How to get into Princeton: Breaking Down Acceptance Rates and Admissions Requirements

Princeton University is one of the hardest schools to get into and has one of the lowest acceptance rates of any college in the world. The class of 2025 had

2 years ago

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Princeton University is one of the hardest schools to get into and has one of the lowest acceptance rates of any college in the world. The class of 2025 had a record-low acceptance rate of 3.98%, accepting only 1,498 students out of 37,601 applicants! The 2022-2023 admissions results are just around the corner and based on history and the unpredictable effect of the pandemic on college admissions, acceptance numbers will likely be low again.

But, don’t let the low acceptance rates discourage you or keep you from achieving your academic dreams. Let’s break down Princeton’s acceptance rates, admissions requirements, and so much more! If Princeton is your dream college, this blog will help you get there!

A Day in the Life: Princeton Student

Table of Contents

Princeton Overview

Princeton University is a medium-sized, four-year, private university located in the large town of Princeton, New Jersey. Princeton’s campus is spread over more than 600 acres, with buildings representing a wide variety of architectural styles. Princeton ranked #1 in the 2022 edition of the US News Best College list and #20 in the QS World University Rankings 2022.

Founded in 1746, Princeton is the fourth-oldest college in the US and one of the elite members of the Ivy League. Originally located in Elizabeth, then Newark, the college moved to Princeton in 1756, where it was housed in its famous Nassau Hall.

With 5,300 undergraduate students, Princeton is committed to its diverse community. Most undergraduate students live and study on campus, where they regularly interact with faculty and staff. Princeton offers ample opportunities to pursue personal interests, explore campus activities, and meet new people. Students can easily travel by train to nearby Philadelphia and New York City.

Princeton’s Mission Statement:

Princeton University advances learning through scholarship, research, and teaching of unsurpassed quality, with an emphasis on undergraduate and doctoral education that is distinctive among the world’s great universities, and with a pervasive commitment to serve the nation and the world.

Princeton’s unofficial motto:

In the Nation’s Service and the Service of Humanity.

Princeton Rankings

US News & World Report ranked Princeton #1 in their Best Colleges 2022 edition. Princeton ranked #20 in the 2022 QS World University Rankings.

Notable Princeton Rankings (according to US News Best Colleges 2022 rankings)

Princeton Offers the Following Degrees

“Princeton University has a longstanding commitment to service, reflected in Princeton’s informal motto — Princeton in the nation’s service and the service of humanity — and exemplified by the extraordinary contributions that Princetonians make to society.”

-Christopher L. Eisgruber, President of Princeton University, Class of 1983

How Hard is it to get into Princeton?

While Princeton is one of the toughest schools to get into, it’s not impossible! The acceptance rate for the Class of 2021 was 6.09% and plummeted to 3.98% for the Class of 2025. The pandemic and making the SAT and ACT test-optional likely contributed to record-high application numbers and record-low acceptance rates.

Princeton Acceptance Rates

Princeton Admissions Statistics Class of 2025
Total ApplicationsOverall Acceptance RateApplications AcceptedPercentage of Accepted Class who are International Citizens

What does it take to get into Princeton?

While Princeton takes a holistic approach to application review, most students still graduate at the top of their high school classes and earn nearly perfect scores on their standardized tests. Admissions officers first consider academics, so your high school transcript is the most crucial part of your application.

The Princeton admissions also team cares about what you accomplish in and out of the classroom. That’s why your extracurriculars are so important! They want to learn about your talents, personal achievements, and academic accomplishments. If you choose extracurriculars you’re passionate about, those activities will shine through your application.

Additionally, students who make a difference in their high schools and communities stand out in the application pile. When you talk about your leadership activities, interests, and standout skills, you show the admissions committee how you care about your commitments and what you’ve accomplished through them.

Finally, Princeton wants to know how you will use the academic and nonacademic opportunities available at the school to help contribute to the Princeton community. Your application should reflect your accomplishments, and your writing should showcase your unique voice.

