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Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology

Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology
Московский Физико-Технический институт
MottoSapere aude
Motto in English
Dare to know
TypePublic research university
Parent institution
Ministry of Science and Higher Education (Russia)
AffiliationRussian Academy of Sciences
PresidentNikolay Kudryavtsev
RectorDmitry Livanov
Academic staff

55°55′46″N 37°31′17″E / 55.92944°N 37.52139°E / 55.92944; 37.52139
Colours     Blue & white
University rankings
Global – Overall
USNWR Global[citation needed]475
Regional – Overall
QS Emerging Europe and Central Asia[1]10 (2022)

Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology (MIPT; Russian: Московский Физико-Технический институт, also known as PhysTech), is a public research university located in Moscow Oblast, Russia. It prepares specialists in theoretical and applied physics, applied mathematics and related disciplines.

The main MIPT campus is located in Dolgoprudny,[2] a northern suburb of Moscow. However the Aeromechanics Department is based in Zhukovsky, a suburb south-east of Moscow.

Nikolay Kudryavtsev (Кудрявцев Николай Николаевич]), the president of the Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology has signed a letter of support for the Russian invasion of Ukraine. The rector Dmitry Livanov did not sign it.[3]


A view of the MIPT campus and the city of Dolgoprudny from the Applied Mathematics Building

In late 1945 and early 1946, a group of Soviet scientists, including the future Nobel Prize winner Pyotr Kapitsa, lobbied the government for the creation of a higher educational institution radically different from the type established in the Soviet system of higher education. Applicants, selected by challenging examinations and personal interviews, would be taught by and work together with, prominent scientists. Each student would follow a personalized curriculum created to match his or her particular areas of interest and specialization. This system would later become known as the Phystech System.[citation needed]

In a letter to Stalin in February 1946, Kapitsa argued for the need for such a school, which he tentatively called the Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology, to better maintain and develop the country's defense potential. The institute would follow the principles outlined above and was supposed to be governed by a board of directors of the leading research institutes of the USSR Academy of Sciences. On March 10, 1946, the government issued a decree mandating the establishment of a "College of Physics and Technology" (Russian: Высшая физико-техническая школа).[4]

MIPT campus before renovation

For unknown reasons, the initial plan came to a halt in the summer of 1946. The exact circumstances are not documented, but the common assumption is that Kapitsa's refusal to participate in the Soviet atomic bomb project and his disfavor with the government and communist party that followed, cast a shadow over an independent school based largely on his ideas. Instead, a new government decree was issued on November 25, 1946, establishing the new school as a Department of Physics and Technology within Moscow State University. November 25 is celebrated as the date of MIPT's founding.[5]

Kapitsa foresaw that within a traditional educational institution, the new school would encounter bureaucratic obstacles, but even though Kapitsa's original plan to create the new school as an independent organization did not come to fruition exactly as envisioned, its most important principles survived intact. The new department enjoyed considerable autonomy within Moscow State University. Its facilities were in Dolgoprudny (the two buildings it occupied are still part of the present day campus), away from the MSU campus. It had its own independent admissions and education system, different from the one centrally mandated for all other universities. It was headed by the MSU "vice rector for special issues"—a position created specifically to shield the department from the university management.[citation needed]

As Kapitsa expected, the special status of the new school with its different "rules of engagement" caused much consternation and resistance within the university. The immediate cult status that Phystech gained among talented young people, drawn by the challenge and romanticism of working on the forefront of science and technology and on projects of "government importance," many of them classified, made it an untouchable rival of every other school in the country, including MSU's own Department of Physics. At the same time, the increasing disfavor of Kapitsa with the government (in 1950 he was essentially under house arrest) and anti-semitic repressions of the late 1940s made Phystech an easy target of intrigues and accusations of "elitism" and "rootless cosmopolitanism." In the summer of 1951, the Phystech department at MSU was shut down.[6]

