Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
As of December 2020, 97 Nobel laureates
, 26 Turing Award winners
, and 8 Fields Medalists
have been affiliated with MIT as alumni, faculty members, or researchers.
In addition, 58 National Medal of Science
recipients, 29 National Medals of Technology and Innovation
recipients, 50 MacArthur Fellows
80 Marshall Scholars
3 Mitchell Scholars
22 Schwarzman Scholars
and 16 Chief Scientists of the U.S. Air Force
have been affiliated with MIT. The university also has a strong entrepreneurial culture
and MIT alumni have founded or co-founded many notable companies
MIT is a member of the Association of American Universities
Foundation and vision
... a school of industrial science aiding the advancement, development and practical application of science in connection with arts, agriculture, manufactures, and commerce.
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, and along with this, a full and methodical review of all their leading processes and operations in connection with physical laws.
A 1905 map of MIT's Boston campus
The then-new Cambridge campus, completed in 1916. The Harvard Bridge
(named after John Harvard
but otherwise unrelated to Harvard University) is in the foreground, connecting Boston to Cambridge.
MIT was informally called "Boston Tech".
The institute adopted the European polytechnic university model
and emphasized laboratory instruction from an early date.
Despite chronic financial problems, the institute saw growth in the last two decades of the 19th century under President Francis Amasa Walker
Programs in electrical, chemical, marine, and sanitary engineering were introduced,
new buildings were built, and the size of the student body increased to more than one thousand.
The curriculum drifted to a vocational emphasis, with less focus on theoretical science.
The fledgling school still suffered from chronic financial shortages which diverted the attention of the MIT leadership. During these "Boston Tech" years, MIT faculty and alumni rebuffed Harvard University
president (and former MIT faculty) Charles W. Eliot
's repeated attempts to merge MIT with Harvard College's Lawrence Scientific School
There would be at least six attempts to absorb MIT into Harvard.
In its cramped Back Bay location, MIT could not afford to expand its overcrowded facilities, driving a desperate search for a new campus and funding. Eventually, the MIT Corporation approved a formal agreement to merge with Harvard, over the vehement objections of MIT faculty, students, and alumni.
However, a 1917 decision by the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court effectively put an end to the merger scheme.
Plaque in Building 6 honoring George Eastman
, founder of Eastman Kodak
, who was revealed as the anonymous "Mr. Smith" who helped maintain MIT's independence
In 1916, the MIT administration and the MIT charter crossed the Charles River on the ceremonial barge Bucentaur
built for the occasion,
to signify MIT's move to a spacious new campus largely consisting of filled land
on a one-mile-long (1.6 km) tract along the Cambridge side of the Charles River.
"New Technology" campus was designed by William W. Bosworth
and had been funded largely by anonymous donations from a mysterious "Mr. Smith", starting in 1912. In January 1920, the donor was revealed to be the industrialist George Eastman
of Rochester, New York
, who had invented methods of film production and processing, and founded Eastman Kodak
. Between 1912 and 1920, Eastman donated $20 million ($236.6 million in 2015 dollars) in cash and Kodak stock to MIT.
Still, as late as 1949, the Lewis Committee lamented in its report on the state of education at MIT that "the Institute is widely conceived as basically a vocational school", a "partly unjustified" perception the committee sought to change. The report comprehensively reviewed the undergraduate curriculum, recommended offering a broader education, and warned against letting engineering and government-sponsored research detract from the sciences and humanities.
The School of Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences
and the MIT Sloan School of Management
were formed in 1950 to compete with the powerful Schools of Science
. Previously marginalized faculties in the areas of economics, management, political science, and linguistics emerged into cohesive and assertive departments by attracting respected professors and launching competitive graduate programs.
The School of Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences continued to develop under the successive terms of the more humanistically oriented
presidents Howard W. Johnson
and Jerome Wiesner
between 1966 and 1980.
students at MIT in 2019
... a special type of educational institution which can be defined as a university polarized around science, engineering, and the arts. We might call it a university limited in its objectives but unlimited in the breadth and the thoroughness with which it pursues these objectives.
These activities affected MIT profoundly. A 1949 report noted the lack of "any great slackening in the pace of life at the Institute" to match the return to peacetime, remembering the "academic tranquility of the prewar years", though acknowledging the significant contributions of military research to the increased emphasis on graduate education and rapid growth of personnel and facilities.
