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. 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 2020, the faculty (including visitors and part-time faculty) totaled 1,295, including 520 professors, 123 associate professors, 181 assistant professors, 18 instructors, 330 lecturers, 27 senior lecturers, 7 lecturers with the rank of professor, and 89 visitors.

Seventy-eight percent of the professorial faculty is tenured. Excluding visitors, 455 members of the faculty are women. There were 190 tenured women on the faculty in fall 2020.

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.

Twelve current Princeton faculty members (including emeritus) and scholars are recipients of the Nobel Prize.

Name Prize Year
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
James Peebles, emeritus physics 2019
David MacMillan chemistry 2021
Syukuro Manabe physics 2021

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 90 departments and interdepartmental programs, and 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 engineering (at least one course must be with laboratory), and social analysis; and one course each in culture and difference, epistemology and cognition, ethical thought and moral values, historical analysis, and quantitative and computational reasoning. A.B. candidates also must satisfy writing and 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 seven areas: culture and difference, epistemology and cognition, ethical thought and moral values, 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 54 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 and Computer 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
  • Princeton School of Public and International Affairs
  • Psychology
  • Religion
  • Slavic Languages and Literatures
  • Sociology
  • Spanish and Portuguese

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 Physics
  • Entrepreneurship
  • Environmental 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
  • Optimization and Quantitative Decision Science
  • 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 2020–2021:

Concentration Number
Computer Science 311
School of Public and International Affairs 227
Economics 205
Operations Research and Financial Engineering 120
Politics 119
History 118
Molecular Biology 94
Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering 93
Sociology 78
Anthropology 75

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 workshops and masterclasses by world-renowned guest artists. Work is shared with the community through more than 120 public arts events presented annually, most free, attracting over 25,000 audience members. Students may earn certificates in creative writing, dance, theater, music theater and visual arts.

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

Music Study. Under the auspices of the Department of Music, the newly revised 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, music performance (vocal/instrumental/conducting), electronic music, vocal consort singing, and composition. 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, and African drumming and dance. 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 more than 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, transferable to other states, through a combination of academic courses and field-based learning experiences. In addition, Teacher Prep offers enriching professional learning opportunities for teachers and administrators in area schools.

Awards and Fellowships

During the past 10 years, 20 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 16-17 17-18 18-19 19-20 20-21
Fulbright 19 20 20 23 12
Gates Cambridge 4 2 2 1 2
Hertz 1 2 0 1 2
Marshall 1 1 3 2 1
NSF 29 41 32 26 25
Schwarzman 6 4 4 2 4
U.S. Rhodes 1 1 3 2 0

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 and Computer 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
  • 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 (Master of Engineering, Master of Science in Engineering)
  • Computer Science (Master of Engineering, Master of Science in Engineering)
  • Electrical Engineering (Master of Engineering, Master of Science in Engineering)
  • Finance (Master in Finance)
  • Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering
  • Operations Research and Financial Engineering (Master of Engineering, Master of Science in Engineering)
  • Princeton 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
  • American Studies
  • Ancient World
  • Bioengineering
  • Classical Philosophy
  • Computational Science and Engineering
  • Demography
  • Environmental Studies
  • Gender and Sexuality Studies
  • Health and Health Policy
  • Hellenic Studies
  • History of Science
  • Italian Studies
  • Latin American Studies
  • Media and Modernity
  • Medieval Studies
  • Political Economy
  • Political Philosophy
  • Renaissance and Early Modern Studies
  • Science Technology and Environmental Policy
  • Statistics and Machine Learning
  • 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 and biological engineering and materials science; chemistry and materials science; civil and environmental engineering and materials science; electrical and computer engineering and materials science; geosciences and materials science; mechanical and aerospace engineering and materials science.

Neuroscience

Applied and computational mathematics and neuroscience; chemical and biological 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

Anthropology and interdisciplinary humanities; architecture and interdisciplinary humanities; art and archaeology and interdisciplinary humanities; classics and interdisciplinary humanities; comparative literature and interdisciplinary humanities; East Asian studies and interdisciplinary humanities; English and interdisciplinary humanities, French and Italian and interdisciplinary humanities; German and interdisciplinary humanities; history and interdisciplinary humanities; music and interdisciplinary humanities, Near Eastern studies and interdisciplinary humanities philosophy and interdisciplinary humanities; politics and interdisciplinary humanities; religion and interdisciplinary humanities; Slavic languages and literatures and interdisciplinary humanities; sociology and interdisciplinary humanities; and Spanish and Portuguese and 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. and M.P.A./M.B.A. program in the Princeton School of Public and International Affairs, offered in cooperation with the law schools of Columbia University, New York University, and Yale University, and with the law school and business school of Stanford University. On occasion, joint programs with other law schools have been approved by the Princeton School of Public and International Affairs and the cooperating law school. Interested applicants are encouraged to speak with the relevant departments at Princeton about such options.

