Academic Life

Princeton University is unique in the way it combines the strengths of a major research university with the qualities of an outstanding liberal arts college. With a student-faculty ratio of 5 to 1, Princeton excels in its commitment to teaching and provides learning opportunities both within and outside of the classroom. Whether through independent study, student-initiated seminars or lectures in emerging fields, Princeton students have the flexibility to shape dynamic academic programs that prepare them for leadership and lives of service.

The Faculty

In fall 2018, the faculty (including visitors and part-time faculty) totaled 1,289, including 509 professors, 112 associate professors, 195 assistant professors, 22 instructors, 347 lecturers and 104 visitors.

Seventy-six percent of the professorial faculty is tenured. Excluding visitors, 438 members of the faculty are women, and 259 are identified as members of minority groups. There were 179 tenured women on the faculty in fall 2018.

All faculty members at Princeton are expected to teach, as well as engage in research. Faculty members work closely with undergraduates in the supervision of junior-year independent work and senior theses.

Ten members of the current Princeton faculty (including emeritus) are recipients of the Nobel Prize:

Princeton’s Nobel Prize Winners

Faculty Prize Year
Philip W. Anderson, emeritus physics 1977
Joseph H. Taylor, emeritus physics 1993
Eric F. Wieschaus physiology/medicine 1995
Daniel C. Tsui, emeritus physics 1998
Daniel Kahneman, emeritus economics 2002
David J. Gross, emeritus physics 2004
Paul Krugman, emeritus economics 2008
Christopher Sims economics 2011
Angus Deaton, emeritus economics 2015
F. Duncan Haldane physics 2016

Undergraduate College

Program of Study

Princeton offers two bachelor’s degrees: a Bachelor of Arts (A.B.) and a Bachelor of Science in Engineering (B.S.E.). Within these degree programs, students can choose from among 91 departments and interdepartmental programs. In lieu of existing programs, students may apply for an independent concentration.

Undergraduates in the A.B. program must successfully complete general education requirements that include two courses each in literature and the arts, science and technology (at least one course must be with laboratory), and social analysis; and one course each in epistemology and cognition, ethical thought and moral values, historical analysis, and quantitative reasoning. A.B. candidates also must satisfy writing and foreign language requirements. Departmental requirements combine upper-level courses with independent work in both the junior and senior years. A senior thesis is required of all A.B. candidates.

Engineering students take at least seven courses in the humanities and social sciences, in addition to satisfying the writing requirement and meeting the requirements in mathematics, physics, chemistry and computer programming as specified by the School of Engineering and Applied Science. B.S.E. students are required to take one course in four of the following six areas: epistemology and cognition, ethical thought and moral values, foreign language, historical analysis, literature and the arts, and social analysis. Independent work or a senior thesis is required for completion of the B.S.E. degree.

Departments and Programs

Students may choose from among 36 majors, or an independent concentration, and participate in 55 interdisciplinary certificate programs.

Academic Departments

Undergraduates may concentrate their studies in the following fields:

  • African American Studies
  • Anthropology
  • Architecture
  • Art and Archaeology
  • Astrophysical Sciences
  • Chemical and Biological Engineering
  • Chemistry
  • Civil and Environmental Engineering
  • Classics
  • Comparative Literature
  • Computer Science
  • East Asian Studies
  • Ecology and Evolutionary Biology
  • Economics
  • Electrical Engineering
  • English
  • French and Italian
  • Geosciences
  • German
  • History
  • Independent Concentration
  • Mathematics
  • Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering
  • Molecular Biology
  • Music
  • Near Eastern Studies
  • Neuroscience
  • Operations Research and Financial Engineering
  • Philosophy
  • Physics
  • Politics
  • Psychology
  • Religion
  • Slavic Languages and Literatures
  • Sociology
  • Spanish and Portuguese
  • Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs
Interdisciplinary Certificate Programs

Undergraduates may supplement their concentration by participating in any of the following programs, all of which grant certificates of proficiency:

  • African American Studies
  • African Studies
  • American Studies
  • Applications of Computing
  • Applied and Computational Mathematics
  • Archaeology
  • Architecture and Engineering
  • Asian American Studies
  • Biophysics
  • Cognitive Science
  • Contemporary European Politics and Society
  • Creative Writing
  • Dance
  • East Asian Studies
  • Engineering Biology
  • Engineering and Management Systems
  • Engineering Physics
  • Entrepreneurship
  • Environmental Studies
  • Ethnographic Studies
  • European Cultural Studies
  • Finance
  • Gender and Sexuality Studies
  • Geological Engineering
  • Global Health and Health Policy
  • Hellenic Studies
  • History and the Practice of Diplomacy
  • Humanistic Studies
  • Jazz Studies
  • Journalism
  • Judaic Studies
  • Language and Culture
  • Latin American Studies
  • Latino Studies
  • Linguistics
  • Materials Science and Engineering
  • Medieval Studies
  • Music Performance
  • Music Theater
  • Near Eastern Studies
  • Neuroscience
  • Planets and Life
  • Quantitative and Computational Biology
  • Robotics and Intelligent Systems
  • Russian, East European and Eurasian Studies
  • South Asian Studies
  • Statistics and Machine Learning
  • Sustainable Energy
  • Teacher Preparation
  • Technology and Society
  • Theater
  • Translation and Intercultural Communication
  • Urban Studies
  • Values and Public Life
  • Visual Arts