The faculty doubled and the graduate student body quintupled during the terms 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, whose institution-building strategies shaped the expanding university. By the 1950s, MIT no longer simply benefited the industries with which it had worked for three decades, and it had developed closer working relationships with new patrons, philanthropic foundations and the federal government.
In late 1960s and early 1970s, student and faculty activists protested against the Vietnam War
and MIT's defense research.
In this period MIT's various departments were researching helicopters, smart bombs and counterinsurgency techniques for the war in Vietnam as well as guidance systems for nuclear missiles.
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 toward environmental and social problems.
MIT ultimately divested itself from the Instrumentation Laboratory and moved all classified research off-campus to the MIT Lincoln Laboratory
facility in 1973 in response to the protests.
The student body, faculty, and administration remained comparatively unpolarized during what was a tumultuous time for many other universities.
Johnson was seen to be highly successful in leading his institution to "greater strength and unity" after these times of turmoil.
However six MIT students were sentenced to prison terms at this time and some former student leaders, such as Michael Albert
and George Katsiaficas
, are still indignant about MIT's role in military research and its suppression of these protests.
's film, November Actions
, records some of these tumultuous events.
In the 1980s, there was more controversy at MIT over its involvement in SDI (space weaponry) and CBW (chemical and biological warfare) research.
More recently, MIT's research for the military has included work on robots, drones and 'battle suits'.
The MIT Media Lab
houses researchers developing novel uses of computer technology and shown here is the 1982 building, designed by I.M. Pei
, with an extension (right of photo) designed by Fumihiko Maki
opened in March 2010
In 2001, inspired by the open source
and open access movements
MIT launched OpenCourseWare
to make the lecture notes, problem sets
, syllabi, exams, and lectures from the great majority of its courses available online for no charge, though without any formal accreditation for coursework completed.
While the cost of supporting and hosting the project is high,
OCW expanded in 2005 to include other universities as a part of the OpenCourseWare Consortium, which currently includes more than 250 academic institutions with content available in at least six languages.
In 2011, MIT announced it would offer formal certification (but not credits or degrees) to online participants completing coursework in its "MITx" program, for a modest fee.
" online platform supporting MITx was initially developed in partnership with Harvard
and its analogous "Harvardx" initiative. The courseware platform is open source, and other universities have already joined and added their own course content.
In March 2009 the MIT faculty adopted an open-access policy
to make its scholarship publicly accessible
MIT has its own police force. Three days after the Boston Marathon bombing
of April 2013, MIT Police
patrol officer Sean Collier
was fatally shot by the suspects Dzhokhar
and Tamerlan Tsarnaev
, setting off a violent manhunt that shut down the campus and much of the Boston metropolitan area for a day.
One week later, Collier's memorial service was attended by more than 10,000 people, in a ceremony hosted by the MIT community with thousands of police officers from the New England region and Canada.
On November 25, 2013, MIT announced the creation of the Collier Medal, to be awarded annually to "an individual or group that embodies the character and qualities that Officer Collier exhibited as a member of the MIT community and in all aspects of his life". The announcement further stated that "Future recipients of the award will include those whose contributions exceed the boundaries of their profession, those who have contributed to building bridges across the community, and those who consistently and selflessly perform acts of kindness".
In September 2017, the school announced the creation of an artificial intelligence
research lab called the MIT-IBM Watson AI Lab. IBM
will spend $240 million over the next decade, and the lab will be staffed by MIT and IBM scientists.
In October 2018 MIT announced that it would open a new Schwarzman College of Computing
dedicated to the study of artificial intelligence, named after lead donor and The Blackstone Group
CEO Stephen Schwarzman
. The focus of the new college is to study not just AI, but interdisciplinary AI education, and how AI can be used in fields as diverse as history and biology. The cost of buildings and new faculty for the new college is expected to be $1 billion upon completion.
The central and eastern sections of MIT's campus as seen from above Massachusetts Avenue and the Charles River
. Left of center is the Great Dome overlooking Killian Court, with Kendall Square
to the upper right.
MIT's Building 10 and Great Dome overlooking Killian Court
The Kendall/MIT MBTA Red Line
station is located on the 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.
