Princeton Spia Acceptance Rate

Last Updated on August 15, 2022 by Smile Ese

The acceptance rate at Princeton is extremely low. Around 7 percent of the ~34,000 applications that the university receives each year are accepted into the school. In fact, the Princeton’s college acceptance rate has recently been similar to that of Harvard University, a top-ranked Ivy League school.

Collegelearners will provide you with all the relevant information you are looking for on princeton spia admissions, princeton university, princeton spia honors, and so much more.

princeton university

Princeton University is a private Ivy League research university in Princeton, New Jersey. Founded in 1746 in Elizabeth as the College of New Jersey, Princeton is the fourth-oldest institution of higher education in the United States and one of the nine colonial colleges chartered before the American Revolution.[9][10][a] The institution moved to Newark in 1747, and then to the current site nine years later. It officially became a university in 1896 and was subsequently renamed Princeton University.

The university is governed by the Trustees of Princeton University and has an endowment of $37.7 billion, the largest endowment per student in the United States. Princeton provides undergraduate and graduate instruction in the humanities, social sciences, natural sciences, and engineering to approximately 8,500 students on its 600 acres (2.4 km2) main campus. It offers postgraduate degrees through the Princeton School of Public and International Affairs, the School of Engineering and Applied Science, the School of Architecture and the Bendheim Center for Finance. The university also manages the Department of Energy’s Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory and is home to the NOAA’s Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory. It is classified among “R1: Doctoral Universities – Very high research activity” and has one of the largest university libraries in the world.[15]

Princeton uses a residential college system and is known for its upperclassmen eating clubs. The university has over 500 student organizations. Princeton students embrace a wide variety of traditions from both the past and present. The university is a NCAA Division I school and competes in the Ivy League. The school’s athletic team, the Princeton Tigers, has won the most titles in its conference and has sent many students and alumni to the Olympics.

As of October 2021, 75 Nobel laureates, 16 Fields Medalists and 16 Turing Award laureates have been affiliated with Princeton University as alumni, faculty members, or researchers. In addition, Princeton has been associated with 21 National Medal of Science awardees, 5 Abel Prize awardees, 11 National Humanities Medal recipients, 215 Rhodes Scholars and 137 Marshall Scholars. Two U.S. Presidents, twelve U.S. Supreme Court Justices (three of whom currently serve on the court) and numerous living industry and media tycoons and foreign heads of state are all counted among Princeton’s alumni body. Princeton has graduated many members of the U.S. Congress and the U.S. Cabinet, including eight Secretaries of State, three Secretaries of Defense and two Chairmen of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

Organization and administration
Governance and structure
An image that shows Christopher Eisgruber signing a paper
Christopher Eisgruber, the 20th and current president of the university
Princeton’s 20th and current president is Christopher Eisgruber, who was appointed by the university’s board of trustees in 2013.[129] The board is responsible for the overall direction of the university. It consists of no fewer than 23 and no more than 40 members at any one time, with the president of the university and the Governor of New Jersey serving as ex officio members. It approves the operating and capital budgets, supervises the investment of the university’s endowment, and oversees campus real estate and long-range physical planning. The trustees also exercise prior review and approval concerning changes in major policies such as those in instructional programs and admission as well as tuition and fees and the hiring of faculty members.[208]

The university is composed of the Undergraduate College, the Graduate School, the School of Architecture, the School of Engineering and Applied Science, and the School of Public and International Affairs.[209] Additionally, the school’s Bendheim Center for Finance provides education for the area of money and finance in lieu of a business school.[210] Princeton did host a Princeton Law School for a short period, before eventually closing in 1852 due to poor income.[211] Princeton’s lack of other professional schools can be attributed to a university focus on undergraduates.[212]

The university has ties with the Institute for Advanced Study,[213] Princeton Theological Seminary, Rutgers University, and the Westminster Choir College of Rider University.[214] Princeton is a member of the Association of American Universities,[215] the Universities Research Association,[216] and the National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities.[217] The university is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE), with its last reaffirmation in 2014.[218]

