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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 $8.0 billion[2]
Chancellor Phillip Clay
President Susan Hockfield
Provost L. Rafael Reif
Faculty 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 75[6]
Colors Cardinal Red and Steel Gray[a]
Mascot Tim the Beaver[7]
Athletics Division III (except for Rowing)
33 varsity teams
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 research. MIT is one of two private land-grant universities[b] and is also a sea-grant and space-grant university. Founded by William Barton Rogers in 1861 in response to the increasing industrialization of the United States, the university adopted the European university model and emphasized laboratory instruction from an early date.[8] Its 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] MIT 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. In the past 60 years, MIT's educational disciplines have expanded beyond the physical sciences and engineering into fields like biology, brain science, economics, philosophy, linguistics, political science, and management.[9]

MIT enrolled 4,232 undergraduates and 6,152 graduate students for the Fall 2009–2010 term.[4] It employs about 1,009 faculty members.[3] Its endowment and annual research expenditures are among the largest of any American university.[10] 75 Nobel Laureates, 47 National Medal of Science recipients, and 31 MacArthur Fellows are currently or have previously been affiliated with the university.[3][6] The aggregated revenues of companies founded by MIT alumni would be the seventeenth largest economy in the world.[11]

The Engineers sponsor 33 sports, most 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 (1861–1915)

MIT's Building 10 and Great Dome overlooking Killian Court

As early as 1859, the Massachusetts State Legislature was given a proposal for use of newly opened lands in Back Bay in Boston for a museum and Conservatory of Art and Science.[12] In 1861, The Commonwealth of Massachusetts approved 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.[13][14] 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. 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.[15][16]

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

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

Because open conflict in the Civil War broke out only weeks after receiving the charter, MIT's first classes were held in rented space at the Mercantile Building in downtown Boston in 1865.[18] Though it was to be located in the middle of 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 founded what was to become the University of Massachusetts under this act,[d] MIT was also named a designee and became one of only two privately-chartered institutions to be designated to receive land grants.[b] Proceeds from these grants facilitated construction of the first buildings in Boston's Back Bay in 1866 causing MIT to be known as "Boston Tech." During the next half-century, the focus of the science and engineering curriculum drifted towards vocational concerns instead of theoretical programs. Charles William Eliot, the president of Harvard University, repeatedly attempted to merge MIT with Harvard's Lawrence Scientific School over his 30-year tenure: overtures were made as early as 1869 with other proposals being defeated.[19][c]

Development (1916–1965)


A plaque of George Eastman, founder of Eastman Kodak, in Building 6. His nose is rubbed by students for good luck.[20]

The attempted mergers occurred in parallel with MIT's continued expansion beyond the classroom and laboratory space permitted by its Boston campus. President Richard Maclaurin sought to move the campus to a new location when he took office in 1909.[21] An anonymous donor, later revealed to be George Eastman, donated the funds to build a new campus along a mile-long tract of swamp and industrial land on the Cambridge side of the Charles River. In 1916, MIT moved into the handsome new neoclassical campus designed by William W. Bosworth.


The new campus triggered some changes in the stagnating undergraduate curriculum, but in the 1930s President Karl Taylor Compton and Vice-President (effectively Provost) Vannevar Bush drastically reformed the curriculum by re-emphasizing the importance of "pure" sciences like physics and chemistry and reducing the work required in shops and drafting. Despite the challenges of the Great Depression, the reforms "renewed confidence in the ability of the Institute to develop leadership in science as well as in engineering."[15] The expansion and reforms cemented MIT's academic reputation and it was elected to the Association of American Universities in 1934.[22]


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. A large and respected engineering school in 1930, MIT evolved into a major science-based technological university and one of the leading research centers in modern physics. 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. The changes at MIT over this period were in large part the result of the growth in faculty and student populations as well as the large infusion of federal funds during World War II and the early years of the Cold War; however, these changes were significantly guided and shaped by the institution-building strategies of Karl Compton, president of MIT between 1930 and 1948, James Killian, president from 1948 to 1957, and Julius Stratton, chancellor from 1952 to 1957.[23]

