How to Get Into Princeton: Admission Requirements & Tips

Princeton University
Updated:
April 19, 2024
8 min read
Contents

”Mary

Reviewed by:

Former Admissions Committee Member, Columbia University

Reviewed: 4/19/24

If Princeton is your dream school, read on to learn more about applying, how to prep for the Princeton interview, and more for your best shot at acceptance.

Princeton University is a prestigious institution and part of the Ivy League. According to U.S. News, it ranks as the #1 best national university, making it an attractive option for prospective applicants. 

Below, you will find all of the Princeton requirements you need to know, Princeton University’s acceptance rate, how to prepare for the Princeton interview, and much more.

Creating an application from scratch can seem intimidating, but that’s why we’re here to cover everything you need to know about how to get into Princeton. Let’s get started!

Princeton Acceptance Rate: 4.5%

Princeton’s acceptance rate is 4.5%, which is higher than most other Ivy League schools. Princeton’s reputation makes the school an attractive choice for prospective undergraduate applicants, which means your competition will be stiff.

Year Applications Received Students Admitted Acceptance Rate
2023 39,644 1,782 4.5%
2022 38,019 1,667 4.6%
2021 37,601 1,647 4.4%
2020 32,836 1,823 5.6%

Princeton Early Decision Acceptance Rate

Since the school has decided to withhold admissions rates, it’s challenging to pinpoint Princeton’s early decision acceptance rate. However, the early decision acceptance rate in a recent cycle was 15.5%, approximately three times the overall rate. 

How Hard Is It to Get Into Princeton? 

Given its 4.5% acceptance rate, we know that Princeton is a competitive university and that many applicants would happily jump at the opportunity to attend. That statistic can be discouraging to prospective applicants, but these numbers only attest to the volume of applications, not their quality.

Take our quiz to find out your chances of getting accepted to Princeton.

Princeton Admissions Statistics

As one of the leading institutions, Princeton’s class profile gives insight into the types of students who attend the school. But acceptance into Princeton isn’t just what’s on paper - they evaluate the entire application before admission.

Princeton Average GPA: 3.9

Although Princeton does not explicitly state a required GPA for admission, Princeton’s average GPA is 3.9. Achieving a GPA of 4.0 or close to it can make getting into Princeton easier, regardless of Princeton’s lack of GPA requirements. 

Princeton Average SAT: 1580

According to Princeton’s class profile data, the middle 50% of admitted students scored between 760-800 in the SAT’s Math section and 730-780 in the Evidence-Based Reading and Writing section. Achieving scores toward the high end of these ranges will improve your chances. 

Princeton Average ACT: 34-35

The middle 50% of students who submitted ACT scores achieved an average composite score between 34 and 35. Shooting for the higher end of this ACT score range can give you a better shot at admission. 

What Is Princeton Looking For In Applicants?

Princeton is looking for “students with intellectual curiosity, who have pursued and achieved academic excellence. [They] also look for students with strong personal and extracurricular accomplishments.” 

Princeton evaluates applications from student to student using holistic criteria. Emphasize your academic achievements and passions application to boost your chances of acceptance. 

Academic Very Important Important Considered Not Considered
Rigor of secondary school record X
Class rank X
Academic GPA X
Standardized test scores X
Application essay X
Recommendation(s) X

Non-Academic Very Important Important Considered Not Considered
Interview X
Extracurricular activities X
Talent/ability X
Character/personal qualities X
First generation X
Alumni/ae relation X
Geographical residence X
State residency X
Religious affiliation/commitment X
Racial/ethnic status X
Volunteer work X
Work experience X
Level of applicant’s interest X

Princeton Admissions Requirements 

As a highly selective school, getting into Princeton is challenging. To position yourself as a competitive applicant, build a strong extracurricular profile with significant leadership experience.

Prospective students must complete all Princeton’s requirements listed in the school’s admissions guide. 

  • Test Scores: To be a competitive applicant, aim for a 1580 SAT score or 35-36 ACT score. You should also have a 4.0 GPA.
  • Transcripts and School Reports: You must submit a mid-year report detailing senior year grades, a school report completed by your counselor, and official transcripts.
  • Letters of Recommendations: Submit two teacher recommendations from higher-level courses in different subject areas (AP, IB, etc.). Recommendations should come from teachers in core subjects.
  • English Proficiency Exams: If English is not your native language, submit TOEFL, IELTS, or PTE scores.
  • Graded Paper: Submit a graded paper from your secondary school.
  • Application Fee: Pay the $70 application fee or get a fee waiver if you are low-income.
  • Arts Supplement (optional): Submit supplemental materials in architecture, creative writing, dance, music, theater, or visual arts.

These are the main steps to apply to Princeton: 

  1. Complete the Common Application or Coalition Application
  2. Ensure you fulfill all application requirements and gather all documents 
  3. Submit your application 
  4. Attend the Princeton interview if you receive an invitation 
  5. Wait for your admissions decision

We recommend marking important deadlines on your calendar and keeping a checklist for your application documents. 

