What Major is Caltech Known For?

By Eric Eng

By Eric Eng

One of the walkways in Caltech campus

What Major is Caltech Known For?

What is Caltech?

The California Institute of Technology, or Caltech, is a prestigious private research university located in Pasadena, California, that has significantly contributed to the world of science and engineering. Caltech has cultivated a reputation for excellence in various scientific and engineering disciplines. Therefore, more people would like to learn what major is Caltech known for.

Established in 1891, Caltech has consistently been ranked among the top research institutions globally. From breakthrough discoveries in physics and chemistry to pushing the boundaries of computer science and engineering, Caltech’s dedication to innovation and collaboration has solidified its status as one of the world’s premier institutions for those seeking a rigorous and dynamic education in the sciences.

At the heart of Caltech’s success is its emphasis on fostering a close-knit academic community. With a small enrollment of approximately 1,000 undergraduate and 1,200 graduate students, the institute boasts a remarkably low student-to-faculty ratio, ensuring personalized attention and an environment conducive to in-depth learning.

This intimate setting also encourages interdisciplinary collaboration, a key aspect of Caltech’s approach to research and education.

Why study at Caltech?

Studying at Caltech offers numerous advantages and opportunities for students passionate about science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM). Some key reasons why one should study at Caltech:

Academic excellence: Caltech consistently ranks among the top institutions globally in STEM fields, with a strong focus on cutting-edge research and a commitment to intellectual curiosity.

California Institute of Technology front view

World-class faculty: Caltech’s faculty includes numerous Nobel laureates, MacArthur Fellows, and other distinguished researchers, providing students with the opportunity to learn from and collaborate with leading experts in their respective fields.

Small class sizes: With a low student-to-faculty ratio, Caltech ensures students receive personalized attention and mentorship from professors, promoting a deeper understanding of complex subjects and fostering strong academic relationships.

Interdisciplinary approach: Caltech encourages interdisciplinary collaboration across traditional boundaries, enabling students to develop innovative solutions to complex problems by drawing on the strengths of multiple fields.

Research opportunities: One of the reasons why more people would like to know what major is Caltech known for is its research opportunities. Caltech offers undergraduate and graduate students extensive research opportunities, allowing them to participate in groundbreaking projects and gain valuable hands-on experience.

Prestigious reputation: A degree from Caltech is highly regarded in the academic and professional worlds, often opening doors to competitive job opportunities and advanced research positions.

Collaboration with research institutions: Caltech collaborates with prominent research institutions such as NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), providing students with unique opportunities to engage in cutting-edge research and work on real-world projects.

Close-knit community: Caltech’s small student body fosters a strong sense of community and camaraderie among students, creating a supportive environment where individuals can grow academically and personally.

Beautiful location: Caltech’s campus is located in Pasadena, California, offering a picturesque setting and mild climate, with easy access to the diverse cultural and recreational offerings of the greater Los Angeles area.

Networking and alumni connections: Caltech’s successful alumni network spans various industries, providing students with valuable connections and opportunities for mentorship, internships, and future career prospects.

Top Caltech majors


Caltech has a long-standing history of excellence in physics, consistently producing groundbreaking research and fostering an environment that attracts some of the world’s most brilliant minds.

As one of the top Caltech majors, the institute has been home to numerous renowned faculty members and alumni, including the legendary theoretical physicist Richard Feynman, whose work in quantum mechanics and quantum electrodynamics earned him a Nobel Prize in 1965.

Caltech has also played a pivotal role in numerous groundbreaking research projects, such as the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory (LIGO), which made the first direct observation of gravitational waves in 2015, confirming a major prediction of Albert Einstein’s general theory of relativity.

This monumental achievement is a testament to Caltech’s commitment to advancing our understanding of the universe and its unwavering dedication to scientific discovery in physics. Therefore, the physics degree is discussed when discussing what major is Caltech known for.

Engineering and Applied Science

Caltech’s Division of Engineering and Applied Science has established itself as a powerhouse in various engineering disciplines, such as electrical, mechanical, and aerospace engineering. By embracing an interdisciplinary approach to problem-solving, the institute fosters an environment where faculty and students collaborate across traditional boundaries, leveraging the strengths of multiple fields to develop innovative solutions to complex challenges.

an art class with students painting

This commitment to breaking down disciplinary silos has positioned Caltech at the forefront of cutting-edge research and technology development. The institute’s researchers have made groundbreaking contributions in areas such as advanced materials, robotics, and energy systems, driving progress and shaping the future of engineering.

Through this fusion of creativity, collaboration, and expertise, Caltech continues to push the boundaries of what is possible in engineering and applied science.

