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MIT Course Catalog 2014-2015

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Interdisciplinary Undergraduate Programs & Minors

Undergraduate Programs

American Studies

American Studies at MIT offers students the opportunity to organize subjects from various fields (e.g., history, anthropology, literature, political science, music, art and architecture, and urban studies) into personally constructed interdisciplinary programs as a way of gaining an integrated understanding of American society and culture.

American Studies is a field of concentration; it is also available as the humanities component of a joint major program (the 21E and 21S degrees), or as a full major by special arrangement. American Studies majors work out a coherent program of study with an advisor, usually including two subjects each in literature and history, although variations are possible. Major programs can center on a particular interest or aim more broadly at a comprehensive knowledge of various aspects of American life and culture.

The coordinator of American Studies is Professor Meg Jacobs, Room E51-263, 617-253-7895,

Ancient and Medieval Studies

Through a wide variety of subjects drawn from a number of disciplines, this program provides a curricular framework for exploring topics in ancient and medieval studies which range from the history of ideas and institutions to that of material artifacts, literature, and certain original languages. The program spans the 6,500 years between 5000 BC and 1500 AD.

This program’s goal is to develop knowledge and understanding of the more distant past both for itself, in its uniqueness, and as an object of specifically modern questions and methods of inquiry. The program has an interest in the structure of institutions and social systems, and in relationships between the social order and learned traditions, values, ideologies, and ideas. Ancient and medieval studies derive a special claim to our interest from the fact that the record is so full and multiform and that much of it is of exceptionally high quality at once in substance and form.

Ancient and Medieval Studies is available as a concentration, a minor, and as a major departure within Course 21. Individual programs are to be determined in consultation with Professor Anne E. C. McCants, Room E51-291, 617-258-6669,

Women's and Gender Studies Program

Women's and Gender Studies (WGS) is an interdisciplinary inquiry into the significance of gender in human society and thought, both in the United States and around the world. Drawing on more than 50 years of scholarly work centered on gender analysis as well as research in many traditional fields, the program explores questions such as how women and men learn their gender roles; how different societies define women and men; and how ideas of sex and gender shape and are shaped by language, individual behavior, and social institutions such as law, religion, and education. Students explore the varied roles gender has played in different cultures, times, intellectual disciplines, and forms of creative expression. Debates over sexuality, reproduction, feminism, masculinity, the roles of women in history, politics, and science, and the intersections of gender with other social categories such as race, class, ethnicity are all topics addressed within this interdisciplinary field.

Most subjects in the field of Women's and Gender Studies are cross-listed with other departments and are available to students in a wide range of fields of study. Through classes, UROPs, and events, both undergraduate and graduate students gain new perspectives on other disciplines such as computer science, law, philosophy, theater, management, literature, urban studies, psychology, and history. WGS subjects are open to all students.

The curriculum includes a core subject, Introduction to Women's and Gender Studies, and a selection of subjects from many departments at the Institute, listed in the WGS section of the MIT Subject Listing & Schedule. A full major (known as a major departure) is available by special arrangement. WGS also offers a minor program (see below) and a concentration.

For more information, contact the program manager, Emily Neill, Room 14E-316, 617-253-8844, or visit

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Minor in Applied International Studies

The Minor in Applied International Studies is designed to help students integrate a practical, applied international experience into a coherent course of study. The minor is built around four key principles:

The result is a comprehensive plan of study that allows students to gain the skills necessary for a productive, sustainable career in the global economy.

The Minor in Applied International Studies consists of six subjects from any program in the School of Humanities, Art, and Social Sciences, including:

Students seeking additional information or wishing to plan their minor should contact Tobie Weiner, E53-483, 617-253-3649, or Professor Richard Samuels,

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Minor in Astronomy

The Minor in Astronomy, offered jointly by the Department of Earth, Atmospheric, and Planetary Sciences and the Department of Physics, covers the observational and theoretical foundations of astronomy. The minor requires seven subjects as follows:

Astronomy, Mathematics, and Physics

Required subjects:
8.03 Physics III
8.282J Introduction to Astronomy
18.03 or 18.034 Differential Equations



Choose one:
8.284 Modern Astrophysics
8.286 The Early Universe


Planetary Astronomy

Choose one:
12.008 Classical Mechanics: A Computational Approach
12.400 The Solar System
12.420 Physics and Chemistry of the Solar System
12.425 Extrasolar Planets: Physics and Detection Techniques


Instrumentation and Observations

Choose one:
8.287J Observational Techniques of Optical Astronomy
12.43J Space Systems Engineering
12.431J Space Systems Development I
12.432J Space Systems Development II


Independent Project in Astronomy

Choose one:
8.UR or 12.UR Undergraduate Research
8.ThU or 12.ThU Undergraduate Thesis
12.411 Astronomy Field Camp


Four of the subjects used to satisfy the requirements for the astronomy minor may not be used to satisfy any other minor or major.