Individual agreements or arrangements outside of these formal programs may also be possible with the support of a student’s department or program and the Graduate School.

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 for 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.

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 Professional Master in Architecture degree, accredited by the National Architectural Accrediting Board (NAAB), is intended for students who plan to practice architecture professionally and qualifies them to take the state professional licensing examination after completing the required internship. The Post-Professional Graduate Program is available to those who hold the degree of Bachelor of Architecture (B.Arch.) or its equivalent from an international institution. These are students who have successfully completed a professional program in architecture and have fulfilled the educational requirements for professional licensing in the state or country in which the degree was granted.

In the undergraduate major, architecture is taught in the context of a liberal arts education, emphasizing the complex interrelationship between architecture, society and technology. The curriculum for the master’s degree emphasizes design expertise in the context of urbanism, landscape and new technologies. Architecture is understood as a cultural practice involving both speculative intelligence and practical know-how. Each student constructs a personal course of study around a core of required courses that represent the knowledge essential to the education of an architect today.

The school has two five-year doctoral programs: The History and Theory track focuses on the history, theory and criticism of architecture, urbanism, landscape, and building technology. The Computation and Energy track develops research in the field of embodied computation and new systems for energy and environmental performance. The approach is interdisciplinary, covering a broad range of research interests from an architectural perspective. 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 2020–21, the school enrolled 86 M.Arch students, 34 Ph.D. students and 20 undergraduates.

The School of Engineering and Applied Science

Teaching and research in engineering focus on questions of fundamental importance—what are the core constraints behind society's most pressing problems and how can engineers contribute transformative solutions that truly benefit humanity? From the foundations of computing to lifesaving medicines, such breakthroughs grow from a collaborative and supportive culture that encourages crossing disciplines and prioritizes teaching and mentoring.

Current areas of strength and growth in the engineering school include data science, quantum computing, bioengineering, energy and the environment, robotics, and the future of cities. Through engagement with industry, entrepreneurship, and technology transfer, the school plays a key role in driving the region's innovation ecosystem.

Undergraduate students develop a foundation in fundamentals of engineering as well as the liberal arts, and 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 164 faculty members as of the start of the 2021–22 fall term. In 2019–20, faculty conducted approximately $72.4 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 Princeton School of Public and International Affairs), 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.), and a Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.), as well as a limited number of master's degrees. In spring 2021, the school enrolled 1,429 undergraduates, of whom 41% were women. In 2020–21, 710 graduate students, including 29% 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 Princeton School of Public and International Affairs

The Princeton School of Public and International Affairs dedicates itself to integrating world-class scholarship and a commitment to service in order to make a positive difference in the world.

Founded in 1930, the school brings together teaching and research in economics, politics, sociology, psychology, several of the natural sciences, history, and other disciplines within Princeton University. Faculty, administrators, and students develop and lead creative approaches to the challenges of public and international affairs, with particular emphasis on diverse scholarly perspectives and evidence-based analysis.

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 and ambassadors; leaders of nonprofit organizations; and other policy influencers.

The Princeton School of Public and International Affairs offers a multidisciplinary undergraduate liberal arts major for 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 courts, judges, and controversies; making democratic institutions work; The New Deal; regime types and results; and human security. The undergraduate concentration culminates in the senior thesis—a major scholarly work that addresses a specific policy question and either draws out policy implications and/or offers policy recommendations.

The school’s full-time, residential graduate degree programs are designed to prepare students for careers in public service, and include a two-year Master in Public Affairs (MPA) program, a one-year Master in Public Policy (MPP) program for mid-career professionals, and a Ph.D. program that focuses either on Security Studies; or Science, Technology, and Environmental Policy (STEP). Three optional certificate programs allow graduate students to specialize and deepen their expertise in a specific policy area.

The graduate program emphasizes policy-oriented research and teaching. MPA candidates follow a core curriculum—which now includes a required course on race, power, and inequality—and then pursue one of four fields of concentration (international relations, international development, domestic policy, or economics and public policy). 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 students to pursue careers in public service, specifically within the U.S. federal government. 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 MPA students. SINSI also offers funded summer internship opportunities to Princeton undergraduates from all majors and fields of study, which take place after their sophomore or junior years.

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: