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How to get into Princeton University

How to get into Princeton University

For Undergraduate and Masters Courses

Princeton is a private Ivy League research university founded in 1746. It is located in Princeton, New Jersey, and is the fourth oldest institution of higher education in the US. As of August 2018, 63 Nobel laureates and 15 Fields medalists, besides winner of various awards and honors, have been affiliated with Princeton as alumni, faculty members, or researchers.

Princeton provides undergraduate and postgraduate education in the humanities, social sciences, natural science, and engineering. In recent years, the acceptance rate has been less than 10 percent. As of July 15, 2017 (Class of 2021), the number of applicants was 31,056; admits 1990; enrolled 1314; and the admit rate 6.4 percent. Female students comprised 50.4 percent of the students and Asian American students 22 percent. The class included 167 international students from 59 countries.


Princeton University statistics and facts

  • Princeton facts
  • Undergraduates: 5,400
  • Postgraduates: 2,781
  • Campus: Suburban, college town, 500 acres
  • Motto: Under God’s power she flourishes
  • Academic staff: 1,238
  • Administrative staff: 1,103
  • Endowment: $23.8 billion

Source: Wikipedia


How to get into Princeton University for undergrad degree


Undergraduate admission

Princeton University looks for students with intellectual curiosity, who have achieved academic excellence and have strong personal and extracurricular accomplishments. It would like applicants to have taken courses in English, mathematics, foreign language, laboratory science, and history. Applicants who have tested themselves at the Advanced Placements and dual-enrolment courses have a good chance. The university evaluates International Baccalaureate (IB), A-levels, and other diploma within the context of the curriculum.

What is needed

The application checklist includes the application itself, the Princeton Supplement (extracurricular activities; vacation activities; a few details about you, such as favorite author, favorite line from a movie, etc.), and essays.

The most important part of your application is your high-school transcript. Princeton particularly looks at the courses you have taken, the grades you have received, and your teachers’ comments that come in the recommendations to learn how you did in class and in your homework. The university also looks at the quality of your writing—essay or short answers—to assess how well you describe your ideas in English. It also evaluates how you have performed outside the class, from extracurriculars to a job that you may have held.


You should keep in mind SAT scores, GPA, and acceptance rates when you are planning to gain admission to Princeton University. The average SAT score (composite) at Princeton is 1520, and on the old 2400 SAT, it is 2220. The 25th percentile New SAT score is 1470, and the 75th percentile score 1590. Although there is no absolute SAT requirement, a score of at least 1470 is required for you to be considered. The breakdown of SAT scores by section (in the order of average, 25th percentile, and 75th percentile) is Math – 770, 730, 800; Reading – 38, 37, 40; and Writing – 38, 37, 40.

The 25th percentile Old 2400 SAT score is 2,100 and the 75th percentile score 2380. Although there is no absolute requirement, you require a score of at least 2100 to be considered. The breakdown by section (average, 25th percentile, and 75th percentile) is Math – 750, 700, 800; Reading – 730, 690, 790; and Writing – 740, 710, 790.

The average GPA at Princeton is 3.9, a highly competitive score for GPAs. You need to be at the top of your class and require just about straight ‘A’s to outdo your competing rivals. You should also have taken a number of AP/IB classes to prove your academic worth. If your GPA is less than 3.9, you will probably need higher SAT scores to have a chance against your fellow applicants. You also need to impress the university with your extracurriculars and achievements.

The university explains that the applicant’s score in standardized tests is not the most important part of the application. The school transcript and what the applicant has done in the classroom are more important.


Applicants need to write two essays as part of their application. Engineering applicants have to write an additional essay. The essays give an opportunity to applicants to show their writing skills and to speak for themselves. Princeton gives a lot of importance to intellectual integrity, and applicants are expected to certify that the elements of their applications are their own work. The university may withdraw applications or cancel the admissions of those who are seen to have plagiarized essays or had their essays written by someone else.

Princeton advises applicants to take their time to write their essays as it reflects how they think, which is important to the university. It is important to proofread the draft essay.

You should tailor your applications in a way that would help the university see your achievements and your ability to make the best of the resources made available by it. The objective is to understand whether you will be able to benefit and whether you will be able to give back to the university. The admissions office is interested in knowing your leadership skills, interests, special skills, and extracurricular activities. Most Princeton students are not only academic achievers but also students who have committed their talents to significant pursuits.

Princeton stresses that there is nothing formulaic about its admissions process. Each application is read by at least two readers, and then the application goes to the admissions committee. A holistic review of the applicant’s academic work and extracurriculars is done.

Financial aid

Princeton provides financial aid based on need. Aid comes in grants, not loans. This helps Princeton students to graduate with no debt. Applicants are encouraged to go to the financial aid estimator on the Princeton website and get an idea of what their family contributions might be and get an idea of what a Princeton education is going to cost their families and how much financial aid they will receive. Aid is given on the basis of the financial need of the applicant’s family.

The complete financial need of all admitted international students is met on a par with that of US students. The applicant’s family’s ability to pay is not a factor in the admission decision. Students who are eligible for aid will be given a term-time job of about eight to nine hours a week to meet their needs.

English proficiency

If English was not the medium of instruction at school, the applicant will have to take TOEFL, the IELTS Academic, or the PTE Academic in addition to SAT or ACT.

Graduate school

To be eligible for admission to the graduate school, an applicant must hold a bachelor’s degree from an accredited college or university. Individuals are encouraged to explore the various fields of study and choose the best program that meets their academic and professional goals. Graduate admissions are made by the faculty from the fields of study the applicant has chosen.

Statement of purpose

Before submitting the application, the applicant should include a statement of academic purpose that mentions the goals of academic study and the full names and email addresses of three recommenders. The applicant should request transcripts and arrange to have the prerequisite test scores sent to Princeton.

In the statement of academic purpose, the applicant’s current and future academic and career plans should be included. The personal, academic, and professional situations that inspired the applicant should also be mentioned. The statement should not exceed 1,000 words.

Resume, CV

A resume or curriculum vitae is required and should include education, employment, activities, community service, and academic and professional honors.


Three letters of recommendation submitted through the university’s electronic recommendation system are needed, and they should come from faculty or other individuals familiar with the applicant’s academic work. Copies of transcripts need to be scanned and uploaded.

Test scores

Applicants need to provide valid test scores such as those of the GRE/GMAT. Those applying to the Department of Finance may submit valid GMAT scores in place of GRE scores. International students have to meet the language requirements and submit TOEFL/IELTS scores.

Language requirements

Receiving a bachelor’s degree from a country such as India that lists English as an official language does not exempt the applicant from clearing TOEFL/IELTS.

Some departments require a writing sample with the admission application. Writing samples should be in English unless otherwise specified.

Financial resources

Master’s program applicants need to fill out a statement of financial resources during the application process. It will not be used for evaluating applicants for admission and will only be reviewed only if a department recommends admission. Financial assistance is granted on the basis of academic merit, academic promise, and the basis of financial need as given in the statement.

Princeton MBA?

Princeton doesn’t offer an MBA. But it does offer a Master in Finance degree. Admission to the program requires exemplary academic credentials, high GMAT/GRE scores, and recommendations.

Also read:
Why I rejected a full scholarship for Masters and PhD from Princeton University
References: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12