When was MIT Founded?

By Eric Eng

By Eric Eng

The famous Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge, MA, USA at sunset

When was MIT Founded?

When was MIT founded? The Massachusetts Institute of Technology (often known as MIT) was founded on April 10, 1861, the same date on which the Commonwealth of Massachusetts officially granted the institution a formal charter. This happened on a Tuesday, two days before the official beginning of the Civil War. In 1865, the first classes were held after several years of preparation during which ideas were formulated and finances were collected.

William Barton Rogers, who later became MIT’s first president, is credited with having the idea for the institute. In 1846, while Rogers was serving as a professor of natural philosophy at the College of William & Mary, he penned a letter to his brother Henry in which he discussed his plans for a “new polytechnic institute.” Rogers was a dedicated advocate for the establishment of the Institute, constantly working to garner support and collect donations.

Part of MIT’s history and founding is the construction of the first building in 1866 in Boston’s Back Bay neighborhood. The Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) resided in rented quarters on Summer Street in the city’s center. Boylston Street was the address of the first structure on the property.

The university campus in Back Bay grew at a quick rate, and by the turn of the century, its buildings were dispersed all across Copley Square and were beginning to stretch beyond its borders. The Institute started looking into the feasibility of alternative locations in order to find a location where its campus might be consolidated.

Group of people talking in a meeting.

In June of 1916, during a three-day alumni reunion, the Institute moved from its original location in the Back Bay of Boston to its current location in Cambridge. The inauguration of the new campus was marked by an extravagant event that included a “telephone banquet” that brought together graduates from different parts of the country as well as an elaborate pageant. On the recognizable dome atop Building 10, the Roman numerals “MCMXVI” are etched. The School of Architecture stayed in Boston until 1938 when it moved out of the historic “Rogers Building.”

The establishment of MIT’s new campus in Cambridge, Massachusetts, as well as the institution’s relocation there, were both made feasible in large part by a sizeable contribution from an unknown benefactor who is only known as “Mr. Smith.” It was not until an alumni event in January 1920 that it was revealed that the gift was George Eastman, the founder of Eastman Kodak. This was just five days before President Maclaurin passed away.

What is MIT Known for?

Since MIT’s founding, there are several factors that contribute to the institute’s status as one of the schools that students initially consider attending, particularly those who have a strong interest in the fields of science and technology. Many people who apply to MIT are eager to get their careers off the ground, and they are aware that attending MIT will provide them with sufficient opportunities to participate in research initiatives while also allowing them to build strong networks.

Because MIT offers such a vast list of faculty members who are well-known in their respective fields of research, its students will have the opportunity to collaborate with and gain knowledge from some of the most accomplished specialists in the world. Notable members of the faculty include those who have been awarded the Nobel Prize, such as Peter Diamond and Samuel Ting, as well as those who have been named MacArthur Fellows, such as Junot Diaz, Linda G. Griffith, and Sara Seager. Because these academics specialize in such a wide range of fields, the most successful majors at MIT reflect this breadth and depth of expertise.

Three students using a laptop in a table.

Even though there are many qualities and opportunities that make the college stand out from others, it is likely that engineering and the physical sciences are what contribute most to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s reputation. The institute is comprised of five distinct academic schools: the MIT Sloan School of Management, the School of Science, the School of Humanities, Arts, and Social Science, and the School of Architecture and Planning.

Since the time MIT was founded, in addition to its well-known programs in engineering and the physical sciences, it also offers a rigorous education in a variety of other fields, most notably economics, political science, urban studies, linguistics, and philosophy.

The admissions process is challenging, and the acceptance rate has been hovering around the low single digits in recent years. The fact that MIT frequently gives undergraduate students the opportunity to conduct their own original research is one of the reasons the institution attracts so many candidates. Since MIT was founded, it has been well-recognized as being at the forefront of scientific study and development.

Just in the year 2021, some of MIT’s most popular research included the validation of a theorem that had been around for half a century, a promising new approach to cancer treatment, and a significant fusion breakthrough. Two professors at MIT were also leaders in evaluating the risk of COVID-19 transmission, and they proposed a new method for measuring the hazards of being exposed to the virus.


