Caltech - California Institute of Technology Admission Statistics

Learn About Caltech and the GPA and SAT / ACT Scores You'll Need

Beckman Institute at Caltech
Beckman Institute at Caltech. smerikal / Flickr

The California Institute of Technology, Caltech, is one of the most selective colleges in the country. With an acceptance rate of only 8 percent, students will need to have grades and test scores well above average to be competitive.

Caltech accepts both the Common Application and the Coalition Application. The institute requires scores from the SAT or ACT, academic transcripts, teacher recommendations, an application essay, and several short-answer essays.

Why Caltech?

  • Location: Pasadena, California
  • Campus Features: The small school of just 961 undergraduates sits on a 124-acre campus that is a short distance from Los Angeles and the Pacific Ocean.
  • Student/Faculty Ratio: 3:1
  • Athletics: The Caltech Beavers compete in the NCAA Division III SCIAC, Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference.
  • Highlights: Caltech typically vies with MIT for the top position among the nation's best engineering schools. Students can choose from 27 academic programs, and 95% of undergraduates participate in research.

Caltech Admissions Statistics 2017-18

In the 2017-18 admissions cycle, the acceptance rate to Caltech was 8 percent. Below you'll find the standardized test scores of students who chose to attend Caltech organized by score percentile.

SAT Score Percentiles
Section 25th Percentile 75th Percentile
ERW 750 790
Math 780 800

If you compare SAT data for top engineering schools, you'll see that Caltech's scores are higher than even MIT and Stanford.

ACT Score Percentiles
Section 25th Percentile 75th Percentile
English 34 36
Math 35 36
Composite 34 35

ACT scores for admitted Caltech students are equally impressive, and you'll see that they are higher than the ACT scores for all the Ivy League schools including Harvard.

Caltech GPA, SAT Score, and ACT Score Graph

Caltech GPA, SAT Score, and ACT Score Admissions Data.
Caltech GPA, SAT Score, and ACT Score Admissions Data.  Data coutesy of Cappex

The data in the graph is self-reported by actual applicants to Caltech, so it has not been manipulated by admissions personnel. To see how you measure up at the California Institute of Technology, you can see the real-time graph and calculate your changes of getting in with a free account at Cappex.

Discussion of Caltech's Admissions Standards

As one of the nation's most selective colleges, Caltech is looking for applicants with grades and test scores that are well above average. In the graph above, the blue and green dots represent accepted students. You can see that most successful applicants had "A" averages, SAT scores (RW+M) of about 1450 or higher, and an ACT composite score of 32 or higher. The higher those numbers, the better your chance of an acceptance letter.

Note that there are a lot of red and yellow dots (rejected and waitlisted students) hidden behind the green and blue. Many students with high test scores and 4.0 GPAs don't get into Caltech. Caltech uses the Common Application and Coalition Application, and the school has holistic admissions. The admissions officers will be looking for more than good grades and high standardized test scores. They will also want to see challenging courses, glowing letters of recommendation, a winning essay, and strong extracurricular involvement. Success in AP, Honors or IB classes will be essential, but the admissions folks will also be reading every word in your application essay and short answer responses. Always keep in mind that Caltech is looking for more than stellar scientists and engineers. The school wants to enroll students who will enrich the campus community in meaningful ways.

More Caltech Information

Like most of the nation's most prestigious colleges and universities, Caltech does not offer merit scholarships. Since all admitted students are impressive high-achievers, all financial aid is need-based. That said, don't let the school's roughly $70,000 price tag deter you. Grant aid is generous for low- and middle-income students, and reliance on loans is minimal. You may find that Caltech ends up costing less than your local public university.

Enrollment (2017)

  • Total Enrollment: 2,238 (961 undergraduates)
  • Gender Breakdown: 55% Male / 45% Female
  • 100% Full-time

Costs (2017 - 18)

  • Tuition and Fees: $49,908
  • Books: $1,323 (why so much?)
  • Room and Board: $14,796
  • Other Expenses: $2,874
  • Total Cost: $68,901

Caltech Financial Aid (2016 - 17)

  • Percentage of New Students Receiving Aid: 72%
  • Percentage of New Students Receiving Types of Aid
    • Grants: 52%
    • Loans: 20%
  • Average Amount of Aid
    • Grants: $41,408
    • Loans: $5,988

Academic Programs

  • Most Popular Majors: Chemistry, Computer Science, Electrical Engineering, Math, Mechanical Engineering, Physics
  • What major is right for you? Sign up to take the free "My Careers and Majors Quiz" at Cappex.

Graduation and Retention Rates

  • First Year Student Retention (full-time students): 98%
  • 4-Year Graduation Rate: 79%
  • 6-Year Graduation Rate: 89%

Intercollegiate Athletic Programs

  • Men's Sports: Soccer, Track and Field, Water Polo, Basketball, Fencing, Baseball, Cross Country, Swimming and Diving, Tennis
  • Women's Sports: Tennis, Basketball, Cross Country, Water Polo, Volleyball, Fencing, Track and Field, Soccer, Swimming and Diving

If You Like Caltech, You May Also Like These Schools

Applicants to Caltech are almost always strong in math and science, and they tend to apply to other highly-ranked schools with strong science and engineering programs. Popular choices include Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Harvey Mudd College, Carnegie Mellon University, Cornell University, and Stanford University.

If you don't qualify for financial aid and are looking for a less pricey public option, be sure to check out the University of California at Berkeley, UCSD, the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, and Georgia Tech. You'll also want to apply to a few schools that are less selective to help guarantee you get in somewhere.

Data Source: Graph courtesy of; all other data from the National Center for Education Statistics