Independent Activities Period

Independent Activities Period (IAP) is a four-week period in January during which faculty and students are freed from the rigors of regularly scheduled classes for flexible teaching and learning and for independent study and research. IAP is part of the academic program of the Institute—the "1" month in MIT's "4-1-4" academic calendar. Students are encouraged to explore the educational resources of the Institute by taking specially designed subjects, arranging individual projects with faculty members, or organizing and participating in IAP activities. They may also pursue interests independently either on or off campus.

Departmental programs may require students to complete a subject (of no more than 12 units) during one IAP.


More than 600 activities are offered each year on a wide range of topics, both academic and nonacademic. In addition, most departments offer "special subjects," for which students can arrange credit for individual work.

Many IAP activities, both credit and noncredit, are organized each fall. Noncredit activities are advertised, beginning in early November, on the MIT Events Calendar. Information on credit activities is available, beginning in early December, on the Subject Listing & Schedule website.

Organizing Activities

Nonacademic activities may be organized or attended by members of the MIT community: faculty, students, and employees. Tips on organizing an IAP activity are available on the IAP website. Organizers may approach MIT departments and organizations to help defray expenses.

Students find organizing IAP activities a rewarding challenge. For many, it is their first opportunity to develop and teach a program from their own ideas. In doing so, they acquire organizational and leadership skills that prove invaluable to their careers.

Tuition, Housing, and Meals

Regular students paying full tuition in either the fall or spring term do not have to pay additional tuition or housing fees to the Institute during IAP. Students who have not been charged full tuition in either the fall or spring term are subject to additional tuition charges and should consult the Registrar's Office, Room 5-117, 617-258-6409. MIT Dining provides food service options through retail, house dining, and catering services throughout the entire academic year, including IAP. Please visit the Dining website in early December to learn more about dining options during IAP.

Academic Credit and Grades

Students should follow directions to register for subjects on the Registrar's Office website. In addition to regular subjects, students may make arrangements to earn credit for independent work under faculty supervision. No student may earn more than 12 units of credit during IAP. Credits received by first-year undergraduate students during IAP are not counted toward their credit limits for fall or spring term.

All credit-bearing subjects are graded according to the grading rules approved for that subject number. A subject can be graded P/D/F only if it has been approved with P/D/F grading. Similarly, the number of units awarded must be as specified for that subject. However, faculty sometimes teach new classes under special subject numbers for which credit units are arranged.

For students to receive credit for work done in IAP, instructors must submit grades to the Registrar's Office by the deadline given in the academic calendar. If a grade is received after the Add Date of the succeeding term and the student did not register in the subject during IAP, the student must petition to receive credit. IAP credit will not be given if the grade is received after the end of the succeeding spring term.

Students may view their IAP grades on WebSIS shortly after the start of the spring term. Students who do not receive grades when expected should check promptly with their instructors or the Registrar's Office to ensure the grades are submitted and recorded.

Special Students

Applications for special student status solely for IAP will not be accepted. Special students admitted to the fall or spring term must consult the Admissions Office concerning their status during IAP; they do not automatically have IAP privileges. If the special student has paid full tuition during the fall term or is admitted to do so in the spring, there will not be an additional tuition charge for IAP. If the student has not been paying full tuition, a charge for the IAP units will be added to either the fall or spring term up to a maximum of full tuition for the term.