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Academics

Caltech students learn the foundations of science in both the classroom and the laboratory while working closely with the Institute’s renowned faculty.

Core Curriculum

Two students conducting research at the Resnick Sustainability Center.

Caltech's core curriculum prepares students for the interdisciplinary nature of science and engineering by requiring an understanding of the basic sciences, mathematics, the humanities, and the social sciences. This encourages a culture of problem solving, collaboration, and communication while providing valuable experience in all fields of science. Significant study in the humanities and social sciences allows graduates to navigate the societal, political, and economic factors that influence, and are influenced by, their work.

All Caltech undergrads enroll in at least one course under the aegis of the Resnick Sustainability Center. These core courses touch multiple disciplines and are infused with sustainability concepts, case studies, problem-set questions, field trips, and exercises.

Hands-On Education

ME 72

Mechanical Engineering (ME) 72 is a two-term, project-based course that culminates in an engineering design competition. The details of the challenge vary from year to year—a video of 2024’s “Airship Quadball” competition can be seen above—but are designed to show off the ingenuity and engineering capabilities of the third-year mechanical engineering student teams that spend hundreds of hours designing, building, testing, and reimagining their entries leading up to the course’s big finale.

Undergraduate Student Research

Students run a "gratitude table" event with SFP.

Student-Faculty Programs (SFP)

SFP offers programs and services that support the academic, professional, and personal development of Caltech students. SFP provides leadership to undergraduate experiential learning initiatives, develops and implements resources that support effective and inclusive mentoring practices, and contributes to campus diversity efforts, including recruiting and supporting students from historically marginalized communities in STEM.

Wendy Granados Razo working in the laboratory wearing gloves and protective eyewear.

Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowships (SURF)

One of the Student-Faculty Programs' best-known efforts, the SURF program is also one of the crown jewels of Caltech. During this annual 10-week summer research opportunity, undergraduate students from Caltech and other colleges and universities conduct research under the guidance of experienced mentors working at the frontiers of their fields.

No member of the Caltech community shall take unfair advantage of any other member of the Caltech community.

Caltech's Honor Code

Academic Divisions

Caltech's nearly 1,000 undergraduate students can choose from 26 options (majors), spread across six academic divisions. Caltech's program not only builds students' expertise in a core area of study and research, but requires a considerable depth and exposure to basic science, humanities, math, and social science overall as the interdisciplinary nature of contemporary research, business, and society requires the ability to make connections across disciplines.

Mitch Guttman working in the biology lab.

Biology and Biological Engineering (BBE)

BBE offers undergraduate options in biology and bioengineering. Its graduate options include neurobiology as well as a biochemistry and molecular biophysics option shared with CCE. The division also houses MD/PhD programs that allow students to pursue medical degrees at partner universities while completing doctoral studies at Caltech.

Caltech and PCC students working together in the chemistry lab.

Chemistry and Chemical Engineering (CCE)

CCE's undergraduate options in chemistry and chemical engineering prepare students to understand fundamental concepts of the molecular sciences and to excel in professional practice or in academia. Chemistry has two different tracks of study, while chemical engineering has six. Graduate options include chemistry, chemical engineering, and the biochemistry and molecular biophysics program run in conjunction with BBE.

Students conducting research at the CAST center.

Engineering and Applied Science (EAS)

EAS is a collaborative community working at the leading edge of fundamental science to invent the technologies of the future. Its eight undergraduate options span a wide range of engineering, from applied physics and computer science to materials science and mechanical engineering. Other fields are available as graduate options, such as civil engineering, medical engineering, and space engineering.

Geology students walking towards a tall red rock feature.

Geological and Planetary Sciences (GPS)

GPS faculty and students study the earth and other planets to understand their origin, composition, and development. The division's undergraduate and graduate options in geological and planetary sciences and environmental science and engineering lean heavily on fundamental science and on interdisciplinary collaborations with colleagues from across Caltech, as well as at the U.S. Geological Survey and the Jet Propulsion Laboratory.

Humanities students sitting on a bench under a tree talking with laptops open.

Humanities and Social Sciences (HSS)

The study of the social sciences has been an important part of the Caltech curriculum for more than a century. HSS offers seven undergraduate options, including English and business, economics, and management. Two distinct graduate programs play a critical role in the HSS research and learning environment: the social sciences PhD program and the social and decision neuroscience PhD program.

Alexander Dunn working on a physics equation on a chalk board.

Physics, Mathematics and Astronomy (PMA)

PMA is home to internationally recognized academic and research programs in physics, mathematics, and astrophysics, with undergraduate and graduate options in all three. In PMA, undergraduate and graduate scholars are given ample opportunity to work closely with outstanding faculty, learning through classroom lectures, discussions, and hands-on research into how the universe works.

Academic Resources

Interior photo of Sherman Fairchild Library with students working.

Caltech Library

The Caltech Library, which includes five campus libraries and the Caltech Archives and Special Collections, partners with faculty, students, and staff across the Institute in the creation, dissemination, and discovery of knowledge.

A student receives one-on-one career counseling at CALE.

Career Achievement, Leadership, and Exploration (CALE)

CALE, Caltech's career center, provides core programs and services such as employer relations, career coaching, and career fairs to help students, postdoctoral scholars, and recent alumni meet their professional development needs.

The CTLO team standing and smiling together on campus.

Center for Teaching, Learning, and Outreach (CTLO)

The CTLO supports Caltech's multifaceted educational efforts, including undergraduate and graduate courses and curricula, formal and informal teaching and learning, and partnerships with PreK-12 teachers and students. CTLO works with Caltech faculty and departments to design and implement courses, curricula, and educational outreach programs, and is a partner and resource in accessing enrichment opportunities and building a strong local, regional, and national educational community.

Caltech students collaborating at the Hixon Writing Center.

Hixon Writing Center (HWC)

The HWC offers Caltech writers support and feedback on their works in progress with a team of professional and peer tutors who can also connect writers with high quality, vetted resources to meet their communication goals. The center's staff work to address the inherent intellectual challenges of the writing process and provide support in many academic genres, including abstracts, proposals, research papers, argument-driven essays, statements of purpose, research proposals, and slide decks and presentations.