California Institute of Technology

California Institute of Technology (usually called Caltech) in Pasadena, California is one of the top private research universities in the United States. Caltech’s campus is situated about 11 miles northeast of Los Angeles, and the school places a very strong emphasis on engineering and science. Despite its small size, Caltech received $1.75 billion for its endowment in 2012 and $332 million in sponsored research in 2011, and 31 Caltech faculty and alumni have won the Nobel Prize. It is also a member of the Association of American Universities.



Amos G. Throop founded a vocational school (which would eventually become Caltech) in 1891 in Pasadena. Throop was a local politician and businessman in Pasadena. The school was originally called Throop University, before being renamed Throop Polytechnic Institute and then Throop College of Technology. In 1911, California Legislature introduced a bill that called for the establishment of the “California Institute of Technology” and provided a million dollars as an initial budget. In 1920, the Throop College of Technology was renamed the California Institute of Technology. Caltech participated in the V-12 Navy College Training Program during World War II (as did 130 other universities and colleges). It also maintained a naval training school for the United States Navy. Caltech’s campus tripled in size and its faculty doubled during the tenure of President Lee A. DuBridge from 1946-1969. Research fields such as chemical biology, geochemistry, nuclear astrophysics, and planetary science flourished under his leadership. In 1970, during the presidency of Harold Brown, Caltech allowed female undergraduates to enroll, and in Fall 2008, 42% of the freshman class was female, an undergraduate enrollment record.

California Institute of Technology Laboratories_of_the_Biological_Sciences,_Cal_Tech slider



Caltech is known for its engineering program, which is the most popular major with 41% of students enrolled in the program. The Engineering and Applied Science School is ranked by U.S. News as the 4th best engineering school in the United States. The mission of the school is to benefit society through research and education while also expanding human knowledge. The Aerospace Engineering Department is ranked 1st by U.S. News, and offers Graduate Programs in Space Engineering and Aeronautics while also providing an Educational Exchange Program. The department also offers an undergraduate Aerospace minor. Each program leaders to a Master of Science degree, and is designed to provide intense education in the foundations of the space and aeronautical sciences. It places a strong emphasis on research and experimental and analytical methods. Entering graduate students need to have a thorough background in undergraduate physics, mathematics, and engineering science. The Computer Science program is another popular major, and is ranked by U.S. News at the 11th best computer science department. It is combined with math to create the Computing and Mathematical Sciences department, which is part of the Engineering and Applied Science division. Research experience and coursework are designed to provide basic foundations in the field while fostering the development of analytical, logical, and computational thinking for students. The program concentrates on both the theoretical and practical aspects of computing sciences. Students can tailor their programs to fit their specific needs with an equal balance of coursework and research.

Cahill Center for Astronomy and Astrophysics (Caltech)


Pros & Cons

Caltech is ranked by U.S. News as the 10th best university in the United States. It is located in Pasadena, just 11 miles from Los Angeles. Los Angeles provides many entertainment and nightlife opportunities, and is a short distance away allowing students to go in to the city for a night or weekend. Only freshmen are required to live on campus, but around 80% of students remain in one of the eight student houses for the duration of their undergraduate program. The student-faculty ratio at Caltech is 3:1, which is one of the top ratios in the country, allowing students to interact with their instructors on a personal level. The 98% freshman retention rate demonstrates the quality of the programs and satisfaction of the students. Tuition is expensive at $39 588, and room and board costs over $12 000. Because of these high totals, 53.8% of undergraduates receive financial aid. Caltech also has a low acceptance rate (12.8% in Fall 2011).