Frequently Asked Questions

  • About the program
    • How can I meet with faculty?
    • How can I arrange a visit to ACT?
    • Am I a good fit for this program?
    • Is financial aid offered?
    • How many candidates are admitted?
    • Do you admit graduate students for the Spring or Summer semesters?
    • Does ACT accept transfer students?
    • May I attend part-time?
    • What is the name of the degree awarded by the program?
  • About the application process
    • How do the faculty choose which candidates to admit?
    • Is an interview required?
    • Where do I send my portfolio?
    • Why do I send my materials to the Department of Architecture?
    • I have questions about my transcripts. Who should I contact?
    • Do I have to take the GREs?
    • When will I find out if I am receiving financial aid?
    • What do I do if I have questions about my application not covered on ACT’s website?
  • About portfolios
    • What should I put in my portfolio?
    • What are the portfolio specifications?
    • May my portfolio include other items as well?
    • I prefer to submit weblinks instead of a portfolio. Is that OK?
    • Can I get advice on the content of my portfolio?
    • How are portfolios submitted?
  • About the English Language Requirement
    • Must I take the IELTS or TOEFL?
    • How are my test scores submitted?
    • What is the minimum score required?
    • My IELTS or TOEFL score does not meet the requirements; should I still apply?
    • I still have questions about IELTS or TOEFL. Who should I contact?

IMPORTANT NOTE: As of 2014, transcripts and test scores are submitted on an honors system, and need not be submitted until an applicant is given an offer of admission.
 

About the program


How can I meet with faculty?
The best time to meet ACT Faculty is at the Open House. Individual meetings are usually not possible.

How can I arrange a visit to ACT?
Prospective students are encouraged to attend our Open House each fall. A visit to ACT is not required for admission.

Prospective students who cannot attend the Open House, if they visit, are encouraged to do so during the academic year (September through May), as ACT does not have classes during the summer months. Most visits, other than during the Open House, consist of a tour of the facilities and a meeting with a staff member. Prospective students are also encouraged to attend our public programs, including our lecture series.

For more information on the Open House, lectures and events, contact information, and ACT admissions, see the “related pages” sidebar on the right. To arrange a visit, please contact us at least two weeks in advance at:
E-mail: email hidden; JavaScript is required 
Telephone:  + 1 617-253-5229

Am I a good fit for this program?
Study at ACT is most appropriate for artists who have developed an artistic practice of sufficient depth that they are likely to benefit from a graduate program. The emphasis is less on specific media (although support is provided for production in many) than on ideas. This program does not offer painting or drawing classes. It is intended to assist artist-thinkers–who produce art and explore ideas through that art–in developing their practice and their ideas. Developing the written thesis is just as core to the program as producing other work, and critiques in ACT Studio are as likely to examine students’ ideas and the historical precedents to their work as the aesthetics of the piece being viewed, listened to, or otherwise interacted with.

Students with a scientific rather than an artistic background are likely to be more assisted than hindered in engaging with the program by the investigative thinking skills they will have honed earlier in their academic careers. However, they must be open to feedback mechanisms in place in art educational programs that may be new to them. Chief among these is the critique session (also called a crit), in which a student’s artwork is formally evaluated in person by a group of faculty and fellow students. A student presents the work, and the group responds with feedback: comments, questions, and advice. The goal of the crit is for the student to gain insight from a range of peers, instructors, and mentors, and benefit from the degree of objectivity a variety of opinions can bring to the highly subjective internal experience of the creative process.

Is financial aid offered?
ACT offers financial aid to applicants who indicate that they would like to receive financial support. The aid is provided irrespective of citizenship. Support is provided in the form of a partial tuition award or stipend. Some students may receive a stipend that may be provided during their first year only. Current ACT graduate students are also eligible to compete for work opportunities in the form of Teaching Assistantships or hourly positions which cannot exceed a maximum of twenty hours a week. Many of our students also take out educational loans. For more information on loans, please see MIT’s “Graduate and Professional Student Loans” page.

How many candidates are admitted?
The number of places available each year varies from 4-8 candidates depending on the size of the second year class.

Do you admit graduate students for the Spring or Summer semesters?
No. Our admissions process is annual, and a new class of students starts their studies at the beginning of each Fall semester. Our admissions deadline is December 31st. Students cannot defer matriculation if they are selected for admission to the program.

Does ACT accept transfer students?
No.

May I attend part-time?
No. This is a full-time, two-year program.

What is the name of the degree awarded by the program?
Master of Science in Art, Culture and Technology (SMACT).

 

 

About the application process


How do the faculty choose which candidates to admit?
They assess the conceptual depth and maturity of applicants’ artistic practice, the strength of their academic record, and whether it seems that they would benefit from studying in ACT.

