Johns Hopkins vs Caltech: A Comprehensive Analysis

By Eric Eng

By Eric Eng

Johns Hopkins campus

Johns Hopkins vs Caltech: A Comprehensive Analysis

Choosing the right university to attend can be a difficult decision. There are hundreds of colleges and universities across the country, each with its own unique strengths and weaknesses. Two of the most prestigious universities often compared to each other are Johns Hopkins University vs the California Institute of Technology, commonly referred to as Caltech. In this comprehensive analysis, we will compare and contrast these two institutions across a wide range of factors, including their histories, admission processes, academic programs, faculty research opportunities, campus life, athletic programs, social scenes, and more. By the end of this article, you should have a better understanding of these two schools and which one may be a better fit for you.

History and Background of Johns Hopkins and Caltech

Johns Hopkins University was founded in 1876, named after a wealthy businessman who left $7 million in his will to create a university and hospital in Baltimore. The university has grown significantly since its inception and is now known for its world-class research and medical facilities, with a strong emphasis on interdisciplinary collaboration. Caltech, on the other hand, was founded in 1891, initially as a preparatory school under the name Throop University. Today, Caltech is recognized as one of the leading STEM-focused universities in the world, with a reputation for producing groundbreaking research and Nobel laureates in fields ranging from physics to biology.

Both Johns Hopkins and Caltech have a rich history of innovation and discovery. Johns Hopkins was the first university in the United States to incorporate a graduate school, and it was also the birthplace of modern neurosurgery. Caltech, on the other hand, played a crucial role in the development of the atomic bomb during World War II and has since been at the forefront of research in fields such as astronomy, chemistry, and engineering. Both universities continue to push the boundaries of knowledge and make significant contributions to the scientific community.

One of the walkways in Caltech campus

Admission Process: How to Get into Johns Hopkins or Caltech

Getting into Johns Hopkins or Caltech is no easy feat. Both schools are highly selective, with acceptance rates hovering around 9% and 6%, respectively. To be considered for admission, students must have outstanding academic records, as well as strong test scores, extracurricular activities, and letters of recommendation. However, the two schools differ somewhat in their application requirements. For example, Caltech requires all applicants to submit SAT subject test scores, while Johns Hopkins does not. Additionally, Caltech has a slightly more intensive interview process, with applicants required to complete a research project or essay as part of their application.

It is important to note that both Johns Hopkins and Caltech value diversity and seek to admit students from a variety of backgrounds. They also consider factors such as leadership potential, community involvement, and personal character when evaluating applicants. Therefore, it is important for students to showcase their unique strengths and experiences in their application materials. It is also recommended that students visit the campuses and attend information sessions to gain a better understanding of the schools and their cultures before applying.

Campus Life at Johns Hopkins and Caltech: A Comparison

Johns Hopkins and Caltech both offer a unique campus experience to their students. Johns Hopkins is located in Baltimore, Maryland, a bustling East Coast city known for its historic landmarks and cultural attractions. The campus itself is a mix of historic and modern buildings, with green spaces for students to relax and study. Caltech, on the other hand, is located in Pasadena, California, a suburb of Los Angeles. The campus is much smaller than Johns Hopkins, with a strong focus on science and engineering. Both campuses offer a rich extracurricular life, with dozens of student organizations and clubs to participate in.

One major difference between the two campuses is the climate. Johns Hopkins experiences all four seasons, with hot summers and cold winters. Caltech, on the other hand, has a Mediterranean climate with mild winters and hot, dry summers. This can be a deciding factor for students who prefer a certain type of weather.

Another difference is the research opportunities available to students. Caltech is known for its cutting-edge research in science and engineering, and students have the opportunity to work alongside renowned faculty members on groundbreaking projects. Johns Hopkins also has a strong research program, particularly in the fields of medicine and public health, with opportunities for students to participate in research projects and internships.

