• Small private residential research university
  • Mission: “to expand human knowledge and benefit society through research integrated with education”
  • Extremely selective – under 5%
  • Graduation rate 94%
  • Retention rate 99%
  • 3:1 staff to student ratio – one of the lowest in that nation
  • Around 1,000 undergraduates / 1,400 graduates
  • Around 48% female / 52% male


  • Suburban location in Southern California
  • 124 acre campus in Pasadena – around 18 kms from downtown LA
  • 100 miles to Santa barbara / 130 miles to Joshua Tree National Park / 30 miles to the ocean / 15 miles to the mountains
  • Faculty take advantage of the location and take students to ‘do science’ in the ocean, mountains and desert


  • 4 year undergraduate degrees
  • 38 majors (including quite a few in the Humanities and Social Sciences, such as: English, History, Economics and Political Science). Majors take 3 full years to complete after the Core Curriculum. Students can double major or take a minor.
  • Highly interdisciplinary – holistic core programme that promotes breadth and depth of knowledge
  • Very small classes – 20 students or fewer
  • Very collaborative academic community – students have to collaborate because homework is so difficult if they don’t support each other they will fail
  • Core Curriculum – covers the entire first year for ALL students. Very intensive. Meant to break students and then rebuild them. All students take classes in Maths, Physics, Chemistry, Biology, Humanities and Social Sciences, PE, Labs, and Menu (sample classes to explore the curriculum)
  • Quarter system with three academic terms – many students take internships or engage in research over the summer
  • 90% of undergraduates participate in research – CalTech is very much a research institute. Each faculty member is given their own lab space and research is the backbone of everything
  • SURF – Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship: students receive a stipend to fund research activities over their vacation
  • Many internship opportunities over the summer
  • Only university in the USA to manage a NASA facility
  • Very few students go on to grad school at CalTech – they are actively encourage to go elsewhere and learn more


  • Accepts Common App, Coalition and QuestBridge
  • Restrictive Early Action – Nov 1st (less than 50% of total class)
  • Regular Decision – Jan 3rd
  • Application fee $75
  • 2 recommendations are required – one from a STEM teacher and one from a humanities/social science teacher
  • CalTech Specific Questions – these change each year. Lean into writing in a very STEMy way. Faculty read applications so you can write in a scientific way and it will be understood
  • Academic requirements: 4 years of HS Maths (A level / Higher Level IB), 1 year of Physics, 1 year of Chemistry, 3-4 years of English
  • Accepts: IELTS, TOEFL, Duolingo if not a native speaker or high school programme not taught in English
  • Optional: research, maker portfolio, visual art, internship
  • Faculty review applications
  • Test blind – they will not look at test scores.


  • Need-aware for international students
  • Meet full demonstrated need for all admitted students – financial need could be a factor in admissions for international students
  • Approximately 50% of international students admitted each year have some form of financial need
  • Estimated total cost of attendance = $83,598 (2022-23)
  • Tuition = $58,479 (2022-23)


  • Highly residential university – most students live on campus for all 4 years
  • New students are guaranteed housing and will live in one of the 8 undergraduate houses or the Bechtel Residence
  • Students have at least one residential community to call home – they are given temporary housing on arrival and then go through a Rotation process to decide where they want to live until the beginning of the Fall term
  • Single, double and triple rooms are available
  • Houses are deeply important to students and provide a vital support system


  • 100+ clubs and organisations
  • NCAA Div 3 + club sports
  • Lots of opportunities for performing and visual arts


  • CalTech wants students who are comfortable with failing – a crucial part of the scientific process and students have to embrace the art of failure and have a deeply ingrained resilience and fortitude. If you don’t like failing, this is not the place for you.
  • CalTech is ultimately looking for the very best and brightest STEM students from around the world – Do you live, sleep and breathe science?
  • Students could be described as: innovative, curious, resilient, tenacious, community minded, diverse, interdisciplinary thinkers

Start typing and press Enter to search