MIT has two application cycles: Early Action (EA) and Regular Action (RA).
What's The Difference?
Only the dates of the deadlines!
There is no positive or negative prejudice associated with or conferred by applying during either cycle. We do not have a preference, and there is no strategic benefit to be had. We have two cycles for two reasons: 1) it helps us spread our work out over a longer period, devoting more time to each application and 2) it provides applicants with more options so they can choose which works best for them.
Rules & Restrictions:
MIT Early Action is an option for all applicants, domestic and international. Our Early Action isn't single-choice, binding, or anything like that. If you choose to apply to MIT during Early Action, we do not place any limits on where else you may apply, nor do we require you to attend if admitted (though we sure hope you do!)
However: if you apply to another school during Early Action that does have a restriction, MIT requires that you respect those rules. So for example, if you apply to another school that is "single choice"— meaning that you can only apply there during the early period—you may not simultaneously apply to MIT. But that's just good manners.