In early 2016, MIT presented its updated Kendall Square Initiative to the City of Cambridge, with plans for mixed-use educational, retail, residential, startup incubator, and office space in a dense high-rise transit-oriented development
The MIT Museum
will eventually be moved immediately adjacent to a Kendall Square subway entrance, joining the List Visual Arts Center
on the eastern end of the campus.
Each building at MIT has a number
(possibly preceded by a W
, or NW
) designation, and most have a name as well. 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.
Many of the buildings are connected above ground as well as through an extensive network of tunnels, providing protection from the Cambridge weather as well as a venue for roof and tunnel hacking
MIT's on-campus nuclear reactor
is one of the most powerful university-based nuclear reactors
in the United States. The prominence of the reactor's containment building in a densely populated area has been controversial,
but MIT maintains that it is well-secured.
In 1999 Bill Gates
donated US$20 million to MIT for the construction of a computer laboratory named the "William H. Gates Building", and designed by architect Frank Gehry
. While Microsoft had previously given financial support to the institution, this was the first personal donation received from Gates.
MIT Nano, also known as Building 12, is an interdisciplinary facility for nanoscale research. Its 100,000-square-foot (9,300 m2
and research space, visible through expansive glass facades, is the largest research facility of its kind in the nation.
With a cost of US$400 million, it is also one of the costliest buildings on campus. The facility also provides state-of-the-art nanoimaging capabilities with vibration damped imaging and metrology suites sitting atop a 5-million-pound (2,300,000 kg) slab of concrete underground.
Other notable campus facilities include a pressurized wind tunnel
for testing aerodynamic
research, a towing tank
for testing ship and ocean structure designs, and previously Alcator C-Mod
, which was the largest fusion device operated by any university.
MIT's campus-wide wireless network was completed in the fall of 2005 and consists of nearly 3,000 access points covering 9.4 million square feet (870,000 m2
) of campus.
MIT's School of Architecture
, now the School of Architecture and Planning, was the first formal architecture program in the United States,
and it has a history of commissioning progressive buildings.
The first buildings constructed on the Cambridge campus, completed in 1916, are sometimes called the "Maclaurin buildings" after Institute president Richard Maclaurin
who oversaw their construction. Designed by William Welles Bosworth
, these imposing buildings were built of reinforced concrete
, a first for a non-industrial – much less university – building in the US.
Bosworth's design was influenced by the City Beautiful Movement
of the early 1900s
and features the Pantheon
-esque Great Dome housing the Barker Engineering Library. The Great Dome overlooks Killian Court, where graduation
ceremonies are held each year. The friezes of the limestone-clad buildings around Killian Court are engraved with the names of important scientists and philosophers.[a]
The spacious Building 7 atrium at 77 Massachusetts Avenue
is regarded as the entrance to the Infinite Corridor
and the rest of the campus.
's Baker House (1947), Eero Saarinen
's MIT Chapel
and Kresge Auditorium
(1955), and I.M. Pei
, Dreyfus, Landau, and Wiesner
buildings represent high forms of post-war modernist architecture
More recent buildings like Frank Gehry
's Stata Center
(2004), Steven Holl
's Simmons Hall
(2002), Charles Correa
's Building 46 (2005), and Fumihiko Maki
's Media Lab Extension (2009) stand out among the Boston area's classical architecture and serve as examples of contemporary campus "starchitecture".
These buildings have not always been well received;
in 2010, The Princeton Review
included MIT in a list of twenty schools whose campuses are "tiny, unsightly, or both".
Undergraduates are guaranteed four-year housing in one of MIT's 11 undergraduate dormitories.
Out of the 11 dormitories, 10 are currently active due to one of the residential halls, Burton Conner, undergoing renovation from 2020 to 2022.
Those living on campus can receive support and mentoring from live-in graduate student tutors, resident advisors, and faculty housemasters.
Because housing assignments are made based on the preferences of the students themselves, diverse social atmospheres can be sustained in different living groups; for example, according to the Yale Daily News
staff's The Insider's Guide to the Colleges, 2010
, "The split between East Campus and West Campus is a significant characteristic of MIT. East Campus has gained a reputation as a thriving counterculture."
MIT also has 5 dormitories for single graduate students and 2 apartment buildings on campus for married student families.
MIT has an active Greek and co-op housing
system, including thirty-six fraternities
, and independent living groups (FSILGs).
