MIT Letters of Recommendation

November 28, 2022
By AdmissionSight

MIT Letters of Recommendation

How Many Letters Of Recommendation Does MIT Require?

MIT letters of recommendation play a significant role in the admissions process due to the highly competitive nature of the candidate pool. A strong recommendation letter for an outstanding candidate can highlight qualities apart from self-promoting in their application.

How many letters of recommendation does MIT require? The Massachusetts Institute of Technology requires two teachers to provide letters of recommendation. MIT suggests requesting two evaluations: one from a math/science teacher and another from a teacher of humanities, social sciences, or a language subject. Additionally, documentation is needed from your guidance counselor (usually, your official transcript and if available, a School Profile and a letter of recommendation).

What Should Be In An MIT Recommendation Letter?

What should be in an MIT recommendation letter? Although this is not a strict necessity, as discussed earlier, one recommendation should be from a math or science teacher and one recommendation should come from a humanities, social science, or language teacher.

Group of students talking to a teacher in a library.

You should speak with a teacher whom you previously studied under in a high school academic course. Ideally, this teacher will know you as more than just a pupil who performs well on all the tests. The greatest recommendations come from professors who are familiar with the applicant both as a student and as a person.

The following subjects are some suggestions from MIT which you can choose your instructors from for the MIT letters of recommendation:

Math/science evaluation potential subjects
  • Math
  • Biology
  • Chemistry
  • Physics
  • Earth science
  • Environmental science
  • Computer science
  • Engineering
  • Technology
  • Science research (as a class)
Humanities/social science/language potential subjects
  • English
  • History
  • Foreign language
  • Classics
  • Economics
  • Government
  • Psychology
  • Social studies
  • Geography

Evaluations of teachers and school counselors work best when they are detailed and compelling. They ought to provide details and opinions that the officers cannot learn from the rest of the application. The writers must give a whole picture of the student and the setting in which their achievements happened. When feasible, providing data and anecdotes to support the teachers’ conclusions can also be helpful.

In the recommendation, your instructions can try to address the following queries:

  • In what context do you and the applicant interact? Please state if you don’t know the candidate well and can only provide a summary.
  • Has the student shown a willingness to venture beyond the bounds of the typical classroom experience?
  • Does the candidate possess any special talent, competence, or leadership qualities?
  • What drives this individual? What makes them excited and happy?
  • How does the candidate interact with educators? Among peers? Describe their social skills and personality.
  • What do you remember the most about this individual?
  • If you are familiar with MIT, what makes you think this person might fit in well at MIT? How might they integrate into the MIT environment and benefit from their time there?
  • Has the applicant ever been let down or encountered failure? If so, how did they deal with it?
  • Are there any odd circumstances in the family or community that the school should be aware of?

You may advise your counselor or instructors to pay close attention to their opening and concluding statements. Because MIT is reviewing over 30,000 applications, the institution takes note of compelling remarks as each applicant is being assessed.

Recommenders are also encouraged to write in a manner that makes them feel at ease and not be afraid to share their sincere opinions. Above all, they must make sure to look beyond a student’s academic performance and grades. This information is already available in other areas of the student’s application.

What Is the Deadline For MIT Recommendation Letters?

What is the deadline for MIT recommendation letters? Early Action and Regular Decision applications to MIT have separate deadlines. The deadline for Early Action is November 1st while the due date for Regular Decision applications is January 5th. All the application materials must be submitted, including the MIT letters of recommendation.

Two people talking in front of a laptop while sitting on the couch of a living room.

Requesting recommendations will be possible through your MIT application portal. Before completing your application, you can request these letters at any moment, but sending the request as soon as you have decided whom you want to ask is highly encouraged, so the teachers can have enough time to write about you.

What Are the Requirements To Get Into MIT?

Although MIT no longer requires standardized testing, you are still welcome to submit your SAT or ACT scores if you believe they will strengthen your application.

