First-Year Academics: General Institute Requirements (GIRS)
All MIT undergraduates must complete 17 General Institute Requirements (GIRs). During your first semester, most of your program will involve the GIRs, which will lay the foundation for study in your major. In your second semester, you might add subjects to help you explore your anticipated major.
Depending on your background and AP or transfer credit, during your first semester you'll most likely take 3 subjects in the Science Core—Biology, Calculus, Chemistry, or Physics—as well as an appropriate Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences (HASS) subject. These subjects, all part of the GIRs, serve as your entrée into any major department.
You should also enroll in at least one Physical Education class in your first semester in order to complete this requirement by the end of sophomore year.
The GIRs include:
In order to fulfill the Biology GIR, you'll need to take one of the following introductory 12-unit subjects: 7.012, 7.013, 7.014, or 7.016.
Also see the Biology page in this section for information on the variations of the Biology GIR.
View the Biology GIR Video: Prof. Hazel Sive
In order to fulfill the Calculus GIR, you'll need to take two of the introductory 12-unit subjects listed below.
- One version of 18.01: 18.01, 18.01A, or 18.014, AND
- One version of 18.02: 18.02, 18.02A, 18.022, or 18.024.
See the Calculus page in this section for information on the variations of 18.01 and 18.02.
View the Calculus GIR video: Prof. Haynes Miller
In order to fulfill the Chemistry GIR, you'll need to take one of the following introductory 12-unit subjects: 5.111, 5.112, or 3.091.
See the Chemistry page in this section for information about the differences among the Chemistry GIR subjects.
View the Chemistry GIR video: Prof. John Essigmann
In order to fulfill the Physics GIR, you'll need to take two of the introductory 12-unit subjects listed below.
- One version of 8.01 (Mechanics): 8.01, 8.01L, 8.011, or 8.012, AND
- One version of 8.02 (Electricity and Magnetism): 8.02 or 8.022
See the Physics in this section for information on the variations of 8.01 and 8.02.
View the Physics GIR video: Prof. Nergis Mavalvala
The Communication Requirement is a paced requirement of four Communication Intensive subjects, one in each of your four years.
In your freshman year you must complete a Communication Intensive subject offered in the School of Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences, labeled CI-H or CI-HW.
View the Communication Requirement GIR video: Prof. Diana Henderson
Over your four years you must take eight HASS subjects, fulfilling the three components of the HASS Requirement—Distribution, Concentration, Electives.
View the HASS Requirement GIR Video: Profs. Diana Henderson and Chris Capozzola
Normally you will meet the Lab requirement in your second or third year by taking one 12-unit or two 6-unit subjects, designated for this requirement, in your major department.
You are expected to pass the swim test and earn 8 Physical Education points by the end of your sophomore year. PE classes earn 2 points each and are offered in 4 quarters during the academic year and in IAP, so it's quite possible to complete your PE requirement during your first year.
See the Physical Education website for complete information on the PE GIR.
View Physical Education video: Carrie Sampson Moore
Students ordinarily take two subjects from a list of approved REST subjects in their second year. One is taken within the major department; the other must be from another department.