Caltech calls a major an "option"--perhaps to encourage students to realize that what intellectual direction they decide to take is up to them. Caltech's mission, "to train the creative type of scientist or engineer urgently needed in our educational, governmental, and industrial development," requires that students be exposed to a broad range of coursework within an atmosphere of research.
Professors in history, history of science, english, and philosophy conduct research and teach students who may have chosen the option or a double-option in History, English, or HPS (History and Philosophy of Science). In choosing to do an option (or a second option) in english, history, or HPS, students ensure that they will get close contact with professional faculty at the top of their specialized fields.
Students majoring in english can take a broad range of literature courses or concentrate on American, English, or comparative literature. The option is designed to allow for significant flexibility of choice; 108 units (twelve courses) at the Lit. 98-180 level are required for the option. The distribution and nature of those classes are up to the student in consultation with his/her option adviser, with one quarter of Shakespeare (Lit 114) and one quarter of senior thesis (Lit 99) mandated. For students who choose a major in literature, an additional 54 units of science, mathematics, and engineering courses are required. The capstone event is a senior thesis: a research tutorial and paper in a field of the student's choosing.
Students who elect to concentrate in History work in three major areas of history: Europe, the United States, and Asia. Each history major ultimately concentrates in one of these areas and writes a research paper in it, but the history major also takes at least 36 units outside the area of concentration. Overall, the history option requires that a student take at least 99 units of history courses (including freshman humanities). The history option offers a rich range of traditional coursework and tutorial study, including two quarters of tutorial study in the junior year, and three quarters of senior thesis preparation, research, and writing.
The option in History and Philosophy of Science (HPS) offers unique opportunities for the Caltech undergraduate. HPS provides students with a broad historical and philosophical education in the social, economic, ethical, and political issues that have arisen in the modern world in connection with the advance of science and technology. The option offers students the advantage of developing special literacy in and an understanding of issues of science and society. It also provides excellent preparation for law, business, medicine, and public affairs. The HPS option requires that the student complete nine quarters of introductory HPS courses, two advanced HPS courses in history of science, two advanced history classes, two advanced philosophy courses, two advanced courses in philosophy of science or ethics, as well as 45 units in science, mathematics, or engineering. The capstone event is three quarters of senior thesis preparation, research, and writing.
Transfer Credit Representative: Cindy A. Weinstein