Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
MIT Seal.svg
Motto Mens et Manus
Motto in English Mind and Hand[1]
Established 1861 (opened 1865)
Type Private
Endowment US$9.9 billion[2]
President Susan Hockfield
Provost L. Rafael Reif
Academic staff 1,009[3]
Students 10,384[4]
Undergraduates 4,232[4]
Postgraduates 6,152[4]
Location Cambridge, Massachusetts, United States
Campus Urban, 168 acres (68.0 ha)[5]
Nobel Laureates 76[6]
Colors Cardinal Red and Steel Gray[a]          
Athletics Division III (except for Rowing)
33 varsity teams
Mascot Tim the Beaver[7]
MIT Logo

The Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) is a private research university located in Cambridge, Massachusetts. MIT has five schools and one college, containing a total of 32 academic departments, with a strong emphasis on scientific and technological education and research.

Founded in 1861 in response to the increasing industrialization of the United States, the institute adopted the European polytechnic university model and emphasized laboratory instruction from an early date.[8] MIT's early emphasis on applied technology at the undergraduate and graduate levels led to close cooperation with industry. Curricular reforms under Karl Compton and Vannevar Bush in the 1930s re-emphasized basic scientific research.[9] MIT was elected to the Association of American Universities in 1934. Researchers were involved in efforts to develop computers, radar, and inertial guidance in connection with defense research during World War II and the Cold War. Post-war defense research contributed to the rapid expansion of the faculty and campus under James Killian.

The current 168-acre (68.0 ha) campus opened in 1916 and extends over 1 mile (1.6 km) along the northern bank of the Charles River basin.[5] In the past 60 years, MIT's educational disciplines have expanded beyond the physical sciences and engineering into fields such as biology, economics, linguistics, political science, and management.

MIT enrolled 4,299 undergraduates and 6,267 graduate students for 2010–2011.[4] It employs around 1,000 faculty members.[3] 77 Nobel laureates, 50 National Medal of Science recipients, and 38 MacArthur Fellows are currently or have previously been affiliated with the university.[3][6]

MIT has a strong entrepreneurial culture. The aggregated revenues of companies founded by MIT alumni would rank as the eleventh-largest economy in the world.[10][11] MIT managed $718.2 million in research expenditures and an $8.0 billion endowment in 2009.[12][13]

The "Engineers"[14] sponsor 33 sports, most teams of which compete in the NCAA Division III's New England Women's and Men's Athletic Conference; the Division I rowing programs compete as part of the EARC and EAWRC.



Foundation and early years (1857–1917)

Stereographic card showing an MIT mechanical drafting studio, 19th century (photo by E.L. Allen)
Original Rogers Building (MIT), Back Bay, Boston, 19th century (photo by E.L. Allen)

In 1859, the Massachusetts General Court was given a proposal for use of newly opened lands in Back Bay in Boston for a museum and Conservatory of Art and Science.[15] On April 10, 1861, the Governor of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts signed a charter for the incorporation of the "Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Boston Society of Natural History", submitted by William Barton Rogers. Rogers sought to establish a new form of higher education to address the challenges posed by rapid advances in science and technology during the mid-19th century with which classic institutions were ill-prepared to deal.[16][17] Barton believed, “The true and only practicable object of a polytechnic school is, as I conceive, the teaching, not of the minute details and manipulations of the arts, which can be done only in the workshop, but the inculcation of those scientific principles which form the basis and explanation of them, their leading processes and operations in connection with physical laws.”[18]

A 1905 map of MIT's Boston campus.

The Rogers Plan, as it has come to be known, reflected the German research university model, emphasizing an independent faculty engaged in research as well as instruction oriented around seminars and laboratories.[19] Rogers proposed that this new form of education be rooted in three principles: the educational value of useful knowledge, the necessity of “learning by doing”, and integrating a professional and liberal arts education at the undergraduate level.[20][21]

However, open conflict in the Civil War broke out on April 12, 1861, just two days after issuance of the charter. After years of delay caused by wartime funding and staffing difficulties, MIT's first classes were held in rented space at the Mercantile Building in downtown Boston in 1865.[22] Though it was to be located in the middle of urban Boston, the mission of the new institute matched the intent of the 1862 Morrill Land-Grant Colleges Act to fund institutions "to promote the liberal and practical education of the industrial classes." Although the Commonwealth of Massachusetts separately founded what was to become the University of Massachusetts under this act,[d] MIT was also named a land grant school.[23] The proceeds from land sales went toward new buildings in Boston's Back Bay neighborhood in 1866, and MIT informally came to be called "Boston Tech".[24]

During the next half-century, the focus of the science and engineering curriculum drifted towards vocational concerns instead of theoretical programs. During this period, the MIT faculty and alumni repeatedly rejected overtures from former MIT faculty turned Harvard University president Charles W. Eliot, to merge MIT with Harvard College's Lawrence Scientific School.[25]

Development and post-war growth (1916–1965)

...a school of industrial science [aiding] the advancement, development and practical application of science in connection with arts, agriculture, manufactures, and commerce.

[26], Act to Incorporate the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Acts of 1861, Chapter 183

MIT's Building 10 and Great Dome overlooking Killian Court
A plaque of George Eastman, founder of Eastman Kodak, in Building 6. His nose is rubbed by students for good luck.[27]

Industrialist George Eastman reinforced MIT's independence by donating funds to build a new campus along a mile-long tract on the Cambridge side of the Charles River, almost entirely on landfill.[28] In 1916, MIT moved into the handsome new neoclassical campus designed by William W. Bosworth.

