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Caltech Acceptance Rate

Caltech Acceptance Rate

Shortcut to sections offered for Caltech prospective students:

Successful Applicant Profile

  • Demographics
  • Majors
  • SAT/ACT scores

Entry Requirements

  • Tuition
  • Scholarships
  • Checklist of Application Requirements
  • Application Deadlines

What Should You Expect

  • Student life
  • Academics offered
  • Athletics offered
  • Notable Alumni

Caltech or the California Institute of Technology located in Pasadena, California is often ranked among the top three engineering colleges in the country. Caltech acceptance rates are typically low at 6.4% which makes this college highly selective in its decision-making process. You will need more than above average grades and test scores if you want to attend this internationally respected university.

IvyCollegeAdmit can help you better your chances even with low Caltech acceptance rates. We have a deep understanding of the admissions process. You can beat Caltech acceptance rates with a strong extracurricular involvement, glowing personal achievements in the STEM field, and a winning personal statement.

An image of Caltech main campus

Caltech doesn’t look for applicants with just high grades and test scores. They also want to see challenging courses and a remarkable aptitude. It is essential to be successful in IB, AP, or Honors classes if you want the admissions committee to even consider your application. Bear in mind that every word of your application essay is going to be scrutinized because Caltech wants future engineers and scientists who will outshine in their fields.

Successful Applicant Profile

Caltech admissions committee looks for evidence of intellectual curiosity and academic success in its candidates. They also look for students that will be a good fit with their strong honor code and driven community. All Caltech students love STEM. You would need to show your passion for STEM and the steps you have taken to excel in the field.

However, don’t worry because Caltech understands that not all high schools have the necessary equipment or budget to fulfill STEM requirements. You can tell them the ways you would like to pursue your interests if given a chance.

Where are the applicants from?

Caltech acceptance rates are really low at just 6.4%. This means only 6 students are admitted for every 100 applicants. There are over 8,367 applications each year with only 235 getting selected. Out of these 44% are generally women and 56% are men.

32% Caltech admits are from underrepresented ancestry, with students identifying themselves as Native American, African American, Hispanics, and Latinos. Caltech has a culturally rich enrolment pool with 6% of students from foreign countries.

What are the more common programs?

Caltech and MIT are forever battling for top position as the country’s best engineering school. Generally, Caltech comes out on top with 28 academic programs. Almost 95% of undergraduate students participate in research at this university. Candidates matriculating here tend to pursue a wide range of interests, usually in the STEM fields.

A few of the more popular programs include Engineering, Physical Sciences, and Biomedical Sciences. There is a significant amount of research done at Caltech with various large institutions like the National Science Foundation, NASA, and the Department of Health and Human Services giving research grants.

What is the average SAT/ACT score of admitted students?

Caltech acceptance rate makes it a highly competitive and selective school. Caltech admits are typically from the top 7% nationally taking SAT. You have a chance of being admitted to this college if you have an ACT score close to 36 or SAT score around 1570.

For admitted students in 2019 who took ACT score:

  • 25th percentile score: 35
  • 75th percentile score: 36

For admitted students in 2019 who took SAT score:

  • 25th percentile score: 1530
  • 75th percentile score: 1580

50% of students that got admitted to this school score between 740 and 780 on the evidence-based reading and writing section. 25% scored below 780 while the rest scored between 740 and 780. 50% admitted candidates scored between 790 and 800 on the math section with 25% getting a perfect 800. The remaining scored below 790.

You would have a particularly high chance of getting into Caltech with a composite SAT score of 1580 and above. The best part about this school is that they don’t require the SAT writing section. Beginning 2020-21 admissions they are doing away with SAT subject test scores as well.

The college follows the score choice program which means the highest SAT score shall be considered by the admissions office. The same holds true for the ACT. Caltech is silent on GPA figures. However, our analysis shows that you would need to be in the top 10% of your high school class to be considered. Generally, applicants with a GPA of 4.19 or higher get selected.

Caltech requires all its admitted candidates to be at the top of their respective classes. You will need to show that you are ready to take on college academics by getting straight A’s. You should be taking hard classes, like IB or AP courses if you want to be considered since Caltech acceptance rates are quite low.

Entry Requirements

Caltech is a small school with an undergraduate enrollment of just 938 students. The campus is sprawled over 124 acres and is located a short distance from the Pacific Ocean and Los Angeles. Caltech acceptance rates are significantly low with the 2018-19 admissions cycle witnessing 6.4%.

The process is highly competitive which means you will have to try all the harder with your application and personal essay. Make sure you pay special attention to the short questions and proofread the entire application multiple times. But before that have a look at the kind of money you will need to attend the California Institute of Technology.

