While some Ivy League colleges have a medical, law or business school, and other Ivies have all three, if you’ve ever wondered why Princeton does not have any, it’s because the focus is on the undergraduate education. And while Princeton does have an engineering school, the university’s commitment is to the liberal arts education. Perhaps this is why Princeton students so love their school and why Princeton University admissions is getting that admission rate to drop year after year.

Admission to Princeton, Princeton Admissions, Princeton University Admission

Princeton University does not have a law, medical, or business school (photo credit: Alfred Hutter).

With approximately 5,300 undergraduates, Princeton students have the advantage of studying on a gorgeous campus in an upscale, affluent, cosmopolitan town that’s a world-class research institution with renowned professors who care about teaching undergraduates. Founded as an all male college in 1746, Princeton University is the fourth oldest college in the United States. An hour train ride in either direction allows students to take day trips to Philadelphia or New York City.

Princeton students are candidates for either a Bachelor of Arts degree (A.B.) or a Bachelor of Science in Engineering (B.S.E.). In addition, the interdisciplinary certificate programs offer undergraduates a plethora of opportunities to pursue other areas of interest.  With a cap of 15 students, the freshman seminars are a memorable part of a Princeton education. With 75 freshman seminars to choose from, topics are as interesting as “Epigenetics, or “How the Tabby Got Her Stripes” (given by none other than Princeton’s president Shirley Tilghman, a world-renowned authority on genetics), “Life on Mars — Or Maybe Not,” or “Cultural Revolutions of the Sixties.” And of course another highlight of a Princeton education is the preceptorial system. In most lecture courses, there’s a preceptorial in which students meet in small groups after a lecture to share their views.

With Princeton’s motto “Princeton is the nation’s service and the service of all nations,” it’s no wonder that the university boasts about its flagship program, The Woodrow Wilson School. This concentration is open to juniors and seniors and is the only one at the university that is selective. The Woodrow Wilson School seeks to educate Princeton undergraduates who seek to pursue careers in public service and international affairs.

Let it not be said that there is only one Ivy League university that has a residential college system. Princeton’s six residential colleges – Butler, Forbes, Mathey, Rockefeller, Whitman, and Wilson – offer an environment where students can find social, cultural, extracurricular, and academic happiness.

Entering freshmen are randomly assigned to a residential college, and they can call that college home for their four years at Princeton if they choose to do so. Housing is guaranteed for 4 years and 98% of all students live on campus. Each college has its own master, dean, and academic advisor. The residential colleges host their own dance lessons and dances, yoga sessions, film nights, trips, intramural competitions, and freshmen seminars. Each RC is architecturally unique (three of which are done in Gothic) consisting of a cluster of dormitories and facilities ranging from dining halls to game rooms to music studios to TV and study rooms. There is social interaction and intramural competitions between the residential colleges.

Similar to the residential colleges, but different, and with a bit of a price tag (although financial aid can help defray the cost) are Princeton’s eleven eating clubs. These clubs are open to juniors and seniors and are not only great places to dine, but they also dominate the social scene. They serve as intellectual communities. About 70% of Princeton’s students join the eating clubs that are all mansions located on Prospect Avenue, or commonly known as “The Street.” Six of the clubs – Cannon, Tower, Cap and Gown, Tiger Inn, Cottage, and Ivy – are selective and choose their members through a process called “bicker” which consists of interviews, competitive games and evening activities.

In the other five eating clubs – Terrace, Colonial, Charter, Cloister, and Quad – members are chosen through a process called “sign-ins” where students rank their preference on a one-to-five scale and are selected on a first-come, first-serve basis. Students who decide to bicker and are not admitted to any of the six clubs are then asked for their preference for sign-ins. While students may not get into their first choice, all students who want to join an eating club through bicker or sign-in are admitted. Fraternities and sororities are a social option for those who don’t want to belong to an eating club, but most students who belong to fraternities and sororities also belong to an eating club. Other options to eating clubs are the residential colleges and cooperatives.

With a total of 32,804 applications for a targeted class of 1,296 freshmen, Princeton University Admissions admitted 1,895 students for the Class of 2023. This resulted in an overall admissions rate of 5.8 percent. For the Class of 2022, the overall admit rate was slightly lower at 5.5%.  For that year 35,370 students applied and 1,941 were accepted for the same targeted class.

Princeton University Admissions Statistics

Princeton University Overall Accept. Rate Regular Decision Accept. Rate Regular Decision Apps Accepted Regular Decision Apps Received Early Decision / Action Accept. Rate Percent of Class Filled by Early Apps Early Decision / Action Apps Received Early Decision / Action Apps Accepted Expected Number of Students to Enroll Total Apps Received Total Apps Accepted
2025 4.0% 4.0% 1,498 37,601 n/a# n/a# n/a# n/a# 1,308 37,601 1,498
2024 5.6% 3.7% 1,032 27,838 15.8% n/a* 4,998 791 1,308 32,836 1,823
2023 5.8% 4.2% 1,152 27,469 13.9% n/a* 5,335 743 1,296 32,804 1,895
2022 5.5% 3.8% 1,142 29,968 14.8% n/a* 5,402 799 1,296 35,370 1,941
2021 6.1% 4.3% 1,120 26,053 15.4% n/a* 5,003 770 1,308 31,056 1,890
2020 6.5% 4.7% 1,177 25,074 18.6% n/a* 4,229 785 1,308 29,303 1,894
2019 7.0% 4.9% 1,141 23,440 19.9% n/a* 3,850 767 1,310 27,290 1,908
2018 7.3 % 5.4 % 1,225 22,787 18.5% n/a* 3,854 714 1,308 26,641 1,939
2017 7.3% 5.4% 1,234 22,688 18.3% n/a* 3,810 697 1,290 26,498 1,931
2016 7.9% 5.9% 1,369 23,221 21.1% n/a* 3,443 726 1,300 26,664 2,095
2015 8.4% 8.4% 2,282 27,189 n/a* n/a* n/a* n/a* 1,300 27,189 2,282
2014 8.2% 8.2% 2,148 26,247 n/a* n/a* n/a* n/a* 1,300 26,247 2,148
2013 9.8% 9.8% 2,150 21,964 n/a* n/a* n/a* n/a* 1,300 21,964 2,150
2012 9.3% 9.3% 1,976 21,262 n/a* n/a* n/a* n/a* 1,245 21,262 1,976
2011 9.5% 7.2% 1,194 16,605 25.5% 48% 2,337 597 1,245 18,942 1,791
2010 10.2% 7.8% 1,193 15,327 26.8% 49% 2,236 599 1,222 17,563 1,792
2009 10.9% 8.4% 1,214 14,477 29.1% 48.6% 2,039 593 1,220 16,516 1,807
2008 11.9% 8.8% 1,050 11,875 32% 50% 1,815 581 1,162 13,690 1,631
2007 10% 7.3% 979 13,375 25.1% 49.5% 2,350 591 1,195 15,725 1,570

n/a* = not applicable since an EA policy was in place

n/a# = not applicable since an EA / ED policy was not in place