Princeton Application Deadlines

Princeton has different application deadlines depending on whether you are applying for undergraduate or graduate studies. All applications are due by 11:59 p.m. Eastern Time on the deadline date

Princeton Regular Decision Deadline

If you’re applying under regular decision, there are some important deadlines you’ll need to know. These Princeton deadlines are subject to change, and it’s always in your best interest to double-check.

Deadline Description
Mid-August Application portals open, and the Princeton Supplement is available
January 1 Princeton application deadline
February 1 The Princeton Financial Aid Application is due
Late March You’ll receive your admissions decision
May 1 Deadline to respond to your admissions offer

Princeton Early Decision Deadline

Early Decision, or Single-Choice Early Action as it’s known at Princeton, means you can put your application together earlier and receive an earlier admissions decision. Below are the Princeton early decision deadlines you need to know:

Deadline Description
Mid-August Application portals open, and the Princeton Supplement is available
November 1 Deadline to submit applications
November 9 The Princeton Financial Aid Application is due
Mid-December You’ll receive your admissions decision

Mark these deadlines to guide your Princeton application timeline, and to help you understand when Princeton decisions come out.

How To Improve Your Chances of Getting Into Princeton

Getting into Princeton can seem difficult, especially when acceptance statistics aren't exactly encouraging. Thankfully, there are things you can do to stand out.

1. Raise Your GPA and Achieve High Test Scores

Because getting into Princeton isn’t easy, you’ll want to ensure that you have the strongest grades and test scores you can manage before applying. If you’re still in high school, take high-level courses and perform well. A high GPA always bolsters your application. 

Regarding test scores, consider taking the SAT or ACT in your junior year or early in your senior year if you want to submit scores. You’ll have more time to retake them if you’re not pleased with your marks the first time. An SAT/ACT tutor can be an invaluable asset and help you boost these scores.

2. Pick Your Recommenders Wisely

Because you’re not in complete control of what goes in your recommendations, you should pick teachers with whom you’ve formed a meaningful relationship. 

If you’ve had the same teacher for more than one subject, this can add value to their recommendation because they’ve seen more of you, and how you handle situations and perform under pressure. Picking the right teacher can strengthen your candidacy, so ensure you choose those who will represent you well! 

3. Consider What Princeton Is Looking For 

Although you want to show your character and accomplishments, that doesn’t mean you can’t keep what Princeton is looking for in mind when you complete your application. 

Princeton states that the admissions committee is looking for students with “intellectual curiosity, who have pursued and achieved academic excellence. We also look for students with strong personal and extracurricular accomplishments.”

In your application, ensure you highlight: 

  • High-level courses you’ve taken 
  • Personal and extracurricular accomplishments
  • Leadership experiences
  • Community involvement

Princeton wants to see your involvement in your school, community, and family because it can help predict your future campus contributions. Remember, universities love it when students are engaged and eager to participate in extracurricular activitiessummers are great for boosting your profile! 

4. Take Advanced Courses

Princeton recommends that students take advanced courses in high school to demonstrate their academic abilities. This includes AP, IB, or honors courses in various subjects such as English, mathematics, foreign language, science, and social studies.

5. Spend Time on Your Essays

Your Princeton essays are important. Don't skimp on them or rush through! You should put hours of thought, writing, and revising time into each one. Use the essays as an opportunity to show who you really are and what makes you unique.

Princeton Essay Prompts

Besides your personal statement, you’ll need to complete Princeton’s supplemental essays and short answer questions. We’ll explore these prompts below to help you write fantastic admissions essays

The “Why Princeton?” Essay 

The prompt you select below depends on the degree program you’re pursuing: 

“For A.B. Degree Applicants or Those Who Are Undecided

As a research institution that also prides itself on its liberal arts curriculum, Princeton allows students to explore areas across the humanities and the arts, the natural sciences, and the social sciences. What academic areas most pique your curiosity, and how do the programs offered at Princeton suit your particular interests? (Please respond in 250 words or fewer.) 

For B.S.E Degree Applicants

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. (Please respond in 250 words or fewer.)” 

The ultimate purpose of this essay is to show the admissions committee why you want to attend Princeton based on what the school offers and how these opportunities align with your educational interests and passions. 

If you’re unsure what major you want to pursue yet, that’s okay! Focus more on the topics/disciplines you enjoy and connect these interests to Princeton’s offerings. 

For the second prompt, ensure you discuss any anecdotes or experiences that have cultivated your interest in engineering. Like the first prompt, explain how Princeton can help you further explore your interests. 

