Caltech Academic Calendar

October 30, 2022
By AdmissionSight

Caltech Academic Calendar

Does Caltech Use Semesters Or Quarters?

Does Caltech use semesters or quarters? Caltech operates in a quarter system. Each Caltech academic calendar is made up of three 10-week quarters, or terms. The first term at Caltech begins in late September and concludes just before Christmas. The second term starts after New Year’s Day and ends in mid-March. The final term will commence in late March or early April and close in early June.

Fall Term 2022

International Student Orientation: iBegin@Caltech September 15‐17
New Student Check‐In for Undergraduates September 18
New Student Orientation for Undergraduates September 18‐25
New Student Check‐In for Graduates September 19
New Student Orientation for Graduates September 19‐23
Undergraduate Academic Standards and Honors Committee September 22
Undergraduate Academic Standards and Honors Committee Appeals September 23
Rosh Hashanah holiday September 26
Start of Fall Term classes September 27
Last day for adding courses and removing conditions and incompletes October 14
Midterm examination period October 26-November 1
Midterm deficiency notices due November 7
Last day for dropping courses, exercising pass/fail option, and changing sections November 16
Registration for Winter Term 2022‐23 November 17-December 2
Thanksgiving (Institute holidays) November 24‐25
Last day of classes; Last day to register for Winter term 2022‐23 without late fee charge December 2
Study period December 3‐6
Final examinations for Fall Term 2022‐23 December 7‐9
End of Fall Term 2022‐23 December 9
Winter break December 10-January 3
Instructorsʹ final grade reports due December 14

Winter Term 2023

Start of Winter Term classes January 4
Undergraduate Academic Standards and Honors Committee January 5
Martin Luther King, Jr. Day holiday January 16
Last day for adding courses and removing conditions and incompletes January 25
Midterm examination period February 3‐9
Midterm deficiency notices due February 13
President’s Day holiday February 20
Last day for dropping courses, exercising pass/fail option, and changing sections February 22
Registration for Spring Term 2022‐23 February 23 –March 10
Last day of classes; Last day to register for Spring Term 2022‐23 without late fee charge March 10
Study period March 11‐14
Final examinations for Winter Term 2022‐23 March 15‐17
End of Winter Term 2022‐23 March 17
Spring break March 18‐April 2
Instructorsʹ final grade reports due March 22

Spring Term 2023

Start of Spring Term classes April 3
Undergraduate Academic Standards and Honors Committee April 4
Last day for adding courses and removing conditions and incompletes April 21
Midterm examination period May 3-9
Last day for admission to candidacy for the degrees of Master of Science and Engineer May 12
Midterm deficiency notices due; Last day for seniors to remove conditions and incompletes May 15
Last day for scheduling examinations for the degrees of Doctor of Philosophy and Engineer May 19
Last day for dropping courses, exercising pass/fail option, and changing sections May 24
Registration for Fall term 2023‐24; Registration for summer research May 25-June 9
Memorial Day holiday May 29
Last day of classes for seniors and graduate students; Last day for presenting theses for the degrees of Doctor of Philosophy and Engineer June 2
Study period for seniors and graduate students June 3-6
Final examinations for seniors and graduate students; Third term 2019‐20 June 7-9
Last day of classes for undergraduates; Last day to register for Fall Term 2023‐24 without late fee charge June 9
Study period for undergraduates June 10-13
Instructorsʹ final grade reports due for seniors and graduate students June 12
Curriculum Committee; Faculty meeting June 14
Final examinations for undergraduates (Spring Term 2022‐23) June 14-16
Commencement; End of third term in 2022‐23 June 16
Instructorsʹ final grade reports for undergraduates due June 21
Undergraduate Academic Standards and Honors Committee June 28

Summer Term 2023

Juneteenth (Institute holiday) June 19
Start of Summer Term June 20
Floating Holiday and Independence Day holidays July 3-4
End of Summer Term 2022-23 September 1

How Many Classes Can You Take In A Semester At Caltech?

If you are pondering about how many classes can you take in a semester, each 10-week term in the Caltech academic calendar, you will take an average of 45 units of coursework as a Caltech student. While that may seem like a lot, a normal course consists of three hours of instruction and six hours of homework per week, which equals a nine-unit class.

Female students studying in a table.

Overall, Caltech’s students take an average of five classes every term, with the possibility of an additional summer research term. The academic year is divided into three 10-week terms.

What Is the Application Deadline For Caltech?

Restrictive Early Action and Regular Decision are the two decision plans that Caltech will start offering starting in the fall term of the Caltech academic calendar this year. The QuestBridge Program, which has a different admissions procedure, is another program in which Caltech participates. See what is the application deadline for Caltech’s admission options below.

