If you want to study at one of the leading tech schools in the US, chances are you’re making a choice between the Massachusetts Institute of Technology or California Institute of Technology. \r\n\r\nFrom quantum physics to supercomputers, string theory to nuclear reactors, these are the places where the world’s best and brainiest gather to push back the frontiers of scientific and technological knowledge. \r\n\r\nBut how do these top tech schools compare, and how can you decide whether MIT or Caltech would suit you best? Here’s a quick overview, with more detailed explanation below. \r\n\r\n\r\n\t\r\n\t\t\r\n\t\t\t\r\n\t\t\t \r\n\t\t\t\r\n\t\t\t\r\n\t\t\tMIT \r\n\t\t\t\r\n\t\t\t\r\n\t\t\tCaltech \r\n\t\t\t\r\n\t\t\r\n\t\t\r\n\t\t\t\r\n\t\t\tQS World University Rankings: USA 2021 \r\n\r\n\t\t\t \r\n\t\t\t\r\n\t\t\t\r\n\t\t\t\r\n\t\t\t\t\r\n\t\t\t\tRanked third in the USA \r\n\t\t\t\t\r\n\t\t\t\t\r\n\t\t\t\tFourth in the USA for research \r\n\t\t\t\t\r\n\t\t\t\t\r\n\t\t\t\tJoint seventh for learning experience \r\n\t\t\t\t\r\n\t\t\t\t\r\n\t\t\t\tJoint ninth for diversity and internationalisation \r\n\t\t\t\t\r\n\t\t\t\t\r\n\t\t\t\tThird for employability \r\n\t\t\t\t\r\n\t\t\t\r\n\t\t\t\r\n\t\t\t\r\n\t\t\t\r\n\t\t\t\t\r\n\t\t\t\tRanked 21st in the USA \r\n\t\t\t\t\r\n\t\t\t\t\r\n\t\t\t\t15th in the USA for research \r\n\t\t\t\t\r\n\t\t\t\t\r\n\t\t\t\tFirst for learning experience \r\n\t\t\t\t\r\n\t\t\t\t\r\n\t\t\t\t201-300 for diversity and internationalisation \r\n\t\t\t\t\r\n\t\t\t\t\r\n\t\t\t\t22nd for employability \r\n\t\t\t\t\r\n\t\t\t\r\n\t\t\t\r\n\t\t\r\n\t\t\r\n\t\t\t\r\n\t\t\tSubject strengths, based on the broad subject areas in the QS World University Rankings by Subject 2021 \r\n\t\t\t\r\n\t\t\t\r\n\t\t\t\r\n\t\t\t\t\r\n\t\t\t\tRanked first in the world for engineering \u0026 technology \r\n\t\t\t\t\r\n\t\t\t\t\r\n\t\t\t\tFirst for architecture \r\n\t\t\t\t\r\n\t\t\t\t\r\n\t\t\t\tFirst for mathematics \r\n\t\t\t\t\r\n\t\t\t\t\r\n\t\t\t\tFirst for chemistry \r\n\t\t\t\t\r\n\t\t\t\t\r\n\t\t\t\tFirst for economics and econometrics \r\n\t\t\t\t\r\n\t\t\t\t\r\n\t\t\t\tFirst for linguistics \r\n\t\t\t\t\r\n\t\t\t\r\n\t\t\t\r\n\t\t\t\r\n\t\t\t\r\n\t\t\t\t\r\n\t\t\t\tRanked 11th in the world for biological sciences \r\n\t\t\t\t\r\n\t\t\t\t\r\n\t\t\t\t11th for chemistry \r\n\t\t\t\t\r\n\t\t\t\t\r\n\t\t\t\t13th for electrical engineering \r\n\t\t\t\t\r\n\t\t\t\t\r\n\t\t\t\t14th for engineering and technology \r\n\t\t\t\t\r\n\t\t\t\t\r\n\t\t\t\t15th for mathematics \r\n\t\t\t\t\r\n\t\t\t\r\n\t\t\t\r\n\t\t\r\n\t\t\r\n\t\t\t\r\n\t\t\tLocation \r\n\t\t\t\r\n\t\t\t\r\n\t\t\tCambridge, Massachusetts, a university town close to Boston – one of the most historic cities in the US Northeast \r\n\r\n\t\t\t \r\n\r\n\t\t\tMore seasonal variation in weather \r\n\t\t\t\r\n\t\t\t\r\n\t\t\tPasadena, California, a university town close to Los Angeles – the second biggest city in the US \r\n\r\n\t\t\t \r\n\r\n\t\t\tSunshine and warmth pretty much year-round \r\n\t\t\t\r\n\t\t\r\n\t\t\r\n\t\t\t\r\n\t\t\tStudent community \r\n\t\t\t\r\n\t\t\t\r\n\t\t\t11,520 students (4,530 undergraduates and 6,990 postgraduates) \r\n\r\n\t\t\t \r\n\r\n\t\t\tInternational students represent about 29 percent of students overall \r\n\t\t\t\r\n\t\t\t\r\n\t\t\t2,231 students (901 undergraduates and 1,330 postgraduates) \r\n\r\n\t\t\t \r\n\r\n\t\t\tInternational students also represent around 29 percent of students overall \r\n\t\t\t\r\n\t\t\r\n\t\t\r\n\t\t\t\r\n\t\t\tFees and funding \r\n\t\t\t\r\n\t\t\t\r\n\t\t\tFor 2021-22, annual tuition fees for undergraduates are $55,510 (£39,460), plus the Student Life fee: $368 (£260). \r\n\r\n\t\t\t \r\n\r\n\t\t\tSix out of 10 students receive some form of financial aid, with a need-blind admission policy for all students. \r\n\t\t\t\r\n\t\t\t\r\n\t\t\tFor 2021-22, annual tuition fees for undergraduates are $54,570 (around £38,670), plus mandatory fees of $2,316 (£2,286). \r\n\r\n\t\t\t \r\n\r\n\t\t\tAlmost 60 percent of undergraduates receive financial aid, while 98 percent of graduate students receive full financial support. \r\n\t\t\t\r\n\t\t\r\n\t\r\n\r\n\r\nQS World University Rankings: USA 2021 \r\n\r\nThe Massachusetts Institute of Technology performs extremely well in the QS World University Rankings: USA, ranking third this year. The California Institute of Technology falls slightly behind MIT, in 21st. \r\n\r\nMIT scores better than Caltech across three of the four indicators in the USA rankings: research, diversity and internationalisation, and employability. However, Caltech outperforms MIT in learning experience, claiming the title of the best school in the USA for learning experience. \r\n\r\nIn the latest USA rankings, the biggest gap between the two is in the diversity and internationalisation, where MIT has a sizeable lead. \r\n\r\nSubject strengths \r\n\r\nBoth MIT and Caltech are well known as leading tech schools and are particularly strong in the science and technology fields. Thanks to its prestigious Sloan School of Management, MIT also has a strong international reputation for social sciences and business-related courses. \r\n\r\nThese strengths are reflected in the QS World University Rankings by Subject 2021, which is based upon academic reputation, employer reputation and research citations. Despite its specialised focus, MIT features in the top 15 of each broad subject area in the subject rankings, including arts and humanities where it ranks joint 13th. \r\n\r\nCaltech doesn’t have quite such a strong all-round performance, though it still places within the world’s top 270 for every broad subject area – no small feat. Its strongest areas by far are natural sciences (seventh) and engineering and technology (14th). \r\n\r\nAs you can see in the table below, MIT boasts many first-place rankings (12 in all), especially in engineering and technology subjects, and features in 34 of the 51 different subject rankings. By comparison, Caltech only features in 19 