MIT Traditions

December 31, 2022
By AdmissionSight

MIT Traditions

Cambridge, Massachusetts is home to the prestigious private land-grant research institution known as the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). It was founded in 1861, and since then, it has been one of the most influential academic institutions in the history of the advancement of contemporary technology and science. Throughout the years, the university has nurtured so many MIT traditions that are well-loved by its constituents.

Being a student at MIT does not only involve pure academics; you will also find yourself enjoying their rich traditions and learning about its worthwhile history. You will also learn how to get involved in the school’s active student communities and make friends with people from many different backgrounds.

At AdmissionSight, our commitment to guiding each student through the difficulties of the admission process has remained constant throughout the years. Our dependable consulting ensures that your application will bring out the best in you. In the next parts of this article, we’ll talk about the important MIT traditions and how they make a college student’s life more enjoyable.

Are academics at MIT hard?

Thousands of prospective students often wonder, “Are academics at MIT hard?” MIT can be challenging academically, and even a tremendous amount of hard work might not be enough for some students.

an MIT standee

In addition, an interest in STEM disciplines is not sufficient to assure enrollment at MIT. You should bear in mind that being a student at this elite college entails meeting new people with high levels of intelligence; consequently, you must be performing really well academically in order to fit in. Striving to be in the top half of the brightest people there can be difficult as well, as everyone there will be extremely intelligent and focused on STEM fields.

On the other hand, there are HASS concentrations at this institution, but it does not mean that students do not learn other subjects. If you have a passion for the humanities, music, or something else, you do not have to give up that desire if you get accepted to MIT.

As mentioned earlier, being a student at MIT could be both mentally taxing and academically challenging in equal measure since the classes here can be really challenging. We suggest that if you are granted admission, you should learn to balance your life priorities to avoid being mentally drained and exhausted, which could lead to various mental difficulties.

Furthermore, there is one more factor to consider, and that is the fact that there are many excellent teachers and professors, indicating that they are indeed quite intelligent. Keep in mind, however, that this does not imply that all of them are the same; some of them are excellent, while others are adequate but more interested in research.

In addition to allowing students to experience MIT traditions, the institution also caters to all students’ needs by preparing them for life after college. With this, it became one of the leading institutions in the nation that takes into account the student’s welfare once they graduate.

If you make the most of the available resources, you can graduate from MIT with a large quantity of undergraduate research under your belt, as well as high-paying internships, coops, and other chances. And if you do well in college, you will certainly receive a decent job offer after you graduate.

Among their many commendable qualities, MIT students are well-known for their relentless thirst for knowledge, their dedication and drive for success in their respective disciplines, and their willingness to collaborate toward a common objective. Prospective students can feel confident that their colleagues will be highly motivated to study because students at both the undergraduate and graduate levels have the opportunity to do research.

List of MIT Traditions

Many other colleges have more formal traditions than MIT does, yet MIT has a rich culture of informal traditions and lingo all its own. There are a few large-scale events, such as Commencement (graduation), but many smaller, decentralized events sponsored by different parts of the MIT community who share a common interest. We have previously mentioned that students at MIT also know how to have fun, and the following is an exciting list of MIT traditions, along with other interesting facts about the institution:

Tim the Beaver

MIT’s mascot, Tim the Beaver, makes appearances at sporting events, charity events, and other school functions.

beaver, the inspiration behind MIT's official mascot

“Tim” is the initials of “MIT” spelled backward. Because of their reputation as “nature’s engineers,” the MIT community chose to adopt a beaver as its official mascot. On January 17, 1914, at the Technology Club of New York’s annual dinner, this decision was reached. If you can’t find a citation, Beaver was President Maclaurin’s idea. Many MIT sports teams adopt Tim or The Engineers as their mascot.

Brass Rat

The MIT class ring is known as the “Brass Rat.” MIT students receive theirs in their sophomore year, and they continue to “sit” with the beaver on them until they graduate.

The custom began in the spring of 1929 when the senior class president, C. Brigham Allen, gathered together a member from each of the classes of 1930, 1931, and 1932 to design a ring that would be approved by the Institute Committee as the Standard Technology Ring. They were at a loss as to which symbol should go on the bezel of the ring; either the Beaver or the Dome.

The Committee referred back to the initial debate that took place about the selection of the mascot and referenced the now-famous defense of the beaver that was given by Lester Gardner, who graduated in 1897.

