Caltech undergraduates spend their four years living under an engrained and enforced Honor Code system for both academic and personal conduct, set down a simple transactional test of integrity:
“No member of the Caltech community shall take unfair advantage of any other member of the Caltech community.”
Graduate students are bound by a comparable Honor Code.
From freshman year, undergraduate studies and class assignments are encouraged to be team efforts — not competitive — relying on a peer environment which permeates the House residence system. Caltech grads are imbued with the canons of scientific endeavor, as one of teamwork, cooperation, questioning, debate and open collaboration for the benefit of a joint exercise.
Caltech students are trusted with 24-hour access to labs and facilities. They are trusted to respect their common freedoms and responsibilities. Caltech tests are typically take-home, open-book, with self-disciplined time limits.
Unlike other universities, students are expected to report violations. Reports are adjudicated entirely by students. A panel of the Board of Control may rule to dismiss; nullify the effects of the violation; protect the Institute from further exposure; and to mete out accountability, up to including recommended suspensions.
Dispensation puts primary emphasis on students’ honesty in proceedings, to take responsibility. With prompt appeal rights, virtually all BofC decisions are upheld by the Dean of Students.