In the 1930s, President Karl Taylor Compton and Vice-President (effectively Provost) Vannevar Bush drastically reformed the applied technology curriculum by re-emphasizing the importance of "pure" sciences like physics and chemistry and by reducing the vocational practice required in shops and drafting studios.[9] In sharp contrast to the Ivy League, MIT catered more to middle-class families, and depended more on tuition than on endowments or grants.[29] Despite the challenges of the Great Depression, the Compton reforms "renewed confidence in the ability of the Institute to develop leadership in science as well as in engineering."[20] The expansion and reforms cemented MIT's academic reputation[9] and the school was elected to the Association of American Universities in 1934.[30]

MIT was substantially changed by its involvement in military research during World War II. Vannevar Bush was appointed head of the enormous Office of Scientific Research and Development and directed funding to only a select group of universities, including MIT.[31][32] MIT's Radiation Laboratory was established in 1940 to assist the British military in developing a microwave radar, and the first mass-produced equipments were installed on front-line units within months. Other defense projects included gyroscope-based and other complex control systems for gun and bombsights and inertial navigation under Charles Stark Draper's Instrumentation Laboratory, the development of a digital computer for flight simulations under Project Whirlwind, and high-speed and high-altitude photography under Harold Edgerton.[33] By the end of the war, MIT employed a staff of over 4,000 (including more than a fifth of the nation's physicists) and was the nation's single largest wartime R&D contractor.[34]

In the post-war years, government-sponsored research such as SAGE and guidance systems for ballistic missiles and Project Apollo, combined with surging student enrollments under the G.I. Bill, contributed to rapid growth in the size of the Institute's research staff and physical plant, as well as placing an increased emphasis on graduate education.[20] The profound changes that occurred at MIT between 1930 and 1957 included the doubling of its faculty and a quintupling of its graduate student population. These changes were significantly guided and shaped by the institution-building strategies of Karl Taylor Compton, president of MIT between 1930 and 1948, James Rhyne Killian, president from 1948 to 1957, and Julius Adams Stratton, chancellor from 1952 to 1957.[35]

While the school mainly served the needs of industrial patrons in the 1920s, by the 1950s it had gained considerable autonomy from industrial corporations while attracting new patrons and building a close relationship with philanthropic foundations and the federal government. As the Cold War and Space Race intensified and concerns about the technology gap between the US and the Soviet Union grew more pervasive throughout the 1950s and 1960s, MIT's involvement in the military-industrial complex was a source of pride on campus.[36][37]

Recent history (1966–present)

The MIT Media Lab houses researchers developing novel uses of computer technology. Shown here is the 1982 building, designed by I.M. Pei, with an extension (background) designed by Fumiko Maki and opened in March 2010.

Following a comprehensive review of the undergraduate curriculum in 1949 and the successive appointments of more humanistically oriented Presidents Howard W. Johnson and Jerome Wiesner between 1966 and 1980, MIT greatly expanded its programs in the humanities, arts, and social sciences.[20][38] Previously marginalized faculties in the areas of economics, management, political science, and linguistics emerged into cohesive and assertive departments by attracting respected professors, launching competitive graduate programs, and forming into the School of Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences and the MIT Sloan School of Management in 1950 to compete with the powerful Schools of Science and Engineering.[39][40]

In late 1960s and early 1970s, student and faculty activists protested against the Vietnam War and MIT's defense research.[41][42] The Union of Concerned Scientists was founded on March 4, 1969 during a meeting of faculty members and students seeking to shift the emphasis on military research towards environmental and social problems.[43] Although MIT ultimately divested itself from the Instrumentation Laboratory and moved all classified research off-campus to the Lincoln Laboratory facility in 1973 in response to the protests,[44][45] the student body, faculty, and administration remained comparatively unpolarized during the tumultuous era.[41][46]

In addition to developing the predecessors to modern computing and networking technologies,[47][48] students, staff, and faculty members at the Project MAC, Artificial Intelligence Laboratory, and Tech Model Railroad Club wrote some of the earliest interactive computer games like Spacewar! and created much of modern hacker slang.[49] Several major computer-related organizations have originated at MIT since the 1980s; Richard Stallman's GNU Project and the subsequent Free Software Foundation were founded in the mid-1980s at the AI Lab, the MIT Media Lab was founded in 1985 by Nicholas Negroponte and Jerome Wiesner to promote research into novel uses of computer technology,[50] the World Wide Web Consortium standards organization was founded at the Laboratory for Computer Science in 1994 by Tim Berners-Lee,[51] the OpenCourseWare project has made course materials for over 1,800 MIT classes available online free of charge since 2002,[52] and the One Laptop per Child initiative to expand computer education and connectivity to children worldwide was launched in 2005.[53] Upon taking office in 2004, President Hockfield launched an Energy Research Council to investigate how MIT can respond to the interdisciplinary challenges of increasing global energy consumption.[54]

MIT was named a sea-grant college in 1976 to support its programs in oceanography and marine sciences and was named a space-grant college in 1989 to support its aeronautics and astronautics programs.[55][56] Despite diminishing government financial support over the past quarter century, MIT launched several development campaigns to significantly expand the campus: new dormitories and athletics buildings on west campus, the Tang Center for Management Education, several buildings in the northeast corner of campus supporting research into biology, brain and cognitive sciences, genomics, biotechnology, and cancer research, and a number of new "backlot" buildings on Vassar Street including the Stata Center.[57] Construction on campus has recently[when?] concluded an expansion of the Media Lab, the Sloan's eastern campus, and graduate residences in the northwest.[58][59]


The central and eastern sections of MIT's campus as seen from above Massachusetts Avenue and the Charles River. In the center is the Great Dome overlooking Killian Court with Kendall Square in the background.

MIT's 168-acre (68.0 ha) campus spans approximately a mile of the north side of the Charles River basin in the city of Cambridge. The campus is divided roughly in half by Massachusetts Avenue, with most dormitories and student life facilities to the west and most academic buildings to the east. The bridge closest to MIT is the Harvard Bridge, which is known for being marked off in a non-standard unit of length – the smoot.[60][61] The Kendall MBTA Red Line station is located on the far northeastern edge of the campus in Kendall Square. The Cambridge neighborhoods surrounding MIT are a mixture of high tech companies occupying both modern office and rehabilitated industrial buildings as well as socio-economically diverse residential neighborhoods.[62]

MIT buildings all have a number (or a number and a letter) designation and most have a name as well.[63] Typically, academic and office buildings are referred to primarily by number while residence halls are referred to by name. The organization of building numbers roughly corresponds to the order in which the buildings were built and their location relative (north, west, and east) to the original, center cluster of Maclaurin buildings.[63] Many are connected above ground as well as through an extensive network of underground tunnels, providing protection from the Cambridge weather as well as a venue for roof and tunnel hacking.[64][65]

