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Undergraduate Admissions

Undergraduates Studies

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.

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.