Academic Programs Offered at Johns Hopkins and Caltech: A Detailed Look

Johns Hopkins and Caltech are both world-renowned for their academic programs, particularly in the fields of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. At Johns Hopkins, the most popular majors include public health, biomedical engineering, and international studies. Caltech, on the other hand, is known for its rigorous science and engineering programs, including physics, applied mathematics, and computer science. Both schools offer a wide range of undergraduate and graduate programs, with opportunities for interdisciplinary studies and research.

In addition to their STEM programs, both Johns Hopkins and Caltech also offer strong programs in the humanities and social sciences. At Johns Hopkins, students can major in fields such as history, political science, and economics, while Caltech offers majors in subjects like philosophy, literature, and social sciences. These programs provide students with a well-rounded education and the opportunity to explore diverse interests and career paths.

Faculty and Research Opportunities at Johns Hopkins and Caltech

One of the main draws of attending Johns Hopkins or Caltech is the opportunity to work with world-renowned faculty on ground-breaking research. At Johns Hopkins, faculty members include Nobel laureates and Pulitzer Prize winners, with research on everything from cancer treatment to space exploration. Caltech is similarly impressive, with faculty members including multiple Nobel laureates and members of the National Academy of Sciences. The research opportunities at both schools are extensive, with countless opportunities to get involved in cutting-edge projects and labs.

Additionally, both Johns Hopkins and Caltech have strong partnerships with industry leaders, providing students with opportunities to work on real-world projects and gain valuable experience. These partnerships also often lead to job opportunities for graduates.

Furthermore, both schools offer a wide range of research centers and institutes, allowing students to specialize in their areas of interest. For example, Johns Hopkins has the Applied Physics Laboratory, which focuses on national security and space exploration, while Caltech has the Kavli Nanoscience Institute, which focuses on nanotechnology research.

Portrait of a cheerful young couple of students wearing backpacks, carrying textbooks standing isolated over blue background

Financing Your Education: Tuition Fees, Scholarships, and Financial Aid at Johns Hopkins and Caltech

Attending an elite university like Johns Hopkins or Caltech is not cheap, and many students will need to seek out financial aid in order to afford the tuition fees. At Johns Hopkins, the estimated cost of attendance for the 2021-22 academic year is $78,250, including tuition, room and board, and other expenses. Caltech’s estimated cost of attendance is slightly lower, at $77,215 for the same academic year. Both schools offer a range of scholarships and financial aid options, including need-based aid and merit-based scholarships.

However, it is important to note that the availability and amount of financial aid can vary greatly depending on a student’s individual circumstances. For example, students with higher family incomes may not qualify for need-based aid, while students with exceptional academic achievements may be eligible for more generous merit-based scholarships.

In addition to scholarships and financial aid, both Johns Hopkins and Caltech offer work-study programs that allow students to earn money while gaining valuable work experience. These programs typically involve part-time jobs on campus, such as working in the library or assisting with research projects. Work-study programs can be a great way for students to offset the cost of tuition and living expenses, while also building their resumes and developing important skills.

Johns Hopkins vs Caltech: Student Body Demographics

Ensuring a diverse and inclusive student body is an important priority for both Johns Hopkins and Caltech. At Johns Hopkins, the undergraduate student body is composed of roughly 49% men and 51% women, with students hailing from all 50 states and over 80 countries. Similarly, Caltech has a diverse student body, with roughly 55% men and 45% women, and a significant percentage of international students. However, both schools have received criticism in the past for lack of diversity in certain areas, particularly in terms of racial and socioeconomic diversity.

Johns Hopkins has taken steps to address these concerns by implementing initiatives such as the Baltimore Scholars Program, which provides full-tuition scholarships to high-achieving students from Baltimore City public schools, and the HopkinsLocal initiative, which aims to increase economic opportunities for residents in the surrounding community. Caltech has also made efforts to increase diversity, including partnering with organizations such as the Posse Foundation to recruit and support underrepresented students.

Despite these efforts, both schools acknowledge that there is still work to be done to create a truly diverse and inclusive community. They continue to explore new strategies and partnerships to increase access and support for students from all backgrounds.

Career Prospects for Graduates from Johns Hopkins and Caltech: Which School Offers Better Opportunities?

