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MIT student blogger Chris S. '11

MIT Undergraduates by Major by Chris S. '11

AND Professor Auroux. Don't miss it.

source: (fall ’09-’10).
O is “undeclared sophomores”. Forgot to list CMS though (16 students). =/

Hahaha it’s actually a pretty hard to read graph, but it’s sequential by major number starting from the top and going clockwise.

Taken from here:

Sometimes, it seems like MIT people only speak in numbers. You’ll hear sentences like “I have 6.001 in 10-250 at 2:30, then my Course 9 UROP in Building 46.” This is part of MIT-speak. Here’s a primer.

Each of MIT’s majors – known as Courses, with a capital C – is known by a number (sometimes given in Roman numerals). These numbers are in approximate order of the founding of MIT’s course in that area. For example, Courses 1 through 5 represent MIT’s original five majors:

Course 1: Civil & Environmental Engineering (founded as Civil & Topographical Engineering)
Course 2: Mechanical Engineering
Course 3: Materials Science & Engineering (founded as Geology and Mining; Geology is now a part of Course 12, Earth, Atmospheric & Planetary Sciences)
Course 4: Architecture (founded as Building and Architecture)
Course 5: Chemistry (founded as Practical Chemistry)
A full list of the Courses can be found here.

Each class – or course, with a lower-case c – in each department also is designated by a number. Hence, the introductory calculus class in Mathematics – Course 18 – is known as 18.01. Similarly, an advanced astrophysics course in the Physics department – Course 8 – is called 8.971.

Here’s how the course numbers evolved.

More on each major: Class of 2013 Major Advising Site

Here’s what all the numbers stand for!

Course 1 – Civil and Environmental Engineering
Course 2 – Mechanical Engineering
Course 3 – Material Science and Engineering
Course 4 – Architecture
Course 5 – Chemistry
Course 6 – Electrical Engineering and Computer Science
Course 7 – Biology
Course 8 – Physics
Course 9 – Brain and Cognitive Sciences
Course 10 – Chemical Engineering
Course 11 – Urban Studies and Planning
Course 12 – Earth, Atmospheric, and Planetary Sciences
Course 14 – Economics
Course 15 – Sloan School of Management
Course 16 – Aeronautics and Astronautics
Course 17 – Political Science
Course 18 – Mathematics
Course 20 – Biological Engineering
Course 21A – Anthropology
Course 21F – Foreign Language and Literatures
Course 21H – History
Course 21L – Literature
Course 21M – Music
Course 21W – Writing and Humanistic Studies
Course 22 – Nuclear Science and Engineering
Course 24 – Linguistics and Philosophy
CMS – Comparative Media Studies
STS – Science, Technology, and Society
WGS – Women’s and Gender Studies


If you find yourself bored at home with nothing to do this break, LEARN MULTIVARIABLE CALCULUS!

If you don’t know by now (and you should know), MIT has this really awesome site called OpenCourseWare, where MIT posts the course material for A HECKLOAD of its courses for students all over the world to self-study (and also serves as a great repository of past exams for us students who are taking the live lecture version of the subject during the term). Over the years, they’ve been filming live lectures and putting them online, which is super cool because they’re the exact same lectures that we had here! (be sure to also check out 8.01 with the globally acclaimed Professor Lewin)

During my freshman year, I took 18.02 (a requirement here for all students – Multivariable Calc) with Professor Denis Auroux, who is a simply outstanding professor. I was actually IN THE SAME CLASS as this set of video lectures from Fall 2007!

Sadly, Professor Auroux is on leave at UC Berkeley now, and the froshies this year didn’t get to have him for 18.02, but his lectures are nothing short of legendary (how many classes have YOU been in where students gave standing ovations during the last lecture?! – see the last lecture of the series). For other Auroux related fame, just youtube “A Lovely Phone Call” or facebook and youtube “Auroux.” :P

I won’t be blogging again till 2010, so a very happy new year to everyone! ^______^V

49 responses to “MIT Undergraduates by Major”

  1. sepideh says:

    prof.lewin is literally my hero. I wanted to come to MIT just to be one of his students. alas I wasn’t accepted. however I still look up to him and I attend the same university he attended years ago in the netherlands.

