MIT vs Occidental: A Comprehensive Look at Two Top Universities

July 7, 2023
By AdmissionSight

MIT vs Occidental: A Comprehensive Look at Two Top Universities

When it comes to top universities, both MIT and Occidental College are highly sought-after institutions. Whether you’re a high school student trying to decide where to apply, or a parent trying to help your child make a decision, it’s important to know the key differences between these universities. In this article, we’ll take a comprehensive look at MIT vs Occidental, comparing everything from their history and curriculum to campus life and career prospects.

The History of MIT and Occidental

MIT, also known as the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, was founded in 1861 as the Massachusetts Institute of Technology to promote science and technology. Occidental College, on the other hand, was founded in 1887 as a liberal arts college in Los Angeles, California. MIT was established during a time of great technological advancements in the United States, to provide education and research opportunities in the fields of science and engineering. The institute quickly gained a reputation for excellence, attracting some of the brightest minds in the country to its campus.

Occidental College, on the other hand, was founded by a group of Presbyterian clergy who sought to establish a liberal arts college in Southern California. The college was originally located in Boyle Heights but moved to its current location in Eagle Rock in 1914. Over the years, Occidental has become known for its strong academic programs in the humanities, social sciences, and natural sciences, as well as its commitment to diversity and social justice.

Cost of Attendance at MIT vs Occidental

When it comes to cost, Occidental College is considered more affordable than MIT. The average cost of attendance at MIT is $57,986, while the cost of attendance at Occidental is $60,566. However, it’s worth noting that both offers a range of financial aid options to help students afford tuition, including need-based scholarships and merit-based grants.

Money bag and coins placed in a table.

Additionally, MIT has a higher average starting salary for graduates compared to Occidental. According to recent data, the average starting salary for an MIT graduate is around $90,000, while the average starting salary for an Occidental graduate is around $50,000. This means that while MIT may have a higher cost of attendance, the potential return on investment for a degree from MIT may be greater in the long run.

The Curriculum of MIT vs Occidental

MIT and Occidental both offer a wide range of programs and majors for undergraduate students. MIT is known for its strong focus on STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) fields, with programs in computer science, electrical engineering, and physics. Meanwhile, Occidental offers a diverse range of majors, including sociology, economics, and environmental studies.

A student paying attention to lecture in classroom.

In addition to their majors, both MIT and Occidental also offer a variety of extracurricular activities and research opportunities for students. MIT has a strong emphasis on hands-on learning, with programs such as the Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program (UROP) and the MakerLodge, a maker space where students can work on projects and prototypes. Occidental also offers research opportunities, including the Summer Research Program, where students can work with faculty members on research projects in their field of interest. Additionally, both schools have a variety of clubs and organizations for students to get involved in, ranging from academic clubs to sports teams to cultural organizations.

Campus Life at MIT vs Occidental

When it comes to campus life, there are some notable differences between MIT and Occidental. MIT is located in the vibrant city of Cambridge, Massachusetts, and features a bustling campus with a range of research labs and scientific facilities. In contrast, Occidental is located in the more laid-back neighborhood of Eagle Rock in Los Angeles. Occidental’s relatively small size means that students often have closer relationships with their professors, and there is a strong sense of community on campus.

In addition to the differences in location and campus size, there are also differences in the types of extracurricular activities available at MIT and Occidental. MIT is known for its strong focus on STEM fields, and as a result, many of the clubs and organizations on campus are related to science, technology, engineering, and math. Occidental, on the other hand, has a more diverse range of clubs and organizations, including those focused on the arts, social justice, and community service.

Another difference between the two campuses is the availability of resources for students. MIT has a wide range of resources available to students, including state-of-the-art research facilities, a large library system, and a robust career services center. Occidental also has many resources available to students, but due to its smaller size, these resources may be more limited in scope. However, the smaller size of Occidental also means that students may have more opportunities to work closely with faculty members and take on leadership roles within the campus community.

