A Caltech undergraduate degree is based on a four-year residential experience, including a quarter of study abroad, in which students explore their academic interests in a deep and rigorous way. "To expand human knowledge and benefit society" has been an essential part of Caltech's mission statement since its inception, and the undergraduate curriculum is designed to allow students to accomplish these goals. Through four years of challenging coursework and research, students mature intellectually, and acquire the interdisciplinary academic foundations that support excellence, creativity, and curiosity. In addition, students develop such life skills as thinking critically, collaborating with others, and managing a range of demands on their time.
Seniors or third-term juniors can petition to waive the 12-term residence requirement if they feel they have met these four-year experience expectations, while still being in a position to complete their graduation requirements in less than 12 terms. The process is as follows:
- Meet with the registrar to confirm that you can complete the academic requirements for graduation in less than 12 terms and request that the registrar contact Beth Larranaga in the deans' office to verify your ability to graduate early.
- Complete and submit the Petition to Waive the 12-term Residence Requirement. This petition includes a letter (@500 words) explaining that you have achieved the expectations outlined above in less than 12 terms, and your reasons for wanting to leave Caltech before completing the four-year residential experience. Along with your academic work, the letter/statement should indicate how have your other experiences at Caltech met the learning outcomes. Examples might include, leadership experience, community outreach, research, or various club activities.
- If we have questions regarding your petition, we'll be in touch to discuss.
Petitions are first reviewed and recommended for approval by the Undergraduate Dean, and then confirmed by the Vice President for Student Affairs. The approval and confirmation process typically takes two to three weeks.
Approval of this petition will not automatically start your leave. You will also need to submit a Undergraduate Student Leave Form close to the end of the term you plan to leave. Please be sure to note on the form that you have been approved for this waiver.
If you plan to return before graduating, please also complete the Undergraduate Student Return from Leave Form 6 weeks prior to your date of return.