Frequently Asked Questions
How do I enroll in classes?
First, complete the Academic Planning Form online, designating your potential concentration and certificates, and placing courses in your queue. Meet with your adviser to discuss your courses and your academic plans. Once your adviser has approved your course choices, you enroll using TigerHub (check the academic calendar for specific dates).
How do I drop a class?
During the first two weeks of the semester, you may drop a class with the approval of your adviser. Individual courses may be dropped through the ninth week of the semester (there is a $45 late drop penalty). No course — including an extra or elective course — may be dropped after the deadline. Academic deadlines are available on the registrar’s website.
How do I add a class?
During the first two weeks of the semester, you may add a class with the approval of your adviser. For departmental courses, juniors and seniors need the permission of their departmental representative. After the deadline to add courses, rare exceptions are made only with permission of your dean. Academic deadlines are available on the registrar’s website.
How do I choose the Pass/D/Fail grading option?
If a course is eligible for Pass/D/Fail grading, you may log in to TigerHub to select the grading option between the seventh and ninth weeks of the semester. Please remember that courses taken with the P/D/F grading option do fulfill distribution requirements and count toward graduation; however, they do not count as prerequisites or departmental courses.
Can I rescind a Pass/D/Fail decision?
In Fall 2015, the P/D/F policy was amended to include the following language:
At the point of declaring a concentration, students may appeal to rescind a P grade received for a single course taken in a previous semester in order to meet a prerequisite or departmental requirement for entry. The transcript will then reflect the letter grade earned in that course. Students wishing to make such an appeal should consult with their residential college director of studies. Students entering a certificate program may also appeal to rescind a grade of P earned in a single prerequisite or required course for that certificate provided that the program requires a letter grade for entry.
Please consult with your Director of Studies if you wish to rescind your P/D/F grade and you believe the above conditions have been met.
How do I take a graduate-level course?
Graduate courses are open to undergraduates with the permission of the instructor, departmental representative and residential college dean or director of studies. The form is available from your college office or on this website. You should only consider enrolling in a graduate course if you have exhausted the curricular possibilities in a given area, or if there are no undergraduate course offerings that would allow you to study a given topic.
How do I audit a class?
Talk to the professor of the course you wish to audit. If the professor agrees to accept you as an auditor in the course, see your dean or director of studies to change the course grading to audit (before the drop deadline in the ninth week of the semester). Audited courses dHomeo not count as prerequisites, distribution requirements, departmental courses or toward graduation.
How do I get a summer course approved for transfer credit?
All outside courses must be preapproved for credit by having the course reviewed and approved by the appropriate department where the course would be taught, were it offered at Princeton. Use the form for first-year students and sophomores, or for juniors, and submit to the appropriate departmental representative or program director. All courses must also be approved by your dean or director of studies, or by the Office of International Programs if taken abroad. The deadline for submission for approval is Dean’s Date preceding the term in which the course is offered. See the summer coursework pre-approval page for additional details.
How do I switch levels of math, if I’m in the wrong class?
Talk with your adviser or director of studies to determine whether you need academic support or to change classes. During the first two weeks of the course, you may visit various levels of math and switch your courses on TigerHub. If you need to switch levels after that point, you will need the approval of the math department and your director of studies.
How do I switch levels of language?
Talk with your director of studies and your language instructor as soon as possible. Any level switches in language courses must be approved by the course head or language coordinator. Level switches after the second week of class are extremely rare.
How do I switch degree candidacy between A.B. and B.S.E.?
First, speak with your faculty adviser about your academic interests. You may also consult with the director of studies in your residential college. Next, make an appointment to see Dean Peter Bogucki at the SEAS Undergraduate Affairs Office by calling 609-258-4554. Dean Bogucki will have a conversation with you about your program of study, and if appropriate, he will approve your transfer.
How do I report Advanced Placement scores?
Princeton University cannot request Advanced Placement (AP) score reports on behalf of students. The College Board reports your AP scores to Princeton only if you make that request directly to the College Board. The scores are sent to us electronically and we download them to your record. We only accept score reports sent directly to Princeton from the College Board. Please make sure that you request a cumulative report of your test scores for all AP tests taken during high school. Unless you specify this in your request to the College Board, we may only receive a partial report of scores for exams taken during the current year. To request a score report, you should go to the AP Grade Reporting website.
IB scores must also be sent to Princeton electronically at the request of the student. To request an IB score report, visit their website.
If you have A level certificates, you should bring those to the director of studies in your residential college.
Am I eligible for the course book discount program at Labyrinth Books?