How much will it cost to attend?

There is no denying the fact Caltech’s cost of attendance is through the roof at $77,718. The cost of attendance is the complete cost of attending one year at Caltech. It includes both direct and indirect charges, such as tuition, fee, books, and supplies among other charges.

You need to take into account the various forms of financial aid on offer. In fact, most incoming students get an average award of $30,378 in some form of aid.

This is what Caltech undergraduate students have to pay each year on an average:

  • Tuition: $54,570
  • Fees: $2,292
  • Housing/room: $10,095
  • Board/meals: $7,242
  • Books and supplies: $1,428
  • Personal expenses: $2,091

The total cost of attendance for completing 9-month coursework at the university for freshmen is $77,718.

It’s vital to note that the fee does not include the Caltech Student Health Insurance Plan. You can skip this if you have a comparable insurance plan. Otherwise, you would need to pay approximately $2,500 to purchase health insurance through Caltech.

First-year students are also required to pay a one-time Orientation Fee of $500. This mandatory fee is applicable to all undergraduate students and is non-refundable. The housing/room rate is generally calculated on the basis of the weighted average of all on-campus housing options.

What financial aid opportunities are available?

Caltech is focused on making education as affordable as possible through its nationally recognized need-based financial aid program. They are dedicated to helping all bright and talented minds have an equal opportunity here regardless of their family’s financial status.

Financial aid is offered to candidates looking for ways to cover their cost of attendance at Caltech. They can be offered in three ways:

  • Work-study: This refers to the share of the money that requires to be earned through unique on-campus work opportunities or by working at eligible institutions.
  • Grants and Scholarships: These are monetary gifts that do not require repayment and are based on demonstrated financial need. Caltech doesn’t offer merit or talent-based financial grants.
  • Student Loans: This is borrowed money that requires repayment with interest once you leave college.

Undergraduate students applying for financial aid shall be considered for all three forms of aid. Caltech determines the level of need by deducting family contribution from the total cost of attendance.

They use the following formula:

Cost of Attendance − Family Contribution = Demonstrated Financial Need

The family contribution is the amount of money paid by your family for you to attend one year of school. The average financial aid packages offered to students each year are around $30,378. Caltech does its best to ensure that students don’t graduate with a lot of debt. The average Caltech graduate has a student loan debt amounting to $8,218.

What are the application requirements for Caltech?

You can submit either the Common Application or the Coalition Application. There’s not any preference among the two. You can choose any platform that best serves your purpose. California Institute of Technology is also a QuestBridge Partner. You can apply for this college through the QuestBridge National College Match.

Here’s a checklist to make sure you don’t forget anything:

  • Caltech application
  • Supplementary questions
  • Application fee or waiver
  • Standardized test scores
  • Subject test scores for SAT (optional)
  • High school transcript
  • One letter of recommendation each from math/science teacher and social science teacher

Caltech tries to learn everything about its candidates through three short questions forming part of the application. It’s pivotal that you check all your answers several times before hitting the submit button.

What are the timelines for the Caltech application?

There are two rounds of admission on offer at Caltech. You can choose between Early Action and Regular Decision. Caltech’s Early Action program is non-restrictive and non-binding. This means if you apply and get selected there is no compulsion for you to withdraw your other applications. You won’t be required to attend if you don’t want to.

You can apply through Regular Decision if you want a bit more time to complete your application. Potential outcomes include deny, waitlist, and accept. There’s not an appeals process if you get denied during the Regular Decision process. You would have until May 1st to confirm your decision of attending Caltech.

Deadlines for freshmen starting fall 2021

Early Action Candidates

  • Application deadline – November 1st, 2020
  • SAT/ACT test – November
  • Financial aid – November 1st, 2020

Regular Decision Candidates

  • Application deadline – January 3rd, 2021
  • SAT/ACT test – December
  • Financial aid –February 1st, 2021

Decision notification

You will be notified of the admissions committee decision by mid-December if you apply under the Early Action program. You would need to wait until mid-March if you apply under Regular Decisions. In both cases, you would be required to send in your replies by May 1st.

What to Expect

California Institute of Technology is located in Pasadena about 10 miles away from Los Angeles. The architectural style of the campus is based on the Spanish mission style that is true to Southern California which used to be a thriving region of American but because of high taxes and other anti-business policies many jobs and businesses have and are leaving. This is why many graduates of Caltech are working in other parts of America. This private institution was founded in 1891. There are only 948 seats for undergraduates and each year about 150-200 students are accepted as freshmen.