Keeping this in mind, in addition to the fact that many other schools had buildings that were comparable to MIT’s Great Dome, the Committee ultimately decided to honor their hard-working and industrious mascot in the ring. Because of this decision, the class of 1930 got to wear the first Standard Technology Ring, which became known as the “Brass Rat” in later years.

During the commencement ceremony, the ring will be turned around so that the Beaver will be positioned on top of the world. According to urban legend, it is the third most famous ring in the world, following in the footsteps of the Pope Ring and the Superbowl Ring. With this, we can’t really miss out on Brass Rat in discussing the famous MIT traditions.

Front view of an MIT building - one of the best computer science schools in the world

Every class has then established its very own Ring Committee with the responsibility of preserving these time-honored traditions. The committee’s goal is to design a ring that the students at MIT can be proud to wear until graduation and will join all of the alumni of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Course Numbering

Students at MIT use just numbers when referring to their majors and courses. Course I is in Civil and Environmental Engineering and Course XXII is in Nuclear Science & Engineering, with the numbers roughly corresponding to when the respective majors were established. Since Electrical Engineering and Computer Science is the most popular major, those who study in this field refer to themselves as “Course VI.”

When referring to courses at MIT, students use a combination of the department’s course number and the number assigned to the class number; for example, the course that most universities refer to as “Physics 101” is “8.01” at MIT. A decimal point and “oh” for “0” are dropped from the pronunciation of course numbers to save space (unless zero is the last number). The numbers “8.01,” “6.001,” and “7.20” are all pronounced as follows: “eight oh one,” “six double oh one,” and “seven twenty,” respectively.

Bad Ideas Weekend

This event is hosted by MIT every January and features a range of competitions, activities, and attractions. This weekend allows MIT students and alumni to come up with the worst ideas imaginable. It is possible to design and construct without any specifications or acceptable technical practices. With Bad Ideas Weekend, you can take your ideas straight to the ground.

MIT Mystery Hunt

An annual competition for solving puzzles is held at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology under the name “MIT Mystery Hunt,” one of the most popular MIT traditions.

It is one of the world’s oldest and most difficult puzzle hunts, and it draws over 120 teams and 3,000 competitors each year (with approximately 2,000 on campus). Each team consists of anywhere from five to one hundred and fifty people.

When the teams get together to receive their first puzzles at noon on the Friday before Martin Luther King Jr. Day, the treasure hunt officially gets underway. The last step is to solve a series of puzzles in order to locate a “coin” that has been buried somewhere on the MIT campus.

Three students smiling during an event.

Since the team that won the competition the year before comes up with the rules and format for each puzzle hunt, there is a lot of room for variation from one hunt to the next.

Earlier treasure hunts only consisted of a few dozen linear puzzles, but modern hunts have become increasingly difficult, with some containing as many as 160 unique puzzles that are organized into rounds, hidden rounds, and meta puzzles. In recent hunts, the organizers have also used a skit at the opening ceremony to show the themes that will be used.

Pi Day

Pi Day, which occurs every year on March 14, is the day on which MIT announces its undergraduate admissions decisions. In order to pay equal homage to the competing numbers pi and tau, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) has declared that beginning in the year 2012, it would publicly publish its admission decisions online on Pi Day at exactly 6:28 pm, which they have dubbed “Tau Time.”

In the year 2015, the regular decisions were published online at 9:26 am, immediately following that year’s “pi minute.” In the year 2020, however, the regular decisions were published at 1:59 pm, completing the first six digits of pi. With this, Pi Day is indeed one of the most interesting MIT traditions.


At MIT, hacking has been around for a long time as one of the known MIT traditions and is ingrained in the institution’s ethos. It may be characterized as either the inquisitive exploration of MIT’s campus or the planning and execution of harmless pranks, tricks, and inventive inventions that display creativity and cunning.

Exemplary hacks have been carried out in such a way that the hackers themselves have remained unharmed, no one else has been hurt, and neither personal property nor property belonging to the institute has been damaged, all while preserving the confidentiality of individuals and their personal dignity.

In the end, individuals are accountable for their actions as well as any repercussions, deliberate or otherwise, that result from those activities. As a responsible person, you shouldn’t do anything that might make a police officer or MIT worker feel unsafe while they are doing their jobs.

While “hack etiquette” is a very valuable guide, responsible behavior also includes not acting in a manner that violates the “hack etiquette”. The act of labeling anything as a hack does not make previously illegal activity legitimate behavior, nor does it serve as an excuse or justification for actions that violate MIT policy. Even if a hack was not involved, MIT policy violations can still lead to punishment.

