How to get into Princeton University

What you need to know

Strategy for getting into Princeton

Princeton University, an Ivy League school, is located in Princeton, NJ, putting it in close proximity to New York City and Philadelphia.  Princeton is unique in that it has a distinct focus on the undergraduate population. Princeton has no medical school, no law school and no business school. The undergraduate academic experience culminates with the writing of the Senior Thesis.  Every student writes a thesis their senior year—or, in a few engineering departments—undertakes a substantial independent project.

Students applying to Princeton should be specific around what appeals to them most about the school and why they would like to attend. In addition, they should emphasize what they would like to study and why.

Princeton offers single-choice early action program, otherwise known as restrictive early action. You should choose this application deadline if you have visited Princeton, thoroughly researched your options and decided that Princeton is your first choice.

Under the nonbinding program, you must complete your application by November 1st of your application year. You may not apply to an early program at any other private college or university, but you may apply early to any public institution, as long as the decision is nonbinding. Admissions decisions are released by mid-December, including a decision on financial aid.

  School Specific Essay Questions

What you need to know

Princeton University application essay tips

Princeton is looking for students who make a difference in their schools and communities. In the essay the admissions committee wants to hear about your leadership activities, interests, special skills and other extracurricular involvements—including part-time jobs or family obligations. Most Princeton students have achieved great success academically and have additional significant accomplishments outside the classroom. The Princeton admissions committee wants to know what you care about, what commitments you have made and what you’ve done to act on those commitments.

2015-2016 Princeton Specific Essays

In addition to the essay you have written for the Common Application, please write an essay of about 500 words (no more than 650 words and no less than 250 words). Using one of the themes below as a starting point, write about a person, event or experience that helped you define one of your values or in some way changed how you approach the world. Please do not repeat, in full or in part, the essay you wrote for the Common Application.

1. Tell us about a person who has influenced you in a significant way.

2. “One of the great challenges of our time is that the disparities we face today have more complex causes and point less straightforwardly to solutions.” – Omar Wasow, assistant professor of politics, Princeton University; founder of This quote is taken from Professor Wasow’s January 2014 speech at the Martin Luther King Day celebration at Princeton University.

3. “Princeton in the Nation’s Service” was the title of a speech given by Woodrow Wilson on the 150th anniversary of the University. It became the unofficial Princeton motto and was expanded for the University’s 250th anniversary to “Princeton in the nation’s service and in the service of all nations.”
Woodrow Wilson, Princeton Class of 1879, served on the faculty and was Princeton’s president from 1902–1910.

4. “Culture is what presents us with the kinds of valuable things that can fill a life. And insofar as we can recognize the value in those things and make them part of our lives, our lives are meaningful.”- Gideon Rosen, Stuart Professor of Philosophy, chair of the Council of the Humanities and director of the Program in Humanistic Studies, Princeton University.

5. Using a favorite quotation from an essay or book you have read in the last three years as a starting point, tell us about an event or experience that helped you define one of your values or changed how you approach the world. Please write the quotation, title and author at the beginning of your essay.

  School Standardized Testing Stats

What you need to know

The average SAT score composite at Princeton University is a 2250.

Section Average 25th Percentile 75th Percentile
Reading 740 700 800
Math 760 710 800
Writing 750 710 790
Composite 2250 2120 2390