Every year, thousands of college applicants want to know how to get into Princeton, one of the most competitive institutions in the US. Located in Princeton, New Jersey, it is one of the oldest universities in the country and boasts as their alumni two former US presidents. Princeton is also part of the Ivy League and offers some of the best undergraduate programs in the world. A key component of the Princeton college application involves writing numerous short essays, so talking to a college essay advisor is a great idea if you plan to apply. In this blog we’ll look at the academic programs at Princeton; the application process, components and timeline; admission statistics and eligibility; tuition and funding opportunities; and information you need to know about the Princeton waitlist and deferral process.
Please note: although we have made every effort to provide the most accurate information, admissions information changes frequently. Therefore, we encourage you to verify these details with the official university admissions office. You are responsible for your own results. BeMo does not endorse nor affiliate with any official universities, colleges, or test administrators and vice versa.
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“Princeton University advances learning through scholarship, research, and teaching of unsurpassed quality, with an emphasis on undergraduate and doctoral education that is distinctive among the world's great universities, and with a pervasive commitment to serve the nation and the world.”
As part of the famed Ivy League schools in the US, and one of its oldest higher education institutions having been founded in 1746, Princeton University offers a world-class education. Thousands of students apply to Princeton’s undergraduate and graduate programs every year for a top-tier education experience.
Princeton University offers a variety of four-year undergraduate degree programs in the natural and social sciences, arts, humanities, engineering and computer sciences, languages and culture. The Princeton curriculum focuses on creativity, innovation and collaboration in a liberal arts education setting. The school uses a letter grade system, similar to other higher education institutions in the US.
Princeton also emphasizes development of undergraduate research, study and writing skills, through the Office of Undergraduate Research, the McGraw Center for Teaching and Learning and the Princeton Writing Center. Undergraduates are required to complete a senior thesis as part of their four-year degree, and the school provides the necessary skill development to grow students’ professional and academic writing and research skills.
Princeton University’s informal motto is “in service of the nation and in service of humanity”, and the school considers a dedication to service to be part of its culture and mission.
Princeton is also known to be an extremely competitive school to get into, so using a service like college admissions consulting or a college advisor would not go amiss if you decide to apply.
Want to jump to an overview of the components you will be required to include in your Princeton application? Take a look at this infographic:
Princeton Application Process and Components
Princeton is among the schools which use the Common App for college applications, although they also accept the Coalition App. Princeton also requires the Princeton Supplement package as part of your application, which can be filled out and submitted online through your chosen application platform. The Princeton Supplement includes extra short essay questions which students must answer in a set word count. You’ll be required to write several short college essays, so brush up on your writing skills and sharpen your pencil. We’ll outline the components of the Princeton Supplement below.
Bachelor of Arts Degree Applicants or Undecided Applicants
Students are asked to answer the following in around 250 words:
What academic areas most pique your curiosity, and how do the programs offered at Princeton suit your particular interests?
Bachelor of Science in Engineering Degree Applicants
Students are asked to write a short essay on the following prompt in around 250 words:
Please describe why you are interested in studying engineering at Princeton. Include any of your experiences in, or exposure to engineering, and how you think the programs offered at the University suit your particular interests.
Extracurricular Activity and Work Experience
In about 150 words, students are asked to describe an activity, organization, work experience or hobby that has been particularly meaningful. For this part of the application, try not to repeat any information you included in your high school resume or common app activities section. After choosing your most meaningful experience, elaborate on it in this section only, leaving it only in listed form or bullet points in any other part of the application.
Princeton provides two optional essay prompts. These need to be answered in around 250 words. Focus on sharp writing skills, insight and deep thought for your answers here.
More About You
In 50 words or less, provide a brief answer to these questions. Be honest, and be yourself!
- What is a new skill you would like to learn in college?
- What brings you joy?
- What song represents the soundtrack of your life at this moment?
Students who are gifted in one or more art form who wish to have their work or accomplishments considered as part of their application can also submit an arts supplement. For students interested in architecture, creative writing, dance, music, theater or visual arts, they can submit an example of their accomplishments to Princeton as part of their complete application.
