General Institute Requirements (GIRs)


All MIT undergraduates must complete the General Institute Requirements (GIRs).  During the first semester, your program should be a mix of GIR subjects, which may serve as pre-reqs for foundational major classes, 1 HASS/CI-H class, and 1-3 classes that sound interesting and give you a taste of a possible major or minor. Your subject schedule will depend on your background and AP or transfer credit. You should also plan to enroll in at least one Physical Education class in your first semester in order to complete the PE GIR by the end of sophomore year. In the second semester, you might start adding subjects for your anticipated major.  Details and resources related to MIT GIR classes can be found on MIT's Open Learning site at: https://openlearning.mit.edu/beyond-campus/first-year-stem-classes-mit.

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/.

General Institute Requirements (GIRs)​ include:

Science Core

  • Biology: In order to fulfill the Biology GIR, you'll need to take one of the following introductory 12-unit subjects: 7.012, 7.013, 7.014, 7.015 or 7.016. Learn more about the variations of the Biology GIR on Biology Department website.
  • Mathematics: In order to fulfill the Mathematics GIR, you'll need to take two of the introductory 12-unit subjects: a version of 18.01: 18.01 or 18.01A, AND a version of 18.02: 18.02, 18.02A, 18.022, or 18.024.  Review the Mathematics GIR page for details on the variations of 18.01 and 18.02.

  • Chemistry: In order to fulfill the Chemistry GIR, you'll need to take one of the following introductory 12-unit subjects: 5.111, 5.112, or 3.091. See the Chemistry GIR page as well as the Chemistry department's site to learn more about 5.111 and 5.112 and the Department of Materials Science and Engineering's GIR page for more information on 3.091.

  • Physics: In order to fulfill the Physics GIR, you'll need to take two of the introductory 12-unit subjects: a version of 8.01 (Mechanics): 8.01, 8.01L, 8.011, or 8.012, AND a version of 8.02 (Electricity and Magnetism): 8.02 or 8.022. See the Physics GIR page for information on the variations of 8.01 and 8.02.

Communication Requirement

The Communication Requirement is a paced requirement of four Communication Intensive subjects, one in each of your four years. In your freshman year, you must complete a Communication Intensive subject offered in the School of Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences, labeled CI-H or CI-HW.

See the Communication Requirement page. Complete information is also available on the Communication Requirement website. 

Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences (HASS)

Over your four years you must take eight HASS subjects, fulfilling the three components of the HASS Requirement—Distribution, Concentration, Electives.

See the HASS Requirement page. Complete information is also available on the HASS Requirement website.

Laboratory Requirement

Normally you will meet the Lab requirement in your second or third year by taking one 12-unit or two 6-unit subjects, designated for this requirement, in your major department.

Physical Education Requirement

You are expected to pass the swim test and earn 8 Physical Education points by the end of your sophomore year. PE classes earn 2 points each and are offered in 4 quarters during the academic year and in IAP, so it's quite possible to complete your PE requirement during your first year.

See Physical Education Requirement page and the Physical Education website for complete information on the PE GIR.

Restricted Electives in Science and Technology (REST)

Students ordinarily take two subjects from a list of approved REST subjects in their second year. One may be taken within the major department; the other must be from another department.