  2. Armin says:

    So may be one day you will go to MIT as a professor smile

    Don’t miss lecture 4 from 8.01, professor Lewin brings a monkey to the class. Can’t believe what he puts on!

  3. parav says:

    Wow, motorized blackboards! They were not there in Prof Lewin’s classrooms.

  4. Haha, I’m always amused how, for almost a hundred years, Course 9 used to be called “General Course.”

  5. Anonymous says:

    Oh my god! I love Prof Auroux!
    I watched his lectures on OpenCourseWare when I self-studied MultiCalc.

  6. Anon says:

    Professor Auroux! Professor Auroux! <3 that definitely made me want to read this post, haha.

  7. Mehmet '14? says:

    @Armin: Hahaha yes the time prof. Lewin brought the monkey was hilarious. I laughed a lot when he said “I thought it was appropriate to change for the occasion and when I do I like to do it in style.” :D

  8. neongreen says:

    Interesting stats (I copied and pasted the number correlations so I wouldn’t have to scroll up/down)-I wouldn’t have guessed that there’d be the same # of majors in architecture as in chem. Looks pretty spread out! (Besides EE/CS) smile

  9. Anonymous says:

    Actually,I’m 18th!

  10. Saman Moniri says:

    I actually took your advice in studying multivariable clac, and so far I have enjoyed it.

  11. Anom says:

    wow I see a lot of Iranian names. it is rare. How many Iranians are applying this year for undergrad?
    By the way I am not Iranian myself but some of my best friends are.

  12. Saman Moniri says:

    @ Anom
    true; most Iranians apply for grad, so it actually is rare.

  13. Nearly 200 people in Course 8? Great!

    I’ve been thinking about taking 18.02 if I get into MIT, since a lot of bloggers say that they have problems with it, so it’s great to be reminded that I can watch the videos to get a taste of the classes.

    Professor Lewin, by the way, is awesome. I really liked his lecture about Fields.

  14. sepideh says:

    that’s strange. last year I was informed that there isn’t any EC in my area. are you applying from iran?

  15. Paul Spruill says:

    Hello, I am freshman in Enid Oklahoma. It is my dream to go to MIT in a computer programming course.
    Now, my question is this what courses should i take for this? I am currently taking one semester of computer app. Thank yall
    – Paul

  16. Faris says:

    There is no Course 13, which is a shame…. it’s my favorite number…….

  17. QA ('14?) says:

    @ Faris: now you say it smile). MIT should have something most student hate for Course 13 =))
    I have seen a lot of comments on Youtube about MIT courses. Seems like most high school kids like to condemn that they have already learned this in high school, even middle school for Asian. Nevertheless, in my opinion it’s still a good thing of MIT to have revision like this, but it sure takes time. ~.~”

  18. Oasis '11 says:

    ^ Even though Course 13 doesn’t exist anymore, apparently grad students can take the subject 13.ThG (grad thesis in course 13), but ocean engineering also appears to have been integrated into Course 2, so I don’t really know how everything works. @@” haha. I think for the sake of continuity they should just bring back Course 13.

    I too learned Multi in high school, but I thought I didn’t remember it well enough to take the ASE (advanced placement test that you can take to skip the course and get credit), so I elected to still take Prof. Auroux’s course. To be honest, 18.02 and 18.03 (diff eq) are pretty elementary courses for the majority of MIT students since so many students take it (everyone takes 18.02, all engineering majors take 18.03) so they’re always pretty generous about curves and things (and many students may had exposure to multi and diffeq in high school). The exams are also not too difficult (the only perfect exam scores that I’ve gotten at MIT are in 18.02 and 14.02 :$). But really, I don’t think GIRs are accurate representations of the difficulty at MIT for a lot of majors. I mean, if that’s all there is to MIT, then why do we HTFP? wink

  19. Armin says:


    I had my interview in Tehran this December.