Graded Written Paper
As part of the Princeton Supplement, you’ll also be asked to submit a graded written paper. This can be any paper of at least two pages, written during your high school years and graded by a teacher. Preferably, the paper will be written for English, social studies or history course subjects, but this is flexible. For international students, the paper must have been written in English, not translated from another language. If you do not have a suitable paper to submit, it is not required, but the admissions office will have less material to review your candidacy.
Common App Components
For your regular common app or coalition app, you’ll be required to submit the usual components on top of the Princeton Supplement. This application can take some work to put together, so its best to get started early! There are a greater number of written components for the Princeton applicant, too, which can mean it takes a bit longer to submit a completed app.
Your completed application should contain the following components:
Along with yet another college essay, your transcripts and GPA, your school will submit a report on your academic performance and a letter from your school guidance counselor. You’ll also need to ask two subject teachers to write you a college evaluation. If you’re applying to Princeton, it’s recommended to ask your English, social studies or history subject teachers to write these, but you can also ask the subject teachers closest to the degree you want to pursue, too.
Along with teacher evaluations, you can submit college letters of recommendation to give your application another boost. The final parts of your common app will include information on your extracurriculars, athletics, work experience and any other non-school interests you have. You’ll also be able to report any standardized test scores like the SAT or ACT. If you’ve taken any IB or AP courses, list those as well, since Princeton also recommends students self-report IB and AP test scores, if they’ve taken any.
Princeton uses single-choice early action and regular decision application formats. If you choose to apply through early action decision, you may also defer your application to the regular decision pool. Below we’ve outlined a full timeline of Princeton’s application important dates and deadlines for all types of applications.
As far the top competitive schools in the US, Harvard and Princeton rank at the very top. Princeton’s acceptance rate is just 5.6%, making it one of the most selective and competitive schools in the US.
Princeton is open to students from all over the world, but it is also a difficult school for international students to get accepted at. Currently, there are 5,267 undergraduates studying at Princeton, and just 643 international students.
The average Princeton student has a GPA of 3.9 or higher, which is a tough score to beat. However, you can offset a lower GPA with an overall strong application. Your extracurriculars, college essay, test scores and recommendation letters can all help push your application into the running for an acceptance letter. You should also focus on writing a stellar personal statement or supplemental essay to demonstrate excellent writing skills, something which Princeton prizes. Try reading some personal statement samples for another top-tier program like Harvard for inspiration in writing your own. The better and more writing samples you can offer, the more likely you are to stand out even with a lower GPA or lower test scores.
As far as extracurricular activities, Princeton likes to see a commitment to these on any application they receive. Especially if you have demonstrated a strong commitment throughout your high school years or achieved a position of leadership, include it in your application. The area of interest doesn’t matter as long as you can show that you involved yourself fully in the activity and demonstrated teamwork, passion and leadership.
If you’re planning on taking the SAT or ACT, Princeton accepts students with an average score of 1520 for the SAT and 33 for the ACT. These are just average scores, but if you score below these, consider retaking the test to submit a higher final score. To really stand out, you’ll want to submit something above average on your application. The school does not require you to take the SAT, but it is recommended, so treat the SAT like a requirement to apply to Princeton.
Interested in some tips on how to get into an ivy league school? Check out this video:
In 2021-22, the cost of tuition to attend Princeton university was just over $56,000, not including personal and accommodation costs. Since most undergraduate students choose to live on campus, they can save on costs this way.
If you are an international student wondering how to study in the US, you will also need to take into account any travel costs and accommodation costs that may be necessary. It may be worth considering hiring an international student advisor or college admissions consultant to guide you on the admissions process too.
As with many Ivy League schools, Princeton aims to be affordable and provides financial aid options to its students. Right now, 61% of undergraduate students are receiving financial aid from the university. Princeton’s average grants cover 100% of the costs of tuition, with the average grant totaling $62,200. Princeton has a no-loan policy, meaning financial aid grants do not need to be paid back, allowing a majority of its students to graduate with no school debt.
Princeton states that families earning under $65,000 a year are eligible for financial aid, including a grant which covers the full cost of a student’s tuition, room and board on campus. Over 98% of students live on campus at Princeton, where they are able to save on accommodation costs.