Areas of Concentration

Undergraduate concentration patterns have remained fairly constant over the years. Here, in descending order, are the 10 areas of concentration undertaken by the most juniors and seniors in academic year 2018-19:

Concentration Number
Computer Science 313
Economics 269
Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs 240
Politics 147
History 144
Operations Research and Financial Engineering 139
Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering 115
Molecular Biology 110
Ecology and Evolutionary Biology 109
English 85

The Creative Arts

The Lewis Center for the Arts is the academic unit comprising the programs in creative writing, dance, theater, music theater, visual arts and the Princeton Atelier. Over a quarter of undergraduates are enrolled in one or more of the 150-plus courses offered each year along with visits by world-renowned guest artists. Work is shared with the community through more than 140 public arts events presented annually, most free, attracting over 15,000 audience members. Students may earn certificates in creative writing, dance, theater, music theater and visual arts. In addition, a major in visual arts is offered through the “Practice of Art” program in the Department of Art and Archaeology in collaboration with the Lewis Center.

The Princeton Atelier. The Princeton Atelier brings together professional artists from different disciplines to create new work in the context of semester-long workshops with students.

Music Study. Under the auspices of the Department of Music, the undergraduate music major allows students to study music from a variety of perspectives — history, theory, composition and performance. Independent work in music ranges from writing music or writing about music to projects that involve a mix of scholarship, composition and performance. Music majors and other students engaged in music may also apply for certificate programs in jazz studies and music performance. Undergraduate music students also benefit from contact with the graduate students in the renowned Ph.D. programs in musicology and composition. The Department of Music provides all Princeton students with the opportunity to take courses with world-renowned composers and music historians; take lessons in the private studios of top professionals; audition to perform with our many ensembles; engage with visiting professional musicians in public masterclasses; learn from artists on the Princeton University Concerts series; and take performance courses in variety of areas including chamber music, opera and vocal ensembles. Students may also participate in numerous student-run ensembles.

Artist Fellowship Programs. In collaboration with the Department of Music, the Lewis Center offers two fellowship programs supporting individual artists. The Hodder Fellowship provides a year of support to emerging artists with time and space to create new work. The Princeton Arts Fellowship provides a two-year residency for emerging artists to teach and engage with the creative community at Princeton.

Program in Teacher Preparation

For 50 years, this nationally accredited program has provided an opportunity for Princeton University undergraduates, graduate students and alumni to obtain a New Jersey teaching license through a combination of academic courses and field-based learning experiences. Teacher Prep also manages the High School Program at Princeton University that allows exceptional high school students who have completed their secondary coursework in specified areas and met the admission criteria to enroll in University courses at no cost. In addition, the program offers enriching professional learning opportunities for teachers and administrators in area schools.

Awards and Fellowships

During the past 10 years, 21 Princeton undergraduates and recent undergraduate alumni have been U.S. Rhodes Scholars. The table below lists seven of the award programs open to graduates and shows the number of Princetonians who have accepted these scholarships over the past five years.

Program 14-15 15-16 16-17 17-18 18-19
Fulbright 15 13 19 20 20
Gates Cambridge 3 2 4 2 2
Hertz 1 1 1 2 0
Marshall 0 3 1 1 3
NSF 20 32 29 41 32
Schwarzman 5 6 4 4
U.S. Rhodes 3 4 1 1 3

The Graduate School

The Graduate School was formally established in 1900 and, by history and design, it is relatively small and emphasizes Ph.D. programs in the humanities, social and natural sciences, and engineering. Doctoral education focuses on original and independent scholarship, while master’s degree programs prepare candidates for careers in professional practice and public life. Students are in residence except when approved for academic reasons to be in absentia.

