The Program in Art, Culture and Technology (ACT) facilitates artist-thinkers’ exploration of art’s broad, complex, global history and conjunction with culture, science, technology, and design via rigorous critical artistic practice and practice driven theory. ACT emphasizes experimentation and transdisciplinary approaches to studio production in both traditional and new media. Students are encouraged to consider both the physical and the cultural context of their artworks/projects as central to their interpretation. Presentations on contemporary art as well as discussions in theory and criticism, and an understanding of research-based artistic practice complement studio production and the development of projects.
ACT courses have a strong focus on:
- Individual and collaborative forms and media including cinema, video, sound, performance, photography, experimental media and new genres, conceptual, sculptural, and spatial experiments, writings and publications.
- Critical thinking, knowledge mining, and creative engagement, along with explorations of changing public and private spheres, are of particular relevance.
- Extracurricular activities include a cross-disciplinary lecture series, field trips, workshops, studio visits, and public presentations.
Courses are taught by renowned practicing artists working in an international arena. The Program offers a variety of advanced and introductory courses to the MIT graduate students and undergraduates, as well as courses tailored to undergraduates majoring in architecture. MIT’s Program in Art, Culture and Technology offers an undergraduate minor and concentration, plus a highly selective two-year graduate program, leading to a Master of Science in Art, Culture and Technology (SMACT) degree.
Admissions Information for SMACT
The number of places available each year varies depending on the size of the second year class. Admission is based on a careful examination of the applicant's previous artistic and academic record, including relevant samples of completed work, a statement of purpose and letters of recommendation. The applicant should demonstrate superior achievement and the ability to initiate and complete independent academic work.
Admissions Requirements (all applicants)
The Application Deadline is December 31 at midnight for all applications. Application material must be submitted by the deadline. Late applications will not be reviewed. It is the responsibility of the applicant to be sure that the application is completed. Applications will be reviewed using the information provided by applicants. Please do not call or email to check if official test scores have arrived. We will contact you if we do not receive them.
Three letters of recommendation. Letters from instructors are preferred unless you have been working for several years, in which case supervisors may be included. The application can be submitted with fewer than three letters, but be sure to remind your instructors to complete their letters. Applications still missing two or more letters when review begins will not be reviewed. Review the instructions for letter submission in the "Letters Status" section of the application system. Applicants will send prepared emails to the recommenders containing a secure link to the recommendation form. We prefer that letters be submitted through the online application, and not a third-party letter distributor.
Transcripts for all relevant degrees, official or unofficial, must be uploaded to the application system. PDFs must be clearly readable and oriented correctly on the screen. Only those applicants who are accepted for admission will be required to send a hard copy of an official, sealed transcript (with English translation) from each school attended. Please do not have official copies sent to our office unless you are admitted. Certificate and community college transcripts do not need to be sent unless the courses are not also listed on your primary college transcripts. Non-English transcripts must be translated into English, and if necessary, signed by a licensed notary and accompanied by the original version.
In addition to transcripts, applicants should complete the Subjects Taken section with any relevant course work. If you have taken studios, indicate this on the Test Scores/Experience/Electronic Portfolio section.
IELTS or TOEFL Score.
Applicants whose first language is not English are required to submit either an International English Language Testing System (IELTS ) score (Academic test) or a Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL ), regardless of citizenship or residency in the U.S. while attending other educational institutions. No exceptions are made. The admissions committee regards English proficiency as crucial for success in all degree programs. In order to meet the admissions deadline, it is recommended that candidates take the IELTS or TOEFL on the earliest possible date.
Applicants must request that an official copy of their test results be sent directly to MIT by IELTS International or Educational Testing Service. IELTS and TOEFL Scores must be no older than two years as of the date of application. To avoid delays, please use the following codes when having your TOEFL scores sent to MIT:
- Institutional Code: 3514
- Department Code: 12
The minimum score required for MArch candidates is 7 and the minimum TOEFL score is 600 (250 for computer-based test, 100 for Internet-based test). While either test score is accepted, the IELTS score is preferred.
All students whose first language is not English are required to take the English Evaluation Test (EET)  prior to registration at MIT. Even students who satisfy the IELTS/TOEFL requirement for admission may be required to take specialized subjects in English as a Second Language (ESL), depending on their EET results. These subjects do not count toward the required degree credits.
Curriculum Vitae, uploaded to the system.
A portfolio of work, uploaded to the application. See program-specific instructions for portfolio requirements.
An Essay of one or two pages must be uploaded to the application system. Indicate why you are applying, and describe your qualifications for the degree.
