What is MIT Known For? Is MIT a Good School?

Founded in 1861, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology — or MIT, as it is more commonly referred to — is a private institution for higher education located in Cambridge, just outside of Boston, MA. 

First-year students are required to live on the school’s 168-acre urban campus. After their first year at the school, students are permitted to live off-campus; around 70% of all undergraduates choose to continue to live in school housing.  

Total undergraduate enrollment at MIT is 4,368 as of the fall of 2021, plus an additional 7,296 graduate students. This means that total enrollment at the school comes to 11,934, making the school relatively small compared to others. 

MIT is made up of five schools, all of which share a focus on research in the areas of the sciences and technology. 

Notable MIT alumni include astronaut and second man to walk on the moon Buzz Aldrin, co-founder and CEO of Buzzfeed Jonah Peretti, 91 Nobel Prize winners, and many more distinguished public figures. 

In fact, MIT alumni have been present on about one-third of all of the United States’ manned space missions.

If you have heard of MIT but are interested in learning more about what this famous school has to offer, we’ve got you covered. 

Read on to learn more about what MIT is best known for, its strongest sports teams, and much more.

What Majors & Academics Are MIT Known For?

Public domain photo by Daderot via Wikimedia Commons

Just as the school’s name suggests, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology is most well-known for its technology-related programs. The school also excels in the STEM field more broadly. 

In 2022, QS World University Rankings ranked MIT #1 worldwide in 12 different subject areas. These include chemistry, computer science, mathematics, physics, astronomy, and several areas within the engineering field.

Aside from the sciences, MIT was also named the best school for studying linguistics and architecture. In fact, the MIT School of Architecture and Planning was the very first formal program of its kind in the US. 

The variety of architectural styles featured across the MIT campus reflects their innovation in the field of architecture, with a diverse mixture of modernist and post-modernist buildings. 

Another defining characteristic of MIT as a university is its emphasis on undergraduate research. More than 85% of undergraduate students at MIT complete research at some point before graduating from the college.

Students have the opportunity to get involved with faculty-led, professional-quality research efforts through the school’s Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program.

Is MIT a Good School?

The short answer: yes, MIT is a good school. 

It has a longstanding reputation as one of the most prestigious universities in the world, in terms of not just its undergraduate program offerings, but also its graduate programs and its research efforts.

For ten years in a row as of 2022, MIT has been ranked the #1 university in the world, according to QS World University Rankings. On top of that, QS also ranked MIT first in 12 different subject areas and second in two others that same year.

In addition to its consistently high rankings, MIT’s strong reputation is also supported by its career outcomes. 

According to a 2021 survey by the school, an impressive 95% of graduating bachelor’s students were either employed or enrolled in graduate school by the summer immediately following graduation.  

Looking at graduating master’s students the same year, 80% of MIT’s graduates secured employment by that summer. Another 16% were enrolled in another postgraduate program, leaving only 4% of MIT’s 2021 master’s students unaccounted for. 

In sum, earning a degree from MIT all but guarantees one’s prospect of landing a job in the relevant field of study immediately upon completion of one’s studies. 

MIT Traditions

One of MIT’s long-standing traditions is the Water War on Killian Court, during which students who live in dorms on the east side of campus face off against those who live on the west side of campus. 

This cherished tradition dates back to the early 2000s and has since become an official part of MIT’s Residential Exploration Week, a series of events intended to welcome new first-year students into the MIT community. 

Surprisingly, the Water War is not the only MIT tradition that involves getting wet. There is also the mandatory swim test, a requirement for graduation that is unique to the school. 

Although students have until their final semester to complete the swim test requirement or a swimming course, hundreds of first-year students each year choose to complete the test during orientation. 

To pass the swim test, all students have to do is jump into the Zesiger Center pool and successfully swim 100 yards — or four times the width of the pool — without stopping. There is no time limit or required style, so students are allowed to doggy paddle at a snail’s pace if they so desire. 

Prominent Clubs & Extracurricular Activities at MIT

Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Public domain photo by Daderot via Wikimedia Commons

The Massachusetts Institute of Technology is home to more than 450 different student organizations and extracurricular activities, equaling about one club for every 10 students at the school. 

With so many options to choose from, ranging from relatively common extracurriculars to more unconventional clubs, students are sure to find a club that suits their interests at MIT. 

One of the most popular clubs at MIT is the Energy Club, which aims to provide a space for students, faculty, and others to come together to discuss energy-related issues and the pressing threat of climate change. 

Each year, the MIT Energy Club hosts a number of events. One of these is the MIT Energy Conference, one of the country’s most prominent student-led energy conferences. 

The conference draws in over 600 attendees annually and has featured notable keynote speakers, such Ernest Moniz, former US Secretary of Energy.

On the stranger side, there is the MIT Laboratory for Chocolate Science, which boasts the student organization on MIT’s campus that orders over 500 pounds of chocolate annually. The club is devoted to the art of chocolate appreciation, but through a scientific lens.

The MIT Lab for Chocolate Science hosts tastings, scientific lectures, and other chocolate-related events.

What Sports Are MIT Known For?

The Massachusetts Institute of Technology is home to 33 varsity sports teams, making the school’s athletic program the largest in the NCAA’s Division III.  

Known as the MIT Engineers, most of MIT’s athletic teams compete in the New England Women’s and Men’s Athletic Conference (NEWMAC).

One of the strongest schools in their division, the MIT Engineers have won a total of 22 national team championships and 42 individual championships.

Since the NEWMAC does not include all of the sports offered at MIT, the school’s other sports teams compete in a variety of different conferences. One of MIT’s most prominent athletic programs is women’s rowing, which is a Division I team that has been ranked within the top ten in its division.

MIT’s football team is also known for being fiercely competitive, ranking in third place out of the 221 collegiate teams in their division. 

In addition to their varsity sports teams, MIT also offers an extensive array of successful club athletic programs, including taekwondo, wrestling, rugby, and much more. 

The college’s club teams compete at several national and regional tournaments, often in the top ten. 

As many as 900 students participate in one of the 33 teams making up MIT’s club sports program.

Why MIT?

There are tons of reasons why students choose MIT. 

From its world-class academic programs in sciences to its expansive, internationally-acclaimed research in the technology and engineering fields, it is inevitable that earning a degree from MIT will set any student up nicely for a future in the STEM profession of their dreams. 

Another reason to choose MIT is that statistics show that this elite college’s students are happy with what the school has to offer. With a nearly perfect first-year retention rate of 99% — one of the best in the country — it is safe to say that the vast majority of MIT students feel satisfied at the school.

MIT has a four-year graduation rate of 85%, more than 25% higher than the national average. This puts MIT students among the most likely to graduate on time in the country.

On top of that, MIT boasts an astonishingly low student-to-faculty ratio of just 3:1. Even further, 70.1% of MIT classes have fewer than 20 students, meaning that students have the opportunity to receive one-on-one guidance and support from the school’s highly-esteemed faculty regularly.

With each class year having an average of around 1,00 or so students, MIT offers students the perks of a small, tight-knit learning community of peers and expert mentors — along with state-of-the-art research facilities, housing, and resources.

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