Education & Courses

Caltech planetary sciences offers an undergraduate option and a PhD program for graduate students. We do not offer a separate Masters program, though some students obtain this degree as part of their pursuit of a PhD.

At the undergraduate level, the option offers the opportunity to pursue a Caltech BSc with a concentration of courses in the option and in related areas. For some students, a physics, astronomy, geology or chemistry emphasis is as good or better than a planetary science major and it is possible to prepare well for graduate school without doing a planetary science major as an undergraduate . The option is flexible but provides a wide-ranging introduction to the field and many students have the option of research during summers and occasionally during the academic year.

At the graduate level, Caltech is one of the pre-eminent groups in the world with a wide range of research opportunities and advanced course work. The opportunities extend beyond the planetary science group: It is possible to do planetary science at the PhD level without being in the planetary science option (e.g., in geology) and it possible to do planetary research with a non-planetary science faculty member or JPL scientists. Admission is based more on general excellence than on a close fit of the student’s interests to a particular faculty member and it is possible to be admitted without a precise idea of which subfield is preferred. All admissions are done through Caltech’s graduate office and their web page provides information on the admission process.

The online catalog also provides information on the requirements for the undergraduate option and the graduate option. The part of these that are specific to planetary science are repeated below, but for complete information you need to consult the online catalog. (Planetary Science Option Requirements and Planetary Science Graduate Program). We also provide below information on the courses provided at Caltech in GPS.