MIT Admissions

MIT Admissions

Freshman Learning Communities

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As a freshman, you have the opportunity to participate in one of four learning communities. These unique groups with common interests offer programs which allow you to study and socialize as part of a smaller community while still taking advantage of the intellectual and cultural diversity of the Institute as a whole. Some of the communities offer versions of the freshman Science Core subjects; all offer electives and provide opportunities for lasting contact with faculty, staff, and upperclass students.

Please also review the Learning Community Comparison Chart (PDF) for a quick glance at what the four programs offer.

The four freshman learning communities are:

  • Concourse
  • Terrascope (offers the subject Mission 2015)
  • Experimental Study Group (ESG)
  • Media Arts and Sciences (MAS)



Concourse is a small learning community that offers an innovative and intellectually rich approach by integrating humanities into the traditional first-year curriculum. The program offers small classes with rigorous instruction in freshman math and science GIRs. This curriculum is supplemented and broadened by an equally rigorous humanities curriculum that forces students to examine such matters as the meaning of human nature, the necessary conditions for genuine liberty, the proper role of science, and the possibility of finding true happiness. This learning community provides a thorough preparation for upper-class subjects. A dedicated, exceptionally talented and experienced faculty combined with a smaller student population creates strong student-faculty and student-student ties. A high level of personal contact with and support by the faculty and fellow students is emphasized through a variety of activities and opportunities, such as Freshman advising and weekly luncheons. Concourse's lounge, classroom, and kitchen are located at the heart of MIT's academic campus and encourages spontaneous and planned events, such as, pizza parties, breakfasts and other fun gatherings. Concourse is a tightly knit, supportive community, accepting 60 freshmen each year; active participation of freshmen, faculty, staff, and upperclassmen is expected.

If you are interested in joining the Concourse Learning Community, please list CC.A10 among your seminar choices on the Freshman Advising Seminar Application form. Preference will be given to those who indicate CC.A10 as their first seminar preference.

Additional information can be found at

Terrascope (offers the subject Mission 2015)

Terrascope is a learning community with curricula designed to give you the tools to address important complex problems that require integrative multidisciplinary solutions. Most of the problems center on issues of the Earth’s environment and sustainability and it’s a great way to explore the feedbacks that characterize the behavior of complex dynamical systems. You will work as part of a inter-disciplinary team to solve problems that require teams of researchers working across traditional disciplinary boundaries. General Institute Requirements (GIRS) will be met by attending mainstream core subjects with other first-year students.

All Terrascope students enroll in Mission 2015 (also known as 12.000, Solving Complex Problems), in which you and your team propose solutions to a compelling problem. In spring, 1.016, Design for Complex Environmental Issues, allows you and a team to develop and expand some of the solutions you proposed in fall. SP360, Terrascope Radio, enables you to fulfill a communication requirement while producing a professional-quality radio program on the year's subject. Terrascope students are assigned advisors from within the program.

Visit the Mission 2015 site for information on this year's topic. Guest speakers at weekly luncheons, field trips, and hands-on experiences supplement class work. All Terrascope students can choose to participate in a week-long field trip over spring break to a site related to the work of the year. During spring break, 2011, we went to Sirsi, India, to gain appreciation of the problems India faces in feeding its growing population. To learn about students' experiences, visit their blog:

Experimental Study Group

ESG provides a personalized program for 50 first-year students who wish to take a more active role in their MIT education. In place of lectures, ESG students take their core subjects through small interactive classes and seminars (typically no greater than 10 students). Classes are taught by 8 MIT faculty and staff members, assisted by 20 ESG upperclassmen, who are interested in small group learning and teaching. Students are encouraged to ask questions and participate during class, have input into the class assignments, and get to know ESG staff and fellow students. Credit is available in the freshman subjects in Biology, Chemistry, Mathematics, and Physics, as well as in writing (CI-HW). ESG subjects cover the same curriculum as the mainstream but allow for more interaction with instructors.

ESG classes take place in a 14-room facility (located on the top floor of one of MIT's central buildings). The facility is open 24-7 and includes a kitchen, study areas, and a lounge where students can study, socialize, or eat. We also offer weekly luncheons for community members as well as regular trips and outings. If you are interested in finding out more about ESG, check out our home page ( or contact Dr. Holly Sweet (ESG Associate Director) at [email protected]

Media Arts and Sciences (MAS)

Media Arts and Sciences (MAS) offers a small group of first-year undergraduates the opportunity to pursue freshman subjects through a learning community. Emphasis is on research, both understanding how it is carried out and connecting current Media Laboratory research to core freshman subjects. You will be introduced to learning-by-apprenticeship that characterizes the MAS education mission. You will attend mainstream lectures in the core freshman subjects, but will attend recitation sections in chemistry and physics taught by MAS faculty. Again, the connection between subject matter and current Media Laboratory research is emphasized.

Students are encouraged to participate in one of several MAS Freshman Advising Seminars and must take two MAS subjects. The first is design-oriented. The second is an introduction to research protocol, data collection and presentation of results. Spring semester, students are strongly encouraged to participate in a UROP at the Media Laboratory. This program is intended for students who will pursue any undergraduate major at MIT.

See for additional information.