MIT's on-campus nuclear reactor is one of the largest university-based nuclear reactors in the United States.[66] The prominence of the reactor's containment building in a densely populated area has been controversial,[67] but MIT maintains that it is well-secured.[68] Other notable campus facilities include a pressurized wind tunnel and a towing tank for testing ship and ocean structure designs.[69][70] MIT's campus-wide wireless network was completed in the fall of 2005 and consists of nearly 3,000 access points covering 9,400,000 square feet (870,000 m2) of campus.[71]

In 2001, the Environmental Protection Agency sued MIT for violating Clean Water Act and Clean Air Act with regard to its hazardous waste storage and disposal procedures.[72] MIT settled the suit by paying a $155,000 fine and launching three environmental projects.[73] In connection with capital campaigns to expand the campus, the Institute has also extensively renovated existing buildings to improve their energy efficiency. MIT has also taken steps to reduce its environmental impact by running alternative fuel campus shuttles, subsidizing public transportation passes, and building a low-emission cogeneration plant that serves most of the campus electricity, heating, and cooling requirements.[74]

Between 2006 and 2008, MIT reported 16 forcible sex offenses, 4 robberies, 13 aggravated assaults, 536 burglaries, 2 cases of arson, and 16 cases of motor vehicle theft.[75]


MIT's School of Architecture, now the School of Architecture and Planning, was the first in the United States,[76] and it has a history of commissioning progressive buildings.[77][78] The first buildings constructed on the Cambridge campus, completed in 1916, are known officially as the Maclaurin buildings after Institute president Richard Maclaurin who oversaw their construction. Designed by William Welles Bosworth, these imposing buildings were built of concrete, a first for a non-industrial — much less university — building in the US.[79] The utopian City Beautiful movement greatly influenced Bosworth's design, which features the Pantheon-esque Great Dome housing the Barker Engineering Library. The Great Dome overlooks Killian Court, where annual Commencement (graduation) exercises are held. The friezes of the limestone-clad buildings around Killian Court are engraved with the names of important scientists and philosophers.[k] The imposing Building 7 atrium along Massachusetts Avenue is regarded as the entrance to the Infinite Corridor and the rest of the campus.

Alvar Aalto's Baker House (1947), Eero Saarinen's Chapel and Auditorium (1955), and I.M. Pei's Green, Dreyfus, Landau, and Wiesner buildings represent high forms of post-war modernist architecture.[80][81][82] More recent buildings like Frank Gehry's Stata Center (2004), Steven Holl's Simmons Hall (2002), Charles Correa's Building 46 (2005), Fumihiko Maki's Media Lab Extension (2009) are distinctive amongst the Boston area's classical architecture and serve as examples of contemporary campus "starchitecture."[77][83] These buildings have not always been popularly acclaimed;[84][85] in 2010, The Princeton Review included MIT in a list of twenty schools whose campuses are "tiny, unsightly, or both."[86]


Simmons Hall was completed in 2002

Undergraduates are guaranteed four-year housing in one of MIT's 12 undergrad dormitories, although 8% of students live off campus or commute.[87] On-campus housing provides live-in graduate student tutors and faculty housemasters who have the dual role of both helping students and monitoring them for medical or mental health problems. New undergrad students specify their dorm and floor preferences a few days after arrival on campus, and as a result diverse communities arise in living groups; e.g. the dorms on and east of Massachusetts Avenue have typically been more involved in countercultural activities.[88] MIT also has 5 dormitories for single graduate students and 2 apartment buildings on campus for married student families.[89]

MIT has a very active Greek and co-op system which includes 36 fraternities, sororities, and independent living groups (FSILGs).[90] 50% of male undergraduates join a fraternity and 34% of women join sororities.[91] Most FSILGs are located across the river in the Back Bay owing to MIT's historic location there, but eight fraternities are located on MIT's West Campus and in Cambridge. After the 1997 death of Scott Krueger, a new member at the Phi Gamma Delta fraternity, MIT required all freshmen to live in the dormitory system starting in 2002.[92] Because the fraternities and independent living groups had previously housed as many as 300 freshmen off-campus, the new policy did not take effect until 2002 after Simmons Hall opened.[93]

Organization and administration

Building 7 (at 77 Massachusetts Avenue) is regarded as the entrance to campus

MIT is chartered as a non-profit organization and is owned and governed by a privately appointed board of trustees known as the MIT Corporation.[94] The current board consists of 43 members elected to five year terms,[95] 25 life members who vote until their 75th birthday,[96] three elected officers (President, Treasurer, and Secretary),[97] and four ex officio members including the president of the alumni association, the Governor of Massachusetts, the Massachusetts Secretary of Education, and the Chief Justice of the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court.[98][99] The board is chaired by John S. Reed, the former chairman of the New York Stock Exchange and Citigroup.[100][101] The corporation approves the budget, new programs, degrees, and faculty appointments as well as electing the President to serve as the chief executive officer of the university and presiding over the Institute's faculty.[62][102] The sixteenth and current president, Susan Hockfield, a molecular neurobiologist, succeeded Charles M. Vest's fourteen year tenure in December 2004 and is the first woman to hold the post.[103] MIT's endowment and other financial assets are managed through a subsidiary MIT Investment Management Company (MITIMCo).[104] Valued at $8.0 billion in 2009, MIT's endowment is the sixth-largest among American colleges and universities.[12][105]

MIT is "a university polarized around science, engineering, and the arts."[106] It has five schools (Science, Engineering, Architecture and Planning, Management, and Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences) and one college (Whitaker College of Health Sciences and Technology), but no schools of law or medicine.[107][e] The chair of each of MIT's 32 academic departments reports to the dean of that department's school, who in turn reports to the Provost under the President.[108] However, faculty committees assert substantial control over many areas of MIT's curriculum, research, student life, and administrative affairs.[109]


Eero Saarinen's Kresge Auditorium (1955) is a classic example of the post-war architecture

The university historically pioneered research and training collaborations between the academy, industry and government.[110][111] Fruitful collaborations with industrialists like Alfred P. Sloan and Thomas Alva Edison led President Compton to establish an Office of Corporate Relations and an Industrial Liaison Program in the 1930s and 1940s that now allows over 600 companies to license research and consult with MIT faculty and researchers.[9][112] Throughout the late 1980s and early 1990s, American politicians and business leaders accused MIT and other universities of contributing to a declining economy by transferring taxpayer-funded research and technology to international — especially Japanese — firms that were competing with struggling American businesses.[113][114]

