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How to Get Into MIT: All You Need to Know

Thursday, July 28, 2022


IvyWise On-Demand: A Look Inside MIT with Former Admissions Directors

Join IvyWise college admissions counselors Katie, Mari, and Tiffany, each former admissions directors at MIT, for an inside look at MIT.  Whether you are beginning the college search process or finalizing your list, this is a great opportunity to learn all about MIT from those who used to recruit and admit students to the university.

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As a leading research university with acceptance rates that mirror the Ivy League, it’s easy to see why many students have their sights set on Massachusetts Institute of Technology. The school has plenty of top-tier programs, in addition to a dual degree program with neighboring Wellesley College.

Since MIT has a stellar reputation and receives thousands of applicants each year, students must go the extra mile in order to gain a seat in an upcoming class. Keep reading to learn more about what sets MIT apart and the best practices that applicants can utilize to increase their chances of admission.

How to Get Into MIT: Table of Contents

  1. When to Apply to MIT
  2. How Hard Is It to Get Into MIT: Early Prep 
  3. How to Actually Get Into MIT: The Application
  4. Class Profile 
  5. What Makes MIT Unique?

When to Apply to MIT

When it comes to applying to MIT, one of the first steps students must take is reviewing the application timeline and making sure they’re prepared to meet every admissions milestone. Like most top-tier colleges in the U.S., MIT utilizes a holistic admissions process that requires students to complete various steps and submit different materials on specific timelines. Here is an overview of the MIT admissions process and the dates to prioritize:

MIT Application Deadlines

MIT’s application deadlines vary slightly from year to year, but generally occur around the same time in the academic calendar. For students applying during the 2022-2023 admissions cycle, the major application deadlines are as follows:

  • Early Action application deadline: November 1 
  • Early Action letters available online: Mid December
  • Regular Decision application deadline: January 1
  • Regular Decision letters available online: March 14
  • Commitment deadline for Regular Decision candidates: May 1
  • Financial aid deadline (for all applicants): February 15


When students are reviewing admissions timelines for MIT, it’s important to keep in mind that the school offers two different admissions options, Early Action and Regular Decision. Students who choose to apply to MIT through the non-binding Early Action process will need to compile their application by early November and learn of their results in mid December. In contrast, applicants who opt for the Regular Decision round will need to submit their materials by early January and will hear back from MIT by mid March. These students will also need to decide whether they wish to commit to the college by the beginning of May.

Early, Rolling, and Regular Decision

As students enter high school, they may start hearing about different application processes, such as Early Action vs rolling admission. While much of the application process will look similar regardless of your timeline, it’s important to understand the distinct differences between early, rolling, and Regular Decision admissions. 

There are two different forms of early admissions: Early Action and Early Decision. The key differentiator between the two is that Early Decision is binding, meaning a student must enroll in the college they applied early decision to if they are accepted, while Early Action is not binding. There is also Restrictive Early Action, which MIT does not offer, which stipulates that students cannot apply to any other private college through an early admissions program. Generally speaking, most Early Decision and Early Action deadlines occur around the beginning of November, with decisions released approximately one month after. 

In contrast, rolling admissions do not follow a strict deadline. At most schools that offer this option, applications are accepted from September through May, although it is best to submit your application as early as possible, since RA schools will continue to accept students until they reach their enrollment capacity. MIT does not offer rolling admissions. 

Finally, there are Regular Decision admissions. Students who apply via Regular Decision generally need to submit their applications by early January and learn of their results in March or April. 

Waitlisted Applications

Given how competitive it is to get into MIT, it’s not surprising that the college generally waitlists a portion of its applicants. The waitlist is composed of exceptionally strong and distinguished applicants; the college just doesn’t have enough room to admit every single qualified student that applies. Students who are waitlisted will learn of this outcome when decisions are released, and they will have the option to choose whether they wish to remain on the waitlist or not. It’s important to note that admissions waitlists are not ranked; instead, applicants will be admitted off of the waitlist to fill institutional needs and ensure the upcoming class is balanced. 

If students apply via Early Action, there is not a waitlist outcome, but there is something known as deferral, which means students will need to wait until regular round decisions are released to learn if they will be admitted or not. Many students want to know what to do if they have been deferred. Much like waitlists, the first step is to determine whether or not MIT is still your first choice college. If so, it’s important to find out what materials the school needs from you (such as an updated transcript) and send them out as soon as possible.

How Hard Is It to Get Into MIT: Early Prep

MIT is one of the most prestigious colleges in the country. Every year, thousands of applicants apply and only a small percentage of these students gain a seat in MIT’s incoming class. While MIT’s application process is notoriously competitive, students can increase their chances of admission by preparing well in advance and doing their research to become experts on the school. 