One of the main reasons students attend Johns Hopkins or Caltech is to ensure that they have strong career prospects post-graduation. Both schools have excellent track records when it comes to job placement and career success. According to data from Payscale, the average salary for a Caltech graduate is around $107,000, while the average salary for a Johns Hopkins graduate is around $89,000. However, it’s worth noting that career prospects will vary depending on the specific major and industry a student chooses to pursue.

Another factor to consider when comparing career prospects between Johns Hopkins and Caltech is the location of the schools. Caltech is located in Pasadena, California, which is known for its strong technology and engineering industries. This means that Caltech graduates may have an advantage when it comes to finding jobs in these fields. On the other hand, Johns Hopkins is located in Baltimore, Maryland, which has a diverse range of industries including healthcare, finance, and education. This means that Johns Hopkins graduates may have more opportunities in these fields.

a line of graduates wearing their graduation gowns

Johns Hopkins vs Caltech: Prestige, Rankings, and Reputation

When it comes to prestige and reputation, both Johns Hopkins and Caltech have top-notch rankings. According to U.S. News & World Report, Johns Hopkins is currently ranked as the 9th best university in the United States, while Caltech is ranked 12th. Furthermore, both schools consistently rank in the top 10 in various academic fields, such as biomedical engineering, physics, and computer science. Employers and graduate schools often view a degree from either school as highly prestigious, providing an advantage in the job market and graduate school admissions.

However, there are some differences between the two universities. Johns Hopkins is known for its strong emphasis on research, with a large portion of its budget dedicated to research projects. On the other hand, Caltech is known for its focus on science and engineering, with a smaller student body and a more specialized curriculum. This means that students at Caltech may have more opportunities for hands-on experience and individual attention from professors.

Another factor to consider is location. Johns Hopkins is located in Baltimore, Maryland, which is a large city with a diverse population and many cultural attractions. Caltech, on the other hand, is located in Pasadena, California, which is a smaller city with a more suburban feel. Both locations have their advantages and disadvantages, depending on the individual student’s preferences and interests.

Extracurricular Activities Offered at Johns Hopkins and Caltech

Both Johns Hopkins and Caltech offer a wealth of extracurricular activities for students to participate in. At Johns Hopkins, students can join over 400 student organizations, ranging from cultural clubs to academic societies. Caltech offers a similar range of clubs and organizations, with a special emphasis on science and engineering organizations. Additionally, both schools have a strong athletic program, with opportunities to compete in NCAA Division III sports.

Location Matters: Advantages of Studying in Baltimore vs Pasadena

One major consideration when choosing between Johns Hopkins and Caltech is the location of the schools. Baltimore and Pasadena are vastly different cities, each with their own unique advantages and disadvantages. Baltimore is a larger city, with a more vibrant cultural scene and easy access to other East Coast cities. Pasadena, on the other hand, is a smaller, quieter suburb with easy access to both Los Angeles and the beach. Students should consider their personal preferences and interests when deciding which location would be a better fit for them.

Alumni Networks at Johns Hopkins vs Caltech

Networking is an important part of any school, and both Johns Hopkins and Caltech have strong alumni networks to tap into. At Johns Hopkins, the alumni network includes over 215,000 graduates, with a strong presence in the fields of medicine, science, and technology. Similarly, Caltech has a global alumni network of over 25,000 members, with a strong emphasis on science and engineering. Both schools offer a range of alumni events and opportunities to connect with fellow graduates for career advice and mentorship.

Future Goals of the Schools: What are the Plans for Expansion or Improvement?

Both Johns Hopkins and Caltech have ambitious plans for the future, including expanding their research facilities and increasing their focus on interdisciplinary studies. At Johns Hopkins, the school has recently unveiled a $4.5 billion fundraising campaign, with a significant portion of the funds going to support student scholarships and faculty research. Caltech, on the other hand, is currently in the process of building a new $200 million research campus in Pasadena, which will focus on sustainability and energy research. These plans indicate a continued commitment to innovation and academic excellence at both schools.

