How to get into MIT: Breaking down Acceptance Rates and Admissions Requirements

30 JUL 2021

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) is one of the most prestigious private universities in the world. Acceptance into MIT is exceptionally challenging. Students with dreams of attending this university must compete with thousands of other brilliant students for a tiny number of admissions seats. Find out how to stand out from the competition and get into MIT.

Table of Contents

  • MIT Acceptance Rates
  • MIT Overview
  • MIT Rankings
  • MIT Admissions Requirements
  • MIT Standardized Testing Requirements
  • How hard is it to get into MIT?
  • What you need to apply to MIT?
  • MIT Transfer Applications
  • How to get into MIT Graduate School
  • How to stand out in your MIT application
  • FAQs about MIT Admissions

MIT Acceptance Rates

In recent years, the admissions process has gotten even more competitive. MIT announced a 66% increase in applications for the class of 2025 and an acceptance rate of only 4%. They only extended offers to about 1,340 of the 33,240 applicants.

With such a low acceptance rate, the chances of getting into MIT seem nearly impossible. But, students are still getting in! What are they doing to distinguish themselves from the rest of the applicants? What does it take to get into MIT?

Before we get into the MIT admissions details, the application process, and how to make your application stand out from the rest, let’s take a quick look at MIT’s history and some of their most notable statistics.

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MIT Overview

history of mit

Founded in 1861 during the Industrial Revolution, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s (MIT) original purpose was to help drive the U.S. industry forward.

Located in Cambridge, Massachusetts, MIT utilizes education, research, and innovation, improving systems and processes and addressing some of the world’s most critical issues and challenges. Each year, the school accepts an elite group of talented and forward-thinking students from across the globe. This pool of exceptional inventors and creators contribute to MIT’s mission, creating jobs, developing new technologies, and launching new industries.

MIT’s five schools specialize in scientific and technological research. They also boast strong economics, psychology, biology, chemistry, physics, and mathematics programs. MIT is best known for its engineering and physical sciences programs and they encourage undergraduates to pursue original research.

The mission of MIT is to advance knowledge and educate students in science, technology, and other areas of scholarship that will best serve the nation and the world in the 21st century.

- MIT Mission Statement

MIT Rankings

U.S. News & World Report ranked Massachusetts Institute of Technology #4 in their Best Colleges 2021 edition. MIT also ranked #1 in the 2021-2022 QS World University Rankings for the 10th year in a row. 

MIT ranks #1 in the following subject areas:

  • Architecture
  • Chemistry
  • Computer Science and Information Systems
  • Chemical Engineering
  • Civil and Structural Engineering
  • Economics and Econometrics
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering; Mechanical, Aeronautical and Manufacturing Engineering
  • Linguistics
  • Mathematics
  • Physics and Astronomy
  • Statistics and Operational Research

Most popular majors at MIT:

  • Computer Science
  • Mechanical Engineering
  • Mathematics, General
  • Physics, General
  • Electrical and Electronics Engineering

What are MIT’s Admissions Requirements?

mit admissions requirements

MIT takes a holistic approach when they evaluate applicants. They assess candidates based on their test scores, grades, extracurricular activities, letters of recommendation, essay responses, an interview, and an optional creative portfolio.

Does MIT use superscoring?

Yes, MIT uses superscoring. Students can take the same standardized test multiple times, and MIT will consider their highest score in each section.

Does MIT accept AP credit?

MIT grants credit for a small number of AP exams and also offers students opportunities to test out of undergraduate classes if they completed college-level study while in high school through Advanced Standing Exams. Additionally, they grant placement and credit for many international exams, including A-Levels, Cambridge Pre-U, International Baccalaureate, French Baccalauréat, and Abitur.

MIT Admissions Statistics

A few years ago, MIT decided to post its own admissions statistics. While these numbers give a broad picture of what it takes to get into MIT, they do not tell the whole story. MIT emphasizes they take a holistic approach to their admissions process. They look at test scores and applications as a whole to determine if a candidate matches the MIT mission and culture.