A group of academicians, backed by Air Force general Ivan Fedorovich Petrov, who was a Phystech supporter influential enough to secure Stalin's personal approval on the issue, succeeded in re-establishing Phystech as an independent institute. On September 17, 1951, a government decree re-established Phystech as the Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology.[7]

Apart from Kapitsa, other prominent scientists who taught at MIPT in the years that followed included Nobel prize winners Nikolay Semyonov, Lev Landau, Alexandr Prokhorov, Vitaly Ginzburg; and Academy of Sciences members Sergey Khristianovich, Mikhail Lavrentiev, Mstislav Keldysh, Sergey Korolyov and Boris Rauschenbach. MIPT alumni include Andre Geim and Konstantin Novoselov, the 2010 winners of the Nobel Prize in Physics.[8]

The four oldest residence halls are across the street from the academic buildings.

The Phystech System

The key principles of the Phystech System, as outlined by Kapitsa in his 1946 letter arguing for the founding of MIPT:

  • Rigorous selection of gifted and creative young individuals.
  • Involving leading scientists in student education, in close contact with them in their creative environment.
  • An individualized approach to encourage the cultivation of students' creative drive and to avoid overloading them with unnecessary subjects and rote learning common in other schools and necessitated by mass education.
  • Conducting their education in an atmosphere of research and creative engineering, using the best existing laboratories in the country.[citation needed]


In 2016, a large-scale reform took place, and MIPT has since been divided into Phystech schools, created from the ex-faculties:

  • Phystech School of Radio Engineering and Computer Technology (PRCT or FRKT; Russian: Физтех-школа Радиотехники и Компьютерных Технологий, ФРКТ)
  • Landau Phystech School of Physics and Research (LPR or LFI; Russian: Физтех-школа Физики и Исследований им. Ландау, ЛФИ)
  • Phystech School of Aerospace Technology (PAST or FAСT; Russian: Физтех-школа аэрокосмических технологий, ФАКТ)
  • Phystech School of Electronics, Photonics and Molecular Physics (PEPM or FEFM; Russian: Физтех-школа электроники, фотоники и молекулярной физики, ФЭФМ)
  • Phystech School of Applied Mathematics and Computer Science (PAMCS or FPMI; Russian: Физтех-школа прикладной математики и информатики, ФПМИ)
  • Phystech School of Biological and Medical Physics (PBMP or FBMF; Russian: Физтех-школа биологической и медицинской физики, ФБМФ)
  • I.V. Kurchatov Phystech School of Nature-like, Plasma and Nuclear Technologies (KST or KNT; Russian: Физтех-школа природоподобных, плазменных и ядерных технологий им. И.В. Курчатова, КНТ)
  • Phystech School of High-Tech Business (PHTB or FBVT; Russian: Физтех-школа бизнеса высоких технологий, ФБВТ)
  • Higher School of Software Engineering (HSSE or VShPI; Russian: Высшая школа программной инженерии, ВШПИ)

Despite the formation of new departments, students and teachers of the Institute often continue to use the old names of faculties. For example, LPR students are usually called "fopfs" (Russian: фопфы) in honor of the former Department of General and Applied Physics (DGAP, Russian: Факультет общей и прикладной физики, ФОПФ).


Most students apply to MIPT immediately after graduating from high school at the age of 18. Traditionally, applicants were required to take written and oral exams in both mathematics and physics, write an essay and have an interview with the faculty. In recent years, oral exams have been eliminated, but the interview remains an important part of the selection process. The strongest performers in national physics and mathematics competitions and IMO/IPhO participants are granted admission without exams, subject only to the interview.[citation needed]

In accordance with the traditions of the Soviet education system, education at MIPT is free for most students. Further, students receive small scholarships (as of 2020, $70–105 for bachelor's and $110–140 for master's degree per month,[9] depending on the student's performance) and rather cheap (as of 2020, $13–20[10] per month, depending on location and comfort) housing on campus.[citation needed]


A student studying the class schedule
Hybrid convertiplane "Irbis-538" during the "Armiya 2021" exhibition