MIT's extensive collaboration with the federal government on research projects has also led to several MIT leaders serving as Presidential scientific advisers since 1940.[j] MIT established a Washington Office in 1991 to continue to lobby for research funding and national science policy.[115][116] In response to MIT, eight Ivy League colleges, and 11 other institutions holding "Overlap Meetings" to prevent bidding wars over promising students from consuming funds for need-based scholarships, the Justice Department began an antitrust investigation in 1989 and in 1991 filed an antitrust suit against these universities.[117][118] While the Ivy League institutions settled,[119] MIT contested the charges on the grounds that the practice was not anti-competitive because it ensured the availability of aid for the greatest number of students.[120][121] MIT ultimately prevailed when the Justice Department dropped the case in 1994.[122][123]

Walker Memorial is a monument to MIT's 4th president, Francis Amasa Walker

MIT's proximity to Harvard University[i] has created both a quasi-friendly rivalry ("the other school up the river") and a substantial number of research collaborations such as the Harvard-MIT Division of Health Sciences and Technology and Broad Institute.[124][125] In addition, students at the two schools can cross-register for credits toward their own school's degrees without any additional fees.[125] A cross-registration program with Wellesley College has existed since 1969 and a significant undergraduate exchange program with the University of Cambridge known as the Cambridge-MIT Institute was also launched in 2002.[125] MIT has more modest cross-registration programs with Boston University, Brandeis University, Tufts University, Massachusetts College of Art, and the School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.[125] MIT maintains substantial research and faculty ties with independent research organizations in the Boston-area like the Charles Stark Draper Laboratory, Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research, and Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution as well as international research and educational collaborations through the Singapore-MIT Alliance, MIT-Politecnico di Milano,[125][126] MIT-Zaragoza International Logistics Program, and other countries through the MIT International Science and Technology Initiatives (MISTI) program.[125][127]

The mass-market magazine Technology Review is published by MIT through a subsidiary company, as is a special edition that also serves as the Institute's official alumni magazine. The MIT Press is a major university press, publishing over 200 books and 40 journals annually emphasizing science and technology as well as arts, architecture, new media, current events, and social issues.[128]


University rankings (overall)
Forbes[129] 5
U.S. News & World Report[130] 5
Washington Monthly[131] 11
ARWU[132] 3
QS[133] 3
Times[134] 3

MIT is a large, highly residential, research university with a majority of enrollments in graduate and professional programs.[135] The university has been accredited by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges since 1929.[136][137] 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 beginning in early February and ending in late May.[138]

The School of Engineering has been ranked first among graduate and undergraduate programs by U.S. News & World Report since the first published results in 1994.[139][140] MIT has also consistently ranked first in the Academic Ranking of World Universities in Engineering/Technology and Computer Sciences.[141] A 1995 National Research Council study of US research universities ranked MIT first in "reputation" and fourth in "citations and faculty awards" and a 2005 NBER study of high school students' revealed preferences found MIT to be the 4th most preferred college in the nation.[142][143]

MIT students refer to both their majors and classes using numbers or acronyms alone.[144] Departments and their corresponding majors are numbered in the approximate order their foundation; for example, Civil and Environmental Engineering is Course I, while Nuclear Science & Engineering is Course XXII.[145][146] Students majoring in Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, the most popular department, collectively identify themselves as "Course VI." MIT students use a combination of the department's course number and the number assigned to the class to identify their subjects; the introductory calculus-based classical mechanics course is simply "8.01" at MIT.[f]

Undergraduate program

The four year, full-time undergraduate instructional program is classified as "balanced arts & sciences/professions" and admission is characterized as "more selective, lower transfer in."[135] MIT offers 44 undergraduate degrees across its five schools.[147] In 2009, some 1,146 bachelor of science (abbreviated as SB, from the Latin expression Scientiæ Baccalaureus) degrees were granted, the only type of undergraduate degree MIT now awards.[148][149] The School of Engineering is the most popular division, enrolling 44.5% of students in its 19 degree programs, followed by the School of Science (20.2%), School of Humanities, Arts, & Social Sciences (3.5%), Sloan School of Management (3.5%), and the School of Architecture and Planning (1.8%).[150] The largest undergraduate degree programs are in Electrical Engineering and Computer Science (Course VI-2), Mechanical Engineering (Course II), Computer Science and Engineering (Course VI-3), Physics (Course VIII), Biology (Course VII), and Mathematics (Course XVIII).[4]

Undergraduates are required to complete an extensive core curriculum called the General Institute Requirements (GIRs).[151] The science requirement, generally completed during freshman year as prerequisites for classes in science and engineering majors, comprises two semesters of physics, two semesters of calculus, one semester of chemistry, one semester of biology, and a laboratory class in their major. The humanities, arts, and social sciences (HASS) requirement, consisting of eight semesters, includes a distribution of three classes across each of the humanities, arts, and social sciences as well as a concentration. The communication requirement consists of two communication-intensive HASS classes and two classes in their major program. Finally, all students are required to complete a swimming test and non-varsity athletes must also take four physical education classes.[151]

The Infinite Corridor is the primary passageway through campus

Although the difficulty and especially the fast pace of MIT coursework has been characterized as "drinking from a fire hose,"[152] the freshmen retention rate at MIT is similar to other national research universities.[153] Some of the pressure for first-year undergraduates is lessened by the existence of the "pass/no-record" grading system. In the first (fall) term, freshmen transcripts only report if a class was passed while no external record exists if a class was not passed. In the second (spring) term, passing grades (ABC) appear on the transcript while non-passing grades are again rendered "no-record".[154] The system had previously been "Pass/No Record" all freshman year, but was amended for the Class of 2006 to prevent students from gaming the system by completing required major classes on a pass/fail basis.[155]

Most classes rely upon a combination of faculty led lectures, graduate student led recitations, weekly problem sets (p-sets), and tests to teach material, though alternative curricula exist, e.g. Experimental Study Group, Concourse, and Terrascope.[154] In recent years, there has been a trend towards "unified" mainstream introductory courses (e.g. in the Physics and the Electrical Engineering and Computer Science departments), incorporating a coordinated curriculum of theory and hands-on laboratory experiences.[citation needed]

In the past, some organized student groups have compiled "course bibles", collections of problem set and examination questions and answers used as references for later students. In 1970, the then-Dean of Institute Relations, Benson R. Snyder, published The Hidden Curriculum, arguing that unwritten regulations, like the implicit curricula of the bibles, are often counterproductive; they fool professors into believing that their teaching is effective and students into believing they have learned the material. For further coverage of this topic, see History of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology#Course "Bibles".