The 30 percent discount on course book purchases through Labyrinth Books is available to the following Princeton University students:
- regularly enrolled, full-time, degree-seeking undergraduate and graduate students
- international exchange students enrolled in Princeton courses on a full-time basis
- post graduation students in the Program in Teacher Preparation
If you are eligible for the program, you may purchase new and used course books for use in Princeton University courses. Both required and recommended titles on the course reading lists are included in the discount program. The discount is limited to one copy per title.
You can to pay for your course books at Labyrinth Books by using a student account, credit card, check, or cash. There are two ways to buy your books from Labyrinth: you can always come directly to the coursebook counter and someone will help you collect your books, or you can order online via Blackboard. Labyrinth staff will package all online course book orders in advance and have them ready for express pickup at the store at 122 Nassau Street.
You will receive an email confirmation of your order as soon as you have checked out with a list of the books you ordered and an estimated timeframe for pickup. As soon as Labyrinth has finalized your order, you will receive a second email to let you know the books are being held for you and for how long.
If you have paid for your order online using your student ID card, your books will be ready at a designated express pickup area downstairs at Labyrinth. You have to pick up your order in person, as you will need to give your name, show your student ID, and sign a statement of eligibility to get your books. If you choose to pay with a credit card, check or cash in the store, you will go to the pick-up counter downstairs where you will get your books; you will then check out in an express line upstairs.
If you need to cancel an order, please call Labyrinth at 609-497-1600 and press 228. You will need to provide your student ID number.
How do I order my course books at Labyrinth Books?
If you are an incoming first-year student, the best time to buy your course books will be after you have completed advising and registration during orientation in September; we do not recommend that you buy any course books before coming to campus. There will be ample time to do this once you are here, and when you know your final schedule of courses!
All regularly enrolled, full-time, degree-seeking undergraduate and graduate students (as well as full time international exchange students and post graduation students in the Program in Teacher Preparation receive a 30% discount off the list price of new and used books for use in Princeton University courses. Both required and recommended titles on the course reading lists are included in the discount program. Labyrinth also offers a rental program for more expensive textbooks, and with their generous buy-back option the final savings typically come to 55% off all new books and 62.5% off all used books if you want to sell your books back at the end of the semester. All of these programs offer personalized service that is tailored to the needs of Princeton students.
If you want to order online, after you order your books through Blackboard, you will receive an email confirmation along with an estimated timeframe for pickup – usually within 24 hours, and often much sooner. As soon as Labyrinth has finalized your order, you will receive a second email to let you know the books are being held for you. Remember: you can always also simply get your books directly in the store, where staff will collect them for you.
You can pay for your course books by using a student account, which makes it easy to pay for course materials with your financial aid package. You can also pay with a credit card, check, or cash. Labyrinth staff will package all online course book orders in advance and have them ready for express pickup at the store at 122 Nassau Street. You will need to show your student ID and pick up your order in person.
What are the options for summer coursework?
There are a range of options for students who wish to continue their coursework over the summer months. Funding is often available for summer study, as well. See the Summer Coursework pages for additional information.
When should I see my dean, director of studies or director of student life?
The college advising team counsels on a wide range of academic and personal issues, and students are encouraged to consult with them about any matter of concern. As a rule, directors of studies advise first-year students and sophomores; deans advise juniors and seniors. Any member of the college community may see the director of student life about personal, health or social issues.
How do I become a peer adviser?
If you're interested in becoming a Peer Academic Adviser (PAA), please review the information below concerning eligibility and requirements to see if the position is right for you. Students eligible and eager to serve as a PAA should contact the director of studies in their residential college. Invitations to apply are also sent out after mid-terms of the spring semester. Note that only students affiliated with a residential college can serve as PAAs for that college. If your next housing assignment means you will be affiliated with a different residential college in the coming academic year, please contact the director of studies for that college.
- Attend at least one training session or workshop for peer advisers early in the fall term
- Join a faculty adviser for a group meeting with first-year advisees during orientation
- Participate in an advising fair/mall during orientation
- Be present at first-year fall term registration when students meet with their faculty advisers and select their courses
- Be available, both in person and by email, to answer any follow-up questions that first- or second-year students might have as the semester goes along. Contact your group of advisees during the add/drop period to offer advice, and possibly plan lunch meetings in the college dining hall.
- Take part in Major Choices programs and other information sessions over the course of the year
- Participate in advising fairs/malls for first- and second-year students in November before course enrollment period for the spring term, as well as in April before major declaration (for sophomores) and the course enrollment period for the following fall term (for all students)
- Senior or junior standing as a resident or affiliate of a residential college
- The position is normally for one full academic year. Students planning to study abroad may apply and should note their study abroad plans on the application.
