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California Institute of Technology

1200 East California Boulevard, Pasadena, CA 91125-0001, USA

California Institute of Technology award
California Institute of Technology award
US ranking
position: 1
Tuition & fees per year: $60,864
Acceptance rate: 4.00%
Median alumni salary: $86,037
Avg. SAT and ACT: N/A
Entrance difficulty: Very hard

Courtesy of California Institute of Technology

What is the history of California Institute of Technology?

The California Institute of Technology, commonly known as Caltech, has a fascinating history that dates back to the late 19th century. Founded in 1891 as Throop University, this vocational school in Pasadena, California, initially offered courses in mechanical and civil engineering. Over time, the institution expanded its curriculum to include other fields such as physics, chemistry, and biology.

In its early years, the California Institute of Technology faced financial challenges and struggled to attract students and faculty. However, the university's reputation began to grow in the 1920s and 1930s, partly due to the work of several prominent scientists and engineers affiliated with the school. Among the most famous figures associated with Caltech is physicist Albert Einstein, who spent several months at the university in the 1930s. Other notable scientists affiliated with Caltech include Richard Feynman, Murray Gell-Mann, and Linus Pauling.

Throughout its history, the California Institute of Technology has been home to numerous groundbreaking research projects. In the 1920s, Caltech astronomer Edwin Hubble discovered that the universe is expanding, revolutionizing our understanding of the cosmos. In the 1950s, Caltech chemist Linus Pauling discovered the structure of proteins, significantly impacting the field of biochemistry.

The early 20th century saw a significant transformation of Caltech under the leadership of George Ellery Hale, an American astronomer and the first director of the nearby Mount Wilson Observatory. Under Hale's guidance, Throop Polytechnic Institute began to specialize in science and technology. In 1907, the institution officially became the California Institute of Technology and started offering degree programs in science and engineering. The institute's reputation grew rapidly, and it soon became one of the world's leading institutions of scientific research and education.

The California Institute of Technology has six academic divisions with a strong emphasis on science and engineering. Its 124-acre primary campus is located approximately 11 miles northeast of downtown Los Angeles. First-year students are required to live on campus, and 95% of undergraduates remain in the on-campus House System at Caltech. Although the university has a strong tradition of practical jokes and pranks, student life is governed by an honor code that allows faculty to assign take-home examinations.

Over the years, the California Institute of Technology has produced many notable alumni, including 46 Nobel laureates and numerous other award-winning scientists and engineers. The university has also been recognized for its commitment to diversity and inclusion, implementing various programs and initiatives aimed at promoting equity and access for all students.

The California Institute of Technology has been involved in many groundbreaking scientific discoveries and technological innovations. In 1958, the Jet Propulsion Laboratory at Caltech, operating in conjunction with the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, launched Explorer I, the first U.S. satellite.

What are the faculties and departments at California Institute of Technology?

California Institute of Technology offers a diverse range of faculties and departments, providing undergraduate and graduate students with exceptional learning and research opportunities. One of the most prominent departments at the university is the Division of Engineering and Applied Science, which encompasses seven departments: Aerospace (GALCIT), the Andrew and Peggy Cherng Department of Medical Engineering, Applied Physics and Materials Science, Computing and Mathematical Sciences, Electrical Engineering, Environmental Science and Engineering, and Mechanical and Civil Engineering. Additionally, the Division operates two major laboratory centers, the Center for Autonomous Systems and Technologies (CAST) and the Kavli Nanoscience Institute (KNI), as well as supporting numerous non-laboratory-based centers and programs, such as Information Science and Technology (IST), Sensing to Intelligence (S2I), and the Institute for Quantum Information and Matter (IQIM).

Aside from the Division of Engineering and Applied Science, California Institute of Technology places a strong emphasis on science and research. The university's faculty consists of 109 full-time professors, divided into six academic divisions: Biology and Biological Engineering, Chemistry and Chemical Engineering, Engineering and Applied Science, Geological and Planetary Sciences, Humanities and Social Sciences, and Physics, Mathematics and Astronomy. Each division has its own faculty listing site, where students can explore the individual expertise of each professor and their current research focus.