MIT was substantially changed by its involvement in military research during World War II. 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.[24][25] MIT's Radiation Laboratory was established in 1940 to assist the British in developing a microwave radar and the first mass-produced units 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.[26] 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.[27] 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 a rapid growth in the size of the Institute's research staff and physical plant as well as placing an increased emphasis on graduate education.[15] As the Cold War and Space Race intensified and concerns about the technology gap between the U.S. 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.[28][29]

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.[15][30] 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 Sloan School of Management in 1950 to compete with the powerful Schools of Science and Engineering.[31][32]

Recent history (1966–present)

The MIT Media Lab houses researchers developing novel uses of computer technology. An expansion is under construction.

In late 1960s and early 1970s, student and faculty activists protested against the Vietnam War and MIT's defense research.[33][34] 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.[35] 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,[36][37] the student body, faculty, and administration remained comparatively unpolarized during the tumultuous era.[33][38]

In addition to developing the predecessors to modern computing and networking technologies,[39][40] 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.[41] 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,[42] the World Wide Web Consortium standards organization was founded at the Laboratory for Computer Science in 1994 by Tim Berners-Lee,[43] the OpenCourseWare project has made course materials for over 1,800 MIT classes available online free of charge since 2002,[44] and the One Laptop per Child initiative to expand computer education and connectivity to children worldwide was launched in 2005.[45] 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.[46]

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.[47][48] 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.[49] Construction on campus continues to expand the Media Lab, Sloan's eastern campus, and graduate residences in the northwest.[50][51]

Media Lab Europe was the European partner of the MIT Media Lab. It was based in Dublin, Ireland and operated from July 2000 to January 2005.

Organization and administration

Building 7 (also 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.[52] The current board, with 74 members drawn from scientific, engineering, industry, education, and public service leaders, is chaired by Dana G. Mead. 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.[53][54] Susan Hockfield is the 16th president and has served since December 2004.[55] MIT's endowment and other financial assets are managed through a subsidiary MIT Investment Management Company (MITIMCo).[56] Valued at $8.0 billion in 2009, MIT's endowment is the sixth-largest among American colleges and universities.[2][57]

MIT is "a university polarized around science, engineering, and the arts."[58] 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.[59][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. However, faculty committees assert substantial control over many areas of MIT's curriculum, research, student life, and administrative affairs.[60]

MIT students refer to both their majors and classes using numbers or acronyms alone.[61] Majors are numbered in the approximate order of when the department was founded; for example, Civil and Environmental Engineering is Course I, while Nuclear Science & Engineering is Course XXII.[62][63] 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 course which many American universities would designate as "Physics 101" is, at MIT, simply "8.01."[f]


The university historically pioneered research and training collaborations between the academy, industry, International Institutions such as the African Institute of Science and Technology Mbaise and government.[64][65] 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.[66] 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.[67][68][69][70]

MIT's extensive collaboration with the federal government on research projects has also lead 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.[71][72] 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.[73][74] While the Ivy League institutions settled,[75] MIT contested the charges on the grounds that the practice was not anticompetitive because it ensured the availability of aid for the greatest number of students.[76][77] MIT ultimately prevailed when the Justice Department dropped the case in 1994.[78][79]

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, Broad Institute, MIT – Harvard Center for Ultracold Atoms, and Harvard-MIT Data Center.[80][81][82] In addition, students at the two schools can cross-register without any additional fees, for credits toward their own school's degrees.[82]

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

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.[82] MIT has limited cross-registration programs with Boston University, Brandeis University, Tufts University, Massachusetts College of Art, and the School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.[82]

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-Zaragoza International Logistics Program,[83] and other countries through the MIT International Science and Technology Initiatives (MISTI) program.[82][84]

