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?
    • 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, 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 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.

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 links and related pages below. To inquire about arranging a visit, please contact us at least two weeks in advance at:
E-mail: act-admissions@mit.edu 
Telephone:  + 1 617-253-5229

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?

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 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 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 starts their studies at the beginning of each Fall semester. Our admissions deadline is usually December 31st. 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 online portfolios through the Department of Architecture’s Graduate Admissions site. Your portfolio may be submitted as a directly uploaded PDF file, a link, or a website. 

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.

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 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, 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.

 

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 maximum, PDF only

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. 

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 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.

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