What kind of students is Caltech looking for?

I have heard that Caltech is an engineering-orientated school that expected all of its students to become great engineers in the future. If I indicate I want to be a statistician and focus on something else rather than engineering, am I still able to be a fit?

Cal Tech states that “Mathematics is the bedrock of all coursework at Caltech.”.

That said - they have more majors than just engineering - including math, political science, philosophy, etc.

You might contact a department and talk to a professor to determine if your goals would be met there. But it’s not just rocket scientists who go there - although I can see how one would think so :slight_smile:

Majors & Minors | Undergraduate Admissions (caltech.edu)


When my son attended, there were several English majors.
They expect strong math candidates and they’re entering classes are strong in all fields.

Edited to add: I just saw your previous post. If anything, what will hold you back is not so much your level of math, but your English grammatical skills.
Students at those strong caliber of schools, regardless of being international students, come with really strong skills, especially English, applying to Caltech.


Caltech doesn’t appear to offer a major or minor in statistics. Some of these colleges may be of interest to you, however: For Students Seeking a College Strong in Mathematics.

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Caltech isn’t an engineering school. It’s a STEM school. In fact, its most popular major is Computer Science, which isn’t engineering. Its second most popular major is physics, which also isn’t engineering. If you want study statistics, the much better option these days is Data Science. At Caltech, it’s known as IDS, or Information and Data Science, and it’s highly mathematical.

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If you do even a little research you will know that Caltech is not just an engineering school. Googling the list of majors at the school will get you this list:

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You can have perfect grades and rigor and still not stand a chance. I’m thinking they want students with research experience or stand out national/international awards. It’s a small school so odds are slim to get in.


Rather that making yourself fit Caltech, why don’t you look for schools that are known to be a good fit for statistics. Seems like a bit of a square peg/round hole approach to me.


Thanks to all, just handed in Caltech application.
@Serenity2 I do not have a 4.0 GPA but instead, I have research experience and multiple Olympiad awards, which is why I think my best shots at top-level colleges are at Caltech & MIT.

Good luck to everyone.

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From what I understand about our son’s admission to Caltech, GPA was crucial. The EC’s don’t make up for GPA.

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My GPA is above 3.9, don’t think it’s too bad. :thinking:


But still, thanks for the reminder.

But again…as your desire doesn’t have a major there, why Cal Tech ? What would you study there ?

It concerns me you started the thread asking if it’s true that you are expected to be an engineer.

That tells me you know nothing about the school other than it’s a fancy name and that’s not, in my opinion, a reason to apply.

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Caltech is not just a name, I didn’t tell them I want to study engineering.

Does not offer a statistics major doesn’t mean it does not offer a program that can fulfill my goals. But in the end, it is up to them to tell whether my ideas and personalities are what they want.

My comment was based on this statement in your first post. You can then understand why I made the comment because a quick google or school website search easily renders this statement incorrect.

“I have heard that Cal Tech is an engineering-orientated school that expected all of its students to become great engineers in the future.”

I accidentally saw this common on social media claimed it was made by a famous professor at Tsinghua University. I feel shocked, so I post this comment that I personally do not agree with to determine should I even apply to Caltech. It turns out that maybe some people misquote, misunderstand this professor’s opinion or it is just an incorrect conclusion.

Since Caltech has a BME major and it is a unique program that uses lab study in economics.

This idea is what concerns me about you trying to fit into Caltech. That’s not how the school works. Hunting and pecking for something that works for you, at this very small school, does not bode well for your acceptance.

You are an international student, so you’re already at a disadvantage.
It’s a very expensive school.
You need to have something that they want about you.

I think that I’ve previously mentioned that you have to be strong in all academic areas, especially English skills and grammar. Over the course of your post, it’s obvious that you need a lot of help with your English written language skills. Caltech puts a heavy emphasis on your ability to answer questions and hand write essays.
You can’t just hand pick a very elite school, and then decide “oh I’ll find out where I’ll fit later".
This sounds like a complete prestige hunt. You obviously know nothing about Caltech.
The only thing you know is that it is a top school.

There’s something very important about the school, that people familiar with the school, know. It’s inherent because it has to do with the “personality” of the school and its students and staff.
Students who apply there, without searching for prestige, factor this and weave it into their applications and essays.

The Caltech admissions committee is very strong.
They will immediately know that you are unfamiliar with the type of school they represent.
In other words, you can’t make the school fit your needs; it has to be the other way around.


For clarity it appears you meant Caltech’s BEM major. However, I wouldn’t regard a lab-based approach to certain topics in economics (such as econometrics) as unique to Caltech.

Cal Tech’s basketball players’ bios indicate their Research and STEM Activity. That’s pretty unusual.