Students, faculty, and staff are involved in over 50 educational outreach and public service programs through the MIT Museum, Edgerton Center,[85] and MIT Public Service Center.[86][87] Summer programs like MITES[88] and the Research Science Institute[89] encourage minority and high school students to pursue science and engineering in college. High school students interested in science and technology can also enter the MIT THINK Competition hosted by the student group MIT TechFair. Project Interphase accelerates incoming freshman whose educational backgrounds did not fully prepare them for MIT coursework.[90]

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.[91]


I.M. Pei designed several buildings bordering on McDermott Court

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 marked off in a non-standard unit of length – the smoot.[92][93] 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.[54]

MIT buildings all have a number (or a number and a letter) designation and most have a name as well.[94] Typically, academic and office buildings are referred to only 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.[94] 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.[95][96]

MIT's on-campus nuclear reactor is one of the largest university-based nuclear reactors in the United States.[97] The high visibility of the reactor's containment building in a densely populated area has occasionally caused controversy,[98][99] but MIT maintains that it is well-secured.[100] Other notable campus facilities include a pressurized wind tunnel and a towing tank for testing ship and ocean structure designs.[101][102] 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 (873,000 m2) of campus.[103]

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.[104] MIT settled the suit by paying a $155,000 fine and launching three environmental projects.[105] 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 a low-emission cogeneration plant that serves most of the campus electricity and heating requirements.[106]


The Stata Center houses CSAIL, LIDS, and the Department of Linguistics and Philosophy

MIT's School of Architecture was the first in the United States,[107] and it has a history of commissioning progressive buildings.[108][109] 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 U.S.[110] The utopian City Beautiful movement greatly influenced Bosworth's design which features the Pantheon-esque Great Dome, housing the Barker Engineering Library, which overlooks Killian Court, where annual Commencement 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 modern architecture.[111][112][113] 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 staid architecture[114] and serve as examples of contemporary campus "starchitecture."[108][115] These buildings have not always been popularly accepted;[116][117] the Princeton Review includes MIT in a list of twenty schools whose campuses are "tiny, unsightly, or both."[118]


Simmons Hall was completed in 2002

Undergraduates are guaranteed four-year, dormitory housing.[119] 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. Students are permitted to select their dorm and floor upon arrival on campus, and as a result diverse communities arise in living groups; the dorms on and east of Massachusetts Avenue have typically been more involved in countercultural activities. MIT also has five dormitories for single graduate students, and two apartment buildings on campus for families.[120] MIT has a very active Greek and co-op system. Approximately one-half of MIT male undergraduates and one-third of female undergraduates[121] are affiliated with one of MIT's 36 fraternities, sororities, and independent living groups (FSILGs).[122] 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 death of Scott Krueger, a new member at the Phi Gamma Delta fraternity, MIT required all freshmen to live in the dormitory system.[123] 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.[124]


University rankings (overall)

ARWU World[125] 5
ARWU North & Latin America[126] 4
Forbes[127] 14
Times Higher Education[128] 9
USNWR National University[129] 4
WM National University[130] 13

MIT is a large, highly residential, majority graduate/professional research university.[131] The four year, full-time undergraduate instructional program is classified as "balanced arts & sciences/professions" with a high graduate coexistence and admissions are characterized as "more selective, lower transfer in".[131] The graduate program is classified as "comprehensive". The university is accredited by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges.[132]

The School of Engineering has been ranked first among graduate and undergraduate programs by U.S. News & World Report since first published results in 1994.[133][134][135] MIT was ranked 1st internationally in Technology by the 2009 Times Higher Education-QS World University Rankings.[136] 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 study found MIT to be the 4th most preferred college among undergraduate applicants.[9][137] According to the Ranking Web, MIT is ranked first of the world (January 2009) for its commitment with Open Access and electronic academic publication.