A non-refundable Application Fee of $75 USD. You will need to submit a credit card number on the Architecture Graduate Application to process this fee. If you have a financial hardship, you may apply for an Application Fee Waiver: http://gradadmissions.mit.edu/feewaiver 
Submission of completed application form by the application deadline.
You may apply to two different programs within the Department of Architecture. If you are considering two programs, discuss your plans with our admissions staff to save yourself unnecessary fees. The link to apply is: http://gradapply.mit.edu/architecture/apply .
Graduate Record Examination
The Graduate Record Examination is not required of SMACT candidates.
What should I put in my portfolio?
The portfolio should include evidence of your recent creative work, whether personal, academic, or professional. Collaborative projects should be identified accordingly, and your role must be clearly defined.
What are the portfolio specifications?
- Images and Documentation
- Submit one PDF document, maximum of ten 8.5x11 pages, including documentation and/or images of your projects.
- Include captions/descriptions for each image: title, artist, year, material, and/or project description.
- Time-based media
- Submit no more than seven minutes of material
- This means seven minutes if you add the runtime of all your files together, not seven minutes for each file.
Video: High quality QuickTime .mov files only
Audio: high quality .mp3 or .aiff files only
- Technical notes
- Portfolios will be reviewed digitally using computer monitors and digital projectors. Do NOT send slides or printouts.
- Make sure that all files are able to open on a Mac.
- Double-check your files to make sure they open before submitting
May my portfolio include other items as well?
The portfolio may also include the following optional items, which are considered secondary material, and will be reviewed only if time permits: Writing sample – five page PDF maximum.
Webpage URLs: I prefer to submit weblinks instead of a portfolio. Is that OK?
No. To be fair to all candidates we require that all of our specifications are rigidly adhered to and we cannot make exceptions. Select your material carefully and submit it in the manner described above.
Can I get advice on the content of my portfolio?
No. Your portfolio should reflect the range and depth of your artistic practice. As you prepare it, you may wish to view the profile pages of ACT faculty members to see how your projects may intersect with their research.
How are portfolios submitted?
Portfolios are not returned to you and must be submitted on CD or DVD.
The disk should be labeled “Attention: Admissions ACT” and include your name and address.
Please do not mail any materials directly to ACT.
Send your portfolio to the Department of Architecture at this address:
MIT Department of Architecture
77 Massachusetts Ave., Room 7-337
Cambridge, MA 02139-4307
Attn: Admissions ACT
Skype interviews are only arranged with candidates after the faculty have made an initial assessment of the applicant pool.
Decisions and Notifications
Applicants will be notified by mail of the Department's decision by April 1. Decisions cannot be given by telephone.
Degree Requirements for SMACT
The minimum required residency for students enrolled in the SMACT program is two academic years. SMACT students do not register for summer term.
A faculty advisor from the Art, Culture and Technology Program is assigned to each SMACT student at matriculation. The advisor will consult on the student's initial plan of study and on each subsequent term's choice of subjects. This individual should be a faculty member with whom the student is in close contact; changes in advisor may be made to make this possible. The advisor monitors the student's progress through completion of the degree.
Subjects and Credit Units
A minimum of 156 units of graduate-level coursework is required, not including thesis. Subjects to be taken:
- 4.390 Art, Culture and Technology Studio is taken each term
- Four advanced ACT subjects
- Four elective subjects. One must be an art or architecture history class. One must be in Comparative Media Studies (CMS), Program in Science, Technology, and Society (STS), or another theoretically informed graduate level class. The other two electives will be graduate level classes that support the student's research and field of study.
- 4.388, SMACT Thesis Preparation, taken during second term
- 4.389 SMACT Thesis Tutorial, taken during fourth term
- 4.THG, Thesis (registration for thesis), taken during fourth term
Art, Culture and Technology Studio
Art, Culture and Technology Studio (4.390) is restricted to SMACT degree students and serves as the core of the curriculum. It is coordinated by an ACT faculty member and involves the participation of all faculty currently advising SMACT candidates. Students are expected to participate in all class meetings. Attendance at the ACT Lecture Series and other ACT events is expected.
Policy on Incomplete Subjects
SMACT students may have no more than one incomplete in a required subject when they register for thesis (4.THG). This incomplete can be no more than one term old (received the semester prior to thesis registration).
Students who have incompletes from several subjects or incompletes from earlier terms will be denied registration until those subjects are finished and graded. This policy applies to incompletes in subjects required by the specific degree curriculum or needed for units toward the degree.