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Caltech vs MIT: Which One of These Universities Is Better?

Caltech vs MIT: Both the universities are a cut above the rest when it comes to research and development in science and technology. In this article, we will compare these two universities based on location, admission criteria, academic programs, fee structure, financial aid, student community, and various other factors.

This article will help high school students choose between Caltech or MIT.

Caltech vs MIT: Side-by-Side Comparison

The general comparison between Caltech and MIT is presented in this section. This comparison is just a quick overview of both universities. This comparison shows the differences and similarities between the two universities in certain features.

Sr. No

FeatureCaltech

MIT

1

LocationPasadena, California

Cambridge, Massachusetts

2

Enrolled Students$2,237$

$11,254$

3

Clubs and communities$100$ plus

$450$ plus

4

Private or PublicPrivate

Private

5

Acceptance rate$7%$

$6%$

6

Tuition and other fee Expenses$\$79,947$

$\$72,462$

7

Average GPA of admitted students$4.19$

$4.17$

8

Average SAT / ACT score requirement

SAT: $1545$

ACT : $36$

SAT: $1570$

ACT : $36$

9

National Ranking9th  ( US News)

2nd  ( US News)

10

Global Ranking6th (QS)

Ist (QS)

11

Popular Major SubjectsEngineering, Math, Chemistry, and Biology

Engineering, Math, Computer, and Architecture

What Are the Differences Between Caltech and MIT?

The main difference between Caltech and MIT is that MIT is larger than Caltech and offers more study programs as compared to Caltech. Caltech may be better in the learning experience and pure science subjects, but MIT has a better ranking in engineering and all other academic fields.

What Is Caltech Best For?

Caltech is best for aspiring students who are looking to pursue scientific courses and have a passion for learning. The California Institute of Technology, also known as Caltech, is a well-known private research university located in Pasadena, California, USA.

It is a prestigious university with a good reputation in science and technology. The researchers from Caltech have received $46$ noble prizes as of 2021.

The university prefers quality over quantity and has a total enrollment of $2,237$ students, among which $938$ are undergraduate and $1,299$ are graduate students. The student-faculty ratio is maintained at $3:1$.

There are six different faculties available at Caltech, which are:

1. Faculty of Biology and Biological Engineering

2. Faculty of Chemistry and Chemical Engineering

3. Faculty of Engineering and Applied Sciences

4. Faculty of Geological and Planetary Sciences

5. Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences

6. Faculty of Physics, Mathematics, and Astronomy

Caltech is ranked #2 in the world according to the times higher education survey 2022; it is ranked #9 in the United States according to U.S. News and ranked #6 according to QS World University Rankings. The acceptance rate of Caltech University is a meager $7 \%$, which means that it is tough to secure admission to Caltech University. There are more than 100 student clubs and organizations at Caltech, and most of them are related to music, theatre and athletics.

Let us discuss Caltech with respect to its location, admission criteria, ranking student community, and other factors in detail.

Courses

If you already have a major in mind and value the learning experience, you will have to choose carefully. Caltech does offer the best learning experience among all the universities in the world. On the other hand, MIT beats Caltech in almost every major program ranking-wise.

Both universities offer great engineering and technology programs, and it’s up to you to choose which university you like. If you go by the ranking system, then MIT is better, but if you prefer a learning experience, then Caltech is better.

Location

The campus of the California Institute of Technology covers an area of 124 acres and is located in Pasadena, California. It is approximately $18$ KM ($11$ miles) away from downtown Los Angeles. The city of Pasadena has a total population of $138,669$ and is ranked 192nd in the USA overall.

The population density is relatively low, and Pasadena’s weather is warm. It is near the big hustling and bustling city of Los Angeles, providing big city vibes. But one has to keep in mind that the cost of living in Pasadena is $60\%$ higher than the national average of other cities.

California is near the huge city of Los Angeles, and it has a warm climate. California’s cultural environment is that of a big city, so if you love to live in a warm area with a big city nearby, Caltech is for you.

World Ranking

Caltech is regarded as one of the top schools/universities in the field of science and technology. Hence, its rating is also high on all world ranking sites. It is ranked as the No. 1 university as a learning experience by QS ranking. Some of the ratings for major programs offered by Caltech are given below.

Sr. No

Academic programs

Ranking

1

Aerospace and Aeronautical Engineering

1st ( US News)

2

Biology and Biological Engineering

11th ( QS World Ranking)

3

Chemical Engineering

2nd ( US News)

4

Mechanical Engineering

3rd ( US News)

5

Material Engineering

8th ( US News)

6

Computer Engineering

8th ( US News)

7

Mathematics

15th (QS World Ranking)

8

Engineering & Technology

14th ( QS World Ranking)

Caltech ratings as a college/university on a global and national level as of the year 2021 from multiple sources are given below.