Undergraduates are required to complete an extensive core curriculum called the General Institute Requirements (GIRs). The science requirement, generally completed during freshman year as prerequisites for classes in science and engineering majors, comprises two semesters of physics classes covering classical mechanics and electricity and magnetism, two semesters of math covering single variable calculus and multivariable calculus, one semester of chemistry, and one semester of biology. Undergraduates are required to take a laboratory class in their major, eight Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences (HASS) classes (at least three in a concentration and another four unrelated subjects), and non-varsity athletes must also take four physical education classes. In May 2006, a faculty task force recommended that the current GIR system be simplified with changes to the science, HASS, and Institute Lab requirements.[138]

The Infinite Corridor is the primary passageway through campus

Although the difficulty of MIT coursework has been characterized as "drinking from a fire hose,"[139] the failure rate and freshmen retention rate at MIT are similar to other large research universities.[140] 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".[141]

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.[142][143] Over time, students compile "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.

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 obtain research projects, colloquially called "UROPs", through postings on the UROP website or by contacting faculty members directly.[144] Over 2,800 undergraduates, 70% of the student body, participate every year for academic credit, pay, or on a volunteer basis.[145] Students often become published, file patent applications, and/or launch start-up companies based upon their experience in UROPs.[146][147]

Beginning in 2000, MIT built new Technology Enhanced Active Learning (TEAL) classrooms to overcome some difficulties in large lecture halls.[148][149] This was done in part with a $10 million donation from the late Alex d’Arbeloff, an MIT alumnus, and co-founder of the high-tech company Teradyne.[150]


In 2007, MIT spent $598.3 million for on-campus research.[131][151] The federal government was the largest source of sponsored research, with the Department of Health and Human Services granting $201.6 million, Department of Defense $90.6 million, Department of Energy $64.9 million, National Science Foundation $65.1 million, and NASA $27.9 million.[151] MIT employs approximately 3,500 researchers in addition to faculty. In the 2006 academic year, MIT faculty and researchers disclosed 487 inventions, filed 314 patent applications, received 149 patents, and earned $129.2 million in royalties and other income.[152]

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.[153][154] Harold Eugene Edgerton was a pioneer in high speed photography.[155] Claude E. Shannon developed much of modern information theory and discovered the application of Boolean logic to digital circuit design theory. In the domain of computer science, MIT faculty and researchers made fundamental contributions to cybernetics, artificial intelligence, computer languages, machine learning, robotics, and public-key cryptography.[154][156]

Current and previous physics faculty have won eight Nobel Prizes,[157] four Dirac Medals,[158] and three Wolf Prizes predominantly for their contributions to subatomic and quantum theory. Members of the chemistry department have been awarded three Nobel Prizes and one Wolf Prize for the discovery of novel syntheses and methods.[157] MIT biologists have been awarded six Nobel Prizes for their contributions to genetics, immunology, oncology, and molecular biology.[157] Professor Eric Lander was one of the principal leaders of the Human Genome Project.[159][160]

Positronium atoms,[161] synthetic Penicillin,[162] synthetic self-replicating molecules,[163] and the genetic bases for Lou Gehrig's disease and Huntington's disease were first discovered at MIT.[164]

In the domain of humanities, arts, and social sciences, MIT economists have been awarded five Nobel Prizes and nine John Bates Clark Medals.[157][165] Linguists Noam Chomsky and Morris Halle authored seminal texts on generative grammar and phonology.[166][167] The MIT Media Lab, founded in 1985 and known for its unconventional research,[168][169] has been home to constructivist educator and Logo creator Seymour Papert,[170] Lego Mindstorms and Scratch creator Mitchel Resnick,[171] Kismet creator Cynthia Breazeal,[172] affective computing pioneer Rosalind Picard,[173] and hyperinstrumentalist Tod Machover.[174]

Given the scale and reputation of MIT's accomplishments, 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.[175][176][177] 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.[178][179] 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.[180][181]

Traditions and student activities

Problems listening to this file? See media help.

The faculty and student body highly value meritocracy and technical proficiency.[182][183] MIT has never awarded an honorary degree nor does it award athletic scholarships, ad eundem degrees, or Latin honors upon graduation.[184] However, MIT has twice awarded honorary professorships; to Winston Churchill in 1949 and Salman Rushdie in 1993.[185]

A "Brass Rat" for the Class of 2007

Current students and alumni wear a large, heavy, distinctive class ring known as the "Brass Rat."[186] Originally created in 1929, the ring's official name is the "Standard Technology Ring."[187] 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.[186] 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," and other variations, is featured on the ring given its historical prominence in student culture.[188]


A fire truck was placed on the Great Dome by students on September 11, 2006

MIT has over 380 recognized student activity groups,[189] 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, model railroad club, and a vibrant folk dance scene.