As of 2015, 98% of all undergraduates lived in MIT-affiliated housing; 54% of the men participated in fraternities and 20% of the women were involved in sororities.
Most FSILGs are located across the river in Back Bay
near where MIT was founded, and there is also a cluster of fraternities on MIT's West Campus that face the Charles River Basin.
After the 1997 alcohol-related death of Scott Krueger, a new pledge at the Phi Gamma Delta
fraternity, MIT required all freshmen to live in the dormitory system starting in 2002.
Because FSILGs had previously housed as many as 300 freshmen off-campus, the new policy could not be implemented until Simmons Hall
opened in that year.
In 2013–2014, MIT abruptly closed and then demolished undergrad dorm Bexley Hall, citing extensive water damage that made repairs infeasible. In 2017, MIT shut down Senior House after a century of service as an undergrad dorm. That year, MIT administrators released data showing just 60% of Senior House residents had graduated in four years. Campus-wide, the four-year graduation rate is 84% (the cumulative graduation rate is significantly higher).
Organization and administration
Lobby 7 (at 77 Massachusetts Avenue) is regarded as the main 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.
The current board consists of 43 members elected to five-year terms,
25 life members who vote until their 75th birthday,
3 elected officers (President, Treasurer, and Secretary),
and 4 ex officio
members (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
The board is chaired by Robert Millard, a co-founder of L-3 Communications Holdings
The Corporation approves the budget, new programs, degrees and faculty appointments, and elects the President to serve as the chief executive officer of the university and preside over the Institute's faculty.
and other financial assets
are managed through a subsidiary called MIT Investment Management Company (MITIMCo).
Valued at $16.4 billion in 2018, MIT's endowment was then the sixth-largest among American colleges and universities
MIT has five schools (Science
, Architecture and Planning
, and Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences
) and one college (Schwarzman College of Computing
), but no schools of law or medicine.[b]
While faculty committees assert substantial control over many areas of MIT's curriculum, research, student life, and administrative affairs,
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.
The current president is L. Rafael Reif
, who formerly served as provost under President Susan Hockfield
, the first woman to hold the post.
MIT students refer to both their majors and classes using numbers or acronyms alone.
Departments and their corresponding majors are numbered in the approximate order of their foundation; for example, Civil and Environmental Engineering is Course 1, while Linguistics and Philosophy is Course 24.
Students majoring in Electrical Engineering and Computer Science (EECS), the most popular department, collectively identify themselves as "Course 6". MIT students use a combination of the department's course number and the number assigned to the class to identify their subjects; for instance, the introductory calculus-based classical mechanics
course is simply "8.01" at MIT.[c]
The four-year, full-time undergraduate program maintains a balance between professional majors and those in the arts and sciences, and has been dubbed "most selective" by U.S. News
admitting few transfer students
and 6.7% of its applicants in the 2017–2018 admissions cycle.
MIT offers 44 undergraduate degrees across its five schools.
In the 2017–2018 academic year, 1,045 bachelor of science degrees (abbreviated "SB
") were granted, the only type of undergraduate degree MIT now awards.[needs update]
In the 2011 fall term, among students who had designated a major, the School of Engineering was the most popular division, enrolling 63% of students in its 19 degree programs, followed by the School of Science (29%), School of Humanities, Arts, & Social Sciences (3.7%), Sloan School of Management (3.3%), and School of Architecture and Planning (2%).[needs update]
The largest undergraduate degree programs were in Electrical Engineering and Computer Science (Course 6–2), Computer Science and Engineering (Course 6–3), Mechanical Engineering (Course 2), Physics (Course 8), and Mathematics (Course 18).
All undergraduates are required to complete a 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, two semesters of calculus, one semester of chemistry, and one semester of biology. There is a Laboratory Requirement, usually satisfied by an appropriate class in a course major. The Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences (HASS) Requirement consists of eight semesters of classes in the humanities, arts, and social sciences, including at least one semester from each division as well as the courses required for a designated concentration in a HASS division. Under the Communication Requirement, two of the HASS classes, plus two of the classes taken in the designated major must be "communication-intensive",
including "substantial instruction and practice in oral presentation".
Finally, all students are required to complete a swimming
non-varsity athletes must also take four quarters of physical education
Most classes rely on a combination of lectures, recitations led by associate professors or graduate students, weekly problem sets ("p-sets"), and periodic quizzes or tests. While the pace and difficulty of MIT coursework has been compared to "drinking from a fire hose",
the freshmen retention rate at MIT is similar to other research universities.
