How to Get Into Princeton: Admission Requirements & Tips

man studying to get into princeton
November 24, 2023
10 min read


Reviewed by:

Former Admissions Committee Member, Columbia University

Reviewed: 11/24/23

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 

Princeton’s acceptance rate is 5.8%, 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.

Princeton acceptance rate compared to how many students Quad get's into the same school!

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 14.7%, approximately three times the overall rate. 

Princeton Yield Rate 

A university’s yield rate refers to the number of admitted students who enroll. Although Princeton has opted not to share the number of applicants who applied for the class of 2026 or 2027, we can look at past data to learn more about its yield rate. 

Looking at Princeton’s 2025 class profile information, 1,647 applicants were admitted, and 1,345 enrolled. This means that Princeton’s recent yield rate is 81.7%

How Hard Is It to Get Into Princeton? 

Given its yield rate, we know that Princeton is a competitive university and that many applicants would happily jump at the opportunity to attend. Princeton’s acceptance rate is approximately 5.8%. 

That statistic can be discouraging to prospective applicants, but it’s important to note that these numbers only attest to the volume of applications, not their quality.

Take our interactive quiz below to find out how likely you are to get into Princeton.

Princeton Requirements 

As a highly selective school, getting into Princeton is challenging. To position yourself as a competitive applicant, set your target SAT score at 1580 or higher or your target ACT score at 35-36. You should also have a 4.0 GPA. To stand out further, build a strong extracurricular profile with significant leadership experience.

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

Infographic of Princeton admission requirements

Mid-Year Report, School Report, and Official Transcripts 

As part of your Princeton application, you must provide a: 

  • Mid-year report
  • School report
  • Official transcripts

The mid-year report details your senior grades in the middle of the school year. You need to ask a counselor to submit the form when your grades are available. The school report is a document your guidance counselor completes. The school report is usually sent with your official transcripts. 

Counselor and Teacher Recommendations 

Counselor and teacher letters of recommendation hold significant weight in the application process. Remember to “invite” your guidance counselor to fill in the recommendation form.

Princeton requires two teacher recommendation forms from teachers who have taught you in higher-level courses, including AP, IB Higher/Standard Level, A-levels, or others. For example:

  • English
  • Foreign language
  • Humanities
  • Social sciences
  • Natural sciences
  • Math

Your recommendations should come from teachers who teach in two different areas of study in core areas.

Princeton GPA Requirements

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 SAT Requirements 

Although the Princeton University requirements guide currently states they have a test-optional policy, you can choose to submit SAT scores. There is no particular SAT score required to apply. 

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 ACT Requirements 

There are no ACT cutoffs or requirements at Princeton. However, the middle 50% of students who submitted ACT scores achieved an average composite score between 33 and 35. Shooting for the higher end of this ACT score range can give you a better shot at admission. 

TOEFL, IELTS, or PTE Academic Scores

You’re required to take one of these tests if English isn’t your first language or you’re attending a school where English isn’t the language of instruction. These tests evaluate your English proficiency. 

Graded Written Paper

Princeton requires a graded written paper. This is a peculiar admissions requirement that you may not see at other universities. If you’ve already graduated, you need to contact your secondary school and obtain one of your graded papers for submission. 

Application Fee or Fee Waiver 

You must pay an application fee of $70 or get approved for a fee waiver. Princeton states that all low-income students are eligible for a fee waiver. 

Additional Materials 

You may choose to submit an Arts Supplement if you’ve excelled in artistic areas like:

  • Architecture
  • Creative writing
  • Dance
  • Music
  • Theater
  • Visual arts

This application element is optional, but if you have something you’d like to submit that showcases your talent, it’s likely in your best interest to do it!

Princeton Application Essays

A student writing a Princeton application essay

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 

Two men shaking hands after a Princeton University 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.

How to Apply to Princeton

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 

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 Dates 

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.
May 1 Deadline to respond to your admissions offer.

Ensure you mark these deadlines to help guide your Princeton application timeline.

Tips to Get into Princeton

Infographic on tips to et into Princeton University

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

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.

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, 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! 

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! 

How to Get Accepted at Princeton If…(A Personalized Roadmap) 

A smiling student

If you’re wondering how to boost your profile while addressing specific circumstances, we’ll outline how to remedy living out of state or having a low GPA or test scores. 

You Live Out of State

The Princeton application process is the same for out-of-state students. Although Princeton accepts most students from New Jersey, the admissions committee states that all applications are reviewed similarly. 

Your GPA Is Low

A low GPA can be remedied in numerous ways: 

  • You can retake courses or attend summer school
  • Spending extra time perfecting your essay and application, highlighting your personal qualities, and showcasing extensive extracurricular experiences 
  • If you had a reason your GPA was low (needed to work, illness, etc.), you could write an optional essay describing how your GPA isn’t an accurate reflection of your academic ability

Your SAT/ACT Scores Are Low

If your SAT or ACT scores are lower than you’d like, you have options: 

  • You can choose not to submit SAT or ACT scores if Princeton is test-optional when you apply 
  • You can opt to retake either test 
  • You can spend extra time strengthening the rest of your application and achieve a high GPA

Remember, these circumstances don’t mean getting accepted at Princeton isn’t possible!

Should I Apply to Princeton? 

Whether or not you apply to Princeton is ultimately up to you, but know that it’s a prestigious school that can offer you an excellent education and undergraduate experience. If Princeton is your dream school, you should certainly apply! 

Sometimes, students get hung up on school acceptance rates, and lower numbers can discourage some applicants from applying. We recommend never getting too hung up on admissions statistics.

Instead, consider what you have control over — your own application. If you spend enough time polishing and perfecting your application, you have a better chance of acceptance!

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 Does Princeton Look 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.” Emphasize your academic achievements and passions application to boost your chances of acceptance. 

2. What GPA Do You Need to Get into Princeton

Although Princeton doesn’t release information on the high school GPAs of admitted students, a higher GPA will always bolster your application. For example, a 3.5 GPA is by no means considered low, but Princeton is the top university in the U.S. It’s in your best interest to improve your GPA as much as you can.

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

Standing out in the admissions process starts with challenging yourself with high-level courses, achieving good grades, and earning strong SAT or ACT scores. 

Remember to also be authentic, demonstrate your initiative, and be passionate about the things you do!

4. When Should I Prepare for Princeton?

You should start preparing for your Princeton application as soon as possible. Starting early, even before your junior year, can give you time to think about activities and courses that will help you stand out. 

5. How Much Is Princeton Tuition? 

Annual tuition alone at Princeton costs $59,710. 

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

There aren’t any extracurricular activities in particular that Princeton is looking for. However, extracurriculars that showcase your leadership ability, community spirit, and special talents can help you stand out in the admissions process. 

Your extracurriculars should be tailored to your passions but also show your character and talents. For example, taking piano lessons because you enjoy them is fine, but perhaps organizing a show or performing competitively would demonstrate more of your abilities.

Ultimately, you shouldn’t take part in activities you don’t enjoy because you think it’s what Princeton wants to see. Often, more unique and unheard-of extracurriculars can help you stand out on your application. Simply focus on what your extracurriculars say about you as a person.

Unlock Your Potential and Get Into Princeton

Applying to Princeton can be intimidating, but the payoff can be huge. To increase your chances of getting into Princeton, consider speaking to an expert Princeton admissions counselor.

Now that you know more about the school and how to apply, you know the Princeton requirements and the steps you can take to strengthen your application. Good luck!

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