- Preference is given to candidates with strong academic record, including a minimum GPA of 3.0
- Good verbal and written communication skills
- Ability to respond to students in a helpful manner, both in one-on-one settings and in small groups
- Ability to work and relate well with faculty and staff
- Knowledge of Princeton’s academic support services
- I was a peer adviser last year. Do I need to reapply for next year? Yes. We need to confirm your availability, courses, and interest in the program to ensure that students listed as peer advisers are actively engaged in the program. Current peer advisers are given first consideration in selecting peer advisers for the coming academic year.
- I will be studying abroad next year for one term. Can I still be a peer adviser? Yes, if permitted by your college. A limited number of students who are studying abroad may serve as peer advisers, but they must be willing to respond to student questions about study abroad and their major while away from campus.
How do I make an appointment with my dean, director of studies or director of student life?
When should I see my faculty adviser?
You will have a meeting with your faculty adviser each semester to discuss your academic plans and enroll in courses. You may also want to see your adviser to discuss your academic progress during the term, especially if you have concerns about your classes or performance.
How do I make an appointment with my A.B. or B.S.E. adviser?
How can I find out who my faculty adviser is?
Go to TigerHub; look under Advising.
What should I do if I’m having difficulty working with my adviser?
Make an appointment to talk with your director of studies or dean. Your director of studies will want to know what’s making the relationship difficult, and may have suggestions about how to work more effectively with the adviser; in some cases, it may be possible to change advisers.
When should I talk with a peer academic adviser?
Anytime you want a student’s perspective, get in touch with a peer academic adviser. They can be especially helpful if you need advice about navigating the Princeton system, balancing extracurriculars and academic work, or using your resources well. You can find contact information for your peer academic advisers on your residential college website.
What is Dean’s Date?
Dean’s Date is the University deadline for the submission of all written work (except for take-home exams), usually the last day of the reading period. Extensions beyond this date are normally given only for compelling circumstances beyond your control (such as medical or family emergencies) and must be approved by your residential college dean or director of studies and the course instructor before the deadline. The same rules apply to the take-home exam deadline, usually the Monday of the following week.
How do I request an extension?
During the term, all papers and other written work are due at the time set by the instructor. If there are reasons you’re unable to meet a deadline (such as illness or a family emergency), you should discuss the delay with your course instructor and arrange for a new due date. Extensions during term time are granted by instructors directly.
At the end of the term, any postponement of written work due on Dean’s Date must be approved by your dean or director of studies as well as the professor in charge of the course. If, despite your best efforts, you cannot finish your Dean’s Date work on time, make an appointment to see your dean or director of studies to discuss an official extension — before the deadline has passed. You will need to receive written authorization prior to the Dean’s Date deadline, since deadlines cannot be altered after the fact. Normally, only short-term extensions are granted and there must be compelling circumstances beyond your control.
What do I do if I miss a final exam because I slept through it?
If you miss a scheduled final exam by mistake (you slept through, for instance), you must report immediately to your residential college dean or director of studies. If you discover your problem after hours on weekdays or any time during the weekend, leave a voice message for your dean or director of studies and call the deputy registrar immediately at 609-258-7242. Once during your career at Princeton you may be allowed to make up a missed exam at the next available time slot, under the following conditions: 1) you have reported the missed exam within 24 hours; 2) you have never missed a scheduled exam before; 3) you are making satisfactory progress in the course; 4) there is no evidence that you were seeking to gain additional study time. But it’s wiser to try to ensure that you never find yourself in such a situation.
What do I do if I fall ill before a final exam?
If you feel too ill to take an exam, you must report to University Health Services prior to the scheduled exam time and call the deputy registrar at 609-258-7242. The deputy registrar will consult with the health services staff in order to determine if you are able to take an exam at the scheduled time. If an exam is approved for postponement, the deputy registrar will arrange for you to take the same exam within a 24-hour period of the scheduled time. If you need to postpone a final exam for more than 24 hours due to illness, you may apply to your dean or director of studies for authorization for a long-term postponement. In such cases, the deputy registrar will administer a make-up exam at the beginning of the following term.
What do I do if I get sick during a final exam?
Exams that have been completed cannot be retroactively annulled due to illness. This means that if you begin a scheduled final exam, you will — except in the rarest of circumstances — be held accountable for taking the exam and will be assigned a grade based on the work completed on it. If your condition is so serious that it requires urgent medical attention and continuing the exam is not an option, then you must report immediately to University Health Services and notify the deputy registrar, as well as your residential college dean or director of studies.
