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1200 East California Boulevard, Pasadena, California 91125

(626) 395-6811 

Caltech University


Caltech is a world-renowned and pioneering research and education institution dedicated to advancing science and engineering. It was founded as Throop University in 1891 in Pasadena, California, and renamed the California Institute of Technology in 1920.

An Undergraduate Experience Like No Other

Caltech undergraduates enroll in core courses in physics, humanities, social sciences, math, chemistry, and biology, while a broad array of academic programs provide an opportunity for tailored educational experiences.

Caltech provides students with a breadth of academic options to customize and enhance their education.

Premed opportunities include rotations at City of Hope, Children's Hospital Los Angeles, UCLA Medical Center, and Huntington Memorial Hospital.

Air Force and Army ROTC programs are offered in partnership with USC.

A 3/2 dual degree is available to outstanding students from 13 select liberal-arts colleges.

Caltech students can cross-register at Occidental College and Art Center College of Design for classes Caltech doesn't offer, and receive Caltech credit.

Caltech students can also study abroad in Cambridge, London, Edinburgh, Copenhagen, Paris, or Melbourne during their junior or senior years as part of Caltech's Scholars Programs.


The mission of the California Institute of Technology is to expand human knowledge and benefit society through research integrated with education. We investigate the most challenging, fundamental problems in science and technology in a singularly collegial, interdisciplinary atmosphere, while educating outstanding students to become creative members of society.


Every school has its own unique traditions, but, as with most things, Caltech seems to take its customs to an entirely different level. Below is a sample of some of the most famous (and infamous) things that students look forward to throughout the school year.

WELCOME TO FROSH CAMP: Caltech does nothing normal, and that begins with freshman orientation. Before ever attending a class, all incoming freshman are whisked away to “summer camp” to learn the basics of Caltech life. Frosh Camp is where freshman get their first introduction to the campus leaders. Techers also joke it is one of the two times students ever hear the campus Alma Matter (the other being graduation).

“THEY ARE ALL FINE HOUSES”: Caltech’s eight undergraduate houses are the foundation of campus life. And picking the right one is the first challenge that every freshman faces. For one week every September, freshmen live in limbo as they visit and judge all the houses. All the while, the houses evaluate the frosh, and in a great meeting of the minds, the fate of a class is decided. Which house is best? Ask the question to any upperclassman and they will give you the exact same answer.

YA GOTTA EAT SOMETIME: The tight bond that Techers feel for one another is most often linked to two things: problem sets and house dinners. With regards to the latter, five nights a week students dine together, waited on by their fellow students. These meals aren’t just a time to caffeinate for the long night of homework ahead. They are a time to commiserate, share stories, toss butter pats at the ceiling, throw napkins at each other, or perhaps dump/float peers with pitchers of water/ice water/salted ice water.

DECOMPRESS WITH 1,000 OF YOUR CLOSEST FRIENDS: With no board plan on weekends, students are forced to fend for themselves for food. For some this means takeout, others cook elaborate feasts, and there are always a few that live off Dr. Pepper and peanut butter for two days. But come finals week, nobody has time to think much about food. Thank goodness for the Caltech Y’s Decompression. Three times a year, for finals weekend, the campus service organization grills up burgers for every student on campus. For a few short moments, Techers take a rest from studying and eat outside with friends from across the eight houses. Those who volunteer for the event are rewarded with the ultimate prize: A free Decompression t-shirt. Collect all 12 throughout your Caltech career and you can make a quilt when you graduate.

IT’S RAINING PUMPKINS: Various campuses across the country do various destructive things to pumpkins on All Hallows’ Eve. But Caltech may be the only one to plunge the squash in liquid nitrogen before tossing it off a 10-story building. This tradition, brought to us from our friends at Dabney House, has received quite a following in the media. The pumpkins don’t just explode upon impact—they shatter like glass. If you attend the event, don’t be surprised to find other objects flung off the campus’s highest point. Bananas, oranges, and even the occasional dead body have all been given the heave-ho on October 31st. And freshmen, keep your eye out for the elusive “green flash.”

THE EARTH-SHATTERING KABOOM: The cannon sitting outside Fleming House is a working weapon dating back to late-1800s. Often the epicenter of pranks against Caltech (both Harvey Mudd and That Other Institute of Technology have successfully removed the cannon from campus), Flems fire the cannon to signify major Caltech events. These include the end of every term, the conclusion of rotation, the end of Ditch Day, and commencement.

A LITTLE PIECE OF ITALY IN PASADENA: The Caltech Olive Harvest Festival is a relatively new tradition around campus. Each year the 130 Caltech olive trees are harvested for their fruit, which is shipped off to a facility where it is pressed to make olive oil. Any member of the Caltech community is welcome to participate. Once the oil is bottled, it’s sold to the general public, with the money from the sales going toward student activities.