A fountain in the school campus

Campus setting is suburban with a strict Honor Code. This code dictates that “No member of the Caltech community shall take unfair advantage of any other member of the Caltech community.” One of the reasons why the admissions committee reads every word of an applicant’s supplementary answer and personal essay is to ensure that every “teacher” fits in well with the Caltech community.

What do students think of life at Caltech?

Academic and social life at the California Institute of Technology centers on eleven student houses and residences. These are described by the school as “self-governing living groups”. Caltech employs an admired tradition in their student houses. Dinners are served only by volunteer student servers.

Students posing for a picture in the school campus

All freshmen are required to live on campus. In fact, policies state that only freshmen need to be on-campus. But, more than 80% of the students tend to finish their entire four years while living on campus.

There is a strong tradition of pranking at Caltech against the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Both MIT and Caltech routinely vie for the top spot as the country’s best science and technology university.

Four months ago, a sophomore posted a testimony about Caltech University on a college-ranking site Niche expressing that:

“My experience so far at Caltech has been that yes, the rumors are true: it’s really hard. However, if you are willing to put in the work, you’ll be okay. I really like its spirit of collaboration: students work together on problem sets, and then TAs and professors are there to help if you still can’t get it. It’s a pretty positive learning environment.”

There are dozens of student-led organizations at Caltech. They cover a wide array of interests including creative and performing arts, academic interests, cultural and racial initiatives, government and political interests, gender and sexuality affinity groups, and several media and publications.

Caltech school building inside the campus

The more popular groups are Teachers for a Sustainable Future (TSF), Women in Physics, Mathematics, and Astronomy, The Feminist Club, Student Athletics Advisory Committee, Muslim Student Association, Science & Engineering Policy At Caltech (SEPAC), Jewish Life at Caltech, Caltech Ultimate Frisbee Club, Dance Revolution Club, Caltech Surf and Windsurf Club, and Caltech Latino Association of Students in Engineering and Sciences.

Others like Caltech Premedical Association (CPMA), iGem Club, Caltech Sustainable Vehicles Club, Metalworking, Engineers without Borders Caltech Chapter, and Photography Club are also popular.

You can get more information about Caltech campus life and admissions process by calling the undergraduate admission office at +1 626-395-6341 or sending them an email at

What academics are offered?

Caltech has one of the best student-faculty ratios at 3:1. There are more than 67.7% classes with fewer than 20 students. Freshmen retention rate, which is a highly regarded indicator of student satisfaction, stands at 98%.

There are dozens of majors on the curriculum menu at the California Institute of Technology with the more popular being Engineering, Physical Sciences, Computer, and Information Sciences and Support Services, Biological and Biomedical Sciences, and Mathematics and Statistics.

Other interesting majors include Astronomy, Physics, Mathematics, Political Science, History and Philosophy, English, Business, Economics & Management, Planetary Science, Geophysics, Geology, Geobiology, and Geochemistry.

What athletic options are available?

There are a number of NCAA Division III teams in the Caltech Beavers. They compete in the Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference. There are several intercollegiate sports on offer here. You can be part of multiple clubs and intramural sports teams as well.

Caltech basketball mentor and team members cheering on the sidelines

Few of the more popular Caltech sports include Baseball, Basketball, Fencing, Cross-Country, Swimming & Diving, Soccer, Water Polo, Track & Field, and Tennis.

Who are some famous Caltech alumni?

Numerous leaders, politicians, business tycoons, musicians, entertainers, and media figures have studied at Caltech. Few of the particularly well-known alum include:

  • Tech superstar Adam D’Angelo
  • Physicist Kip Thorne
  • Chinese engineer QianXuesen
  • Biochemist Linus Pauling
  • Scientist and engineer Frances Arnold
  • Computer Scientist Fei-Fei Li
  • Astronomer Amy Mainzer
  • Intel founder Gordon Moore
  • Powerlifter Kristy Hawkins
  • Computer scientist Donald Knuth
  • Canadian astrophysicist Arthur B. McDonald
  • BlackBerry chairman John S. Chen

Caltech has a STEM-focused curriculum. If you want to see your name on the list, you should ensure that your high school resume shows an aptitude for college-level STEM challenges. There are several ways for you to show your interest in STEM. IvyCollegeAdmit has helped many students secure a seat in Caltech through dedicated counseling.

For instance, you can improve your chances of being selected by taking math and science electives. You can also consider joining STEM-related extracurricular activities such as Mathletes or Science Olympiad. Of course, relying on your aptitude for just STEM is not going to secure you a place at Caltech.

You need to make your application stand out and be unique if you want the Admissions Committee to remember you. Personal essays are the main way to get this done. IvyCollegeAdmit can help you with that.

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