Doctoral Programs

Doctoral students work toward a Ph.D. in one of 42 degree-granting departments and programs. Doctoral candidates must fulfill departmental requirements, pass a general departmental examination, prepare a doctoral dissertation and present a public oral defense of the dissertation. The University grants doctoral degrees in the following departments and programs:

  • Anthropology
  • Applied and Computational Mathematics
  • Architecture
  • Art and Archaeology
  • Astrophysical Sciences
  • Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences
  • Chemical and Biological Engineering
  • Chemistry
  • Civil and Environmental Engineering
  • Classics
  • Comparative Literature
  • Computer Science
  • East Asian Studies
  • Ecology and Evolutionary Biology
  • Economics
  • Electrical Engineering
  • English
  • French and Italian
  • Geological Sciences
  • German
  • History
  • History of Science
  • Mathematics
  • Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering
  • Molecular Biology
  • Musicology
  • Music Composition
  • Near Eastern Studies
  • Neuroscience
  • Operations Research and Financial Engineering
  • Philosophy
  • Physics
  • Plasma Physics
  • Politics
  • Population Studies
  • Psychology
  • Public and International Affairs (Woodrow Wilson School)
  • Quantitative and Computational Biology
  • Religion
  • Slavic Languages and Literatures
  • Sociology
  • Spanish and Portuguese

Master’s Programs

Princeton’s requirements for a master’s degree vary greatly by department. Students may complete master’s degrees in the following programs, most of which admit students directly:

  • Architecture (Master of Architecture)
  • Chemical and Biological Engineering (Master of Engineering, Master of Science in Engineering)
  • Chemistry (Master of Science)
  • Civil and Environmental Engineering (M.Eng., M.S.E.)
  • Computer Science (M. Eng., M.S.E.)
  • Electrical Engineering (M.Eng., M.S.E.)
  • Finance (Master in Finance)
  • Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering (M.Eng., M.S.E.)
  • Near Eastern Studies (Master of Arts)
  • Operations Research and Financial Engineering (M.Eng., M.S.E.)
  • Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs (Master in Public Affairs, Master in Public Policy)

Interdisciplinary/Interdepartmental Programs

The following are interdepartmental (and often interdisciplinary) programs in which Ph.D. work may be concentrated or in which certificates may be granted:

  • African American Studies
  • African Studies
  • Ancient World
  • Bioengineering
  • Classical Art and Archaeology
  • Classical Philosophy
  • Computational and Information Science
  • Demography
  • East Asian Studies
  • Environmental Engineering and Water Resources
  • Environmental Studies
  • Gender and Sexuality Studies
  • Health and Health Policy
  • Hellenic Studies
  • History of Science
  • Humanities
  • Italian Studies
  • Latin American Studies
  • Linguistics
  • Materials
  • Media and Modernity
  • Medieval Studies
  • Near Eastern Studies
  • Neuroscience
  • Plasma Physics
  • Plasma Science and Technology
  • Political Economy
  • Political Philosophy
  • Renaissance Studies
  • Science and Technology of Materials
  • Statistics and Machine Learning
  • Social Policy
  • Urban Policy/Urban Policy and Planning

Joint Degrees

The Graduate School offers joint degrees in the following areas (students apply to one of the appropriate Ph.D.-granting fields above):

Materials science

Chemical engineering and materials; chemistry and materials; civil and environmental engineering and materials; electrical engineering and materials; geosciences and materials; mechanical and aerospace engineering and materials

Neuroscience

Applied and computational mathematics and Neuroscience; chemical engineering and Neuroscience; chemistry and Neuroscience; computer science and Neuroscience; ecology, evolutionary biology and Neuroscience; electrical engineering and Neuroscience; molecular biology and Neuroscience; philosophy and Neuroscience; physics and Neuroscience; psychology and Neuroscience

Humanities

Interdisciplinary Humanities

Social policy

Demography and Social policy; politics and Social policy; psychology and Social policy; sociology and Social policy

Dual Degrees

Princeton partners with other institutions in offering two formal dual degree programs. The first is the M.D./Ph.D. program with the Robert Wood Johnson Medical School and the Rutgers–New Brunswick Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences. Students in the program complete their Ph.D. work in molecular biology at Princeton. The second program is the M.P.A./J.D. program in the Woodrow Wilson School, offered in cooperation with the law schools of Columbia University, New York University, Stanford University and Yale University. Other dual degree options may be available on an individual and customized basis. Interested applicants are encouraged to speak with the relevant departments at Princeton about such options.

Exchange Programs

The Graduate School participates in a number of formal exchange programs that enable students to take courses or conduct dissertation research that cannot be done at Princeton. The programs include exchanges with U.S. institutions, as well as universities in England, France, Germany, Italy, Japan and Israel. Students may also conduct research at other locations and institutions through research programs or affiliations that they themselves or their faculty advisers initiate. In addition, experts from institutions around the world visit Princeton every term.

