAT subject tests, in mathematics and science. Non-native English speakers are encouraged to take the TOEFL and two SAT subject tests.

The final part of the process is the interview, which will usually be conducted locally by alumni or over Skype. Overall the process is highly competitive, with candidates who reach the interview stage typically having a 10.8 percent chance of being admitted.

Fees and tuition for 2017–18 cost US$67,430 per academic year, which includes housing and dining, books, and personal expenses. Financial aid is available and is claimed by 91 percent of undergraduate students. The school stresses that 72 percent of its undergraduate students currently graduate debt free.

Candidates apply to MIT as a whole, not to a specific major or school. First year students begin with an undeclared major then during their freshman year, attend academic fairs, lectures, seminars, and other programs to determine their major.

There is a dizzying array of bachelor's degree and minor programs on offer, from nuclear science to political science, with all manner of arts, languages, and humanities subjects in between. There are also interdisciplinary majors, such as American Studies, as well as joint majors such as Chemistry and Biology, or Humanities and Engineering.

However, life as an undergraduate at MIT isn’t all about studying: there is a flourishing center for the arts, over 500 student organizations, and thriving athletics and sports culture as well as a culture of elaborate practical jokes, known as “hacks”.

Much of the fun on campus is also centered around MIT's residential life system, where different cultures thrive in different residence halls and living groups. About 90 percent of undergraduate students live in residence halls and fraternities, sororities, and independent living groups.

MIT’s graduate and doctoral students play a central role in the Institute’s wide-ranging research activities and make a vital contribution to the overall educational experience.

While most universities have defined “graduate schools”, at MIT all of the university’s five schools (Architecture and Planning; Engineering; Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences; Management; Science) offer graduate programs.

An MIT master’s degree is usually completed in one academic year of study, with the engineer’s degree requiring two years. Doctoral degrees require the satisfactory completion of an approved program of advanced study and original research of high quality. Most of the departments that offer master’s degrees also accept doctoral candidates.

Master’s degrees are offered in most areas of study, from niche areas of science such as aeronautics and astronautics to architecture, engineering and media, as well as subjects such as urban studies and planning.

The MIT Sloan School of Management is a popular choice with graduate students and offers a world-renowned MBA course as well as programs in finance, business analytics and management. More information about the MBA program can be found on our sister site,, while Sloan was also featured in the QS Business Masters Rankings 2018 for finance and business analytics.

To become a graduate student at MIT, applicants must hold a bachelor’s degree or its equivalent. Although the application process can vary depending on the subject, all applicants pay a US$75 application fee and submit university transcripts, a resume, letters of recommendation, a statement of objectives, GRE test scores and, for international students, TOEFL or IELTS English proficiency exam test scores.

Fees and tuition for graduate students also vary depending on the program, but the base rate for fall and spring tuition is currently US$24,790 per term and US$$16,510 for the summer session.

Graduate students can choose to live in residence halls, located a short distance off campus, or opt for off-campus housing. The residence halls include accommodation for families, and are said to be vibrant, collaborative places that meet the distinct needs of graduate students, allowing them to play a large role in shaping the Institute’s distinctive culture.


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