Number of Applicants Increases; Acceptance Rate Is Record 10.2%

1940 admissions chart
The top line (maroon) shows the number of applicants per year, while the bottom line (maroon) shows the number admitted. The bar graph (black) shows the percentage change in applicants from year to year.

The number of students applying to MIT increased by the largest margin in recent memory, thanks in part to a new partnership with a non-profit admissions organization and deteriorating economic conditions. As a result, the acceptance rate plummeted to a record-low 10.2 percent, a substantial decrease from the Class of 2012’s 11.6 percent acceptance rate. Waitlist spots were offered to 454 applicants.

MIT received 15,661 applications for the Class of 2013, an increase of 2,265 applications and a 17 percent increase over the previous year. In recent years the number of applications has increased at a rate of 7 to 9 percent.

“The biggest single factor” in the applications increase, the QuestBridge partnership, netted MIT over 800 additional applicants, said Dean of Admissions Stuart Schmill ’86. The Questbridge applicants represent more than five percent of the applicant pool.

These applicants accounted for a third of the increase in applications, said Schmill. Even before including the additional 800 Questbridge applications, there was an 11 percent increase in the number of applications over last year, representing a larger-than-normal increase.

Due to the worsening economy, students are applying to more schools in order to “compare costs,” said Schmill. He also said he thinks that awareness of MIT’s “very generous financial aid” is increasing in a year where financial aid is “important to more and more families.”

Only 1,597 students out of 15,661 applicants were admitted to the Class of 2013. Forty-eight percent are women and nearly a quarter are underrepresented minorities in an admitted class that spans all fifty states and sixty foreign countries.

“Decisions were tougher than ever,” said Schmill, as the “additional applications were all very strong.”

Applicants were notified of MIT’s decision online at at 1:59 p.m on Saturday, March 14. Admissions decisions were to be available exclusively online, according to a blog post by Associate Director of Admissions Matthew L. McGann ’00. Though rejection letters will no longer be mailed, accepted students will still receive their admission packets in the mail.

The target size for the Class of 2013 is 1,075, said Schmill. This target would be achieved if the yield, the percentage of students who accept MIT’s offer of admission, were at least 67.3 percent. If the yield remains at last year’s 66 percent, MIT may accept students from its waitlist for the fourth year in a row. MIT’s highest yield in recent years was 69 percent for the Class of 2011.

A previous version of this story ran on the web on Saturday, March 14.