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,[190] the annual "mystery hunt",[191] and Charm School.[192] Students also have the opportunity of pursuing externships at companies in the U.S. 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.[193][194] Recent hacks have included the theft of Caltech's cannon,[195] reconstructing a Wright Flyer atop the Great Dome,[196] and adorning the John Harvard statue with the Master Chief's Spartan Helmet.[197]


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, one of the largest programs in the U.S.[198][199] MIT participates in the NCAA's Division III, the New England Women's and Men's Athletic Conference, the New England Football Conference, and NCAA's Division I and Eastern Association of Rowing Colleges (EARC) for crew.

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.[200]

Official logo of MIT Athletics

MIT fielded several dominant intercollegiate Tiddlywinks teams through 1980, winning national and world championships.[201] 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. 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.[198]

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. 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.[198]

In April 2009, MIT eliminated 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.[202][203][204]



Demographics of MIT student body[4][205]
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. MIT is hosting 6,152 graduate students for the fall term of academic year 2009–2010.[4] Women constituted 45.3 percent of undergraduates and 31.1 percent of graduate students.[4][206]

The admissions rate for freshmen applicants in academic year 2008–2009 was 11.9%; 66% of admitted applicants chose to enroll. The admissions rate for graduate applicants (all departments) was 21.3%; 63% chose to enroll.[207] About 98% of the freshman class ended the year in good standing and returned the next year; 82% graduated within 4 years, and 94% (92% of the men and 96% of the women) graduated within 6 years.[208]

Tuition and fees for nine months amounted to $36,390. Undergraduate room and board averaged $10,860; “books and personal expenses,” $2,850. Average total expenses (calc.): $50,100. The majority of undergraduates (62%) received need-based financial aid in the form of MIT scholarships. Average need-based scholarship package: $33,950.[209]

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.[210] 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.[211][212][213] 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][206][214][215] Women currently outnumber men in Biology, Brain & Cognitive Sciences, Architecture, Urban Planning, and Biological Engineering.[4][206]

A number of student deaths in the late 1990s and early 2000s resulted in considerable media attention to MIT's culture and student life.[216][217] After the alcohol-related death of Scott Krueger in September 1997 as a new member at the Phi Gamma Delta fraternity,[218] MIT began requiring all freshmen to live in the dormitory system.[218][219] 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.[220][221] In late 2001 a task force's recommended improvements in student mental health services were implemented,[222][223] including expanding staff and operating hours at the mental health center.[224] These and later cases were significant as well because they sought to prove the negligence and liability of university administrators in loco parentis.[220]


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

MIT has 1,009 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).[225] MIT faculty members past or present have won a total of 27 Nobel Prizes, the majority in Economics or Physics.[226] 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,[227] although the study's methods were controversial (it was conducted by an individual who claimed bias against herself, was not peer-reviewed, and was not supported by later studies).[g] Since the study, though, women have headed departments within the Schools of Science and Engineering, and MIT has appointed five female vice presidents,[214] although allegations of sexism continue to be made.[228] 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.[229] Former materials science professor Gretchen Kalonji sued MIT in 1994 alleging that she was denied tenure because of sexual discrimination.[228][230] 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.[231] 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.[232][233]

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 was 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.[234]


Many of MIT's over 110,000 alumni and alumnae have had considerable success in scientific research, public service, education, and business. Twenty-five MIT alumni have won the Nobel Prize, forty-four have been selected as Rhodes Scholars, and fifty-five have been selected as Marshall Scholars.[235]

