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Frequently Asked Questions

Do I need my adviser's signature to drop or add a course?

You always need your adviser's signature.

Can I get the Deans' signature in place of my adviser or instructor? 

Only if your adviser is away for an extended period of time. (Sabbatical, vacations, or if it is impossible to get your adviser's signature, etc.) The Deans can not sign for your instructor. If the instructor is not available for a signature, the Registrar will accept a copy of an e-mail from the instructor indicating the desired approval.

Do I need the instructor's signature to drop a course? 

You may drop a course without the instructor's signature, prior to add day. Again, your adviser must sign the drop card.

Do I need the instructor's signature to add a course? 

To add a course the instructor and your adviser must sign the add card.  If you are trying to add a course that has a time conflict, there is a special add card that requires the signatures of both instructors for the two classes that conflict.

Can I enroll in courses that meet at the same time? 

Students who wish to register in classes that conflict should stop by the Registrar's Office and pick up a time conflict card and discuss how you feel you can accommodate both courses with the faculty members involved.  The card is orange to distinguish it from the yellow add/drop card.  It requires that the conflicting courses be listed with both instructors' signatures and signed by the student's adviser.

When is add day? 

Add day is during the third week of classes. The academic calendar is on pages 4 & 5 of the catalog and is also published on our calendars page. Please use it to keep informed of important dates.

What do I have to do to go on sabbatical? 

An undergraduate student sabbatical must be sought by written petition, which must be accompanied by a completed withdrawal card. The appropriate forms are available in the Dean's Office.  The Dean needs to approve sabbaticals.

I am returning from sabbatical. What do I do? 

Prior to the beginning of the term in which you plan to return, advise our office and the Deans' Office that you will be returning.

Also, Financial Aid and Housing should be notified.

I am academically ineligible. What do I do? 

If this is your first ineligibility the Dean of Students or the Associate Dean may act on your petition to request reinstatement.

After the first ineligibility, students ineligible to register because of failure to meet the requirements stated in the catalog may submit a petition to the Undergraduate Academic Standards and Honors Committee for reinstatement. Give reasons that may exist for previous unsatisfactory work and stating any new conditions that may lead to better results.  See our UASH page for links and online petitions. 

How do I get a transcript? 

Unofficial transcripts may be generated at any time on REGIS (Caltech's Registrar's Information System) for currently enrolled students.  Log into access.caltech and click on REGIS, then Academic Information.  Click on the Unofficial Transcript button to view and print your unofficial transcript.  You may also request an official transcript through REGIS; use the tab "Request Official Transcript" within Academic Information to enter your request.  Please allow 5 business days for processing.

What is the difference between official and unofficial transcripts? 

The official transcript is printed on light blue security paper and must be sealed with the Registrar's signature to be considered official.  Official transcripts display the last four digits of a student's social security number for identification.  Grade changes appear only on unofficial transcripts.

I heard I can take classes at other schools while attending Caltech. 

Caltech students may enroll for one or two classes at Occidental College and the Art Center at Night program which is paid for by Caltech fulltime tuition.  Come to the Registrar's Office for additional information.

Can I transfer my letter grade from Oxy/Art Center to my Caltech transcript? 

You may receive credit for courses taken at these schools. Speak to the representative of the appropriate division. The letter grade is not transferred to your Caltech transcript. Caltech equivalent units are transferred to your academic record.

Can I take a foreign language before I complete my Freshman Humanities requirement? 

Successful completion of two terms of freshman hum is a prerequisite for advanced humanities. You may take foreign language courses after you have successfully completed one term of freshman hum. The first four terms of a foreign language receive credit toward the final 36 units of the 108-unit requirement in HSS.

How do I get proof of registration? 

You can download an Enrollment Verification letter through REGIS.  Requests specific details related to your proof of registration should be filed in the Registrar's Office.

How do I select an option? 

(See Option Selection in the Caltech catalog.) By the middle of the third term, freshmen must notify the Registrar's Office of their selection of an option in engineering, humanities, social sciences, or science to be pursued in subsequent years.  The Registrar's Office will send a request to new freshmen at the beginning of third term.

How do I change my option or add a second one? 

To change your option, simply download the Petition to Change Options form from the Registrar's website and follow the instructions.  The Option Representative of your new option can assist you in selecting a new adviser.

In order to major in two options for the Bachelor of Science degree the student must present a rationale for the double option and a plan of study leading to completion of the degree in four years. A similar process is required to add a minor.  Consult the Registrar's Office for appropriate procedures.

Can I request a different adviser? 

Yes, you can download a Request for New Adviser from the Registrar's Office website.  Complete it and drop it off at the Registrar's Office and we'll work with the option representative to get you assigned to a different faculty member.

How many courses can I pass/ fail each term? 

Each term any student may select, subject to such requirements as may be imposed by the option, two elective courses in which he or she is to be graded pass/fail if it is not designated as "letter grades only" and is not specifically required for the degree in his or her option.

Are there shadow grades for pass/fail courses? 

There are shadow grades for second-quarter freshmen only.

How can I transfer courses taken at another university into Caltech? 

Regularly enrolled students who want to obtain credit for college courses taken elsewhere should have a copy of the transcript of their work sent to the Registrar's Office. The student should then obtain an "Allowance of Credit" form from the Registrar's Office and take this, with the transcript, to the representative of the option in which credit is desired.

While in high school I took some college courses. Can I transfer these courses to Caltech? 

No. However, course credit and/or placement in an accelerated program in Mathematics, Physics, and Chemistry is occasionally granted as deemed appropriate by the department faculty. Such credit will be determined by written examination. The awarding of Caltech course credit takes place at the time of registration each fall.

How do I overload? 

A student who wishes to carry an overload in any term must obtain the approval of his or her adviser and of the Dean or Associate Dean of Students on an Overload Petition available on REGIS.

How do I underload? 

The Dean or Associate Dean may approve underloads.  Petitions are available on REGIS. 

Can I use a computer laboratory course to fulfill the additional laboratory requirement? 

Computational laboratory courses may not be used to satisfy this requirement.

I have two options; will I get two diplomas? 

No, you will receive one diploma with both options printed on the diploma.

Do I need to register to participate in PE and PA?

All students must register for physical education courses and/or teams and music courses.

How can I update my address, phone number and/or emergency contact?

You can manage all your personal information at access.caltech.edu.  Log in with your IMSS username and password.