Action Date
Deadline for Restrictive Early Action November 1, 2022
Restrictive Early Action decision notifications Mid-December, 2022
Deadline for Regular Decision January 3, 2023
Regular Decision notifications Mid-March 2023
Restrictive Early Action and Regular Decision student reply deadline May 1, 2023

Students who are certain that Caltech is their top choice of college, who are enthusiastic about the potential of attending Caltech, and who want to find out as soon as possible if they are admitted can apply for Restrictive Early Action (REA), a non-binding early admissions process.

Applications must be submitted by November 1; applicants will learn whether they have been accepted, deferred, or rejected by mid-December. After then, admitted students will have until May 1, 2023 to decide whether to accept Caltech’s admission offer.

Students are informed of their admissions choice in one of three ways in the middle of December:

  • Admit: After receiving an offer of admission, a student has until May 1, 2023, to accept or reject it.
  • Defer: A student is given a Regular Decision review date. They only use this option for applicants that they are particularly interested in getting to know better so they can consider the applicants in the larger Regular Decision pool.
  • Reject: A student is turned away from Caltech.

A student cannot apply to Caltech in the Regular Decision round of that cycle or appeal any denial decisions, which are all final. The following fall, students are welcome to reapply for admission.

Regular Decision is the most popular admissions procedure at Caltech, and most admitted students will have used Regular Decision to submit their applications.

When students are informed of the admission decision in mid-March, these possible outcomes:

  • Admit: After receiving an offer of admission, a student has until May 1, 2023, to accept or reject it.
  • Waitlist: If a spot opens in the class after May 1, a student on the waitlist at Caltech has until the middle of April to request a reassessment. Students are urged to provide additional materials to back up their applications.
  • Reject: A student is turned away from Caltech.

All decisions to refuse are final, and students cannot challenge them. If you would like, you may reapply for the next autumn admission term. Students who opted-in for reconsideration will have their applications reviewed if a spot opens in the class after May 1. There is not a rating scheme for the waitlist. The waitlist activity will end by mid-July, and Caltech will notify students appropriately.

What Are the Big Social Events At Caltech?

Apart from rigorous academics and a packed schedule in the Caltech academic calendar, every university has its own customs and traditions during the year. Caltech requires students to construct robots, work out hard puzzles, and come up with original solutions to difficult issues. They are integral to the identity and ethos of the Institute as a whole.

Students sitting in a couch in a room.

The COVID-19 epidemic forced many of these yearly rituals to take place online, but by 2022, most had been restored to their original in-person status, much to the pleasure of Caltech undergraduates. Now, let’s tackle about what are the big social events at Caltech.

Pi Day

On March 14, Pi will appear everywhere at Caltech as well. Pi appears everywhere in nature. Students attend a traditional pie-eating party on March 14 at exactly 1:59 a.m. where 26 different types of pie are offered because the first digits of pi are 3.1415926. The renowned digits are also celebrated in other ways by techies, who might construct a paper chain with each link representing a different pi digit.

Pumpkin Drop

The phenomena of triboluminescence suggests that when extremely cold gourds fall nine stories and hit the ground, they should—or at the very least, could—emit a scary shimmering spark. Students gather each Halloween to throw liquid-nitrogen-frozen pumpkins off the roof of Caltech Hall and watch them shatter into smithereens on the hard ground below. At least, that’s the scientific explanation. Additionally, it’s a lot of fun.

Pumpkin Drop, often referred to as “Splatterday,” began in 1972 when students in Dabney House launched pumpkins from the top of their dormitory for the first time.

Ditch Day

Ditch Day was just what its name implies a century ago. Seniors have skipped classes and disappeared from campus for a day starting in 1921. But soon after, the yearly event evolved into something more: a treasured Caltech custom known as “stacks.”

Stacks were initially created as a line of defense to stop younger students from wreaking havoc on senior citizens’ quarters when they left campus. They evolved over time into a series of more difficult scavenger hunts, mazes, and challenges as Ditch Day turned into a day for students to skip class in order to complete themed puzzles that call for the kind of wit and cooperation that Caltech students are known for.

Ditch Day was held remotely in 2020 and 2021 due to the epidemic, but it was back on campus in 2022.

ME 72

The final test for this course is a duel. Students design and construct tough robots for a specific objective in the two-term ME72 Engineering Design Laboratory class taught by Michael Mello (PhD ’12), with the understanding that their machines will compete against those of other students at the course’s conclusion. Amphibious robots, for instance, battled for control of floating towers in the pond outside Caltech Hall in 2020.

Due to the COVID-19 epidemic, ME 72 became an online-only platform in 2021. But in the spring of 2022, masked and immunized students went back to doing their hands-on work at the Eudora Hull Spalding Laboratory of Engineering’s Jim Hall Design and Prototyping Lab’s basement. They accepted a task based on the international contest “SumoBot,” in which robots compete by pushing one another out of a ring in an imitation of the sumo sport.