Further information on the minor may be obtained from Professor Paul Schechter, 37-664G, 617-253-0690,


Minor in Atmospheric Chemistry

Atmospheric Chemistry is an interdisciplinary field that blends fundamental science with engineering and policy. It is a domain that is growing in scope, complexity, and demand as society grapples with burgeoning global, regional, and local challenges, including those in energy and public health. The minor is offered by the Departments of Earth, Atmospheric, and Planetary Sciences, Civil and Environmental Engineering, Chemistry, and Aeronautics and Astronautics, and the Engineering Systems Division. The minor requires six subjects. The core of the minor consists of four required subjects spanning thermodynamics and kinetics, atmospheric and ocean dynamics, air pollution, and atmospheric physics and chemistry, complemented by (at least) one subject in observations/applications, and one subject in the links of atmospheric chemistry to policy.

Chemistry, Dynamics, and the Atmosphere

Required subjects:
12.003 Introduction to Atmosphere, Ocean, and Climate Dynamics
5.60 Thermodynamics and Kinetics
1.085J Air Pollution
12.306 Atmospheric Physics and Chemistry



Choose one of the following:
1.080 Environmental Chemistry
12.335 Experimental Atmospheric Chemistry
12.338 Aerosol and Cloud Microphysics and Chemistry

12.310 An Introduction to Weather Forecasting
12.IND Independent Study


Linkages of Atmospheric Chemistry to Policy

Choose one:
12.385 Environmental Science and Society
12.340 Global Warming Science
12.346J Global Environmental Science and Negotiations


A minimum of four subjects taken for the atmospheric chemistry minor cannot also count toward a major or another minor.

Further information on the minor may be obtained from Professor Susan Solomon,, or from Dr. Vicki McKenna, EAPS education director, 54-910, 617-253-3380,


Minor in Biomedical Engineering

The Biomedical Engineering Minor (BME) Program is open to all students who are not majoring in Course 20, Biological Engineering. This program requires a total of eight subjects selected from a series of categories as outlined below.

Mathematics/Statistics/Probability Core* (2 subjects)*

Choose one of the following:
3.016 Mathematical Methods for Materials Scientists and Engineers
18.03 Differential Equations
plus one of the following:
1.010 Uncertainty in Engineering
2.086 Numerical Computation for Mechanical Engineers
6.041 Probabilistic Systems Analysis and Applied Probability
18.05 Introduction to Probability and Statistics


Science Core (1 subject)

5.07J Biological Chemistry I
7.05 General Biochemistry


Biology and Engineering Baseline (2 subjects)

Choose one subject from each area:

7.02J Introduction to Experimental Biology and Communication
7.03 Genetics
7.06 Cell Biology

One introductory-level engineering-focused class from Courses 1, 2, 3, 6, 10, 16, or 22 (i.e., any lower-level engineering class outside of Course 20 for which the student fulfills the prerequisite, excluding 10.04J and any cross-listed Course 20 subject)


Biomedical Engineering and Applications (3 subjects)

Option 1
Choose one subject from each area:

20.110J Thermodynamics of Biomolecular Systems
20.111J Physical Chemistry of Biomolecular Systems

Principles of Biomedical Engineering
20.310 Molecular, Cellular, and Tissue Biomechanics
20.320   Analysis of Biomolecular and Cellular Systems
20.330 Fields, Forces, and Flows in Biological Systems

Biomedical Engineering Applications
20.371 Quantitative Systems Physiology
20.390 Foundations of Computational and Systems Biology

Option 2
Choose three subjects from the following groups:
Upper-level biomedical engineering–focused elective (20.34x–20.4xx)**
HST biomedical engineering–focused elective (HST.52xJ, HST.54xJ)**

* Any new subject that covers the core concepts taught in the courses listed may be considered as a potential alternative. Contact the BME Minor program director for more information and approval.
** Most additional cross-listed Course 20 or HST subjects can be taken to fulfill a total of three subjects grounded in Biomedical Engineering Principles and Applications. 20.109, 20.309J, and 20.380 are not acceptable.

For further information, please visit the Biological Engineering website at or contact the BE Academic Office, Room 56-651, 617-253-1712.


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Minor in Energy Studies

Energy is a fundamentally multidisciplinary topic. Transforming the world’s energy systems requires combining expertise from numerous fields in engineering and technology, natural and social science, and policy. A diversity of disciplinary perspectives is necessary to equip students to work in this complex, evolving field.

