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New Student FAQ

[+] Do I need to attend all Orientation events?

Participation in Orientation activities is required. Most academic and administrative activities will take place during the day (between the hours of 9:00 a.m. and 4:00 p.m.) and social activities and other optional programs will take place each evening and on Thursday and Friday during the day. Tuesday and Wednesday's programs are required and include Academic Integrity, Research Integrity, Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, Institute Policies, and Teaching Assistant Training.

[+] I’m an international student living in the United States. Do I need to attend the International Student Orientation?

Yes, International Student Orientation is relevant and strongly recommended for all students who do not hold U.S. citizenship or legal permanent residency, regardless of prior residence in the United States. Additional questions can be directed to International Student Programs

[+] I will be unable to arrive in time to participate in Orientation. What do I need to do?

You will need to notify 1) the Graduate Studies Office, 2) Housing, and 3) your Option Administrator. When you arrive on campus, you will be expected to attend the next available makeup session for any activities that were required. Information on the makeup dates can be obtained from the Graduate Studies Office.

[+] My start date is earlier than October 1. Do I still need to attend Orientation?

Yes, attendance is expected for all new students who enroll on or after January 1, 2018.

[+] I am a former Caltech undergraduate. Do I need to attend graduate Orientation?

Yes, while many of the practices and policies are the same for graduate students and undergraduate students, there are several aspects that make the graduate school experience unique and attendance at Orientation would be beneficial. At the very least, you would need to participate in the required activities.

[+] When do I complete the I‐9 form?

Caltech collects information for Form I-9 electronically.  Section 1 of Form I-9 should be completed prior to September 23, 2019, if possible.  The documentation required for Section 2 must be reviewed for authenticity during Check-In.  Examples of acceptable documents can be found on page 8 of Form I-9 Instructions at

[+] What paperwork do I need to bring with me for check‐in?

All students receiving a paycheck through the Caltech payroll will be expected to provide documentation to verify identity and employment eligibility through completion of Form I-9.  In addition to the I9, the Registrar will verify that all required forms have been submitted. If you have not yet submitted the Patent Agreement or PreRegistration forms, please bring these with you. Health forms can be submitted directly to the Health Center.

[+] Some of the required forms will arrive later than the deadlines. Will I still be able to enroll?

Required documents include the Health form, Form I-9, Patent Agreement, a W4 for US citizens and permanent residents, final transcripts from previous schools attended, and the PreRegistration form. Late submission of any of these forms will not prevent enrollment. However, it is expected that the forms will be submitted no later than the first week of classes. The Registrar will make a note of the missing documents in your record and enrollment for subsequent terms may be affected if there are still outstanding forms.

[+] I have certain dietary restrictions (vegetarian, vegan, religious dietary practices, gluten‐free, medical and food allergies, etc.). Who should I notify?

All meals will include vegetarian and vegan options, and every effort will be made to accommodate additional dietary restrictions. Please send an email to indicating any dietary restrictions.

[+] I have a spouse/partner/child that will be joining me during Orientation. Will they be able to participate?

Most of the orientation events are open to the partners and families of our incoming students. These include meals, information sessions and social events.

[+] My address or phone number has changed. How do I update Caltech?

All new students will receive information regarding access.caltech. This portal will allow you to update your contact information and access your academic record. If you have not received instructions on setting up a username and password by mid-July, please send an email to