Academic Advising and Academic Resources

Academic Advising

Academic advising of undergraduates in the A.B. program is centered in the six residential colleges. The dean and director of studies in each college have primary responsibility for the academic advising of freshmen and sophomores and for the non-departmental academic advising of juniors and seniors, whether or not they continue to reside in the colleges. Every freshman in the A.B. program is assigned to a faculty adviser who assists with course selection and other academic matters throughout the year, and who normally continues as the student's adviser through the sophomore year. Freshmen in the B.S.E. program are advised by faculty members in the School of Engineering and Applied Science. B.S.E. sophomores are advised by faculty members in their academic departments. In the upper-level years, all students are advised by members of their academic departments who also supervise their junior and senior independent work.

All students are encouraged to make full use of the academic resources of the University and to seek advice on specific academic matters from professors and departmental representatives in their particular areas of interest. The heads of college, deans, directors of studies, and directors of student life in the residential colleges are available for academic advising and for counseling about matters pertaining to other aspects of undergraduate life. The staff of the Office of the Dean of the College is available for discussion of academic questions or problems, and the staff of the Office of the Dean of Undergraduate Students is available for discussion of questions about undergraduate life outside the classroom.

Residential College Advisers

Every year approximately 80 students are selected to serve as residential college advisers (RCAs) who live in each of the six colleges. Under the supervision of the heads of college and directors of student life, RCAs are responsible for advising freshmen and sophomores on many aspects of University life, including those related to diversity. RCAs are assigned approximately 12 to 15 freshman advisees, whom they assist in their adjustment to the University. They are also available to sophomores who wish to seek the counsel of an older student. While RCAs are immediately responsible for the first- and second-year students in their advising area, they also work as part of a small adviser team in order to combine advisers' strengths and give the students a choice of advisers in whom to confide. During the year, RCAs are expected to initiate a variety of activities, to facilitate friendships among advisees, and to foster a safe, inclusive, and welcoming community within the college. Through programming and counseling efforts, the RCA also promotes the community's sensitivity toward the experience of underrepresented groups, as defined by ethnicity, race, religion, disability, sexual orientation, and other personal characteristics. RCAs are familiar with University resources and can refer students to appropriate people and offices as necessary.

Peer Academic Advisers

Peer Academic Advisers (PAAs) are a select group of upper-level students who are available to advise first and second-year students about academic issues in each of the six colleges.  Peer Advisers can talk with students about selecting courses, creating a balanced schedule, exploring potential majors, and taking advantage of academic resources.  Peer advisers are part of the advising community at Princeton, and their student experiences complement the advising available from faculty, the residential college staff, and published materials about various courses, departments and programs.  Although individual PAAs are typically paired with specific RCA groups for first-year students, they are available as a resource to all students in the college.

Curricular and Co-Curricular Resources for Learning

McGraw Center for Teaching and Learning

Princeton is a community of teachers and learners, and the McGraw Center for Teaching and Learning, located on the third floor of the Frist Campus Center, is a resource for all undergraduates. All center offerings are cost-free, including tutoring, workshops and individual consultations to support undergraduates as they make critical academic transitions, confront new academic challenges, and develop as learners. Designed to help students meet Princeton's distinctive demands, workshops and individual consultations focus on processes of learning and  assist students in developing strategic approaches that enable them to take full advantage of lectures, precepts, and readings in any course and concentration. During this period of virtual learning all programs and services are offered online.

McGraw's Group Study Hall and Individual Tutoring offer academic support in a number of introductory courses in which there is a quantitative problem-solving emphasis. Experienced, trained undergraduate tutors are available to guide students through learning strategies for course material, thinking through problem sets and the concepts underlying them, and preparing for exams. Study Hall also provides a good space for study groups to meet or for informal group work with classmates. Individual Tutoring allows for focused and individualized assistance for students who would benefit from a more personalized tutoring experience.

The Writing Center

The Writing Center offers student writers free, one-on-one conferences with experienced fellow writers trained to consult on assignments in any discipline.

Located on the second floor of New South, the Writing Center welcomes all Princeton students. Trained Writing Center Fellows offer 50 and 80-minute (virtual) consultations for undergraduates working on essays for courses, juniors and seniors working on independent research projects, international students not used to the conventions of American academic writing, graduate students working on seminar papers or dissertations, students writing cover letters, personal statements, and grant applications for graduate school applications, jobs, or fellowships, and students crafting oral presentations.