The "pass/no-record" grading system relieves some pressure for first-year undergraduates. For each class taken in the fall term, freshmen transcripts will either report only that the class was passed, or otherwise not have any record of it. In the spring term, passing grades (A, B, C) appear on the transcript while non-passing grades are again not recorded.
(Grading 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 in their freshman year.
) Also, freshmen may choose to join alternative learning communities, such as Experimental Study Group
, or Terrascope.
In 1970, the then-Dean of Institute Relations, Benson R. Snyder, published The Hidden Curriculum,
arguing that education at MIT was often slighted in favor of following a set of unwritten expectations and that graduating with good grades was more often the product of figuring out the system rather than a solid education. The successful student, according to Snyder, was the one who was able to discern which of the formal requirements were to be ignored in favor of which unstated norms. For example, organized student groups had compiled "course bibles
"—collections of problem-set and examination questions and answers for later students to use as references. This sort of gamesmanship, Snyder argued, hindered development of a creative intellect and contributed to student discontent and unrest.
MIT's graduate program has high coexistence with the undergraduate program, and many courses are taken by qualified students at both levels. MIT offers a comprehensive doctoral program with degrees in the humanities, social sciences, and STEM fields
as well as professional degrees.
The Institute offers graduate programs leading to academic degrees such as the Master of Science (which is abbreviated as SM at MIT), various Engineer's Degrees, Doctor of Philosophy (PhD), and Doctor of Science (ScD) and interdisciplinary graduate programs such as the MD-PhD
(with Harvard Medical School
) and a joint program in oceanography
with Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution
Admission to graduate programs is decentralized; applicants apply directly to the department or degree program. More than 90% of doctoral students are supported by fellowships, research assistantships (RAs), or teaching assistantships (TAs).
MIT Bootcamps are intense week-long innovation and leadership programs that challenge participants to develop a venture in a week.
Each Bootcamp centers around a particular topic, specific to an industry, leadership skill set, or emerging technology. Cohorts are organized into small teams who work on an entrepreneurial project together, in addition to individual learning and team coaching. The program includes a series of online seminars with MIT faculty, practitioners, and industry experts, innovation workshops with bootcamp instructors focused on putting the theory participants have learned into practice, coaching sessions, and informal office hours for learners to exchange ideas freely. Bootcampers are tasked with weekly “deliverables,” which are key elements of a business plan, to help guide the group through the decision-making process involved in building an enterprise. The experience culminates in a final pitch session, judged by a panel of experts.
MIT also places among the top five in many overall rankings of universities (see right) and rankings based on students' revealed preferences
For several years, U.S. News & World Report
, the QS World University Rankings
, and the Academic Ranking of World Universities
have ranked MIT's School of Engineering first, as did the 1995 National Research Council
In the same lists, MIT's strongest showings apart from in engineering are in computer science, the natural sciences, business, architecture, economics, linguistics, mathematics, and, to a lesser extent, political science and philosophy.
The university historically pioneered research and training collaborations between academia, industry and government.
In 1946, President Compton, Harvard Business School professor Georges Doriot
, and Massachusetts Investor Trust chairman Merrill Grisswold founded American Research and Development Corporation
, the first American venture-capital
In 1948, Compton established the MIT Industrial Liaison Program.
Throughout the late 1980s and early 1990s, American politicians and business leaders accused MIT and other universities of contributing to a declining economy
taxpayer-funded research and technology to international – especially Japanese
– firms that were competing with struggling American businesses.
On the other hand, MIT's extensive collaboration with the federal government on research projects has led to several MIT leaders serving as presidential scientific advisers
MIT established a Washington Office in 1991 to continue effective lobbying
for research funding and national science policy
The US Justice Department
began an investigation in 1989, and in 1991 filed an antitrust suit
against MIT, the eight Ivy League
colleges, and eleven other institutions for allegedly engaging in price-fixing
during their annual "Overlap Meetings", which were held to prevent bidding wars over promising prospective students from consuming funds for need-based scholarships.
While the Ivy League institutions settled
MIT contested the charges, arguing that the practice was not anti-competitive because it ensured the availability of aid for the greatest number of students.