subjects. \r\n\r\n\r\n\t\r\n\t\t\r\n\t\t\t\r\n\t\t\tMIT and Caltech in the QS World University Rankings by Subject 2021 \r\n\t\t\t\r\n\t\t\r\n\t\t\r\n\t\t\t\r\n\t\t\t \r\n\t\t\t \r\n\t\t\t\r\n\t\t\t\r\n\t\t\tMIT \r\n\t\t\t\r\n\t\t\t\r\n\t\t\tCaltech \r\n\t\t\t\r\n\t\t\r\n\t\t\r\n\t\t\t\r\n\t\t\tAccounting \u0026 finance \r\n\t\t\t\r\n\t\t\t\r\n\t\t\t2nd \r\n\t\t\t\r\n\t\t\t\r\n\t\t\t-- \r\n\t\t\t\r\n\t\t\r\n\t\t\r\n\t\t\t\r\n\t\t\tAnthropology \r\n\t\t\t\r\n\t\t\t\r\n\t\t\tJoint 41st \r\n\t\t\t\r\n\t\t\t\r\n\t\t\t-- \r\n\t\t\t\r\n\t\t\r\n\t\t\r\n\t\t\t\r\n\t\t\tArchitecture \r\n\t\t\t\r\n\t\t\t\r\n\t\t\t1st \r\n\t\t\t\r\n\t\t\t\r\n\t\t\t-- \r\n\t\t\t\r\n\t\t\r\n\t\t\r\n\t\t\t\r\n\t\t\tArt \u0026 design \r\n\t\t\t\r\n\t\t\t\r\n\t\t\t4th \r\n\t\t\t\r\n\t\t\t\r\n\t\t\t-- \r\n\t\t\t\r\n\t\t\r\n\t\t\r\n\t\t\t\r\n\t\t\tBiological sciences \r\n\t\t\t\r\n\t\t\t\r\n\t\t\t2nd \r\n\t\t\t\r\n\t\t\t\r\n\t\t\t11th \r\n\t\t\t\r\n\t\t\r\n\t\t\r\n\t\t\t\r\n\t\t\tBusiness \u0026 management \r\n\t\t\t\r\n\t\t\t\r\n\t\t\t4th \r\n\t\t\t\r\n\t\t\t\r\n\t\t\t201-250 \r\n\t\t\t\r\n\t\t\r\n\t\t\r\n\t\t\t\r\n\t\t\tChemistry \r\n\t\t\t\r\n\t\t\t\r\n\t\t\t1st \r\n\t\t\t\r\n\t\t\t\r\n\t\t\t11th \r\n\t\t\t\r\n\t\t\r\n\t\t\r\n\t\t\t\r\n\t\t\tCommunication \u0026 media studies \r\n\t\t\t\r\n\t\t\t\r\n\t\t\t13th \r\n\t\t\t\r\n\t\t\t\r\n\t\t\t-- \r\n\t\t\t\r\n\t\t\r\n\t\t\r\n\t\t\t\r\n\t\t\tComputer science \u0026 information systems \r\n\t\t\t\r\n\t\t\t\r\n\t\t\t1st \r\n\t\t\t\r\n\t\t\t\r\n\t\t\t22nd \r\n\t\t\t\r\n\t\t\r\n\t\t\r\n\t\t\t\r\n\t\t\tEarth \u0026 marine sciences \r\n\t\t\t\r\n\t\t\t\r\n\t\t\t2nd \r\n\t\t\t\r\n\t\t\t\r\n\t\t\tJoint 5th \r\n\t\t\t\r\n\t\t\r\n\t\t\r\n\t\t\t\r\n\t\t\tEconomics \r\n\t\t\t\r\n\t\t\t\r\n\t\t\t1st \r\n\t\t\t\r\n\t\t\t\r\n\t\t\tJoint 38th \r\n\t\t\t\r\n\t\t\r\n\t\t\r\n\t\t\t\r\n\t\t\tEngineering (chemical) \r\n\t\t\t\r\n\t\t\t\r\n\t\t\t1st \r\n\t\t\t\r\n\t\t\t\r\n\t\t\t9th \r\n\t\t\t\r\n\t\t\r\n\t\t\r\n\t\t\t\r\n\t\t\tEngineering (civil) \r\n\t\t\t\r\n\t\t\t\r\n\t\t\t1st \r\n\t\t\t\r\n\t\t\t\r\n\t\t\t51-100 \r\n\t\t\t\r\n\t\t\r\n\t\t\r\n\t\t\t\r\n\t\t\tEngineering (electrical) \r\n\t\t\t\r\n\t\t\t\r\n\t\t\t1st \r\n\t\t\t\r\n\t\t\t\r\n\t\t\t13th \r\n\t\t\t\r\n\t\t\r\n\t\t\r\n\t\t\t\r\n\t\t\tEngineering (mechanical) \r\n\t\t\t\r\n\t\t\t\r\n\t\t\t1st \r\n\t\t\t\r\n\t\t\t\r\n\t\t\t17th \r\n\t\t\t\r\n\t\t\r\n\t\t\r\n\t\t\t\r\n\t\t\tEnglish language \u0026 literature \r\n\t\t\t\r\n\t\t\t\r\n\t\t\t26th \r\n\t\t\t\r\n\t\t\t\r\n\t\t\t201-250 \r\n\t\t\t\r\n\t\t\r\n\t\t\r\n\t\t\t\r\n\t\t\tEnvironmental sciences \r\n\t\t\t\r\n\t\t\t\r\n\t\t\t3rd \r\n\t\t\t\r\n\t\t\t\r\n\t\t\t27th \r\n\t\t\t\r\n\t\t\r\n\t\t\r\n\t\t\t\r\n\t\t\tGeology \r\n\t\t\t\r\n\t\t\t\r\n\t\t\t3rd \r\n\t\t\t\r\n\t\t\t\r\n\t\t\t6th \r\n\t\t\t\r\n\t\t\r\n\t\t\r\n\t\t\t\r\n\t\t\tGeophysics \r\n\t\t\t\r\n\t\t\t\r\n\t\t\tJoint 3rd \r\n\t\t\t\r\n\t\t\t\r\n\t\t\t3rd \r\n\t\t\t\r\n\t\t\r\n\t\t\r\n\t\t\t\r\n\t\t\tHistory \r\n\t\t\t\r\n\t\t\t\r\n\t\t\t51-100 \r\n\t\t\t\r\n\t\t\t\r\n\t\t\t-- \r\n\t\t\t\r\n\t\t\r\n\t\t\r\n\t\t\t\r\n\t\t\tLinguistics \r\n\t\t\t\r\n\t\t\t\r\n\t\t\t1st \r\n\t\t\t\r\n\t\t\t\r\n\t\t\t-- \r\n\t\t\t\r\n\t\t\r\n\t\t\r\n\t\t\t\r\n\t\t\tMathematics \r\n\t\t\t\r\n\t\t\t\r\n\t\t\t1st \r\n\t\t\t\r\n\t\t\t\r\n\t\t\t15th \r\n\t\t\t\r\n\t\t\r\n\t\t\r\n\t\t\t\r\n\t\t\tMaterials science \r\n\t\t\t\r\n\t\t\t\r\n\t\t\t2nd \r\n\t\t\t\r\n\t\t\t\r\n\t\t\tJoint 25th \r\n\t\t\t\r\n\t\t\r\n\t\t\r\n\t\t\t\r\n\t\t\tMedicine \r\n\t\t\t\r\n\t\t\t\r\n\t\t\t11th \r\n\t\t\t\r\n\t\t\t\r\n\t\t\tJoint 122nd \r\n\t\t\t\r\n\t\t\r\n\t\t\r\n\t\t\t\r\n\t\t\tModern languages \r\n\t\t\t\r\n\t\t\t\r\n\t\t\t12th \r\n\t\t\t\r\n\t\t\t\r\n\t\t\t-- \r\n\t\t\t\r\n\t\t\r\n\t\t\r\n\t\t\t\r\n\t\t\tPerforming arts \r\n\t\t\t\r\n\t\t\t\r\n\t\t\t51-100 \r\n\t\t\t\r\n\t\t\t\r\n\t\t\t-- \r\n\t\t\t\r\n\t\t\r\n\t\t\r\n\t\t\t\r\n\t\t\tPhilosophy \r\n\t\t\t\r\n\t\t\t\r\n\t\t\tJoint 41st \r\n\t\t\t\r\n\t\t\t\r\n\t\t\t151-200 \r\n\t\t\t\r\n\t\t\r\n\t\t\r\n\t\t\t\r\n\t\t\tPhysics \u0026 astronomy \r\n\t\t\t\r\n\t\t\t\r\n\t\t\t1st \r\n\t\t\t\r\n\t\t\t\r\n\t\t\t7th \r\n\t\t\t\r\n\t\t\r\n\t\t\r\n\t\t\t\r\n\t\t\tPolitics \r\n\t\t\t\r\n\t\t\t\r\n\t\t\tJoint 14th \r\n\t\t\t\r\n\t\t\t\r\n\t\t\t-- \r\n\t\t\t\r\n\t\t\r\n\t\t\r\n\t\t\t\r\n\t\t\tPsychology \r\n\t\t\t\r\n\t\t\t\r\n\t\t\t9th \r\n\t\t\t\r\n\t\t\t\r\n\t\t\t-- \r\n\t\t\t\r\n\t\t\r\n\t\t\r\n\t\t\t\r\n\t\t\tSocial policy \u0026 administration \r\n\t\t\t\r\n\t\t\t\r\n\t\t\t8th \r\n\t\t\t\r\n\t\t\t\r\n\t\t\t-- \r\n\t\t\t\r\n\t\t\r\n\t\t\r\n\t\t\t\r\n\t\t\tSociology \r\n\t\t\t\r\n\t\t\t\r\n\t\t\t43rd \r\n\t\t\t\r\n\t\t\t\r\n\t\t\t-- \r\n\t\t\t\r\n\t\t\r\n\t\t\r\n\t\t\t\r\n\t\t\tSports-related subjects \r\n\t\t\t\r\n\t\t\t\r\n\t\t\t51-100 \r\n\t\t\t\r\n\t\t\t\r\n\t\t\t-- \r\n\t\t\t\r\n\t\t\r\n\t\t\r\n\t\t\t\r\n\t\t\tStatistics \r\n\t\t\t\r\n\t\t\t\r\n\t\t\t1st \r\n\t\t\t\r\n\t\t\t\r\n\t\t\t-- \r\n\t\t\t\r\n\t\t\r\n\t\t\r\n\t\t\t\r\n\t\t\tSee the full QS World University Rankings by Subject 2021 \r\n\t\t\t\r\n\t\t\r\n\t\r\n\r\n\r\nLocation \r\n\r\nBoth top tech schools are in small university towns within easy reach of a major city. MIT is based in Cambridge, Massachusetts, a university town of under 150,000 inhabitants. This town is also home to Harvard University – making it one of the world’s most prestigious hubs of academic tuition and research. Cambridge is close to Boston, one of the most culturally vibrant and historic cities in the Northeast US, which was ranked in the top 15 of the latest QS Best Student Cities ranking. \r\n\r\nAround 3,000 miles away, Caltech is in the Californian city of Pasadena, a university town of a similar size to Cambridge, and a stone’s throw from the second-largest city in the US, Los Angeles, which was ranked 25th in the Best Student Cities ranking. \r\n\r\nOne of the major bragging points for Caltech students over their north-eastern rivals is the climate – southern California enjoys sunshine and warmth all year round, while MIT students get hot summers but freezing winters. Then again, a little seasonal variation