For students interested in pursuing a career as medical scientists, California Institute of Technology offers a joint M.D./Ph.D. program in collaboration with either UCLA’s Geffen School of Medicine or USC’s Keck School of Medicine. Furthermore, students have the opportunity to participate in on-campus research centers, such as the Center for the Science and Engineering of Materials and the Center for Neuromorphic Systems Engineering.

What is the location of California Institute of Technology?

The California Institute of Technology is situated in the city of Pasadena, California, in the West region of the United States. The campus, which spans 124 acres, is located at 1200 East California Boulevard, with the ZIP Code 91125-0001. It is approximately 11 miles northeast of downtown Los Angeles and within walking distance of popular destinations such as Old Town Pasadena and the Pasadena Playhouse District. These nearby attractions provide ample opportunities for students to explore and enjoy the local culture. The nearest airport to the California Institute of Technology is Burbank Bob Hope, making it convenient for students traveling to and from the institution.

What is the mission and vision of California Institute of Technology?

The California Institute of Technology, also known as Caltech, aims to expand human knowledge and benefit society through research integrated with education. The university primarily focuses on addressing fundamental problems in technology and science through its six academic divisions: Physics, Mathematics and Astronomy, Humanities and Social Sciences, Chemistry and Chemical Engineering, Biology and Biological Engineering, Geological and Planetary Sciences, and Engineering and Applied Science. Caltech envisions education and research as interconnected, with each informing the other, and strives to create inclusive, diverse, equitable, and accessible opportunities for faculty, instructors, staff, students, and community members to learn and discover throughout their lives and careers.

In pursuit of educational equity and excellence, Caltech is committed to continuous improvement and active leadership among peer institutions and in higher education. The Center for Teaching, Learning, and Outreach (CTLO) at the university supports and integrates teaching and PreK-12/public educational outreach through coherent approaches that foster inclusion, diversity, equity, and accessibility.

The Department of Athletics, Physical Education, and Recreation at California Institute of Technology encourages participation in various activities, including intercollegiate, physical education, club, intramural, and informal recreation activities. The department values a healthy, excellent, and balanced education for each student in its programs and aims to educate the entire Caltech community toward excellent personal health and a balanced life approach through diverse programming. The intercollegiate athletics program is considered an enhancement to the complete education of a Caltech student, instilling leadership, promoting perseverance, and teaching resilience in each student-athlete. The program is conducted within the spirit and letter of all rules of the game and with the utmost respect for competition and opponents. Student-athletes are representative of the entire Caltech student body and are fully integrated into the comprehensive educational, social, and residential experience.

What is the accreditation of California Institute of Technology?

California Institute of Technology, commonly known as Caltech, holds regional institutional accreditation from the Western Association of Schools and Colleges, Senior College and University Commission. This accreditation is acknowledged by both the Department of Education and the Council for Higher Education Accreditation. In addition to this, Caltech's Chemical Engineering, Electrical Engineering, and Mechanical Engineering programs are accredited by ABET. The institute has consistently maintained its accreditation since 1949, which is essential for students who may wish to transfer credits to another institution or pursue post-graduate studies. The accreditation status of California Institute of Technology ensures that students receive a valuable education and that the institution adheres to specific quality standards.

California Institute of Technology Rankings

See where this school lands in our other Rankings to get a bigger picture of the institution's offerings.

32 Best Value Colleges in California in 2023-2024

67 Most Affordable Colleges in 2023-2024

81 Best Value Colleges in the West in 2023-2024 US

403 Best Value Colleges in 2023-2024


California Institute of Technology Profile - Basic Information

Name of the institution

California Institute of Technology

Level of institution

Four or more years

Granulation by control over the institution (public/private)


School type


Setting type

City: Midsize

Calendar system


Foundation year


Institution size category

1,000 - 4,999

Main student body


Institutional Category

Degree - granting, primarily baccalaureate or above

California Institute of Technology Programs and Degrees

iconMaster's degree
iconBachelor's degree
iconPost-master's certificate
iconDoctor's degree - research/scholarship
iconOther degree
iconCertificate of at least 2 years, but less than 4 years
iconAssociate's degree
iconCertificate of less than 1 year
iconPostbaccalaureate certificate
iconCertificate of at least 1 year, but less than 2 years
iconDoctor's degree - other
iconDoctor's degree - professional practice

Alumni Salary for California Institute of Technology Degrees


Avg. salary

Computer and Information Sciences and Support Services