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Student Taught Courses


Student-taught courses allow undergraduates to teach and to take classes in non-traditional areas, and to thereby supplement the Caltech curriculum. These courses are labeled PA70 (PA stands for Performance and Activities) and are offered for 3 units of credit on a pass-fail basis. Total academic credit earned from such courses is limited to 6 units, and credit can be applied only to general units required for graduation. Student instructors are limited to teaching a total of 3 classes each during their time at Caltech.

Students who are interested in teaching a course need to submit a proposal to the Dean of Undergraduate Students, whose approval is required. The proposal must show that the material covered in the course is of high academic quality, and that the course is a complement and not a substitute for existing Caltech courses. Like all other Caltech courses, student-taught courses must also be approved by the Curriculum Committee and the Faculty Board.

Student-taught courses also require a faculty sponsor. The sponsor must be professorial faculty, which means a faculty member with a title of Professor, Associate Professor or Assistant Professor (but not Visiting Professor). The faculty sponsor will consult with the student instructor on the course syllabus to make sure that the subject material is appropriate for Caltech credit, to verify that the student instructor is qualified to teach the course, and to assist the student instructor with any and all questions that might emerge during the teaching and grading of the course. Course grades are submitted to the Registrar by the faculty sponsor.

Information Required for Proposal:

  • Course description and syllabus
  • Statement of qualifications of student instructor
  • Statement from the faculty sponsor saying he/she (1) agrees to be the sponsor, (2) has been consulted on and approves the syllabus (3)vouches for the student instructor's qualifications, and (4) is willing to submit the final grades for the course