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California Institute Of Technology (Caltech) Course/Program Name
Application closes on
National :03 Jan 
International :03 Jan 

BS Chemistry

 Course Level
Bachelors / UG
Full Time

4 Years
 Start month

 Tuition fee

45846 USD
45846 USD

Application fee

International 75 USD
National 75 USD
Division of Chemistry and Chemical Engineering
Scores accepted
TOEFL-IBT (min)110
SAT (avg)1520
ACT (avg)33

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About this course

The objective of the undergraduate option in chemistry is to produce graduates articulate in the fundamental concepts of the molecular sciences through a combination of coursework and laboratory experiences. The chemistry program at Caltech provides depth in the traditional areas of chemistry—organic and inorganic chemistry, chemical physics, theoretical chemistry, chemical biology, and biochemistry. Breadth in the program is found within the advanced coursework offerings and the specialized interests of the faculty, which may include topics such as: chemical synthesis and catalysis, chemical dynamics and reaction mechanisms, biochemistry, bioinorganic, bioorganic, and biophysical chemistry, and materials chemistry. Chemical research at Caltech is highly interdisciplinary, reflecting the increasing importance of molecular understanding to many fields of science. Major initiatives are fostering broad collaborations in energy and environment, molecular medicine, and nanomaterials. The outcome of the undergraduate program in chemistry is to prepare students for advanced graduate study and ultimately careers in teaching and research at colleges and universities, in research for government and industry, in the operation and control of manufacturing processes, and in management and development positions in the chemical industry.

A first-year general chemistry course is taken by all freshman students. The emphasis is on fundamental principles and their use in systematizing descriptive chemistry. To satisfy the Institute chemistry requirement, students may substitute at least two terms from Ch 21 ab or Ch 24 or Ch 41 ab for Ch 1 ab only after passing the chemistry placement exam. Exceptions will be granted only by petition to the chemistry curriculum and undergraduate studies committee. Students who did not pass the placement exam may take Ch 1 and Ch 41 simultaneously, but Ch 1 ab must be passed to satisfy the Institute chemistry requirement. The one-term required laboratory course (Ch 3 a) presents basic principles and techniques of synthesis and analysis and develops the laboratory skills and precision that are fundamental to experimental chemistry. The laboratory in the following two terms (Ch 4 ab), normally taken concurrently with Ch 41, introduces the student to methods of synthesis, separation, and instrumental analysis used routinely in research. Qualified students, with the instructor's consent, are allowed to substitute either Ch 4 a, Ch 8, or Ch/ChE 9 for the core requirement of Ch 3 a. Freshmen intending to major in chemistry are encouraged to take Ch 10 abc, which provides an introduction to research activities and opportunities in chemistry for undergraduates.

Beyond the freshman year, each student in the chemistry option, in consultation with his or her adviser, selects a suitable course of study under the supervision of the division. The requirements of the option are listed below. A student wishing to deviate from these requirements should submit an alternate curriculum, with justifications, for consideration by his or her adviser and the Chemistry Curriculum and Undergraduate Studies Committee. The chemistry option representative should be consulted for the future scheduling of courses not offered during the current academic year.

Undergraduates in the option must also take chemistry courses below the 100 level for a letter grade with the exception of the following courses, which are only offered on a pass/fail basis: Ch 1, Ch 3 a, Ch 90, and, if taken during the first or second terms of the freshman year, Ch 4 ab, Ch 21 ab, Ch 24, and Ch 41 ab.

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Eligibility Criteria

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Course Modules

Option Requirements-

1. Ch 14, Ch 21 abc (or Ch 21a, Ch 24, and Ch 25), Ch 41 abc, Ch 90, Ma 2, and Ph 2a. Ma 3 recommended but not required. For students taking a full year of physics (Ph 2abc or Ph 12abc), the physical chemistry requirement can be satisfied by passing either Ch 21b or Ch 24. Students with the appropriate background upon completion of Ph 2a or Ph 12a may substitute the following 100-level courses for Ch 21a (Ch 125a or Ph 125a); Ch 21b (Ch 125b, Ch 126, Ph 103, or Ge 132); and Ch 21c (ChE/Ch 164 or Ph 127a). 100-level courses used in substitution for Ch 21abc may not also be counted towards the five terms of advanced chemistry electives. 166

2. A minimum of five terms of laboratory work chosen from Ch 4ab, Ch 5ab, Ch 6ab, Ch 7, Ch 10c (if taken freshman or sophomore year), and Ch 15. One non-chemistry laboratory course may be used, chosen from Bi 10, MS 90, Ph 6 and Ph 7.

