• Credit: Stephanie Diani

FAQ for First-Year Applicants

Below is a list of some common questions first-year applicants have.

Can I apply to Caltech for the spring semester?

We only review applications for fall entry. Make sure to review our first-year application deadlines for the early action and regular decision processes.

Is there a way I can get my SAT or SAT subject tests waived?

All first-year applicants must submit ALL required testing (SAT or ACT; SAT Math Level 2; one science subject test) in order to have their application evaluated for admission.

What if my test scores arrive after the deadline?

We will accept test scores delivered to Caltech after the deadline if the tests were taken prior to the month of the deadline. For example, we will accept scores delivered to Caltech after November 1 for tests that were taken in October.  We will not accept scores for tests taken in November for the November 1 deadline.

Does Caltech review music or art supplements?

We neither require nor review art and music supplements. This doesn't mean we aren't interested in your talents beyond STEM! You are still welcome to tell us about your art and music activities in your application.

What types of teacher evaluations would qualify as a humanities or social sciences evaluation?

The following classes that have a writing requirement are suitable for the humanities/social sciences teacher evaluation:

  •     English, Literature
  •     Foreign Language
  •     Philosophy, Religion
  •     History, Government, Political Science, American Studies, Geography, Economics
  •     Psychology, Sociology, Anthropology

How many evaluations can I include in my application?  

We ask that you include no more than five total evaluations. Just make sure that you have both of our required evaluations. You may wish to submit an additional evaluation from a research mentor or an internship supervisor.

If I apply to Caltech during the early action round, do I have to attend?

Early action is different from early decision and restrictive early action at other schools. Our decision is NOT binding—meaning that if you get into Caltech during early action, you'll have until May 1 to decide whether or not you wish to attend.

If I am not admitted to Caltech during early action, can I reapply during regular decision?

If you applied to Caltech during early action and were not admitted, you cannot reapply to the same fall term during the regular decision round. You could, however, reapply to Caltech in the future for a different fall start term.

Do I have to live on campus if I come to Caltech?

All first-year students are required to live on campus. After that, you're free to do as you choose. Most of our students stay on campus for all four years—often in the same house they entered as frosh!

Will I receive credit for AP or IB classes or classes I may have taken at a nearby college?

We do not automatically grant credit for AP, IB, or college-level courses. If you decide to attend Caltech, we'll send you placement exams in math, physics, and chemistry during the summer before your frosh year. 

Will I be admitted to a specific division or major at Caltech?

No. We evaluate your application for Caltech as a whole rather than admitting you to a specific division. We will ask you about your option interests in the Common Application, because we like to learn more about your STEM interests. If admitted and enrolled at Caltech, you would declare your option after your first two terms as a student.


If you can't find an answer to your questions on our website, feel free to contact us at ugadmissions@caltech.edu or give us a call at (626) 395-6341.