The California Institute of Technology (Caltech) is a private doctorate-granting research university in Pasadena, California. Known for its strength in natural science and engineering, Caltech is often ranked as one of the world’s top-ten universities.
Although founded as a preparatory and vocational school by Amos G. Throop in 1891, the college attracted influential scientists such as George Ellery Hale, Arthur Amos Noyes and Robert Andrews Millikan in the early 20th century.
The vocational and preparatory schools were disbanded and spun off in 1910 and the college assumed its present name in 1920. In 1934, Caltech was elected to the Association of American Universities, and the antecedents of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, which Caltech continues to manage and operate, were established between 1936 and 1943 under Theodore von Kármán.
The university is one among a small group of institutes of technology in the United States which is primarily devoted to the instruction of pure and applied sciences.
For 2020, U.S. News & World Report ranked Caltech as tied for 12th in the United States among national universities overall, 8th for most innovative, and 11th for best value.
U.S. News & World Report also ranked the graduate programs in chemistry and earth sciences first among national universities.
Caltech was ranked 1st internationally between 2011 and 2016 by the Times Higher Education World University Rankings. Caltech was ranked as the best university in the world in two categories: Engineering & Technology and Physical Sciences. It was also found to have the highest faculty citation rate in the world.
Tuition and financial aid
Undergraduate tuition for the 2013–2014 school year was $39,990 and total annual costs were estimated to be $58,755. In 2012–2013, Caltech awarded $17.1 million in need-based aid, $438k in non-need-based aid, and $2.51 million in self-help support to enrolled undergraduate students.
The average financial aid package of all students eligible for aid was $38,756 and students graduated with an average debt of $15,090.
The full-time, four-year undergraduate program emphasizes instruction in the arts and sciences and has high graduate coexistence. Caltech offers 24 majors (called “options”) and six minors across all six academic divisions.
Caltech also offers interdisciplinary programs in Applied Physics, Biochemistry, Bioengineering, Computation and Neural Systems, Control and Dynamical Systems, Environmental Science and Engineering, Geobiology and Astrobiology, Geochemistry, and Planetary Astronomy.
The most popular options are Chemical Engineering, Computer Science, Electrical Engineering, Mechanical Engineering and Physics.
Prior to the entering class of 2013, Caltech required students to take a core curriculum of five terms of mathematics, five terms of physics, two terms of chemistry, one term of biology, two terms of lab courses, one term of scientific communication, three terms of physical education, and 12 terms of humanities and social science.
Since 2013, only three terms each of mathematics and physics have been required by the institute, with the remaining two terms each required by certain options.