Colgate vs Caltech

November 24, 2023
By AdmissionSight
Young man with letter on color background

Colgate vs Caltech

When it comes to choosing a university, there are endless factors to consider. From academic programs and campus life to cost and location, the decision can be overwhelming. Two of the most prestigious universities in the country are Colgate University and the California Institute of Technology, commonly known as Caltech. Both schools offer rigorous academic programs and unique extracurricular opportunities, but how do they compare? In this article, we take a deep dive into various factors in Colgate vs Caltech to help you make an informed decision.


Caltech is a private research university located in Pasadena, California. Known for its outstanding STEM programs, Caltech ranks as the fourth-best national university in the country according to US News & World Report. Nearly all of its undergraduate students are enrolled in science, technology, engineering, or mathematics programs, and the school is renowned for its research contributions in fields ranging from astronomy to biology.

One of the walkways in Caltech campus

Caltech has a strong emphasis on undergraduate research, with opportunities for students to work alongside faculty members on cutting-edge projects. The school also boasts a low student-to-faculty ratio, allowing for personalized attention and mentorship.

In addition to its academic programs, Caltech has a vibrant campus life with over 100 student organizations and a variety of athletic teams. The school is also located in close proximity to many cultural attractions in the Los Angeles area, providing students with opportunities to explore the city and engage in off-campus activities.

Cost of Attendance: Which School is More Affordable?

Colgate and Caltech are both elite institutions, which means that attending either school is a significant investment. According to the academic year, the total cost of attendance for Colgate comes in at just over $83,000 per year, while Caltech’s cost of attendance is over $82,000 per year. While the difference may not seem significant, it’s worth noting that Colgate does offer a need-blind admissions policy, meaning that financial need is not taken into account during the application process. Caltech, on the other hand, is need-aware and considers a student’s financial situation when making admissions decisions.

It’s important to note that the cost of attendance is not the only factor to consider when deciding which school is more affordable. Scholarships, grants, and other forms of financial aid can significantly reduce the cost of attending either school. Both Colgate and Caltech offer generous financial aid packages to eligible students, which can make attending either school more affordable for those who qualify. It’s important to research and compare the financial aid options available at each school before making a decision.

Academic Programs and Curriculum: Colgate vs. Caltech

Colgate offers a wide range of academic programs, including majors in the humanities, social sciences, natural sciences, and interdisciplinary fields. In addition to classroom-based learning, the school emphasizes experiential learning through research, internships, and community-based projects. Meanwhile, Caltech is known for its exceptional STEM programs, particularly in the fields of physics, chemistry, and engineering. The school’s rigorous curriculum is designed to push students to their academic limits and prepare them for careers in research and innovation.

science, technology, engineering, mathematics

Furthermore, Colgate University has a strong commitment to global education, offering study abroad programs in over 20 countries. Students have the opportunity to immerse themselves in different cultures and gain a broader perspective on the world. Caltech, on the other hand, has a unique approach to education that emphasizes collaboration and teamwork. Students work closely with faculty and peers on research projects, allowing them to develop important skills in communication and problem-solving.

Both schools also offer a variety of extracurricular activities and clubs to enhance the student experience. Colgate has over 200 student organizations, ranging from academic clubs to sports teams to community service groups. Caltech has a strong tradition of student-led initiatives, with students organizing events such as TEDxCaltech and the Caltech Robotics Team. These activities provide students with opportunities to develop leadership skills and pursue their passions outside of the classroom.

Student Life: Colgate vs. Caltech

Colgate and Caltech have vastly different campus cultures. Colgate’s small, tight-knit community fosters a strong sense of camaraderie among students, faculty, and staff. The school offers a variety of extracurricular activities, including over 200 clubs and organizations, a student-run theater group, and competitive NCAA Division I athletics. Caltech, on the other hand, is known for its academically intense environment, where students are expected to devote much of their time to their studies. The school emphasizes collaborative research and encourages students to get involved in campus organizations, including club sports and an active student government.

Despite the differences in campus culture, both Colgate and Caltech offer unique opportunities for students to grow and develop. Colgate’s location in upstate New York provides access to outdoor activities such as hiking and skiing, while Caltech’s proximity to Los Angeles allows students to explore the city’s vibrant arts and culture scene. Additionally, both schools prioritize undergraduate research, providing students with the chance to work alongside faculty members on cutting-edge projects in their fields of study.