Build Your Profile

Since they get thousands of applications each year, students must understand what MIT is looking for so they know how they can stand out from the crowd. At MIT, academic performance carries the most weight throughout the admissions process. The institution affirms students who are intellectually curious and demonstrate an ongoing commitment to challenging themselves and expanding their horizons. 

MIT’s website outlines what the school is looking for, noting that it’s really the match between the applicant and the Institute that drives their process. That means students should align with MIT’s mission to make the world better, demonstrate a cooperative and collaborative spirit, show that they’re eager to take initiative and harness opportunities that come their way, and reflect the character of the MIT community. These are all big asks that students can demonstrate in a variety of different ways, including tutoring their peers, launching their own science projects, and taking a leadership role in a volunteer position. What matters most is how an applicant puts these experiences in context to articulate why they are a match for MIT. 

Although MIT emphasizes that an overall match is most important, students must also possess the grades and test scores required to be competitive at a top-notch school. Most students who are admitted to the university have GPAs that hover around a 4.0, with the majority placing within the top 10% in their high school class. Similarly, most successful applicants have exceptionally high standardized testing scores; in recent years, the middle 50% range for admitted students has been as high as 1520-1580 for the SAT and 35-36 for the ACT.

In addition to academic excellence, MIT is looking for students who have passions and interests that they have continued to pursue throughout high school. Throughout their application process, students should highlight what they are passionate about, what they’ve done to pursue these interests throughout high school, and how attending MIT will help them take these pursuits to the next level. Students can discuss both academic interests as well as extracurricular activities that are meaningful to them. Rather than trying to pad their application with as many activities as possible, it’s best for applicants to focus on a handful of interests that they genuinely care about and those that they have dedicated a significant amount of time towards. 

Visit the Campus and a Class

If you’re eager to attend MIT, visiting the campus is one of the best things you can do to convey your desire to enroll. Unlike many other highly competitive colleges, MIT notes on their website that they do not track demonstrated interest, meaning admissions officers may not be looking to see whether or not an applicant visited campus before applying. Regardless, taking a tour of MIT will help you get a feel for campus, which will make it easy to decide whether or not the school will be a good fit for you.

Connect With a Student

When you’re touring MIT, your tour guide will likely be a current student. If you have the opportunity to ask your guide a few questions, use this as another chance to learn more about the student experience, straight from the source. Touring the campus is an important step to learning more about MIT, but your research shouldn’t stop there. If you have any friends or acquaintances that are currently enrolled, don’t hesitate to reach out to get your burning questions answered directly by students at MIT.

How Do You Actually Get Into MIT: The Application

The bad news: there’s no magic trick or tried-and-true strategy that you can use to guarantee your admission to MIT. The good news: there are several steps that students can take to increase their odds of admission and set themselves apart for all of the right reasons. 

GPA Requirements

MIT doesn’t have a required GPA that students must meet to apply and the institution doesn’t share much information when it comes to the average GPA for accepted applicants. However, given MIT’s unparalleled academic rigor, it makes sense to assume that most students have GPAs that hover around 4.0. Distinguished applicants are likely those who challenge themselves by pursuing an advanced course load that takes advantage of all that their high school has to offer. 

SAT and ACT Scores

Much like GPAs, there’s no minimum SAT or ACT score that students must reach to apply to MIT. However, for SAT scores, the middle 50 percent of admitted students scored between 1510 and 1570 on the Math and Evidence-Based Reading and Writing portions of the SAT. For the ACT, the middle 50 percent of admitted students scored between 34 and 36. When it comes to acing the SAT or ACT, the best thing students can do is begin preparing many months before their testing date and take several practice exams

Personal Statement

The personal statement is an opportunity to demonstrate not only your writing skills but also who you are and the qualities that set you apart. Students will have the chance to choose from a handful of different essay prompts, and will write an essay that is between 250 and 650 words long. Instead of worrying about what you “should” sound like, it’s best to focus on letting your authentic voice and unique personality shine through. 


MIT asks applicants to answer short essay questions to learn more about a student’s interests and the role they would play on campus. The response length for each question ranges from under 100 words to 200-250 words. The questions for the 2021-2022 cycle were as follows:

1. 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)

2. 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)

3. 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)

4. 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)

5. Tell us about a significant challenge you’ve faced or something that didn’t go according to plan that you feel comfortable sharing. How did you manage the situation? (200-250 words)

The MIT application also provides applicants with an open-ended, additional-information box where they have the opportunity to tell the admissions office anything else they feel might have been left out elsewhere.