3. A minimum of five terms of advanced chemistry electives (which must total at least 45 units) taken for a letter grade from chemistry course offerings at the 100 and 200 level, including cross-listed offerings, but excluding Ch 180 and Ch 280.

4. Passing grades must be earned in the courses that constitute the approved program of study, including those listed above. None of the courses satisfying option requirements may be taken pass/ fail.

5. The chemistry option strongly encourages students to engage in academic year research, and up to 27 units each of Ch 80 and Ch 82 will toward towards the 486-unit requirement.


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How to Apply

How to Apply as a First-Year Applicant
If you have not yet earned a high school diploma (this includes students in high school/college dual enrollment programs) or have not enrolled in college courses for credit after graduating from high school, you will be considered as a first-year applicant.

The following sections list everything you will need—both academically and in terms of forms and information—in order to apply to Caltech.

Academic Preparation Checklist
(If you have not taken all the listed courses, you should at least be enrolled in them at the time of your application.)

  • 4 years of math (including calculus)
  • 1 year of physics
  • 1 year of chemistry
  • 3 years of English (4 years recommended)
  • 1 year of U.S. history/government (waived for international students)

Please note that we do not grant credit for AP, IB, A Level, Pre-U, or college courses taken prior to enrollment. Each student accepted to Caltech will take a math and physics placement exam prior to enrolling. Based on the results of these exams, you may place out of courses and be granted credit for those courses.

First-Year Application Checklist

  • Common Application with Caltech Questions or the Coalition Application (available July 2016 for fall 2017 applicants)
  • $75 application fee or fee waiver (Common App waiver or Caltech-specific waiver)
  • SAT with writing or ACT with writing (official scores from testing agency)
  • SAT Subject Test in Mathematics Level 2 (official scores from testing agency)
  • 1 SAT science subject test: biology (ecological), biology (molecular), chemistry, or physics (official scores from testing agency)
  • 1 math or science teacher evaluation
  • 1 humanities or social sciences teacher evaluation
  • Secondary School Report
  • Academic transcripts

Additional Requirements for International First-Year Applicants
You must apply as an international student if you are not a U.S. citizen or if you do not have permanent residency status at the time of submitting an application to Caltech. All of the above checklist items apply to international applicants except where noted; please have all teacher evaluations and course names on transcripts translated into English. In addition, international students should supply the following:

  • TOEFL scores (required if English is not your native language or if you have not studied for the last two years at a high school where English is the language of instruction. The two years of study must be prior to the application deadline). We do not accept the IELTS.
  • International Financial Aid Statement of Intent Form (required of all international applicants). Caltech is need-sensitive in admissions for international students, and this form affirms whether you will apply for financial aid. As an international student, if you plan to apply for financial aid at any time during your undergraduate career here, you must apply for it at the time that you apply for admission. Even if you do not plan to apply for aid, you must complete the form. Please note: International freshman candidates may apply Early Action only if they are not applying for financial aid. International freshman candidates seeking financial assistance must apply Regular Decision.
  • We accept applications from students who have completed the approved curriculum provided by their home countries. These include, but are not limited to, the IGCSE, O, AS, and A Level curriculums; Cambridge Pre-U, AP, IB, and local public options may be considered as satisfying high-school course requirements. The most competitive international applicants whose schools offer the IGSCE curriculums usually present three A Level exams (the physics exam is required) with grades of at least an A or B. Competitive applicants whose schools offer the IB curriculum will have scores of 6 or 7 on their IB exams, including their "predicted" grades.

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