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Requirements and Policies

The complete undergraduate academic guide is downloadable as a PDF: Yellow Book.


World Trade Center site
Engineering students at World Trade Center site
Requirements for study in CEE follow the general requirements for BSE students, which are normally completed in the freshman year.  These are courses in mathematics, basic sciences, computer science, and writing.  After the freshman year, the student's course of study is planned in consultation with academic advisers in the CEE department.
Princeton University requires engineering students to successfully complete a minimum of 36 courses over four years. For CEE students, these typically consist of:
  • 8 courses of mathematics, physics, general chemistry, and computer science
  • 1 university writing requirement
  • 2 additional math requirements
  • 1 additional basic science requirement
  • 8 engineering science requirements
  • 2 engineering design requirements
  • 2 course credits of senior thesis
  • 3 or more track-specific courses or program electives
  • 7 or more electives in humanities and social science
  • The non-ABET accredited tracks follow different sets of requirements. 
The student’s selected track determines the specific engineering science requirements, design requirements, and track-specific requirements.  The  track also guides the selection of program electives, which are technical courses in engineering, science, economics or mathematics.  A maximum of one 200-level course may be chosen as a Program Elective.  A student's program electives must provide a coherent sequence in the student's area of interest.  Approval is based on agreement from the advisor and the departmental representative.  If a student selects a program elective outside the pre-approved list, the student should make a compelling case for why this is consistent with the student’s educational objectives.  Approval is based on agreement from the advisor and the departmental representative.
For the ABET-accredited tracks, a student's program of study must include a minimum of fourteen engineering courses.  For this purpose, we do count MAE 305 as an engineering course, but we do not count ORF 245.
The senior thesis is a full-year research project, although seniors register for this course in the Spring Term only.  No grade is given in the fall; a double grade is awarded in the spring.
Amoung the humanities and social sciences electives, BSE students are required to include at least one course in four of the six areas listed:
  • Epistemology and Cognition (EC)
  • Ethical Thought and Moral Values (EM)
  • Foreign Language at or above the 107/108 level
  • Historical Analysis (HA)
  • Literature and the Arts (LA)
  • Social Analysis (SA)
Finally, all of these courses except the humanities and social science electives and any extra program electives must be taken for a grade, i.e. not on a Pass/D/Fail basis.  Passing grades must be received in all of these courses.


In some instances, an exceptional student may wish to design his/her own program, pulling together related courses from different tracks within CEE or from different departments. Such a program must be designed in conjunction with the academic advisor, and must be approved by the Departmental Representative to ensure that the program is ABET-compliant as a civil engineering program.


Study abroad can be used to enhance and diversify the educational experience.  For many CEE juniors, study abroad has served as a valuable option for junior independent work and in providing important experience for their senior thesis research.

The School of Engineering offers the opportunity to participate in the Oxford Engineering Exchange Program.  As part of the Oxford-Princeton Partnership, a select number of juniors in the departments of Electrical Engineering, Civil & Environmental Engineering, and Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering are chosen annually for the prestigious year-long exchange program.  Successful applicants are placed in one of Oxford’s 38 colleges and enjoy the full privileges of an Oxford undergraduate student, or “JCR” member.  Students take a selection of engineering courses equivalent to Princeton’s junior year requirements, including a fourth-year engineering project.

The CEE Department (in collaboration with Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, the School of Engineering, the Program in African Studies, and Kenyan institutions) offers a spring semester in Kenya. The semester takes place at the Mpala Research Center (MRC) and involves total immersion in the Mpala field site. The MRC is a facility for scientific research, education, and training in central Kenya, emphasizing environmental sciences, biodiversity conservation, and natural resources management.

Courses taken during foreign study must be pre-approved for credit as departmental courses by the department representative. Students considering study abroad should consult with the departmental representative as early as possible.

Students studying abroad in Kenya
Students studying abroad in Kenya


The Senior Thesis, CEE 478, is a yearlong research project that is required of all CEE students.
CEE 478 is considered by many Princeton graduates to be one of the most fulfilling academic activities of their four years.  The thesis process requires independent work, regular consultation with one’s advisor, submission of two progress reports during the fall semester, a poster session early in the spring semester, submission of the final thesis in April, and an oral presentation in the first week of May.
Students may select from a wide variety of subjects of their own choice or suggested by the faculty.  A sample list of senior thesis titles from previous years is available on the CEE website For administrative reasons; students do not sign up for Senior Thesis in the fall, but instead only sign up in the spring.
The thesis counts as two courses in the spring term of senior year.   In view of the SEAS requirement that each student takes at least four courses in any given term, seniors must take at least three courses, in addition to the thesis, each term senior year (regardless of the total number of courses the student has taken).

