California Institute of Technology

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California Institute of Technology Details

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California Institute of Technology is a private institution that was founded in 1891.

Tuition fees in California Institute of Technology are $45,000 (Aprox.).

Caltech, which focuses on science and engineering, is located in Pasadena, California, approximately 11 miles northeast of Los Angeles. Social and academic life at Caltech centers on the eight student houses, which the school describes as “self-governing living groups.” Student houses incorporate an admired Caltech tradition: dinners served by student waiters. Only freshmen are required to live on campus, but around 80 percent of students remain in their house for all four years. The Caltech Beavers have a number of NCAA Division III teams that compete in the Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference. Integral to student life is the Honor Code, which dictates that “No member of the Caltech community shall take unfair advantage of any other member of the Caltech community.”

In addition to its undergraduate studies, Caltech offers top graduate programs in engineering, biology, chemistry,computer science, earth sciences, mathematics and physics. Caltech participates in a significant amount of research, receiving grants from institutions such as NASA, the National Science Foundation and the Department of Health and Human Services, among others. Caltech maintains a strong tradition of pranking with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, another top-ranked science and technology university. Companies such as Intel, Compaq and Hotmail were founded by Caltech alumni. Famous film director Frank Capra also graduated from Caltech.

Schools / Colleges / Departments / Courses / Faculties

Biology & Biological Engineering

Caltech biologists work to reveal nature’s mechanisms—how tens of thousands of components act in concert in cells, how organisms grow from single cells, how the brain maintains its consciousness, emotions, and superb computational capabilities, and what happens when any of those processes goes awry.

Chemistry & Chemical Engineering

Caltech’s chemists and chemical engineers study nature’s most intricate processes on scales from the subatomic to the macroscopic. Their discoveries lead to the creation of revolutionary tools, molecules, and materials for medicine, clean energy, environmental protection, and more.

Engineering & Applied Science

Caltech’s engineers and applied scientists invent the future, working across a wide variety of disciplines and at the fundamental boundaries of science to both conceive and design tomorrow’s technologies.

Geological & Planetary Sciences

Whether studying the atmospheres of exoplanets, the minerals of Mars, or earthquakes on Earth, Caltech’s geological and planetary scientists use powerful geophysical tools and methods to unravel these phenomenal natural systems and understand the past, present, and future of all our solar system’s planets.

Humanities & Social Sciences

The division brings together diverse faculty, from historians to philosophers to economists to neuroscientists, to explore human history and creativity, look at the decisions we make and how we make them, and provide new insights into how we communicate and understand our world.

Physics, Mathematics & Astronomy

Caltech’s physicists, mathematicians, and astronomers explore the universe from all perspectives and at all scales. The division brings together experimentalists and theorists, applied and basic scientists, and encourages them to delve into time and space, from today back to the Big Bang, from the cosmos to the subatomic.


Caltech started as a vocational school founded in Pasadena in 1891 by local businessman and politician Amos G. Throop. The school was known successively as Throop University, Throop Polytechnic Institute (and Manual Training School), andThroop College of Technology, before acquiring its current name in 1920. The vocational school was disbanded and the preparatory program was split off to form an independent Polytechnic School in 1907.

At a time when scientific research in the United States was still in its infancy, George Ellery Hale, a solar astronomer from theUniversity of Chicago, founded the Mount Wilson Observatory in 1904. He joined Throop’s board of trustees in 1907, and soon began developing it and the whole of Pasadena into a major scientific and cultural destination. He engineered the appointment of James A. B. Scherer, a literary scholar untutored in science but a capable administrator and fund raiser, to Throop’s presidency in 1908. Scherer persuaded retired businessman and trustee Charles W. Gates to donate $25,000 in seed money to build Gates Laboratory, the first science building on campus.

