Massachusetts Institute of Technology

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MIT is easily one of the most selective colleges in the world; cracking the code to get into this renowned college is a dream for many ambitious students. With an acceptance rate hovering around 4%, it can feel like navigating a maze blindfolded. 

To get into MIT, you’ll need near-perfect grades and SAT or ACT scores, solid extracurricular activity involvement demonstrating a commitment to community and leadership, and essays that help you stand out from other applicants. 

This doesn’t sound like a walk in the park, but fear not, future innovators. This post will explore the MIT admissions process in detail, examining exactly what it is that MIT is looking for in students and providing actionable steps to stand out from the crowd. With the right insights, proper planning, and preparation, you can boost your chances of success.

What is MIT known for?

The Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), located in Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA, is a world-renowned leader in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education. The institution is known for its cutting-edge research in robotics, nanotechnology, and biotechnology.

It is committed to harnessing science and technology to solve some of the world’s most demanding problems. In 2021 alone, MIT’s most dominant research stories included:

  • A promising novel approach to cancer immunotherapy.
  • The confirmation of a 50-year-old theorem.
  • A critical fusion breakthrough.

Two MIT professors were also at the forefront of assessing COVID-19 transmission risk, proposing a novel method for calculating the dangers of exposure to the virus. 

The university has produced numerous successful entrepreneurs and innovators, including the co-founders of Dropbox, 3Com, and Bose Corporation

The institution has five academic schools: 

  1. The School of Engineering
  2. The School of Science
  3. The MIT Sloan School of Management
  4. The School of Architecture and Planning
  5. The School of Humanities, Arts, and Social Science

In addition to MIT’s renowned engineering and physical sciences programs, other renowned curriculum areas include disciplines such as economics, political science, urban studies, linguistics, and philosophy. These programs offer students a diverse range of academic opportunities and contribute to the university’s reputation for excellence across multiple disciplines.

How hard is it to get into MIT?

As one of the most prestigious schools in the world, it’s no surprise MIT is highly selective. The institute receives thousands of applications yearly, and only a few students earn seats in an upcoming class. 

Currently, MIT’s acceptance rate is 4.8%, which means it only accepts about five applicants for every 100 people who apply. 

A 4.8% acceptance rate indicates that MIT is highly competitive; hence, you must have excellent grades, compelling essays and letters of recommendation to be eligible.

What is MIT looking for in students?

While exceptional grades and SAT and ACT test scores are essential, the MIT admissions office selection process is driven by the match between the applicant and the MIT community.

Below are the critical elements to being a compelling match for MIT: 

Belief in MIT’s mission and collaborative approach

MIT believes in making the world better and knows there are many ways to do so. 

It’s not just looking for super-smart applicants; it wants meaningful evidence that an applicant is driven to uplift others and improve lives using a cooperative mindset. 

The Institute exemplifies this with many problem-based interdisciplinary group projects it prioritises on campus.

Proactive and bold engagement

Opportunities are abundant at MIT (research projects, seed money, mentorship, and exciting lectures), but they aren’t simply handed to students on a platter. 

MIT is looking for participants who can take the initiative to seize opportunities rather than wait for them. 

Furthermore, MIT wants to admit people who are not only planning to succeed but aren’t afraid to fail. When people take risks, they learn resilience—because risk leads to failure as often as success.

Applied creativity and intellectual curiosity

Innovation is risky and messy, but MIT believes that innovation is often built on trial and error and that getting your hands dirty and trying something new is usually the best way to attain success. 

The institution looks to accept students who have the potential to apply theoretical knowledge to real-world problems (you shouldn’t just be someone who enjoys thinking; you should also enjoy doing it).

Values community and balance

MIT seeks to create a group of thoughtful world-changers from various backgrounds and worldviews who sincerely care about uplifting and supporting one another. 

Though the school is renowned for its rigorous workload, MIT is NOT all about work. To be successful at MIT, you must prioritise some measure of downtime. Therefore, they like to see that you’ve also prioritised some downtime in high school. 

The essay question on their application (Tell us about something you do simply for pleasure) is not a trick question, so prepare to answer it honestly!

MIT deadlines and requirements

University students laughing and working on a desk

MIT’s deadline for most application requirements is January 4, but if you are applying for Early Action (EA), ensure you submit the materials listed above by November 1.

Getting started with MIT’s application is simple, but fulfilling deadlines is critical to your application’s success. 

MIT’s application deadlines vary slightly from year to year but usually occur around the same time in the academic calendar. Here are some essential dates to note during your application process:

Application StepDeadline
Early action application deadlineNovember 1
Early action deadline to take SAT/ACTNovember testing date
Regular action deadline to take SAT/ACTDecember testing date
Early action decisions releasedMid-December
Regular action application deadlineJanuary 4
Financial aid deadlineFebruary 15
February Updates & Notes form (+ midyear grades)Mid-February
Regular action decisions releasedMid-March
Deadline to inform MIT of enrollment decisionMay 1

Due to their high selectivity, MIT’s admission requirements are challenging to meet. To increase your chances of admission, aim for an SAT score of about 1550 or an ACT score of around 35. 

