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For the similarly named headquarters of the organization, see The Institute (location).
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The Commonwealth itself is nothing but a war-ravaged quagmire of violence and despair. Inside the sealed environment of the Institute, however... But... the Institute's affairs are none of your concern. Your undeveloped mind couldn't even begin to comprehend what we've accomplished.Dr. Zimmer

The Institute is an advanced scientific organization based in the Commonwealth. It is known and feared for its ability to produce advanced synthetic humans (also known as synths) of high enough quality to pass as true humans. The secretive nature of the Institute has turned it into somewhat of a boogeyman figure on the surface, and its presence is a major cause of paranoia for the people of the Commonwealth.



An earlier version of the Institute's logo with its founding date and the motto "Mankind Redefined"

The Institute was born from the Commonwealth Institute of Technology, or CIT, a renowned university based in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Robert House attended it in his youth.[1] During the Great War, a number of CIT personnel survived by taking refuge in the underground level of the campus. In 2110, the survivors and their descendants founded the Institute, an organization dedicated to furthering pre-War science.

In its early days, as the very first Generation 1 synths were being built, the Institute reached out to aid the people of the Commonwealth in rebuilding civilization, but mutual mistrust quickly doomed that enterprise. Soured on any further cooperation with the surface, the Institute withdrew into the shadows and adopted a new purpose: to abandon the Commonwealth to whatever fate awaits it and focus only on furthering their own vision of humanity's future - regardless of how many innocent lives they would have to sacrifice in the process.

The Institute's Advanced Systems department completed work on the Molecular Relay, a teleportation device, in the late 2180s to early 2190s. This allowed the Institute to completely seal itself off from the surface and begin expanding its facilities deeper underground. Whenever the Institute required materials that it could not produce itself, Generation 1 and 2 synths were teleported to the surface to scavenge, as well as to conduct experiments which would otherwise have required Institute personnel to leave the safety of the facility. These directives frequently led to conflict between the synths and the people of the surface, and instilled in the latter a lasting prejudice against synths and wariness of the secretive Institute.[2]

By 2227, work on the third generation of synths, who would be indistinguishable from genuine humans, was well underway. The mercenary Conrad Kellogg was sent out to find Vault 111, where the Institute's scientists believed they could find a cryogenically-preserved pre-War human for their experiments. Kellogg returned with the infant Shaun, whose pristine DNA was used to finish the synths. The people of the surface first encountered a prototype Generation 3 synth in 2229, when it attacked the residents of Diamond City in what became known as the "Broken Mask incident." Existing prejudices against synths were compounded into paranoia; the people of the surface realized that the Institute could secretly kidnap and replace them with synths. While some scoffed at such a notion, this paranoia was in fact justified, as the Institute did begin using synths to infiltrate and even sabotage surface communities to further their own goals.

By 2287, the Institute was actively opposed by the Railroad, who viewed the third-gen synths as fully sapient and wished to liberate them from the Institute, as well as the Brotherhood of Steel, who viewed the Institute's work with synths as a return to the days of amoral pre-War corporations such as Poseidon Energy and Mass Fusion. This quickly led to a large conflict between the three factions.



The logos of Robotics (red), SRB (white), BioScience (green) and Advanced Systems (blue) representing erythrocytes (red blood cells), neurons (nerve cells), plant cells and the atom, respectively.

The Institute is divided into four main divisions, each with specific areas of expertise. All divisions answer to the directorate, composed of the division heads plus the director, who lead the Institute. The director is the overall leader of the organization, whose main purpose is to ensure proper cooperation between the divisions so that the goals of the Institute are properly met. These divisions are:

  • The Synth Retention Bureau (often abbreviated to SRB), temporarily headed by Justin Ayo in the absence of Dr. Zimmer. The bureau employs completely obedient Generation 3 synths known as coursers. Responsible for tracking down and retrieving escaped synths, courser training, synth wiping and monitoring the Commonwealth. They wear the black variant of the Institute lab coat.
  • Robotics, responsible for synth construction, development and maintenance. They wear the orange variant of the Institute lab coat.
  • BioScience, headed by Clayton Holdren: Focuses on the study and creation of biomechanical life, and bridging the gap between organic life and robotic life. Responsible for genetic and bio-engineering, medical care, FEV experimentation, crop production and pharmaceuticals. They wear the green variant of the Institute lab coat. Virgil was a member before fleeing due to sabotaging a secret program that involved working with FEV.
  • Advanced Systems, headed by Madison Li. Responsible for advanced technological research and development, including laser weapons and synth armor. The Advanced Systems division designed the teleportation matrix the Institute uses on a daily basis. They are rumored to be planning a dark matter initiative, which can be overheard in conversations after the player character arrives at the Institute. They wear the blue variant of the Institute lab coat.
  • Facilities, headed by Allie Filmore: The department that maintains the building and upkeep of the institute facilities and superstructure. Responsible for life support, security systems, power distribution, food and housing, mechanical engineering and maintenance. They wear yellow lab coats. As their work encompasses the whole of the Institute, they do not have specialized quarters.


