Students are admitted to the first-year class on the basis of strong academic performance in a rigorous course of college preparatory study, especially in the areas of math and science; teacher and counselor evaluations; personal characteristics; a strong demonstrated interest in math, science, or engineering; and information provided on the application. Information on the application process can be found on the admissions office website at www.admissions.caltech.edu. Students are encouraged to apply online through the Common Application, the Coalition Application, or the QuestBridge program. For further information on admission, please call (626) 395-6341 or e-mail ugadmissions@caltech. edu. To be considered for admission, applications to the first-year class must be submitted online by November 1 for Restrictive Early Action or January 3 for Regular Decision.
Information on the application process can be found on the admissions office website at www.admissions.caltech.edu. Students are encouraged to apply online through the Common Application, the Coalition Application, or the QuestBridge program. For further information on admission, please call (626) 395-6341 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org. To be considered for admission, applications to the first-year class must be submitted online by November 1 for Restrictive Early Action or January 3 for Regular Decision.
Since 2008, Caltech has been a proud QuestBridge partner school. QuestBridge partners with 48 institutions to connect the nation’s brightest students from low-income backgrounds with leading institutions of higher education where they are given a full ride with no loan. Applications are due to QuestBridge annually at the end of September. Students are able to rank Caltech as one of 15 institutions they’d like to attend and, if chosen as a finalist, Caltech reviews student applications in November and matches with QuestBridge Match students on December 1 each year. For more information about questbridge, visit www.questbridge.org.
RESTRICTIVE Early Action
Restrictive Early Action is a nonbinding option that limits the number of schools an applicant may apply to during the early period, but in return offers a student the opportunity to receive an offer of admission from their first-choice school. The Restrictive Early Action application process requires that the completed application be submitted online by November 1 through either the Common or the Coalition Application. Under this application plan, students will be notified in mid-December of their admission decision. Students admitted under Restrictive Early Action have until May 1 to make their commitment to attend.
Students who choose to apply to Caltech REA may not apply Early Action nor Early Decision to any other institution, with the following exceptions:
- An institution outside of the United States;
- Any public institution that has a non-binding admissions policy, such as the University of California system;
- Institutions with a non-binding rolling admissions process;
- If you are deferred admission after applying REA to Caltech, you may apply to another institution's Early Decision II program. If you are admitted to that institution's Early Decision II program, you are required to withdraw your application of admission to Caltech.
High School Requirements
Students are expected to prepare for Caltech by successfully completing the following curriculum:
- Four years of mathematics (including calculus)
- One year of physics
- One year of chemistry
- Three years of English (four years recommended)
- One year of U.S. history/government (waived for international students)
Applicants should note the following changes made to Caltech’s standardized exams policies:
Five-Year testing moratorium on both the requirement and consideration of SAT and/or ACT test scores. This change will be in effect for all first-year students applying to Caltech for fall 2021 through fall 2025.
SAT Subject Tests: As of January 2020, Caltech eliminated the requirement for applicants to submit two SAT Subject Tests. These sections will not be considered in the application review process.
English Proficiency Scores are required of all international students unless 1) your native language is English or 2) English is the primary language of instruction in your secondary school.
Acceptable English proficiency exams include:
- TOEFL Internet Based Test (IBT)
- Duolingo English Test (DET)
The essays, which are required as a part of the application, are intended to provide students the opportunity to communicate their interests, experiences, and background. Since Caltech is interested in learning about each applicant, the essays are viewed as an important part of the admission decision process.
Two teacher evaluations and a Secondary School Report are required. One evaluation must be from a math or science teacher, and one evaluation from a humanities or social science teacher (see the instructions in the application). A Secondary School Report must be filled out by the applicant’s high-school counselor or other school official.
Descriptions of research projects and hands-on science and engineering experience are helpful, as is material that demonstrates experiences outside math and science. Additional material should be identified with name and date of birth.