MIT Class of 2024 Admissions Statistics
AppliedAdmittedAcceptance Rate
General Applications20,0751,4577.3%
US Citizens & Permanent Residents15,9261,3158.3%
International Students4,1491423.4%

MIT Standardized Testing Requirements

mit sat act requirements

MIT SAT Requirements*

The average SAT score for MIT applicants is between 1520 - 1580.

Does MIT require the SAT essay?

While MIT values clear, concise writing and incorporates it into all their undergraduate programs, they do not require students to complete the ACT writing or SAT optional essays.

MIT SAT subject tests

MIT SAT Subject Tests are no longer part of their admissions requirements. This change took place starting with the 2020-2021 admissions cycle and will continue indefinitely. MIT hopes that this adjustment will allow students to focus on their areas of interest and how those areas will contribute to their future academic and career success.

MIT ACT Requirements*

The average ACT score for MIT applicants is between 34 - 36.

Does MIT require the ACT writing section?

MIT places a high value on writing through all their academic programs but does not require students to complete the ACT writing section of the test. 

*MIT suspended the SAT/ACT testing requirement for the 2021-2022 application cycle due to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Score range of admitted students (25th and 75th percentile)
TestScore Range
SAT Math[790, 800]
SAT ERW[730, 780]
ACT Math[35, 36]
ACT Reading[34, 36]
ACT English[35, 36]
ACT Science[34, 36]
ACT Composite[35, 36]

English Proficiency Exam Requirements

Since MIT teaches all its programs in English, it’s strongly recommended that non-native English speakers report their English proficiency exam results. The following are the minimum requirements for each testing option.

English Language Proficiency Requirements
TestMinimum ScoreRecommended Score
Pearson Test of English (PTE) Academic6570
Cambridge English Qualifications (C1 Advanced or C2 Proficiency)185190
Duolingo English Test (DET)120125

How hard is it to get into MIT?

Based on numbers, it’s tough to get into MIT. While MIT emphasizes their holistic approach to the selection process, it’s unlikely you’ll get in if you don’t meet the minimum testing and GPA numbers.

With that in mind, MIT also evaluates you based on how well you match with the institution’s mission and values. They’re looking for students who:

  • Align with MIT’s mission
  • Collaborate and cooperate
  • Take initiative
  • Take risks
  • Possess hands-on creativity
  • Show intensity, curiosity, and excitement
  • Uphold the characteristics of the MIT community
  • Prioritize balance

Once your application is submitted, it will be read by a senior admissions officer and evaluated holistically. Strong applicants will be assessed by more admissions officers and multiple groups of admissions staff and faculty before it reaches the “admit” pile. Your application is viewed on an individual basis and stands on its own. It’s not evaluated based on your location, state, financial needs, or if you have any legacy/alumni relations. This process allows all students a fair chance at acceptance.

What You Need to Apply to MIT

When evaluating your application, MIT admissions stresses the importance of test results and grades, but they also look at the application as a whole. You must complete the following pieces of the application to be eligible for admission into MIT.

Check out MIT Application Deadlines and Requirements.

MIT Application Requirements

The MIT application consists of the following sections.

MIT Application Essays

MIT asks you to write several short supplemental essays and responses so they can get to know you better. For the MIT supplemental essay, be open and honest with your answers because this is your chance to personally connect with the admissions team and show them why you want to attend MIT.

Us Supplemental Essay Ebook

You should certainly be thoughtful about your essays, but if you’re thinking too much—spending a lot of time stressing or strategizing about what makes you “look best,” as opposed to the answers that are honest and easy—you’re doing it wrong.

- MIT Admissions

MIT Essay Prompts

MIT posts short answer essay prompts each year. Sometimes they recycle the previous year’s MIT essay prompts, and sometimes they include new ones. Here are the essay prompts for the 2021-2022 application cycle.