“For each class, we bring together a varied mix of high-achieving, intellectually gifted students from diverse backgrounds to create an exceptional learning community.” - Princeton University Admissions

Big Questions: Princeton University

Princeton Application Requirements

Princeton’s application process is similar to the other Ivy League schools. Admissions officers look for applicants with excellent grades, exceptional academic accomplishments, and those who will utilize Princeton’s extensive resources to positively change the world around them.

Below is an overview of the Princeton application requirements. Check out the “How to Apply” page on Princeton’s website for additional information, specific application requirements, and a helpful application checklist.

What application system does Princeton use?

Princeton accepts the following applications:

You must also complete the Princeton Supplement online through whichever application platform you choose.

How to Apply to Princeton

The Princeton application asks you to provide the following:

Princeton GPA Requirements

If you want to go to Princeton, you need to be in the top 10% of your high school graduating class. You should also have a 3.9 GPA or higher, and it’s safe to say your grades should be nearly perfect for you to compete with other Princeton hopefuls. You should also take as many advanced classes as your high school offers. It will show them you’re utilizing your academic resources and that you can handle demanding courses.

If your GPA is not as high as most Princeton applicants, high test scores, phenomenal letters of recommendation, or out-of-the-box extracurricular activities might make up for this deficit.

Does Princeton accept AP courses?

If you take AP or college-level courses in high school, you might receive recognition for this work. Check out Princeton’s AP policy page for more information.

Princeton Standardized Test Requirements

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Princeton remains test-optional through the 2022-2023 admissions cycle (Class of 2027). You can still report your SAT or ACT scores, but you will not be disadvantaged if you choose not to submit them.

Princeton SAT Requirements

Students who submit their SAT scores typically score:

Math: 740-800

Evidence-based Reading and Writing: 710-770

Princeton SAT Subject Tests

Princeton eliminated the SAT Subject Tests in 2021.

Princeton ACT Requirements

ACT composite scores typically range from 32-35.

AP or IB Test Requirements

Princeton admissions suggest you self-report all your AP or IB scores on your application.

Find out your chances of getting into Princeton based of your current SAT or ACT scores with our free college admissions chances calculator!


SAT and ACT Score Ranges of Admitted Princeton Students
TestScore Range (Middle 50 percent)
SAT Math740-800
SAT ERW710-770
ACT Composite32-35

Applying to Princeton as an International Student

Princeton reviews international applicants the same way they review US applicants. The school offers no preference or advantage to a particular system or country.

If English is not your native language, Princeton requires you to take the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL), the International English Language Testing System Academic (IELTS Academic), or the Pearson Test of English Academic (PTE Academic). The exception to this rule is if you spent at least three years at a secondary school that taught its courses primarily in English.

For more information about applying to Princeton as an international student, visit their “International Students” page.

Princeton Application Essays

Princeton is looking for introspection, personality, insight, and thought process in the application essays. While the prompts may differ slightly from year to year, they’re always going to ask you for deep thoughts and emotional experiences. It’s important to be specific, honest, and forthcoming. There is no reason to hold back your thoughts (as long as you can fit them in the word count!). Both the general essay questions and the supplemental essay questions require you to "dig deep." Although Princeton has low acceptance rates, these essays can help you stand out in your application.

You can complete the Princeton application essay questions directly on the Common Application or Coalition Application.

Princeton Supplemental Essays

Princeton requires a number of supplemental essays responses. The prompts from Princeton’s 2021/2022 application cycle will give you a general idea of what types of prompts you’ll need to answer in your Princeton application.

A.B. Degree Applicants or Undecided must respond to this prompt:

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 about 250 words.)

B.S.E Degree Applicants must respond to this prompt:

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 about 250 words.)

All applicants must respond to the following prompts:

Extracurricular Activity and Work Experience

Briefly elaborate on an activity, organization, work experience, or hobby that has been particularly meaningful to you. (Please respond in about 150 words.)

Your Voice

Please respond to each question in an essay of about 250 words.

