Last Updated on August 28, 2023
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Massachusetts Institute of Technology Overview
Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) is a private land-grant research university in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Established in 1861, MIT has since played a key role (MIT150) in the development of modern technology and science, ranking it among the most prestigious academic institutions in the world.
Founded in response to the increasing industrialization of the United States, MIT adopted a European polytechnic university model and stressed laboratory instruction in applied science and engineering. The institute has an urban campus that extends more than a mile (1.6 km) alongside the Charles River, and encompasses a number of major off-campus facilities such as the MIT Lincoln Laboratory, the Bates Center, and the Haystack Observatory, as well as affiliated laboratories such as the Broad and Whitehead Institutes.
MIT is a large, highly residential, research university with a majority of enrollments in graduate and professional programs. The university has been accredited by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges since 1929. MIT operates on a 4–1–4 academic calendar with the fall semester beginning after Labor Day and ending in mid-December, a 4-week “Independent Activities Period” in the month of January, and the spring semester commencing in early February and ceasing in late May.
MIT students refer to both their majors and classes using numbers or acronyms alone. Departments and their corresponding majors are numbered in the approximate order of their foundation; for example, Civil and Environmental Engineering is Course 1, while Linguistics and Philosophy is Course 24. Students majoring in Electrical Engineering and Computer Science (EECS), the most popular department, collectively identify themselves as “Course 6”. MIT students use a combination of the department’s course number and the number assigned to the class to identify their subjects; for instance, the introductory calculus-based classical mechanics course is simply “8.01” at MIT.
|U.S. News & World Report||4|
|U.S. News & World Report||2|
MIT also places among the top five in many overall rankings of universities (see right) and rankings based on students’ revealed preferences. For several years, U.S. News & World Report, the QS World University Rankings, and the Academic Ranking of World Universities have ranked MIT’s School of Engineering first, as did the 1995 National Research Council report. In the same lists, MIT’s strongest showings apart from in engineering are in computer science, the natural sciences, business, architecture, economics, linguistics, mathematics, and, to a lesser extent, political science and philosophy.
Times Higher Education has recognized MIT as one of the world’s “six super brands” on its World Reputation Rankings, along with Berkeley, Cambridge, Harvard, Oxford and Stanford. In 2019, it ranked 3rd among the universities around the world by SCImago Institutions Rankings. In 2017, the Times Higher Education World University Rankings rated MIT the #2 university for arts and humanities. MIT was ranked #7 in 2015 and #6 in 2017 of the Nature Index Annual Tables, which measure the largest contributors to papers published in 82 leading journals.
During the 2018-19 admissions cycle, MIT had an acceptance rate of 6.7%. This means that for every 100 students who applied, 6 students were admitted, making MIT’s admissions process highly competitive.
|Admissions Statistics (2018-19)|
|Number of Applicants||21,312|
|Percent Admitted Who Enrolled (Yield)||78%|
MIT Admission Requirements
What are MIT’s admission requirements? While there are a lot of pieces that go into a college application, you should focus on only a few critical things:
- GPA requirements
- Testing requirements, including SAT and ACT requirements
- Application requirements
In this guide we’ll cover what you need to get into MIT and build a strong application.
School location: Cambridge, MA
Admissions Rate: 6.7%
If you want to get in, the first thing to look at is the acceptance rate. This tells you how competitive the school is and how serious their requirements are.
The acceptance rate at MIT is 6.7%. For every 100 applicants, only 7 are admitted.
This means the school is extremely selective. Meeting their GPA requirements and SAT/ACT requirements is very important to getting past their first round of filters and proving your academic preparation. If you don’t meet their expectations, your chance of getting in is nearly zero.
MIT GPA Requirements
Many schools specify a minimum GPA requirement, but this is often just the bare minimum to submit an application without immediately getting rejected.
The GPA requirement that really matters is the GPA you need for a real chance of getting in. For this, we look at the school’s average GPA for its current students.
Average GPA: 4.17
The average GPA at MIT is 4.17.
(Most schools use a weighted GPA out of 4.0, though some report an unweighted GPA. This school did not officially report its average GPA, but we’ve estimated it here using data from over 1,000 schools.)
With a GPA of 4.17, MIT requires you to be at the top of your class. You’ll need nearly straight A’s in all your classes to compete with other applicants. Furthermore, you should be taking hard classes – AP or IB courses – to show that college-level academics is a breeze.
If you’re currently a junior or senior, your GPA is hard to change in time for college applications. If your GPA is at or below the school average of 4.17, you’ll need a higher SAT or ACT score to compensate. This will help you compete effectively against other applicants who have higher GPAs than you.
SAT and ACT Requirements
Each school has different requirements for standardized testing. Most schools require the SAT or ACT, and many also require SAT subject tests.
You must take either the SAT or ACT to submit an application to MIT. More importantly, you need to do well to have a strong application.
Many schools say they have no SAT score cutoff, but the truth is that there is a hidden SAT requirement. This is based on the school’s average score.