Under the leadership of Hale, Noyes and Millikan (aided by the booming economy of Southern California), Caltech grew to national prominence in the 1920s and concentrated on the development of Roosevelt’s “Hundredth Man”. On November 29, 1921, the trustees declared it to be the express policy of the Institute to pursue scientific research of the greatest importance and at the same time “to continue to conduct thorough courses in engineering and pure science, basing the work of these courses on exceptionally strong instruction in the fundamental sciences of mathematics, physics, and chemistry; broadening and enriching the curriculum by a liberal amount of instruction in such subjects as English, history, and economics; and vitalizing all the work of the Institute by the infusion in generous measure of the spirit of research.” In 1923, Millikan was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics. In 1925, the school established a department of geology and hired William Bennett Munro, then chairman of the division of History, Government, and Economics at Harvard University, to create a division of humanities and social sciences at Caltech. In 1928, a division of biology was established under the leadership of Thomas Hunt Morgan, the most distinguished biologist in the United States at the time, and discoverer of the role of genes and the chromosome in heredity. In 1930, Kerckhoff Marine Laboratory was established in Corona del Mar under the care of Professor George MacGinitie. In 1926, a graduate school of aeronautics was created, which eventually attracted Theodore von Kármán. Kármán later helped create the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, and played an integral part in establishing Caltech as one of the world’s centers for rocket science. In 1928, construction of the Palomar Observatory began.

Millikan served as “Chairman of the Executive Council” (effectively Caltech’s president) from 1921 to 1945, and his influence was such that the Institute was occasionally referred to as “Millikan’s School.” Millikan initiated a visiting-scholars program soon after joining Caltech. Scientists who accepted his invitation include luminaries such as Paul Dirac, Erwin Schrödinger, Werner Heisenberg, Hendrik Lorentz andNiels Bohr. Albert Einstein arrived on the Caltech campus for the first time in 1931 to polish up his Theory of General Relativity, and he returned to Caltech subsequently as a visiting professor in 1932 and 1933.

During World War II, Caltech was one of 131 colleges and universities nationally that took part in the V-12 Navy College Training Programwhich offered students a path to a Navy commission. The United States Navy also maintained a naval training school for aeronautical engineering, resident inspectors of ordnance and naval material, and a liaison officer to the National Defense Research Committee on campus.

In the 1950s–1970s, Caltech was the home of Murray Gell-Mann and Richard Feynman, whose work was central to the establishment of the Standard Model of particle physics. Feynman was also widely known outside the physics community as an exceptional teacher and colorful, unconventional character.

During Lee A. DuBridge’s tenure as Caltech’s president (1946–1969), Caltech’s faculty doubled and the campus tripled in size. DuBridge, unlike his predecessors, welcomed federal funding of science. New research fields flourished, including chemical biology, planetary science,nuclear astrophysics, and geochemistry. A 200-inch telescope was dedicated on nearby Palomar Mountain in 1948 and remained the world’s most powerful optical telescope for over forty years.

Caltech opened its doors to female undergraduates during the presidency of Harold Brown in 1970, and they made up 14% of the entering class. The fraction of female undergraduates has been increasing since then.

Caltech undergraduates have historically been so apathetic to politics that there has been only one organized student protest in January 1968 outside the Burbank studios of NBC, in response to rumors that NBC was to cancel Star Trek. In 1973, the students from Dabney House protested a presidential visit with a sign on the library bearing the simple phrase “Impeach Nixon”. The following week, Ross McCollum, president of the National Oil Company, wrote an open letter to Dabney House stating that in light of their actions he had decided not to donate one million dollars to Caltech. The Dabney family, being Republicans, disowned Dabney House after hearing of the prank.

Since 2000, the Einstein Papers Project has been located at Caltech. The project was established in 1986 to assemble, preserve, translate, and publish papers selected from the literary estate of Albert Einstein and from other collections.

In fall 2008, the freshman class was 42% female, a record for Caltech’s undergraduate enrollment. In the same year, the Institute concluded a six-year-long fund-raising campaign. The campaign raised more than $1.4 billion from about 16,000 donors. Nearly half of the funds went into the support of Caltech programs and projects.

In 2010, Caltech, in partnership with Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and headed by Professor Nathan Lewis, established a DOEEnergy Innovation Hub aimed at developing revolutionary methods to generate fuels directly from sunlight. This hub, the Joint Center for Artificial Photosynthesis, will receive up to $122 million in federal funding over five years.

Since 2012, Caltech began to offer classes through MOOCs under Coursera, and from 2013, edX.

Jean-Lou Chameau, the eighth president, announced on February 19, 2013, that he would be stepping down to accept the presidency at King Abdullah University of Science and Technology. Thomas F. Rosenbaum was announced to be the ninth president of Caltech on October 24, 2013, and his term began on July 1, 2014.

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