Princeton University’s endowment of $37.7 billion (per 2021 figures) was ranked as the fourth largest endowment in the United States,[2][219] and it had the greatest per-student endowment in the world at over $4.4 million per student.[220] The endowment is sustained through continued donations and is maintained by investment advisers.[221] Princeton’s operating budget is over $2 billion per year, with 50% going to academic departments and programs, 33% to administrative and student service departments, 10% to financial aid departments, and 7% to the Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory.[222]


McCosh 50, the largest lecture hall on campus
Princeton follows a liberal arts curriculum,[212] and offers two bachelor’s degrees to students: a Bachelor of Arts (A.B.) and a Bachelor of Science in Engineering (B.S.E.).[209] Typically, A.B. students choose a major (called a concentration) at the end of sophomore year, while B.S.E students declare at the end of their freshman year.[223] Students must complete distribution requirements, departmental requirements, and independent work to graduate with either degree.[212][209] A.B. students must complete distribution requirements in literature and the arts, science and engineering, social analysis, cultural difference, epistemology and cognition, ethical thought and moral values, historical analysis, and quantitative and computational reasoning; they must also have satisfactory ability in a foreign language.[209] Additionally, they must complete two papers of independent work during their junior year—known as the junior papers—and craft a senior thesis to graduate.[224][225]; both revolve around the concentration they are pursuing.[226] B.S.E majors complete fewer courses in the humanities and social sciences and instead fulfill requirements in mathematics, physics, chemistry, and computer programming.[209] They likewise must complete independent work, which typically involves a design project or senior thesis, but not the junior papers.[224][226] A.B. majors must complete 31 courses, whereas B.S.E majors must complete 36 courses.[227]

Students can choose from either 36 concentrations or create their own. They can also participate in 55 interdisciplinary certificate programs;[209] since Princeton does not offer an academic minor, the certificates effectively serve as one.[228] Course structure is determined by the instructor and department. Classes vary in their format, ranging from small seminars to medium-sized lecture courses to large lecture courses.[229] The latter two typically have precepts, which are extra weekly discussion sessions that are led by either the professor or a graduate student.[229][230] The average class meeting time is 3–4 hours a week, although this can vary depending on the course.[229] The student to faculty ratio is 5 to 1,[230] and a majority of classes have fewer than 20 students.[225] In the Fiske Guide to Colleges, academic culture is considered as “tight-knit, extremely hardworking, highly cooperative, and supportive.”[70]

Undergraduates agree to adhere to an academic integrity policy called the Honor Code. Under the Honor Code, faculty do not proctor examinations; instead, the students proctor one another and must report any suspected violation to an Honor Committee made up of undergraduates.[231] The Committee investigates reported violations and holds a hearing if it is warranted. An acquittal at such a hearing results in the destruction of all records of the hearing; a conviction results in the student’s suspension or expulsion.[232] Violations pertaining to all other academic work fall under the jurisdiction of the Faculty-Student Committee on Discipline.[233] Undergraduates are expected to sign a pledge on their written work affirming that they have not plagiarized the work.[234]

Grade deflation policy
The first focus on issues of grade inflation by the Princeton administration began in 1998 when a university report was released showcasing a steady rise in undergraduate grades from 1973 to 1997.[235][236] Subsequent reports and discussion from the report culminated to when in 2004,[235] Nancy Weiss Malkiel, the dean of the college, implemented a grade deflation policy to address the findings.[237] Malkiel’s reason for the policy was that an A was becoming devalued as a larger percentage of the student body received one.[237] Following its introduction, the number of A’s and average GPA on campus dropped, although A’s and B’s were still the most frequent grades awarded.[236][238] The policy received mixed approval from both faculty and students when first instituted.[235][239] Criticism for grade deflation continued through the years, with students alleging negative effects like increased competition and lack of willingness to choose challenging classes.[237][240] Other criticism included job market and graduate school prospects, although Malkiel responded by saying that she sent 3,000 letters to numerous institutions and employers informing them.[236][237] In 2009, transcripts began including a statement about the policy.[241]