Campus Safety: Security Measures in Place at Both Universities

Campus safety is a top priority for both Johns Hopkins and Caltech, with various measures in place to ensure the safety of students and faculty. At Johns Hopkins, the campus has a dedicated security department, with 24/7 patrols and emergency response teams. Caltech similarly has a well-trained security team, with regular patrols and a range of emergency response procedures. However, it’s worth noting that neither school is immune to campus safety concerns, and students should take precautions to ensure their own safety.

Social Life on Campus: Which School Offers a Better Social Scene?

For many students, the social scene on campus is just as important as academics and extracurricular activities. At Johns Hopkins, students can enjoy a vibrant social scene both on and off campus, with dozens of bars, restaurants, and cultural attractions in Baltimore. Caltech, on the other hand, has a smaller, more tightly-knit community, with a strong emphasis on academic activities over social events. However, both schools offer a range of opportunities for students to connect with their peers, including social events and on-campus gatherings.

three students in the walkway

Athletics Programs Offered at Both Schools: A Comparison

Both Johns Hopkins and Caltech offer a range of athletic programs for students to participate in. At Johns Hopkins, the school has a strong emphasis on NCAA Division III sports, with teams in baseball, basketball, and swimming, among others. Caltech similarly has a range of NCAA Division III teams, with a special focus on cross country and track and field. Neither school is known for having a particularly strong athletic program, but participating in sports can still be a fun and rewarding part of the college experience.

Community Service Opportunities Available to Students

Many students at both Johns Hopkins and Caltech are passionate about making a difference in their communities. To that end, both schools offer a range of community service opportunities for students to get involved in. At Johns Hopkins, students can participate in service trips, volunteer at local schools and hospitals, and work on sustainability-focused projects on campus. Caltech has a similar range of community service opportunities, with a special focus on science and engineering-based service projects. These opportunities allow students to give back to their communities while also building valuable skills.

Johns Hopkins vs Caltech: Graduation Rates

At the end of the day, the ultimate goal of attending college is to graduate with a degree. Both Johns Hopkins and Caltech have impressive graduation rates, with roughly 93% of students graduating within six years of enrollment at both schools. This is a testament to the quality of education and support that both schools offer their students.

Johns Hopkins vs Caltech: Student Support Services Available to Students

College can be a stressful time, and many students will need support services to help them navigate the challenges they face. At both Johns Hopkins and Caltech, there are a range of support services available to students, including counseling services, career advising, and academic tutoring. Additionally, both schools have extensive health and wellness programs, with resources for physical and mental health.

Johns Hopkins vs Caltech: Technology Infrastructure Available

Both Johns Hopkins and Caltech are known for their cutting-edge technology infrastructure, providing students with the tools they need to succeed in their academic pursuits. At Johns Hopkins, for example, students have access to a range of technological resources, including high-speed internet, multimedia studios, and scientific computing resources. Caltech similarly has a strong technology infrastructure, with a focus on tools and resources for science and engineering students, including labs and advanced computing resources.

Johns Hopkins vs Caltech: Student Satisfaction Levels with the Programs Offered

Ultimately, what matters most is how satisfied students are with their experience at Johns Hopkins or Caltech. According to data from Niche, students at both schools report high levels of satisfaction with their academic programs, campus life, and overall experience. However, no school is perfect, and it’s worth considering the specific factors that matter most to you when making a decision.

International Students’ Experiences at Both Universities.

Finally, it’s worth considering the experiences of international students at both Johns Hopkins and Caltech. Both schools have a significant percentage of international students, with diverse backgrounds and experiences. To support these students, both schools offer a range of resources, including international student advising, English language support, and cultural events. It’s important to consider these factors when deciding which school may be the best fit for you as an international student.


Overall, Johns Hopkins and Caltech are two of the most prestigious universities in the United States, each with a unique set of strengths and weaknesses. Ultimately, the decision of which school to attend will depend on your personal preferences and goals. However, by considering factors such as campus life, academic programs, faculty research opportunities, and career prospects, you can make an informed decision about which school may be the best fit for you. We hope this comprehensive analysis has been helpful in guiding your decision-making process.

Students gathering during the University of Iowa Secondary Student Training Program (SSTP).

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