MIT vs College of William and Mary: A Comprehensive Analysis

July 7, 2023
By AdmissionSight
Group of asian student talking in a library.

MIT vs College of William and Mary: A Comprehensive Analysis

Welcome to our in-depth analysis of MIT and the College of William and Mary, two of the most prestigious and renowned institutions in the United States. This comparative study will cover various aspects, including their history, campus culture, academic departments, admission criteria, faculty, campus resources, cost of attendance, student outcomes, sports, extracurricular activities, alumni networks, and criticisms.

Introduction: MIT vs College of William and Mary

MIT and William and Mary are two distinctive institutions, with contrasting approaches to education. While MIT is primarily focused on science, engineering, and technology, William and Mary offers a well-rounded liberal arts education. In this article, we will compare and evaluate these two institutions based on their strengths, weaknesses, and achievements.

MIT is renowned for its cutting-edge research and innovation in the fields of science, engineering, and technology. The institution has produced numerous Nobel laureates, Turing Award winners, and MacArthur Fellows. MIT’s research facilities and laboratories are state-of-the-art, and the institution has a strong emphasis on entrepreneurship and innovation.

On the other hand, William and Mary is known for its strong liberal arts curriculum, which emphasizes critical thinking, communication, and problem-solving skills. The institution has a rich history, dating back to 1693, and is the second-oldest college in the United States. William and Mary has a strong commitment to undergraduate education, and its faculty members are dedicated to teaching and mentoring students.

History and Legacy of MIT and the College of William and Mary

MIT and William and Mary have a rich and complex history, dating back to the 17th century. William and Mary is the second oldest university in the United States, founded in 1693. It has a long tradition of excellence in arts, humanities, and social sciences.

On the other hand, MIT was founded in 1861 with the mission to educate students in scientific and technological fields. Both institutions have shaped the United States in its pursuit of knowledge and innovation.

Female teacher talking to her students.


Despite their different missions, MIT and William and Mary have collaborated on numerous research projects over the years. In 2016, the two institutions partnered to launch the Joint Degree Program in Science and Policy, which allows students to earn a bachelor’s degree from William and Mary and a master’s degree from MIT in just five years. This program is a testament to the shared commitment of both institutions to interdisciplinary education and research.

Today, MIT and William and Mary continue to be leaders in their respective fields. MIT is consistently ranked as one of the top universities in the world for science and technology, while William and Mary is known for its strong liberal arts education and commitment to public service.

Together, these two institutions represent the best of American higher education and serve as a model for other universities around the world.

Campus Culture and Student Life: MIT vs College of William and Mary

There are many differences in campus culture and student life between these two notable institutions. At William and Mary, students focus on a well-rounded liberal arts education. The social scene is quite different here, with a vibrant fraternity and sorority community, and a strong school spirit.

MIT, on the other hand, emphasizes collaborative problem-solving, and students tend to have a more intense study schedule. There’s a strong focus on tech culture, with numerous hackathons and coding competitions taking place.

Despite these differences, both institutions offer a variety of extracurricular activities and clubs for students to get involved in. William and Mary has a strong tradition of community service, with many students participating in volunteer work both on and off campus.

MIT, on the other hand, has a thriving entrepreneurship culture, with many students starting their own businesses and participating in startup competitions. Both schools also offer a range of sports teams and fitness facilities for students to stay active and healthy.

Academic Programs and Departments: MIT vs College of William and Mary

Both institutions offer a variety of academic programs, but the fields of study differ significantly. MIT has a strong focus on STEM fields, and students have access to top-notch research facilities. William and Mary, on the other hand, provides a comprehensive liberal arts education, with programs spanning across the humanities, social sciences, and natural sciences.

Despite their differences, both institutions offer unique opportunities for students to explore their academic interests. MIT’s rigorous STEM programs prepare students for careers in cutting-edge fields such as artificial intelligence and biotechnology.

A man talking to his teacher in a classroom.

William and Mary’s liberal arts education, on the other hand, fosters critical thinking and communication skills that are valuable in any career path. Additionally, both institutions offer interdisciplinary programs that allow students to combine their interests in multiple fields, such as MIT’s computer science and economics joint major or William and Mary’s environmental science and policy program.