In 1969, MIT began the Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program (UROP) to enable undergraduates to collaborate directly with faculty members and researchers. The program, founded by Margaret MacVicar, builds upon the MIT philosophy of "learning by doing". Students join or initiate research projects, colloquially called "UROPs", through postings on the UROP website or by contacting faculty members directly.[156] Over 2,800 undergraduates, 70% of the student body, participate every year for academic credit, pay, or on a volunteer basis.[157] Students often become published, file patent applications, and/or launch start-up companies based upon their experience in UROPs.[158][159]

Graduate program

Robert Engman's Möbius Strip hangs from the crown of the Barker Engineering Library's reading room located inside the Great Dome

MIT's graduate program is a comprehensive doctoral program having high coexistence with undergraduate programs in the humanities, social sciences, and STEM fields as well as offering professional degrees.[135] The Institute offers graduate programs leading to academic degrees such as the Master of Science (SM), various Engineer's Degrees, Doctor of Philosophy (PhD), and Doctor of Science (ScD); professional degrees such as Master of Architecture (MArch),[160] Master of Business Administration (MBA),[161] Master of City Planning (MCP),[162] Master of Engineering (MEng),[163] and Master of Finance (MFin); and interdisciplinary graduate programs such as the MD/PhD (with Harvard Medical School).[164][165] Admission to graduate programs is decentralized; applicants apply directly to the department or degree program. Doctoral students are supported by fellowships (30%), research assistantships (49%), and teaching assistantships (13%).[166]

MIT awarded 1,474 master's degrees and 607 doctoral degrees in 2009.[148] The School of Engineering is the most popular academic division enrolling 45.4% of graduate students, followed by the Sloan School of Management (17.3%), School of Science (17.3%), School of Architecture and Planning (9.5%), School of Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences (4.9%), and Whitaker College of Health Sciences (2.5%).[150] The largest graduate degree programs are the Sloan MBA, Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, Mechanical Engineering, and Chemical Engineering.[4]

Libraries, collections, and museums

The MIT library system consists of five subject libraries: Barker (Engineering), Dewey (Economics), Hayden (Humanities and Science), Lewis (Music), and Rotch (Arts and Architecture). There are also various specialized libraries and archives. The libraries contain more than 2.8 million printed volumes, 2.2 million microforms, 43,000 print or electronic journal subscriptions, and 570 databases.[167] Notable collections include the Lewis Music Library with an emphasis on 20th and 21st-century music and electronic music,[168] the List Visual Arts Center's rotating exhibitions of contemporary art,[169] and the Compton Gallery's cross-disciplinary exhibitions.[170] MIT allocates a percentage of the budget for all new construction and renovation to commission and support its extensive public art and outdoor sculpture collection.[171][172] The MIT Museum was founded in 1971 and collects, preserves, and exhibits artifacts significant to the life and history of MIT as well as collaborating with the nearby Museum of Science.[173]


MIT was elected to the Association of American Universities in 1934 and remains a research university with a very high level of research activity;[30][135] research expenditures totaled $718.2 million in 2009.[13] The federal government was the largest source of sponsored research, with the Department of Health and Human Services granting $255.9 million, Department of Defense $97.5 million, Department of Energy $65.8 million, National Science Foundation $61.4 million, and NASA $27.4 million.[13] MIT employs approximately 1300 researchers in addition to faculty.[174] In 2009, MIT faculty and researchers disclosed 530 inventions, filed 184 patent applications, received 166 patents, and earned $136.3 million in royalties and other income.[175]

The GNU project and free software movement originated at MIT

In electronics, magnetic core memory, radar, single electron transistors, and inertial guidance controls were invented or substantially developed by MIT researchers.[176][177] Harold Eugene Edgerton was a pioneer in high speed photography.[178] Claude E. Shannon developed much of modern information theory and discovered the application of Boolean logic to digital circuit design theory.[179] In the domain of computer science, MIT faculty and researchers made fundamental contributions to cybernetics, artificial intelligence, computer languages, machine learning, robotics, and cryptography.[177][180] At least nine Turing Award laureates and seven recipients of the Draper Prize in engineering have been or are currently associated with MIT.[181][182]

Current and previous physics faculty have won eight Nobel Prizes,[183] four Dirac Medals,[184] and three Wolf Prizes predominantly for their contributions to subatomic and quantum theory.[185] Members of the chemistry department have been awarded three Nobel Prizes and one Wolf Prize for the discovery of novel syntheses and methods.[183] MIT biologists have been awarded six Nobel Prizes for their contributions to genetics, immunology, oncology, and molecular biology.[183] Professor Eric Lander was one of the principal leaders of the Human Genome Project.[186][187] Positronium atoms,[188] synthetic penicillin,[189] synthetic self-replicating molecules,[190] and the genetic bases for Lou Gehrig's disease and Huntington's disease were first discovered at MIT.[191] Jerome Lettvin transformed the study of cognitive science with his paper "What the frog's eye tells the frog's brain".[192]

In the domain of humanities, arts, and social sciences, MIT economists have been awarded five Nobel Prizes and nine John Bates Clark Medals.[183][193] Linguists Noam Chomsky and Morris Halle authored seminal texts on generative grammar and phonology.[194][195] The MIT Media Lab, founded in 1985 within the School of Architecture and Planning and known for its unconventional research,[196][197] has been home to influential researchers such as constructivist educator and Logo creator Seymour Papert.[198]

Spanning many of the above fields, MacArthur Fellowships (the so-called "Genius Grants") have been awarded to 38 people associated with MIT.[199] Four Pulitzer Prize winning writers currently work at or have retired from MIT.[200] Four current or former faculty are members of the American Academy of Arts and Letters.[201]

