Freshman-Year Program
The MIT Media Lab is home to research into technologies that enhance communication and expression. The field is rooted in communications and the computer and cognitive sciences, drawing heavily upon design and the expressive arts. Since 1999, Media Arts and Sciences, the academic program housed at the Media Lab, has offered a small group of first-year undergraduates the opportunity to pursue freshman subjects through an alternative program. The goals of the program are to introduce students to university research, both how it's carried out and how current research projects use the concepts presented in first-year subjects; to involve students in the Media Lab community, particularly through the learning-by-apprenticeship that is a hallmark of the MAS academic program; and to expose students to the intersection of technology and communication/expression that is the mission of the Media Lab.

Students in the program will attend mainstream lectures in core freshman subjects but will attend recitation or tutorial sections of chemistry and physics taught by Media Arts and Sciences instructors, with an emphasis on connections between the subject matter and current Media Lab research. Students will also be able to participate in one of several MAS freshman advising seminars, and will take two MAS subjects, one design-oriented and one an introduction to carrying out research and documenting/presenting results. During spring semester, students participate in UROP at the Media Lab in conjunction with the latter subject.

This program is intended for students who will pursue any undergraduate major at MIT.



Typical Anticipated Student Schedule: Fall Semester (maximum 54 units)

MAS.110 Fundamentals of Computational Media Design (12) (CI-H, HASS-A)
8.01 Physics (12) (section meets MW 9-11, F 9; extra MAS lecture/lab session meets F 10—please note when registering)
3.091 Solid-State Chemistry (12) (recitation section for MAS students TR 10)
MAS.A19 MAS Freshman Advising Seminar (6) (optional, not required)
18.01/02 Some Mathematics subject (12)

Typical Anticipated Student Schedule: Spring Semester (maximum 57 units)

MAS.111 Introduction to Doing Research in Media Arts and Sciences (6)
8.02 Physics (12) (extra lecture/tutorial through MAS)
18.02/03 Some Mathematics subject (12)
MAS.UR UROP (6)
  Electives (21)

MAS.110 Fundamentals of Computational Media Design History of modern art and design from the perspective of the technologist. Exploration of visual analysis, typography, and technologies for audio/visual expression. Enrollment limited; preference to students in Media Arts and Sciences freshman program.

MAS.111 Introduction to Doing Research in Media Arts and Sciences Intended for students pursuing research projects at the Media Laboratory. Topics include Media Lab research areas; documenting research progress; ethical issues in research; patents, copyrights, intellectual property; and giving oral, written, and online presentations of results. A final oral presentation is required. Enrollment limited with preference given to students in the Media Arts and Sciences freshman program.

Frequently Asked Questions


How do I apply?
See the Hitchhiker's Guide for a schedule of events during freshman orientation. On August 25, 4:00-5:30pm, we will be hosting an open house (with pizza) at the Media Lab (room to be announced) so that you can find out more about us, as well as our finding out about you. If you're interested in signing up for the program, come back on the following day between 10:30-11:30am and apply. We will post/email the list of students by the end of that day. If you are interested in our program, we strongly encourage you to select one of the MAS freshman advising options.

What are the requirements?
Participants in the program must take at least one core subject (chemistry or physics) with us each semester, plus MAS.110 in the fall, MAS.111 in the spring, and a spring UROP project (credit, pay, or volunteer).

Any other requirements?
No, but you have to be willing to follow the curriculum as spelled out above. So if you have placed out of physics and chemistry, or don't want to do a a spring semester UROP, then it won't work.

Please send me an MIT application.
You have to apply to MIT through the admissions office, not through us. You can get more information and request an application at their Web site.

Can I major in MAS?
We don't currently have an undergraduate major. But you can take many undergraduate subjects here (see the MAS part of the catalogue), some of which fulfill requirements for other majors. And you are welcome to apply for a UROP position here.

What if I don't get in to the program, or can't make it fit with the subjects I want to take?
The is still the possibility of being advised by an MAS freshman advisor, and you are still welcome to take undergraduate subjects in MAS, or to do a UROP here. Unfortunately, because of limited space, we can't let non-MAS freshmen into MAS.110.

How does advising work?
It's not mandatory to have an MAS freshman advisor, but MAS offers traditional (non-seminar) advisors as well as an advising seminar. We encourage anyone likely to sign up for the program to select an MAS advising option as part of the advising selection process.

I have a question not on this list.
We can be reached through the Contact Us page.