Students studying together

Your first year at MIT will open the door to many intellectual, social, and cultural challenges and opportunities. 

First Year Academics


Explore this section for detailed information on first year academics— from the classes that all MIT undergraduates must fulfill as part of the General Institute Requirements, to details on receiving credit for previous study, the special policies related to freshman credit limits and grading, resources for major exploration, and more.



Your first year academic schedule will be a mix of the GIRs and classes that help you explore possible majors and minors. The GIRs provide foundational scientific knowledge that all MIT graduates need and may serve as pre-requisites to courses in your major, while major exploration classes offer more opportunities for hands-on learning and conversations with professors in a possible field of interest.

In August 2018, the Committee on the Undergraduate Program (CUP) agreed to move forward with an experiment to investigate ways to promote greater exploration in the first-year undergraduate experience. The proposal was made possible through a marvelous collaboration between students, faculty, staff and administrators over the last year and incorporates some specific recommendations from the Designing the First Year at MIT course.

As part of this experiment, first-year students entering during the Fall of 2018 will be eligible to designate up to three Science, Mathematics, and Engineering General Institute Requirements to be graded on a Pass or No Record basis (P/NR) after their first term. The first semester will still be graded P/NR, and the second semester ABC/NR. This added flexibility should encourage students to move some of their SME GIRs out of the first-year, providing more opportunities for students to take classes that enable them to explore majors and minors early in their time at MIT.

Additional details are provide on the Office of the Vice Chancellor website at: https://ovc.mit.edu/exploration-in-the-mit-first-year/.