Given MIT's prominence, allegations of research misconduct or improprieties have received substantial press coverage. Professor David Baltimore, a Nobel Laureate, became embroiled in a misconduct investigation starting in 1986 that led to Congressional hearings in 1991.[202][203] Professor Ted Postol has accused the MIT administration since 2000 of attempting to whitewash potential research misconduct at the Lincoln Lab facility involving a ballistic missile defense test, though a final investigation into the matter has not been completed.[204][205] Associate Professor Luk Van Parijs was dismissed in 2005 following allegations of scientific misconduct and found guilty of the same by the United States Office of Research Integrity in 2009.[206][207]

Traditions and student activities

The faculty and student body highly value meritocracy and technical proficiency.[208][209] MIT has never awarded an honorary degree, nor does it award athletic scholarships, ad eundem degrees, or Latin honors upon graduation.[210] However, MIT has twice awarded honorary professorships; to Winston Churchill in 1949 and Salman Rushdie in 1993.[211]

Many upperclass students and alumni wear a large, heavy, distinctive class ring known as the "Brass Rat".[212][213] Originally created in 1929, the ring's official name is the "Standard Technology Ring."[214] The undergraduate ring design (a separate graduate student version exists as well) varies slightly from year to year to reflect the unique character of the MIT experience for that class, but always features a three-piece design, with the MIT seal and the class year each appearing on a separate face, flanking a large rectangular bezel bearing an image of a beaver.[212] The initialism IHTFP, representing the informal school motto "I Hate This Fucking Place" and jocularly euphemized as "I Have Truly Found Paradise," "Institute Has The Finest Professors," "It's Hard to Fondle Penguins," and other variations, has occasionally been featured on the ring given its historical prominence in student culture.[215]


MIT has over 380 recognized student activity groups,[216] including a campus radio station, The Tech student newspaper, an annual entrepreneurship competition, and weekly screenings of popular films by the Lecture Series Committee. Less traditional activities include the "world's largest open-shelf collection of science fiction" in English, a model railroad club, and a vibrant folk dance scene. Students, faculty, and staff are involved in over 50 educational outreach and public service programs through the MIT Museum, Edgerton Center, and MIT Public Service Center.[217]

The Independent Activities Period is a four-week long "term" offering hundreds of optional classes, lectures, demonstrations, and other activities throughout the month of January between the Fall and Spring semesters. Some of the most popular recurring IAP activities are the 6.270, 6.370, and MasLab competitions,[218] the annual "mystery hunt",[219] and Charm School.[220][221] Students also have the opportunity of pursuing externships at companies in the US and abroad.

Many MIT students also engage in "hacking," which encompasses both the physical exploration of areas that are generally off-limits (such as rooftops and steam tunnels), as well as elaborate practical jokes.[222][223] Recent high-profile hacks have included the theft of Caltech's cannon,[224] reconstructing a Wright Flyer atop the Great Dome,[225] and adorning the John Harvard statue with the Master Chief's Spartan Helmet.[226]


The Zesiger sports and fitness center houses a two-story fitness center as well as swimming and diving pools

The student athletics program offers 33 varsity-level sports, which makes it one of the largest programs in the US[227][228] MIT participates in the NCAA's Division III, the New England Women's and Men's Athletic Conference, the New England Football Conference, the Pilgrim League for men's lacrosse and NCAA's Division I Eastern Association of Rowing Colleges (EARC) for crew. In April 2009, budget cuts lead to MIT eliminating eight of its 41 sports, including the mixed men’s and women’s teams in alpine skiing and pistol; separate teams for men and women in ice hockey and gymnastics; and men’s programs in golf and wrestling.[229][230][231]

The Institute's sports teams are called the Engineers, their mascot since 1914 being a beaver, "nature's engineer." Lester Gardner, a member of the Class of 1898, provided the following justification:

The beaver not only typifies the Tech, but his habits are particularly our own. The beaver is noted for his engineering and mechanical skills and habits of industry. His habits are nocturnal. He does his best work in the dark.[232]

The official logo of MIT Athletics

MIT fielded several dominant intercollegiate Tiddlywinks teams through 1980, winning national and world championships.[233] The Engineers have won or placed highly in national championships in pistol, taekwondo, track and field, swimming and diving, cross country, crew, fencing, and water polo.[citation needed] MIT has produced 128 Academic All-Americans, the third largest membership in the country for any division and the highest number of members for Division III.[227]

The Zesiger sports and fitness center (Z-Center) which opened in 2002, significantly expanded the capacity and quality of MIT's athletics, physical education, and recreation offerings to 10 buildings and 26 acres (110,000 m2) of playing fields.[citation needed] The 124,000-square-foot (11,500 m2) facility features an Olympic-class swimming pool, international-scale squash courts, and a two-story fitness center.[227]



Demographics of MIT student body[4][234]
Undergraduate Graduate
Caucasian American 42.5% 40.8%
Asian American 25.6% 9.4%
Hispanic American 13.2% 3.3%
African American 8.5% 2.1%
Native American 1.0% 0.4%
Other/International 9.2% 44.0%

MIT enrolled 4,232 undergraduates and 6,152 graduate students in 2009–2010.[4] Women constituted 45.3 percent of undergraduates and 31.1 percent of graduate students.[4][235] Undergraduate and graduate students are drawn from all 50 states as well as 118 foreign countries.[236]

MIT received 15,661 applications for admission to the Class of 2014; 1675 were admitted (10.7 percent) and 1078 enrolled (63.9 percent).[91] 19,446 applications were received for advanced degree program across all departments; 2,991 were admitted (15.4 percent) and 1,880 enrolled (62.8 percent).[237] The interquartile range on the SAT was 2030–2320 and 95 percent of students ranked in the top tenth of their high school graduating class.[91] 97 percent of the Class of 2012 returned as sophomores; 82.3 percent of the Class of 2007 graduated within 4 years, and 91.3 percent (92 percent of the men and 96 percent of the women) graduated within 6 years.[91][238]