The Energy Studies Minor for undergraduates is an Institute-wide program that complements the deep expertise obtained in any major with a broad understanding of the interlinked realms of science, technology, and social sciences as they relate to energy and associated environmental challenges. The minor curriculum integrates these three domains in a thoroughly multidisciplinary program. A faculty oversight committee including representatives from all five Schools oversees the Energy Studies Minor program.

The Energy Studies curriculum has two components. The first is a core that provides an integrated perspective on energy and associated environmental challenges in three domains, each with a primary focus: Science Foundations (fundamental laws and principles that govern energy sources, conversion, and uses), Social Science Foundations (social scientific perspectives and tools that explain human behavior in the energy context), and Technology/Engineering in Context (the application of laws and principles to a specific energy context). The second component is a customized program of electives that is selected by each student in close consultation with his or her Energy Studies Minor faculty advisor.

Core Curriculum

Science Foundations

Choose one of the following options:
Option 1:
8.21   Physics of Energy
Option 2: Choose one group of two subjects from the list below:
6.007   Electromagnetic Energy: From Motors to Solar Cells

2.005 Thermal-Fluids Engineering I*
3.012 Fundamentals of Materials Science and Engineering
5.60 Thermodynamics and Kinetics

12.021 Earth Science, Energy, and the Environment
12.340 Global Warming Science


Social Science Foundations

14.01   Principles of Microeconomics
15.016   Economic Analysis for Business Decisions
Choose one of the following options:
Option 1:
15.031J   Energy Decisions, Markets, and Policies

Option 2: Choose one subject from each group:
Group A
14.42 Environmental Policy and Economics
14.44J   Energy Economics and Policy
15.026J Global Climate Change: Economics, Science, and Policy

Group B
1.801J   Environmental Law, Policy, and Economics: Pollution Prevention and Control
11.162   Politics of Energy and the Environment
11.168   Enabling Energy Efficiency: Practice and Innovation
22.04   Social Problems of Nuclear Energy


Technology/Engineering in Context

Choose one of the following:
2.60J   Fundamentals of Advanced Energy Conversion
4.42J   Fundamentals of Energy in Buildings
22.081J   Introduction to Sustainable Energy



Choose 24 units from the following (all subjects 12 units unless otherwise noted):*
1.071J   Global Change Science
2.006   Thermal-Fluids Engineering II
2.570   Nano-to-Macro Transport Processes
2.612   Marine Power and Propulsion
2.627   Fundamentals of Photovoltaics
2.813   Energy, Materials, and Manufacturing
3.003   Principles of Engineering Practice (9 units)
3.004   Principles of Engineering Practice
4.401   Environmental Technologies in Buildings
4.472   Design Workshop for a Sustainable Future (9 units)
6.061   Introduction to Electric Power Systems
6.131   Power Electronics Laboratory
6.701   Introduction to Nanoelectronics
8.044   Statistical Physics I
10.04J   A Philosophical History of Energy
10.213   Chemical and Biological Engineering Thermodynamics
10.27   Energy Engineering Projects Laboratory (15 units)
10.426   Electrochemical Energy Systems
11.160J   Re-energizing MIT: Innovating Energy Management at the Institute
11.165   Energy and Infrastructure Technologies
12.213   Alternate Energy Sources (6 units)
12.346J   Global Environmental Science and Politics
21H.318   The Energy Crisis: Past and Present
22.033   Nuclear Systems Design Project
22.06   Engineering of Nuclear Systems
EC.711   D-Lab: Energy
STS.032   Energy, Environment, and Society

*See the Energy Studies Minor web page ( for potential elective and core subject substitutions.

Students who take more than the required subjects from any of the core curriculum subject lists may count the additional coursework toward the elective requirement. Contact Ann Greaney-Williams, academic coordinator, MITEI Education Office, Room E19-370D, 617-324-7236,, or visit for more information.


Minor in Public Policy

Some of the most far-reaching decisions about science, technology, and enterprise are made in the public policy arena. The interdisciplinary Public Policy Minor enables students from across MIT to develop their understanding of public problems and how governments attempt to address them, with emphasis on the process and outcomes of policymaking.

Because the Bachelor of Science in Planning has a strong public policy element and several subjects in the Minor in Public Policy are redundant for Course 11 majors, those students are not eligible for this minor.