The Perspective/Diversity Essay

This essay is an opportunity to discuss your experiences and how they’ve shaped you:

“Princeton values community and encourages students, faculty, staff and leadership to engage in respectful conversations that can expand their perspectives and challenge their ideas and beliefs. As a prospective member of this community, reflect on how your lived experiences will impact the conversations you will have in the classroom, the dining hall or other campus spaces. What lessons have you learned in life thus far? What will your classmates learn from you? In short, how has your lived experience shaped you? (Please respond in 500 words or fewer.)”

There are multiple steps to answering this prompt. First, you must consider your unique background, perspectives, ideas, and beliefs. Second, you want to reflect on real-life experiences that have shaped these. 

Remember to spend more time sharing what you’ve learned from your experiences and how they helped you grow, learn, and change. Princeton wants to see how you’ll add differentiation and new perspectives to the incoming class as you interact with your peers; connect these hypothetical conversations to your lived experiences! 

The Community Service Essay 

Also known as an extracurricular essay, this prompt asks you to dive into your experiences with civic engagement and service: 

“Princeton has a longstanding commitment to understanding our responsibility to society through service and civic engagement. How does your own story intersect with these ideals? (Please respond in 250 words or fewer.)” 

Ultimately, Princeton wants to know if you’ll uphold the school’s ideals and if you’ll make meaningful contributions to campus and the surrounding community. Past behavior is a great indicator of future activities; highlight an instance when you’ve made a positive difference in your school or community. 

Service activities and civic engagement can include (but aren’t limited to) volunteering at a community center, hosting a community clean-up, volunteering at an animal shelter, or participating in a fundraiser. 

Spend adequate time working on your Princeton essays! They present an awesome opportunity to add more differentiation and interest to your application. 

Short Answers 

With Princeton’s supplemental essays out of the way, it’s time to move on to the short answer questions. Each of these prompts must be answered in 50 words or less: 

1. What Is A New Skill You Would Like To Learn In College?

2. What Brings You Joy? 

3. What Song Represents The Soundtrack Of Your Life At This Moment? 

Princeton stresses that there are no right or wrong answers to these questions. Don’t be afraid to have some fun with your answers! For the first prompt, consider what you’d love to learn in college—do you want to learn an instrument or another language? 

Anything that brings you joy goes for the second prompt. Do you love the smell of cracking open a new book? Are you an avid collector? Is there are particular activity you enjoy doing above all else? Consider what genuinely makes you happy. 

You can have a lot of fun with the music prompt. Consider what your theme song would be or what song matches your life now!

Princeton Interview 

Princeton offers optional alumni interviews but cannot guarantee that every applicant will be invited to participate. You may opt-out if you want to, but participating allows you to ask questions about life at Princeton. 

Princeton interviews are regarded more as a 30 to 45-minute-long informal conversation. Feel free to ask your interviewer questions and actively listen to their responses. Ensure that you take advantage of this time and ask questions you can’t find answers to online.

Your interview may be conducted in person or virtually, and what you talk about will probably go with the natural flow of the conversation. However, we do have a guide to Princeton interview questions if you’d like to check out some possible questions you may be asked and how to answer them.


FAQs: What Do You Need to Get Into Princeton?

If you still have questions about the Princeton application requirements and what you need to do to get in, read on. 

1. What GPA Do You Need to Get into Princeton

To get into Princeton, you'll need to be at the top of your class with a GPA of around 3.95 or higher. Princeton has very competitive admission requirements, so you'll need nearly straight A's in all your classes to be a strong applicant.

2. How Do I Stand Out in the Princeton Application Process?

To stand out in the Princeton application process, focus on rigorous coursework, exceptional essays, extracurricular activities, strong test scores and grades, and compelling recommendations. Princeton seeks students who have excelled academically and made a significant impact outside the classroom

3. When Should I Prepare for Princeton?

To maximize your chances, start preparing as early as possible. Ideally, begin strategizing in early high school or even before. The earlier you start, the more time you have to build a strong, well-rounded application.

4. How Much Is Princeton Tuition? 

Princeton University's undergraduate tuition for the 2023-24 academic year is $59,710. The total cost of attendance, including tuition, room and board, books, and personal expenses, is approximately $83,140.

5. What Extracurriculars Should I Have to Get Into Princeton?

Successful Princeton applicants usually have an impressive track record of extracurricular activities including athletics, arts, academic clubs, community service, and student government. Beyond involvement, Princeton looks for students who have attained leadership roles and made a significant impact in their chosen activities.


Final Thoughts

While Princeton's admissions process is highly competitive, understanding the requirements and expectations can help you put your best foot forward. To increase your chances of getting into Princeton, consider speaking to an expert Princeton admissions counselor.

Remember, there is no single formula for getting accepted to Princeton. The admissions committee takes a holistic approach, seeking students who have made the most of their opportunities and have the potential to contribute to the campus community.

With hard work, dedication, and a compelling application, you'll give yourself the best shot at earning a spot in the next Princeton class. Best of luck on your journey to becoming a Tiger!


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