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Science Core

The Science Core of the General Institute Requirements includes the following subjects:

Mathematics2 subjects: 18.01 and 18.02 (or variants)

Mathematics is the common language of science and engineering and is essential for understanding many aspects of the physical world. To provide a solid mathematical foundation, MIT has a two-subject General Institute Requirement in Mathematics  – 18.01X & 18.02X

  • 18.01: Single-variable calculus
    • For whom? Standard version for majority of first-year students. 
    • Pre-Requisite: High school algebra and trigonometry. Student may have a year or less of high school calculus and no AP credit. 
    • AP Credit: In order to get 18.01 credit, students will need to pass the on-line 18.01 ASE this summer. Students who receive a 5 on the Calculus BC AP exam, or a 5 on the Calculus AB exam or the AB subpart of the BC exam, or pass the first half of the 18.01 ASE will be able to take 18.01A. This policy applies to all students entering MIT this fall, regardless of their original admission year or when they took their Calculus AP exams. Unfortunately, we will not be participating in this year’s MDX, so we can not use our earlier policy of determining 18.01 credit through a combination of MDX score and AP score.
    • Advanced Standing Exam or Transfer Credit: Passing both parts of MIT’s 18.01 Advanced Standing Exam during Orientation week or Transfer Credit gives 18.01 credit.

       
  • 18.01A: Intensive half-term review of 18.01 with focus on later topics not covered in Calculus AB. Begin 18.02 in week 7.
    • For whom? For students with one year of high school calculus (generally at the Calculus AB level).
    • Pre-Requisite: Knowledge of differentiation and elementary integration
    • AP Credit: Students who receive a 5 on the Calculus BC AP exam, or a 5 on the Calculus AB exam or the AB subpart of the BC exam, or pass the first half of the 18.01 ASE will be able to take 18.01A.  
    • Advanced Standing Exam or Transfer Credit: Passing the first half of MIT’s 18.01 Advanced Standing Exam during Orientation week allows 18.01A registration.

       
  • 18.02: Multi-variable calculus  
    • For whom? Standard version for majority of first-year students. 
    • Pre-Requisite: 18.01
    • AP Credit: None
    • Advanced Standing Exam or Transfer Credit: Passing MIT’s 18.02 Advanced Standing Exam during Orientation week or Transfer Credit.

       
  • 18.02A: Identical to 18.02 but begins in week 7 and continues through IAP or spring term
    • For whom? Only for students who successfully complete 18.01A in first half of fall term
    • Pre-Requisite: 18.01A
    • AP Credit: Not applicable.
    • Advanced Standing Exam or Transfer Credit: Not applicable.

       
  • 18.022: Calculus with greater focus on concepts
    • For whom? For students with interest in additional material in geometry, vector fields, and linear algebra.  More theoretical approach. 
    • Pre-Requisite: 18.01
    • AP Credit: Not applicable.
    • Advanced Standing Exam or Transfer Credit: Not applicable.

Next steps in Math for first-year students who have fulfilled 18.01 and 18.02 requirements: 

  • 18.03 – Differential Equations -18.02 is a co-requisite; students may take both 18.02 and 18.03 in same term.
  • 18.06 –  Linear Algebra – 18.02 is a pre-requisite; Useful for many subjects.
  • 18.05 –  Probability and Statistics – Spring only; 18.02 is a pre-requisite. 

Take-Aways: 

  • Many first-year students come in having fulfilled 18.01 and 18.02 with a combination of transfer credits or having passed both of MIT’s Advanced Standing Exams during first-year orientation. 
  • Students have the option of finishing 18.02A during IAP, or during the second half of the spring semester by joining the regular lectures for 18.02.
  • Many first-year students will take 18.03 Differential Equations in their second semester. 
  • Some first-years come to MIT with significant math background and may want to try a higher-level subject, e.g., 18.100B, 18.700, or 18.701. First-year students should not enroll in these math subjects without consulting with someone in Mathematics. 
  • All “flavors” of 18.01 and 18.02 have lectures scheduled at the same time to facilitate moves between them.  In particular, students struggling with 18.01A may be able to drop into 18.01 up through the completion of 18.01A at the mid-semester.

For complete information, visit the Department of Mathematics website. Be sure to also check out the videos about GIRs that can be found on the School of Science YouTube playlist at: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLdvxZS1QSbk1t4ojfSArHvzOH-YzSHUrJ.

Physics2 subjects: 8.01 and 8.02 (or variants)

Physics concepts are vital for study in every other science and in all engineering fields. To provide a solid mathematical foundation, MIT has a two-subject General Institute Requirement in physics.

To fulfill the Physics GIR, you must receive credit for both introductory physics subjects, 8.01 Physics I and 8.02 Physics II. Which versions of Physics I and II you take will depend on your background and interests.

You can fulfill the Physics GIR in the following ways:

8.01 Physics I: Classical Mechanics:

Placement into 8.01 (Physics I) will depend on the results of the Math Diagnostic, a mandatory paper/pencil test given during Orientation. 

  • 8.01 uses the TEAL format (Technology-Enabled Active Learning).
  • 8.01L (L=Longer) covers exactly the same material and in the same depth as 8.01, but finishes during January IAP. 8.01L is offered in the Fall Term only. Intended for freshmen with little or no exposure to physics with calculus in high school. If you take 8.01L you should be taking some version of Calculus I 18.01 at the same time. If you have AP credit for calculus, consider 18.01A/02A along with 8.01L.
  • 8.012 is intended for students with a strong background in physics and math, especially for those with AP or Advanced Standing Exam credit for 8.01. 8.012 is taught in more depth, with longer and harder problem sets. The Physics Department suggests that a student with AP or ASE credit for 8.01 consider enrolling in 8.012, rather than going right into 8.02. Students with credit for 8.01 who elect to take 8.012 receive 6 units of elective credit.
  • 8.011: Physics I(Special version of 8.01 for Spring for students who do not pass 8.01 in the fall. 8.011 covers the same material as 8.01.

