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Registrar  /  Current Students  /  Frequently Asked Questions

Frequently Asked Questions

Registration and Grading

Do I need my adviser's approval to drop or add a course?
You always need your adviser's approval. So make sure to submit your schedule to your advisor in REGIS. They cannot see your schedule until you submit it.Students cannot drop Core classes (Ma 1, Ph 1, Ch 1, etc.) without dean or associate dean's permission.

Can I get the Deans' approval 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 approval, etc.). The Deans can not approve for your instructor. If the instructor is not available for approval (i.e. to over-enroll in a section), the Registrar will accept a copy of an e-mail from the instructor indicating the desired approval.

Do I need the instructor's approval to drop a course?
You may drop a course in REGIS. Undergraduate students cannot drop Core classes (Ma 1, Ph 1, Ch 1, etc.) without dean or associate dean's permission. All students cannot drop below 36 units without their dean's permission via an approved underload petition.

Can I enroll in courses that meet at the same time?
If a student wishes to register for courses with conflicting meeting times, they will need the approval of both instructors and their advisor. Requests should be made through this form starting a couple of weeks before the start of the term. All requests must be made prior to Add Day. The form contains detailed instructions, but they will be starting a workflow request. Students will have the opportunity to write notes to the faculty and will be notified by email as it is approved, denied, or processed.

When is Add Day?
Add Day is during the third week of classes. The academic calendar is on the registrar's webpage and in the catalog. Please use it to keep informed of important dates.

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 they are to be graded pass/fail if it is not designated as "letter grades only" and is not specifically required for the degree in their option.

Are there shadow grades for pass/fail courses?
There are shadow grades for freshmen only during the fall and winter terms. Shadow grades may also be reported during the midterm grade reporting period in spring term for freshmen.

How do I overload?
Students who wishes to carry an overload in any term must complete the Overload Petition, obtain the approval of their adviser and submit to the Dean's Office by 5 PM on the Friday before Add Day of any term. Please check the overload guidelines here:

How do I underload?
The Dean or Associate Dean may approve underloads. Download the Underload Petition.

Do I need to register to participate in PE and PVA?
All students must register for physical education courses and/or teams and music courses.

Leaves of Absence

How do I take a leave of absence?
Please review the types of Undergraduate leaves here: and make an appointment with one of the deans to discuss your situation. Please complete the Undergraduate Leave Form. The deans office will provide additional instructions depending on the type of leave requested. Once the process is finalized, the Deans will provide final approval for your leave.

I would like to return from leave. What do I do?
Undergraduate students petitioning to return from leave should complete and submit the Undergraduate Student Return from Leave Form to notify Caltech of their intent to return six weeks prior to their intended return date. Please also notify Financial Aid and Housing that you are petitioning to return.

Academic Ineligibility

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.

Transcripts and Official Documents

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. For former students, see our Ordering Transcripts page.

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.

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

Local Exchange Programs

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.

Graduation Requirements

Can I take a foreign language before I complete my First-Year Humanities requirement?
Successful completion of two terms of First-Year humanities 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 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 Change of 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.

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.

Transfer Credit

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 can I update my address, phone number and/or emergency contact?
You can manage all your personal information at Log in with your IMSS username and password.