Graduate Studies

Why Caltech?

Top reasons to study at Caltech

  • World's best university. For the fifth year in a row, the Times Higher Education rankings 2015-16 chose Caltech as the top university in the world.
  • Small, but intense. 300 professors, 900 undergrads, 1250 grads. You do the ratios…
  • A focus on curiosity-driven science. Some student projects are literally driven around by Curiosity.
  • Seamless connections across disciplines. Caltech has fostered many forays of physicists and engineers into life science and vice versa.
  • A top-notch community of PhD students and post-docs, attracted to Caltech from around the world.
  • Ernie's food truck.

Top destinations off campus

  • Local attractions in Pasadena: Norton Simon Museum, Huntington Library and Gardens, the Rose Bowl stadium and nearby athletic facilities. The city offers public amenities for every taste: for example, check out the fly casting pond and the archery range. Pasadena Old Town has turned into a hip destination, with many restaurants, theaters and clubs.
  • Mountains: The San Gabriel Mountains are just a short bike ride from campus. A 15 minute walk up the trail takes you into the wilderness. Many mountain destinations beckon a short car ride away.
  • Beaches: Santa Monica is closest and offers an unlimited expanse of sand, 20 miles of bicycle trail, year-round roller coaster, adult playgrounds, steady surf, and more. Head to the beach parks north of Malibu for more rugged natural beauty; you can even find your own secluded cove. Also check out the beach cities further south: Manhattan, Redondo, Newport, and Laguna.
  • Downtown Los Angeles: Yes, this has become a destination, thanks to an urban revival led by artists, architects, chefs, bartenders, and disc jockeys. Some of the most interesting restaurants and clubs have opened here (try the rooftop bar and pool at The Standard with a round of blacklight Ping Pong). Here you also find many theaters (the kind with a stage).
  • High culture throughout the LA area: The LA Philharmonic at Disney Hall, the LA County Museum of Art, the Getty Center, the Getty Villa, Mount Griffith Observatory.

Top 3 myths you might hear about the Los Angeles area

  • It's a smog-infested heat trap. Not true anymore. In the 70s and 80s, Pasadena did suffer from smog on many summer days. But through a triumph of California public policy, the air is much cleaner today. While there is still room for improvement, many of us enjoy heavily aerobic outdoor activities without even a thought about the air.
  • Traffic is terrible. Not true. There are many cars, but they distribute over many roads. And unlike some university towns we know, the roads in LA were laid out long after the horse-and-buggy days. As a result, driving is comfortable and can even be a thrill (try Mulholland Drive). Here are some real driving times you might encounter. Commute: zero, most of us walk or bike to campus. Angeles National Forest (hiking, biking, horseback riding) 10 min. Downtown LA (symphony, theaters, arts district, funky bar scene) 20 min, you can also use Metro Gold Line. Beaches (Santa Monica) 35 min. Airport (LAX) 30 min. Skiing (Mountain High) 80 min.
  • LA is a cultural desert. That's just silly. See the links above. Look here for more ways to discover Los Angeles.