Student Organizations at MIT vs Occidental

Both universities offer a range of student organizations and extracurricular activities. MIT has a particularly strong emphasis on entrepreneurship and innovation, with organizations like the MIT Entrepreneurship Center and the MIT Media Lab. Occidental, meanwhile, offers a range of clubs and organizations focused on social justice and community activism. Whether you’re interested in robotics or political activism, there’s a group for you at both universities.

College students having discussion under tree on campus, preparing for exams

In addition to these offerings, both MIT and Occidental have a variety of cultural and identity-based organizations. MIT has groups like the Black Students’ Union and the Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers, while Occidental has organizations like the Asian-Pacific American Student Association and the Queer Student Alliance. These groups provide a space for students to connect with others who share similar backgrounds and experiences, and to explore and celebrate their identities. Overall, both universities offer a diverse range of student organizations that cater to a wide variety of interests and passions.

The Admissions Process at MIT and Occidental

The admissions process at both MIT and Occidental is highly competitive. However, the admissions requirements differ between the universities. MIT requires a range of standardized test scores, including the SAT and SAT Subject Tests, while Occidental is test-optional. Both universities also require transcripts, essays, and letters of recommendation.

In addition to these requirements, MIT also places a strong emphasis on extracurricular activities and leadership experience. Applicants are encouraged to showcase their involvement in clubs, sports teams, volunteer work, and other activities outside of the classroom. Occidental, on the other hand, values a well-rounded academic profile and looks for students who have demonstrated a passion for learning and intellectual curiosity. While both universities have their own unique admissions criteria, the key to success is to present a compelling and authentic application that highlights your strengths and achievements.

Sports Programs at MIT vs Occidental

MIT and Occidental both offer robust sports programs for their students. MIT has a particularly strong focus on intercollegiate sports, with 33 varsity teams competing in the NCAA Division III. Occidental has 21 varsity teams, also competing in Division III.

Sport equipments placed

In addition to their varsity teams, both schools also offer a variety of club and intramural sports for students to participate in. MIT has over 30 club sports teams, ranging from ultimate frisbee to ballroom dancing. Occidental offers a similar range of club sports, including rugby and equestrian.

Furthermore, both schools prioritize the well-being and safety of their student-athletes. MIT has a dedicated sports medicine staff that provides injury prevention and treatment services to all athletes. Occidental has a comprehensive concussion management program, which includes baseline testing and a step-by-step return-to-play protocol for athletes who have suffered a concussion.

Overall, the sports programs at MIT and Occidental provide students with opportunities to stay active, compete at a high level, and prioritize their health and safety.

Extracurricular Activities at MIT vs Occidental

When it comes to extracurricular activities, both universities offer a wealth of options. MIT is particularly known for its hackathons and coding competitions and has a range of student-run clubs focused on technology and innovation. Occidental, meanwhile, has a strong focus on community service and social justice, with organizations like the Social Justice Coalition and the Hometown Project.

In addition to these options, both universities also offer a variety of sports teams and recreational activities. MIT has a strong tradition of intramural sports, with options ranging from basketball to ultimate frisbee. Occidental, on the other hand, has a beautiful outdoor recreation area known as the Johnson Student Center, which includes a pool, fitness center, and climbing wall.

Furthermore, both universities have a vibrant arts scene, with opportunities to participate in theater productions, music ensembles, and visual arts clubs. MIT has a student-run theater group called Dramashop, as well as a music club called the MIT Symphony Orchestra. Occidental has a student-run theater company called Oxy Arts, and a music club called the Occidental Glee Club. No matter what your interests are, there are plenty of ways to get involved and become a part of the community at both MIT and Occidental.

The Faculty at MIT and Occidental

Both universities have experienced and well-regarded faculty members. MIT in particular has a reputation for attracting some of the brightest minds in science and technology, with several Nobel laureates among its faculty. Occidental, meanwhile, has a strong emphasis on undergraduate teaching and smaller class sizes, which means that students often have close relationships with their professors.