  • Describe the world you come from; for example, your family, clubs, school, community, city, or town. How has that world shaped your dreams and aspirations? (250 words or fewer)
  • Pick what field of study at MIT appeals to you the most right now, and tell us more about why this field of study appeals to you. (100 words or fewer)
  • We know you lead a busy life, full of activities, many of which are required of you. Tell us about something you do simply for the pleasure of it. (200–250 words)
  • At MIT, we bring people together to better the lives of others. MIT students work to improve their communities in different ways, from tackling the world’s biggest challenges to being a good friend. Describe one way in which you have contributed to your community, whether in your family, the classroom, your neighborhood, etc. (200–250 words)
  • Tell us about the most significant challenge you’ve faced or something important that didn’t go according to plan. How did you manage the situation? (200-250 words)

In addition to the short essay responses, you’ll also need to include the following in your MIT application:

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MIT application deadlines

MIT posts their application deadlines at the end of August. As a reference, the 2020-2021 deadlines are below.

MIT Early Action and Regular Action Application Deadlines
DeadlineApplication Component
Early Action (EA)November 1All individual application components—general information, essays, activities, academics, etc.
November 1Two letters of recommendation—one from a math or science teacher and one from a humanities, social science, or language teacher
November 1 Secondary School Report (SSR), including high school transcript
February 10February Updates & Notes Form (including midyear grades)
Regular Action (RA)January 6All individual application components—general information, essays, activities, academics, etc.
January 6Two letters of recommendation—one from a math or science teacher and one from a humanities, social science, or language teacher
January 6Secondary School Report (SSR), including high school transcript
Febuary 10February Updates & Notes Form (including midyear grades)

MIT Transfer Application

If you wish to transfer to MIT, you should become familiar with the application requirements. MIT recommends prospective transfer students take various math and science courses, including calculus, calculus-based physics, biology, and chemistry. They should also take full advantage of every opportunity their university offers to show how they excel in these subjects. While there is no minimum GPA, students should have mostly A’s in their math and science courses.

As an MIT transfer student, choose extracurricular activities that challenge and fascinate you. These might include projects, internships, and research that shows leadership, collaboration, and creativity. 

MIT Transfer Acceptance Rate

Transferring into MIT is challenging, arguably more difficult than entering as a freshman. The typical transfer acceptance rate is about 4.28%. For example, in 2019, MIT received 538 transfer applicants and only accepted 23 students. Maintaining a GPA of at least 4.17- 4.34 will also increase your chances of receiving one of the coveted transfer spots. 

While this might sound discouraging, it’s not impossible to get into MIT as a transfer student. Determining what MIT looks for in a transfer student and preparing your application according to those expectations increases your chance of getting into MIT as a transfer student. 

MIT Transfer Requirements

At a minimum, students who wish to transfer to MIT will need to provide the following:

  • High school transcript
  • College transcript
  • An essay or personal statement
  • Standardized test scores
  • Statement of good standing from prior institution

MIT Transfer Credit

As an MIT transfer student, you can expect to receive credit for any subject equivalent to corresponding MIT subjects. In some cases, your academic record may not reflect your mastery of a specific area. MIT offers an Advanced Standing Examination to students so they can demonstrate their subject mastery. 

In general, transfer students lose one semester of coursework. For example, if you transfer as a third-year student, you will enter MIT as a second-year student. 

How to Get into MIT Graduate School

how to get into mit graduate school

MIT offers a wide range of graduate degrees, programs, and certificates. While MIT is known for its science and math programs, they also offer many other exceptional graduate degrees and certifications. MIT has five schools (Architecture and Planning; Engineering; Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences; Management; and Science), including 46 departmental programs.

Before you determine if MIT grad school is for you, do your research. Do they offer the academic path to your dream career? Do you have the grades, classes, and test scores you need for acceptance into your chosen program? One MIT graduate put it this way:

It’s actually a recipe: 1 cup of your motivation, 3 cups of research experience, a teaspoon of name dropping, and a dash of personality and honesty. In the end, you really need to show you are qualified, and that you are a match for the program.

A strong research background and identifying professors with whom you want to work are keys to getting into an MIT graduate program. If possible, letters of recommendation should be written by influential people you know well who have personal connections to MIT.

Learn more about MIT’s graduate school through the lens of an MIT Ph.D. student.