Undergraduate tuition and fees total $37,782 and annual expenses are estimated at $50,100. 61 percent of students received need-based financial aid in the form of scholarships and grants from federal, state, institutional, and external sources averaging $35,202 per student.[239] MIT awarded $87.6 million in scholarships and grants, the vast majority ($73.4 million) coming from institutional support.[91] The annual increase in expenses has led to a student tradition (dating back to the 1960s) of tongue-in-cheek "tuition riots".[240]

MIT has been nominally coeducational since admitting Ellen Swallow Richards in 1870. Richards also became the first female member of MIT's faculty, specializing in sanitary chemistry.[241] Female students remained a very small minority (less than 3 percent) prior to the completion of the first wing of a women's dormitory, McCormick Hall, in 1962.[242][243] Between 1993 and 2009, the proportion of women rose from 34 percent to 45 percent of undergraduates and from 20 percent to 31 percent of graduate students.[4][244] Women currently outnumber men in Biology, Brain & Cognitive Sciences, Architecture, Urban Planning, and Biological Engineering.[4][235]

A number of student deaths in the late 1990s and early 2000s resulted in considerable media attention to MIT's culture and student life.[245][246] After the alcohol-related death of Scott Krueger in September 1997 as a new member at the Phi Gamma Delta fraternity,[247] MIT began requiring all freshmen to live in the dormitory system.[247][248] The 2000 suicide of MIT undergraduate Elizabeth Shin drew attention to suicides at MIT and created a controversy over whether MIT had an unusually high suicide rate.[249][250] In late 2001 a task force's recommended improvements in student mental health services were implemented,[251][252] including expanding staff and operating hours at the mental health center.[253] These and later cases were significant as well because they sought to prove the negligence and liability of university administrators in loco parentis.[249]


Institute Professors Emeriti and Nobel Laureates (from left to right) Franco Modigliani (now deceased), Paul Samuelson (also deceased), and Robert Solow

MIT has 1,010 faculty members, of whom 198 are women.[3] Faculty are responsible for lecturing classes, advising both graduate and undergraduate students, and sitting on academic committees, as well as conducting original research. Between 1964 and 2009, a total of 17 faculty and staff members affiliated with MIT were awarded Nobel Prizes (14 during the last quarter century, 13 the last 25 years).[254] MIT faculty members past or present have won a total of 27 Nobel Prizes, the majority in Economics or Physics.[255] Among current faculty and teaching staff, there are 80 Guggenheim Fellows, 6 Fulbright Scholars, and 29 MacArthur Fellows.[3] Faculty members who have made extraordinary contributions to their research field as well as the MIT community are granted appointments as Institute Professors for the remainder of their tenures.

A 1998 MIT study concluded that a systemic bias against female faculty existed in its college of science,[256] although the study's methods were controversial.[257][258] Since the study, though, women have headed departments within the Schools of Science and Engineering, and MIT has appointed several female vice presidents, although allegations of sexism continue to be made.[259] Susan Hockfield, a molecular neurobiologist, became MIT's 16th president in 2004 and is the first woman to hold the post.

Tenure outcomes have vaulted MIT into the national spotlight on several occasions. The 1984 dismissal of David F. Noble, a historian of technology, became a cause célèbre about the extent to which academics are granted freedom of speech after he published several books and papers critical of MIT's and other research universities' reliance upon financial support from corporations and the military.[260] Former materials science professor Gretchen Kalonji sued MIT in 1994 alleging that she was denied tenure because of sexual discrimination.[259][261] In 1997, the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination issued a probable cause finding supporting James Jennings' allegations of racial discrimination after a senior faculty search committee in the Department of Urban Studies and Planning did not offer him reciprocal tenure.[262] In 2006–2007, MIT's denial of tenure to African-American biological engineering professor James Sherley reignited accusations of racism in the tenure process, eventually leading to a protracted public dispute with the administration, a brief hunger strike, and the resignation of Professor Frank L. Douglas in protest.[263][264]

MIT faculty members have often been recruited to lead other colleges and universities; former Provost Robert A. Brown is President of Boston University, former Provost Mark Wrighton is Chancellor of Washington University in St. Louis, former Associate Provost Alice Gast is president of Lehigh University, former Dean of the School of Science Robert J. Birgeneau is the Chancellor of the University of California, Berkeley, and former professor David Baltimore had been President of Caltech. In addition, faculty members have been recruited to lead governmental agencies; for example, former professor Marcia McNutt is the director of the United States Geological Survey,[265] urban studies professor Xavier de Souza Briggs is currently the associate director of the White House Office of Management and Budget,[266] and biology professor Eric Lander is a co-chair of the President's Council of Advisors on Science and Technology.[267]


Many of MIT's over 120,000 alumni and alumnae have had considerable success in scientific research, public service, education, and business. As of 2011, twenty-four MIT alumni have won the Nobel Prize, forty-four have been selected as Rhodes Scholars, and fifty-five have been selected as Marshall Scholars.[268]

Alumni in American politics and public service include Chairman of the Federal Reserve Ben Bernanke, MA-1 Representative John Olver, CA-13 Representative Pete Stark, former National Economic Council chairman Lawrence H. Summers, and former Council of Economic Advisors chairwoman Christina Romer. MIT alumni in international politics include former British Foreign Minister David Miliband, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Greek Prime Minister Lucas Papademos, former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan, physicist Richard Feynman, and former Iraqi Deputy Prime Minister Ahmed Chalabi.

MIT alumni founded or co-founded many notable companies, such as Intel, McDonnell Douglas, Texas Instruments, 3Com, Qualcomm, Bose, Raytheon, Koch Industries, Rockwell International, Genentech, and Campbell Soup. According to the British newspaper, The Guardian, "a survey of living MIT alumni found that they have formed 25,800 companies, employing more than three million people including about a quarter of the workforce of Silicon Valley. Those firms between them generate global revenues of about $1.9tn (£1.2tn) a year. If MIT was a country, it would have the 11th highest GDP of any nation in the world."[269] MIT managed $718.2 million in research expenditures and an $8.0 billion endowment in 2009.[12][13]

Prominent institutions of higher education have been led by MIT alumni, including the University of California system, Harvard University, Johns Hopkins University, Carnegie Mellon University, Tufts University, Rochester Institute of Technology, Rhode Island School of Design (RISD), Northeastern University, Lahore University of Management Sciences, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Tecnológico de Monterrey, Purdue University, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and Quaid-e-Azam University.