Sr. No

Global SourceRankingNational Source

Ranking

1

ARWU7thForbes

6th

2

QS6thWashington Monthly

34th

3

THE5thWSJ

5th

4

US News2ndUS News

2nd

Admission Criteria

The admission criteria of Caltech are stringent. You have to be the best of the best to be admitted to Caltech because, as discussed earlier, their acceptance rate is only $7\%$. The two important things that you should focus on while working on your Caltech application are:

1. High GPA

2. High SAT or ACT score

The acceptance rate tells us that only $7$ out of $100$ students secure admission to Caltech university. To secure admission to Caltech university, your GPA has to be as high as possible. Each school or faculty has its own GPA requirements, but the average GPA requirement is said to be $4.19$. However, that too will not ensure your admission, as a high GPA will only ensure that you can submit your admission application.

Many colleges in the USA are not taking SAT or ACT scores as admission criteria since $2020$ due to the Covid-19 pandemic, and this will last for the intake of fall $2023$. After the fall of 2023, the SAT or ACT test will be made compulsory to get admission to Caltech. The average SAT and ACT score requirement for Caltech is $1545$ and $36$, respectively.

University Type and Size

Caltech is a private university funded through tuition fees, donations, R&D funds, and endowments. Caltech can be considered a small university with respect to size as the total number of enrolled students is only $2,237$. The ratio between the undergraduate and graduate students is shown below.

caltech student ratio

Student Communities

Caltech has a small number of enrolled students. Hence, the number of student communities and clubs is not great compared to MIT. Caltech offers around $100$ clubs, which is a good number, but this seems less when compared to MIT.

Fee Structure and Financial Aid

The studying expenses of Caltech, like all top-tier private universities, are quite high. The average annual tuition fee and other expenses add up to $\$79,497$. Fortunately, Caltech does offer an excellent financial aid program.

There are three types of financial loan facilities available at Caltech:

1. Scholarships & Grants: There is no specific requirement regarding availing of the grants and scholarships at Caltech. The university will review your request before providing you with financial aid. The complete financial aids are primarily for graduate students.

2. Work-Study: This is a more reasonable way to study at Caltech by offering your services to work on campus. There are different on-campus work-study jobs available like teacher assistant or research assistant, etc.

3. Loans: Money can be borrowed from the university, but you have to pay it back with interest.

Caltech offers financial aid through grants, scholarships and loans. Caltech provides more financial assistance to graduate students than to undergraduate students; 6 out of 10 students at the undergraduate level and 9 out of 10 students at the graduate level receive full financial aid from the university.

The average cost of studying at Caltech is $79,947$ and $72,462$ for MIT, so there is not much difference regarding tuition fees and other expenses for both universities. Both universities are willing to offer 100% financial aid.

What Is MIT Best For?

MIT is best for aspiring students who want to pursue courses related to Engineering, Math, Computer or Architecture. The Massachusetts Institute of Technology, also known as MIT, is a top-ranked university, and just like Caltech, it is well known for its research in the sciences, engineering, and technology.

Furthermore, MIT also offers extra programs in arts and social sciences, which are not available at Caltech. It was founded in $1861$, and it is located in Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA.

At present, MIT has produced $96$ Nobel laureates and 29 National Medals of Technology and Innovation.

MIT has a total of $11,254$ students, of which $4,361$ are undergraduates and $6,893$ are graduates. The student to faculty ratio for MIT is the same as that of Caltech, $3:1$.

There are six different faculties available at MIT:

1. Faculty of Architecture and Planning

2. Faculty of Engineering

3. Faculty of Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences

4. Faculty of Management

5. Faculty of Science

6. Interdisciplinary faculty (Schwarzman Computer College)

MIT is ranked #2 according to U.S. news, ranked #5 according to the times higher education survey $2022$, and ranked #5 according to QS World University Rankings. The acceptance rate of MIT is only $6 \%$, which means that, just like Caltech, it is tough to secure admission to MIT university. There are more than $450$ student clubs and $33$ NCAA Division III sports in this university.

Courses

If you are interested in pursuing a career in arts and cultural science, then MIT offers you more programs than Caltech. Caltech mainly specializes in science and technology, while MIT offers engineering, technology, and various arts and culture programs.

The type of career you want to pursue will have a great bearing in choosing between these two universities. MIT offers 56 different Majors as compared to Caltech’s 28, so if you have not decided which career you want to pursue and only want to get admission to these two universities, MIT offers you more programs, and your chances of being selected will also be higher if you apply to MIT as it accepts more students compared to Caltech.

Location

The Massachusetts Institute of Technology campus was established in $1861$. It covers an area of $166$ acres and is located in Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA. The city of Cambridge has a total population of $118,403$ and offers almost the same environment as Pasadena. If California is warm, then the weather in Massachusetts is harsh and cold.