Admission Requirements and Acceptance Rates: Colgate vs. Caltech

Both Colgate and Caltech are highly selective institutions with low acceptance rates. For the academic year, Colgate had a 12% acceptance rate, while Caltech’s acceptance rate was just 3%. Both schools require extensive applications, including essays, letters of recommendation, and transcripts, as well as rigorous testing requirements. However, Colgate does offer a test-optional admissions policy, while Caltech requires all applicants to submit standardized test scores.

a student applying for college

In addition to the application requirements, both Colgate and Caltech also consider extracurricular activities and demonstrate leadership skills in their admissions decisions. Colgate values community service and encourages applicants to showcase their involvement in volunteer work, while Caltech looks for applicants who have excelled in STEM-related activities and competitions. Both schools also prioritize diversity and seek to admit students from a wide range of backgrounds and experiences.

Faculty and Research Opportunities: Colgate vs. Caltech

Both Colgate and Caltech have exceptional faculty members with impressive research records. Colgate boasts a student-to-faculty ratio of 9:1, which means that students have plenty of opportunities to work closely with their professors. The school also offers a variety of research opportunities, including funded research fellowships and summer research programs. Caltech, meanwhile, is known for its world-class research facilities and renowned faculty members. Students at the school have access to state-of-the-art labs and equipment and can participate in a variety of research projects across many fields.

However, there are some differences in the types of research opportunities offered by these two institutions. Colgate tends to focus on undergraduate research, with many opportunities for students to conduct their own independent research projects. On the other hand, Caltech places a greater emphasis on graduate-level research, with many students working on cutting-edge projects alongside their professors. This means that while both schools offer excellent research opportunities, the focus and scope of these opportunities may differ depending on the institution.

Athletics and Extracurricular Activities: Colgate vs. Caltech

Colgate offers a robust athletics program with 25 varsity sports teams and a wide range of intramural and club sports. The school’s Division I teams compete in the Patriot League and have a long history of success in both individual and team sports. Meanwhile, Caltech does not offer Division I athletics, but the school has a vibrant community of student-athletes who participate in club sports, intramural leagues, and other fitness activities.

college basketball game

However, when it comes to extracurricular activities beyond athletics, Caltech offers a unique range of options that are not typically found at other universities. For example, the school has a thriving robotics club that competes in national competitions, as well as a student-run theater group that produces several plays each year. Additionally, Caltech has a strong emphasis on research and innovation, with many students participating in cutting-edge projects and initiatives outside of the classroom.

Alumni Networks and Career Support: Colgate vs. Caltech

Both Colgate and Caltech have active alumni networks that offer opportunities for mentorship, networking, and career support. Colgate alumni are known for their strong commitment to the school, and many graduates go on to successful careers in a variety of fields. Meanwhile, Caltech alumni are highly successful in the STEM fields, with many going on to work at top research institutions and tech companies.

However, there are some differences in the types of career support offered by these alumni networks. Colgate’s alumni network focuses on providing mentorship and networking opportunities for graduates who are just starting out in their careers. On the other hand, Caltech’s alumni network offers more specialized support for graduates who are pursuing careers in STEM fields, such as access to research opportunities and connections with industry leaders.

Despite these differences, both alumni networks are highly valued by graduates of these institutions. They provide a sense of community and support that can be invaluable in navigating the challenges of building a successful career. Whether you’re a recent graduate or a seasoned professional, joining your alma mater’s alumni network can be a great way to stay connected and advance your career.

Student Success Rates: Colgate vs. Caltech

Both Colgate and Caltech have impressive graduation rates and track records of producing successful graduates. Colgate had a four-year graduation rate of 88%, while Caltech had a four-year graduation rate of 81%. Both schools have high rates of students who go on to further education or successful careers after graduation.

However, there are some differences in the types of careers that graduates from each school tend to pursue. Colgate graduates often go on to careers in finance, marketing, and consulting, while Caltech graduates are more likely to pursue careers in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields. This is likely due to the fact that Caltech is a highly specialized school with a strong focus on STEM education, while Colgate offers a broader range of majors and programs.

Diversity on Campus: Colgate vs. Caltech

Colgate and Caltech have similar student body demographics in terms of gender breakdown, with both schools having slightly more male than female students. However, there are significant differences in terms of racial and ethnic diversity. Colgate has a diverse student body, with 39% of students identifying as BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, People of Color) and 13% of students being international. Meanwhile, Caltech has a lower percentage of BIPOC students, with just 14% of students identifying as such and 10% of students being international.

It is important to note that both Colgate and Caltech have made efforts to increase diversity on their campuses. Colgate has implemented programs and initiatives to recruit and support underrepresented students, including a partnership with the Posse Foundation to bring in more students from diverse backgrounds. Caltech has also taken steps to increase diversity, such as creating a Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Council and offering scholarships for underrepresented students. Despite these efforts, there is still work to be done to ensure that all students feel included and supported on campus.

