How to Apply as a First-Year Applicant
If you have not yet earned a high school diploma (this includes students in high school/college dual enrollment programs) or have not enrolled in college courses for credit after graduating from high school, you will be considered as a first-year applicant. The following sections list everything you will need—both academically and in terms of forms and information—in order to apply to Caltech.
Academic Preparation Checklist
(If you have not taken all the listed courses, you should at least be enrolled in them at the time of your application.)
- 4 years of math (including calculus)
- 1 year of physics
- 1 year of chemistry
- 3 years of English (4 years recommended)
- 1 year of U.S. history/government (waived for international students)
Please note that we do not grant credit for AP, IB, A Level, Pre-U, or college courses taken prior to enrollment. Each student accepted to Caltech will take a math and physics placement exam prior to enrolling. Based on the results of these exams, you may place out of courses and be granted credit for those courses.
First-Year Application Checklist
- Common Application with Caltech Questions
- $75 application fee or fee waiver (Common App waiver or Caltech-specific waiver)
- SAT with writing or ACT with writing
- SAT Subject Test in Mathematics Level 2
- 1 SAT science subject test: biology (ecological), biology (molecular), chemistry, or physics
- 1 math or science teacher evaluation
- 1 humanities or social sciences teacher evaluation
- Secondary School Report
- Academic transcripts
In addition to the two required teacher evaluations, you are welcome to submit an evaluation from a mentor or supervisor who knows you in a different context. If you have published a scientific research paper, you may submit the full paper to Caltech. Instructions on how to submit these papers will be included in your application confirmation email.
Testing Policy: ALL required tests must be completed prior to the application deadline. Applicants who do not submit all of our required testing will not be evaluated for admission.
NEW SAT: Caltech will require the essay portion of the new SAT (starts in spring 2016). Those applying for the Fall 2017 start term will be able to submit either the current SAT w/writing or the new SAT w/essay. Applicants applying to Fall 2018 should submit the new SAT w/essay. Keep in mind that we will continue to accept the ACT w/writing.
Additional Requirements for International First-Year Applicants
You must apply as an international student if you are not a U.S. citizen or if you do not have permanent residency status at the time of submitting an application to Caltech. All of the above checklist items apply to international applicants except where noted; please have all teacher evaluations and course names on transcripts translated into English. In addition, international students should supply the following:
- TOEFL scores (required if English is not your native language or if you have not studied for the last two years at a high school where English is the language of instruction. The two years of study must be prior to the application deadline). We do not accept the IELTS.
- International Financial Aid Statement of Intent Form (required of all international applicants). Caltech is need-sensitive in admissions for international students, and this form affirms whether you will apply for financial aid. As an international student, if you plan to apply for financial aid at any time during your undergraduate career here, you must apply for it at the time that you apply for admission. Even if you do not plan to apply for aid, you must complete the form. Please note: International freshman candidates may apply Early Action only if they are not applying for financial aid. International freshman candidates seeking financial assistance must apply Regular Decision.
We accept applications from students who have completed the approved curriculum provided by their home countries. These include, but are not limited to, the IGCSE, O, AS, and A Level curriculums; Cambridge Pre-U, AP, IB, and local public options may be considered as satisfying high-school course requirements. The most competitive international applicants whose schools offer the IGSCE curriculums usually present three A Level exams (the physics exam is required) with grades of at least an A or B. Competitive applicants whose schools offer the IB curriculum will have scores of 6 or 7 on their IB exams, including their "predicted" grades.
Additional Information for Homeschooled Applicants
Our Homeschooled Student Fact Sheet has information specific to homeschooled applicants about how to navigate the application process.
The Division of Chemistry and Chemical Engineering (CCE) offers degree programs in:
The Division of Chemistry and Chemical Engineering encourages applications from members of groups underrepresented in science and engineering, including women.
All Graduate applications are handled through the Office of Graduate Studies, and all application materials should be sent to them. Applicants are strongly encouraged to apply online, however, you may request a paper application through the Graduate Office.
Completed applications are due to the Graduate Office no later than December 1st (Chemical Engineering program deadline is Dec 15th). Late applications may be considered but may be at a disadvantage in the allocation of assistance or the priority for admission.
Please note that a Master's degree in chemistry or chemical engineering is not ordinarily offered, except under special circumstances, and with prior approval of the Graduate Study Committee.
We strongly discourage applications from Caltech undergraduates, except for extenuating circumstances.
Admitted graduate students are supported through a combination of research assistantships, teaching assistantships and fellowships. Applicants are encouraged to pursue outside fellowships including those offered by US governmental organizations as well as those offered through international governments and private organizations.
For information regarding visit weekends, please see the decsription for each specific graduate program on the Graduate Student Visits page.
Caltech requires the verbal, quantitative, and analytical components of the Graduate Records Examination (GREs). Chemistry also requires applicants take either the Chemistry, Physics, or Biochemistry Subject Exam as part of the application.
There are no minimum score requirements for GREs.
Test scores are only one aspect of the application package.
Students coming from non-English speaking countries are required to take an English proficiency exam. However, students who have studied in the U.S. for 2 or more years, or who obtained a degree from a school whose primary instruction is in English are exempt from this requirement.
More information on the TOEFL, TSE, TWE, and IELTS tests are available at the Office of Graduate Studies Checklist.
The Admissions Committees will take several components of the application into consideration including letters of recommendation, grades in college particularly those in chemistry, biochemistry, and related subjects, any research experience including resulting publications or presentations, GRE scores, and the statement of purpose.
All documents related to the application must be submitted to the Graduate office on or before the December 1st deadline (Chemical Engineering program application must be submitted before the December 15th).
If you have questions about your application, please call the Graduate Office at 626-395-6346 or send email to firstname.lastname@example.org
Details of the Chemistry, Chemical Engineering, and Biochemistry & Molecular Biophysics PhD Programs can be found in the Caltech course catalog.
Learn more about admission to the Caltech Graduate Program at Graduate Admissions.