What do I do if I have more than one final exam scheduled on the same day?
The University’s policy is that a student who has two exams on the same day may postpone one exam to the following day. In order to arrange for such rescheduling, you must apply to the Office of the Registrar in the week before final exams begin. For more information, see the registrar's webpage on final examination policies.
If you have a conflict involving a take-home exam, please see your dean or director of studies.
How do I reschedule an exam?
All students are expected to take midterm exams at the time and date specified by the instructor. If, however, for a good and sufficient reason you are unable to take a midterm exam as scheduled, please discuss the problem in advance with your course instructor. Your residential college dean or director of studies may also be able to help you work with the course instructor to reschedule the examination.
All in-class final exams are scheduled by the Office of the Registrar during an 11-day final examination period at the end of each semester. Exams must be taken at the assigned times, so you should be prepared to be available throughout the examination period and should not schedule personal travel until the examination schedule has been published. You can view your final exam schedule in TigerHub at the beginning of the sixth full week of classes.
The deputy registrar may authorize a student to take a final exam up to 24 hours before or after the scheduled time. Appropriate reasons for granting such requests are religious days, personal emergencies and more than one exam scheduled in a single calendar day. Exams will normally be rescheduled during the 24 hours after the scheduled examination time. Course instructors are not allowed to approve the rescheduling of final exams. For more information, see the registrar's webpage on final examination policies.
What should I do if I’m not doing as well as I’d like in a course?
Whenever you encounter difficulty in a course, we urge you to seek help as soon as possible. The Support section of this website lists the many academic resources available to Princeton undergraduates, including tutoring, study halls, writing center conferences, workshops on academic skills, library assistance and more. All services are free of charge. Your first and best source of support, however, is your course instructor, who knows the course materials and is in the best position to advise you about how to improve your performance in the course. Your dean or director of studies is also an important source of advice about the best resources available to help meet your particular needs. They may direct you to the McGraw Center for Teaching and Learning: for example, if time management is one of your challenges, they might recommend you attend a McGraw time-management workshop or schedule an individual “learning strategies” consultation for “blueprinting” the course syllabus.
What happens in “office hours” and when should I go to a professor’s office hours?
To get the most from your courses, you should seek out and engage opportunities for learning beyond those afforded by class time and in assigned texts. You might want to go to a professor’s office hours to pursue a topic more deeply than class discussion or readings have allowed, or because you are encountering difficulty with assignments or quizzes. You should definitely visit office hours if you are struggling in a course, as the professor is the best source of advice on how to improve your performance. If you are not sure what kinds of questions to bring to office hours, a learning consultant at the McGraw Center for Teaching and Learning can help you to frame course-specific questions to ensure that your meeting will be productive. Most professors post their office hours on Blackboard and on the course syllabus. If hours are not posted, ask your instructor when he or she is available.
What happens at the McGraw Study Halls?
The McGraw Study Halls are the first place to go for tutoring in introductory chemistry, economics, mathematics, physics and statistics. Experienced, trained, undergraduate tutors are available four evenings a week to guide students through learning strategies for course material, thinking through problem sets and the concepts underlying them, and preparing for exams. Rather than feeding students answers, tutors help students to discover them. Emphasis is placed on the development of strategies and techniques crucial to quantitative problem solving. Study hall also provides a good space for study groups to meet, or for informal group work with classmates. For more information, visit Study Hall @Frist.
Who is eligible to request help from a peer tutor?
Before requesting a peer tutor, students are expected to seek help from the course instructor and to attend any review sessions and study halls that are offered for that course. Individual peer tutoring is not intended to replace conversations with instructors or any other course-based support. Sometimes a professor will recommend peer tutoring, or a student may continue to have difficulty after making initial use of these resources and wish to request individual tutoring through the residential colleges. Tutoring is only available for introductory course, not for upper-level departmental courses.
How do I request a peer tutor?
To request a tutor, click on the peer tutoring website and complete the Request a Peer Tutor Form. You must then follow up by making an appointment with your dean or director of studies, who will assign a tutor after a conversation with you about the particular course, your overall academic situation and your goals for tutoring. All tutoring is free of charge.
How can I make the most of my peer tutoring session?
It’s important to prepare for your tutoring sessions by attempting some sample problems and identifying particular concepts where you are having difficulty. One of the best ways to use tutoring sessions is to go over sample exams from previous years. You should discuss with your tutor the times and frequency of meetings, and agree on your goals for the sessions. If at any point you feel the tutoring is not productive, please make an appointment to meet with your dean or director of studies, who can assist you in finding a new tutor or other form of support.
