How to Get Into MIT: Acceptance Rate & Strategies
May 24, 2023
Most of the 26,000+ annual applicants to MIT would qualify as “geniuses” when measured by sheer IQ and traditional academic achievement. Yet, somehow the majority of this highly-capable applicant pool gets left behind each year as the MIT acceptance rate remains under 5%. Back in the early 1990s, the applicant pool was only one-fifth as large, and 30% or more were let through the gates each cycle. In 1992, for example, the average test score of an MIT freshman was 1,389; today it is roughly 1540. Grades, however, were similar, as 40% of the Class of 1996 finished first in their class and 97th were in the top decile. So, what can we learn from this little journey back to the last millennium? Essentially, MIT has always accepted only brilliant and highly-accomplished teens, but today it rejects the vast majority of students fitting that description.
Every successful MIT applicant possesses a sparkling transcript, perfect or near-perfect standardized test scores, and prodigious talents that extend outside of the classroom. Unfortunately, these attributes are necessary but often not sufficient, as MIT rejects valedictorians every single day of the admissions cycle.
The intent of this article is to give those considering applying to MIT a thorough understanding of the following topics:
- Where is MIT Located?
- Is MIT Ivy League?
- MIT’s Class of 2027 EA acceptance rate
- MIT’s Class of 2027 acceptance rate
- SAT, GPA, and class rank of accepted MIT applicants
- Admissions trends from the Class of 2027
- How MIT rates applicants
- A look at the demographics of MIT undergraduates
- MIT’s yield rate
- Tips for applying
- MIT essay prompts
- How to assess whether applying to MIT is worth the $75 application fee
Let’s begin with an examination of the most recent admissions data.
Where is MIT located?
MIT is located in Cambridge, Massachusetts. The campus is set along the Charles River, where it has been since Abraham Lincoln ascended to the presidency. Of course, MIT–one of the most prestigious schools in the world may not even be the famed school in the city of Cambridge–Harvard is located just a couple of miles away.
Is MIT Ivy League?
MIT is not one of the Ivy League Schools. However, it is every bit as selective and highly-respected as the Ivies. We sometimes refer to MIT as “Ivy-Equivalent”.
MIT Early Action Acceptance Rate – Class of 2027
A total of 11,924 students applied early action for a place in the MIT Class of 2027. In the 2022-23 cycle, 685 of those applicants were offered admission, equating to a 5.7% acceptance rate. The school deferred 7,892 applicants to the regular round and outright rejected 2,815 individuals.
MIT Acceptance Rate – Class of 2027
There were 26,914 applications submitted for a place in the 2023-24 freshman class; just 1,259 were accepted. This means that MIT acceptance rate is 4.7%. For comparison, here are recent historical MIT acceptance rates:
- Class of 2026: 4.0%
- 2025: 4.0%
- 2024: 7.3%
MIT Admissions – SAT, GPA, and Class Rank
Students admitted into the Class of 2026 possessed mid-50% scores of 790-800 on the SAT Math and 730-780 on the SAT ERW. The range of ACT Composite scores was 35-36. In a typical year, 95% or more students or more enrolled students placed in the top 10% of their high school class. While they do not release information on average GPA, it is fair to say that most admitted students have an unweighted 4.0 (or very close to it) earned within a full roster of AP/IB courses.
Admissions Trends & Notes
- MIT ceased being test-optional with applicants to the Class of 2027.
- As a result of the testing policy change, the total number of applicants decreased from 33,796 for the Class of 2026 to 26,914 last year.
- Those accepted into the Class of 2027 came from 50 states and 63 countries.
- 900 different high schools are represented in the admitted Class of 2027.
- The 2022-23 admissions cycle saw the lowest number of admitted students in recent history. This is due their increasing yield rate and desire to keep the freshman class size around 1,100 students.
How MIT Rates Applicants
Straight from the mouth of an MIT admissions officer—there is no formula for getting into MIT. The admissions staff truly feels that they could build two or three “perfect” classes out of their annual applicant pool. Since that is an impossibility, many “perfect-fit” applicants will be rejected in the end.