Graduate School Acceptance Rate

Not surprisingly, MIT’s graduate school is competitive, accepting only about 6.7% of applicants.

MIT Graduate School GPA

MIT encourages graduate applicants to have a GPA of 3.5 or better, although it doesn’t guarantee acceptance into the school.

Crimson offers personalized support for applicants aiming to gain entry to top Masters and Doctoral programs in the US including MIT. Our expert strategists are equipped to provide guidance across a wide range of fields such MBA, STEM, Social Science, Humanities, Law, and Medicine. Learn more about our Postgraduate Applications Support program.

How to stand out in your MIT application

how to stand out in mit applications

While applicants who meet the testing and GPA requirements have a better chance of getting into MIT, they aren’t guaranteed a spot. Getting into MIT takes perseverance, creativity, thinking outside the box, and a little bit of luck.

Here are some easy ways to make your MIT application stand out from the rest.

  1. Ensure your application aligns with MIT’s mission. Get involved in an extracurricular that makes the world better. Talk about it in your application.
  2. MIT is known for its collaborative research. If you enjoy teamwork and interdisciplinary research, mention this in your application.
  3. MIT likes to see that you’re willing to take risks, get your hands messy, and invest in an idea, even if it means you might fail. Emphasize times in your life when you took risks and succeeded (and failed). You don’t have to do a million things. Just pick a few that you genuinely care about and put your heart into them.
  4. MIT wants you to prioritize downtime. Talk about what you like to do for fun. They like to see that you’re driven but also taking care of yourself.

Crush Us Applications

Further Reading

Crimson offers a wide range of educational support services that will help you tailor your education and application so it aligns with MIT’s values and requirements. Through our admissions support programs, we walk with you through the application process. From online tutoring and extracurricular mentoring to essay review and even postgraduate admissions, Crimson can show you how to get into MIT.

Frequently Asked Questions about MIT Admissions

Is MIT expensive?

According to MIT Facts 2020, undergraduate students paid the following in tuition and living expenses for the 2019-2020 school year:

  • Tuition and fees (9 months): $53,790
  • Housing and meals, depending on accommodation and dining arrangements: ~$16,390
  • Books and personal expenses: ~$2,980

The following are the 2019-2020 graduate school tuition and living expenses:

  • 2019–2020 tuition and fees (9 months): $53,790 (specific programs and departments may have different tuition amounts).
  • 2019 summer tuition for students enrolled in courses: $17,800

Does MIT give scholarships?

MIT’s most common type of aid is the MIT Scholarship. Students who receive this grant do not repay it. They are based on financial needs and come from the MIT endowment, gifts from MIT alumni and friends, and general funds. During the 2019-2020 school year, students who received the MIT Scholarship received on average $50,483.

To help make MIT even more affordable, many students also apply for federal grants, state grants, and private scholarships and grants.

What is the retention rate for first-year students at MIT?

MIT’s freshman retention rate is 99%, making it one of the best university retention rates in the United States.

What is the average salary for an MIT graduate?

In 2018, the average salary for the MIT graduate was USD 104,700.

Who are notable MIT alumni?

MIT alumni are some of the most accomplished people in the world. Many have successful careers in scientific research, education, business, and public service.

  • Kofi Annan, former secretary-general of the United Nations
  • Buzz Aldrin, Astronaut
  • Ilene S. Gordon, CEO, President, and Chairman of Ingredion
  • Jonah Peretti - Co-founder and CEO of BuzzFeed and co-founder of The Huffington Post
  • Andrea Wong, President of Sony International Production
*Other notable MIT statistics:
  • Number of MIT alumni who are ‘Unicorn Executives’: 63 (Unicorn = privately held company valued at $1 billion or more)
  • Nobel Prize winners: 40
  • Nobel Laureates: 85
  • Rhodes Scholars: 48
  • Marshall Scholars: 61
  • Mitchell Scholars: 3
  • National Medal of Science winners: 58
  • National Medal of Technology and Innovation winners: 29

*as of October 2020

Does MIT use the Common App?

You cannot apply to MIT through the Common Application. They have their own system called MyMIT.

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