Prestige and Reputation: Colgate vs. Caltech

Both Colgate and Caltech have exceptional reputations and are highly regarded in their respective fields. Colgate is consistently ranked as one of the top liberal arts colleges in the country, while Caltech is known for its groundbreaking research and contributions to STEM fields. Both schools have produced numerous Nobel laureates, MacArthur Fellows, and other highly esteemed professionals.

However, there are some differences in the prestige and reputation of these two institutions. Colgate has a strong emphasis on undergraduate education and offers a personalized learning experience with small class sizes and close faculty-student relationships. On the other hand, Caltech is primarily a graduate research institution and is known for its rigorous academic programs and cutting-edge research facilities. While both schools are highly respected, their areas of focus and strengths may appeal to different types of students and professionals.

International Student Experience: Colgate vs. Caltech

Both Colgate and Caltech welcome international students and offer a variety of resources and support systems to help them succeed. Colgate has an active international student community, with students coming from over 50 countries around the world. The school offers a Global Leaders Program to help international students transition to life in the US and provides a variety of opportunities for cultural exchange and exploration. Caltech also has a diverse international student population and offers a variety of resources, including an International Student Programs office and a dedicated international student advisor.

Foreign Language Requirement

However, there are some differences between the two schools when it comes to the international student experience. Colgate offers a language and cultural immersion program, which allows international students to improve their English language skills and learn more about American culture. On the other hand, Caltech offers a mentorship program, where international students are paired with a faculty or staff member who can provide guidance and support throughout their time at the school. Both programs are designed to help international students succeed academically and socially, but they offer different approaches to achieving that goal.

Campus Safety and Security Measures Compared: Colgate vs. Caltech

Both Colgate and Caltech prioritize the safety and well-being of their students. Colgate has its own campus safety department, which partners with local law enforcement agencies to maintain a safe and secure campus environment. The school also offers a variety of resources and support systems, including a confidential sexual and interpersonal violence prevention and response hotline. Meanwhile, Caltech has its own Department of Campus Safety and partners with the Pasadena Police Department to ensure campus safety.

Additionally, both schools have implemented various safety measures to prevent and respond to emergencies. Colgate has an emergency notification system that sends alerts to students, faculty, and staff in the event of a crisis. The school also conducts regular safety drills and provides training on emergency preparedness. Similarly, Caltech has an emergency notification system and conducts regular safety drills. The school also has a team of trained emergency responders who are available 24/7 to respond to any incidents on campus.

Financial Aid Packages and Scholarships Offered

Both Colgate and Caltech offer generous financial aid packages to qualified students. Colgate has a need-blind admissions policy and meets 100% of demonstrated financial need for admitted students. The school offers a variety of grants, scholarships, and loans to help fund a Colgate education. Meanwhile, Caltech is need-aware but offers need-based financial aid to students who qualify. The school also offers a variety of merit-based scholarships and other funding opportunities to help students pay for their education.

It is important to note that the types and amounts of financial aid offered at Colgate and Caltech may differ based on a student’s individual circumstances. For example, students with exceptional academic or athletic achievements may be eligible for additional scholarships or grants. Additionally, both schools offer work-study programs that allow students to earn money to help pay for their education while gaining valuable work experience.

Another factor to consider when comparing financial aid packages is the cost of attendance at each school. While both Colgate and Caltech are private institutions with high tuition rates, the cost of living in the surrounding areas may also impact a student’s financial situation. It is important for students and their families to carefully review the total cost of attendance and the financial aid packages offered by each school before making a decision.


As you can see, Colgate and Caltech have many similarities and differences. Both schools offer exceptional academic programs and unique campus cultures, but depending on your individual needs and goals, one may be a better fit than the other. By considering factors like cost, academic programs, student life, and alumni networks, you can make an informed decision about which school is right for you.

It’s important to note that both Colgate and Caltech have strong research programs and opportunities for undergraduate students to get involved in cutting-edge research. Colgate’s emphasis on interdisciplinary studies and Caltech’s focus on science and engineering research provide students with unique opportunities to explore their interests and gain valuable experience.

Additionally, both schools have active and engaged student communities, with a variety of clubs, organizations, and events to get involved in. From sports teams to cultural groups to academic clubs, there is something for everyone. With small student populations, students at both schools have the opportunity to form close-knit communities and build lasting relationships with their peers and professors.

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