The First Year
Let's talk about academics. As a Caltech student, you'll take an average course load of about 45 units each 10-week term. That may sound like a lot, but if you think of a typical course as three hours of class time and six hours of homework per week, that's a nine-unit class. The net result is that most students at Caltech are enrolled in about five classes each term, and the Institute divides the academic year into three 10-week terms, plus the option of a summer research term. You'll also live by our Honor Code.
The first year focuses on Core requirements.
Additional Courses Available to First-Year Students
No food involved. Menu courses are science classes that will make you stretch your intellect. They're in areas like Astronomy, Electrical Engineering, Environmental Science and Engineering, Geology, or Information Science and Technology. As part of Core, we want you to realize just how much science there is to explore!
You might also take a freshman seminar, where you and 10 to 15 other students meet with a faculty member to explore an exciting topic in the lab, around a table, or in the field.
Frontier Courses A.K.A. "Pizza Courses"
Caltech also offers a series of "frontier courses" that involve weekly presentations by faculty members on topics of current research. There are a total of 10 frontier courses offered for first-year students in biology, chemistry, mathematics, physics, geology and planetary sciences, engineering, computer science, chemical engineering, bioengineering, and electrical engineering. You might find a research area to explore for the summer! Why "pizza courses"? They often meet at lunch time and serve pizza. Why not eat AND learn?