Physics II: 8.02 Electricity and Magnetism:

You cannot enroll in 8.02 until you have received credit for both 8.01 and 18.01 (Calculus I). Both 8.02 and 8.022 are offered in Fall and Spring terms.

  • 8.02 presents the material using the TEAL format.
  • 8.022 is taught at a more mathematically advanced level and is intended for students with a strong background in physics and math. It is offered in both Fall and Spring.

For more information on these subjects, visit the Online Subject Listing and Schedule and the Physics Department’s Undergraduate FAQs.

Advanced Standing Exams in Physics

The Physics Advanced Standing Exams (ASEs) will be held during Orientation. Physics Validation Exams for transfer credit will be offered at the same time as the Physics ASEs.

  • A passing grade on the 8.01 ASE will give credit for Physics I.
  • A passing grade on the 8.02 ASE will give credit for Physics II.

Be sure to also check out the videos about GIRs that can be found on the School of Science YouTube playlist at: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLdvxZS1QSbk1t4ojfSArHvzOH-YzSHUrJ.

Chemistry1 subject: either 5.111/5.112 or 3.091

You need to complete one Chemistry subject to fulfill the Chemistry GIR; any one of the three subjects completes the Chemistry Requirement.

  • The Department of Chemistry offers two versions of basic chemistry: 5.111 or 5.112.
  • The Department of Materials Science and Engineering Department offers 3.091.

Note that MIT does not offer AP Credit for Chemistry. The only way to fulfill the Chemistry GIR other than taking one of the MIT subjects is by passing the Chemistry Advanced Standing Exam offered during Orientation.

For more information about the Chemistry GIR subjects, check out the websites for the Department of Chemistry or the Department of Materials Science and Engineering and the Online Subject Listing and Schedule. Be sure to also check out the videos about GIRs that can be found on the School of Science YouTube playlist at: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLdvxZS1QSbk1t4ojfSArHvzOH-YzSHUrJ.

Biology1 subject: either 7.012, 7.015 or 7.014, 7.016 (Spring)

The biology GIR comes in four versions. All versions cover the same core material, which includes the fundamental principles of biochemistry, genetics, molecular biology, and cell biology; differences lie in their approaches to the subject matter. 

  • 7.012 (Fall term by lottery): Basics of biochemistry, genetics, molecular biology, recombinant DNA, cell biology, developmental biology, genomics, cancer, immunology, neurobiology, rational medicine and evolution.
    • For whom? For all students
    • Pre-Requisite: Some high school chemistry 
    • AP Credit: AP Credit is not accepted
    • Advanced Standing Exam or Transfer Credit: Passing MIT’s Advanced Standing Exam; Transfer credit not granted.
       
  • 7.015 (Fall term): Explores biological principles through trending topics in biotechnology, microbiology, human diseases, genetics, and metabolism in a small class format.
    • For whom? For all students
    • Pre-Requisite: Some high school chemistry 
    • AP Credit: AP Credit is not accepted
    • Advanced Standing Exam or Transfer Credit: Passing MIT’s Advanced Standing Exam; Transfer credit not granted
  • 7.014 (Spring term): Understanding microorganisms as geochemical agents responsible for the evolution and renewal of the biosphere and of their role in human health and disease
    • For whom? For all students
    • Pre-Requisite: Some high school chemistry
    • AP Credit: AP Credit is not accepted
    • Advanced Standing Exam or Transfer Credit: Passing MIT’s Advanced Standing Exam; Transfer credit not granted.
  • 7.016 (Spring term): Fundamental principles of biochemistry, molecular biology and genetics for understanding the functions of living systems.
    • For whom? For all students
    • Pre-Requisite: Some high school chemistry 
    • AP Credit: AP Credit is not accepted
    • Advanced Standing Exam or Transfer Credit: Passing MIT’s Advanced Standing Exam; Transfer credit not granted.

Chemistry Preparation for Biology

You will need some chemistry background to be successful in 7.01x. Before enrolling in one of the Biology classes, you should either have a strong high school chemistry background (e.g., score of 5 on AP Chemistry), or you should complete one of the MIT core chemistry subjects (5.111, or 5.112 or 3.091) before enrolling in Introductory Biology.

When Should You Complete the Biology Requirement?

  • If you are interested in pursuing a major in life sciences, you should try to take a version of 7.01x in your first-year.
  • First-year students interested in Course 20 Biological Engineering are strongly encouraged to complete a version of 7.01x sometime in their first year.
  • Any version of 7.01x will serve as the prerequisite for other biology subjects and will meet the basic requirement for application to medical school. Students should take the version which is most personally interesting.
  • There are enrollment limits that are subject to availability in each version of 7.01x. Any Biology GIR class that is over-subscribed will be subjected to a general lottery. After the August 27 first-year registration deadline, the lottery is run and students are informed by the instructor if they have been moved to another 7.01X course. Students will have the opportunity to complete the Biology GIR every semester but are not guaranteed a seat in a specific class.

Be sure to also check out the videos about GIRs that can be found on the School of Science YouTube playlist at: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLdvxZS1QSbk1t4ojfSArHvzOH-YzSHUrJ.

Be sure to also check out the videos about GIRs that can be found on the School of Science YouTube playlist at: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLdvxZS1QSbk1t4ojfSArHvzOH-YzSHUrJ.