Maintain a GPA of 4.17 or higher to demonstrate academic accomplishment. Unlike several other schools you may apply to, MIT doesn’t accept the Common Application or the Coalition Application. 

Getting admitted to MIT entails providing the following materials on the MIT application portal: 

  • Academic transcripts
  • Field of study
  • Application essays  
  • Secondary School Report, including two letters of recommendation
  • Self-reported coursework form 
  • Extra curriculum activities 
  • $75 MIT application fee (both international and domestic applicants are eligible for fee waivers).
  • Creative portfolio (optional)

Please note that additional language competency criteria exist for non-native English speakers and for some international students.

Before submitting your application, ensure you’ve met the MIT requirements. Admissions committees will only consider completed applications! 

Can you apply to MIT early?

MIT allows students to apply early action. Early Action applications are due in November, meaning you will receive an admissions decision earlier than those applying for Regular Action.

Applying early has advantages. 

According to MIT admissions statistics for the Class of 2026, students who applied early had a fairly significant advantage over applicants who applied at the regular deadline (a 4.7% admission acceptance rate for early action applicants over a 2.2% acceptance rate for regular action applicants plus those whose early action applications were deferred).

What GPA is needed to get into MIT?

MIT doesn’t specify a minimum GPA requirement or release the average GPA of admitted applicants. However, due to the calibre of admitted students at MIT, you should aim for a GPA of 3.5 or above. 

Our recommendation is even higher, at 4.17. You should look to get mainly As, with a few Bs on your transcript.

Also, note that MIT will examine your course load to determine whether you are challenging yourself or coasting on easy classes. 

You should take the most stringent classes your school offers, whether honours, AP, or IB courses, or consider taking courses at a local community college to demonstrate your willingness and ability to succeed academically.

What test scores are needed to get into MIT?

While MIT has no strict cut-off for standardised test scores, it emphasises a holistic review. The SAT or ACT is necessary, focusing on achieving scores within the middle 50% range (typically 1510 and 1580 on a 1600 SAT scale and 34-36 for ACT).

Although MIT stresses that the standardised tests are not the only factor, or even the most critical factor,” when deciding whether you will be admitted, preparing for the SAT or ACT and performing your best is critical to the strength of your application. 

You can use study apps to boost your study productivity. 

Aim to get as close to a perfect score as possible to ensure you’re in an excellent position to get in.

Are TOEFL scores needed to get into MIT?

Non-native English speakers are strongly encouraged to submit scores from an English proficiency exam so that MIT may consider that information alongside the SAT or ACT score. The minimum and recommended TOEFL scores are 90 and 100, respectively.

Strategies you need to increase your chances of getting into MIT 

Now, let’s get to the strategies that could set you apart.

  • Doing extracurricular activities outside of school will make your application stand out
  • Demonstrate exceptional aptitude in maths, science, and technology courses. Taking Advanced Placement or International Baccalaureate courses, which include subjects like history, economics, geography, and English literature, and performing well in them can also demonstrate your academic strength and commitment to learning
  • Dive into independent research projects or participate in science fairs or essay competitions.
  • Apply early 
  • Writing a high-quality essay (doing extra courses like an online research programme can help improve this)
  • Recommendation letters
  • Get a high GPA
  • Build a robust application. 
  • Consider partnering with a college admissions counsellor who can provide personalised advice and support throughout the application process.

Steps for applying to MIT

To start your MIT application, you need to follow seven main steps. Below are the steps, numbered in the order you should complete them: 

Step 1: Set up your MyMIT Account (early September)

The first step to applying to MIT is straightforward. Use the MIT application portal to create a MyMIT account and start familiarising yourself with the platform. Creating an account should take only a few minutes. 

You can work on your application in multiple sessions, editing it as often as you wish. You are responsible for ensuring the institute receives all of the required pieces of your application. 

Once your account is created, you can track various pieces of your submitted application, join the MIT mailing list, monitor your financial aid forms, and get your interviewer’s name and contact information.

Step 2: Complete the online application (part one)

The next step is to complete your application, which must be submitted by November 1 if you’re applying for Early Action or by January 1 if you’re applying for Regular Action.

Applying through Early Action has no advantages or disadvantages. The MIT Early Action program is nonbinding and nonrestrictive. 

While this part of the application process mainly involves picking options from drop-down boxes and filling in blanks, remember there are also a few short answer questions. 

