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Academics and Research FAQ

Updated February 23, 2021

Caltech's undergraduate academic program will continue as a remote-learning program only in the spring term. The limited rollout of vaccines and questions about the timeline for broader supply and access to doses, a still-high level of case activity in Los Angeles County, and concerns over new, more infectious viral variants create an unacceptable level of risk for any resumption of in-person courses this spring.

We will work with student representatives and leaders from the graduating class to formalize plans for this spring's commencement ceremony. Updates on plans for commemorating the graduates' accomplishments are forthcoming.

Offices that support students have been and will continue to be open and operational, offering a variety of options for remote access and connection. Available services include the Undergraduate Deans' Office peer tutoring program; professional and peer writing support from Hixon Writing Center; Student Wellness Services offerings such as occupational therapy, counseling, and group programs; discussions and affinity groups offered by the Caltech Center for Inclusion and Diversity; access to resources and reference materials managed through the Caltech Library, the Career Development Center, and the CTLO. Individuals are encouraged to explore department websites directly for information about programs, hours of operations, and remote access.

Caltech transitioned to the Canvas Learning Management System starting in fall 2020. In Canvas, unlike in Moodle, students automatically have access to LMS materials for the courses in which they are enrolled, and their access is updated automatically multiple times per day based on changes in official enrollment as processed by the Registrar's Office. Updates on Canvas will be provided through the Registrar's Office and on Caltech's online learning website.

Yes, Caltech will continue to require that synchronous class meetings be recorded in case students lose connectivity during the class or miss some pieces due to technological difficulties. Though it is rare, faculty may on occasion also experience connectivity issues, and recordings can be lost; recordings are not meant to take the place of synchronous participation and cannot be guaranteed. It is important that students stay current with course material and progress through the course at the pace set by the instructor, regardless of the class format. Please refer to Caltech's online learning website for additional information about remote learning.

While lecture courses will be (almost) exclusively online, courses in reading and research may have in-person components with the consent of students and instructors, as long as appropriate health and safety protocols can be followed.

Professional staff have worked closely to support faculty members across the Institute to transition their coursework and materials to a remote learning environment.

We have expanded, and will continue to expand, access to online tools, services, and trainings that reinforce student and faculty collaboration. This includes, but is not limited to digital, collaborative whiteboard applications, and our new learning management system, Canvas. The Library and Vice Provost's Office are continuing to offer the loan of tablet devices to students who need them to facilitate collaboration.

More details are available on Caltech's online learning website.

Caltech is currently approved to conduct research activities. Research is governed by Institute policies and all graduate students working in a research group must follow the Institute's instructions on going to campus and will need to be included in the research plans of the PI, which are approved by the division chairs.