Once a student steps foot on MIT’s campus, they immediately become a part of a cohesive, close-knit community which is exemplified by the following quote from Professor Emeritus Jay Keyser: “MIT is hard to get into, and even harder to leave.” This remark exemplifies the sense of belonging that permeates. There are around 4,500 undergraduate students enrolled at MIT in any given year, and they come from more than 100 countries and all 50 of the United States. At MIT, the proportion of female to male students in the undergraduate population is very close to being equal, and there is no racial or ethnic group that constitutes a majority of the student body.

Since the time MIT was founded, students come from a diverse spectrum of socioeconomic and educational circumstances, and the institution has a long history of serving as a refuge for those who have felt as though they have nowhere else to turn. In addition to having a number of cultural affinity homes and an inclusive home for international, undocumented, and trans students, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) is home to one of the nation’s oldest LGBTQ+ student groups.

Extracurricular Activities

There is a wide variety of academic options available to students at MIT, and there is also a large number of extracurricular activities available for students to participate in. In point of fact, students at MIT are responsible for organizing more than 450 official student groups, which works out to around one group for every 10 undergraduates. It is not difficult for students to establish their own clubs and organizations from scratch if they are unable to locate an existing one that is relevant to their interests.

Young looking towards an area of a room while holding his bag.

At MIT, recognized student clubs include ethnic and cultural associations, musical, theatrical, and dance groups, religious organizations, activist groups, and many more. These student groups also include a newspaper, a debate team, a radio station, and a student government organization. In addition to more traditional activities, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology takes great pride in the unconventional clubs they have on campus.

These clubs include the Laboratory for Chocolate Science, which is devoted to the cultural appreciation and scientific investigation of chocolate; the Science Fiction Society, which is home to the largest open-stacks library of science fiction and fantasy books in the world; and the Puppy Lab, which utilizes the scientifically proven stress-relieving effects of animal interaction to improve the academic performance of its students.


As soon as they have settled into their new homes on the MIT campus, the students will have the opportunity to take part in the institution’s many meetings and customs that are aimed at fostering a sense of community among its members. One such example is the holiday known as “Pi Day,” on which the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) traditionally divulges its admissions decisions and produces an interesting video to accompany the announcements and honor the custom.

Hacking is another one of MIT’s long-standing traditions, and the university is also home to a large number of elaborate pranks that are generally considered harmless. The unexpected appearance of a giant black weather balloon with MIT written all over it in the middle of a football game between Harvard and Yale is one example of a legendary hack. Another example is the theft of Caltech’s Fleming Cannon in 2006 while it was being transported across the country.

Finally, students have the opportunity to take part in the MIT Mystery Hunt, which is a competition that takes place during the month of January and involves solving puzzles. The hunt tasks the participating teams with solving a series of puzzles that, when completed, will bring them to a coin (either real or virtual), which is concealed somewhere on campus. The organizers of the treasure hunt have the freedom to set the level of creativity, difficulty, teamwork, unusualness, and physicality of the puzzles. The winning group gets the opportunity to compose the hunt for the following year as well as rewrite the regulations.

What Majors is MIT Known for?

Since the time MIT was founded, the institute is globally known for its academic programs in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM).

Group of students huddles under a tree.

The institute is well-known for the quality of the programs it offers in applied sciences and engineering. The following is a list of the various majors that can be pursued at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Aerospace Engineering (B.S. & B.ENG.)

Because the Department of Aeronautical Engineering at MIT is the oldest and most regarded in the United States, it has become one of the most sought-after majors at MIT. This is just one of the many reasons why it has become one of the most popular majors. Students leave with the skills necessary to pursue professions in areas such as commercial aviation, telecommunications, and military aviation.

Bioengineering and Biomedical Engineering (B.S, M.S.)

Biological engineering is one of MIT’s strong suits due to the institution’s emphasis on research and technology. Its programs are intended to educate students in engineering courses that are based on bioscience so that they can apply their expertise to the resolution of problems in the medical field. Its academic programs in this area are consistently regarded as among the very best available anywhere in the world.

