The Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) is a private research university in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Founded in 1861 in response to the increasing industrialization of the United States, MIT adopted a European polytechnic university model and stressed laboratory instruction in applied science and engineering. Researchers worked on computers, radar, and inertial guidance during World War II and the Cold War. Post-war defense research contributed to the rapid expansion of the faculty and campus under James Killian.
As of 2015, 85 Nobel laureates, 52 National Medal of Science recipients, 65 Marshall Scholars, 45 Rhodes Scholars, 38 MacArthur Fellows, 34 astronauts, 19 Turing award winners, and 6 Fields Medalists have been affiliated with MIT. The school has a strong entrepreneurial culture, and the aggregated revenues of companies founded by MIT alumni would rank as the eleventh-largest economy in the world.
MIT was informally called "Boston Tech". The institute adopted the European polytechnic university model and emphasized laboratory instruction from an early date. Despite chronic financial problems, the institute saw growth in the last two decades of the 19th century under President Francis Amasa Walker. The curriculum drifted to a vocational emphasis, with less focus on theoretical science. The fledgling school still suffered from chronic financial shortages which diverted the attention of the MIT leadership. Eventually the MIT Corporation approved a formal agreement to merge with Harvard, over the vehement objections of MIT faculty, students, and alumni. However, a 1917 decision by the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court effectively put an end to the merger scheme. In the 1930s, President Karl Taylor Compton and Vice-President (effectively Provost) Vannevar Bush emphasized the importance of pure sciences like physics and chemistry and reduced the vocational practice required in shops and drafting studios.
The School of Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences and the MIT Sloan School of Management were formed in 1950 to compete with the powerful Schools of Science and Engineering. Previously marginalized faculties in the areas of economics, management, political science, and linguistics emerged into cohesive and assertive departments by attracting respected professors and launching competitive graduate programs.The School of Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences continued to develop between 1966 and 1980. MIT's involvement in military research surged during World War II.
MIT has kept pace with and helped to advance the digital age. In 2001, inspired by the open source and open access movements, MIT launched OpenCourseWare to make the lecture notes, problem sets, syllabuses, exams, and lectures from the great majority of its courses available online.
MIT, with five schools and one college which contain a total of 34 departments, is often cited as among the world's top universities.The Institute is traditionally known for its research and education in the physical sciences and engineering, and more recently in biology, economics, linguistics, and management as well.
The four-year, full-time undergraduate program maintains a balance between professional majors and those in the arts and sciences, and has been dubbed "most selective" by U.S. News.
MIT offers 44 undergraduate degrees across its five schools. All undergraduates are required to complete a core curriculum called the General Institute Requirements (GIRs). The Science Requirement, generally completed during freshman year as prerequisites for classes in science and engineering majors, comprises two semesters of physics, two semesters of calculus, one semester of chemistry, and one semester of biology. There is a Laboratory Requirement, usually satisfied by an appropriate class in a course major. The Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences (HASS) Requirement consists of eight semesters of classes in the humanities, arts, and social sciences, including at least one semester from each division as well as the courses required for a designated concentration in a HASS division. Under the Communication Requirement, two of the HASS classes, plus two of the classes taken in the designated major must be "communication-intensive", including "substantial instruction and practice in oral presentation". Finally, all students are required to complete a swimming test; non-varsity athletes must also take four quarters of physical education classes.