Writing Center Fellows can help with any part of the writing process: brainstorming ideas, developing a thesis, structuring an argument, or revising a draft. The goal of each conference is to teach strategies that will encourage students to become astute readers and critics of their own work. Although the Writing Center is not an editing or proofreading service, fellows can help students learn techniques for improving sentences and checking mechanics. Writing Center conferences complement, but do not replace, the relationships students have with their teachers and advisers.

Study Abroad Program

The Study Abroad Program enables qualified students to spend either one term or a full academic year abroad for Princeton credit. The program is open to spring-term sophomores, juniors in either or both terms, and fall-term seniors. Students with a compelling reason and faculty support may petition to study abroad in the fall of sophomore year. To qualify, an applicant must meet the minimum grade requirement established by the Faculty Committee on Examinations and Standing, normally a grade point average of 3.00 for the fall and spring terms of the academic year prior to studying abroad, and present evidence of competence in a foreign language when applying to most programs in non-English-speaking countries. Approval to study abroad may be withheld because of an unsatisfactory University disciplinary record. Students on financial aid at Princeton will continue to receive aid while participating in the Study Abroad Program.

Students should discuss their plans for study abroad with the staff of the Office of International Programs (link is external) and, when appropriate, with their departmental representative, no later than the beginning of the term prior to the proposed period of foreign study (but it is recommended to do so much earlier for the Universities of Oxford and Cambridge due to their early application deadlines). The Study Abroad Program approves requests for study abroad on behalf of the Faculty Committee on Examinations and Standing. Normally, the deadlines for submitting proposals to study abroad are the last Friday in April for the fall term or academic year and the last Friday in October for the spring term (except for Oxford and Cambridge, for which deadlines are earlier).

Applicants must submit in Princeton University’s Global Programs System (GPS) a program application, a list of proposed courses, and, if an upper-level student, a plan for completing independent work. As part of the application process, the director of undergraduate studies must approve the program of study and arrangements for completing independent work.

The regular rules for degree progress apply to students while they are participating in term time study abroad. All students studying abroad must remain enrolled in the equivalent of at least three Princeton courses each term, and credit for term time study abroad depends on the completion of approved courses with the equivalent of a grade of D or better (or, in those cases in which the host system may not feature a grade of D, whatever passing grade is above the D grade, which is normally in the C range). Grades for courses completed at other universities abroad must be certified by an official transcript from the host school or similar report. Independent work, if required, must also be conducted while studying abroad as per a student’s departmental requirements and must be submitted by the assigned deadline.

Students returning from a semester or year of study abroad may provisionally enroll in Princeton courses for the subsequent semester, pending confirmation of the study abroad grades.  However, if late-reported grades from a study abroad term indicate that normal degree progress requirements have not been met, the student may be required to withdraw, cancelling the provisional enrollment.   

Study abroad for Princeton credit is also possible during the summer either through Princeton-sponsored programs or programs offered by other institutions. All courses taken through other institutions must be pre-approved for credit. A student taking a preapproved non-Princeton course for transfer credit, either during the summer or while on leave, must earn at least a C to receive credit for the course.

Program for Community-Engaged Scholarship

The Program for Community-Engaged Scholarship (ProCES) is a curricular program that connects students' academic work with their interests in and concerns for our local, regional, national, and international communities. Students may participate in service and community-engaged learning in courses or, in a more in-depth manner, as part of program-funded junior or senior independent work. Depending on the context, students might develop a theater piece with local youth, create a film, or review the scholarly literature on a key issue for the staff of a busy nonprofit organization. Some students will work with professors and community leaders to conduct a research project and to share their conclusions with organizations that can make use of their work. ProCES courses also equip students with a theoretical or historical foundation for ethical engagement with communities.

Preparation for Teaching

The Program in Teacher Preparation provides information and advice on the numerous pathways to enter teaching at the middle and secondary levels, in both public and private schools. Students interested in earning the program certificate or the state license for teaching in public schools should contact the office or consult the program's website for information about Princeton's certificate program options for teaching.

The program provides support to any student who is interested in teaching and P-12 education. The program administers several fellowships for teaching abroad after graduation. Program staff are available to provide guidance on non-teaching job opportunities in education, graduate study relating to education, or working in independent schools. The office also provides workshops to help students find teaching jobs in both the public and private sectors. Interested students should inquire at the office for information on job opportunities related to teaching.

