Massachusetts Institute of Technology Guide

The Ivy Scholars guide to MIT’s culture, admissions, and other essential information for prospective students and their families.

Location: Cambridge, Massachusetts

Mascot: Tim the Beaver

Type: Private Research Institution

Population: 11,500

About MIT

MIT offers a diverse and vibrant community noted for its intellectual life, history, and thriving innovation climate. With a campus nestled between Central and Kendall Squares, and across the Charles River from Boston’s Back Bay, the Institute is optimally positioned to collaborate with its neighbors and contribute to its community.

MIT Statistics

Year Founded: 1861

4 Year Graduation Rate: 82%

Gender Distribution: 54% male, 46% female

Acceptance Rate: 7%

Residency: 40% in state, 49% out of state, 11% international

Location Type: Urban

Schedule System: Semesters

Student/Faculty Ratio: 3:1

Average Class Size: 12

Demographics: 33.4% Caucasian, 26.3% Asian, 14.2% Hispanic, 6.2% Black

National Rankings

US News Rankings:

  • #1 Undergraduate Engineering Program
  • #3 Most Innovative School
  • #3 National Universities
  • #4 Best Value Schools
  • #30 Best Undergraduate Teaching

Independent Rankings:

  • #1 Best Race/Class Interaction per The Princeton Review
  • #2 Most International University in the US per The Princeton Review
  • #2 Best Quality of Life per The Princeton Review
  • #5 Happiest Students per The Princeton Review
  • Top 5 Private Universities in the USA per The Princeton Review
  • #7 Top Schools for Resources per The Wall Street Journal/Times Higher Education 
  • #8 Best Value per Kiplinger

MIT Admissions Statistics

Application Deadlines:

  • Early Action: November 1st
  • Regular Action : January 1st

Notification Dates:

  • Early Action: Mid-December
  • Regular Action: Mid-March

Acceptance Rates:

  • 7% EA
  • 6% RA

Average Applicant Pool: 21,000

Average Number of Applicants Accepted: 1,500

Average Number Enrolled: 1,000

Application Systems: MyMIT (not on Common App)

Average GPA: 4.17 weighted

SAT Scores: 25th percentile – 1500, 75th percentile – 1570

ACT Scores: 25th percentile – 34, 75th percentile – 36

*Test mandatory. Writing sections optional.

Subject Test Requirements: SAT Subject Tests are required. Students must take an SAT II in Math and in Biology, Chemistry, or Physics.

Demonstrated Interest: MIT does consider demonstrated interest.

Recommendation Letter Policies: MIT requires two letters of recommendation. One should be from a math or science teacher, and one should be from a humanities, social science, or language teacher. 

MIT Essay Prompts for 2020:

  • We know you lead a busy life, full of activities, many of which are required of you. Tell us about something you do simply for the pleasure of it. (100 words)
  • Although you may not yet know what you want to major in, which department or program at MIT appeals to you and why? (100 words)
  • At MIT, we bring people together to better the lives of others. MIT students work to improve their communities in different ways, from tackling the world’s biggest challenges to being a good friend. Describe one way in which you have contributed to your community, whether in your family, the classroom, your neighborhood, etc. (200-250 words)
  • Describe the world you come from; for example, your family, clubs, school, community, city, or town. How has that world shaped your dreams and aspirations? (200-250 words)
  • Tell us about the most significant challenge you’ve faced or something important that didn’t go according to plan. How did you manage the situation? (200-250 words)
  • There is also one final, open-ended additional information text box, where you can tell us anything else you think we really ought to know.
  • MIT Essay Writing Tips

Special Notes:

  • Applicants can choose to submit supplementary materials. This is typically done by students with a fine arts portfolio, those with research experience, and/or those who hope to play a varsity sport for MIT. You can find more information about each of these options on your MyMIT Dashboard. If you choose to complete any of these materials, you’ll submit them separate from the rest of your application.  
  • February Updates and Notes
Please click here for college application help from Ivy Scholars.

MIT Academics


Core Requirements:


  • Majors
  • Option to double major
  • Popular majors include Computer Science, Mathematics, Engineering, Physical Sciences, Information Science, Statistics, Biological and Biomedical Sciences


AP Credit Policies:

Honors Programs:

Research Availability:

  • UROP (Undergraduate Research Organization Program, designed to match a student with a research environment that suits their interests and needs).

Study Abroad: 

Business Options: 

Pre-Med Options:

  • MIT does not offer a pre-Med major. Students looking to apply to medical school after their undergraduate career are encouraged to complete a pre-health registration meeting with Pre-Health Advising during the spring semester of their sophomore year.

Pre-Law Options:

Additional Specialty Programs: 

Student Life at MIT

School Motto:  Mind and Hand


  • Mission: To advance academic innovation and foster the growth of every MIT student, empowering them to make a positive impact at MIT and beyond.
  • Values: Student-centeredness, Integrity, Community, Diversity and Inclusion, Collaboration, Innovation

Greek Life: 

Housing Statistics:

  • ¾ of undergraduates live in a residence hall with most of the remaining fourth living in MIT approved fraternities, sororities and independent living groups.
  • Transfer students are considered for housing after the first-year lottery is complete.
  • Additional Information

Campus & Surrounding Area:  



  • There is a hacking tradition at MIT where students perpetrate extremely clever but harmless practical jokes on the school’s computer databases. 
  • The MIT Mystery Hunt is an annual campus-wide puzzle hunt competition in January.
  • In November and January, the setting sun aligns with the Infinite Corridor (a 250 meter long hallway), and lets in a stream of dazzling sunlight called the “MIThenge”.
  • Undergraduate Traditions

Student-Run Organizations: 



Financial Information

Yearly Cost of Attending MIT in 2020:

  • Total: $76,150
  • Tuition: $55,450
  • Student Life Fee: $368
  • Housing: $11,000
  • Meals: $6,320
  • Books & Supplies: $830
  • Personal Expenses: $2,182

Financial Aid & Scholarships:

  • MIT provides need-based financial aid. In 2018–2019, 90% of undergraduates received $160.3 million in financial aid total, with MIT being the largest source. For students with a family income under $90,000, the Institute ensures that scholarship funding from all sources will allow them to attend MIT tuition-free.
  • Additional Financial Aid Information
  • If you are awarded an MIT Scholarship, we will ask you to fill out an annual Student Information Review Form so that we can match you with the right scholarship from the right donor. Our scholarship donors often take an interest in learning about the recipients, so we may also ask you to write to your donor and thank them for their support.
  • First Year Grant: MIT offers low-income first-year students with a $2,000 grant to help with the extra expenses that come with the transition to college.
  • Other Grant Opportunities

Fun Facts

  • MIT was founded April 10, 1861, two days before the start of the Civil War.
  • In 1958, Oliver Smoot (class of ’62) and his Lambda Chi Alpha brothers measured the Harvard bridge. Members of the fraternity maintain the painted marks.
  • The first human cancer gene discovery took place at MIT. Weinberg found the ras oncogene.
  • A Pirate’s License can be granted to MIT students who complete pistol, archery, fencing and sailing classes. While the license existed unofficially for 20 years, it was made official in 2012.
  • The first computer was invented at MIT in 1928. You can view it at the MIT Museum
  • MIT’s architecture program was the first architecture program established in the U.S.
  • MIT has earned 203 Academic All-America citations, the most of any Division 3 program in the nation.