Faculty make this determination by reviewing candidates’ portfolios, statements of purpose, and letters of recommendation, as well as by having a Skype interview with applicants who make the first cut.

Is an interview required?
Skype interviews are only arranged with candidates after the faculty have made an initial assessment of the applicant pool.

Where do I send my portfolio?
ACT is now accepting online portfolios. Your portfolio may be submitted as a link or a website. You can enter it in Section 3 of the application, under Personal Information: Web page URL (optional).

Why do I send my materials to the Department of Architecture?
The MIT Program in Art, Culture and Technology (ACT) is a discipline group within MIT’s Department of Architecture.

I have questions about my transcripts. Who should I contact?
You will not need to submit your transcripts unless you are admitted to ACT.

Do I have to take the GREs?
Graduate Record Exam scores are not required for admission to the SMACT program.

When will I find out if I am receiving financial aid?
If you are admitted to the program, you will be notified of your award in your acceptance letter in late March or early April.

What do I do if I have questions about my application not covered on ACT’s website?
The Department of Architecture has additional information about the admissions process on its Admissions Website. If you have questions about the mechanics of the admissions process, contact the Department of Architecture at (617) 715-4490 or email hidden; JavaScript is required. The ACT Academic Assistant is an additional resource at email hidden; JavaScript is required.

 

 

About portfolios

What should I put in my portfolio?
The portfolio should include evidence of your recent creative work, whether personal, academic, or professional. Collaborative projects should be identified accordingly, and your role must be clearly defined.

What are the portfolio specifications?

Images and documentation

Submit one PDF document, maximum 10 pages, including documentation and/or images of your projects.
Include captions/descriptions for each image
title, artist, year, material, project description

Time-based media

Submit no more than seven minutes of material

This means seven minutes if you add the runtime of all your files together, not seven minutes for each file
Video: High quality QuickTime .mov files only
Audio: high quality .mp3 or .aiff files only

Technical notes

Portfolios will be reviewed digitally using computer monitors and digital projectors. Do NOT send slides or printouts.
Make sure that all files are able to open on a Mac.
Double-check your files to make sure they open before submitting

May my portfolio include other items as well?
The portfolio may also include the following optional item, which is considered secondary material, and will be reviewed only if time permits:
Writing sample – five page PDF maximum

I prefer to submit web links instead of a CD portfolio. Is that OK?
Yes. ACT is now accepting web link portfolios instead of CDs. If you submit a link or website, you can enter it in Section 3 of the application, under Personal Information: Web page URL (optional)Select your material carefully.

Can I get advice on the content of my portfolio?
No. Your portfolio should reflect the range and depth of your artistic practice. As you prepare it, you may wish to view the profile pages of ACT faculty members to see how your projects may intersect with their research.

How are portfolios submitted?
Applicants may upload up to 15MB of portfolio material onto the application. They may also provide a web link to their online portfolios. Web links can be provided in Section 3 of the application, under Personal Information: Web page URL (optional). 

Please do not mail any materials directly to ACT.

As a last resort, you may send your portfolio as a CD or DVD, labeled “Attention: Admissions ACT” and include your name and address.CD or DVD portfolios are not returned to you. Address to the Department of Architecture:

MIT Department of Architecture
77 Massachusetts Ave., Room 7-337
Cambridge, MA 02139-4307
Attn: Admissions ACT
Email: email hidden; JavaScript is required
Telephone: 617-715-4490

 

 

About the English Language Requirement


Must I take the IELTS or TOEFL?
If you did your undergraduate work in the US but are from a non-English-speaking country or region you must take the IELTS or TOEFL. If you are from the US but were raised speaking another language, you must take the IELTS or TOEFL.

However, if you were raised in a non-English speaking country or region but have spoken and been educated in English since you began school, you do not need to take the IELS or TOEFL.

In order to meet the December 31 Fall admissions deadline, it is recommended that candidates take the IELTS or TOEFL on the earliest possible test date.

The International English Language Testing System (IELTS) or the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) is required of each and every single applicant whose first language is not English, regardless of citizenship or residency in the United States. No exceptions are made.

How are my test scores submitted?
Applicants must request that an official copy of their test results be sent directly to MIT by the Educational Testing Service. Scores must be no older than two years. Please use the following codes when requesting your scores sent to MIT:

  • Institution Code: 3514
  • Department Code: 12

What is the minimum score required?
IELTS: 7

TOEFL: 100.

My IELTS  or TOEFL score does not meet the requirements; should I still apply?
If your scores do not meet the minimum required for admission, or if you have not taken the test, we will not be able to admit you. Applications with low and missing test scores will not be reviewed.

I still have questions about IELTS or TOEFL. Who should I contact?
Please contact the Department of Architecture at email hidden; JavaScript is required or 617-253-7387.

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