The six-subject minor is a three-tiered program. The first tier is a foundation built on the study of the institutions in which public policy decisions are made and implemented. All students take two subjects that introduce them to justifications for government action—justifications that form the fundamental basis for making public policy. The second tier is the study of the methods for assessing the impacts of policy change on policy outcomes. The purpose is to provide students with a basic understanding of the range of approaches professionals use to evaluate public policies. The third tier is an in-depth study of policymaking in one substantive field. All minors specialize in an area of public policy, such as science and technology policy, and take three subjects within that specialty. Students may also do an internship to fulfill one part of the three-subject requirement.


Tier I  Introduction to Markets, Politics, and Public Policy
Two required subjects:
11.002J/17.30J   Making Public Policy
14.01   Principles of Microeconomics

Tier II   Policy Analysis
One required subject:

  Methods of Policy Analysis
Tier III   Policy Concentration
Three subjects chosen in one of the following tracks:
Social and educational policy, environmental policy, infrastructure policy, science and technology policy, labor and industrial policy, international development policy, security and defense policy, and urban and regional policy. Students may propose their own track for approval by their minor advisor; students may substitute a semester-long internship in their chosen field for one subject, with the approval of their minor advisor.

Students can obtain additional information from the public policy website,; Sandra Wellford, undergraduate administrator in Urban Studies and Planning, Room 7-346A, 617-253-9403; or Tobie Weiner, undergraduate administrator in Political Science, Room E53-483, 617-253-3649,


Minor in Women's and Gender Studies

The Minor Program in Women's and Gender Studies is designed for students who, in addition to the focus of their major program of study, seek a fuller understanding of the ways in which gender and other constructs have shaped our understanding of ourselves and of the communities and world in which we live. The minor program consists of six Women's and Gender Studies subjects, one of which may be taken at Harvard or Wellesley with the permission of the director, arranged into three levels of study as follows:

Tier I   Required introductory subject:
WGS.101   Introduction to Women's and Gender Studies

Tier II   Four subjects, at least one of which is drawn from
each category:
    Humanities and the arts
    Social and natural sciences

Tier III   One advanced seminar:
WGS.301J   Feminist Political Thought
    An upper-level Women's and Gender Studies subject
as determined by the director


For more information, contact the coordinator, Women's and Gender Studies, Room 14E-316, 617-253-8844,, or visit

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HASS Minors in Regional Studies

Several Minors in Regional Studies are offered at MIT: African and African Diaspora Studies, Asian and Asian Diaspora Studies, Latin American and Latino Studies, Middle Eastern Studies, and Russian and Eurasian Studies. These interdisciplinary programs provide MIT undergraduates with valuable opportunities to acquire knowledge of a particular country, region, or culture. This better prepares them for academic, business, and government careers in a world where regions, countries, and cultures are increasingly interdependent.

Because the nature of these minors is cross-disciplinary, typically combining foreign language study with humanities, arts, and social sciences, they are arranged into the following four areas of study:

Area I: Language (Intermediate level)
Area II: Humanities and the Arts
Area III: Social Sciences
Area IV: Historical Studies

Students are required to take six subjects (at least three of which must be MIT subjects) typically in the following configuration: two language subjects, beginning at the second year or third term (Area I), and four other subjects, chosen from at least two of the other three areas. If a student already has achieved the equivalent of intermediate-level language proficiency, he or she can take either two more advanced-level language subjects or two more subjects from Areas II, III, or IV in place of the intermediate language subjects. Languages not presently taught at MIT may be taken at Harvard or Wellesley, or elsewhere during the summer or IAP with the permission of the minor advisor.

Details on each of the minors are given below. Lists of subjects that are appropriate for a HASS minor in each of the regional studies, as well as additional information about minors, advisors, etc., can be obtained from the relevant minor advisor or from the HASS academic administrator, Liz Friedman, Room 4-240,


Minor in African and African Diaspora Studies

The Minor in African and African Diaspora Studies is designed for students interested in the cultures and experiences of the peoples of African descent on the continent and elsewhere. The minor includes study of economic and political systems as they reflect the African continent and areas of the African diaspora, and the histories, languages, and literatures of Africans and peoples of African descent elsewhere. All of Africa falls within the geographical scope of the minor. A student may concentrate on a particular region or on any of the broad groupings of African cultures, such as Arabic-speaking, Anglophone, Francophone, or Lusophone Africa. Equally, a student choosing to focus on the African diaspora may concentrate on any group of African-descended populations in the Americas. Students focusing on either principal area (Africa or the African diaspora) must also take at least one subject which deals with the other area or with interactions between them. The goal of the minor program is to emphasize the importance of Africa and people of African descent in world cultural, economic, and social developments, and to provide a balance between language, humanistic, historical, and contemporary study.