When should I consider scheduling a learning strategies consultation at the McGraw Center?
A learning consultation is particularly helpful when you have a question about how to study rather than about the particular content of a given course. For example, if you are finding the amount of vocabulary in a foreign language course formidable, you could schedule a meeting to discuss strategies for memorizing and organizing your vocabulary study — in contrast to a tutoring session, where you might do drills of particular words. Juniors, seniors and graduate students from a variety of disciplines are trained to collaborate with you to develop an individualized approach to learning that draws upon your unique profile of strengths and is tailored to the specific demands of each of your courses. Sign up for an hour long one-on-one session with a learning consultant at the McGraw Center website.
When should I consider making an appointment at the Writing Center?
Any student can benefit from a free one-on-one conference with an experienced fellow writer at the Writing Center. Every writer needs a reader! The Writing Center fellows are trained to consult on writing projects in any discipline. You’re welcome to bring writing in any form — ideas, notes, an outline or an early draft. Writing Center fellows can offer advice about the writing process, from getting started to revising, and they can work with you on the essential elements of academic writing, such as thesis, organization, use of sources and clarity of ideas and sentences. To make an appointment or to look up drop-in hours, visit the Writing Center’s website.
How can I improve my exam preparation and note-taking skills?
Every semester, the McGraw Center offers a series of hands-on, active and process-focused workshops in which students learn and apply strategies designed expressly for the demanding Princeton context. Topics include organization and time management, managing large amounts of information, exam prep, effective reading and lecture note-taking, as well as overcoming procrastination. Students sign up for workshops in advance on the McGraw website.
What does it cost to use academic support services at Princeton?
All academic support resources for Princeton undergraduates are available free of charge.
What should I do if I continue to struggle after getting help for a course?
If you have been getting help from instructors and tutors, but still find yourself struggling, make an appointment to meet with your residential college dean or director of studies. They can review your overall academic program with you and make sure you know all your options, including adjustments to your course load and schedule.
Choosing a Major
How do I choose a major?
There are many factors you may wish to consider when selecting a major — your interests, your talents, your goals and values, and what intellectual community will be the best fit for you. Fortunately, there are also many advising resources to help you make your decision, including your academic advisers, departmental representatives, residential college deans and directors of studies, peer advisers and the Office of Career Services. Departmental open houses in the spring and Major Choices events throughout the year will also introduce you to disciplines and departments. Above all, the best way for you to explore potential majors and find the one that’s best for you is to take a variety of courses that interest you during your first two years.
How do I declare a major?
B.S.E. students join their departments at the end of their first year by selecting courses for the next fall with their chosen department and declaring their selection on the registrar’s website in May. A.B. students declare their concentration in mid-April of their sophomore year by selecting their next fall’s courses with their chosen department’s designated adviser or departmental representative and then confirming their selection on the registrar’s website. Detailed information regarding the major declaration process will be e-mailed to you as your selection time approaches.
How do I change my major?
Changes of departmental concentration are rare, but they are possible. The rule is that you must complete all the requirements for your new major, including independent work requirements. This means that the further you have progressed in your college career, the harder it becomes to change concentrations, even though a junior paper written for one department may be acceptable to your new department or it may be possible to write new junior independent work, if necessary, during the summer following junior year. Students wishing to change majors should make an appointment to see their residential college dean in order to discuss their proposed program of study.
How do I declare an early concentration?
In rare instances, A.B. students who have completed the prerequisites for a department may choose to begin their majors in the spring of sophomore year and usually engage in independent work that semester as well. Students who choose to concentrate early may do so — for instance, in order to facilitate studying abroad in junior year — by completing one junior paper ahead of time. If you decide to major early, you should get the approval of the departmental representative and then contact your residential college dean or director of studies for final approval. More details can be found in the Undergraduate Announcement under “Special Features of the Undergraduate Program.”
How do I decide what certificate(s) to get, if any?
Certificate programs can offer excellent ways to complement your studies in your concentration, either by building bridges between your major and other disciplines or geographical areas or by providing you with an opportunity to cultivate skills and knowledge outside your major. Certificates provide you with a structured and coherent program of study and the resources of a program as you pursue these interests. For many students, these are great benefits. Many other students, however, choose not to get any certificates, preferring to simply take individual courses in areas of interest without being held to all the requirements for obtaining a certificate.
How do I apply for a certificate?
