Welcome to the world of undergraduate research at Caltech! Research has always been a big part of the undergraduate experience at Caltech. In fact, today it is one of the main reasons why students choose to come to Caltech. The low student-faculty ratio (3:1) provides undergraduates with many opportunities to be involved in cutting-edge scientific research. Considering the Caltech professorial faculty and the postdoctoral population, there is at least one Ph.D.-level researcher for every undergraduate! We invite you to check out our programs!
The Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowships (SURF) program is one of the "crown jewels" of Caltech. For over 40 years, SURF students have had the opportunity to conduct research under the guidance of experienced mentors working at the frontier of their fields. Students experience the process of research as a creative intellectual activity from beginning (defining and developing a project) to end (presenting their results at SURF Seminar Day). SURF is open to both Caltech and visiting students.
Students have the opportunity to conduct research with the scientists and engineers at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) through this 10-week summer program. SURF@JPL is open to both Caltech and visiting students who are US citizens or permanent residents.
WAVE Fellows Program
Caltech is committed to diversity, equity, and inclusion within its educational programs and activities. The WAVE Fellows program supports this goal by increasing visibility and accessibility to Caltech's PhD programs to undergraduates in STEM fields who are seriously considering attending graduate school This program is open to non-Caltech students only.
Amgen Scholars Program
Discover your potential as part of Caltech's Amgen Scholars program. The Amgen Scholars program provides visiting (non-Caltech) students the opportunity to conduct research in biology, chemistry, and bio-technical related fields under the guidance of a Caltech faculty mentor. The program offers students interested in pursuing a Ph.D. or M.D./Ph.D. a great opportunity to participate in cutting-edge research as part of a cohort of young scholars.
The Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowships Exchange Programs were developed in order to enhance and broaden Caltech students' undergraduate experiences by giving them the chance to live in another culture, conduct research in a different academic/research environment, and prepare for careers that will most certainly involve international cooperation and collaboration. Caltech students have the opportunity to do research at the University of Iceland.
Undergraduate students are encouraged to participate in the development of gravitational-wave astronomy through LIGO - the Laser Inferometer Gravitational Wave Observatory. This intensive summer program takes place each year at Caltech, funded in part through the Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU) Program of the National Science Foundation. Undergraduate students from all institutions (both U.S. and foreign) are invited to apply.
NASA/JPL Summer Programs
The Student-Faculty Programs office provides administrative support to several NASA/JPL summer programs, which includes the NASA Space Grant, NASA SUPPR, and JPLSIP programs. Students apply directly to these programs. However, once admitted, students may live on the Caltech campus and will join a large community of undergraduate researchers.
For Caltech undergraduates, research doesn't need to be a summer-only experience. Students can, and should, get involved with research throughout the academic year. Nearly 1/3 of our students do!