California Institute of Technology

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Private not-for-profit, 4-year or above
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Doctoral Universities: Very High Research Activity
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The California Institute of Technology (commonly referred to as Caltech) is a private research institution located in Pasadena, California on a 124-acre campus. Established in 1891 as Throop University, Caltech’s founders include astronomer George Ellery Hale, physicist Robert Andrews Millikan, and chemist Arthur Amos Noyes, who were nicknamed the “Tinker, Thinker, and Stinker.” A world-renowned science and engineering research and education university, Caltech’s mission is to “to expand human knowledge and benefit society through research integrated with education.” Faculty, staff, and alumni associated with the institute include an impressive list of Nobel Laureates, National Medal of Science Recipients, National Medal of Technology and Innovation Recipients, and National Academies Members.

Academic Programs

Caltech is made up of a number of academic divisions, including Biology & Biological Engineering; Chemistry & Chemical Engineering; Engineering & Applied Science; Geological & Planetary Sciences; Humanities & Social Sciences; and Physics, Mathematics & Astronomy. These divisions award both baccalaureate and graduate-level degrees in a variety of majors and programs. Accredited through the Western Association of Schools and Colleges, Caltech offers a Bachelor of Science degree and Master of Science, Engineer’s Degree, Doctor of Philosophy at the graduate level, as well as two duel degree programs, a B.S./M.S. and an M.D./Ph.D.

A number of student research programs exist at Caltech and students are encouraged to participate in research activities during the academic year or over the summer. Programs include the Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship (SURF), which is known as one of Caltech’s “crown jewels”; Caltech’s WAVE Fellows program, which is designed to promote diversity; and LIGO SURF, an intensive undergraduate summer program which is funded in part through the Research Experience for Undergraduates. A number of Caltech students also apply for the institute’s study abroad program which is available to undergraduates during their sophomore or junior years.

Student Life

Over 2,000 students are enrolled at Caltech, nearly half of which are undergraduates. All first-year students are required to live on campus in Caltech’s housing system and 95% of undergraduates choose to live on campus for the remainder of their four-year stay; each house at Caltech features a fully stocked kitchen which is accessible to students day and night. Athletics play a big role in student-life; Caltech’s mascot is the beaver, a tribute to nature’s engineer, and teams play under the colors of orange and white. An NCAA Division III school, Caltech offers nearly twenty intercollegiate sports including men’s and women’s basketball, track and field (indoor, outdoor, and cross-country), swimming and diving, and tennis.

Caltech’s campus is known for its favorite pastime of “pranking” – when the Museum of Hoaxes’ list of top 10 college pranks of all times was published online, Caltech was the only school to be listed twice. Another of Caltech’s trademark traditions includes the annual Pumpkin Drop. At midnight on Halloween, students drop pumpkins that have been frozen in liquid nitrogen from the top of the Millikan Library to see if the pumpkins will glow as they hit the ground and shatter.

Ready to start your journey?

Ready to start your journey?