Unlike majors — which are a mandatory aspect of the B.S.E. and A.B. degrees and are selected at standard times — certificates are optional and each certificate program sets its own deadlines for admission. For this reason, you must read the information on each certificate in the Undergraduate Announcement or on each program’s website. Some programs, such as Finance or Global Health and Health Policy, require students to apply at the end of their sophomore year. Other certificates offer more flexible deadlines. Almost all require some form of independent work in senior year as well as coursework, so it is almost always necessary to apply for a certificate before the beginning of senior year.
How do I pursue an independent concentration?
If you are absolutely convinced that your academic interests cannot be served adequately by any existing departmental concentration or certificate program, you may apply to be an independent concentrator. This requires you to devise a rigorous and coherent program of studies with the support and mentorship of at least two faculty advisers (from different departments). You should schedule a preliminary consultation with your residential college dean once you have developed your proposal. Further information about the program is available here.
What is a “departmental representative” and how will I interact with this person?
The departmental representative (or “dept rep”) in an academic department is responsible for all matters related to the undergraduate curriculum and the progress of undergraduate concentrators. This person will be your main adviser, or will coordinate your advising by other members of the department. If you have any question related to the curriculum, departmental course requirements or independent work requirements of your department, you should consult this person, whose contact information is available on the department’s website.
How do I choose my departmental courses?
You will begin to choose departmental courses when you declare your concentration — in the spring of first year for B.S.E. students, or the spring of sophomore year for A.B. students. At that time, you will have an opportunity to attend open houses sponsored by many departments and to consult with the faculty in the department who are designated advisers for students majoring in the department. This person is often, but not always, the departmental representative, who will approve your course selections before you enter them into TigerHub.
How do I seek an extension for my junior independent work or senior thesis deadline?
Princeton’s philosophy is that extensions are given when compelling circumstances beyond a student’s control prevent completion of work on the due date. Illness and family emergencies are valid grounds for an accommodation; “Needing more time to do a better paper” is not.
There are University-wide deadlines for junior independent work (the first Tuesday of reading period each term) and senior theses (the first day of reading period in the spring term). However, departments are free to set earlier deadlines for their own students, and many do. For any departmental deadline earlier than the University deadline, your departmental representative (not your independent work adviser) is the person you will need to contact to petition for a short extension. Such an extension can in no case carry past the University deadline. Any independent work extension beyond the University deadline — like all other end-of-term extensions — needs to start with your residential college dean, who in appropriate cases will follow up with your departmental representative.
How do I get advice about non-departmental courses?
It’s true that the course-selection advising you get from your dept rep or departmental adviser will be largely directed toward departmental considerations. If you have questions about courses related to certificate programs of interest to you, the directors of those programs would be your best resources. For all other course advising questions, your residential college dean and director of studies are happy to discuss these matters with you, and your college’s Peer Academic Advisers, are also able to be very helpful.
When should I start thinking about independent work topics?
The short answer — it’s never too early. You can start thinking about possible independent work well before you select your major. In fact, considering the possibility of conducting research on a particular topic can help in the process of finalizing your choice of major. The seeds of many junior papers and senior thesis topics are often planted in courses taken early on in a student’s Princeton career. So you should always be approaching your coursework with the thought that it could provide the starting point for independent work, and that it could provide a possible faculty adviser, should you ultimately choose to major in that particular field of study.
How do I find a faculty adviser for independent work?
First of all, consult your department’s materials for specific instructions on how to find an adviser; departments do it very differently. Some departments collect information on students' interests and assign them to advisers, while some expect students to approach faculty on their own. If you are in a department where it is your responsibility to find an adviser, don’t be shy! Do your best to get to know faculty outside the classroom by taking advantage of office hours and attending departmental events. Faculty should welcome conversations about advising independent work. You should have some ideas for possible topics to discuss, and also ask how the faculty member likes to structure their work with advisees. The earlier you start the process the better chance you have of connecting with the ideal adviser, one who is interested in your topic and encourages you, but challenges you as well. It is entirely normal to have to approach several people before you find someone who can advise you, so persevere!
How do I find a thesis topic?
Selecting the right topic, or the proper scope of a topic, is ideally done in close consultation with your adviser, and the earlier you start to dialogue with faculty, the better. Students in the sciences conducting lab research might have their topic nailed down the summer before senior year and work in a lab gathering data. In the humanities and social sciences the topic would normally be settled as early in the fall of senior year as possible, in order to maximize research possibilities and locate the best possible primary and secondary sources. The best advice is to select a topic that you know you are passionate about. Without an underlying passion for your thesis, writing a long and demanding work is very difficult. With that passion for the subject in place, writing the thesis can be one of the most fulfilling and, indeed, fun experiences of your academic career.
