The Committee pays close attention to prerequisites when reviewing all GIR subjects.
- Prerequisites for Institute Laboratory and REST subjects should not exceed those that might be satisfied by a typical first-year program; except that the Committee may approve more advanced prerequisites for Institute Laboratory subjects where appropriate.
3.2 Science Core Subjects
The subjects in the Science Core that are offered by MIT Departments are specified in Regulation 2.84 of Rules and Regulations of the Faculty. Any substantial changes to those subjects, or any new Core subjects, must be proposed by the appropriate department and approved by the Committee on Curricula (CoC) and the Committee on the Undergraduate Program (CUP). Any additions or deletions to the list of subjects in Regulation 2.84 must be approved by the CoC, the CUP, and the Faculty.
3.3 Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences (HASS) Subjects
Proposals for new HASS GIR subjects and for substantial changes to existing HASS GIR subjects are reviewed and approved by the Subcommittee on the HASS Requirement (SHR), which in turn forwards proposals to the CoC for final review. Proposals for communication-intensive HASS subjects (CI-H, CI-HW) are also reviewed and approved by the Subcommittee on the Communication Requirement (SOCR) prior to CoC review.
3.4 Restricted Electives in Science and Technology (REST) Subjects
The CoC has agreed that subjects submitted by departments to fulfill the REST Requirement must satisfy the guidelines outlined below.1
A REST subject:
- Provides breadth in the knowledge of science or engineering, at a level suitable for first-year and second-year undergraduates (typically, though not exclusively, up to one or two Science Core subjects as prerequisites).
- Provides an understanding of scientific inquiry (as distinct from understanding the results of such inquiry).
- Provides reinforcement and refinement of ideas in the Science Core.
- Is not too specialized, too advanced, or devoted chiefly to instruction in a particular skill.
A REST subject may be an introductory subject to an area of analytical endeavor within the professional field of the department (not a survey subject). It may also be a prerequisite to one or more professional subjects in the field.
The list of REST subjects will be reviewed by the CoC every two years.
In 2013-14, the CoC began to approve specific sequences of 6-unit subjects that will count for REST credit (e.g., 6.100A/6.100B). REST credit is awarded only for the completion of the approved sequence; taking the first subject in the sequence does not fulfill half of a REST subject. In all cases, the half-term, 6-unit subjects were developed as a replacement for full-term, 12-unit subjects. However, in some cases, the full-term subjects are offered in parallel with the half-term subjects.
- 1 The criteria used were established largely by the Committee on the Science Requirement (CSR).
3.5 Institute Laboratory Subjects
The following criteria, excerpted from the Bulletin and the Rules and Regulations of the Faculty, should be considered when evaluating subjects being proposed for Institute Lab credit.
From the 2022-2023 Bulletin:2
The Institute Laboratory Requirement consists of subjects that require a major commitment of the student’s attention in comprehensive projects rather than stand-alone experiments or exercises. The primary emphasis of an Institute Laboratory subject is to stimulate a student’s resourcefulness, planning skills, and analysis of observations. Institute Laboratory subjects combine ideas, methods and techniques that would be familiar to a professional in the subject’s discipline. While a Laboratory subject may teach specific techniques, the techniques themselves are not the primary emphasis. Under faculty supervision, the student is responsible for planning and designing the experiments or projects, including selecting measurement techniques, executing the plan, analyzing results, and presenting their conclusions. Details of the elements that comprise an Institute Laboratory subject differ between disciplines.
The Laboratory Requirement is met by successfully completing subjects designed and approved for this purpose. Each Institute Laboratory subject provides a designated number of units toward the Laboratory Requirement. Such subjects may be taken in any combination to fulfill the Requirement so long as the student completes 12 units in sum designated as counting towards the Laboratory Requirement. Any units taken as part of these subjects beyond the 12 needed for completion of the Laboratory Requirement will be counted as units beyond the GIRs. At least a portion of the Laboratory Requirement is suggested to be fulfilled in the first two years.3
From the Rules and Regulations of the Faculty 2.84:
Laboratory subjects(s) or modules constituting 12 units (in sum) designated for the Laboratory Requirement, such that the Laboratory work will call for a major commitment of the student’s attention; it is suggested that students satisfy at least a portion of the Laboratory Requirement during the first two years.
In reviewing proposals for subjects or modules that count toward satisfying the Laboratory Requirement, the CoC also considers the following:
- Subjects of 9-15 units count as one subject; subjects of at least 6 units but fewer than 9 units count as half-subjects, and subjects of fewer than 6 units are considered modules.
- At least half of the units of the class should focus on the Laboratory. Often times, this will be captured in the middle laboratory/design/fieldwork component of the unit distribution, e.g., the 6 in a 2-6-4 subject. However, a “major commitment of the student’s attention to one or more experimental problems” may also come in the form of time spent in lecture, recitation, readings, or other preparation. The number of units that satisfy the Laboratory Requirement must be identified in the Institute Laboratory units field on the proposal form.
- The proposal must explain how the subject meets the criteria for a Laboratory as described in the Bulletin.
- A subject that provides 12 units of Institute Laboratory credit may not serve as a prerequisite for another Institute Laboratory subject.
During the 2011-12 academic year, the CoC ruled that a subject that provides 12 units of Institute Laboratory credit may not serve as a prerequisite for another Institute Laboratory subject.
- 2 The Bulletin description includes a list of all subjects that satisfy or count toward this requirement.
- 3 In 2015-16, description of Requirement was revised to remove explicit reference to “phenomena of the natural world” and to emphasize hands-on project work. In 2016-17, description was revised further based on changes to Faculty Regulation 2.84 to allow for Laboratory subject(s) or modules constituting 12 units (in sum) rather than one subject of 12 units or two subjects of at least six units each.
3.6 GIR Subjects Offered Through Learning Communities
The Concourse Program and Experimental Study Group (ESG) are authorized to offer subjects that fulfill General Institute Requirements as follows:
- Each subject taught in the Science Core must meet the academic standards of the departmental subjects. Any substantial change to an existing subject, and any proposal to establish a new subject, must be approved by the appropriate academic department, the CoC, and the CUP. Because these subjects are available only to students in these programs, they are not listed in Regulation 2.84. However, they are considered equivalent to the listed subjects as prerequisites for departmental programs.
- Any REST subject taught as an alternate version of a regular departmental subject must meet the academic standards of the departmental subject. Any substantial change to such a subject, and any proposal to establish a new subject, must be approved by the appropriate department and the CoC.
- Any subject taught for HASS credit must be approved by the Subcommittee on the HASS Requirement (SHR) and the CoC. In addition to those approvals, any subject taught as a communication-intensive HASS subject (CI-H or CI-HW) must be approved by the Subcommittee on the Communication Requirement (SOCR). Any substantial change to an existing HASS subject, and any proposal to establish a new HASS subject, must be approved by the same committees.