Research at Caltech looks different for every student, and can often vary term by term.
Caltech undergrads do research
When you come to Caltech, you are treated as a scientist from day one. With over 50 research centers and institutes on campus, including 5 NASA facilities, Techers spend a lot of time in the lab. Research is an integral part of who we are and what we do – and that includes you. Over 90% of undergraduates do student research, and about half get involved in their first year.
Our small size and 3:1 student-faculty ratio mean you'll get to know faculty members who are expanding our understanding of the universe. From understanding why solar systems don't spin faster, to developing nanoparticle vaccines, to exploring the relationship between jellyfish, neuroscience, and biological regeneration, our faculty work at the edge of human knowledge. You can work alongside researchers who are launching new fields and inventing tomorrow's technology. The undergraduate research opportunities here are unparalleled.
SURF, short for Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship, is a quintessential experience for any Caltech student.
Undergraduate research opportunities
As an undergraduate, you'll have the opportunity to participate in one of our unique research programs during your time at Caltech:
- JPL/NASA Programs: The Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) and NASA offer several research opportunities for Caltech undergraduates.
- Mellon Mays Undergraduate Fellowship (MMUF): MMUF is a prestigious national program focused on increasing the number of underrepresented students who pursue doctorate degrees in core fields in the arts and sciences. Fellowships include mentoring, research stipends, and travel support (conferences, graduate school visits, etc.).
- Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowships (SURF): A hallmark Caltech experience, SURF students conduct research under the guidance of experienced mentors working at the frontier of their fields.
- SURF Exchanges: Live, learn, and research in another culture and academic environment. We currently offer exchange opportunities with the University of Iceland and Cambridge.
- LIGO SURF: Undergraduate students in physics, astronomy, and engineering are invited to participate in the development of gravitational-wave astronomy through the LIGO (Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory) Project. This intensive summer program takes place each year at Caltech or one of the LIGO observatory sites.
- Kavli Nanoscience Institute (KNI) SURF-to-WAVE: Offers opportunities for motivated undergraduates interested in carrying out a summer research project in nanoscience.