It normally takes six years for a student to graduate from MIPT. The curriculum of the first three years consists exclusively of compulsory courses, with emphasis on mathematics, physics and English. There are no significant curriculum differences between the departments in the first three years. A typical course load during the first and second years can be over 48 hours a week, not including homework. Classes are taught five days a week, beginning at 9:00 am or 10:30 am and continuing until 5:00 pm, 6:30 pm, or 8:00 pm. Most subjects include a combination of lectures and seminars (problem-solving study sessions in smaller groups) or laboratory experiments. Lecture attendance is optional, while seminar and lab attendance affects grades. Andre Geim, a graduate and Nobel prize winner stated "The pressure to work and to study was so intense that it was not a rare thing for people to break and leave and some of them ended up with everything from schizophrenia to depression to suicide."[11]

MIPT follows a semester system. Each semester includes 15 weeks of instruction, two weeks of finals and then three weeks of oral and written exams on the most important subjects covered in the preceding semester.[citation needed] Starting with the third year, the curriculum matches each student's area of specialization and also includes more elective courses. Most importantly, starting with the third year, students begin work at base institutes (or "base organizations," usually simply called bases). The bases are the core of the Phystech system. Most of them are research institutes, usually belonging to the Russian Academy of Sciences. At the time of enrollment, each student is assigned to a base that matches his or her interests. Starting with the third year, a student begins to commute to their base regularly, becoming essentially a part-time employee. During the last two years, a student spends 4–5 days a week at their base institute and only one day at MIPT.[12]

The base organization idea is somewhat similar to an internship in that students participate in "real work." However, the similarity ends there. All base organizations also have a curriculum for visiting students and besides their work, the students are required to take those classes and pass exams. In other words, a base organization is an extension of MIPT, specializing in each particular student's area of interests.[citation needed] While working at the base organization, a student prepares a thesis based on his or her research work and presents ("defends") it before the Qualification Committee consisting of both MIPT faculty and the base organization staff. Defending the thesis is a requirement for graduation.[citation needed]

Base organizations

As of 2005, MIPT had 103 base organizations. The following list of institutes is currently far from being complete:

In addition, a number of Russian and Western companies act as base organizations of MIPT. These include:


Before 1998, students could graduate only after completing the full six-year curriculum and defending their thesis. Upon graduation, they were awarded a specialist degree in Applied Mathematics and Physics and, beginning in the early 1990s, a Master's degree in Physics. Since 1998, students have been awarded a Bachelor's degree diploma after four years of study and the defense of a Bachelor's "qualification work" (effectively a smaller and less involved version of the Master's thesis).[citation needed]

The full course of education at MIPT takes six years to complete, just like an American bachelor's degree followed by a master's degree. The MIPT curriculum is more extensive compared to an average American college according to the school.[14] There is an opinion at the school that an MIPT specialist/Master's diploma may be roughly equivalent to an American PhD in physics.[15][citation needed]


In 2020 and 2021, Times Higher Education ranked MIPT #201 in the world, in 2022 QS World University Ratings ranked it #290 in the world, in 2026 U.S. News & World Report ranked it #475 in the world, and in 2022 Academic Ranking of World Universities ranked it #501 in the world.[16][17][18][19]

Traditional university rankings are often based in part on the universities' research output and prizes won by faculty.[20]



About 15% of all students are residents of Moscow and nearly the same are from Moscow region; the rest come from all over the former Soviet Union. The student population is almost exclusively male, with the female/male ratio in a department rarely exceeding 15% (seeing 2–3 women in a class of 80 is not uncommon). In 2009 more than 20% of first year students were females.[21]

There are no reliable statistics on the careers of MIPT graduates.[citation needed]

Notable faculty and alumni


Nobel Prize winners

Alexei Abrikosov
Vitaly Ginzburg
Lev Landau
Igor Tamm

Other notable scientists

Alexey Fridman


Political and business persons


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Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology
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