More than one third of the United States' manned spaceflights have included MIT-educated astronauts (among them Apollo 11 Lunar Module Pilot Buzz Aldrin), more than any university excluding the United States service academies.[270]

Noted alumni in non-scientific fields include author Hugh Lofting,[271] sculptor Daniel Chester French, Boston guitarist Tom Scholz, The New York Times columnist and Nobel Prize Winning economist Paul Krugman, The Bell Curve author Charles Murray, United States Supreme Court building architect Cass Gilbert, Pritzker Prize-winning architects I.M. Pei and Gordon Bunshaft.



a. ^ "We looked up and discussed many colors. We all desired cardinal red; it has stood for a thousand years on land and sea in England's emblem; it makes one-half of the stripes on America's flag; it has always stirred the heart and mind of man; it stands for 'red blood' and all that 'red blood' stands for in life. But we were not unanimous for the gray; some wanted blue, I recall. But it (the gray) seemed to me to stand for those quiet virtues of modesty and persistency and gentleness, which appealed to my mind as powerful; and I have come to believe, from observation and experience, to really be the most lasting influences in life and history....We recommended 'cardinal and steel gray.'" (Alfred T. Waite, Chairman of School Color Committee, Class of 1879)[272]
b. ^ The other privately owned Land Grant institution is Cornell University.
d. ^ The University of Massachusetts was founded as the Massachusetts Agricultural College in 1863.
e. ^ The Harvard-MIT Division of Health Sciences and Technology (HST) offers joint MD, MD-PhD, or Medical Engineering degrees in collaboration with Harvard Medical School.[273]
f. ^ Course numbers are traditionally presented in Roman numerals, e.g. Course XVIII for mathematics. Starting in 2002, the Bulletin (MIT's course catalog) started to use Arabic numerals. Usage outside of the Bulletin varies, both Roman and Arabic numerals being used.[274]
h. ^ MIT's Building 7 and Harvard's Johnston Gate, the traditional entrances to each school, are 1.72 miles (2.77 km) apart along Massachusetts Avenue.
i. ^ Vannevar Bush was the director of the Office of Scientific Research and Development and general advisor to Franklin D. Roosevelt and Harry Truman, James Rhyne Killian was Special Assistant for Science and Technology for Dwight D. Eisenhower, and Jerome Wiesner advised John F. Kennedy and Lyndon Johnson.[275]
j. ^ The friezes of the marble-clad buildings surrounding Killian Court are carved in large Roman letters with the names of Aristotle, Newton, Pasteur, Lavoisier, Faraday, Archimedes, da Vinci, Darwin, and Copernicus; each of these names is surmounted by a cluster of appropriately related names in smaller letters. Lavoisier, for example, is placed in the company of Boyle, Cavendish, Priestley, Dalton, Gay Lussac, Berzelius, Woehler, Liebig, Bunsen, Mendelejeff [sic], Perkin, and van't Hoff.[276]


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Also see the bibliography maintained by MIT's Institute Archives & Special Collections, and Written Works in MIT in popular culture.
  • Abelmann, Walter H., ed. The Harvard-MIT Division of Health Sciences and Technology: The First 25 Years, 1970–1995 (2004). 346 pp
  • Angulo, A. J. (2007). "The Initial Reception of MIT, 1860s–1880s". History of Higher Education Annual 26: 1–28. 
  • Etzkowitz, Henry. MIT and the Rise of Entrepreneurial Science Series: Studies in Global Competition. (2002). 173 pp.
  • Hapgood, Fred (1993). Up the infinite corridor: MIT and the technological imagination. Reading, Mass.: Addison-Wesley. ISBN 0-201-08293-4.  203 pp.
  • Jarzombek, Mark (2003). Designing MIT: Bosworth's New Tech. Northeastern University Press. ISBN 1-55553-619-0.  on William Welles Bosworth 164pp
  • Keyser, Samuel Jay; foreword by Lawrence S. Bacow (2011). Mens et mania: the MIT nobody knows. Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press. ISBN 978-0-262-01594-3.  223 pp.
  • Lecuyer, Christophe (1992). "The Making of a Science Based Technological University: Karl Compton, James Killian, and the Reform of MIT, 1930–1957". Historical Studies in the Physical & Biological Sciences 23 (1): 153–180. 
  • Leslie, Stuart W. (1994). The Cold War and American Science: The Military-Industrial-Academic Complex at MIT and Stanford. Columbia University Press. ISBN 0-231-07959-1. 
  • Mitchell, William J. (2007). Imagining MIT: Designing a Campus for the Twenty-First Century. The MIT Press. ISBN 978-0-262-13479-8. 
  • Peterson, T. F. (2003). Nightwork: A History of Hacks and Pranks at MIT. The MIT Press. ISBN 978-0-262-66137-9. 
  • Prescott, Samuel C. (1954). When M.I.T. Was "Boston Tech", 1861–1916. Technology Press. ISBN 978-0-262-66139-3. 
  • Servos, John W. (December 1980). "The Industrial Relations of Science: Chemical Engineering at MIT, 1900–1939". Isis (The University of Chicago Press on behalf of The History of Science Society) 71 (4): 531–549. JSTOR 230499. 
  • Shrock, Robert Rakes. Geology at MIT 1865–1965: A History of the First Hundred Years of Geology at Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Vol. 1, The Faculty and Supporting Staff (1977). 1032 pp.
  • Simha, O. Robert (2003). MIT Campus Planning,: An Annotated Chronology. The MIT Press. ISBN 978-0-262-69294-6. 
  • Snyder, Benson R. (1973). The Hidden Curriculum. The MIT Press. ISBN 978-0-262-69043-0. 
  • Stratton, Julius Adams; Loretta H. Mannix (2005). Mind and Hand: The Birth of MIT. The MIT Press. ISBN 978-0-262-19524-9. 
  • Vest, Charles M. Pursuing the Endless Frontier: Essays on MIT and the Role of Research Universities (2004). 292 pp.
  • Wildes, Karl L. and Lindgren, Nilo A. A Century of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science at MIT, 1882–1984 (1985). 423 pp.

External links

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