If you need help formulating a topic, you should know that over 63,000 senior theses are archived at the Seeley G. Mudd Manuscript Library. You’re encouraged to visit the basement of Mudd Library as well as consult the online database of senior theses, which holds information about student works dating back to 1926.
Where can I find specific information about independent work in my department?
Since independent work requirements vary widely across the University’s academic departments, you should consult the departmental independent work guides to familiarize yourself with the specific goals and expectations of the departments that are of interest to you.
How will my independent work be evaluated?
The standards by which your work will be evaluated are described in your department’s independent work guide.
Where can I request funding to undertake research for my independent work project?
A number of departments and programs across campus have funding available to support independent work projects. The key to taking full advantage of the available funding opportunities is to start planning early. If you’re applying for funding to do thesis research in the summer, the deadline is in late-March of your junior year. Successful applicants need to have strong faculty endorsement at that time.
Where can I find help for my independent work?
In addition to your faculty adviser, there are several other resources available to support various aspects of your independent work. Whether you need assistance with your writing, conducting survey and library research, data and statistical analysis, getting approval for projects involving human and animal research, or planning your research project abroad, there are many qualified individuals across campus eager to help you.
Whom should I talk to if I want to study or work abroad?
How do courses taken abroad count towards graduation requirements?
For a typical semester of study abroad, you will designate courses that will be the equivalent of four Princeton courses. The actual number of courses you take will vary, depending on the foreign institution or program you attend. The Office of International Programs will need to approve your program of study prior to your enrollment, including up to two distribution requirements that can be met through courses taken abroad. Courses for departmental requirements must also be approved by your departmental representative. For more information about using study abroad credits, see the OIP webpage.
Can I study abroad if I am a B.S.E. student or a varsity athlete?
Yes! It may take careful planning, but we encourage all students to have a structured international experience during their Princeton career. B.S.E. students can take advantage of engineering-specific exchange programs at Oxford, Ecole Centrale Paris, University of Cantabria in Spain and Hong Kong University, but they have studied in many countries, including Scotland, Italy, Switzerland, South Africa and Australia. Since the engineering curriculum is highly structured, some semesters work better than others depending on your department, so early consultation with your departmental representative and with Dean Peter Bogucki is essential. Varsity athletes should talk to their residential college dean or director of studies, and to Dean Alec Dun, the academic liaison, about how best to combine a program of study abroad with athletic commitments. Depending on the sport, coaches can be very helpful in arranging for training facilities while a student is studying at a foreign institution.
What kind of summer opportunities exist to go abroad?
Many, many Princeton students choose to study abroad in the summer, whether through summer courses pre-approved by the Office of International Programs, or through Princeton Summer Programs, which include language and field-study options. In addition, the Princeton Institute for International and Regional Studies (PIIRS) sponsors Global Seminars in a variety of locations, which offer a full course credit and include a community service component. The Princeton International Internship Program (IIP) supports students who wish to work abroad during the summer, by placing students in internships arranged specifically for Princeton students and offering information about how to find other international opportunities.
Where can I find information about pursuing a career in the Health Professions (physician, dentist, veterinarian, etc.)?
The Office of Health Professions Advising (in Suite 230 at 36 University Place) serves Princeton students and alumni who are considering careers in the health professions. They are available at every step along the “pre-health” path, from choosing courses, to securing clinical and research opportunities, to making decisions about whether or not to pursue medicine, and finally throughout the application process.
What should I major in if I want to go to medical school after I graduate?
Many think you “should” major in science, and that you will be a less competitive candidate for health professional school if you major in the humanities or social sciences. This is not the case. Health professional schools are interested in students who have challenged themselves in the sciences and who have gained a broad view of the human condition through the study of literature, history, language and the social and behavioral sciences. As long as you demonstrate both the ability in science and that broad understanding through a strong academic record, you will be a successful applicant to health professional school no matter which major you choose. You should choose a concentration based on these questions: What discipline is most interesting to you? Most challenging? Which field will best draw on your talents and abilities? Where do you want to do your independent work?
What courses do I need to take as a “pre-med” student?
The basic requirements for medical, veterinary and dental schools include one year of general chemistry, one year of organic chemistry, one of physics and one of biology, all with lab. Many schools require math, sometimes including one term of calculus, others one term of statistics. Many require two semesters of English, and some require biochemistry. All requirements must be taken for a grade, not Pass/D/Fail. For more information about coursework, visit the Health Professions Advising website.
Whom should I talk to if I am interested in attending law school after graduation?
