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Hard Year For Grad Applicants

By Jenny Zhang


Graduate admissions was particularly competitive this year, with the mathematics department cutting back because of the drop in Presidential Fellowships. Fewer than five percent of applicants to computer science were admitted.

Excluding the Sloan School of Management, which has a different admissions schedule, the preliminary total number of graduate applications this year is 12,314, up from 11,868 last year, said Elizabeth S. Johnson, associate director of admissions.

Last year, 2,379 were admitted, and for this year a preliminary count is at 838 and rising as updates are made to MIT’s database, Johnson said.

The number of international student applicants is so far similar to last year’s 6,451, Johnson said.

Math department cuts back

Graduate admissions for the mathematics department were severely affected by the reduction in presidential fellowships for next year, said Professor Pavel I. Etingof.

Provost Robert A. Brown has said there will be 99 presidential fellows next year, down from 170 this year, because support from the program from the general Institute budget has been eliminated, leaving the fellowships to be funded only by donations. The fellowships fund “outstanding” first-year graduate students and free up department resources for other students.

“Students apply separately to pure and applied math, and for pure math, 15 were accepted of 270 applicants,” Etingof said.

He said that the math department only has the financially resources to support about 12 pure math students, including 3 that deferred their acceptances from last year to this year.

“Admission is very tight, and we probably will make none or one more offer, depending on how many of the accepted decide to come,” Etingof said.

“We rejected many applicants who would have been magnificent here, and it’s a pity,” Etingof said. “There was a significant reduction in size this year.”

The department generally tries to enroll 16 pure math students each year, according to the department’s Web site.

Only five percent admitted to CS

Electrical Engineering and Computer Science offered 217 admissions out of 2,800 applications, said Professor Arthur C. Smith. “The computer science subdivision had many applicants as always, and we admitted 78 of 1,600,” Smith said.

Smith also said that the numbers of applicants and students admitted for the department were similar to last year’s, and that the number admitted has remained constant despite increases in applications over the past several years.

Smith said he expects about half of those admitted to accept their offers.

“The physics department admitted around 110 out of 700, and 130 last year,” said Professor Roman W. Jackiw.

Jackiw considered the drop to be due to normal fluctuations based on the current needs of the department.

Some departments not finished

Several departments have not yet completed their admissions decisions.

The Sloan School of Management holds three different application deadline dates that applicants choose depending on when they would like to receive decisions, said Sloan’s director of admissions, Rod Garcia.

“We are still getting applications, and expect numbers similar to last year’s, when we admitted 580 of 4102,” Garcia said.

“Most of the decisions have been made, but not all are finalized, said Professor Oral Buyukozturk of the Civil and Environmental Engineering department.

The departments of chemistry and architecture also do not yet have results.