Caltech offers in each of its options a number of fellowships, tuition scholarships, and graduate assistantships. In general, tuition scholarships may be for full or partial tuition charges; assistantships provide stipends; and fellowships often provide both tuition scholarship awards and stipends. Graduate assistants are eligible for tuition awards. Appointments to fellowships, scholarships, and assistantships are decided yearly by the student’s academic option.
Graduate students receiving any form of financial award from the Institute are required to report to the dean of graduate studies any financial aid from other sources. With prior written approval from the dean of graduate studies, students may be allowed to accept outside employment if the time commitment does not interfere with their graduate studies. The number of hours per week spent on outside employment must be reported to the dean of graduate studies.
Graduate assistants help with teaching, laboratory work, or perform research of a character that affords useful academic experience while permitting a full academic schedule of courses. The specific research and teaching obligations of graduate assistants are agreed upon with the adviser.
Caltech graduate students often receive a combination of teaching and research assistantships; however, the total work commitment cannot exceed 20 hours per week during the academic year. Summer appointments can be greater, with assignments up to 40 hours per week. A graduate student who undertakes activities related to the Institute aggregating more than 62 hours per week (in class, research assistantship, and teaching assistantship hours) must petition the dean of graduate studies.
Graduate assistant stipends are based on four quarters paid monthly throughout the year. Students are also entitled to two weeks of annual vacation and Institute holidays. Students should prearrange their vacation schedule with their adviser. When necessary, graduate assistants may arrange for medical leave, pregnancy leave, bonding leave, or personal leave. Any questions should be referred to the dean of graduate studies.
A full teaching assistantship usually requires 20 hours per week to be devoted to teaching and to the related activities of class preparation, grading, and consulting with students. In general, teaching obligations are confined to the 12 weeks of the academic terms, excluding summer. A student may not be a teaching assistant for a course in which they are enrolled. Only teaching assistants with good oral English and who have fulfilled the Institute English proficiency requirement are permitted to teach sections.
All teaching assistants, including undergraduate students with teaching responsibilities, are required to attend teaching-assistant training before payment can be processed. Training sessions are conducted by the Center for Teaching, Learning, and Outreach (CTLO) and occur in the first week of the fall term, typically during orientation, and at least once per term.
Teaching assistants must familiarize themselves with Caltech’s policy on Unlawful Harassment and follow other policies related to teaching discussed in the required training. Classes should foster academic achievement in a “hassle-free” environment. Teaching assistants should not attempt to date a student in their class, and should disqualify themselves from teaching a section in which a spouse or current partner is enrolled.
Please see the Graduate Studies Office for additional policies information at www.gradoffice.caltech.edu/financialsupport/assistantships.
Research assistantships typically are 20 hours per week during the academic year, but can be as much as 40 hours per week during the summer. The specific duties are decided upon by the adviser.
Graduate Scholarships, Fellowships, and Research Funds
The Institute awards endowed fellowships and scholarships for tuition and/or stipends to graduate students of exceptional ability. Students are also strongly encouraged to apply for scholarships and fellowships from federal and private agencies and organizations to support their graduate studies.
Several types of loans are available to graduate students. To qualify for any of these, a student must demonstrate financial need and must maintain satisfactory academic progress in the course of study for which they are enrolled. Application forms and further information are available from the Financial Aid Office.
Refund and Repayment Policy
Caltech has established an equitable refund policy for students who find it necessary to withdraw or take a sabbatical from the Institute.
Students who officially withdraw or take a sabbatical from the Institute during an academic term may receive a tuition refund. Students living in Caltech housing may also be eligible for a partial refund from the Housing Office.
When granting refunds to financial aid recipients or graduate assistants, it is Caltech’s policy to return the refund, in most cases, to the original account.