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Newsletter - Fall 2014-15

Reminder: Add Day is Approaching

Just a friendly reminder that the last day for adding courses and removing incompletes is this Friday, October 17th. Please remember to bring your add cards to the Registrar's Office by 5:00 p.m. on Friday.


New Eligibility Requirements for All Undergraduate Students

 As you are aware the Institute enacted new requirements for academic eligibility that will apply to all undergraduate students. This is detailed in the Catalog on pages 177-178. The rules have been streamlined from a multi-dimensional standard to one that is much more straightforward. All undergraduate students must successfully pass 33 units with a grade-point average of at least 1.9 in order to remain eligible to register for classes. Freshmen during their first two terms on Pass/Fail will also need to meet the 33 unit requirement. Once the freshmen are on grades for third term, then they also must have a term GPA of 1.9 and pass a minimum of 33 units which is now the requirement for all students. For example, if a student is registered for 39+ units and fails one 6-unit class, for example, so long as they have 33 units of “passing” classes they will remain eligible if on pass/fail and if not on Pass/Fail will need to also have a 1.9 term GPA. The deans will also be notified if any student does not pass 36 units in a term and/or fails a core class. The student will need to meet with one of the deans, even though they still meet the overall eligibility standard.

How does this affect students who are underloading? Students who are underloading may be excused from the 33-unit eligibility requirement if they have an underload petition approved by the deans (or the Registrar in the case of graduating seniors) prior to ADD DAY.  If a student gets an underload approved by Add Day for less than 33 units, he or she must complete the number of units approved on the underload. If a student were to have an underload approved for 27 units, then only completed 18 of those units (for example if in the third class they got a failing grade or an E or I), they would be ineligible at the end of the term. If they got an E or I grade, they could complete the class BEFORE the first day of classes for the next term and clear the ineligibility.  If a student takes an underload for less than 33 units AFTER Add Day, they will be ineligible at the end of the term.  The Deans may waive this requirement for a student but may do so only ONCE in the student’s career. Research shows that students who habitually “shed” classes they are failing at Drop Day, to the point of an underload, really need to take some time away to resolve their issues.

If you have questions about underloading and how it impacts the new rules for eligibility, please feel free to see the Deans or the Registrar.

Caltech Inauguration & Academic Holiday

Friday, October 24, will be a full-day academic holiday in honor of the inauguration of Professor Thomas F. Rosenbaum as Caltech's ninth president. This will enable full faculty and student participation in the ceremony, which will take place at 2 PM on the Beckman Mall followed by an all-campus reception on the Olive Walk.  No classes will be held that day.

For more information about the inauguration events, please visit

Excellent TAs from Spring Term

We'd like to congratulate and recognize a couple outstanding TAs from the past quarter:

Peter Burton, TA for Ma 1c - Practical - Peter is a G3 in Mathematics who many students feel is the simply the best TA at Caltech, as "his office hours, midterm reviews, and recitation sections were just all so spot on!"  Another student commented, "His rec sessions make everything make sense."  Many students expressed how helpful Peter was all term.

Brandon Runnels, TA for Ae/AM/CE/ME 102C - Brandon is a G4 in Mechanical Engineering and impressed students with his dedication, patience, and unlimited passion for the field of solids.  Students credited Brandon as a key factor in helping them survive the course.  One student commented that Brandon "selected great examples to cover... and clearly explained concepts that were difficult to grasp."

Thanks, Peter and Brandon, for making a difference in the academic lives of our students. We appreciate all the time, effort and enthusiasm you put into your work with students.

Annual Notification of FERPA

The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) affords students certain rights with respect to their education records and the Institute is required to notify you of this. These rights include:

  • The right to inspect and review their education records within 10 days of the day the Institute receives a request for access.
  • The right to request an amendment to their education records that they believe are inaccurate, misleading, or otherwise in violation of the student's privacy rights under FERPA.
  • The right to provide written consent before the Institute discloses personally identifiable information from the student's education records, except to the extent that FERPA authorizes disclosure without consent.
  • The right to file a complaint with the U.S. Department of Education concerning alleged failures by the Institute to comply with the requirements of FERPA.

Additional information regarding FERPA, including the Public Notification of Directory Information, can be found on the Registrar's FERPA page.

2014-15 Catalog Now Online

The new 2014-15 catalog is available online at There is one new graduate option available: Computing & Mathematical Sciences. 


We are pleased to announce a new online degree progress application for graduate students, a collaborative effort by the Graduate Studies Office, Registrar's Office and IMSS.  The new Graduate Degree Progress online functionality is integrated with REGIS, and graduate students can view their degree progress including approved plans of study for the MS and PhD degrees, admission to candidacy, written and/or oral examination requirements, specific option requirements, committee membership, final PhD examinations, and thesis information.  Faculty and staff involved in the students' progress can also view and approve these required degree milestones.  There are basic reporting tools, workflow reminders, and a built-in help menu. This application replaces all existing paper forms for degree progress.

For additional information about the new system, please see /help


Important Dates

October 17 Last day for adding courses and removing incompletes
October 29 - November 4 Midterm examination period
November 10 Midterm Deficiency Notices due - 9:00 a.m.
November 19 Last day to drop classes or to exercise your P/F option
November 20 First day of registration for winter term
November 22  Last day for admission to candidacy for the degrees of Master of Science and Engineer
November 27-28 Thanksgiving (Institute Holiday)
December 5 Last day of classes and last day to register for winter term without a $50 late fee
December 6-9 Study Period
December 10-12 Final examinations
December 12 End of fall term 2014-15
December 13 - January 4 Winter Recess
December 17 Instructors' final grade reports due - 9:00 a.m.
January 5 Beginning of instruction winter term