In October 2013, Princeton President Christopher Eisgruber created a faculty committee to review the deflation policy.[241] In August 2014, the committee released a report recommending the removal of the policy and instead develop consistent standards for grading across individual departments.[242] In October 2014, following a faculty vote, the numerical targets were removed in response to the report.[243] In a 2020 analysis of undergraduate grades following the removal of a policy, there were no long-lasting effects, with the percent of students receiving A’s higher than in 1998.[244]

A picture of Cleveland Tower, part of the Graduate School at Princeton
For the 2019–2020 academic year, the Graduate School enrolled 2,971 students. Approximately 40% of the students were female, 42% were international, and 35% of domestic students were a member of a U.S. minority group. The average time to complete a doctoral degree was 5.7 years.[245] The university awarded 318 Ph.D. degrees and 174 final master’s degrees for the 2019–2020 academic year.[245]

The Graduate School offers degrees in 42 academic departments and programs, which span the humanities, social sciences, natural sciences, and engineering.[245][209] Doctoral education is available for all departments while master’s degrees are only available in the architecture, engineering, finance, and public policy departments.[246] Doctoral education focuses on original, independent scholarship whereas master’s degrees focus more on career preparation in both public life and professional practice. Graduate students can also concentrate in an interdisciplinary program and be granted a certificate. Joint degrees are available for several disciplines, as are dual M.D./Ph.D. or M.P.A./J.D. programs.[209][d]

Students in the graduate school can participate in regional cross-registration agreements, domestic exchanges with other Ivy League schools and similar institutions, and in international partnerships and exchanges.[247]

Academic rankings
Forbes[248] 3
THE / WSJ[249] 7
U.S. News & World Report[250] 1
Washington Monthly[251] 5
ARWU[252] 6
QS[253] 20
THE[254] 9
U.S. News & World Report[255] 16
Princeton ranked first in the 2021 U.S. News rankings for the tenth consecutive year.[256][257] Princeton ranked fourth for undergrad teaching for 2021, falling from first place in the 2020 rankings.[257] In the 2022 Times Higher Education assessment of the world’s best universities, Princeton was ranked 7th.[258] In the 2022 QS World University Rankings, it was ranked 20th overall in the world.[259]

In the 2021 U.S. News & World Report “Graduate School Rankings,” 13 of Princeton’s 14 graduate programs were ranked in their respective top 10 (with Engineering 22nd), 7 of them in the top 5, and two in the top spot (Economics and Mathematics).[260]

Princeton is classified among “R1: Doctoral Universities – Very high research activity.”[261] Based on data for the 2020 fiscal year, the university received approximately $250 million in sponsored research for its main campus, with 81.4% coming from the government, 12.1% from foundations, 5.5% from industry, and 1.0% from private and other. An additional $120 million in sponsored research was for the Plasma Physics Lab; the main campus and the lab combined totaled to $370 million for sponsored research.[262] Based on 2017 data, the university ranked 72nd among 902 institutions for research expenditures.[263]

Based on 2018 data, Princeton’s National Academy Membership totaled to 126, ranking 9th in the nation.[264] The university hosts 75 research institutes and centers and two national laboratories.[265] Princeton is a member of the New Jersey Space Grant Consortium.[266]

Library system
A picture of Firestone Library
Firestone Library, the largest of Princeton’s libraries
The Princeton University Library system houses over 13 million holdings through 11 buildings,[267] including seven million bound volumes, making it one of the largest university libraries in the world.[15] Built in 1948, the main campus library is Firestone Library and serves as the main repository for the humanities and social sciences.[267] Its collections include the autographed manuscript of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby[268] and George F. Kennan’s Long Telegram.[269] In addition to Firestone library, specialized libraries exist for architecture, art and archaeology, East Asian studies, engineering, music, public and international affairs, public policy and university archives, and the sciences.[270] The library system provides access to subscription-based electronic resources and databases to students.[271]

National laboratories
The Department of Energy’s Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory (PPPL) stemmed from Project Matterhorn, a top secret cold war project created in 1951 aimed at achieving controlled nuclear fusion.[272] Princeton astrophysics professor Lyman Spitzer became the first director of the project and remained director until the lab’s declassification in 1961 when it received its current name.[272] Today, it is an institute for fusion energy research and plasma physics research.[273]

