Caltech vs Johns Hopkins: Which University is Right for You?

By Eric Eng

By Eric Eng

View of students walking in the campus.

Caltech vs Johns Hopkins: Which University is Right for You?

Choosing the right university can be a daunting task, but when it comes to picking between two renowned institutions like Caltech and Johns Hopkins, it can be especially challenging. Both universities have a unique history, strong academic programs, and attract some of the best students and faculty in the world. In this article, we’ll compare Caltech and Johns Hopkins across various factors to help you make an informed decision about which university is right for you.

The history and mission of Caltech and Johns Hopkins

Caltech was founded in 1891 as Throop University in Pasadena, California. The university’s mission is to expand human knowledge and benefit society through research integrated with education. Johns Hopkins was founded in 1876 in Baltimore, Maryland, as the first research university in the United States. The institution’s mission is to educate its students and cultivate their capacity for lifelong learning, research, and discovery.

Group of student smiling at each other while talking.


Both Caltech and Johns Hopkins have made significant contributions to their respective fields of study. Caltech is known for its strength in the sciences, particularly in physics, chemistry, and engineering. The university has produced 39 Nobel laureates, including Richard Feynman and Linus Pauling. Johns Hopkins, on the other hand, is renowned for its medical school and hospital, which have been at the forefront of medical research and innovation for over a century. The institution has produced 27 Nobel laureates, including Dr. Paul Greengard and Dr. Carol Greider.

Which university is more renowned for research?

Both Caltech and Johns Hopkins have a strong reputation for research. Caltech is known for its expertise in physics, engineering, and computer science, whereas Johns Hopkins is considered a leader in the fields of medicine, health, and public health. Caltech has 39 Nobel laureates associated with the university, while Johns Hopkins has 27. However, both universities have a significant impact on their respective fields, and it ultimately depends on which area of research you’re interested in pursuing.

It’s worth noting that both Caltech and Johns Hopkins have a strong emphasis on interdisciplinary research. Caltech’s research often involves collaborations between different departments, such as physics and biology, while Johns Hopkins has a number of interdisciplinary research centers, including the Institute for NanoBioTechnology and the Bloomberg School of Public Health. This focus on interdisciplinary research allows for innovative and groundbreaking discoveries that can have a significant impact on society.

How do Caltech and Johns Hopkins rank in global university rankings?

According to the 2021 QS World University Rankings, Caltech is ranked as the 2nd-best university in the world, while Johns Hopkins is ranked 24th. However, in the 2021 U.S. News & World Report rankings, Johns Hopkins is ranked 9th in the National University category, while Caltech is ranked 12th. Both universities are highly regarded and offer exceptional academic programs and resources.

It is worth noting that both Caltech and Johns Hopkins have a strong focus on research and innovation. Caltech is known for its expertise in engineering and science, with notable alumni, including Nobel laureates and astronauts. Johns Hopkins, on the other hand, is renowned for its medical programs and research, with its hospital consistently ranked among the best in the country. Both universities have a long history of groundbreaking discoveries and advancements in their respective fields.

The academic programs offered at Caltech and Johns Hopkins

Caltech is primarily focused on science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields, with programs in astronomy, biology, chemistry, computer science, engineering, mathematics, and physics. Johns Hopkins offers a broader range of undergraduate and graduate programs, including majors in humanities, social sciences, and international studies, along with foundational programs in biology, chemistry, and physics.

Caltech is known for its rigorous academic programs and its commitment to research. Students at Caltech have the opportunity to work alongside world-renowned faculty members on cutting-edge research projects. The university also offers a number of interdisciplinary programs, such as the option to combine computer science with economics or biology with chemistry. Johns Hopkins is recognized for its strong emphasis on experiential learning. The university offers a number of opportunities for students to gain hands-on experience in their field of study, including internships, research projects, and study abroad programs. Additionally, Johns Hopkins has a number of specialized programs, such as the Bloomberg School of Public Health and the Peabody Institute of Music.

The admission process and requirements at Caltech vs Johns Hopkins

Both universities have highly competitive admission processes, with Caltech accepting around 6% of applicants and Johns Hopkins accepting around 9%. Caltech requires SAT or ACT scores, along with two SAT Subject Tests in math and science. Johns Hopkins requires either SAT or ACT scores, along with two SAT Subject Tests. In addition, both universities require essays, letters of recommendation, and transcripts.

