Caltech Application Requirements

The Caltech application process is a bit different from other schools, but it’s designed to be efficient and straightforward. Here are some of the key things you’ll need to know:

  1. You must submit a single application, which includes your primary transcript and two letters of recommendation. You can apply through the Common Application or the Coalition Application (which includes more than 700 colleges). We recommend using one of these applications because they are free, easy to use, and accepted by most universities.
  2. Your application will be reviewed by our Admissions Committee and then sent to one of our three academic departments for review. If you’re approved by all three departments (i.e., bachelors, masters, PhD), we’ll send you an offer letter!
  3. If you have any questions about Caltech or its application requirements, please don’t hesitate to reach out to us via email or phone at [email protected] or (310) 395-8221

Caltech Application Requirements


Caltech is a highly selective school. Just 7% of applicants are accepted, making it one of the most difficult schools in the country to get into. Because of its prestige and difficulty, you’ll have to prepare your application carefully to stand out. In this post, we’ll go over Caltech’s application requirements so that you can make sure you give yourself the best shot possible.

Standardized test scores

Standardized test scores

If you’re a high school student, you’ll be required to submit either ACT or SAT scores. You do not need to submit standardized test scores if you are home-schooled or have graduated from high school within the past ten years.

School report

The most important part of your application is the school report, which should be written by the teacher who knows you the best. Your school report will include your grades and test scores, but it must also give a clear picture of who you are as an individual (not only what you’ve learned).

The school report should be written on official letterhead and in the third person. The tone should be professional but positive and engaging; don’t just list off facts about yourself or what you do—give some insight into how those things reflect who you are!


  • Transcripts must be sent directly from your high school. They cannot be mailed as PDFs, faxed or emailed.
  • Be sure to write your name and date of birth on the envelope and ensure it’s sealed.
  • Make sure your transcripts are in English; official transcripts are often printed with a translation on the back side of the document for international students.


You may submit two teacher recommendations through the Common Application, your school counselor, or by directly sending them to Caltech. Letters should be sent directly to Caltech as soon as possible and no later than January 1st. Letters that are received after January 1st will not be considered for review; however, if you have an extenuating circumstance (e.g., illness), please contact us at and we can make an exception on a case-by-case basis.

Recommendations should be sent via e-mail to


The essay portion of your application is an opportunity for you to tell us about yourself through your words. Your essays should be well-written and organized, original, well-researched, and thoughtfully constructed. In other words, they should show that you have put serious thought into who you are as an applicant rather than simply copying verbatim material from the Internet or another source.

Essays should be between 500–1000 words in length (for reference: this page is approximately 650 characters long).

All applicants must submit one personal statement with their application which will later be shared with members of the admissions committee. The personal statement should describe your academic and extra-curricular interests; motivations for applying to Caltech; experiences in math/science/technology; leadership skills; community service; extracurricular activities such as athletics or music lessons; unusual circumstances that may have affected grades/test scores or made them difficult to compare with those of other students including language barriers; financial hardship that may have affected educational opportunities such as attendance at a private high school vs public schools where tuition costs were lower due to family income level being low enough make this possible without dipping into savings account funds earmarked for retirement savings plans such as 401k plans which require minimum deposit amounts per year depending on age bracket so it might not be feasible at all times when one has no backup plan available because they do not qualify under any current criteria used by banks like Fannie Mae Freddie Mac etcetera so there’s really nothing left except asking friends family members friends’ families friends’ friends’ families strangers etcetera but even then…

These are the essential requirements for Caltech applicants.

  • You must have a high school diploma or its equivalent to apply.
  • You must be enrolled in or have taken the math and science courses required by Caltech by the end of your junior year in high school.
  • You must have at least one year remaining in high school (or five months away from graduation) when you submit your application for admission.

These are the essential requirements for applying to Caltech as an undergraduate student, but there are many other ways to enhance your chances of being accepted!


Let’s recap what we’ve learned about applying to Caltech. The school has a holistic admissions process with no transfer or early admissions. There are nine required components of your application, so make sure that you have everything ready before submitting!

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