Caltech is a university dedicated to private research. Caltech has 6 academic divisions that place emphases in engineering and science. The main campus has 124 acres is located close to Los Angeles.

Even though Caltech is a small university, their faculty and alumni have won Nobel Prizes and the National Medal of Science. There are several faculty members that have been elected to the National Academics. There have also been faculty members associated with the Howard Hughes Medical Institute and NASA. The university is ranked first in worldwide rankings and has also ranked first in engineering and physical science. Caltech has also had a long standing rivalry with MIT also known as the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Every new student is required to live on the campus during their first year and most of the undergraduates stay in the campus house systems. Caltech has a tradition of playing pranks and practical jokes on their rival university MIT. Student life follows an honor code which gives faculty permission to assign take home exams. There are also 13 intercollegiate sports that the Caltech Beavers participate in which are in the NCAA Division III’s Southern California Conference.

Caltech is divided into 6 academic divisions which are Chemistry and Chemical Engineering, Biology, Geological and Planetary Sciences, Engineering and Applied Sciences, Physics, and Humanities. The faculty which includes professors, research associates and instructors are responsible for admission requirements, curricula and academic standards. Faculty representatives consist of 18 elected faculty and various other senior administration officials. Professors that are full time teach, advise students, conduct research and perform various administrative functions.


Caltech is a 4 year research university that has a wide variety of graduate programs. Caltech’s first semester runs from late September to just before Christmas, the second semester runs from New Year’s day to the middle of March and the third semester runs from late March or early April ending in early or mid-June.

Undergraduate programs

The undergraduate programs are full time and are focused on the arts and sciences. Caltech has 24 majors and 6 minors that cross all 6 academic divisions. Caltech also has interdisciplinary programs in Biochemistry, Applied Physics, Computation and Neural Systems, Bioengineering, environmental Science and Engineering, Control and Dynamical Systems, Planetary Astronomy, Geobiology and Astrobiology and Geochemistry. The more popular options are Computer Science, Chemical Engineering, Mechanical Engineering, Electrical Engineering and Physics.

Caltech also requires that every student take 30 classes that include 5 terms of physics and mathematics, 2 terms of chemistry, 1 term of biology, 2 terms of lab courses, a freshmen elective menu course, 12 terms of humanities and 2 terms of science writing. Each class equals 9 academic units in addition to each individual options degree requirements. Students also need to take 40.5 units each term so that they can graduate in 4 years. Caltech’s core curriculum requirements are some of the toughest in California. Once each student chooses their options in addition to the core curriculum each semester can be challenging at best.

By Arlene Huff

Arlene Huff is the founding member of Golden State Online. Before that She was a general assignment reporter. A native Californian, she graduated from the University of California with a degree in medical anthropology and global health. She currently lives in Los Angeles.