Get Into Princeton
Princeton University ranks at #1 on the most recent US News and World Report’s list of National Universities, Best Value Schools, and Best Undergraduate Teaching. Founded in 1746 as the College of New Jersey, today Princeton enrolls 5,400 undergraduate students who study on the school’s suburban campus in Princeton, NJ. It’s also among the more selective Ivy League schools, admitting just 6.1% of applicants to the class of 2021. (Only Harvard and Columbia had lower acceptance rates.)
98% of Princeton undergraduates live on the school’s campus. Freshman and sophomores live in one of six residential colleges, which provide a local community for students on a large campus. Upperclassmen can find community through one or more of Princeton’s 11 eating clubs, which are private, coeducational organizations offering meals, social events, intramural sports, and community service activities. 70% of juniors and seniors participate in eating clubs every year.
About 20% of the undergraduate population participates in NCAA Division I athletic programs at Princeton, which sponsors 37 varsity athletic teams. Students are also welcome to join some of the 300 student-run organizations, or to venture to nearby Philadelphia and New York City, both of which are accessible by train. Students interested in the arts will also want to check out the drama, music, and dance programs offered by the Lewis Center for the Arts, which hosts arts events across campus at venues like the new Lewis Arts complex, the Wallace Theater, and the Hearst Dance Theater. The Lewis Center for the Arts also sponsors the Princeton Atelier, which brings together professional artists from different disciplines to create a new work as part of a semester-long course. Princeton students have the opportunity to enjoy and participate in these collaborative arts projects.
Academically, Princeton is comprised of a series of schools—the Undergraduate College, the Graduate School the School of Engineering and Applied Science, the School of Architecture, and the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs—as well as a large number of interdisciplinary institutes and centers. These include the Bendheim Center for Finance, the Lewis Center for the Arts, and the Program in Law and Public Affairs.
Undergraduate students at Princeton can choose from among 37 different concentrations, ranging from astrophysical sciences to Slavic languages and literatures. These concentrations include programs through the Undergraduate College, the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, the School of Architecture, and the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs. Most concentrations require students to complete a series of core classes, followed by junior and senior seminars in the field, junior independent work (often called a Junior Project or “JP”), and a senior thesis. Students whose academic interests cannot be pursued through an existing concentration, certificate, or interdisciplinary program can apply to the Independent Concentration Program to develop their own course of study.
During the past academic year, the most popular concentrations for Princeton juniors and seniors were:
- Computer Science
- Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs
- Operations Research and Financial Engineering
- Molecular Biology
- Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering
- Ecology and Evolutionary Biology
In addition to their concentrations, students can earn certificates from among 53 interdisciplinary programs, covering topics like Applications of Computing, Contemporary European Politics and Society, Statistics and Machine Learning, and Teacher Preparation. Participating in certificate programs allows students to explore new areas of study or to pursue topics that complement their departmental concentrations. Overall, about 55% of Princeton students choose to get one or more certificates.
Each year, Princeton also offers a select group of incoming freshmen the opportunity to take part in its Bridge Year Program. This nine-month, tuition-free program allows students to defer enrollment at Princeton for one year in order to carry out community service work in Bolivia, China, India, Indonesia, or Senegal. At these locations, Bridge Year students live with host families, study the local language, volunteer with organizations that assist local communities, and engage in a series of cultural enrichment activities. Interested students can apply to the program after receiving their offer of admission from Princeton.
For graduate students, Princeton offers 42 doctoral programs in humanities, sciences, engineering, and public policy, as well as 11 programs culminating in a master’s degree. The university also offers graduate students the chance to pursue interdisciplinary studies through certificate-granting interdepartmental programs or by applying for joint degrees that span two areas of study. Finally, Princeton has partnered with several other universities—including Rutgers, Columbia, NYU, Stanford, and Yale—to offer dual MD/PhD and MPA/JD programs.
Applying to Princeton
Students can apply to Princeton Single-Choice Early Action or Regular Decision. Single-Choice Early Action applications are usually due on November 1st and allow students to receive admissions decision in mid-December. Regular Decision applications are due January 1st, and students can expect to receive decisions by the end of March or early April.
Single-Choice Early Action (also known as Restrictive Early Action) is non-binding—students have until May 1st to decide if they want to attend Princeton. If students apply to Princeton SCEA, however, they are not allowed to submit Early Decision applications to any school or to apply Early Action to any other private institutions.
The good news is that SCEA students can still apply Early Action to public and service universities. They can also apply early to international institutions and to any college or university with rolling admissions, provided that these admissions processes are not binding. This means that SCEA applicants to Princeton can still apply early to other schools like St. Andrews (international), Penn State (rolling), and the University of Michigan (Early Action, public school).
Students can apply to Princeton using the Common Application, the Coalition Application, or the Universal College Application. Princeton requires all students to submit the SAT with Essay or the ACT with Writing. The school allows applicants to use the score choice feature for both tests. Princeton also recommends that students submit two SAT Subject Tests. At Top Tier, however, we know that most successful Princeton applicants generally submit more than four Subject Tests. They’re not really optional! We also recommend that students participate in an alumni interview, if possible.
For the class of 2022, Princeton received 5,402 Early Action applications, an 8% increase over the number in last year’s early applicant pool. Princeton admitted 799 of these students, giving the school an Early Action acceptance rate of 14.79%. 11% of admitted students are international, and 14% are first-generation college students. Ultimately, Princeton expects these early admits to make up 61.46% of the entering class of 2022—that’s a huge percentage, and a clear reminder of the importance of applying early!
Last year, Princeton received 31,056 applications for the class of 2021. The school accepted 6.1% of these students, making offers to 1,890 students total. 5,003 of these applications came in during the Early Action round. Princeton admitted 770 students early for an early admit rate of 15.39%. The rest of the applications—26,053—were received during the Regular Decision round, when only 1,120 students were admitted. This means that the Regular Decision acceptance rate was 4.30%.
53.4% of admitted students identified as people of color, and 18.9% are first-generation college students. Of the students who ultimately enrolled, 13% are the children of Princeton alumni. The middle 50% of admitted students scored 680-760 on the SAT ERW, 700-780 on the SAT Math, and 31-35 on the ACT.