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MIT Facts provides an annual overview of the breadth of the Institute’s academics, activities, and culture.

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First-year admission: Class of 2025

  • 33,240 applicants
  • 1,365 (4.1%) admits

Undergraduate costs, 2021–2022

  • Tuition & fees: $55,510 (9 months)
  • Housing & meals: $18,100
  • Books & personal expenses: $3,042

Research

  • 60+ research centers, labs, and programs
  • ~800 companies collaborating on faculty and student research

Quintessential MIT

  • Motto: Mens et manus
  • Colors: Cardinal red and silver gray
  • Mascot: Tim the Beaver

Selected awards and honors

  • 98 Nobel Laureates
  • 79 MacArthur Fellows
  • 59 National Medal of Science winners
  • 30 National Medal of Technology and Innovation winners

Enrollment

  • 11,934 students
  • 4,638 undergraduates
    48% women, 56% US minority groups
  • 7,296 graduate students
    38% women, 21% US minority groups

Majors & minors

  • 56 undergraduate majors
  • 58 undergraduate minors
  • 50 departments and programs offering graduate degrees
  • 1 pirate certificate

Campus

  • 168 acres (0.68 km2) in Cambridge, Massachusetts
  • 19 student residence halls on campus
  • 26 acres (0.11 km2) of playing fields
  • 40+ gardens and green spaces
  • 60+ public works of art

Technology licensing

  • 24 companies formed using
    MIT intellectual property
  • 730 invention disclosures
    (including 98 from Lincoln Laboratory)
  • 358 new US patents filed
  • 435 US patents issued

Undergraduate financial aid, 2020–2021

  • 38% of students attended tuition-free
  • 57% of students were awarded a need-based MIT scholarship
  • 82% of Class of 2021 graduated with no student loan debt

Arts at MIT

60+ music, theater, visual arts, writing, and dance groups

60+ public works of art on campus

12 museums and galleries on campus

>50% incoming first-year students with training in the arts

>50% undergraduates enroll in arts courses each year

Origins

1861: Founded in Boston

1916: Moved to Cambridge

Every fall, an unusually colorful and delicate scene unfolds on Kresge Lawn: the Great Glass Pumpkin Patch—an annual fundraiser for the W. David Kingery Ceramics and Glass Lab, part of the Department of Materials Science and Engineering. Founded in 1986, the MIT Glass Lab teaches community members the art of glassblowing. Students and instructors create a garden of pumpkins and squashes in every size and shade, as well as thousands of other works of art each year.

Photo of dozens of glass pumpkins, front and center is a purple/blue/multi-colored pumpkin

Random Hall’s longest continuous resident is…The Milk. The Milk celebrates its 28th birthday this year (October 20th), having been brought home by another Random resident in 1994. Left in the back of the refrigerator ever since, it’s been a wholesome part of the dorm culture. The Milk even applied to MIT but, sadly, its application curdled.

Photo of a container with a yellow cone party hat, surrounded by half a dozen containers of other varieties of milk, including almond, soy, coconut, and skyr

Andy Warhol’s iconic Campbell’s Soup Cans can trace its lineage back to MIT.

John Dorrance (Class of 1895) went on to get his doctorate, and applied his knowledge in several famous restaurants in Paris. The chemist later convinced his uncle—the general manager of Joseph Campbell & Co.—to hire him.

Under the unusual terms of his employment (he paid for his own lab equipment and took only a nominal salary), Dorrance created a formula to remove water from soup, cutting the product’s shipping and retail costs and revolutionizing the company. Thus condensed soup was born!

Within 14 years, his can-do attitude helped him become the company’s president.

The infamous Baker House Piano Drop got its start in 1972, following a debate about what to do with a broken piano. While the student handbook forbade throwing things out of windows, Charlie Bruno ’74 pointed out a loophole: The handbook said nothing about throwing things off dormitory roofs. After a little prep work, a tradition was born.

Scan of a black and white photo of students raising a piano about to drop over the edge of the building

“Click and Clack, the Tappet Brothers,” co-hosts of National Public Radio’s popular weekly show Car Talk were the 1999 Commencement speakers. Why would MIT invite the owners of a local auto repair shop to address graduates and their families? Because Click and Clack are MIT graduates themselves!