MIT ultimately prevailed when the Justice Department dropped the case in 1994.
MIT main campus seen from Vassar Street, as The Great Dome is visible in the distance and the Stata Center is at right
The mass-market magazine Technology Review
is published by MIT through a subsidiary company, as is a special edition that also serves as an alumni magazine
The MIT Press
is a major university press
, publishing over 200 books and 30 journals annually, emphasizing science and technology as well as arts, architecture, new media, current events, and social issues.
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 2.9 million printed volumes, 2.4 million microforms, 49,000 print or electronic journal subscriptions, and 670 reference databases. The past decade has seen a trend of increased focus on digital over print resources in the libraries.
Notable collections include the Lewis Music Library with an emphasis on 20th and 21st-century music and electronic music,
the List Visual Arts Center
's rotating exhibitions of contemporary art,
and the Compton Gallery's cross-disciplinary exhibitions.
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.
The MIT Museum
was founded in 1971 and collects, preserves, and exhibits artifacts significant to the culture and history of MIT
. The museum now engages in significant educational outreach programs for the general public, including the annual Cambridge Science Festival
, the first celebration of this kind in the United States. Since 2005, its official mission has been, "to engage the wider community with MIT's science, technology and other areas of scholarship in ways that will best serve the nation and the world in the 21st century".
MIT was elected to the Association of American Universities
in 1934 and is classified
among "R1: Doctoral Universities – Very high research activity";
research expenditures totaled $952 million in 2017.
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
MIT employs approximately 1300 researchers in addition to faculty.
In 2011, MIT faculty and researchers disclosed 632 inventions, were issued 153 patents, earned $85.4 million in cash income, and received $69.6 million in royalties.
Through programs like the Deshpande Center, MIT faculty leverage their research and discoveries into multi-million-dollar commercial ventures.
In electronics, magnetic core memory
, single electron transistors
, and inertial guidance
controls were invented or substantially developed by MIT researchers. Harold Eugene Edgerton
was a pioneer in high speed photography
. Claude E. Shannon
developed much of modern information theory
and discovered the application of Boolean logic
to digital circuit
In the domain of computer science, MIT faculty and researchers made fundamental contributions to cybernetics
, artificial intelligence
, computer languages
, machine learning
, and cryptography
At least nine Turing Award
laureates and seven recipients of the Draper Prize
in engineering have been or are currently associated with MIT.
In 2019, Clarivate Analytics
named 54 members of MIT's faculty to its list of "Highly Cited Researchers". That number places MIT 8th among the world's universities.
Discoveries and innovation
Computer and applied sciences
- Akamai Technologies – Daniel Lewin and Tom Leighton discovered and developed a faster content delivery network and is one of the world's largest distributed computing platforms, responsible for serving between 15 and 30 percent of all web traffic.
- Cryptography – MIT researchers Ron Rivest, Adi Shamir and Leonard Adleman developed one of the first practical public-key cryptosystems and started a company RSA (cryptosystem).
- Digital circuits – Claude Shannon, while a master's degree student at MIT, developed the digital circuit design theory which paved the way for modern computers.
- Electronic ink – developed by Joseph Jacobson at MIT Media Lab.
- Emacs (text editor) – development began during the 1970s at the MIT AI Lab.
- Flight recorder (black box) – Charles Stark Draper developed the black box at MIT's Instrumentation Laboratory. That lab later made the Apollo Moon landings possible through the Apollo Guidance Computer it designed for NASA.
- GNU Project – Richard Stallman formally founded the free software movement in 1983 by launching the GNU Project at MIT.
- Lisp (programming language) – John McCarthy invented lisp in 1958 while he was at MIT. McCarthy published its design in a paper in Communications of the ACM in 1960, entitled "Recursive Functions of Symbolic Expressions and Their Computation by Machine, Part I".
- Lithium-ion battery efficiencies – Yet-Ming Chiang and his group at MIT showed a substantial improvement in the performance of lithium batteries by boosting the material's conductivity by doping it with aluminium, niobium and zirconium.
- MIT OpenCourseWare – the OpenCourseWare movement started in 1999 when the University of Tübingen in Germany published videos of lectures online for its timms initiative (Tübinger Internet Multimedia Server). The OCW movement only took off, however, with the launch of MIT OpenCourseWare and the Open Learning Initiative at Carnegie Mellon University in October 2002. The movement was soon reinforced by the launch of similar projects at Yale, Utah State University, the University of Michigan and the University of California Berkeley.
- Perdix micro-drone – autonomous drone that uses artificial intelligence to swarm with many other Perdix drones.
- Project MAC – groundbreaking research in operating systems, artificial intelligence, and the theory of computation. DARPA funded project.
- Radar – developed at MIT's Radiation Laboratory during World War II.
- SKETCHPAD – invented by Ivan Sutherland at MIT (presented in his PhD thesis). It pioneered the way for human–computer interaction (HCI). Sketchpad is considered to be the ancestor of modern computer-aided design (CAD) programs as well as a major breakthrough in the development of computer graphics in general.
- VisiCalc – first spreadsheet computer program for personal computers, originally released for the Apple II by VisiCorp. MIT alumni Dan Bricklin and Bob Frankston rented time sharing at night on an MIT mainframe computer (that cost $1/hr for use).
- World Wide Web Consortium – founded in 1994 by Tim Berners-Lee, (W3C) is the main international standards organization for the World Wide Web
- X Window System – pioneering architecture-independent system for graphical user interfaces that has been widely used for Unix and Linux systems.
Companies and entrepreneurship
MIT alumni and faculty have founded numerous companies, some of which are shown below:
- Analog Devices, 1965, co-founders Ray Stata, (SB, SM) and Matthew Lorber (SB)
- BlackRock, 1988, co-founder Bennett Golub, (SB, SM, PhD)
- Bose Corporation, 1964, founder Amar Bose (SB, PhD)
- Buzzfeed, 2006, co-founder Jonah Peretti (SM)
- Dropbox, 2007, founders Drew Houston (SB) and Arash Ferdowsi (drop-out)
- E*Trade, 1982, co-founder William A. Porter (MBA)
- Hewlett-Packard, 1939, co-founder William R. Hewlett (SM)
- HuffPost, 2005, co-founder Jonah Peretti (SM)
- Intel, 1968, co-founder Robert Noyce (PhD)
- Koch Industries, 1940, founder Fred C. Koch (SB), sons William (SB, PhD), David (SB)
- Qualcomm, 1985, co-founders Irwin M. Jacobs (SM, PhD) and Andrew Viterbi (SB, SM)
- Raytheon, 1922, co-founder Vannevar Bush (DEng, Professor)
- Renaissance Technologies, 1982, founder James Simons (SB)
- Texas Instruments, 1930, founder Cecil Howard Green (SB, SM)
- TSMC, 1987, founder Morris Chang (SB, SM)
- VMware, 1998, co-founder Diane Greene (SM)
- Zipcar, 2000, co-founder Robin Chase (MBA)
Traditions and student activities
students and alumni wear a large, heavy, distinctive class ring
known as the "Brass Rat
Originally created in 1929, the ring's official name is the "Standard Technology Ring".
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
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", "Institute of Hacks, TomFoolery and Pranks", "It's Hard to Fondle Penguins", and other variations, has occasionally been featured on the ring given its historical prominence in student culture.
MIT has over 500 recognized student activity groups,
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.
Fraternities and sororities provide a base of activities in addition to housing. Approximately 1,000 undergrads, 48% of men and 30% of women, participate in one of several dozen Greek Life men's, women's and co-ed chapters on the campus.
MIT enrolled 4,602 undergraduates and 6,972 graduate students in 2018–2019.
Undergraduate and graduate students came from all 50 US states as well as from 115 foreign countries.
MIT received 20,075 applications for admission to the undergraduate Class of 2024: it admitted 1,457 (7.2 percent).
In 2019, 29,114 applications were received for graduate and advanced degree programs across all departments; 3,670 were admitted (12.6 percent) and 2,312 enrolled (63 percent).
Undergraduate tuition and fees for 2019-2020 was $53,790 for nine months. 59% of students were awarded a need-based MIT scholarship. Graduate tuition and fees for 2019-2020 was also $53,790 for nine months, and summer tuition was $17,800. Financial support for graduate students are provided in large part by individual departments. They include fellowships, traineeships, teaching and research assistantships, and loans.
The annual increase in expenses had led to a student tradition (dating back to the 1960s) of tongue-in-cheek "tuition riots".