The Office of Career Services offers a number of services for current students and recent alumni, including information sessions, workshops and alumni panels, assistance with obtaining law-related internships and connecting with Princeton alumni who are in the legal profession, as well as individual appointments with a pre-law counselor to discuss the law school application process.
What should I major in if I want to go to law school after I graduate?
There is no set “pre-law” major at Princeton. Students interested in pursuing a career in law should choose the major that most interests them and that will best draw on their talents and abilities.
How do I find out about what post-graduate fellowships are available in my area of interest?
A wide variety of post-graduate fellowships are available to support graduate study, enable internships or service, or facilitate post-graduate travel and research abroad. While many of these awards, such as the Rhodes, Marshall and Fulbright, involve national competitions, some, such as the Sachs, Labouisse, Dale and ReachOut56-81-06, are open only to Princeton students. For more information about fellowship opportunities, visit the Fellowship Advising webpage or stop by the Office of International Programs (in Suite 350 at 36 University Place).
Counseling and Disabilities Support
What should I do if I’m experiencing a personal crisis or family emergency?
In most cases, your first point of contact should be the director of student life at your residential college, who can help you access campus resources and provide a safe, confidential space to discuss your concerns. Contact information for the directors of student life is available on the college websites. If your academic work is affected, you should also contact your residential college dean or director of studies, in order to discuss accommodations that might be needed.
How do I find help if I’m stressed out, anxious or depressed?
Counseling and Psychological Services (CPS) provides a variety of mental health care services to all students at Princeton. They are particularly sensitive to the stresses of undergraduate life and the many academic and social pressures that you may encounter in your years at Princeton. You may contact CPS directly for an appointment by calling 609-258-3285.
What should I do if my problems are not “serious”?
Each year, about 1000 students use Counseling and Psychological Services (CPS) for both individual and group counseling; about 40% of undergraduates use the services sometime during their years at Princeton. It’s not a sign of weakness to take advantage of the resources on campus that are available to you. Students turn to CPS to cope with a wide range of problems, and you are encouraged to come in to discuss any type of concern — roommate difficulties, loneliness, lack of self-confidence, procrastination, sexual orientation and gender identity concerns, grief or cultural/ethnic issues.
Does anyone find out that I’ve been to counseling?
Any counseling that you seek out for yourself will remain completely confidential. If you discuss your situation with your dean, director of studies or director of student life, they too are bound by the rules of student privacy to maintain your confidentiality at the highest level. No information about visits to CPS may be released to deans, parents or professors without your explicit permission.
What do I do if I have a physical or psychological disability?
If you believe that you qualify for academic accommodations in your classes, you must first register with the Office of Disability Services. Registration is a voluntary, confidential process and may occur at any time during your course of study. If you are an incoming student, this process may be initiated by completing the Disabilities and Other Special Needs form in the matriculation packet and submitting documentation to ODS. Current students should make an appointment at ODS to discuss its services and complete the online registration form. Submission of documentation may precede or follow an intake interview.
How do I re-apply for financial aid?
The Princeton Financial Aid Application should be submitted by May 1 each spring to apply for aid for the next academic year. The application is evaluated according to the same need-based guidelines that were in effect when you were admitted. More information on financial aid for current students is available on the Financial Aid website.
Will I receive the same amount of financial aid each year?
The University’s policy is to meet students’ full demonstrated need each year. Award amounts may vary from year to year, based on changes in your family's financial circumstances and Princeton's cost of attendance. If your family situation worsens during the year (for example, a family member loses employment) you may request a review of your award based upon new information covering the most recent calendar year.
How do I apply for summer earnings replacement?
Most financial aid recipients are expected to work during the summer. If you decide to pursue an activity other than work during this time, or you are employed but fail to meet your savings expectation, you are eligible to apply for summer earnings replacement. Funds are available to cover a summer savings shortfall, usually through one-half University grant and one-half self-help. The type and amount of aid will be determined during an interview with an aid counselor when you return to campus in September.
Is it possible to borrow a student loan if I need one?
Under Princeton's financial aid policy, student loans are not required in initial aid awards. But loans are available upon request, and students most commonly use them to replace their campus job if they can’t work, to purchase a personal computer or to help with the cost of an approved summer school course. A financial aid counselor must determine your eligibility for need-based loans; you can make an appointment by calling 609-258-3330.
Do I have to maintain a minimum GPA to remain eligible for financial aid?
There is no minimum grade point average requirement to remain on financial aid, but students must continue to maintain satisfactory academic progress.
How does my campus job work?
If a job amount is included in your award, you may find job openings on the Student Employment website. Students are paid directly, just like a part-time job, and may use the money for books and other expenses.