Does MIT have student clubs?

Does MIT have student clubs? There are more than 450 recognized student organizations at MIT, and their activities include a campus radio station, a student newspaper called The Tech, an annual entrepreneurship competition, a crime club, and monthly screenings of popular films organized by the Lecture Series Committee.

A model train club, an active folk dance scene, and the “world’s largest open-shelf collection of science fiction” in English are some of the less typical activities managed by such organizations at MIT as well. Through the MIT Museum, Edgerton Center, and MIT Public Service Center, students, faculty, and staff are actively engaged in over 50 educational outreach and public service initiatives. You can witness different clubs participating in various MIT traditions as well.

The Independent Activities Period is a “term” that lasts for four weeks and occurs between the fall and spring semesters at the university. During this time, students have the opportunity to participate in a wide variety of elective seminars, lectures, and other activities. Every year, more than 250 students from the United States and other countries do internships at different businesses.

At MIT, you can find a place to exhibit your passions. It can be anywhere from ethnic and cultural associations, to musical, theater, and dance groups, to religious organizations, to activism groups. As previously mentioned, you can join the school’s newspaper, debate team, radio station, student government, and many more.

Is there a Greek life at MIT?

Is there a Greek life at MIT? At MIT, fraternities and sororities also function as a nexus for extracurricular activities. On campus, there are dozens of separate men’s, women’s, and co-ed Greek Life chapters. Approximately one thousand undergraduates are members of these groups, with males comprising 48% and women making up 30% of the membership. MIT’s active Greek and co-op housing systems are comprised of thirty-six fraternities, sororities, and independent living organizations.

In addition, there is a cluster of fraternities on MIT’s West Campus that face the Charles River Basin. The majority of Fraternities, Sororities & Independent Living Groups (FSILGs) are located on the other side of the river in Back Bay, which is close to the location where MIT was established.

Furthermore, following the tragic death of Scott Krueger in 1997, a new pledge at the Phi Gamma Delta fraternity, MIT made it mandatory for all incoming first-year students to live in the on-campus dormitory system beginning in the year 2002. The new rules could not be imposed until Simmons Hall was completed in that year; prior to that, FSILGs had housed as many as 300 freshmen away from campus.

In particular, there are five sororities on the MIT campus, and they are the following:

  1. Alpha Chi Omega
  2. Alpha Epsilon Phi
  3. Alpha Phi
  4. Kappa Alpha Theta
  5. Sigma Kappa

At this prestigious institution, aside from participating in and engaging in MIT traditions, students can also be a part of active fraternities and sororities.

Does MIT have good athletics?

Does MIT have good athletics? With 31 varsity sports, MIT is one of the three schools in NCAA Division III with the most complete athletic programs.

MIT is a member of the following:

  • NCAA’s Division III
  • New England Women’s and Men’s Athletic Conference
  • New England Football Conference
  • NCAA’s Division I Patriot League for Women’s Crew
  • Collegiate Water Polo Association (CWPA) for Men’s Water Polo.

The MIT Engineers, who compete in intercollegiate athletics, have taken home 22 team national championships and 42 individual national championships over the course of their history. MIT has produced more Academic All-Americas than any other Division III school in history and ranks second overall among all NCAA Divisions.

View of students rowing in the river.

MIT Athletes came out on top, winning 13 Elite 90 trophies, placing them in first place among NCAA Division III programs and in third place overall among all divisions. Eight of MIT’s 41 sports were eliminated in April 2009 due to financial cuts. These sports included mixed men’s and women’s teams in alpine skiing and shooting, separate men’s and women’s teams in ice hockey and gymnastics, and men’s programs in golf and wrestling.

How diverse is MIT?

How diverse is MIT? It is necessary for the educational goal of MIT to enroll a varied student population, and it is essential for the institution to make sure that its students get the most out of their education by enrolling students from a variety of backgrounds.

It is essential that this objective be accomplished in order to enhance the quality of the education that is provided to all students at MIT. You can check out our blog post that explains the MIT diversity statistics in further detail.

MIT traditions can surely give a lot of unforgettable memories to students. Your college life at this prestigious institution won’t be complete and full of enjoyable memories without those traditions mentioned earlier. If MIT is your dream college and learning about its remarkable traditions has strongly convinced you to enroll, we at AdmissionSight are here to provide our quality consulting service and help you achieve your goals. Contact us to learn about our service from our trusted team.







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