There are different type of classes a student can take in the United States. Some give credit toward a degree and others are solely for personal enrichment and knowledge with no diploma. Once you have decided what kind of class you plan to take, you will need to find out whether it is fee-based or free.
Credit Class is designed for students who are interested in earning college credits towards a degree or certificate. Students who take credit courses receive a letter grade (A, B, C, D or F) at the end of the semester. A is the highest grade while F is the lowest and stands for Fail. A Credit Class is broken down into units. A unit is a credit hour, usually based on the number of classroom hours per week throughout a term. For example, a three-unit class will meet for three hours per week for the length of the term. Each course has a different unit value that is assigned upon the number of hours the course meets. Usually, a full-term courses are 3 units each; so 4 classes of 3-unit courses would be 12 units.
For example, Pasadena City College (PCC), which is located two blocks away from Caltech, allows international students to take a maximum of 12 units per semester. International Students who take a credit class are required to pay fees and purchase required books and supplies.
Noncredit Class is a class offered through continuing education. It is intended for students who want to gain general knowledge, learn a new skill, upgrade existing skills, or enrich their understanding about a wide range of topics. Upon completion of a course, students will receive a grade of pass or not pass. However, noncredit classes are not applicable toward a degree. Students are responsible for the purchases of required books and supplies.
For example, Pasadena City College noncredit classes are free. Click here to see the catalog.
Community Education or Extension Class encompasses a wide variety of subject areas and include courses, seminars, workshops and adventures. Classes are short, fee-based and have no credits or grades assigned to them. Classes offer students an ideal way to explore interests, make new friends, and continue learning.
For example, Pasadena City College Extension classes are open to the broad community, even students who do not live in Pasadena. The fee is the same for everyone, whether you are a California resident or an international student. Click here to see the extension classes offered at Pasadena City College.
Audit Class allows a student to take a class without the benefit of a grade or credit. Usually, students who audit a course do so for the purposes of self-enrichment and academic exploration. The audit class involves almost everything required when taking a college class for credit. However, as a student, you are not evaluated for your participation in the class. This means you do not have to do all the assignments, and you do not receive a final grade. Students who audit a course are required to pay fees as though the course was being taken on a credit basis.
As a spouse of a Caltech student or scholar, you may take an audit class. You have to fill an auditor registration card from the Registrar's office, receive permission from the professor, and then have the card signed by the Dean. Each unit is fee-based.
Tuition and fees. At California public universities, international students pay a different tuition rate than U.S. students from California residents. The tuition may be significantly higher depending on the college or university you plan to attend and the type of course you envision. Please check directly with the admissions office at the college or university.
To illustrate the tuition and fees policy for international students, we have chosen Pasadena City College (PCC) as an example because it is located two blocks away from Caltech. PCC is a public college open to the community and it offers a wide range of courses in science, humanities and liberal arts, In addition, it offers trendy courses such as a class on how to pilot a drone.
International students at PCC pay the same tuition and fees that an out of state U.S. student pays. The non-resident rate includes an enrollment fee of $46 per unit and a tuition of $234 per unit. Additionally, books and supplies may be needed. So, for a 12 units semester, which is the maximum authorized for an international student (12 units is considered a full-time education), the cost is approximately as follows:
(12 units x $46) + (12 units x $234) = $552 + $ $ 2,808 = $ 3,360.
DISCLAIMER: The information provided on this website is for general information only. Caltech does not endorse or recommend any of the organizations listed.