So, what are the requirements to get into MIT? To become part of the applicant pool at MIT, each applicant must prepare and submit the following materials:

  • Completed MIT application general information, with parent information and field of study
  • The MIT activity list (with space for only four activities)
  • Short answer questions and one open-ended essay
  • Two letters of recommendation
  • MIT Self-Reported Coursework form
  • Secondary school report that includes an official high school transcript, as well as (optionally) a counselor recommendation and a school profile
  • Mid-year and final grade reports
  • Standardized test results
  • English proficiency test results
  • $75 application fee (you may request a fee waiver)

Additionally, MIT offers candidates the chance to submit additional materials—such as additional MIT letters of recommendation—to support their application. Candidates are strongly encouraged by the institution to submit these materials electronically. A small number of Educational Counselor interviews are also available.

Testing Requirement

The testing requirements for the 2022–2023 application cycle have been modified. Both prospective first-year and transfer students must take the SAT or ACT, though the SAT optional essay, as well as the ACT writing section, are not necessary.

Female student talking to a student in a room with books.

MIT places high importance on writing and communication even though it does not require the ACT writing portion or the SAT optional essay. The institution believes that students in all fields should be taught how to present information convincingly and how to create clear, orderly, and expressive language. As a result, all MIT undergraduates must satisfy the Communication Requirement that incorporates training and practice in speaking and writing throughout all four years and all areas of the undergraduate curriculum at MIT.

Non-Native English Speakers

If you have been using English for less than five years or do not use English at home or in school, non-native English speakers are advised to submit the results of an English proficiency exam so that they can be considered along with the rest of your application.

The following English proficiency tests are accepted:

  • Cambridge English Qualifications (C1 Advanced or C2 Proficiency)
  • Duolingo English Test (DET)
  • IELTS (International English Language Testing System)
  • Pearson Test of English (PTE) Academic
  • TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language)

Supplementary Materials

Creative Portfolios

Researchers, performers, visual artists, and makers can use SlideRoom to upload optional portfolios for MIT staff or faculty to assess. For Early Action applicants, portfolios must be submitted by November 1 and for Regular Action, portfolios must be submitted by January 5.

Essays and Activities

The MIT application consists of several short answer questions that are meant to let MIT get to know you better rather than requiring you to submit a single, lengthy essay. Take note that this is not a formal writing test. You have the chance to connect with MIT by being sincere, open, and genuine in your essays.

You should also be careful when writing your essays, but if you spend too much time worrying or planning how to “look your best” rather than giving straightforward, honest responses, you are doing it incorrectly.

Please detail your activities using the application form rather than a résumé. Only four things can be listed, so please pick the four activities that mean the most to you and discuss each briefly.

MIT Questions

The following short essay questions are being asked for the 2022-2023 application:

  • 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.
  • Describe the world you come from (for example, your family, school, community, city, or town). How has that world shaped your dreams and aspirations?
  • MIT brings people with diverse backgrounds and experiences together to better the lives of others. Our students work to improve their communities in different ways, from tackling the world’s biggest challenges to being a good friend. Describe one way you have collaborated with people who are different from you to contribute to your community.
  • Tell us about a significant challenge you’ve faced (that you feel comfortable sharing) or something that didn’t go according to plan. How did you manage the situation?

Two hundred-word responses are required for each question. There is also a last, open-ended text box for further information where you can put anything else you feel is crucial for MIT to know.


MIT is interested in the person all in all, not simply how you seem on paper. That is why it provides applicants the opportunity to speak with a member of the MIT Educational Council, a global network of over 3,500 MIT alumni who volunteer their time to interview candidates in their local communities.

View of a woman talking to a student during an interview.

You might be given the option of a virtual or in-person interview for the 2022–23 application cycle, depending on what you and your educational counselor decide. Unfortunately, not all applicants will be offered this wonderful chance. But do not worry if you will not be interviewed, it will not hurt your chances of admission at all. The essays and MIT letters of recommendation can be your ways to showcase your personality and academic prowess.

What Does MIT Look For In Applications?

It’s common to feel as though your application has entered a black hole after pressing the submit button. This will also leave you wondering “What does MIT look for in applications?”