Founded in 1955 and located at Princeton’s Forrestal Campus since 1968, the NOAA’s Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory (GFDL) conducts climate research and modeling.[274][275] Princeton faculty, research scientists, and graduate scientists can participate in research with the lab.[274]

Admissions and financial aid
Admissions statistics
2019 entering
class[276]Change vs.
Admit rate 5.8%(Neutral decrease −1.6)
Yield rate 70.4%(Increase +4.2)
Test scores middle 50%
SAT EBRW 710–770
SAT Math 750–800(Increase +20 median)
ACT Composite 33–35(Increase +1.5 median)
High school GPA
Average 3.91(Steady no change)
Princeton offers several methods to apply: the Common Application, the Coalition Application, and the QuestBridge Application.[278][279] Princeton’s application requires several writing supplements and submitting a graded written paper.[278]

Princeton’s undergraduate program is highly selective, admitting 5.8% of undergraduate applicants in the 2019–2020 admissions cycle (for the Class of 2024).[5] The middle 50% range of SAT scores was 1470–1560, the middle 50% range of the ACT composite score was 33–35, and the average high school GPA was a 3.91.[5] For graduate admissions, in the 2021–2022 academic year, Princeton received 12,553 applications for admission and accepted 1,322 applicants, with a yield rate of 51%.[245]

In the 1950s, Princeton used an ABC system to function as a precursory early program, where admission officers would visit feeder schools and assign A, B, or C ratings to students.[280][e] From 1977 to 1995, Princeton employed an early action program, and in 1996, transitioned to an early decision program.[281] In September 2006, the university announced that all applicants for the Class of 2012 would be considered in a single pool, ending the school’s early decision program.[282] In February 2011, following decisions by the University of Virginia and Harvard University to reinstate their early admissions programs, Princeton announced it would institute a single-choice early action option for applicants,[281] which it still uses.[278]

Princeton reinstated its transfer students program in 2018 after a three decades moratorium; the program encourages applicants from low-income families, the military, and community colleges.[283][284]

Costs and financial aid
As of the 2021–2022 academic year, the total cost of attendance is $77,690.[285] 61% of all undergraduates receive financial aid, with the average financial aid grant being $57,251.[5] Tuition, room, and board is free for families making up to $65,000, and financial aid is offered to families making up to $180,000.[286] In 2001, expanding on earlier reforms, Princeton became the first university to eliminate the use of student loans in financial aid, replacing them with grants.[125][70] In addition, all admissions are need-blind, and financial aid meets 100% of demonstrated financial need.[287] The university does not use academic or athletic merit scholarships.[288]

Kiplinger magazine in 2019 ranked Princeton as the fifth best value school in a combined list comparing private universities, private liberal arts colleges, and public colleges, noting that the average graduating debt was $9,005.[289] For its 2021 rankings, the U.S. News & World Report ranked it second in its category for “Best Value Schools.”

Princeton Spia Acceptance Rate

Approximately 70 percent of the applicants can learn what we teach, yet the overall admit rate is 12 to 15 percent.

The beauty of the admission process to schools of public and international affairs is that the applicant pool is relatively small in comparison to other professional graduate schools of law, business, engineering and medicine. We do not use a matrix or formula for GPAs and GRE scores because the content behind those points of data is what we value most. We focus mostly on your performance in courses that demonstrate your preparation for our core curriculum in statistics, economics, politics and psychology. In any entering class, there are more than 30 different majors from throughout the humanities, social sciences, engineering, fine arts and sciences. However, we are evaluating each transcript on the basis of whether the applicant can learn what we teach. Strong performance in quantitative courses is usually the evidence we seek. If that evidence is not apparent then the evaluation defaults to the quantitative GRE score, which is a good indication of mathematical intuition and your ability to choose correct answers on a standardized test, but tells us very little about your motivation or preparation for our curriculum.

Approximately 70 percent of the applicants can learn what we teach, yet the overall admit rate is 12 to 15 percent. It is easy to look at the data in our viewbook for GPAs and GRE scores and determine that the higher your GPAs and GRE scores are, the better your chance for admission. However, even among applicants with the best GPAs and GRE scores, admission is not more than 23 percent. As an individual applicant, your chance of admission is either 0 percent or 100 percent. Once we are confident of your academic skills, stamina and motivation, our evaluation of your application shifts significantly toward the strength of your commitment to public service.

