Degree Requirements

The undergraduate academic program at MIT is based on a core of General Institute Requirements (GIRs) and on the specific curricula offered by more than twenty separate departments. It is designed to allow sufficient flexibility and choice of electives for each student to develop a program to suit his or her interests and preparation. Generally students need four academic years of full-time study to complete a curriculum for the Bachelor of Science (SB) Degree.

To be recommended for a Bachelor's degree, a student must have attended the Institute for at least three regular academic terms (fall or spring) and earned 180-198 units beyond the General Institute Requirements; of those units, at least 96 must be earned at MIT. Ordinarily attendance must include the term of the student’s graduation.

Nearly all of the subjects taken by freshmen during their first year at MIT are GIRs. Most MIT subjects carry 12 units of credit. The number of units reflects the hours spent each week, based on a full 14-week term, in class and laboratory, as well as the estimated hours the average student spends each week in outside preparation. A normal credit load per semester is four to four-and-one-half subjects (48-54 units).

Students usually choose a department in which to major at the end of the freshman year. They must choose a department by the end of the sophomore year.

Understanding the Requirements

Students are ultimately responsible for understanding and fulfilling the requirements, but they can get help and information on the requirements not only from their advisors but also from a number of other sources listed in this Guide. An undergraduate Degree Audit is available to each student and advisor on WebSIS. Using that audit, as well as information on departmental programs, the student and the advisor should track the student's progress through requirements and carefully plan future terms. Students who have questions about their requirements and audits that cannot be answered by their departments should contact the Registrar's Office.

The General Institute Requirements

During the freshman year students usually take nearly half of the General Institute Requirements including almost all of the subjects in the science core (mathematics, physics, chemistry, and biology), and two subjects in the humanities, arts, and social sciences. As sophomores they continue taking subjects to satisfy General Institute Requirements, and they begin their departmental programs. In the junior and senior years, students generally concentrate on their departmental programs. In each of their four years they are expected to take a Communication Intensive subject. The MIT Bulletin outlines the following General Institute Requirements in detail and provides a GIR chart.

Subjects from the departmental program constitute approximately half of the work a student must complete for an SB degree. The subjects in the departmental program and the total number of units required beyond the General Institute Requirements are shown in individual program descriptions under Degree Charts in the MIT Bulletin.