Which one is tougher to get into: IIT, MIT or Harvard?

A career in engineering is challenging, exciting as well as lucrative. It is one of those fields of expertise, which is extremely secure in this ever-changing society. So much so, that it is one of the most sought after stream of study in India and abroad. Engineering as a profession is worthy of its hype and once you gain success in the field, the results can be very satisfying. The dream of every engineering student is to get the best education in his/her field. And the quality of education is defined by the institute one chooses or gets through. In India, IITs (Indian Institutes of Technology) are considered the best while at the global level, MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology) followed by Harvard’s John A. Paulson School Of Engineering And Applied Sciences have constantly been at the top.

Preparing for College

According to QS Rankings 2018, MIT was ranked No.1 for Engineering and Technology while Harvard University secured the 13th position. None of the IITs featured in the Top 20 or even 50. Seven of the 23 IITs obtained ranks below 60. Before talking about which amongst the three is tougher to get into, you should know that IITs offer a BTech/MTech degree while MIT and Harvard have BS/MS/ME degrees. From career perspective, the biggest difference between the two is that BS/MS degrees are globally accepted while there are not many takers for BTech/MTech degrees internationally.

Admission process

For Indians students, getting into MIT or Harvard might be tougher as compared to IITs. Let’s take a look at an overview of the admission process at these institutes.

IITs: IITs admit students solely on the basis of entrance exams. Getting into IITs is a three-step process. JEE Main is the stepping stone to JEE Advanced. Eligible candidates need to first qualify JEE Main and only the top 2.4 lakh engineering aspirants who are able to clear this exam will be eligible for JEE Advanced. Admissions to all the IITs in India is based on the ranks secured in JEE Advanced. Once the exam results are declared, eligible candidates will be required to appear for JoSAA (Joint Seat Allocation Authority) online counselling.

MIT and Harvard University: For admissions to MIT and Harvard University, you do not have to take any institute specific entrance exam. High scores in international exams like SAT is their first of the many requirements along with SAT subject scores, TOEFL scores. Besides academic scores, you are also judged on your extra-curricular activities. Both MIT and Harvard University choose students on their past experiences and activities.

Factors to consider before choosing the right college

For making an informed choice, there are some factors you need to keep in mind.

Acceptance rate: According to statistics, more than 20000 applications are received for graduate studies at MIT/Harvard University. Admissions are offered to only 3000+ students. Out of these, over 2000 register for advanced degree programmes. On the other hand, more than 10 lakh students appear for JEE Main and JEE Advanced. Admissions are offered to around 13000 students. This number might vary with new IITs being established. If reports are to be believed, the acceptance rate of IITs is only 1% as compared to MIT which stands at 8%. These figures are based on registrations received for admissions at IITs, MIT and Harvard every year. While some believe that MIT and Harvard are tougher to get into, some think just the opposite.

Admission criteria: IITs largely focus on the ranks secured by students in the entrance tests. On the other hand, MIT and Harvard University consider the over-all performance of a candidate. Foreign universities lay emphasis on research, team-work and a student’s passion which is different from the assessment measure Indian Universities follow.

Area of interest: Institutions like MIT and Harvard University offer opportunities’ to students to carry out research in their preferred areas of study. However, IITs lack this facility. In 2014, JEE Advanced 2014 topper, Chitraang Murdia quit his BTech programme at IIT Bombay and went on to pursue Physics at MIT. According to Murdia, computer science interests him but his passion lies in physics and pure sciences. One of the reasons behind his decision of quitting IIT B and joining MIT was the lack of required research atmosphere for pure sciences at the UG level at IIT Bombay or for that matter other engineering institutes in India.

Over-all development: Studying at a foreign institute gives you an opportunity to be life-ready and not only job-ready. MIT, Harvard University and colleges in their league encourage interactions among peers, extra co-curricular activities, club participation, travelling for internships, teamwork, regular alumni-meets etc. Developing and improving social skills amongst students are two of their important focus areas. However, IITs believe in competition. The rat-race keeps the students so busy that their overall development goes for a toss.

Infrastructure: The tuition fees of studying BS/MS degrees at MIT and Harvard University is huge as compared to India. Infrastructure like modern teaching facilities, modern labs, food, hostels etc. are robust at foreign universities. IITs and Indian universities in general lack these facilities. Faculty too plays an important role. Shortage of teachers and low teacher-student ratio at IITs is not new. However, at MIT and Harvard University, the situation is just the opposite. Besides being motivated to work, the faculty at these institutes are role models for the students.

Career prospects: The career opportunities that come your way after pursuing an undergraduate degree from MIT or Harvard University is enormous. Moreover, students after securing a degree from these institutions tend to specialize in their chosen fields and also get into academics. But pursuing MBA from a top notch management school after completing BTech degree from IITs the general trend observed in India.

About the Author – Madiha Jawed is a writer with Shiksha.com. She has an experience of 7 years in education industry and her areas of expertise are Engineering, IT, Medical, Pharmacy and related streams. She has written over 500 articles on exams like JEE Main, JEE Advanced, BITSAT, etc.