For instance, you’ll be asked to answer questions about how your cultural experiences have affected your goals. 

You will also be required to provide information about your parents/guardians and intended field of study (doesn’t affect admission).

After you’ve finished and reviewed each section, you can submit them. After submission, you’ll be prompted to pay the $75 MIT application fee or apply for a waiver if needed.

Step 3: Complete the online application (part two)

In step 3, MIT wants to learn about you as a person, not just as a student, so you’ll get to respond to MIT’s short response essay questions. The questions are designed to help them get to know you. 

This is the place in the application where they look for your voice—what drives you and what’s important to you, so do not be scared to express yourself. 

Think of it as an opportunity to sell yourself and shine. However, at the same time, be honest, open, and authentic. 

This step requires you to provide information about your academic background by subject area and self-report all your extracurricular activities, jobs, awards, and exam results. 

Mention advanced classes you have taken or are currently taking, and avoid abbreviations. If there aren’t enough spaces for all the courses you have taken, start with your current classes and work backward. 

Note that the information here does not replace your official high school transcript.

Step 4: Letters of recommendation

You’ll need to arrange two letters of recommendation, one from a math or science teacher and the other from a humanities/social science/language teacher. 

You should ask teachers who know you well and have taught you in an academic class in high school.

Step 5: Submit your secondary/high school report and standardised test scores

MIT requires SAT or ACT scores from all applicants. They mention that you shouldn’t stress too much about your scores because they admit people, not numbers. 

Nevertheless, tests are important, and you should prepare for them as best you can. 

If an applicant retakes the SAT, ACT, or SAT Subject Tests, the highest score achieved in each section will be considered. The testing agency must officially submit all scores. 

Your school counsellor must also complete the SSR form and submit it to MIT along with your transcript. 

Ensure you give your school counsellor access to this form early so they have ample time to write thoughtfully about your match with MIT.

Step 6: Set up and complete an interview

Once you complete and submit the application, you’ll be contacted by an Educational Counselor (EC), a network of over 5,000 MIT graduates worldwide who volunteer to interview applicants in their home area. 

ECs will typically contact you at the email address you provided on your application, so please monitor your inbox and respond promptly.

You and your EC will either meet in person or virtually. 

Most interviews last about an hour, although they can range from 30 minutes to 90 minutes. 

The interview is not a quiz. Think of it as a pleasant conversation and a chance to chat with someone who has attended MIT. 

Most early action interviews occur in November, and most regular action interviews occur in January. 

Getting an interview is excellent. However, MIT mentions that they can only offer some applicants an interview due to limited capacity. 

If they cannot provide one, your interview will be waived, which will not adversely affect your application.

If you worry about what to say in your interview, read our article How to Prepare for a University Interview for some insight.

Step 7: (Optional) Submit supplementary materials

While not required, MIT admissions officials welcome supplementary materials that showcase your talents and achievements outside of academics. 

Many students participate in exciting activities beyond the classroom, and MIT is eager to learn more about these pursuits.

Common examples of additional materials include:

  • Fine arts or music portfolios: Ideal for students with artistic or musical talents.
  • Research experience documentation: Letters of evaluation from research mentors or summaries of your research projects can strengthen your application.

Need help with your research skills? Our Online Research Programme provides personalised one-on-one and group tutoring sessions with distinguished academics hailing from prestigious institutions like the University of Oxford, Cambridge University, or Ivy League universities. Through a blend of subject-specific study and guidance in academic research project development, you’ll refine the essential skills crucial for thriving in higher education.

  • Varsity sports information: If you intend to compete at the varsity level for MIT, contact the relevant coach directly (more information is available at mitathletics.com).

For detailed instructions on submitting portfolios, research materials, or athletic credentials, visit the MIT Admissions website.

Furthermore, all applicants must submit a February Updates and Notes Form, which will be available on your MyMIT account in January. 

The form is used to update MIT with your grades and on anything important since you submitted your application.

Takeaway: Utilise effective strategies to gain admission to MIT

While the admission acceptance rate of MIT is highly competitive, that doesn’t mean that potential MIT students should give up hope of gaining a seat in an upcoming class.

Instead of fretting, you should focus on preparing well in advance and doing everything you can to ensure you stand out for the right reasons. 

Understanding what MIT is looking for and implementing strategic approaches can increase your chances of standing out in the competitive pool of applicants.

As you navigate this exciting phase, remember that Immerse Education supports you. Our tailored programs and expert guidance are designed to empower ambitious participants like you to reach for the stars.

Ready to take the first step towards your MIT dream?

Consider joining a pre-university summer programme to gain invaluable academic experiences, collaborate with peers, and receive mentorship from experienced educators to stand out in the competitive pool of applicants.If you are interested in participating in a summer programme in Boston, register your interest here and start your journey towards academic excellence.

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