Caltech is hard.
We will challenge you to think in new and innovative ways. And we expect you to prepare for that challenge by taking a strong curriculum in high school. In your first year, you'll start our core curriculum, which builds a foundation for all our majors. To prepare for that, we want to see that you have taken—or are in the process of taking—the following courses:
- 4 years of math, including 1 year of calculus
- 1 year of chemistry
- 1 year of physics, preferably calculus-based
- 3-4 years of English
- 1 year of U.S. History or Government (US Schools)
We want to see that you are challenging yourself and doing well. That doesn't necessarily mean taking every AP class available. Rather, we want to see that you are willing to explore and take chances. If you take a class that will help you see the world in a different way, that's a challenge.
The role of math
Math underlies all coursework at Caltech. That's why we require calculus as preparation, preferably at the highest level available to you. We want to see that you've mastered the material and have been evaluated for your proficiency—that is, we need to see grades for your classes. Online courses that do not provide a grade will not show direct evidence of your readiness.
STEM is by nature interdisciplinary. Our core curriculum includes several courses in the natural sciences—even some you might not have considered taking (menu course, anyone?). We want you prepared to dive into the deep end of the pool when you get here. If math is the language of science, physics provides the rules. You'll need both the language and the rules to prepare for any of our majors. And you'll start to make connections between the sciences.
You'll notice that we require English and social sciences classes as preparation. That's because you'll continue those studies here as part of Core. Humanities and Social Sciences (HSS) are an integral part of a well-rounded education. In fact, through HSS courses, you'll learn how to appreciate, respect, learn from, and respond to the ideas of others. These conversations will help you to communicate, critique, and innovate. And Caltech is all about innovation.
I can't imagine not being able to read and write, or make these connections from literature and philosophy that have helped inform my understanding of evolution.