Admissions Criteria and Acceptance Rates: MIT vs College of William and Mary

The acceptance rates of MIT and William and Mary are both competitive, but they differ significantly. William and Mary only accepts around 35% of its applicants, whereas MIT only admits around 7% of students who applied. For both institutions, high academic achievements, extracurricular activities, and strong leadership skills are crucial factors during the admissions process.

However, there are some differences in the admissions criteria between the two institutions. MIT places a greater emphasis on STEM-related achievements and experiences, while William and Mary values a well-rounded education that includes a strong foundation in the humanities and social sciences. Additionally, William and Mary considers demonstrated interest in the school as a factor in the admissions process, while MIT does not.

It is also worth noting that both institutions have different approaches to standardized testing. While MIT requires either the SAT or ACT, William, and Mary is test-optional, meaning that applicants can choose whether or not to submit their test scores. This can be an advantage for students who may not perform as well on standardized tests but excel in other areas.

Faculty and Research Opportunities: MIT vs the College of William and Mary

Both MIT and William and Mary have renowned faculty members in their respective fields, with many receiving prestigious awards. MIT has faculty members such as Noam Chomsky, a world-renowned linguist, and Marvin Minsky, a pioneer in artificial intelligence.

William and Mary has faculty members such as James Blair and William Small, who were instrumental in the founding of the college. Both institutions offer ample research opportunities, with MIT having a stronger emphasis on technological innovation.

In addition to their renowned faculty members, both MIT and William and Mary have a strong commitment to interdisciplinary research. At MIT, the Media Lab brings together experts in fields such as computer science, engineering, and design to work on cutting-edge projects. William and Mary’s interdisciplinary programs include the Neuroscience Program, which combines biology, psychology, and philosophy to study the brain and behavior.

View of a woman writing in a table.

Furthermore, both institutions have a strong focus on undergraduate research opportunities. MIT’s Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program (UROP) allows students to work on research projects with faculty members and graduate students. William and Mary’s Charles Center provides funding and support for students to conduct independent research projects in a variety of fields.

Campus Resources, Facilities, and Infrastructure: Which Institution Provides Better Value?

MIT and William and Mary have state-of-the-art facilities and infrastructure to support the academic and extracurricular activities of students. MIT has specialized labs, including a nanotechnology lab, nuclear reactor, and wind tunnel. William and Mary has excellent libraries and cultural resources, including the Muscarelle Museum of Art.

Both institutions are known for providing excellent value, though MIT’s tuition fees are higher, reflecting its focus on research and technological innovation.

Additionally, MIT has a vast network of research centers and institutes, including the Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL) and the Media Lab. These centers provide students with opportunities to work on cutting-edge research projects and collaborate with leading experts in their fields.

On the other hand, William and Mary has a strong emphasis on undergraduate research, with opportunities for students to work closely with faculty members on research projects. The college also has a robust study abroad program, with partnerships with universities around the world, providing students with opportunities to gain international experience and broaden their perspectives.

Cost of Attendance: How Do These Two Institutions Compare?

The cost of attendance at both institutions varies significantly. William and Mary’s in-state tuition is around $23,000 per year, whereas MIT’s tuition is around $53,000 per year. Additionally, both institutions offer financial aid packages to students who qualify, which can help to make education more affordable.

However, it’s important to note that the cost of attendance goes beyond just tuition. Students also need to consider the cost of housing, textbooks, and other expenses. At William and Mary, the average cost of room and board is around $12,000 per year, while at MIT, it’s around $16,000 per year. This means that the total cost of attendance at MIT is significantly higher than at William and Mary.

Furthermore, both institutions have different approaches to financial aid. William and Mary offers need-based aid, which means that financial aid packages are determined based on a student’s financial need. MIT, on the other hand, offers need-blind admissions, which means that a student’s financial need is not taken into consideration during the admissions process. However, MIT does offer generous financial aid packages to students who demonstrate financial need.

Student Outcomes and Career Prospects: An Analysis of Post-Graduation Data

Both institutions have successful alumni, with many achieving incredible feats in their respective fields. According to data from PayScale, the median starting salary for MIT graduates is around $85,000 per year, whereas William and Mary graduates earn around $53,000 per year.

