Academics + Advising

Our curriculum changes each year to reflect each new Mission, which typically focuses on issues related to sustainability and Earth systems.

All Terrascope classes are fundamentally student-driven: you are in charge of your own educational process, from shaping the problems you want to address, to making your own decisions about procedure and timeline, right up to determining the scope and content of your final presentations. Along the way faculty, staff, alumni mentors, and undergraduate teaching fellows provide support and resources, but all the decision-making is up to you.

Terrascope first-year students enroll in one fall subject (12.000 – Solving Complex Problems), as well as optional design and radio production classes in the spring. Students meet their General Institute Requirements (GIRS) by attending mainstream core subjects with other first-year students.

Solving Complex Problems

In the program’s cornerstone fall subject, 12.000, first-year students work as an interdisciplinary team to design a viable solution for the year’s Mission.


In the fall, students present their final design before a panel of experts and develop a website to provide a detailed description of their plan. Final projects for spring classes are presented at a Bazaar of Ideas and a public radio broadcast.

Spring Classes + Field Trip

Terrascope offers optional spring classes: SP.360 – Terrascope Radio, and 2.00C/1.016/EC.746 – Design for Complex Environmental Issues; and a week-long field trip over spring break.


Terrascope offers weekly lunches and study sessions during the semester, other year-round outings and activities, and 24-hour access to the Terrascope lounge (located in the center of campus).

Academic Advising:

First-year students are matched with Terrascope-affiliated faculty who offer academic advising throughout the first year.  Upperclassman Associate Advisors are also a key part of Terrascope’s support network, along with our diverse community of staff, MIT alumni, and upperclassmen who help first-year students navigate MIT.  Terrascope’s frequent community gatherings, student lounge, and faculty involvement make it easy for our students to find help, academic advice, and friends to lend them a hand.