Your completed application will be evaluated by a senior admissions officer who will evaluate it holistically and within its appropriate context. Additional admissions officers will then review strong applicants and will summarize the evaluation for the Admissions Committee.

These summaries, along with the rest of your application, will be sent to the selection committee, where several groups comprising various faculty members and members of the admissions staff will weigh in.

View of a young man talking to two unidentified people.

Before an application is added to the admission pile, it will be heavily discussed and debated by at least a dozen individuals. Everything in the MIT admissions process is quite deliberate. The committee procedure makes sure that every choice is fair in the context of the entire application pool and that no one person’s prejudices, preferences, or knowledge of a particular case can unjustly influence a choice.

In contrast to processes that are focused on schools or regions, MIT’s process is student-centered. This implies that each candidate stands on their own; the admissions officers do not read applications from students in your school or region to compare you to other applicants. No quotas are set for schools, states, or regions. If other outstanding students from your school or neighborhood are also applying, you are not at a disadvantage.

In the admissions process, MIT letters of recommendation can only support your performance prior to attending college but MIT also does not take legacy or alumni relationships into account. Any MIT admissions officer will tell you that while grades and test results are essential, the selection process is primarily driven by how well an applicant fits the Institute.

Here are some key components the school investigates to check if you are a match with MIT:

Alignment with the MIT Mission

The institution is not seeking applicants to have eliminated every infectious disease in the world by the time they are 15; keep in mind that there are several methods to improve the planet. One math tutor can transform the world. The world is changed by convincing a senator to change a poor policy. There are countless instances of how you can make an impact on the world.

Cooperative and Collaborative Attitude

Collaboration and cooperation are at the heart of the MIT spirit, which is evident throughout the whole Institute. At MIT, problem sets—what they call homework—are frequently intended to be completed in groups, and cross-department laboratories are rather common. Research at MIT is renowned for being interdisciplinary.


At MIT, opportunities abound, but one must grasp them. Students are not just handed research projects, funding, and engaging lectures on a silver platter there. MIT’s resources are unmatched for students who show initiative and utilize their resources effectively.


People who are not only prepared to succeed but also unafraid to fail should apply to MIT. People who take chances in life develop resilience since failure occurs more frequently than success does when they take risks. The most innovative and successful individuals—and MIT is full of them—understand that failure is a part of life and that with persistence and focus, goals can be achieved.


MIT is a dynamic, practical environment. Innovation may be messy and risky. Trying something new and getting your hands dirty is frequently the greatest way to succeed. At MIT, theoretical knowledge and practical issues are combined; the Latin for MIT’s motto is “Mind and Hand.” To put it another way, you should also act and not just keep ideas in your mind.

Vigor, Interest, and Excitement

In essence, you ought to be invested in the things that truly matter to you. One word is important at MIT: explore! You do not need to do a million things to get into college; instead, choose quality over quantity. It will be sufficient if you put your heart into a few things that you genuinely care about.

The MIT Community’s Character

The community is made up of people that look out for one another, encourage one another, and motivate one another to achieve their most potential in work and dreams. The school wants to welcome those who will naturally uphold the values of the MIT community.

Prioritizing Balance

Contrary to what you may have heard, work is not the only thing that happens here. You must prioritize some downtime in order to succeed at MIT. Making downtime a priority while in high school is also appreciated. The first question, “Tell us about something you do simply for the pleasure of it.” is not a ruse. Answer with all honesty.

Students that excel in STEM fields are known to be accepted to MIT. Today, however, the university aims to break the mold and create a student population with individuals who demonstrate extra attributes, such as the strength of character as can be seen in the key components MIT looks for in applicants.

MIT is incredibly selective, but your chances of acceptance depend on how strong your profile is. If you aim to be part of the admitted students in the coming admissions cycle, better seek professional help to boost your chances at MIT. AdmissionSight has helped thousands of students get into top universities in the country for 10 years now. Feel free to schedule an appointment for an initial consultation to discuss your application with AdmissionSight experts.

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