Letters of Recommendation

MIT requests two letters of recommendation, and they recommend that one come from a math or science teacher and that the second is written by a humanities, social science, or language teacher. MIT also requires materials from a student’s school counselor, such as the student’s transcript, a school profile, and an additional letter of recommendation.

Teacher recommendations should highlight an applicant’s love of learning and the impact they have on the classroom, while a statement from a guidance counselor can speak to the student’s character and how they interact with the community at large. Since most teachers and counselors will get an influx of requests for letters of recommendation, students should aim to ask instructors by the start of senior year so they have plenty of time to compile their responses. 

Admission Interviews

MIT isn’t just interested in seeing what applicants look like on paper; the institution strives to get to know the student as a whole person. That’s why the university aims to offer an interview with a member of the MIT Educational Council, a network of over 5,000 MIT graduates around the world, whenever possible. In recent years, MIT has held all interviews virtually for the safety of the applicants and volunteer interviewers. Generally, the MIT interview takes approximately one hour, although their website notes that the conversations may be as brief as 30 minutes or as long as two hours. 

Contribution to the MIT Community

Like many colleges, MIT admissions officers are eager to admit applicants who will make a lasting impact on the MIT community. Throughout every component of your application process, including supplemental essays and videos, make sure to highlight your goals and the role you would hope to play once admitted to MIT. Don’t shy away from specific details; it’s best to call out clubs you’d wish to join, classes you’re excited to take, and research opportunities that you would be enthusiastic to take part in. 

Class Profile 

Acceptance Rate  3.96%
Class Size 1,139
Popular Undergraduate Majors Electrical Engineering, Biology, Aerospace Engineering, Chemical Engineering, Computer Science, Mathematics, Mechanical Engineering, Physics 

As you’re learning about how to get into MIT, don’t forget to review their class profile. Class profiles give applicants a window into what the admissions outcomes at a specific college look like. Every school includes slightly different information in their class profile, but their’s highlights their most recent acceptance rate, their class size, and some of MIT’s best majors the college is known for. This information can help students get a picture of the college and assess their chances of admission. 

What Makes MIT Unique?

For those wondering “Why is MIT special?” there are plenty of differentiators that make MIT unique. The university is known for its expansive research opportunities, which are open to both graduate and undergraduate students. MIT also has a long list of faculty who are renowned in their fields of study, meaning students will have the opportunity to work with and learn from some of the world’s foremost experts. Notable faculty members include Nobel Laureates Peter Diamond and Samuel Ting, as well as MacArthur Fellows like Junot Diaz, Linda G. Griffith, and Sara Seager.

In addition to MIT’s exceptional academic offerings, students have no shortage of options when it comes to extracurricular activities. MIT has more than 450 official student groups, or about 1 for every 10 undergraduates. If students can’t find an existing club or organization that matches their interests, it’s also easy to start their own. Existing clubs include ethnic and cultural associations, musical, theater, and dance groups, religious organizations, activist groups, and many more such as a newspaper, a debate team, a radio station, and a student government organization. Along with more conventional activities, MIT takes pride in the unconventional clubs they have on campus, like the Laboratory for Chocolate Science, the Science Fiction Society, and Puppy Lab. 

Another quality that makes MIT unique is the institution’s commitment to building community. Noteworthy events and traditions include an annual Pi Day celebration, during which time MIT releases admissions decisions and creates an engaging video to accompany the festivities, and the MIT Mystery Hunt, a puzzle competition that happens every January. Hacking is another tradition at MIT, and the institute is home to many elaborate but benign practical jokes, perpetrated anonymously. Some legendary hacks include the astonishing emergence of a large black weather balloon with MIT written all over it in the middle of a Harvard-Yale football game and a 2006 cross-country theft of Caltech’s Fleming Cannon. 

There is a host of MIT notable alumni, including Buzz Aldrin, Kofi Atta Annan, Jonah Peretti, Shirley Ann Jackson, Andrea Wong, Drew Houston, Ivan Getting, and Illene S. Gordon. 

Admission Counseling

Most students and families can benefit from college admissions counseling, especially if they’re interested in gaining admission to a top-tier college like MIT. Working with an admissions counselor gives students the chance to receive personalized guidance throughout every step of the application process, including compiling a balanced college list and brainstorming for their personal statement. 

While working with a college admissions counselor is an invaluable experience, it’s important to assess whether you’re ready to give the admissions process your all. To make the most of college counseling, students must be engaged in the process and excited about their academic future. It’s also important to select a college admissions counselor who is accredited, qualified, and has ample admissions experience. Do plenty of research so you can pick an admissions counselor who brings out the best in the students they work with.

Needless to say, getting into MIT can be tough, but IvyWise’s admission experts are here to give you the best possible chance of acceptance. Take the first step towards getting into your dream school and set an Initial Consultation.


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