Caltech is a member of the National Association for College Admissions Counseling and therefore agrees to comply with the candidate’s reply date of May 1. Places in the entering class will not be held after May 1. Restrictive Early Action applicants will be informed of their admissions decision in mid-December and Regular Decision applicants will be informed by mid-March. Regardless of round, admitted students have until May 1 to respond to their admissions offer.
Caltech will consider requests from admitted students for a one-year gap year. Students who request a gap year must accept their offer of admission and then submit a written request stating the purpose of postponement to the Director of Undergraduate Admissions.
Advanced Placement, International Baccalaureate, and College Credit
Caltech encourages all prospective undergraduate applicants to prepare by challenging themselves with the most rigorous course of study available, including the Advanced Placement (AP) and International Baccalaureate (IB) programs. However, college credit for AP or IB classes is not automatic. Course credit and/or placement in an accelerated program is sometimes granted as deemed appropriate by the department faculty. The awarding of Caltech course credit takes place at the time of registration each fall.
Biology majors who have passed Bi 8 and Bi 9 (with 9 units on grades) are considered to have met the core requirement of Bi 1.
The student’s qualifications for placing out of Ch 1 ab will only be determined by the performance on a placement examination to be administered in the summer prior to registration. Qualified students, with the instructor’s consent, are allowed to substitute either Ch 8 or Ch/ChE 9 for the ”core” chemistry laboratory requirement (Ch 3 a or Ch 3 x).
All incoming students (first-year and transfers) will take a placement assessment to determine whether they are adequately prepared for the substantial writing component that is part of all first-year humanities courses. Most new students participate in a web-based version of this assessment, which is usually conducted in early June. A makeup assessment is held just before fall classes begin. Based on results of this writing assessment, students may be required to take Wr 1 or Wr 2 in the fall quarter. (Wr 1 and Wr 2 count for general Institute credit only.) After completing these courses, students may, at the discretion of humanities faculty, be required to go on to subsequent coursework in academic writing, such as Wr 3, Wr 4, or Wr 50, before or concurrently with first-year humanities coursework. During the first week of classes, students will be required to produce an in-class writing sample to confirm the initial placement.
During the summer before the first year, entering first-year students are asked to take a diagnostic exam in basic calculus that will determine which students will be placed in a special section of Ma 1 a for those with less complete preparation, and later take Ma 1 d; and if they are interested in advanced placement, they may also take an examination to determine whether they will begin the mathematics core sequence at an advanced level.
Normally, an entering first-year student takes Ma 1 abc, Calculus of One and Several Variables and Linear Algebra. This course covers the calculus of functions of one and several variables; infinite series; vector algebra; basic and advanced linear algebra; derivatives of vector functions, multiple integrals, line and path integrals; and theorems of Green and Stokes. The course is divided into a lecture part and a recitation part that focuses mainly on problem-solving.
Students in need of additional problem-solving practice may be advised to take Ma 8 (in addition to Ma 1 a) in the first quarter.
The required first-year physics course, Ph 1 abc, is considerably more rigorous than most advanced placement work, and entering first-year students are encouraged to take Ph 1. A test is administered during the summer to aid in the organization of Ph 1; students who have performed particularly well can discuss the possibilities for advanced placement with the physics representative during orientation.
A second test may then be required.
Undergraduate housing includes the eight houses (Avery, Blacker, Dabney, Fleming, Lloyd, Page, Ricketts, Venerable), and the Bechtel Residence and Marks House and Braun House. First- and second-year students are required to live on campus. Requests for exceptions to this requirement should be submitted to the Office of Residential Experience, and must be approved by the Dean of Undergraduate Students and the Vice President for Student Affairs.
New Student Orientation
All first-year, transfer, 3/2 and exchange students are expected to attend the New Student Orientation as part of the regular registration procedure. Orientation takes place the week prior to the beginning of classes. Faculty members, staff and upperclass student leaders participate help to introduce new students to the Caltech community. The orientation period provides an opportunity for new students to become acquainted with the campus, the Honor System, and other aspects of life at Caltech. In addition, they will meet classmates, upperclass students, and faculty during this time