Alumni currently in American politics and public service include Chairman of the Federal Reserve Ben Bernanke, MA-1 Representative John Olver, CA-13 Representative Pete Stark, National Economic Council chairman Lawrence H. Summers, Council of Economic Advisors chairwoman Christina Romer, White House Office of Management and Budget associate director Xavier de Souza Briggs, and President's Council of Advisors on Science and Technology co-chair Eric Lander. MIT alumni in international politics include British Foreign Minister David Miliband, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, former U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan, 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. The annual Entrepreneurship Competition has led to the creation of over 85 companies that have, in aggregate, generated 2,500 jobs, received $600 million in venture capital funding, and have a market capitalization of over $10 billion.[236] A 2009 study claimed that the combined revenues of companies founded by MIT affiliates would make it the seventeenth largest economy in the world.[11]

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, Northeastern University, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Tecnológico de Monterrey, Purdue University, and Virginia Tech.

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.[237]

Gu, Prince of Korea, Prince Imperial of Korea, grandson of Emperor Gojong of Korea, son of Crown Prince Eun of Korea studied architecture at MIT in the 1960s after attending Centre College.

Noted alumni in non-scientific fields include Doctor Dolittle author Hugh Lofting,[238] Boston guitarist Tom Scholz, The New York Times columnist Paul Krugman, The Bell Curve author Charles Murray, United States Supreme Court building architect Cass Gilbert, and Pritzker Prize-winning architect I.M. Pei and Gordon Bunshaft.


a. ^  "We examined 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) [239]
b. ^  The other privately-owned Land Grant institution is Cornell University.
c. ^  Maclaurin quoted: "in future Harvard agrees to carry out all its work in engineering and mining in the buildings of Technology under the executive control of the president of Technology, and, what is of the first importance, to commit all instruction and the laying down of all courses to the faculty of Technology, after that faculty has been enlarged and strengthened by the addition to its existing members of men of eminence from Harvard's Graduate School of Applied Science."[240]
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.[241]
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.[242]
g. ^  In 1995, faculty member Nancy Hopkins accused MIT of bias against herself and several of her female colleagues. Hopkins, rather than a third party, investigated her own charges and concluded in 1999 concluded there was "subtle yet pervasive" bias against women at MIT, although no instance of intentional discrimination was found. Despite the study's sealed evidence and its lack of peer review, Vest approved "targeted actions" like the creation of 11 committees and 20% salary increases for women faculty.[243][244]
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.[245]
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.[246]


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  • Abelmann, Walter H., ed. The Harvard-MIT Division of Health Sciences and Technology: The First 25 Years, 1970-1995 (2004). 346 pp
  • Stratton, Julius Adams; Loretta H. Mannix (2005). Mind and Hand: The Birth of MIT. The MIT Press. ISBN 978-0-262-19524-9. 
  • Snyder, Benson R. (1973). The Hidden Curriculum. The MIT Press. ISBN 978-0-262-69043-0. 
  • Etzkowitz, Henry. MIT and the Rise of Entrepreneurial Science Series: Studies in Global Competition. (2002). 173 pp.
  • Hapgood, Fred. Up the Infinite Corridor: MIT and the Technical Imagination (1993). 203 pp
  • Jarzombek, Mark (2003). Designing MIT: Bosworth's New Tech. Northeastern University Press. ISBN 1-55553-619-0.  on William Welles Bosworth 164pp
  • Lecuyer, Christophe. "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 1992 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. 
  • 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. 
  • Stratton, Julius A. and Mannix, Loretta H. Mind and Hand: The Birth of MIT ""(2005). 781 pp.
  • 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, 1882-1982 (1985). 423 pp.
Also see the bibliography maintained by MIT's Institute Archives & Special Collections, and Written Works in MIT in popular culture.

External links

Coordinates: 42°21′35″N 71°05′32″W / 42.35982°N 71.09211°W / 42.35982; -71.09211

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The Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) is a private university, located in Cambridge, Massachusetts. MIT has five schools and one college, and it has 32 academic departments,[1] and gives much importance to scientific and technological research. MIT students and graduates are famous for being given many awards, including 63 Nobel Prizes. [2][3].


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