The Residential Experience

Undergraduate Housing

Caltech promotes a close-knit, collaborative living and learning environment for all undergraduates on campus throughout their academic career. 

Students are annually invited to choose among 11 different residences, which boast a variety of living arrangements -- from singles to doubles to suites -- and celebrate unique traditions and activities. All of the residences provide an opportunity for students to learn from and grow with each other, with many bringing together undergraduates from all class years to share and explore diverse perspectives, interests, and passions with faculty, staff, and sometimes even graduate students.

In each residence, students can find opportunities to join student leadership, plan and organize special activities -- from study breaks to movie nights to field trips around Los Angeles -- and may dine together.

Incoming freshmen get to know the different residential communities during a selection process known as Rotation at the start of the academic year. During this process, all freshmen are invited to visit each residence and meet some of the existing residents; each activity is optional, and at the end of the week the freshmen provide a ranked selection of where they would most like to live for that year. Almost everyone gets assigned to their first- or second-choice, and no one is required to live in a residence they don't like. 

At the end of each academic year, students have the opportunity to say if they would like to continue living in their same residence or move to another community for the following year. 

To learn more about our residences, including the 211-bed Bechtel Residence which opened on campus in the fall of 2019, please visit the Caltech Housing website


History -- and science -- have shown us that food brings people together. The dining table creates a space for not only sharing company and forging friendships, but time for debate, discussion, the exchange of ideas -- and possibly even an opportunity to solve a problem set or two.

As such, Caltech has designed its dining experience to provide students with an opportunity to enjoy meals together. Whether in their residences or in one of the other cafes or the marketplace on campus -- students, faculty, and staff can dine together.

Breakfast, lunch, and dinner are served at Chandler Café, the Red Door Marketplace and in the residences' Open Kitchen. On weekends, these locations are still open for breakfast and lunch, and for dinner, students are encouraged to explore the offerings of Pasadena or their own culinary skills in residential kitchens. On the northwest corner of campus, the Café at Broad, also serves up breakfast and lunch, Monday through Friday. This mixture of locations provides students with the broadest of flexibility in choice of dining options, as well as timing to best meet individuals' academic and extracurricular activity schedules.

Caltech food facts:

  • An eclectic mix of high-quality food is available for lunch every weekday at Chandler Café.
  • Student residence kitchens remain open between meals so that students can get sandwiches, drinks, ice cream, salads, cereal, or other snacks.
  • Vegetarian and vegan entrees are available at every meal.
  • Caltech Dining Services (CDS) strives to meet all special dietary requirements. From kosher food to gluten free, from halal food to the paleo diet—the dining team can handle it all.
  • CDS is committed to sustainability, providing compostable to-go containers and composting all food waste from its kitchens. 
  • To ensure quality, CDS management eats the dinners that are served to the students every night; if the CDS team doesn't want to eat it, they won't serve it.