The program's introductory courses (TPP 301 Seminar on Student Learning and Methods for Teaching and PSY 307 Educational Psychology) are open to any student interested in teaching and/or P-12 education. Non-program students interested in taking either course should contact the Teacher Prep office to be added to the course permissions list.

Advising Resources for Post-Graduate Study

Advising for Major Fellowships

Fellowship Advising, housed within the Office of International Programs, assists undergraduates and recent alumni as they navigate the process of identifying and applying to fellowships and scholarships. Designated faculty members and administrators are available to counsel students who are interested in applying for the Churchill, Dale, Deutscher Akademischer Austauschdienst (DAAD), Fulbright, Gates, Goldwater, Hertz, Labouisse, Luce, Marshall, National Science Foundation, Rhodes, Sachs, Truman, and other scholarships or fellowships. All except a handful like the Dale, Labouisse, and Sachs, which are available only to Princeton seniors, are awarded on the basis of national competition. Many applications are submitted early in the fall of the senior year, but students are encouraged to attend information sessions and meet with a fellowship adviser in early spring of their junior years. Several awards are available to undergraduates prior to their senior year, including the Goldwater Scholarships, and the Truman scholarships, which are available only to juniors. Further information on the fellowships and eligibility requirements and the names of the advisers for each fellowship are available from the Office of International Programs.

Preparation for Graduate Study

Students intending to pursue graduate studies should seek guidance from faculty advisers and departmental representatives throughout their undergraduate careers. In general, for admission to a Ph.D. or academic master's degree program in a particular discipline, candidates must show scholarly distinction or definite promise in their undergraduate studies in that discipline or in a closely related one. Moreover, as fields of study become more interdisciplinary in nature, applicants from a relatively wide variety of disciplinary backgrounds may be encouraged to apply. (Interested students should check directly with the particular department or program.) Graduate programs normally require official transcripts of all prior undergraduate and previous graduate work, three letters of recommendation from faculty who know the applicant well, a detailed statement of academic purpose, and scores from the Graduate Record Examination General Test. Individual departments may additionally require scores from a relevant subject test. International students whose native language is not English may be asked to take and submit scores from an English language test such as TOEFL or IELTS, or may be required to submit a "proficiency in English" form. Students applying to joint Ph.D. and professional school programs may also be asked to take the GMAT or LSAT, or other similar exam. Many programs also require a reading knowledge of at least one foreign language. Increasingly, graduate admissions committees require, in the case of humanities and social science disciplines, samples of the applicant's written work and, in the case of science and engineering disciplines, evidence of prior research experience. The Center for Career Development is available to assist students as they prepare and plan for graduate and professional school.

Preparation for Law School

The Center for Career Development provides pre-law advising and educational programming covering all aspects of the application process for students and alumni interested in exploring a legal career and pursuing law school.

Law schools do not recommend a prescribed course of study for pre-law students. Students should choose courses and majors that interest them. Developing strong analytical, communication, and research and writing skills will prepare students to succeed in law school and the legal profession. Princeton offers a number of law-related courses that may be of interest to explore legal issues and learn more about how the law is developed and applied. Through pre-law internships as well as campus leadership and community engagement experiences related to law, policy, and government, students can engage in practical experiences that will offer them a greater understanding about the legal profession.

Preparation for Business School

The Master of Business Administration (MBA) is a professional degree that provides course work and training in a variety of business and management disciplines. MBA programs are generally offered as full-time (typically two years) or as part-time (three years) to accommodate working professionals. Although there are a number of institutions that offer the MBA, the more competitive universities do not commonly accept applicants without several years of relevant post-undergraduate work experience except for deferred MBA admissions programs.

Business schools do not require a specific undergraduate course of study. However, they do place value on well-developed oral and written expression, and demonstration of analytical and quantitative abilities. Applicants should also possess experience gained from internships, study abroad, fellowships, or post-college employment. Students considering an MBA should make use of the many resources available from the Center for Career Development, including scheduling a one-on-one appointment with an adviser.

Preparation for Medical, Dental, and Other Health Professions Schools

The Office of Health Professions Advising (HPA) encourages all students who are considering a career in the health professions to familiarize themselves with the resources of the office as soon as possible. A strong application will demand careful planning, both of one's curriculum and one's academic year and summer activities. For detailed information about prehealth course requirements, please see "Preparing for a Career in the Health Professions," which is available as a handout in the Office of Health Professions Advising on the HPA website under "Prehealth Prep." Prehealth students are encouraged to meet with an HPA adviser early in their college years to discuss both academic and non-academic preparation.