California Institute of Technology

#38 / #15
Global Influence / U.S. Influence
#9
Most Desirable School
Private research university located in Pasadena, California
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About California Institute of Technology

By James Barham, PhD

The California Institute of Technology (universally known as “Caltech”) is located in the Los Angeles suburb of Pasadena. It was originally founded as a vocational school, but took on the complexion of an institute at the cutting edge of scientific discovery quite early in its history.

The inflection point probably came with the move of Alfred Amos Noyes from MIT (where he had been serving as acting-President) to Caltech in 1919. Noyes, who had studied chemistry under Wilhelm Ostwald at the University of Leipzig, taught chemistry at Caltech for 17 years, until his death in 1936.

During his tenure at Caltech—which assumed its present name in 1921—Noyes was responsible for revising the science curriculum in line with the latest advances in Germany, whose universities were the best in the world at that time. Noyes was also very active in institution-building at the national level (he was one of the founders of the National Research Council) and in recruiting both distinguished older and promising younger science faculty for Caltech.

For example, together with his friend, the distinguished astronomer George Ellery Hale (who discovered that sunspots produce magnetic fields, and who had preceded him to Caltech), Noyes persuaded the outstanding physicist Robert A. Millikan to move there in 1921, from the University of Chicago. Two years later, Millikan won the Nobel Prize for devising his classic “oil-drop experiment”—still described in many first-year physics courses—to measure the strength of the elementary charge of the electron.

Another early mover-and-shaker of science at Caltech was the Hungarian-born physicist and aeronautical engineer, Theodore von Kármán, who arrived in Pasadena in 1930, and went on to found there what eventually became the world-famous Jet Propulsion Laboratory.

Yet another highly significant, Caltech-connected scientist was the astrophysicist Allan Sandage, who was the first person to come up with a good estimate for the value of the Hubble Constant. Sandage went on to make a large number of pathbreaking discoveries regarding the large-scale structure of various galaxies, and of the universe as a whole.

These early triumphs were only the beginning of an ever-growing roll call of great names in science. Altogether, some 74 individuals connected to Caltech have won the Nobel Prize—far too many for us to name here.

However, some of the highlights we must mention—just for physics—include:

  • Albert Einstein
  • Hendrik Antoon Lorentz
  • Albert Michelson
  • Rudolf Mössbauer
  • C.V. Raman
  • Richard Feynman
  • Murray Gell-Mann
  • William Shockley
  • Charles Townes
  • Kenneth B. Wilson
  • Kip Thorne

For the other Nobel Prizes, the following Caltech-associated recipients, among many others, are especially noteworthy:

  • Linus Pauling and Martin Karplus—chemistry
  • T.H. Morgan, George Beadle, Max Delbrück, Howard Temin, Roger Sperry, Renato Dulbecco, David Baltimore, James D. Watson, Jacques Monod, Niels Jerne, and Barbara McClintock—physiology or medicine
  • Robert Merton, Vernon Smith, & Leonid Hurwicz—economics

It is worth noting that Linus Pauling also won the Nobel Peace Prize. Pauling is only person in history to win two unshared Nobel Prizes.

Finally, mention must be made of Fields Medalist Edward Witten, an important theoretical physicist as well as mathematician, who has been a Visiting Professor at Caltech.

In spite of the formidable reputation of much of its faculty, with its relatively modest size (around 2200 students) Caltech is in many ways more reminiscent of a small liberal arts college than of a behemoth institution like its east-coast rival, MIT. For one thing, Caltech’s small 3:1 student-faculty ratio is extremely good, ensuring that its students (who are themselves among the best the nation has to offer) really get to know their professors.

According to Wikipedia, The California Institute of Technology is a private research university in Pasadena, California. The university is known for its strength in science and engineering, and is among a small group of institutes of technology in the United States which is primarily devoted to the instruction of pure and applied sciences. Caltech is ranked among the best academic institutions in the world and is among the most selective in the U.S.

California Institute of Technology's Online Degrees

California Institute of Technology Admissions, Retention, and Graduation Information

Annual ApplicationsAcceptanceGraduation RateMedian SAT ScoreMedian ACT Score
8,0077%92%154535

How Much Does California Institute of Technology Cost To Attend?

Tuition (in-state)
$58,680
Price by Family Income
IncomeAverage Net Cost
0 - 30K$5,456
30K - 48K$3,756
48K - 75K$8,042
75K - 110K$12,788
110K+$48,851

Source: National Center for Education Statistics

How Much Do California Institute of Technology Graduates Make?

If you graduate from California Institute of Technology, then you can expect to earn an average of $106,300 per year.

California Institute of Technology's Demographics

Demographic data is for full-time, on-campus students.

Student BodyUnder-GradsGraduates
2,2489171,331

Where is California Institute of Technology?

California Institute of Technology is located at 1200 E California Blvd, Pasadena CA 91125

How Safe is California Institute of Technology?

Pasadena has a violent crime rate of less than .01% and a property crime rate of less than .01%.

What Is California Institute of Technology Known For?

California Institute of Technology is known for it's academic work in the following disciplines:

California Institute of Technology's Top Areas of Influence With Degrees Offered

Who Are California Institute of Technology's Most Influential Alumni?

California Institute of Technology's most influential alumni faculty include professors and professionals in the fields of Physics, Computer Science, and Chemistry. Here are some of California Institute of Technology's most famous alumni:

Donald Knuth
Donald Knuth
An American computer scientist, (1938 - ), Wisconsin.
Linus Pauling
Linus Pauling
An American scientist.
John McCarthy
John McCarthy
An American computer scientist and cognitive scientist.
William Shockley
William Shockley
An American physicist and inventor.
Ivan Sutherland
Ivan Sutherland
An American computer scientist and Internet pioneer.
Benoit Mandelbrot
Benoit Mandelbrot
A Polish-born, French and American mathematician .
Stephen Wolfram
Stephen Wolfram
A British-American computer scientist, mathematician, physicist, writer and businessman.
David Bohm
David Bohm
An American theoretical physicist.
Serge Lang
Serge Lang
A Mathematician.
Gordon Moore
Gordon Moore
An American businessman, co-founder of Intel and author of "Moore's Law".
Robert C. Merton
Robert C. Merton
An American economist.
Vernon L. Smith
Vernon L. Smith
An American economist.

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