Students listening in front of the class.

It is important to note that both Caltech and Johns Hopkins also consider extracurricular activities and achievements when evaluating applicants. Caltech values leadership, creativity, and a passion for science and technology, while Johns Hopkins looks for well-rounded individuals who have excelled in a variety of areas. Both universities also offer interviews as part of the application process, which can provide an opportunity for applicants to showcase their personality and interests beyond what is included in their application materials.

Campus Life and student culture at Caltech vs Johns Hopkins

Caltech has a small student body of around 1,000 undergraduates and 1,200 graduate students. The university has a strong focus on academic excellence and research, which is reflected in the student culture. Johns Hopkins has a larger student body of around 6,000 undergraduates and 16,000 graduate students. The university has a more diverse student body and offers a wide range of student organizations and extracurricular activities. Despite its small size, Caltech has a vibrant campus life with a variety of student-run clubs and organizations. The campus is also home to several research centers and institutes, providing students with opportunities to engage in cutting-edge research projects. Additionally, the university has a strong athletic program, with several varsity sports teams competing at the NCAA Division III level.

At Johns Hopkins, students can take advantage of the university’s location in Baltimore, which offers a rich cultural scene and numerous internship and job opportunities. The university also has a strong commitment to community service, with many students participating in volunteer programs both on and off campus. In terms of student life, Johns Hopkins has a thriving arts community, with several student-run theater groups and a student-run film festival.

The cost of attendance: tuition, fees, and financial aid options

The cost of attendance varies depending on the program and degree level at both Caltech and Johns Hopkins. However, both universities are expensive, with tuition and fees exceeding $50,000 per year for undergraduate students. The good news is both universities offer generous financial aid packages to eligible students. The majority of students receive some form of financial aid to help cover the costs of attendance.

At Caltech, the cost of attendance also includes room and board, which can add an additional $16,000 to $18,000 per year. However, the university offers a variety of housing options, including traditional dormitories, apartments, and houses. Students can also choose from a range of meal plans to fit their dietary needs and preferences. Johns Hopkins, on the other hand, does not include room and board in their cost of attendance. Students are responsible for finding their own housing, either on or off campus. The university does provide resources and assistance for students looking for housing, including a database of available apartments and houses in the surrounding area.

Career Prospects for graduates of Caltech vs. Johns Hopkins

Both universities have a strong reputation for producing successful graduates who are well-prepared for careers in their fields of study. Caltech graduates often go on to work in tech-related industries, finance, and engineering, while Johns Hopkins graduates frequently pursue careers in healthcare, research, and academia.

Students working on something while lookin at a laptop.

However, it is important to note that the career prospects for graduates of Caltech and Johns Hopkins can vary depending on the specific program or major they pursued. For example, Caltech’s computer science graduates have a high demand in the tech industry, while Johns Hopkins’ public health graduates are highly sought after by government agencies and non-profit organizations. It is crucial for students to research and consider the job market and industry trends in their chosen field before making a decision on which university to attend.

Notable alumni from both universities

Both Caltech and Johns Hopkins have many notable alumni who have made significant contributions to their respective fields. Among the most famous Caltech alumni are Nobel laureates Richard Feynman, Murray Gell-Mann, and Kip Thorne, while Johns Hopkins counts among its alumni former U.S. presidents Woodrow Wilson and Franklin D. Roosevelt, as well as well-known figures like Michael Bloomberg and Ta-Nehisi Coates.

Other notable Caltech alumni include astronaut Sally Ride, computer scientist, and entrepreneur Larry Page, and physicist and mathematician Freeman Dyson. These individuals have made significant contributions to space exploration, technology, and theoretical physics, respectively. Johns Hopkins also boasts a number of notable alumni in the medical field, including surgeon and author Ben Carson, neurosurgeon Harvey Cushing, and physician and researcher Florence Sabin. Additionally, the university has produced influential writers such as F. Scott Fitzgerald and Gertrude Stein.