Biology (B.S. M.S. & Ph.D.)

The Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) has earned a reputation over the years for having excellent biology programs. Research is given high priority within this department, and it is home to some of the most well-known names in the biological sciences today.

Chemical Engineering (B.S. M.S.)

One of the academic programs in chemical engineering can be found at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Students learn about contemporary developments in chemical engineering and microbiology, such as the fabrication of cell-sized robots, and do research in these fields.

Computer Science (B.S. M.S. & Ph.D.)

The Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) boasts the highest number of applicants yearly because of its exceptional computer science department. Students at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology receive instruction on both the current state and the anticipated development of computer technology. Students who graduate from this department are prepared to work in any sector of the economy, wherever in the globe.

Electrical and Electronics Engineering (B.S. M.S. & Ph.D.)

The Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) has earned a reputation for having some of the greatest engineering programs in the world. Research is at the heart of MIT’s Electrical and Electronics Engineering program, and students emerge from the program prepared to pursue careers in a wide range of fields.

Materials Engineering (B.S. M.S. & Ph.D.)

At some colleges and universities, materials engineering may not be a particularly well-liked major; but, at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, it is. In this section of the course, students learn how atoms and molecules can be assembled into much larger, more solid things. Free resources pertaining to materials engineering can also be found online.

Mechanical Engineering (B.S. M.S. & Ph.D.)

At MIT, mechanical engineering is the most well-liked of all the several types of engineering that may be studied as a major, and it also has the second-highest annual graduation rate, behind only computer science. At MIT, research on the next generation of breakthroughs in mechanical engineering is a priority, just like it is in the other engineering classes that are offered.

Mathematics (B.S. M.S. & Ph.D.)

Although the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) is best known for its computer science program, its mathematics department is consistently ranked among the best in the world. Students have the option of focusing on either applied mathematics, pure mathematics, or general mathematics in their studies.

Physics (B.S. M.S. & Ph.D.)

Not only is physics a popular subject at MIT, but approximately half of the students who graduate from the department have a second major in computer science, mathematics, or economics. This is a testament to the department’s reputation for producing well-rounded graduates.

How Hard is Getting Into MIT?

Since MIT’s founding, each year, it receives applications from thousands of prospective students. This is one of the most competitive educational environments in the United States. MIT states that 21,312 individuals applied to be a part of the class of 2023, but the institution only accepted 1,427 of those applicants, which results in an overall first-year admissions rate of 6.7%.

Three students studying in a library.

Early action applications were received from 9,600 students, out of a total pool of candidates numbering 100,000. 707 applications were selected for admission through the early action process, while the remaining 6,350 were sent to the regular action pool. MIT granted admission to 190 of the applicants who had their early action applications deferred to the regular action round of the admissions process.

Through the regular action application procedure, MIT received submissions from a total of 11,712 prospective students. There were a total of 18,062 applications that were considered during the regular action period, and 720 were accepted. This number includes the 6,350 students whose early action admissions were postponed and moved into the regular action pool. Another 460 students have been given the opportunity to join the waitlist. In the end, seventeen of the applicants who had been placed on wait-list status were given admission to MIT for the class of 2023.

The figures presented here shed light on the extreme competitiveness of gaining entry into this prestigious educational institution. Compared to other national universities in the United States, MIT is tied for third place with Columbia University and Yale University in the Best Colleges Rankings published by U.S. News & World Report for 2020.

Because of this, MIT is widely regarded as one of the most prestigious educational institutions in the United States, and thus, many students harbor hopes of being accepted there. If getting into MIT is one of your goals for the future, you should get ready for the competition because of the school’s high rating and competitive admissions process.

Want to learn more about how MIT was founded? Or if you need help putting the finishing touches on your college applications,  at AdmissionSight, we have over 10 years of experience guiding students through the competitive admissions process

AdmissionSight can help you put your best foot forward when applying to college this fall. Contact us today for more information on our services.


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