Freshman Seminars

Welcome to the Program of Freshman Seminars in the Residential Colleges

During your four years at Princeton you will discover new ideas, new fields of knowledge, and the adventure of learning. In this time of unprecedented disruption, there is perhaps no better way to begin this journey than by taking a freshman seminar. Open only to members of the first-year class, the program is designed to provide students an early opportunity to experience the excitement of working closely with an instructor and a small group of fellow students on a topic of special interest. As you will see in our roster of seminar offerings, the variety of topics and faculty members involved in this program is truly extraordinary. Indeed, many of our students subsequently identify their freshman seminar as one of their most enjoyable and meaningful academic experiences at Princeton — one that enabled them to discover new intellectual passions and form enduring relationships with faculty members and fellow students.

Given the extraordinary circumtances around COVID-19, the Class of 2024 is especially encouraged to take advantage of the program this year.

The freshman seminar offerings for the Class of 2024 are available and can be reviewed via the links to the left. Please be sure to review the key features of the program before applying.

Freshman seminars for 2020-21 — The freshman seminars offerings for the Class of 2024 are available. Please be sure to review the key features of the program before applying.

Online application — The application process for spring-term Freshman Seminars will open on Wednesday, October 21 at 12:00 noon and close on Friday, November 6 at 11:59 PM (EST).

If you are applying for a freshman seminar, please note the following:

  • Freshman seminars are not mandatory, but we strongly encourage first-year students to enroll in a small seminar experience in Fall and/or Spring 2020-21.
  • Freshman seminars applications are not processed on a first-come first-served basis. All applications are processed after the deadline.
  • Students can access the application as many times as needed until the deadline, in order to edit their application essay and/or change their seminar preferences. Incomplete applications will not be processed. A complete application includes marking the checkbox "I have read all information provided above" and clicking the button "I accept and confirm my application is complete."
  • Student essays should simply explain their interest in their top-choice seminar. It should not exceed 500 words.
  • All seminar placements will be made through an automated system that gives priority to student preferences. However, enrollment in each seminar may be limited to as few as 12 students, and student demand often exceeds the number of spaces available. If a student is not assigned to any of their preferences, they will be placed on the waiting list for their top-ranked seminar. Faculty members are free to select students from their waiting lists when shaping their seminar rosters and, in doing so, may read the essays in order to understand the students' interests and motivations.
  • Please note that applying to just one seminar does not improve a student's chances of being placed into their top choice, so we encourage students to maximize their opportunity to take a freshman seminar by applying to more than one.

You may later drop out of the Freshman Seminar to which you have been assigned, should a schedule conflict arise or you wish to switch seminars. However, we strongly encourage you to apply only for those seminar(s) that you truly hope to take if given the opportunity. You may take only one seminar per term, but taking a seminar in the fall term does not disqualify you from taking one in the spring.

Please direct questions to Sha Sanyal at sanyal@princeton.edu  or (609) 258-1402.