Chemistry and Chemical Engineering

Caltech has a rich history of innovative chemistry and chemical engineering research, consistently making breakthrough discoveries that have fundamentally advanced our understanding of the molecular world. The institute has made significant contributions to a wide array of areas, including synthetic chemistry, chemical biology, and materials science, to name just a few.

This relentless pursuit of knowledge has led to the development of novel materials, cutting-edge therapeutics, and a deeper comprehension of the complex interactions between molecules.

Caltech’s esteemed faculty and alumni in these fields have garnered worldwide recognition, with notable figures such as Linus Pauling, a two-time Nobel laureate who made incredible contributions to our understanding of chemical bonding and the structure of proteins.

Through its unwavering commitment to research excellence, Caltech continues to be a global leader in chemistry and chemical engineering, pushing the frontiers of molecular science and shaping the future of countless industries.

Astrophysics and Planetary Science

Another degree when talking about what major is Caltech known for is the Astrophysics and Planetary Science degree. Groundbreaking discoveries mark Caltech’s legacy in astrophysics and planetary science, close collaboration with esteemed research institutions, and prominent faculty and alumni achievements.

One such collaborative partnership is with NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), which Caltech has operated since its inception.

This collaboration has fueled advancements in space exploration, deepening our understanding of the cosmos and facilitating key discoveries in astronomy, such as detecting exoplanets and studying distant celestial objects.

The institute has also been home to numerous prominent astrophysicists and planetary scientists, including Kip Thorne, a Nobel laureate whose work on gravitational waves and black holes has profoundly impacted our understanding of the universe.

Through these collaborative efforts, distinguished faculty, and cutting-edge research, Caltech has cemented its position as a leading force in astrophysics and planetary science, helping unravel the mysteries of the cosmos and expanding humanity’s knowledge of the universe.

Biology and Biological Engineering

Caltech’s innovative approach to biology and biological engineering is characterized by integrating engineering principles with biological sciences, fostering an environment where cutting-edge research thrives. The Institute strongly emphasizes understanding complex biological systems and utilizing interdisciplinary collaboration to tackle the life sciences’ most pressing challenges.

As a result, Caltech has significantly contributed to various fields, such as genomics, neuroscience, and synthetic biology, fundamentally advancing our understanding of life at the molecular, cellular, and organismal levels.

View of a teacher using a microscope while two students are watching her.

By applying quantitative and engineering methods to studying biological systems, researchers at Caltech have made groundbreaking discoveries, such as elucidating the molecular mechanisms of gene regulation, developing novel therapies for neurological disorders, and engineering synthetic organisms for applications in biotechnology and medicine.

Through its pioneering research and commitment to pushing the boundaries of what is possible in the life sciences, Caltech continues to be a driving force in shaping the future of biology and biological engineering.

Computer Science

Caltech’s computer science program has established itself as a leading innovator, conducting cutting-edge research in artificial intelligence, machine learning, and robotics. The institute fosters an environment that encourages collaboration with industry partners, enabling the development and application of novel technologies that have the potential to transform the way we live, work, and interact with the world around us.

Caltech’s researchers work closely with companies in the tech industry, driving advancements in areas such as autonomous vehicles, natural language processing, and computer vision, among others.

The institute’s alumni have also achieved great success in the tech industry, founding and leading companies at the forefront of technological innovation.

Through its commitment to groundbreaking research, strong industry connections, and the nurturing of future technology leaders, Caltech continues to shape the future of computer science and contribute to the ongoing digital revolution. This has made it a popular answer when discussing what major is Caltech known for.


Caltech has long been recognized for its excellence in pure and applied mathematics, providing a rigorous and enriching environment for faculty and students alike to explore the beauty and complexity of mathematical structures. Not only that, but some also recognize it as a degree that answers what major is Caltech known for.

The institute has been home to numerous notable faculty members and alumni, such as John Nash, a Nobel laureate whose pioneering work in game theory has profoundly impacted economics, social sciences, and many other disciplines.

Through its dedication to advancing mathematical research and problem-solving, Caltech has made significant contributions to a wide range of areas, including topology, number theory, and mathematical analysis, to name just a few. These achievements have helped to shape our understanding of the mathematical world and have laid the foundation for countless discoveries in other scientific fields.

By fostering an environment that values intellectual curiosity, collaboration, and the pursuit of knowledge, Caltech continues to be a leading force in mathematics, pushing the boundaries of what are possible and inspiring future generations of mathematicians.

Now that you have an idea about Caltech, your college admissions to that university should be next on your mind. To ensure that you get into Caltech, you can get help with AdmissionSight. With ten years of experience with college admission experts, AdmissionSight can help you get into Caltech. You can talk to our experts today to get an initial consultation.


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