As with many schools, Princeton encourages all eligible students to apply through the financial aid office, or calculate how much aid they qualify for online through their website calculator. For international students, there are also international student scholarship consultants who can point you towards the best funding opportunities for students studying abroad.
Princeton university offers applicants an informal, 30-45 minute interview with a school alumni as part of the application process. The interview is optional, and students aren’t penalized for not participating, but its highly advisable to do so.
For one, this is likely to be the first professional interview you’ve attended, so learning how to prepare for a college interview and answer college interview questions will help you develop these essential professional skills. For another, sitting down with an alumnus of the school you hope to attend will get your burning questions answered, since you’ll be able to ask them about college life, campus study spots, what courses are like and what to expect. This insider knowledge is provided for you in order for you to succeed—don’t waste it!
Finally, the college interview is a chance for Princeton to get to know you and for you to show them why you should be accepted. Tell them why you chose Princeton and how you’ll contribute to the school’s community if you are accepted. Use the interview as your opportunity to boost your application and help yourself stand out from the crowd.
Acceptance, Waitlist, Deferral Information
Students typically receive their acceptance by mid-December for Early Action or April for Regular Decision applicants. If you have not received information, you can contact the admissions office, but be advised if you were an Early Action applicant the final decision may have been deferred to the Regular Decision pool. This does not mean you won’t be accepted, just that the admissions board decided to defer the consideration of your application.
Students can also request to defer their studies if they are accepted to Princeton. Requests need to be made through the admissions office, but they are not guaranteed. Students will sometimes ask to defer enrollment in their studies to take a year off to travel, work, do community service, military service, religious studies or participate in a special project. Princeton recommends students request a deferral after they decide to matriculate and before May 15, which leaves a narrow window, so if you do plan to defer your enrollment, be prepared to contact the admissions office quickly.
Princeton also uses an unranked waitlist for all its admission decisions. If spaces become available after May 1, students will be chosen and accepted from off the waitlist. If you are placed on the waitlist, the school will notify you of this and inform you of the final admission decision after May 1.
The number of applicants placed on the waitlist, and the number accepted after being placed on the waitlist, varies from year to year. But as with any prestigious college, getting off the waitlist is very competitive. To ensure your application stands out, follow our guide to make it as polished as it can be.
The Princeton undergraduate admissions office can be reached by phone at 609-258-3060 or by email at [email protected].
Princeton University is open for visiting tours during the pandemic, but the school is following official guidelines for all visitors. The office of admissions also holds general information tours throughout the year, and student-led tours are also available both in person and virtually for various programs.
1. How hard is it to get into Princeton?
Princeton is widely considered an extremely competitive school. With an acceptance rate of 5.6%, Princeton accepts only a handful of the thousands of applications it receives every year.
2. What does Princeton look for in its students?
In general, Princeton is looking for students with an inclination towards the arts, social sciences, natural sciences, engineering and humanities. They also place a heavy emphasis on writing skill and students interested in academic research. Students who have a commitment to service will also be highly welcome, as the school has an informal motto of “in service to humanity”.
3. What GPA do you need to get into Princeton?
The average accepted GPA at Princeton is 3.9.
4. Do I need high SAT/ACT scores to get into Princeton?
The average accepted SAT score at Princeton is 1520, and the average ACT score is 33, which is quite competitive. To increase your chances of acceptance, try to score above average scores on your standardized tests.
5. Is Princeton or Harvard harder to get into?
Princeton ranks second behind Harvard as the toughest Ivy League school to get into. Both schools have similar acceptance rates and rigorous application processes.
6. Do Princeton interviews matter?
Yes. They are not mandatory, and they are not offered to every student, but if you are invited to one, take it. This is an excellent opportunity to practice your interview skills and show Princeton why they should accept your candidacy.
7. Does Princeton require the SAT?
The school does not require applicants to submit SAT scores, but it’s recommended to submit scores anyways to increase your chances of acceptance.
8. How expensive is Princeton tuition?
In 2022, Princeton tuition was over $56,000.
Disclaimer: BeMo does not endorse or affiliate with any universities, colleges, or official test administrators. The content has been developed based on the most recent publicly available data provided from the official university website. However, you should always check the statistics/requirements with the official school website for the most up to date information. You are responsible for your own results.
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