However, William and Mary graduates have a higher rate of law school admission and have a higher likelihood of attending graduate school than MIT.

Group of students laughing at each other.

Additionally, MIT graduates tend to have a higher percentage of employment in the technology industry, while William and Mary graduates have a higher percentage of employment in government and non-profit sectors. This could be attributed to the fact that William and Mary has a strong focus on public service and civic engagement, while MIT is known for its emphasis on science and technology.

Sports Teams, Clubs, and Extracurricular Activities: A Comparative Study

The extracurricular activities at both institutions are vast and varied, with numerous sports teams and social clubs available to students. MIT has a robust intramural sports program, and William and Mary has a thriving arts and culture scene. Both institutions offer a fantastic array of student organizations, including robotics clubs, writing groups, and debate societies.

However, there are some notable differences between the two institutions when it comes to extracurricular activities. MIT has a strong focus on STEM-related clubs and organizations, with a wide range of options for students interested in science, technology, engineering, and math. William and Mary, on the other hand, places a greater emphasis on the humanities and social sciences, with a variety of clubs and organizations dedicated to literature, history, and political science.

Another key difference is the level of involvement and support provided by faculty and staff. At MIT, professors and administrators are highly involved in extracurricular activities, often serving as advisors or mentors for student organizations. At William and Mary, while faculty members are supportive of student activities, there is less direct involvement from staff and administrators.

Alumni Networks and Philanthropic Contributions: MIT vs College of William and Mary

Both institutions have strong alumni networks, with many graduates contributing to various philanthropic causes. MIT alumni are known for being tech leaders, while William and Mary alumni are renowned in the legal and political sectors. Both institutions have long-standing traditions of giving back to their communities and helping the next generation.

Recent studies have shown that alumni networks play a crucial role in the philanthropic contributions of universities. According to a survey conducted by the Council for Advancement and Support of Education, alumni giving accounts for a significant portion of total donations received by universities. The study also found that alumni who are actively engaged with their alma mater are more likely to make larger donations and continue giving over time. This highlights the importance of maintaining strong alumni networks and fostering a sense of community among graduates.

Criticisms and Challenges Faced by Both Institutions

No institution is perfect, and both MIT and William and Mary have their fair share of criticisms. One of the main challenges faced by MIT is its lack of diversity. William and Mary faces criticism for its lack of adequate financial aid for students. Both institutions are working to address these issues and promote greater tolerance and inclusivity on their campuses.

Group of students talking to each other while walking.


Another challenge faced by both institutions is the pressure to maintain their reputations as top-tier academic institutions. This can lead to a competitive and stressful environment for students, as well as a focus on research and publications over teaching and mentorship.

However, both MIT and William and Mary are committed to providing a well-rounded education for their students and creating a supportive community that values both academic excellence and personal growth.

Conclusion: Which Institution is the Better Fit for You?

Making a decision between MIT and William and Mary is a difficult one, as both institutions offer a fantastic education and opportunities for personal and academic growth. It ultimately depends on your goals and interests, as well as your academic background. In conclusion, we hope this article has provided you with a comprehensive analysis of MIT and William and Mary, allowing you to make an informed decision.

However, it is important to note that there are other factors to consider when choosing between these two institutions. For example, location and campus culture can also play a significant role in your overall college experience. MIT is located in Cambridge, Massachusetts, which is known for its vibrant tech scene and proximity to Boston.

On the other hand, William and Mary is located in Williamsburg, Virginia, which offers a more traditional college town atmosphere. Additionally, the student body and campus culture at each institution may differ, so it is important to research and visit each campus to get a better sense of which one feels like the better fit for you.

If you’re set on getting into a world-class college but aren’t sure how to make it happen, we can help! AdmissionSight is a leading college entrance expert with over a decade of experience helping students just like you get into the schools of their dreams.

At AdmissionSight, we focus on offering a wide range of services, all aimed at helping students perfect their applications to catch the attention of admissions officers. Contact us today to schedule a free consultation and learn more about what we offer.

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