Research Opportunities at MIT and Occidental

Research opportunities abound at both MIT and Occidental. MIT has a range of research centers and institutes focused on areas like energy, neuroscience, and materials science. Occidental also offers undergraduate research opportunities, particularly in fields like biology and chemistry.

Group of students staring at a laptop while talking.

In addition to these opportunities, both institutions also offer research funding and support for students. MIT has several programs, such as the Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program (UROP), which provides funding and mentorship for students pursuing research projects. Occidental offers similar support through its Undergraduate Research Center, which provides funding, workshops, and other resources to help students develop their research skills. Whether you’re interested in pursuing a research career or simply want to explore a topic in more depth, both MIT and Occidental offer a wealth of opportunities to help you achieve your goals.

Graduate Programs at MIT and Occidental

MIT has a range of highly regarded graduate programs, particularly in fields like engineering, computer science, and business. Occidental, meanwhile, is primarily an undergraduate institution and does not offer graduate programs.

However, Occidental does offer a variety of post-baccalaureate programs, including a pre-medical program and a teaching credential program. These programs are designed to help students who have already completed their undergraduate degrees pursue further education in their chosen fields.

In addition to its graduate programs, MIT is also known for its research opportunities. The university has several research centers and institutes, including the Media Lab and the Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory, which provide students with the chance to work on cutting-edge research projects alongside faculty members and other researchers. These opportunities can be invaluable for students who are interested in pursuing careers in research or academia.

Career Prospects for Graduates of MIT and Occidental

Both universities have excellent career prospects for their graduates. In particular, MIT has a strong reputation for producing graduates who are highly sought after by technology and engineering companies. Occidental graduates, meanwhile, often go on to careers in fields like education, non-profits, and government.

A conference speaker presenting to youth leaders

However, it is important to note that both universities offer a wide range of majors and programs, which means that graduates from other fields may have different career prospects. For example, MIT graduates in the humanities and social sciences may find opportunities in fields like consulting, finance, and policy analysis, while Occidental graduates in the sciences may pursue careers in research and development or healthcare. Ultimately, the career prospects for graduates of MIT and Occidental depend on a variety of factors, including their chosen field of study, their skills and experience, and the current job market.

Alumni Networks at MIT and Occidental

Both universities have active and engaged alumni networks, which can be valuable resources for graduates seeking to build their careers or connect with other professionals. MIT alumni are particularly well-represented in the technology industry, while Occidental alumni often work in fields like education and public service.

In addition to career and professional connections, alumni networks also offer opportunities for socializing and giving back to the university community. Both MIT and Occidental host alumni events throughout the year, such as homecoming weekends, networking receptions, and volunteer opportunities. These events provide a chance for alumni to reconnect with old classmates, meet new people, and stay involved with their alma mater.

Additionally, many alumni networks offer mentorship programs, where recent graduates can receive guidance and advice from more experienced professionals in their field. Overall, staying connected with an alumni network can be a valuable asset for graduates looking to advance their careers and stay involved with their university community.

Final Verdict: Which University is Right for You?

In the end, the decision of which university to attend comes down to personal preference and individual goals. If you’re interested in pursuing a career in science, technology, or engineering, or you want a larger campus in a bustling city, MIT may be the right choice for you. If you’re more interested in a small liberal arts college with a strong sense of community and a focus on social justice, Occidental may be a better fit. Regardless of your choice, both universities offer excellent educational opportunities and a wealth of resources for their students.

Ultimately, the decision of which university to attend is a big one, but it’s important to remember that there is no one “right” choice. Both MIT and Occidental offer unique experiences and opportunities for their students, and it’s up to you to decide which one aligns best with your personal and academic goals.


Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Sign up now to receive insights on
how to navigate the college admissions process.