Cambridge brothers Tom (1958) and Ray Magliozzi (1972) parlayed their education and infectious humor into a variety of successful ventures, including television and movie roles, and most famously, their Peabody Award–winning radio program, proving that an MIT degree can lead to the most surprising careers.

Photo of Tom and Ray in front of a fake line chart held up by then MIT President Charles M. Vest

In 1968, during a tumultuous period in US political and racial history, Black students at MIT formed the MIT Black Students’ Union (BSU). The BSU was created with two goals in mind: to support each other and to bring more Black students to the Institute. At that time, Black students made up less than 1% of each 1,000-member undergraduate class.

scan of black and white photo with over half a dozen students both men and women, wearing coats in the foreground with the 77 Mass Ave MIT entrance in the background.

In April 2012, MIT’s Green Building was transformed into a monumental Tetris video game canvas. Appearing mysteriously one Friday evening, the windows lit up in a colorful display of the popular puzzle. Players used a console erected in the courtyard to move, rotate, and drop blocks. The 295-foot-tall building, with its gridded façade of windows, proved the ideal vehicle for the Tetris game hack, an idea that took approximately four-and-a-half years to execute.

Closeup photo of 5 floors of the Green Building with varying colors in each window representing tetris shapes

The MIT Guild of Bellringers helps maintain and ring the eight bells of Boston’s historic Old North Church. The bells were originally cast in 1744 and most recently restored in 1975. The Bellringers memorize complicated “change ringing” arrangements—a 17-century English style of pulling full-circle church bells in a repertoire of repeating patterns, which might seem more mathematical than musical (perhaps part of the appeal for our MIT crew)!

Photo of one woman and three men wearing masks pulling on ropes inside a brick structure with a ground window opened in the background

A tarnished bronze plaque outside Room 6-120 commemorates George Eastman, founder of Eastman Kodak Company. In 1912, he made a $2.5 million donation to fund the construction of the main academic complex as MIT planned its move from Boston to Cambridge—on the condition that his identity be kept secret.

“Mr. Smith,” as he had become known, was even the subject of national speculation. The Tech once reported that two New York millionaires met one night for dinner, each trying to get the other to admit that he was “Mr. Smith.” It wasn’t until 1920 that Eastman gave President Maclaurin permission to reveal his true identity.

The shine on Eastman’s nose is produced by students who rub it for good luck.

George Eastman profile relief on the walls of MIT

The quirkiness and humor of the MIT community shows itself in unusual ways.

It is tradition, a very important rule, and a sign of respect to sign emails to the Burton-Conner dorm-wide social mailing list with the color of the underwear you are wearing.” This has led to the collection of some very colorful data.

Two hand drawn pie charts: Left pie chart illustrating the variety of underwear patterns worn by women and right pie chart illustrating underwear patterns worn by men

One of conceptual artist Sol LeWitt’s (1928–2007) last public works can be found on the first-floor atrium of Building 6C. Bars of Color Within Squares is a vibrant 5,500-square-foot terrazzo floor installation consisting of 15 squares of colorful geometric patterns enclosed in bands of white and gray. The U-shaped floor is visible from many viewpoints, in particular from a series of walkways on the upper floors that connect three buildings within the Physics Department complex.

photo of art installation

On May 6, 1970, rock band and countercultural icon, the Grateful Dead played an impromptu set in the rain on the steps of the Student Center, a day before their planned appearance at the DuPont Gymnasium. At the main event, the band played 43 songs. Tickets went for $3.00 in advance, $3.50 at the door.

Black and white photo of Grateful Dead perform in front of the MIT Stratton Student Center with crowds standing on all around them including on the steps.

In 2006, as part of a hack against the California Institute of Technology, the fictitious moving company Howe & Ser absconded with Caltech’s Fleming House cannon. By the time it arrived at MIT, it sported a giant Brass Rat. Manufactured in the Edgerton Center student machine shop, the ring weighed 21 pounds and was precision-machined in three parts from solid aluminum, then gold-plated, and finally secured to the cannon with four set screws.

