Numerous Caltech graduate programs are among the best in their fields, according to the just-released rankings from U.S. News & World Report. Overall, the chemistry and Earth sciences earned top spots, ranking number one in the Best Graduate Schools 2023–24 guidebook.
Several other programs are ranked in the top 10 for their graduate programs, including physics in third place, engineering in seventh, and mathematics in eighth.
Subdivisions also rank well. In the Earth sciences, Caltech's geochemistry, geology, and geophysics/seismology subdivisions have number one rankings. In physics, elementary particle/field/string theory, cosmology/relativity/gravity, and quantum physics are ranked first, atomic/molecular/optical physics is ranked third, and condensed matter physics is ranked ninth. In chemistry, organic and physical chemistry are each ranked second and inorganic chemistry is ranked fourth. In engineering, aerospace/aeronautical/astronautical engineering and chemical engineering are each ranked second, mechanical engineering is ranked third, and electrical/electronic/communications engineering is ranked fourth.
When graduate programs in the biological sciences were last assessed in 2022, Caltech tied for third. The subdivisions of biological sciences, biochemistry/biophysics/structural biology, and molecular biology also tied for third.
According to U.S. News, each school in the engineering ranking was first scored on nine ranking factors, including total research expenditures and average expenditures for faculty—which together, starting with this year's rankings, represent 50 percent of a school's rank. Other factors include peer assessment, percentage of faculty in the National Academy of Engineering, 2022 acceptance rate, and student–faculty ratio. These scores were standardized and compared with the means and standard deviations among all other ranked schools, and then the standardized values were weighted, totaled, and rescaled so the top school received 100 with other schools receiving their percentage of the top score. Finally, each school was numerically ranked in descending order of its overall score. Engineering specialty rankings were based on peer assessments by department heads in each specialty area.
Rankings of doctoral programs in the sciences were based on the results of surveys sent to academic officials in fall 2022 and early 2023 in chemistry, computer science, Earth science, mathematics and physics. The subdivision rankings were based on ratings by department chairs and directors of graduate studies in each field surveyed from the schools offering a PhD degree in that field.