The School of Architecture

The School of Architecture, Princeton’s center of teaching and research in architectural design, urbanism, history and theory, and architectural technologies, provides students with a course of study that reflects on contemporary and emerging issues in architecture. Its roots reach back to 1832, when Professor Joseph Henry, an amateur architect and scientist, taught a course on the history of architecture. The School of Architecture opened in 1919.

Principal degrees offered by the school include a bachelor of arts (A.B.), a Master of Architecture (M.Arch.) and a Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.). The Master of Architecture program, accredited by the National Architectural Accrediting Board (NAAB), is intended for students who plan to practice architecture professionally. Graduates of the master’s program are qualified to take the state professional licensing examination after the completion of a required internship.

The five-year doctoral programs have a double focus: the history and theory of architecture and architectural technologies. The approach of both programs is interdisciplinary, covering a broad range of research interests. Working closely with the faculty of the school and allied departments in the University, students build individual programs of study involving at least two years of coursework, general examinations and a dissertation.

Students at the School of Architecture benefit from its small size and thorough integration with the University community. In 2018–19, the school enrolled 76 M.Arch students, 44 Ph.D. students and 24 undergraduates.

The School of Engineering and Applied Science

The engineering school welcomes students and faculty from diverse backgrounds who are committed to science in the service of society. In both their teaching and research, Princeton engineers distill problems to their core constraints and develop solutions with widespread impacts. The school’s highly collaborative culture enables fluid interactions with industry and across the University, which results in creative, integrative solutions.

Current areas of strength and growth include data science, bioengineering, energy and the environment, robotics and cyberphysical systems, and the future of cities.

Undergraduate students develop a strong foundation in fundamentals of engineering as well as the liberal arts, and then apply their learning to substantial independent projects. Graduate students benefit from faculty mentoring as they push the boundaries of their fields. Alumni of the school go on to become leaders in academia and industry, founders of companies, and winners of top honors that recognize transformative impact. The school has 151 faculty members who, in 2017–18, conducted approximately $69 million in research funded by government, industry and foundations.

Several centers foster campus-wide collaborations on critical areas of research and teaching: the Andlinger Center for Energy and the Environment, the Center for Information Technology Policy (jointly with the Wilson School), and the Princeton Institute for the Science and Technology of Materials.

The Keller Center for Innovation in Engineering Education is a cross-campus hub for creating societal impact through entrepreneurship, design thinking and innovative interdisciplinary education.

Degrees offered by the school include a Bachelor of Science in Engineering (B.S.E.), a Bachelor of Arts (A.B.), a Master of Science in Engineering (M.S.E.), a Master of Engineering (M.Eng.) and a Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.). In spring 2019, the school enrolled 1,447 undergraduates, of whom 38% were women. As of June 2018, 676 graduate students, including 28% women, were pursuing advanced degrees in engineering.

Engineering education at Princeton began in 1875 and grew into the creation of the School of Engineering and Applied Science in 1921.

The Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs

The Woodrow Wilson School was founded in 1930 as the School of Public and International Affairs and brings together teaching and research in economics, politics, sociology, psychology, several of the natural sciences, history and other disciplines within the University.

The school counts among its alumni a secretary of state, a secretary of defense, a secretary of the Treasury, several U.S. representatives, senators and governors, a chair of the Federal Reserve Board, U.S. and foreign government officials, ambassadors, leaders of nonprofit organizations, and other policymakers.

The Woodrow Wilson School offers a multidisciplinary undergraduate liberal arts major for Princeton University students who are passionate about public policy. Students participate in policy task forces, which can include travel in the United States and abroad, and focus on a broad range of subjects; recent examples include the working poor, criminal justice abuses, modernizing Medicaid, the future of Syria and climate change.

The school’s graduate degree programs are designed to prepare students for careers in public service, and include a two-year Master in Public Affairs (M.P.A.) program, a one-year Master in Public Policy (M.P.P.) program for midcareer professionals, and a Ph.D. program that focuses either on Security Studies or Science, Technology and Environmental Policy (STEP). Three certificate programs expand the graduate curriculum.

The graduate program emphasizes policy-oriented research and teaching. M.P.A. candidates follow a core curriculum and then branch into one of four fields of concentration. They have the opportunity to gain real-world experience, completing a policy workshop for a real-world client. Students also gain professional experience during a required summer internship between their first and second years of study.

The school’s Scholars in the Nation’s Service Initiative (SINSI), launched in 2006, encourages the students to pursue careers in public service. The core element of the program is a two-year SINSI-supported fellowship with an executive branch department or agency, which is open to Princeton seniors from all disciplines and first-year Wilson School M.P.A. students.

Councils, Institutes and Centers

Princeton has academic units that are interdisciplinary in nature and draw faculty members and students together through teaching and research. A sampling of these is listed below: