Degree Programs

The California Institute of Technology offers degree and non-degree programs that will meet most of the academic goals of students. Please note that the admission requirements for each of these degrees vary according to the option selected. Consult the Caltech Catalog for more detailed information.

Master of Science
The Master of Science degree is a professional degree designed to prepare a student for teaching, for further graduate studies, or for more advanced work in industry. Detailed requirements are based primarily on professional studies, and the program should be planned in consultation with the faculty in the appropriate discipline. Under normal circumstances, the requirements for the M.S. degree can be completed in one academic year.

Engineer's Degree
Engineer’s degrees are awarded in aeronautical engineering and electrical engineering. The work for an engineer’s degree must consist of advanced studies and research in the field appropriate to the degree desired. It must conform to the special requirements established for that degree and should be planned in consultation with the members of the faculty concerned. Students who have received an engineer’s degree will not in general be admitted for the doctor’s degree.

Doctor of Philosophy
The degree of Doctor of Philosophy is conferred by the Institute primarily in recognition of breadth of scholarship, depth of research, and the power to investigate problems independently and efficiently, rather than for the completion of definite courses of study through a stated period of residence. The work for the degree must consist of research and the preparation of a thesis describing it, and of systematic studies of an advanced character, primarily in science or engineering.

A student who holds a Ph.D. degree from another institution will not normally be admitted to graduate standing at Caltech to pursue a second Ph.D. degree. A student will not normally be awarded two Ph.D. degrees from the Institute.

Minor Programs of Study

The Institute does not require a minor for the Ph.D. degree, but the individual options may have minor requirements as part of their requirements for the major.

A minor program of study should be at a level of study in the minor substantially beyond that typically acquired by students as part of their major requirements. Most options require 45 units or more, including at least one 200-level course and a coherent program of the supporting 100-level courses.  Detailed requirements for minor options are listed under the individual options.

Residency

At least nine terms (three academic years) of residence subsequent to a baccalaureate degree equivalent to that given by the Institute are required for the doctor’s degree.

B.S./M.S. Degree 
In exceptional cases, undergraduate students may pursue a joint B.S./M.S. program of study. Such students must follow the normal procedures for admission to the M.S. program in the option of their choice. Students attending courses or carrying out research toward an M.S. degree before completion of their B.S. degree requirements will be considered as undergraduate students and will not be eligible for graduate financial aid, graduate housing, or other graduate student privileges.

M.D./Ph.D.

These programs are managed by the Division of Biology and Biological Engineering in conjunction with UCLA and USC. There are two programs available:

Caltech-UCLA Medical Scientist Training Program (MSTP)
A joint program between Caltech and the UCLA Medical School has been established for the granting of the M.D./Ph.D. degree. Students do their preclinical and clinical work at UCLA, and their Ph.D. work with any member of the Caltech faculty, including the biology, chemistry, and engineering and applied science divisions.

Admission to this joint program is made through the usual UCLA MSTP process, checking a box indicating interest in the Caltech option.

The M.D. degree would be from UCLA and the Ph.D. would be awarded by Caltech. Ph.D. studies involving collaborations between laboratories at both institutions could lead to a joint degree with both schools being cited. For more information, see the UCLA Medical School website.

Caltech-USC M.D./Ph.D. Program
A joint program between Caltech and the USC (Keck) Medical School has been established for the granting of the M.D./Ph.D. degree. Students do their preclinical and clinical work at USC and their Ph.D. work with any member of the Caltech faculty. 

Admission to this joint program is made through the usual USC process, checking a box indicating interest in the Caltech option. The M.D. degree would be from USC and the Ph.D. would be awarded by Caltech. For more information, see the USC M.D./Ph.D. web page.

Part-Time Degree Programs
Part-time graduate study programs at the Institute are for graduate students who cannot devote full time to their studies and are allowed to register only under special arrangements with a sponsoring organization, and such students are subject to the following rules:

  • Applicants for the part-time program must submit a regular application form accompanied by a detailed plan for meeting the course requirements for the degree.
  • Any research work done for academic credit shall be supervised by a Caltech faculty member.
  • In general, students admitted to the part-time program are required to take at least 27 units of graduate course work or research work each term during the first
    academic year.
  • Any option at the Institute retains the right to not participate in the program or to accept it under more stringent conditions.