Faculty expertise at Caltech vs. Johns Hopkins

Both universities have renowned faculty members who are experts in their fields. Caltech has a strong focus on the physical sciences and engineering, while Johns Hopkins has a strong focus on health and medicine. Faculty members at both universities are often published in leading academic journals and are recognized both nationally and internationally for their work.

However, there are some differences in the areas of expertise among the faculty members at Caltech and Johns Hopkins. Caltech’s faculty members are known for their research in areas such as astrophysics, quantum mechanics, and computer science. On the other hand, Johns Hopkins’ faculty members are known for their research in areas such as public health, neuroscience, and cancer research. Despite these differences, both universities have a strong commitment to advancing knowledge and pushing the boundaries of their respective fields.

Student-to-faculty ratio: Which university offers more personalized attention?

Caltech has a student-to-faculty ratio of 3:1, which is among the lowest ratios in the world. This means that students at Caltech receive a high level of individualized attention from their professors. Johns Hopkins has a slightly higher student-to-faculty ratio of 7:1, which is still lower than the national average.

However, the student-to-faculty ratio is not the only factor that determines personalized attention. At Caltech, the majority of classes are small, with an average class size of 14 students. This allows for more interaction between students and professors and fosters a collaborative learning environment. At Johns Hopkins, while the student-to-faculty ratio is higher, the university offers a wide range of resources to ensure that students receive personalized attention. These resources include academic advisors, tutoring services, and research opportunities.

It is important to note that personalized attention can also vary depending on the program or department within a university. For example, at Caltech, the student-to-faculty ratio in the physics department is even lower at 2:1, while the ratio in the humanities and social sciences departments is slightly higher. Similarly, at Johns Hopkins, the student-to-faculty ratio in the engineering department is lower than the university-wide ratio at 6:1.

Campus Facilities and resources at Caltech vs. Johns Hopkins

Both Caltech and Johns Hopkins have exceptional facilities and resources to support their student’s academic and research pursuits. Caltech’s campus houses numerous scientific and research facilities and the Distribution Center for Biological Materials. Johns Hopkins has a vast array of research Centers and Institutes, including the world-renowned School of Medicine.


Female student writing an essay.

In addition to its research facilities, Caltech also offers a variety of recreational facilities for students, including a gymnasium, swimming pool, and tennis courts. Johns Hopkins, on the other hand, has a strong focus on community engagement and offers numerous opportunities for students to get involved in service projects and volunteer work in the Baltimore area.

Diversity on campus: How do the universities compare?

Both Caltech and Johns Hopkins strive to promote diversity and inclusion on their campuses. Caltech has a student body that is nearly 50% international, with more than 100 countries represented. Johns Hopkins is committed to building a diverse community and promotes initiatives such as the Hopkins Undergraduate Minority Expo and the Women’s Leadership Initiative.

In addition to these initiatives, Johns Hopkins also offers a variety of multicultural student organizations, including the Black Student Union, the Asian American Alliance, and the Latinx Student Association. These organizations provide a space for students to connect with others who share their cultural background and to celebrate diversity on campus. Caltech also has a number of student-led organizations that promote diversity and inclusion, such as the Society of Women Engineers and the Caltech Y Diversity and Inclusion Committee.

Location, weather, and surrounding area: Which university suits your preferences?

Caltech is located in sunny Pasadena, California, which offers mild temperatures year-round. In contrast, Johns Hopkins is situated in Baltimore, Maryland, which experiences all four seasons and can be quite cold in the winter. Both cities offer diverse cultural experiences and opportunities to engage in various activities in and around the campus.

In conclusion, both Caltech and Johns Hopkins are world-class universities with unique histories, strong academic programs, and a commitment to research and innovation. Ultimately, which university is right for you depends on your individual preferences and goals. We hope this article has provided some useful insights into the similarities and differences between these two outstanding institutions.

One of the unique features of Caltech is its proximity to major research institutions such as NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory and the California Institute of Technology. This provides students with unparalleled opportunities to engage in cutting-edge research and collaborate with leading scientists and engineers in their fields.

On the other hand, Johns Hopkins is located in the heart of Baltimore, a vibrant city with a rich history and culture. Students can explore the city’s many museums, galleries, and theaters, as well as its famous seafood restaurants and lively music scene.



Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Sign up now to receive insights on
how to navigate the college admissions process.