Three Minute Thesis

It doesn’t happen often for someone to win $3,000 in three minutes. By winning the Three Minute Thesis (3MT) competition in April 2022 with her presentation, “Planets on a Galactic Scale,” graduate student Aida Behmard accomplished precisely that. Her work involved analyzing telescope data to look for exoplanets, or planets that orbit other stars. “What we discovered is unexpected,” she said. “The majority of exoplanets are completely different from the planets in our solar system.”

Graduate students are challenged by 3MT to present a talk in three minutes or fewer that clearly and persuasively summarizes their research while also being understandable to a general audience.

Caltech Space Challenge

The Caltech Space Challenge, which is typically held every two years, challenges contestants to build a whole space mission in just one week. A total of 32 space-obsessed students from throughout the country descended to the university in March 2022, where they had five days to design a mission to study the liquid lakes Titan’s surface.

The Keck Institute for Space Studies (KISS) and the Graduate Aerospace Laboratories at Caltech are the hosts of the competition, which was created in 2011. (GALCIT). In earlier rounds, participants were tasked with creating missions that would explore Enceladus, a moon of Saturn, land on the moon of Mars, mine an asteroid, and construct a supply base on the moon.


The houses that make up Caltech’s house system alternate hosting events for all undergraduates throughout each Caltech academic year. This long-standing custom combines a social gathering with an engineering spectacular of do-it-yourself inventiveness and competition. For the event they are hosting, each house selects a theme and uses their engineering skills to build extravagant sets, light shows, mazes, and murals from scratch.

What Is It Like Being At Caltech?

In terms of science and engineering, Caltech is regarded as a little powerhouse. With only 979 undergraduate students on its 124 acres in Pasadena, California, Caltech is substantially smaller than its east-coast rival, but it is still at the top of the list of MBA admissions advisory services, occasionally tempting comparison as the “MIT of the West.”

View of Caltech building with a fountain.

What is it like being at Caltech? As seen in the Caltech academic calendar earlier, you will have a quite busy schedule each year. However, if you are trying to imagine yourself as a Caltech student beyond your exam schedules and term breaks, the following might help you.


The most difficult, fundamental issues in science and technology are studied at Caltech. You’ll be actively participating in that work as a student here. Caltech is a tight-knit group of people united by the love for STEM. The Caltech community thinks that learning best happens through action. And from day one, the school treats undergraduates like scientists.

But at Caltech, receiving a top education goes beyond taking top-notch STEM courses. The social sciences and humanities are crucial. They are included in the core curriculum for this reason. They are what give you the ability to look beyond the immediate issue at hand, to think carefully and critically about the setting and the overall significance of your job. Whether or not you work in STEM, you will develop your analytical thinking and communication skills.

The faculty is passionate about instructing freshmen. You will be able to learn directly from some of the top brains in the fields of science, engineering, and the humanities thanks to the student-to-faculty ratio of 3:1. The faculty will teach you outside of the classroom as well. As a fellow researcher, you’ll be able to collaborate with professors, post-docs, and graduate students throughout the Caltech academic calendar.


There are 11 residence halls on campus with a range of housing options, including single, double, triple, and suite-style living. There are three unaffiliated (non-House) halls in addition to the eight typical undergraduate Houses. All of them offer to gather places where students can congregate, interact, eat, and work on problem sets together. Each has its own customs and traditions.

Students from diverse backgrounds and grade levels share a common home. They explore various viewpoints, hobbies, and passions while learning from, developing, and growing together.

Student Clubs and Activities

There are over 100 recognized student-run clubs and organizations at Caltech. Programs include Alpine Skiing, Quizbowl, cultural identity groups, robotics, and the Cheese Society, to name a few. Even a Turtle Club exists. You can even form your own club if you cannot discover anything that appeals to you.

Two students talking in a room full of glass.

On the Caltech campus, it’s simple to discuss your hobbies with classmates. The students at Caltech are more than just scientists. They are performers, musicians, artists, athletes, and more. The institution makes sure that students have the chance to pursue their interests.


You can improve your physical, mental, and social growth via movement and exercise thanks to the Caltech Department of Athletics, Physical Education, and Recreation. Caltech students participate in NCAA III sports to the tune of 25%. The school has numerous club sports teams as well. Additionally, Caltech competes in the Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (SCIAC).

The school’s recreation is unrivaled. All Caltech students can access first-rate facilities from our sporting department, including fields, tennis courts, pools, and athletic centers. There is something for every fitness level. Various lectures are also available from yoga to aerobics.

Male student preparing for a sprint.

Now that we have learned about Caltech academic calendar, Caltech traditions, and Caltech student life, it’s time to shift our focus on how to get into Caltech. To learn more about college admissions, you may seek AdmissionSight’s help. We can help you prepare for the tough competition in getting into top universities in the US. Book an initial consultation now to discuss this further.

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