Princeton University Admissions

SAT Scores, Acceptance Rate, Financial Aid, Tuition, Graduation Rate, and More

Princeton University
Princeton University ( Explore the Princeton campus in this photo tour). Allen Grove

Princeton is a highly selective university that admitted just 6 percent of applicants in 2017. Successful applicants will need high grades and standardized test scores to be considered for admission. As part of the application, students must submit essays, SAT or ACT scores, and letters of recommendation. Princeton accepts the Common Application, Coalition Application, and Universal College Application.

Why Princeton University?

  • Location: Princeton, New Jersey
  • Campus Features: Princeton's 500-acre campus frequently ranks as one of the most beautiful campuses in the country with its stone towers and Gothic arches. Sitting on the edge of Lake Carnegie, Princeton is home to plenty of flower gardens and tree-lined walks.
  • Student/Faculty Ratio: 5:1
  • Athletics: The Princeton Tigers compete at the NCAA Division I level.
  • Highlights: A member of the prestigious Ivy League, Princeton University has buildings dating to the eighteenth century, top-ranked academic programs, and a residential college system modeled after Oxford and Cambridge.

Princeton University Admissions Standards 2017-18

For students who entered Princeton in the 2017-18 academic year, the acceptance rate was 6 percent, making it one of the most selective colleges in the country. Below are score percentiles for the ACT and SAT.

SAT Score Percentiles
Section 25th Percentile 75th Percentile
ERW 710 780
Math 720 790
ERW=Evidence-Based Reading and Writing

The SAT is slightly more popular among Princeton applicants than the ACT. You can see that you're going to need excellent scores to be a competitive applicant. If you compare SAT scores for all of the Ivy League schools, you'll find that a combined score in the 1400 range or higher is the norm.

ACT Score Percentiles
Section 25th Percentile 75th Percentile
English 33 35
Math 30 35
Composite 31 35

As with the SAT, you're going to need stellar ACT scores to be competitive at Princeton. Admitted students who took the ACT typically scored in the top 5 percent of all test-takers.

Princeton University GPA, SAT Score, and ACT Score Graph

Princeton University GPA, SAT score, and ACT score data for admission
Princeton University GPA, SAT score, and ACT score data for admission. Graph courtesy of Cappex 

The GPA, SAT score, and ACT score in the graph was submitted by students who applied to Princeton University. You can see the real-time graph and calculate your own chances of getting into Princeton with a free Cappex account.

Discussion of Princeton University's Admissions Standards

In the graph above, the blue and green dots representing accepted students are concentrated in the upper right corner. Most students who got into Princeton had GPAs close to a 4.0, SAT scores (ERW+M) above 1300, and ACT composite scores above 28 (much higher than these lower numbers is far more common). Also, realize that a lot of red dots are hidden beneath the blue and green in the upper right corner of the graph. As you can see in the graph below, many students with a 4.0 GPA and extremely high standardized test scores get rejected from Princeton. For this reason, even strong students should consider Princeton a reach school.

At the same time, keep in mind that this Ivy League school has holistic admissions—the admissions folks are looking for students who will bring more than good grades and standardized test scores to their campus. Whether you use the Common Application, Coalition Application, or Universal College Application, Princeton will be looking for students who will contribute to the campus community in meaningful ways. Your application essay, supplemental essays, counselor recommendation, and teacher recommendations all play an important role in the admissions process. Many applicants will also do an alumni interview, and students in the arts will have additional application requirements.

You may wonder how a student with a "B" average and less-than-ideal SAT scores can get into Princeton when a straight "A" student is rejected. Again, the answer has to do with holistic admissions. Princeton wouldn't expect a student from a disadvantaged background to have a 1600 SAT score. Moreover, students who have English as a second language aren't likely to ace the verbal parts of the SAT, and many students are applying from country's that have very different grading standards than the United States. Finally, special talent can play a role. An applicant who is one of the most exceptional 18-year-old artists in the country or an All-American athlete might be an attractive applicant even if the academic measures aren't exceptional.

Princeton University Rejection and Waitlist Data

Rejection and waitlist data for Princeton University
Rejection and waitlist data for Princeton University. Graph courtesy of Cappex 

If we strip away the acceptance data from the Cappex graph, we can see the painful reality of Princeton admissions and see why you should never consider a extremely selective university like Princeton a match school. A 4.0 GPA and 1600 on the SAT is no guarantee of admission. Valedictorians get rejected from Princeton if they don't bring the full package of remarkable qualifications both inside and outside of the classroom. 

More Princeton University Information

Princeton's price tag may seem daunting, but the university has the financial resources to meet 100 percent of student need. Grant aid is generous for middle- and low-income applicants, and the great majority of students graduate with little or no debt.

Enrollment (2017)

  • Total Enrollment: 8,273 (5,394 undergraduates)
  • Gender Breakdown: 51 percent male / 49 percent female
  • 98 percent full-time

Costs (2017 - 18)

  • Tuition and Fees: $47,140
  • Books: $1,100 (why so much?)
  • Room and Board: $15,610
  • Other Expenses: $2,300
  • Total Cost: $66,150

Princeton Financial Aid (2016 - 17)

  • Percentage of New Students Receiving Aid: 60 percent
  • Percentage of New Students Receiving Types of Aid
    • Grants: 60 percent
    • Loans: 10 percent
  • Average Amount of Aid
  • Grants: $48,088
  • Loans: $4,451

Academic Programs

  • Most Popular Majors: Economics, English, History, Molecular Biology, Political Science, Psychology, Public Policy
  • What major is right for you? ​Sign up to take the free "My Careers and Majors Quiz" at Cappex.

Graduation and Retention Rates

  • First Year Student Retention (full-time students): 97 percent
  • 4-Year Graduation Rate: 89 percent
  • 6-Year Graduation Rate: 97 percent

Intercollegiate Athletic Programs

  • Men's Sports: Baseball, Basketball, Cross Country, Fencing, Football, Golf, Hockey, Lacrosse, Rowing, Soccer, Squash, Swimming & Diving, Tennis, Track & Field, Volleyball, Water Polo, Wrestling
  • Women's Sports: Basketball, Cross Country, Fencing, Field Hockey, Golf, Hockey, Lacrosse, Rowing, Soccer, Softball, Squash, Swimming & Diving, Tennis, Track & Field, Volleyball, Water Polo

If You Like Princeton University, You May Also Be Interested in These Schools

Princeton applicants often apply to other Ivy League schools. Yale University is most popular, but many students also apply to Brown University, Columbia University, and Harvard University. Princeton applicants also tend to conduct college searches that stretch far beyond New Jersey and the Northeast. Stanford University and Duke University are popular options that are farther afield.

Keep in mind that every university mentioned above his highly selective, so you'll want to make sure your college wish list also contains a few match schools and safety schools. You don't want to find yourself in the unfortunate position of receiving no acceptances.

Data Source: Graphs courtesy of Cappex; all other data from the National Center for Education Statistics