  1. At Princeton, we value diverse perspectives and the ability to have respectful dialogue about difficult issues. Share a time when you had a conversation with a person or a group of people about a difficult topic. What insight did you gain, and how would you incorporate that knowledge into your thinking in the future?
  2. Princeton has a longstanding commitment to service and civic engagement. Tell us how your story intersects (or will intersect) with these ideals.

More About You

Please respond to each question in 50 words or fewer. There are no right or wrong answers. Be yourself!

  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 University: Where Are They Now?

Princeton Application Extracurriculars

More is not always better when it comes to extracurricular activities. Princeton prefers to see dedication, teamwork, and leadership in your extracurriculars. They want to see the extracurriculars that meant the most to you and those relevant to your college and career goals. Since there is a set number of spaces for extracurriculars, only include the ones that fit this criterion and mean the most to you!

Princeton will see a lot of applications with impressive extracurriculars. You can stand out from the rest by including activities that might be a little outside the box. Consider starting a business or club. Do you have a desire to help the underprivileged in your community? Turn your passions into a nonprofit? Whatever you choose, dive deep and stay committed. Princeton not only wants to see your commitment and leadership, they want to see how your experiences will shape and drive you to greater accomplishments as a Princeton student.

SIS Education's Admission Support program comes with extracurricular and leadership project planning, execution, and reporting to make you a well-rounded candidate when applying to universities. Find out more about how we do this through our Admissions Support program.

Letters of Recommendation

Princeton requires three letters of recommendation. The first should come from your counselor or academic advisor. The other two should be from teachers who have taught you in higher-level courses and different academic areas. Choose teachers who teach core subjects like English, social sciences, natural sciences, humanities, or a foreign language.

You should choose teachers who know you well and will give Princeton a complete picture of who you are and why you should be part of the Princeton community. Choose a counselor who can expand on your leadership positions and how you’ve contributed to the school and community. Use these letters to help Princeton get a better sense of who you are and why Princeton is the perfect school for you.

How much does Princeton cost?

Princeton is expensive, but it’s also a need-blind school. There are many ways to cut down Princeton’s tuition and fees. Here are the raw costs for the 2021-2022 academic school year.

Princeton 2022–2023 Tuition and Fees
Est. Misc Expenses$3,500

Is Princeton a need-blind school?

Princeton is a need-blind school, so applicants who request financial aid do not have a disadvantage over those who can pay the full tuition. The university is committed to offering high-quality education regardless of circumstances or socioeconomic status. This policy ensures each class is a diverse group of students from all backgrounds.

Does Princeton give scholarships or financial aid?

If you get into Princeton, the school will meet 100 percent of your demonstrated financial need through a grant rather than a loan. Princeton encourages all qualified students to apply regardless of their financial or socioeconomic background. As one of the most generous financial aid programs in the US, Princeton has a generous no-loan policy that makes it possible to graduate with little or no debt.

Princeton does not offer academic or athletic scholarships. Their financial aid program is based solely on need.

Does Princeton offer financial aid for international students?

Princeton offers International students the same financial aid as US students! For more information about Princeton’s financial aid policy, visit their financial aid page.

Princeton Application Deadlines

Princeton applicants can apply through single-choice early action or regular decision.

Princeton Early Action & Regular Action Deadlines
Application TypeApplication Deadline
Single-Choice Early ActionApply by November 1, 2022
Regular DecisionApply by January 1, 2023

How to Stand Out in your Princeton Application

The Princeton application is an extension of you. The admissions committee is looking for students who exemplify Princeton’s mission and values. They accept students who not only meet the GPA and testing requirements (although these are optional), but students who will make a difference on the Princeton campus, in the lives of the people around them, and in the world at large. If they can picture you thriving on their campus, participating in clubs, starting an organization, and utilizing the university’s extensive resources, they will likely admit you.

How SIS Education Can Help Your Princeton Application Stand Out

SIS Education’s elite team of strategists graduated from some of the top universities in the world, including Princeton! Many have experience as professors, administration, and even admissions officers on Ivy League campuses.