Despite the Institute's prowess, there are a limited amount of scientists at its disposal, with a small team working with each division, and several auxiliary scientists elsewhere. As a result, the Institute requires relatively little housing space, and has apartments to accommodate all scientists and their families.

Scientists interact regularly, and often spend time inside the cafeteria and main chamber. Despite its secrecy, the Institute maintains a friendly and welcoming demeanor to those introduced into its ranks, and allows access to almost every area inside the facility to newcomers.

There appears to be no strict work hours for most scientists, as they often take many hours off and come and go as they please from meals.


While the Institute is primarily a scientific group, it has a powerful army at its disposal: synths.

Inside the main HQ of the Institute, the Robotics Department can produce very large numbers of synthetic organisms, which can be very efficient foot soldiers with enhanced strength and resilience. This, coupled with the advanced technology at their disposal, makes the Institute's synths a serious threat to anyone who dares to oppose them. Generation 1 and 2 synths serve as the backbone of forces, equipped with variants of the Institute laser gun, shock batons and synth armor.

Coursers are a particular type of Generation 3 synth with higher military capability, used as special agents to pursue and recover lost synths, and as special forces. They are trained and deployed by the Synth Retention Bureau. Coursers are equipped with variants of the Institute laser gun, the signature Courser coat and synth grenades that allow them to teleport Generation 1 synths to help them in combat. They commonly utilize Stealth Boys.

They maintain an information network to assist them in strategy. The Synth Retention Bureau maintains a fleet of Watchers, which are synth crows with internal cameras. From the SRB, scientists monitor live feeds from locations all across the Commonwealth with these. The SRB also inserts synth agents into positions of importance (such as the mayor of Diamond City and the leader of a successful homestead), and maintains a network of paid informants, such as merchants and bartenders.

They are the only faction in the Commonwealth with access to teleportation, and this is a military advantage. They can attack a location with zero warning at any time and leave before backup arrives. For this reason they excel at hit-and-run tactics.


The Institute is home to one of the most advanced social structure and technology in the post-War wasteland. The main and most important technology of the Institute is the synth. While the first and second generations of synths are only very advanced machines, the third generation is completely indistinguishable from humans, making them perfect agents and soldiers.

Also, the Institute has many powerful energy weapons at its disposal, advanced AI and other robotic technologies. Another powerful technology of the Institute is teleportation, which scientists use to enter and exit the Institute, and can be used to relocate large numbers of troops and agents to almost any location instantly via radio waves. This is used under the guise of the Classical Radio station that can be heard throughout the Commonwealth, which will shut down if the Institute's HQ is destroyed during the main quest.

Interaction with the player character

  • The Institute, as one of the major factions of the game, offers multiple quests to the player character. Their objective is to secure power and autonomy within the Commonwealth.
  • During Institutionalized, Dr. Madison Li installs a chip in the Sole Survivor's Pipboy which grants them unrestricted access to the teleporter, allowing them to enter or leave the institute at will (provided they do nothing to be banished). According to Li, this is a unique privilege granted the Survivor by Father.
  • Upon gaining rank inside the Institute, the player character is rewarded with a special signal grenade, which summons a Gen 1 synth to attack any hostiles nearby. These grenades can also be found on the corpses of synth coursers or purchased from the synth vendors within the Institute's headquarters.
  • To complete the Institute quest line, the player character must clear out the Railroad's headquarters under the Old North Church and eject the Brotherhood of Steel from the Commonwealth by destroying the Prydwen.
  • The Institute's questline will not cause the Railroad to become hostile towards the player character, until they begin End of the Line.
  • If the player character completes the Institute's questline, they become the new director and can undertake quests for other members of the faction. Groups of synths will begin to patrol the Commonwealth and will assist the player character in combat.

Notable members


  • Inside the Robotics section it appears the synths are being constantly created. In fact, it is the same synth with the same RefID being "created" over and over again.
  • After becoming the director, various members of the Institute will remark on how the player character should approve new policies, make some reforms and reconsider priorities. However, none of those are available in the game and at best suggest what the player character will be doing in the future.
  • Fast traveling to and from the Institute will pass only one minute of in-game time regardless of distance traveled. In addition, a teleport effect will play on arrival.
    • This can be used to fast travel anywhere on the map with only two minutes passing in-game, by going to the Institute before one's actual destination.
    • Teleportation works differently in Survival mode: the player character can fast travel out of the Institute, but only to the C.I.T. ruins. However, they can teleport to the Institute no matter where they are.
  • For every Institute member killed by the player character in the Institute, two synth guards will spawn in the relay room. This can result in over eighty synth guards spawning in said room, if the player character clears the entire main area of NPCs.


The Institute is mentioned in Fallout 3 in the quest The Replicated Man, and the CIT is mentioned in Fallout: New Vegas in Mr. House's obituary. In Fallout 4, the Institute makes a full appearance as one of the major factions in the game. It is also mentioned in the Fallout 4 add-ons Far Harbor and Nuka-World.

Behind the scenes

The Institute's logo is based on Leonardo da Vinci's Vitruvian Man drawings and strongly resembles a synth during production.


The Institute
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