is not necessarily a bad thing, and the New England region is famed worldwide for its beautiful autumn colours. \r\n\r\nStudent community \r\n\r\nThough both top tech schools are on the smaller side for world-class universities, MIT’s 11,520-strong student body makes it roughly five times the size of Caltech’s 2,231. Both institutions have a greater number of postgraduates than undergraduates, reflecting their research-intensive focus. \r\n\r\nWell-established among the world’s top tech schools, both attract applications from talented students all around the world, leading to highly diverse student bodies. International students account for around 29 percent of enrolments at both MIT and Caltech. \r\n\r\nAt Caltech, the proportion of international students is much higher among graduate students, with 41 percent coming from outside the US, whereas only seven percent of undergraduates are international. \r\n\r\nTuition fees and financial support \r\n\r\nUS private universities charge some of the highest tuition fees in the world. At either MIT or Caltech, annual fees for most students (undergraduate and postgraduate, domestic and international) amount to around $54,000-$57,000 (approximately £38,000-£40,000). \r\n\r\nWhen accommodation, living expenses, health insurance, extra fees, transport and study supplies are added on, the total figure for the year is likely to exceed US$79,900 (approx. £57,000). \r\n\r\nHowever, there is a substantial silver lining: MIT and Caltech offer some of the most generous financial aid packages among US universities – so, in reality, many students pay far less than these initial figures would suggest. \r\n\r\nMIT says 38 percent of its undergraduates receive scholarships or grants equal to or greater than the cost of their tuition, with 26 percent of students graduating debt-free. \r\n\r\nMIT is one of a handful of elite US institutions which offer need-blind admission for all undergraduate candidates, including those from outside the US. This means students’ ability to pay is not considered during the application process, and, once a place has been offered, the university pledges to contribute enough to make attendance possible. \r\n\r\nCaltech reports that almost 60 percent of undergraduates receive financial aid and approximately 98 percent of graduate students and 99 percent of doctoral students receive full financial support, in the form of fellowships and assistantships. \r\n\r\nWhile Caltech’s need-blind policy does not extend to international students, it does have a commitment to help all US citizens and permanent residents meet the cost of attendance. \r\n\r\nBrowse a range of scholarships to study in the US. \r\n\r\nThis article was originally published in July 2013. It was last updated in May 2021 to include the latest data from the QS World University Rankings and other sources. \r\n\r\nWant more content like this? Register for free site membership to get regular updates and your own personal content feed.