In addition to a core curriculum and electives, concentrators in the Princeton School of Public and International Affairs enroll in a Policy Task Force and a policy research seminar during their junior year, which meet the University’s requirement for junior independent work. They also write a senior thesis, which meets the requirement for senior independent work. Faculty academic advisors are drawn from the School’s Undergraduate Program Committee.

Download the presentation from the first-year information session, which includes detailed information about the undergraduate policy major.

princeton spia admissions

All courses taken to meet these prerequisites must be taken on a graded basis (no P/D/F option). Students must receive a grade of C or higher in all courses used to meet the prerequisites. *As an exception, students may count courses taken P/D/F, in Spring 2020 only, toward their prerequisites.

AP courses or freshman seminars may not be used to fulfill prerequisites. One course may not be used to fulfill more than one prerequisite.

A course taken at Princeton and used as a prerequisite can also be used to meet either a SPIA core requirement (if it is on the list of core requirements) or as a SPIA elective (if it is on the electives list).  

A summer course or a course taken abroad might meet the prerequisite requirement, but only if approved by the School’s Undergraduate Program Office.

Princeton Spia Courses

The School’s curriculum has a disciplinary focus, enabling students to analyze a range of complex issues from different academic lenses. Students take a deep dive into quantitative and qualitative methods, unpacking policy problems holistically with clarity of thought.

Core Courses

Eight core courses are required for all fields:

  • SPI 501: Politics of Public Policy
  • SPI 502: Psychology for Policy Analysis and Implementation
  • SPI 507b or 507c: Quantitative Analysis
  • SPI 508a: Econometrics: Applied (Session I, Half-term Course) or SPI 508c: Econometrics and Public Policy: Advanced (Full-term)
  • SPI 511b or 511c: Microeconomic Analysis
  • SPI 512b or 512c: Macroeconomic Analysis
  • SPI 593c: Race, Power and Inequality (Completed during MPA Summer Program)
  • Policy Workshop

In addition, starting in 2020-2021, each MPA must take one DEI course (half- or full-term) to be selected from an approved list.

For Fields I, II, and III, two gateway courses — one each in political and economic analysis — are required. Below is a list of options.

Field I: International Relations

  • SPI 541: International Politics
  • SPI 542: International Economics or SPI 543: International Trade Policy or SPI 582c: Growth, International Finance, and Crises

Field II: International Development

  • SPI 561: The Comparative Political Economy of Development
  • SPI 562b or 562c: Economic Analysis of Development

Field III: Domestic Policy

  • SPI 521: Domestic Politics
  • SPI 522: Microeconomic Analysis of Domestic Policy or SPI 523: Legal and Regulatory Policy Toward Markets or SPI 525: Public Economics and Public Policy

Field IV: Economics and Public Policy

  • Requires at least five economics courses beyond the core curriculum. 
  • A gateway course in political analysis (SPI 521/541/561) is strongly recommended.

In addition to the six core courses, all students must:

  • Complete a graduate policy workshop in the second year.
  • Complete qualifying examinations (IPE, QE1, QE2; see more information below).
  • Maintain a minimum average of 80 (B-) to continue for the second year and for graduation.
  • Complete an approved summer internship between the first and second years.

Integrated Policy Exercise
In January, first-year MPA students are required to take part in a policy project called the Integrated Policy Exercise (IPE). Students are given briefing materials to review in advance and are then required to submit a comprehensive memo in response to a set of specific policy questions. The IPE is a trial run for the qualifying examination, known as the Qualifying Exam 1 (QE1). It is graded, but only to provide concrete feedback.

Qualifying Exam 1
At the end of the first academic year, MPA students are required to take and pass the QE1, a graded exercise that closely parallels the IPE. The QE1 requires an integrated use of analytical skills acquired during the first year, and it also includes behavioral analysis of the policy issue.

Qualifying Exam 2
Second-year MPA students are required to pass a second qualifying exam, the QE2, in their chosen field of concentration at the end of their second year in the program.