Incoming students: Start your digital life at MIT
June 30, 2020
Phil Johnson
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Illustration of three MIT students creating their digital MIT identities.
Image: Runming Dai

Congratulations on being an incoming MIT student! Information Systems and Technology (IS&T), the Institute’s IT department, is here to provide you with advice and support on IT issues. While classes may not start for a while yet, there are several things you should do now to prepare for your computing life at MIT.

Create your Kerberos account

Your Kerberos account (sometimes referred to as an Athena or MIT account) will grant you access to a vast array of technology services and resources at the Institute. Incoming undergraduate students should register for a Kerberos account through the MyMIT admissions portal.

If you have questions about creating your Kerberos account, contact the IS&T Service Desk for help.

Set up your MIT email

Once you have your Kerberos account, you’ll be able to login to your MIT email, which the Institute uses to contact you about everything. Your email address will be YourKerberosID@mit.edu.

Login through a web browser at owa.exchange.mit.edu using your Kerberos password to begin using email and setting up your MIT email preferences. You can also access your email using an app. IS&T recommends Microsoft Outlook for the most seamless experience, which is part of the free Microsoft Office bundle available to all MIT students.

IS&T’s Knowledge Base (KB) has instructions for configuring Outlook on your computer and mobile devices.

Install MIT certificates

An MIT certificate is a safe way to access secure web services, such as Student Information Systems, without having to type in a username and password. Certificates need to be renewed every year by July 31.

This KB article will walk you through installing MIT certificates.

Register for Duo

MIT students are required to register for Duo two-factor authentication, which is an additional security layer to verify your identity via a physical device, such as your smartphone, a tablet, or even a landline. Students can also request hardware authentication tokens for free, which don’t require Wi-Fi or cellular service. IS&T strongly recommends that you register at least one backup device for use with Duo in case something happens to your primary device.

Download the Duo Mobile app from your app store to get started, then review this KB article to learn how to register devices for use with Duo.

Get discounts on computer hardware

If you’re planning on buying a new computer for the fall, MIT has relationships with several vendors which offer students discounted educational pricing on hardware and accessories. Students can take advantage of these discounts by purchasing through the vendors’ online education stores at the following links:

In general, when buying a computer, IS&T recommends that students purchase hardware that supports the latest operating systems and includes as much memory and the fastest processor speed your budget will allow. In addition, we recommend purchasing the extended manufacturer warranty to protect your device.

Other aspects to keep in mind are the size and weight (you’ll want something that isn’t a burden to carry around), battery life, and camera placement (you should be able to work on your computer while participating in remote learning or work).

Bookmark MIT IT resources

For answers to questions about computing at MIT, bookmark these online resources:

  • IS&T’s website: A goldmine of information regarding everything IT at MIT. It even has a Students page to help you get started. There you can find a checklist of things to do as a new student, like signing up for Kerberos, Duo, and more.
  • The Knowledge Base: MIT’s searchable database of IT information. You’ll find how-tos and FAQs on almost any IT topic.

Also, be sure to follow IS&T on TwitterFacebookInstagram, and Snapchat to get important news and updates about IT at MIT.

Get IT help 24x7

If you have any IT-related questions, IS&T’s Service Desk can provide help 24 hours a day, 7 days a week via phone at 617 253-1101, email at servicedesk@mit.edu, or the web at ist.mit.edu/help.

Learn how to be digitally secure in our next article for incoming MIT students Secure your devices and data.