Academics

Location
Pasadena, CA
Undergrads
997
Tuition
$39,588
Admission Difficulty
Very Hard
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Reviews

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5 College Junior

Academics: Institute of Technology is the best.... I value anything they are doing to help me change my live.

5 College Sophomore

Academics: Caltech is probably the best place for geology in the country. There are lots of field trips, brilliant professors (the tops in their fields), and it's easy even for freshman to find research opportunities.

4 College Sophomore

Academics: Most of the classes are great, but some are poorly taught. There are also a lot of humanities requirements for a science school, which would be less of an issue if it weren't a small school with very few people who care about humanities. The choices for humanities end up being rather slim.

5 College Freshman

Academics: awesome. excellent education. everyone in all options have job/internship opportunities over the summer through the university. I'm only a frosh, but there are lots of mentors to explain the different options

2 people found this useful Report
5 College Freshman

Academics: This is literally the best school in the world. You receive an excellent education. While the classes are hard, it is worth it in the end

2 people found this useful Report
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Rankings View more rankings . . .

  • 179th
    Most Available Classes
  • 218th
    Best Registration Process
  • 254th
    Most Caring Professors
  • 263rd
    Best Use of Teaching Assistants
  • 266th
    Most Flexible Curriculums

Student Author OverviewWhat's This?

Mayra Sheikh
Hometown
San Fernando Valley, Calif.
Major
Chemistry
View all previous student authors

Caltech has a rigorous academic program with many requirements in all fields of science, as well as a reasonable humanities and social sciences requirement. Every student has to take one term of biology, two terms of general chemistry, one term of chemistry lab, five terms of math, five terms of physics, one "menu" class which is on a topic other than the student's major, one other freshman lab, a science writing class, and a presentation class specific to one's field. Students do have a choice of tracks—the analytical or practical—for three out of five math and physics classes. The analytical track focuses more on rigorous proofs, while the practical track focuses more on application and computation, though theory is not ignored altogether. Caltech also requires two freshman and two upper-level humanities courses, two freshman and two upper-level social science classes, and four additional humanities or social science electives.

Caltech's academics have much to do with the brilliant teaching faculty. Many professors are research scientists first and teachers second, creating a conflict of interest. The feeling from some profs is that they shouldn't have to teach, and they feel forced into it by the administration. This is not to say that all professors hate teaching. On the contrary, most Caltech professors are very animated about their respective fields and are bursting with information they want to convey to a new generation. Students need to have a certain amount of discipline to overcome obstacles, such as the occasional boring lecture. TAs are often more useful than professors, especially in large classes where the professor might as well be a holographic projection at the other end of the room. It is safe to say that Caltech graduates are thoroughly prepared for their respective fields once all is said and done.

Facts & Statistics

Student-Faculty Ratio
3:1
Full-Time Instructional Faculty
317
Part-Time Instructional Faculty
16
Total FT Faculty
900
Faculty with Terminal Degree
98%
Average Faculty Salary
$148,763
Full-Time Retention Rate
96%
Graduation Rate
92%
Programs/Majors Offered
37
Academic/Career Counseling?
Yes
Remedial Services?
No
Class Sizes
  • Fewer than 20 students: 59%
  • 20 to 49 students: 31%
  • 50 or more students: 10%
Instructional Programs
Occupational: No
Academic: Yes
Continuing Professional: No
Recreational/Avocational: No
Adult Basic Remedial: No
Secondary (High School): No
Special Credit Opportunities
Advanced Placement (AP) Credits: No
Dual Credit: No
Life Experience Credits: No
Degrees Awarded
  • Bachelor's degree
  • Doctorate - Research/scholarship
  • Master's degree
  • Post-master's certificate
Most Popular Majors
  • Chemistry: 5%
  • Electrical and Electronics Engineering: 6%
  • Mechanical Engineering: 5%
  • Physics: 6%
Graduation Requirements
  • English (including composition)
  • Humanities
  • Mathematics
  • Sciences (biological or physical)
  • Social science
Special Study Options
Study abroad
Other Academic Offerings
  • Cooperative education program
  • Cross-registration
  • Double major
  • English as a Second Language (ESL)
  • Exchange student program (domestic)
  • Independent study
  • Liberal arts/career combination
  • Student-designed major
Tips to Succeed
  • Don't date first term of frosh year. Students who hook up early tend to not make friends. Adjusting to the work at Caltech is difficult and takes up a lot of time, and if a student spends all of his or her free time with his or her boyfriend or girlfriend, he or she doesn't have time to make friends. Friends are necessary here because you need someone to do homework with and hang out.
  • Don't try to do it alone. Some students don't realize that collaboration on homework is not cheating. If you don't understand a concept or how to do a problem, ask a friend, a TA, or a professor (not during lecture).
  • Don't try to do too much. Students often come to Caltech thinking it will be like high school; they'll eventually find out that it's not. Taking too many classes or doing too many activities is not a good idea because students need adjusting space. College takes getting used to. Also, the work is very hard and students who overcommit themselves tend to get very stressed out.
  • Have outside interests. For most students, it helps to have a non-academic hobby or two. It is a good outlet for frustration and an escape from the extreme academics at Caltech.
  • Take it one day at a time. Sometimes, one needs to sit back and focus on one thing at a time. If you think about all you have to do, you might just have a nervous breakdown.

Student Polls

Rate your school's academic environment on the following topics    Based on 6 responses

Very poor
Excellent
  • Academic advisers
  • Class availability
  • Consistency in grading
  • Course subject variety
  • Curriculum flexibility
  • Gen-Ed requirements
  • Manageability of workload
  • Online course options
  • Quality of teaching assistants (TAs)
  • Scheduling/registration process
  • Technology in the classroom

Rate your school's professors on the following topics    Based on 7 responses

Very poor
Excellent
  • Accessibility
  • Communication skills
  • General knowledge
  • Interest in class subjects
  • Interest in students
  • Time spent in classroom
  • Use of teaching assistants
4
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