Our top strategists want you to succeed, and they come alongside you on your admissions journey. Our strategists can help you choose advanced placement courses, narrow down your extracurriculars, guide your application process, and help you decide how many colleges you should apply to.

Here are four of one of strategists top tips for making your Princeton application stand out.

  1. Build your profile to a high level of accomplishment in whatever area you excel at, especially showing yourself as a leader in your field.
  2. Focus on giving back to the community through high-impact activities.
  3. Strive for 10’s across the board: A 10 is the highest possible level of accomplishment. Do your best to level up as much as possible in your high school career.
  4. Take the time to research Princeton before starting your supplemental essays. SHOW rather than tell why you’re a good fit for Princeton and how you’ll contribute to their campus community.

SIS Education offers a wide range of educational support services that will help you tailor your education and application, so it aligns with Princeton’s mission and requirements. From extracurricular mentoring to essay review, SIS Education can help you get into Princeton. Our admissions support team walks with you through the application process.

Is Princeton right for you?

Princeton is an excellent school with countless academic and professional resources. But, it’s not for everyone. Don’t apply to Princeton only because of its elite name or because it’s part of the Ivy League. Choose Princeton because it speaks to you like no other school and offers the courses and programs you need to succeed in your dream job.

If you think Princeton might not be the school of your dreams, you should consider another school in the Ivy League. Princeton admissions can tell if you’re passionate about their school or if you’re only applying because of their name.

But, after you’ve explored all your options, and your grades, extracurriculars, and career goals line up with Princeton’s mission, you should apply! But, remember, only a small percentage of applicants get into Princeton. Don’t be discouraged if you don’t get accepted. Some of the world’s most brilliant and talented students do not get into this elite school. Make sure you have a solid list of safety, target, and reach schools that fit your academic and career objectives. If you choose to apply to Princeton again, focus on improving the weaker aspects of your application, so your application is stronger than the next time!

Life After Princeton

Newsweek ranked Princeton as the #4 private college whose graduates earn the most money. Additionally, students’ connections with professors, mentors, and other students often propel them into successful careers with high-earning potential.

Princeton’s alumni also use their knowledge and experience to address societal issues in their communities and worldwide. They promote education reform, create programs to serve the underprivileged, improve race relations, and so much more. Many of their contributions started when they were still students at Princeton!

Some of Princeton’s most famous and distinguished alumni include

Final Thoughts

Your reasons for choosing Princeton are as unique as the school. Maybe it’s the undergraduate opportunities, generous financial aid, or world-class teaching and research facilities. Or perhaps it’s the low student-to-faculty ratio or close-knit community. Whatever your reasons, Princeton is a first-class university and an ideal place to earn your degree.

If you’re hard-working, open-minded, and passionate about your interests, Princeton might be the perfect place for you.

SIS Education is Armenia's leading university admissions support company specializing in helping students gain entry to some of the world’s most competitive universities. We help you find the university that meets your goals. Learn more through our Admissions Support program.

Frequently Asked Questions about Princeton

Is it hard to get into Princeton?

It’s tough to get into Princeton. More students are applying each year, with the school only accepting 3.98% of students in the 2020-2021 admissions cycle.

Is Princeton expensive?

Princeton University’s tuition is $57,690. Princeton is more expensive than the national average cost of tuition ($41,281).

How much does it cost to go to Princeton?

Princeton’s total cost for tuition and fees is around $79,900, but most students do not pay the full amount. Princeton offers ample financial aid based solely on need. They review each family’s financial circumstances to determine how much (if any) the family will pay out of pocket. Princeton uses grants to meet all financial aid. For more information about Princeton’s financial aid program, visit the financial aid program page.

What is the retention rate for first-year students at Princeton?

Princeton has one of the highest freshman retention rates in the US. The freshman retention rate for Princeton University is 98%, and the national first-year average retention rate is 69%.

What is the average salary for a Princeton graduate?

The US Department of Education College Scorecard reports that the average salary for a Princeton graduate after ten years of working is $113,900. This salary is 232% higher than the national median.

Nver Saghatelyan

Published 2 years ago