MIT has been nominally co-educational
since admitting Ellen Swallow Richards
in 1870. Richards also became the first female member of MIT's faculty, specializing in sanitary chemistry
Female students remained a small minority prior to the completion of the first wing of a women's dormitory, McCormick Hall
, in 1963.
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.
As of 2009, women outnumbered men in Biology, Brain & Cognitive Sciences, Architecture, Urban Planning, and Biological Engineering.
Faculty and staff
As of 2013, MIT had 1,030 faculty
Faculty are responsible for lecturing classes, for advising both graduate and undergraduate students, and for sitting on academic committees, as well as for conducting original research. Between 1964 and 2009 a total of seventeen faculty and staff members affiliated with MIT won Nobel Prizes
(thirteen of them in the latter 25 years).
As of October 2020, 37 MIT faculty members
, past or present, have won Nobel Prizes, the majority in Economics
As of 2017, MIT was the second-largest employer in the city of Cambridge.
Based on feedback from employees, MIT was ranked #7 as a place to work, among US colleges and universities as of March 2013.
Surveys cited a "smart", "creative", "friendly" environment, noting that the work-life balance
tilts towards a "strong work ethic" but complaining about "low pay" compared to an industry position.
Alumni in United States politics and public service include former Chairman of the Federal Reserve Ben Bernanke
, former MA-1
Representative John Olver
, former CA-13
Representative Pete Stark
, Representative Thomas Massie
, Senator Alex Padilla
, former National Economic Council
chairman Lawrence H. Summers
and former Council of Economic Advisors
chairman Christina Romer
. MIT alumni in international politics include Foreign Affairs Minister of Iran Ali Akbar Salehi
, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu
, President of Colombia Virgilio Barco Vargas
, President of the European Central Bank Mario Draghi
, former Governor of the Reserve Bank of India Raghuram Rajan
, former British Foreign Minister David Miliband
, former Greek Prime Minister Lucas Papademos
, former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan
, former Iraqi Deputy Prime Minister Ahmed Chalabi
, former Minister of Education and Culture of The Republic of Indonesia Yahya Muhaimin
, former Jordanian Minister of Education, Higher Education and Scientific Research and former Jordanian Minister of Energy and Mineral Resources Khaled Toukan
. Alumni in sports have included Olympic fencing champion Johan Harmenberg
MIT alumni founded or co-founded many notable companies, such as Intel
, McDonnell Douglas
, Texas Instruments
, Koch Industries
, Rockwell International
, 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 collectively generate global revenues of about $1.9 trillion (£1.2 trillion) a year". If the companies founded by MIT alumni were a country, they would have the 11th-highest GDP of any country in the world.
MIT alumni have led
prominent institutions of higher education, including the University of California
system, Harvard University
, the New York Institute of Technology
, Johns Hopkins University
, Carnegie Mellon University
, Tufts University
, Rochester Institute of Technology
, Rhode Island School of Design (RISD)
, UC Berkeley College of Environmental Design
, the New Jersey Institute of Technology
, Northeastern University
, Tel Aviv University
, Lahore University of Management Sciences
, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
, Tecnológico de Monterrey
, Purdue University
, Virginia Polytechnic Institute
, and Quaid-e-Azam University
. Berklee College of Music
, the largest independent college of contemporary music in the world, was founded and led by MIT alumnus Lawrence Berk
for more than three decades.
Former UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan
, SM 1972 (MIT Sloan School of Management)
Former Federal Reserve Bank chairman Ben Bernanke
, PhD 1979 (MIT Department of Economics)
Economics Nobel laureate Esther Duflo
, PhD 1999 (MIT Department of Economics), also an MIT professor
Astronaut and USAF Colonel Michael Fincke
, SB 1989 (MIT Department of Aeronautics and Astronautics), SB 1989 (MIT Department of Earth, Atmospheric and Planetary Sciences)
Economics Nobel laureate Paul Krugman
, PhD 1977 (MIT Department of Economics)
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu
, SB 1975 (MIT Architecture), SM 1976 (MIT Sloan School of Management)
Architect I. M. Pei
, BArch 1940 (MIT Architecture)
, PhD 1940 (MIT Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science)
" guitarist Tom Scholz
, SB 1969, SM 1970 (MIT Department of Mechanical Engineering)
Astronaut and engineer Mike Massimino
, PhD 1992 (MIT Department of Mechanical Engineering)
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