Average SAT: 1535
The average SAT score composite at MIT is a 1535 on the 1600 SAT scale.
This score makes MIT Extremely Competitive for SAT test scores.
MIT SAT Score Analysis (New 1600 SAT)
The 25th percentile New SAT score is 1500, and the 75th percentile New SAT score is 1570. In other words, a 1500 on the New SAT places you below average, while a 1570 will move you up to above average.
Here’s the breakdown of new SAT scores by section:
|Section||Average||25th Percentile||75th Percentile|
|Reading + Writing||745||720||770|
SAT Score Choice Policy
The Score Choice policy at your school is an important part of your testing strategy.
For example, say you submit the following 3 test scores:
Even though the highest total you scored on any one test date was 1000, MIT will take your highest section score from all your test dates, then combine them to form your Superscore. You can raise your composite score from 1000 to 1400 in this example.
This is important for your testing strategy. Because you can choose which tests to send in, and MIT forms your Superscore, you can take the SAT as many times as you want, then submit only the tests that give you the highest Superscore. Your application readers will only see that one score.
Therefore, if your SAT superscore is currently below a 1570, we strongly recommend that you consider prepping for the SAT and retaking it. You have a very good chance of raising your score, which will significantly boost your chances of getting in.
Just like for the SAT, MIT likely doesn’t have a hard ACT cutoff, but if you score too low, your application will get tossed in the trash.
Average ACT: 35
The average ACT score at MIT is 35. This score makes MIT Extremely Competitivefor ACT scores.
The 25th percentile ACT score is 34, and the 75th percentile ACT score is 36.
Even though MIT likely says they have no minimum ACT requirement, if you apply with a 34 or below, you’ll have a very hard time getting in, unless you have something else very impressive in your application. There are so many applicants scoring 35 and above that a 34 will look academically weak.
ACT Score Sending Policy
If you’re taking the ACT as opposed to the SAT, you have a huge advantage in how you send scores, and this dramatically affects your testing strategy.
Here it is: when you send ACT scores to colleges, you have absolute control over which tests you send. You could take 10 tests, and only send your highest one. This is unlike the SAT, where many schools require you to send all your tests ever taken.
This means that you have more chances than you think to improve your ACT score. To try to aim for the school’s ACT requirement of 36 and above, you should try to take the ACT as many times as you can. When you have the final score that you’re happy with, you can then send only that score to all your schools.
ACT Superscore Policy
By and large, most colleges do not superscore the ACT. (Superscore means that the school takes your best section scores from all the test dates you submit, and then combines them into the best possible composite score). Thus, most schools will just take your highest ACT score from a single sitting.
However, in our research, we found that MIT does in fact offer an ACT superscore policy. To quote their Admissions Office:
If you take the same test (SAT, ACT, or an SAT Subject Test) multiple times, we will consider the highest score achieved in each section.
For example, say you submit the following 4 test scores:
Even though the highest ACT composite you scored on any one test date was 20, MIT will take your highest section score from all your test dates, then combine them to form your Superscore. You can raise your composite score from 20 to 32 in this example.
This is important for your testing strategy. Because you can choose which tests to send in, and MIT forms your Superscore, you can take the ACT as many times as you want, then submit only the tests that give you the highest Superscore. Your application readers will only see that one score.
Therefore, if your ACT score is currently below a 36, we strongly recommend that you consider prepping for the ACT and retaking it. You have a very good chance of raising your score, which will significantly boost your chances of getting in.
SAT/ACT Writing Section Requirements
Both the SAT and ACT have an optional essay section.
MIT requires you to take the SAT Essay/ACT Writing section. They’ll use this as another factor in their admissions consideration.
SAT Subject Test Requirements
Schools vary in their SAT subject test requirements. Typically, selective schools tend to require them, while most schools in the country do not.
MIT has indicated that SAT subject tests are required for admission. Read further to see how many and which ones they require.
Typically, your SAT/ACT and GPA are far more heavily weighed than your SAT Subject Tests. If you have the choice between improving your SAT/ACT score or your SAT Subject Test scores, definitely choose to improve your SAT/ACT score.
Every school requires an application with the bare essentials – high school transcript and GPA, application form, and other core information. Many schools, as explained above, also require SAT and ACT scores, as well as letters of recommendation, application essays, and interviews. We’ll cover the exact requirements of MIT here.
Application Requirements Overview
- Common ApplicationNot accepted
- Universal ApplicationNot accepted
- Electronic ApplicationAvailable
- Essay or Personal StatementRequired for all freshmen
- Letters of Recommendation2
- InterviewNot required
- Application Fee$75
- Fee Waiver Available?Available
- Other NotesSAT, ACT or TOEFL. Two SAT II Subject tests: one in math and one in science required for freshmen
- SAT or ACTRequired
- SAT Essay or ACT WritingRequired
- SAT Subject TestsRequired
- Scores Due in OfficeFebruary 15
- SubjectRequired Years
- Foreign Language
- Social Studies