According to the admissions committee, character/personal qualities are rated as “very important” while eight other components register as “important”. Those factors are: rigor of coursework, GPA, standardized test scores, essays, recommendations, the interview, extracurricular activities, and talent/ability. Let’s take a deeper dive into those last two, as they play an enormous role in gaining entrance into this esteemed university…
Who is MIT looking for?
Being a so-called Renaissance man (or woman) was impressive in the 16th century. A genius might be the very best person in their town at painting, writing, conducting scientific experiments, jousting, and playing the lute. However, in a technologically modern and globalized world, you don’t need to rely on the neighborhood genius when you have a hankering for some lovely lute music—you can listen to the very best lutenists in the world on Spotify whenever you like.
What does this have to do with MIT admissions? Simple: MIT (as with schools like Stanford or Harvard) is looking for young people who are among the best, or, have the potential to be among the very best at something in the world. Just look at the lists of notable MIT alumni and you’ll get a sense of what the University is looking for: the next generation of tech geniuses whose inventions will literally change the world in which we live, as well as astronauts, Nobel Prize winners, Chairs of the Federal Reserve, and world leaders.
For advice about how to stand out on the curricular front check out our previous blog entitled How Many Extracurricular Activities Do I Need for College?
Who Actually Gets Into MIT?
Let’s look at the demographics of the Class of 2026.
Geographically, the Class of 2026 was comprised of:
- International Students: 13%
- Mid-Atlantic States: 20%
- Southern States & Puerto Rico: 14%
- Western States: 19%
- Southwest and Mountain: 14%
- Midwestern & Plains States: 11%
- New England: 10%
- Abroad: 9%
Competition is stiffest amongst those hailing from states with endless streams of qualified applicants (the entire Northeast, the West Coast). If you hail from the Deep South or a less-populated state like Wyoming or North Dakota, your location is more likely to provide a boost to your admissions chances.
Looking at ethnic identity, the breakdown of the 2022-23 freshman cohort was as follows:
- White: 38%
- Asian: 40%
- Hispanic: 14%
- African American: 13%
- American Indian: 1%
An examination of what type of high schools members of the Class of 2026 attended shows the following:
- Public: 67%
- Independent: 15%
- Religious: 8%
- Foreign: 9%
- Home School: 1%
The gender split for the Class of 2026 was fairly even:
- Male: 44%
- Female: 43%
- Other gender identity: 3%
- Did not disclose: 9%
Most People Who Get Accepted Choose to Attend
MIT’s yield rate—the number of accepted students who elect to enroll, divided by the total number of students who are admitted is 86%. This number is absurdly high and helps to explain why the acceptance rate is so very low. For comparison, elite schools such as Johns Hopkins, Carnegie Mellon, Vanderbilt, Rice, Emory, and Georgetown all have yield rates around or under 50%.
Tips for Applying to MIT
If you plan on joining the 27,000 MIT hopefuls for the next admissions cycle, you should know the following:
- MIT uses its own separate application so plan on devoting a good deal of time to this one (Sorry, Common App fans).
- Additionally, the school does not consider “demonstrated interest” so you will not be judged on whether or not you made a campus visit, contacted an admissions officer, etc.
- MIT requires all U.S. applicants to self-report their coursework. In doing so, make sure to avoid abbreviations and only enter the final grade that appears on your official transcript as the “grade received”.
- Also make sure to dedicate sufficient time and effort to the supplemental essay and short answers required by MIT. In the 2022-23 cycle, they are as follows:
For the 2022–2023 application, we’re asking these short answer essay questions:
- 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)
- 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)
- 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)
- 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)
- 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)
For detailed advice on how to address each prompt, visit our blog: MIT Essay Prompts and Tips.
MIT Acceptance Rate – Final Thoughts
If you are academically qualified, there is no harm in filling out an MIT application, but—as with all uber-elite colleges in 2023—even the best and brightest applicants need to have a rock-solid backup plan. All college-bound teens need to make sure that they formulate an appropriate college list, containing a complement of “target” and “safety” schools. You’ll definitely want to do this in conjunction with an admissions professional (including your own high school counselor).