  20. sepideh says:

    well I applied last year and I was not accepted. you’re right. as far as I remember last year I was the only one (at least in the admissions blog). applying from iran is really tough. but I enjoyed it a lot and I’m happy about the place I ended up. I’m just reading the MIT blogs occasionally because they’re really fun and informative even if you’re not MIT√≠an.

  21. sepideh says:

    wow you’re lucky. when I applied last year there wasn’t an EC in Tehran. I wanted to have an interview so badly. now I’m jealous….ok maybe not. wish you luck!

  22. Lewin’s rainbow lecture is especially awesome.

  23. Armin says:

    @ anom
    My EC said he had interviewed about 20 students last year and submitted the reports, but most of the applicants didn’t send all documents to MIT. So this year, he has decided to compose the reports after he makes sure that applicants have a complete application.
    Well I guess, there are considerable number of applicants from Iran, but they are not taking it seriously.

    BTW, I’m a transfer applicant.

    @ Mehmet’14?
    Yeah, that one makes lol out of me. I also like the part which he whispers to Robert.

  24. tk says:

    Nice to have many course 16 people smile

  25. monjac '14? says:

    Thanks for the great post! My friends and I have been watching Professor Auroux’s 18.02 lectures to aid us in our high school linear algebra class. I hope to have the opportunity to actually take his and other classes with the amazing professors at MIT.

  26. Armin says:

    When the applications were online, my interview was waived at first. But then after a while, when I checked mymit account again, I was assigned to an EC.
    May be you apply as transfer next year, and I’m sure there would be an EC in Holland. Best of luck for you too.

  27. nva says:

    Landed in to this class room on the eve of 31st Dec’09. You kept me glued to the lecture until the end. I am at 43. Feel like doing my PG after a 38 minute session. Simply Superb;
    Amazing Professor – Auroux.
    Who ever has posted… Many Thanks.

  28. Camille '14 says:

    Ahh, there are only 6 students in my prospective major. I guess that means we get lots of personal attention though. . . . Maybe?

    I already took multivariable calc! But I love Prof. Denis Auroux from dix-huit point zero deux!

  29. Sam says:

    I think Professor Auroux singlehandedly caused the number of MISTI-France applications to double between the years 2005 and 2007.

    Okay, I made that up, but seriously, while I was taking 18.02, no less than eight of my friends confessed their love for Auroux’s French accent.

  30. There are too many Electrical Engineers haha xD

    Course 10 !

  31. anom says:

    Anyone know the relative difficulty of some courses vs. others?

  32. Jeanne '13 says:

    ^agreed. I actually had somewhat of a hard time listening to Auroux on OCW because I would become so entranced by his French accent ^_^”

    I’m kind of sad that I didn’t get to have him (LOVE the Lovely Phone Call video!), but OCW was definitely a big help! I have friends in at least four colleges who watch OCW lectures smile

  33. Ammar '14? says:

    OCW is one of the most wonderful things I’ve ever had the pleasure of running into on the web, It is one seriously Awesome website !

    Try being the one applying from Jordan, I highly doubt there are many that did, and we had no EC in the country, but the site assigned me an EC who lived in Lebanon. It’s close enough but takes time and money to go there, so no interview for me.

  34. Jane says:

    Openwarecourse!!I really hope I could sit in the classroom one day………..Bon Annee, everyone!!!
    PS: my package hasn’t on the record yet…:(

  35. Jane says:

    Openwarecourse!!I really hope I could sit in the classroom one day………..Bon Annee, everyone!!!
    PS: my package hasn’t on the record yet…:(

  36. Andy says:

    Does anyone know where I can get the course catalog?
    Also, does anyone know what classes you can test out of?
    I’m thinking of double majoring in 6 and 18 but I want to get an idea of what that would entail in terms of course load.
    THANKS smile

  37. Anonymous says:

    go to

  38. Armin says:

    @ Ammar ’14?
    I am sorry to hear that. May be you can have the interview via telephone. Or through video conference.
    Since your interview has not been waived, I suggest you give it best of what you can.