Students are expected to have two intermediate (Levels III and IV) subjects in either the official language of the region of study or in an indigenous African language. In cases where the student is specializing in Anglophone Africa or an English-speaking region of the diaspora, and does not undertake study of an indigenous language, or is a native speaker of the official language(s) of a country or region of emphasis, this component would be replaced by literature or other humanities subjects.

Additional information can be obtained from the minor advisor, Professor Sandy Alexandre, Room 14N-422, 617-253-4450,, or from the HASS academic administrator, Liz Friedman, Room 4-240,


Minor in Asian and Asian Diaspora Studies

The Minor in Asian and Asian Diaspora Studies is designed for students interested in the language, history, politics, and culture of Asia and/or the Asian diasporas. In consultation with the minor advisor, students may focus their coursework on a subregion of Asia, on one of the Asian diasporas, or design their program to offer a comparative study across different regions and/or cultural groups. The goal of the minor program is to provide balanced coverage of language, humanistic and social science offerings on the region, and to expose students to comparative perspectives.

The language requirement can be satisfied by taking two intermediate (Levels III and IV, or Very Fast Track equivalent) subjects in an Asian language. Students with proficiency at this level are encouraged to take two more advanced language subjects. Alternatively, they may take two more subjects from Areas II-IV. Chinese and Japanese are currently taught at MIT. Other languages may be taken at Harvard or Wellesley, or at other institutions during IAP or the summer, with permission from the minor advisor. In cases where the student is specializing in an Asian country where English is one of the official languages, in an English-speaking region of the diaspora, or is a native speaker of an Asian language, the Area I component may be replaced by subjects from Areas II-IV in consultation with the minor advisor.

Additional information can be obtained from the minor advisor, Professor Emma Teng, Room 14N-421, 617-253-4536,, or from the HASS academic administrator, Liz Friedman, Room 4-240,

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Minor in Latin American and Latino Studies

The Minor in Latin American and Latino Studies is designed for students interested in the languages, history, politics, and cultures of Latin America and in its presence in the United States. Students are encouraged to develop a program that is both international and comparative in perspective, and that takes into account the heterogeneous cultural experiences of people living in the vast territory loosely termed Latin America, as well as of those living in the United States who identify themselves as Latino.

Two language subjects beginning at Levels III and IV, either in Spanish or Portuguese, satisfy the Area I language requirement. MIT offers Levels III and IV of Spanish every semester and offers Level III of Portuguese in IAP and Level IV every spring semester. All students opting for the minor are required to take 17.55J Introduction to Latin American Studies.

Latin American and Latino Studies is available as a concentration, a minor, and as a major departure within Course 21.

Additional information can be obtained from the minor advisor, Professor Elizabeth Garrels, Room 14N-323, 617-253-9688,, or from the HASS academic administrator, Liz Friedman, Room 4-240,


Minor in Middle Eastern Studies

Middle Eastern Studies at MIT offers students the opportunity to explore the connections among culture, society, politics, economics, technology, and environment in the Middle East, including North Africa. MIT offers a number of subjects open to undergraduates that provide a variety of perspectives on the ancient, Islamic, and modern Middle East. The goal of the HASS Minor Program in Middle Eastern Studies is to lead the student from the basic language into survey subjects and then into more focused studies of individual countries or specific historical periods, and to encourage analysis of the main methodological and conceptual issues in Middle Eastern Studies.

Two intermediate (Levels III and IV) subjects in one of the following Middle Eastern languages are required: Arabic, Hebrew, Persian, or Turkish. The advisor may also approve other Middle Eastern languages, such as Armenian, Greek, or Kurdish. Because MIT does not offer instruction in these languages, students may satisfy the Area I language requirement at Harvard University or Wellesley College. They may satisfy the language requirement at other institutions provided they receive permission in advance from the HASS minor advisor in Middle Eastern Studies.

Additional information can be obtained from the minor advisor, Professor Philip S. Khoury, Room 10-280, 617-253-0887,, or from the HASS academic administrator, Liz Friedman, Room 4-240,


Minor in Russian and Eurasian Studies

The Minor in Russian and Eurasian Studies is intended for students seeking an interdisciplinary program of study centered on Russia and Eurasia. The program is regional in spirit, meaning that students can take subjects about a wide range of countries of Eastern/Central Europe, the Slavic states, and Central Asia.

Two intermediate (Levels III and IV) subjects in the Russian language are required to satisfy Area I. These subjects are not offered at MIT, but may be taken at Harvard University or Wellesley College through cross-registration. For more information, see Undergraduate Education in Part 1.

Additional information can be obtained from the minor advisor, Professor Elizabeth Wood, Room E51-282, 617-253-3255,, or from the HASS academic administrator, Liz Friedman, Room 4-240,


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