As compared to the Hollywood lifestyle of Los Angeles, Massachusetts is more arts-oriented and has many historical places you can visit.

Massachusetts is near Boston, which has an artistic touch and is also more historic. Massachusetts has more seasonal weather with a harsh winter season. So if you love arts and history and enjoy seasonal weather, especially winters, then location-wise, MIT is better for you.

World Ranking

MIT is thought to be at the pinnacle of engineering, technology and computer sciences, and its national and global ranking justify that claim. Some of the ratings for major programs offered by MIT are given below.

Sr. No

Academic programs

Ranking

1

Aerospace and Aeronautical Engineering

1st (US News) tied

2

Computer Engineering

1st (US News)

3

Electronics/ Electrical Engineering

1st (US News)

4

Chemical Engineering

1st  (US News)

5

Mechanical Engineering

1st (US News)

6

Material Engineering

1st  (US News)

7

Computer Science

1st (US News)

8

Biological Sciences

1st  (QS World Ranking) & (US news)

9

Economics

1st (QS World Ranking) & (US news)

10

Architecture

1st (QS World Ranking) & (US news)

MIT rating as a college/university on a global and national level as of the year 2021 from multiple sources are given below.

Sr. No

Global SourceRanking

National Source

Ranking

1

ARWU4thForbes

5th

2

QS1stWashington Monthly

2nd

3

THE2ndTimes higher

5th

4

US News2ndUS News

2nd

Ranking-wise, MIT beats Caltech almost on every front. MIT has a higher ranking in all engineering majors compared to Caltech. MIT is also considered a top university in architectural engineering, which is not offered at Caltech. So we can conclude that ranking-wise, MIT is better.

Admission Criteria

The admission criteria of MIT are as hard as they can get. The acceptance rate is only $6 \%$, compared to the $7 \%$ of Caltech. Some sources even quote a $4 \%$ acceptance rate for MIT, which speaks volumes about their admission criteria. As is the case with Caltech, aspiring students should focus on two things along with their application, and these two things are:

1. High GPA

2. High SAT or ACT score

The acceptance rate tells you how selective MIT is in their enrollment procedure. While each school at MIT has its own GPA requirement, the average GPA of currently enrolled students is $4.17$.

SAT and ACT scores are accepted for students enrolled in fall 2023. The average SAT and ACT score requirement for Caltech is $1570$ and $36$, respectively. So MIT requires a higher SAT score as compared to that of Caltech.

University Type and Size

MIT is a private university, and just like Caltech, they are also funded through tuition fees, donations, R&D funds and endowments. With respect to size, MIT is larger than Caltech as the total number of currently enrolled students is $11,254$. The ratio between graduate and undergraduate students is shown below.

MIT is almost six times bigger than Caltech in terms of student enrollments. Currently, MIT has 11,254 enrolled students while Caltech has 2,237. MIT also has more student bodies/clubs as compared to Caltech, so if you are searching for a more diverse and bigger environment, then MIT is better than Caltech.

MIT student Ratio

Student Communities

MIT is a large university and has more enrolled students than Caltech. Hence, the number of clubs and student communities is also greater compared to Caltech. MIT offers 450 plus clubs and communities in different fields, so MIT provides a lot more recreational activities than Caltech in the student community sector.

Fee Structure and Financial Aid

MIT is one of the top-tier universities, so it’s not surprising that the tuition fees and miscellaneous expenses are also high. Average tuition fees and other expenses at MIT are $\$72,462$. Like Caltech, MIT also does not offer merit-based scholarships, but they offer good financial grants and aid.

MIT has a different financial aid system for undergraduate and graduate students. Undergraduate students can estimate the amount of financial aid they can get through the MIT website. This loan will depend upon the annual income of their family, and MIT offers a healthy aid or loan package if a family’s net annual income is below $\$90,000$.

MIT follows a need-blind admission policy for all students. According to the need-blind policy, the university will not consider your financial resources while grading your application. This does not mean all tuition fees have been waived. The student will still have to pay the amount according to their household income. At MIT, 60% of the students secure grants and scholarships.

If you want to avoid taking a loan, then MIT is the better option, but if you want full financial support for your graduate-level program, you should consider Caltech.

Conclusion

Caltech or MIT: which one to choose? The decision lies upon your personal choice, to be honest. It all depends on which program you want to pursue in your career, what sort of cultural environment you want to study in, and finally, which university offers you a better financial package. We will conclude the discussion while addressing certain factors which will help you choose between these two universities.

Keeping in mind all the points we discussed while comparing Caltech and MIT, which institution is better? MIT takes the lead over Caltech in ranking, size and academic programs, and MIT is amongst the top 5 universities, while Caltech is amongst the top 9. The answer to which university you should choose rests solely on you as there are multiple factors like location, funding, culture, weather, etc., that you must consider while making your decision. In a head-to-head comparison though, MIT is better than Caltech.

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