THE SONG GUARANTEED TO MAKE A TECHER’S HEART JUMP: Richard Wagner’s Ride of the Valkyries holds a special place in the heart of every Techer. But not necessarily a good one. At 7:00 a.m. on every day of final’s week, the Ride is blasted throughout the houses. This is the only time the song can be heard on campus. Dare break this rule, and the person responsible will be thrown into the nearest body of water, being a shower, swimming pool, lily pond, or ocean. In Blacker House, freshmen have been known to barricade themselves into a room, play the ride, and dare upperclassmen to turn off the music. This usually involves a stereo powered by a gas generator, as the upperclassmens’ first action upon hearing the Ride is to cut power to the building. 

DITCH DAY IS TOMORROW: Ditch Day is the most celebrated day of the Caltech calendar. Classes are cancelled and seniors flee the campus (else they be duct tapped to a tree), leaving behind elaborate challenges known as “stacks.” These stacks, oftentimes elaborate scavenger hunts that take months, (if not years of planning), test the mental and physical limits of Techers. Stacks take undergraduates to the heights, and depths, of the Caltech campus. Some stacks have even been known to send students to exotic locations throughout southern California. Finish your stack before the cannon fires at 5:00 to receive your bribe. And seniors, be sure that the bribe is deemed worthy. Else be prepared for the dreaded counterstack!

JUST REMEMBER TO LEAVE A NOTE: Caltech students are world famous for their elaborate, inventive pranks. Whether it involves changing the Hollywood sign to read Caltech, breaking into the scoreboard of the Rose Bowl game to change the names of the teams, programming the blackboards of a lecture hall to work by remote control, or replacing the seats in an outdoor dining area with toilets, Techers have historically known how to make their presence known.

Student Life:

Caltech's students are curious and passionate and excel in one of the world's most rigorous academic environments.

Undergraduate life, both academic and social, revolves around the eight student "Houses"—which are fairly unusual as college residences go. They're not dorms or fraternities but "self-governing living groups." The houses bring students from all class years and backgrounds together under one roof. The house system elevates collegiate housing way beyond the standard residential hall. It provides you with your first set of friends as a student at Caltech, which can be one of the most daunting aspects of going to college. The social and academic support from Caltech's house system transforms your peers at Caltech into a second family. Seven of the houses are exclusively for undergraduates, with the eighth house welcoming a blend of undergrads, graduate students, and faculty-in-residence. 

Deepen your talents and interests and build lifelong memories by participating in one of Caltech's organized athletic programs, its student-run clubs, or its many performing arts organizations (music or theater). You can also discover a variety of cultural and awareness events, diversity workshops, and support groups through the Caltech Center for Diversity. The Caltech Y offers opportunities for community service, outdoor adventures, and more.  There is plenty to explore beyond the labs at Caltech!



The Caltech mascot is the beaver—an homage to nature's engineer.

Caltech today:

Caltech's research and academic programs extend across six academic divisions-Biology & Biological Engineering, Chemistry & Chemical Engineering, Engineering & Applied Science, Geological & Planetary Sciences, Humanities & Social Sciences, Physics, Mathematics & Astronomy-and Jet Propulsion Laboratory.


The Institute has one of the nation's lowest student-to-faculty ratios, with 300 professorial faculty members offering a rigorous curriculum and access to varied learning opportunities and hands-on research to approximately 1,000 undergraduates and 1,250 graduate students. 

Famous graduates:

William Colglazier (born November 24, 1944), Science and Technology Adviser to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. Colglazier is the fourth leader of the Office of the Science and Technology Adviser to the Secretary, an office whose mission is "to serve the U.S. national interest by promoting global scientific and technological progress as integral components of U.S. diplomacy."

Harrison Hagan "JackSchmitt (born July 3, 1935) is an American geologist, retired NASA astronaut, university professorand former U.S. senator from New Mexico. In December 1972, as one of the crew on board Apollo 17, Schmitt became the first member of NASA's first scientist-astronaut group to fly in space. As Apollo 17 was the last of the Apollo missions, he also became the twelfth person to set foot on the Moon, and as of 2015, the second-to-last person to step off of the Moon

Interesting facts about Caltech:

Caltech's founding fathers—astronomer George Ellery Hale, physicist Robert Andrews Millikan, and chemist Arthur Amos Noyes—were nicknamed "Tinker, Thinker, and Stinker."

Millikan Library is one of the most-often-shaken buildings in the world, as Caltech's seismologists use it to test earthquake detectors and to gather other types of seismological data.

To celebrate the end of Daylight Savings Time each year, Techers try to pull a negative-time Tommy's run: The goal is to drive downtown, eat a burger at the original Tommy's, and arrive back on campus before they left.