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? What is the tuition cost of the program?
    • 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 should be included in my recommendation letters?
    • What do I do if I have questions about my application not covered on ACT’s website?
    • When will I hear back about admissions decisions?
  • About portfolios
    • What should I put in my portfolio?
    • What are the portfolio specifications?
    • May my portfolio include other items as well?
    • 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?
  • Additional Links

IMPORTANT NOTE: As of 2014, unofficial or informal transcripts and test scores are submitted on an honors system. Official transcripts need not be submitted until an applicant is offered admission.

 

ABOUT THE PROGRAM

 

How can I meet with faculty?

The best time to meet ACT Faculty is at the annual 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. Please note that visits and tours will be very limited during the 2021-2022 academic year, and all visitors will be required to register with MIT’s contact-tracing system in accordance with Institute policy.

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. 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 links and related pages below. To inquire about arranging a visit, please contact us at least two weeks in advance of your prospective visit at act-admissions@mit.edu.

Am I a good fit for this program?

Please note that ACT’s faculty and staff cannot directly assist you in determining whether the SMACT degree program is the best fit for your goals and practice, or review your application materials ahead of their official submission.

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? What is the tuition cost of the program?

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. All continuing students are eligible for an increase in tuition support as part of a second-year Merit Fellowship process. ACT graduate students are also eligible for work opportunities in the form of Teaching Assistantships, Research Assistantships, or hourly positions at the Institute, 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, as well as the related financial links at the bottom of this FAQ.

Tuition cost is calculated in late spring by the MIT Registrar, and the current fee summaries can be reviewed at the Registrar’s website.

How many candidates are admitted?

The number of available places varies from 4-8 each year.

Do you admit graduate students for the Spring or Summer semesters?

No. Our admissions process is annual, and a new class of students begins their studies each Fall semester. Our admissions deadline is usually late December or early January. If there is an extended deadline, it will be noted on both the ACT and Department of Architecture websites. 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 phone or video interview with applicants who make the first cut.

Is an interview required?

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 accepts portfolios through the Department of Architecture’s Graduate Admissions site. Your portfolio may be submitted as a directly uploaded PDF file, a link to an online portfolio, or a curated section of a website. You may also optionally include a link to your full professional website in the Applicant Information section.

Why do I send my materials to the Department of Architecture?

The Art, Culture, and Technology (ACT) program at MIT is an academic 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 official transcripts unless you are admitted to ACT. Unofficial or informal transcripts should be included with your application.

Do I have to take the GREs?

No. 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 financial aid award in your acceptance letter. If applicable, please indicate in your application that you would like to be considered for financial aid support.

What should be included in my recommendation letters? 

ACT requires at least two letters of recommendation. When writing their letters, your recommenders may consider the following:

What particularly qualifies this applicant for study at MIT?
What are the applicant’s accomplishments in research or independent projects?
How does the applicant compare to other students you know who have attended MIT?
Can the student clearly communicate ideas in written and spoken English?
Do you have any reservations about the applicant’s ability to succeed at MIT?

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, including detailed Graduate Application Instructions. If you have questions about the mechanics of the admissions process, contact the Department of Architecture at (617) 715-4490 or arch@mit.edu. The ACT Academic Liaison is an additional resource at act-admissions@mit.edu.

When will I hear back about admissions decisions?

The committee reviews applications during the month of January. Applicants who have been shortlisted and chosen for an interview are generally notified no later than the second week of February. After the interview process is complete, the Department of Architecture generally communicates admissions decisions in the second or third week of March.

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 or link, maximum 10 pages (or equivalent number of projects on a webpage), 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, or material hosted online (if password protected, please make certain that your media is accessible)
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 items, which is considered secondary material, and will be reviewed only if time permits:
Writing sample – five page maximum, PDF only
Link to professional website (if different from a portfolio link)

Can I get advice from ACT’s staff or faculty on the content of my portfolio?

No. ACT’s faculty and staff cannot advise you ahead of the official submission of your materials. 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, or provide a link to an online portfolio. 

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. Please indicate in your application that you have submitted a hard copy portfolio. Address to the Department of Architecture:

MIT Department of Architecture
77 Massachusetts Ave., Room 7-337
Cambridge, MA 02139-4307
Attn: Admissions ACT
Email: arch@mit.edu
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, or have completed two or more post-secondary degrees in English (for example, a Bachelor’s and a Master’s), you do not need to take the IELTS or TOEFL.

In order to meet the admissions deadline, it is recommended that candidates take the IELTS or TOEFL on the earliest possible test date in the late summer or fall. We will accept scores from tests taken up to two years prior to the date of application.

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 your language background requires an IELTS/TOEFL but you have not taken the test, we will not be able to admit you. Applications with low or missing test scores will not be reviewed by the admissions committee.

I still have questions about IELTS or TOEFL. Who should I contact?

Please contact the Department of Architecture at arch@mit.edu or 617-253-7387.

 


Additional Links