Before the cannon was returned to Pasadena, the Brass Rat was removed and is now part of the MIT Museum’s permanent collection.

Photo of a giant brass rat being worn like the cannon is a finger, with MIT buildings in the background

MIT’s oldest and largest newspaper, The Tech, was and is run by students. It launched on November 16, 1881, with a price of 15¢ per issue or $2 for an annual subscription. The Tech is still going strong today, with an all-volunteer staff of student writers, editors, photographers, and business managers. Financially independent from MIT, its content is free from the oversight of the Institute’s faculty or administration. Today’s editions can be read in print or online—a possibility its founders surely never imagined.

scan of the first page of The Tech newspaper

You can test the law of gravity under Newton’s apple tree at MIT. The President’s Garden, off the Infinite Corridor, is home to a direct descendant of the famous tree under which Isaac Newton sat when he is said to have first conceived of the theory of gravity. The tree was given to MIT by Ed Vetter (Class of 1942).

Photo of a green apple still attached to the tree

The death mask of MIT president Richard C. Maclaurin, created so that his portrait could be painted, rests at the MIT Museum. Maclaurin oversaw the Institute’s complex, exhausting move from Boston to Cambridge in 1916. With construction still underway in 1919, a special $4 million challenge grant was made if Maclaurin could raise matching funds. He campaigned tirelessly to raise the required amount but wore himself out and eventually contracted a fatal case of pneumonia. He died in office at age 49 in 1920.

Photo of a white stone sculpture of a man's head, yellowed with age, lying face up on a black background.

Thank Samuel Prescott (and your grandma) for that linguini with clam sauce. Prescott (Class of 1894) an MIT biology professor and, later, dean of science helped the William Underwood Company solve the problem of swelling and exploding can of clams. Prescott developed tables of the precise time and temperature required to kill bacteria for clams and many other canned foods, making canned food safer and advancing the field of food technology.

scan of black and white photo of two men sitting down at a table in discussion

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, MIT students took “going virtual” all the way, buiding a replica of the campus in Minecraft: the Minecraft Institvte of Technology.

MIT’s radio station, WMBR, began as a campus-only AM broadcast station called WMIT. It aired for the first time on November 25, 1946, from the basement of Ware dormitory on 800 kHz. In the 1950s, to reach the fraternities located in Boston, the station applied for a Federal Communications Commission license. Since WMIT was already taken, it chose WTBS (Technology Broadcasting System) as its call letters. In the late 1970s, the station reached a complex deal with Ted Turner to give up their call letters that netted them a $50,000 donation. In the end, WTBS became the mark of the Turner Broadcast System empire and on November 10, 1979, Walker Memorial Basement Radio (WMBR) signed on.

A merger of MIT and Harvard was proposed four times during the Institute’s first 50 years. The third attempt coincided with MIT’s inaugural alumni reunion in 1904, and was actively opposed by the Institute’s graduates.

scan of black and white photo of men marching, two men holding a banner "Spirit of '76 Independence".

In 1888, Robert R. Taylor (Class of 1892), became the first black student enrolled at MIT. After graduation, he became the first accredited black architect and, over the course of his career, designed buildings for several historically black colleges and universities, including Tuskegee University.

scan of black and white photo of youthful black man with mustache in a suit with collar

The first female student at MIT, Ellen Swallow Richards, was admitted in 1870 as a special student in chemistry, under the condition of “it being understood that her admission did not establish a precedent for the general admission of females.” Among her many accomplishments, she petitioned to establish the Women’s Laboratory at MIT for the instruction of women in chemistry, where she served as instructor of chemistry and mineralogy until the lab’s eventual closing. She also led the Rumford Kitchen, which demonstrated the application of principles of chemistry to the science of cooking, at the 1893 World’s Fair in Chicago; established the program that pioneered school lunches for children; was a founder of what would later become the American Association of University Women; and is responsible for introducing the term “ecology” into the English language.

scan of black and white photo of a woman in striped victorian dress, standing next to a pillar shaped pedestal with a book on top.