 Senior Thesis Guide

 Engineering Library's Research Guide


Prior to graduation, the Department will calculate each senior student’s departmental grade point average (GPA) to determine degree status and for determination of honors and awards. To graduate, a student’s departmental GPA must be 2.0 or greater. The CEE department uses the following guidelines to determine the departmental courses included in the GPA calculations: 
  • All 300-level and above engineering science courses, design courses, track-specific requirements, program electives, and senior thesis (which is counted as two courses), taken junior or senior year, plus
  • Any of these courses taken freshman or sophomore year that raise the student’s GPA.
  • If more than 4 Program Electives are taken, the lowest grade of the Program Electives will be dropped.
Note that while one 200-level course may be included among the Program Electives, no 200-level courses are counted in the departmental GPA.
Note that “300-level and above courses” means all such courses and not just CEE courses. It should also be noted that the CEE Department does not use the Registrar’s definition of departmental courses to compute the departmental GPA. 
Academic honors are bestowed upon graduates with exceptional academic achievement.  There are three levels that may be awarded: “honors”, “high honors”, and “highest honors”.  Departmental GPA is used in determination of academic honors, but may also include consideration of other factors such as the quality of the senior thesis.  There are no automatic ranges in GPA for awarding honors.  Furthermore, to assure that the qualifications for honors remains consistent from year to year, the faculty compares students in one year with those who have received honors in recent years.  Academic Honors will be announced on Class Day and printed in the Commencement Program. Honors will also appear on the diploma and transcript.
In addition, the department acknowledges outstanding academic achievement through membership in honor societies, departmental awards, and prizes, as listed below. There are engineering school-wide awards and university awards. A listing of all Princeton University prizes and awards is given in the Undergraduate Announcement.
Honor Societies
  • The Society of Sigma Xi is an international honor society which recognizes excellence in research in science, engineering, or mathematics, demonstrated primarily through the senior thesis.
  • The Tau Beta Pi Society is a national engineering honor society founded in 1885. Membership is conferred upon students in recognition of superior scholarship and exemplary character.
  • The Phi Beta Kappa Society is a national academic honor society founded in 1776. It elects the most outstanding students of arts and sciences at America’s leading colleges and universities.

See Graduation and Honors.

Awards and Prizes Presented by the Department of CEE 
  • Achievement Award of the New Jersey Chapter of the American Concrete Institute:  A certificate is awarded annually to a senior civil engineer who has demonstrated outstanding achievement in research and design in concrete.
  • Moles Award:  This award is made annually to a senior in civil engineering in recognition of outstanding promise in construction engineering and management.
  • W. Taylor Thom Jr. Prize:  A prize awarded to a senior in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering who has written an outstanding thesis in the Geological Engineering Program.
  • W. Mack Angas Prize:  A prize awarded to the senior in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering who has an outstanding academic record and high promise of achievement in an engineering career and who has also been substantially involved in nonacademic activities of the department and the University.
  • David W. Carmichael Prize:  A prize awarded to a senior in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering who has written an outstanding thesis in civil engineering.
  • CEE Book Award:  This is to award a senior who has written an outstanding thesis.
  • Christine Trmal Prize:  This prize is awarded to a senior who has demonstrated excellence in academic studies and who has written an outstanding thesis in Environmental Engineering.


Qualified students in the Department have access to several unique laboratories used by both students and faculty.
The laboratories of CEE include teaching labs in mechanics, materials, and environmental engineering.  Individual faculty members have developed specialized laboratories for research that are used by graduate students and undergraduates doing junior projects or senior theses.
The mechanics and materials lab provides facilities for fabrication of concrete, a computer-controlled testing system for measuring the strength and toughness of building materials, a triaxial testing facility for soil, and a network of computers for simulating and analyzing experiments.
The Department also supports an environmental quality laboratory, where selected aspects of the chemistry and microbiology of water supplies are studied. An active area of interest is the contamination and cleanup of groundwater.
Available equipment includes gas and liquid chromatography with a variety of detectors for very sensitive measurements of chemicals in environmental samples, as well as microscopes, incubators, and environmental chambers for culturing aerobic and anaerobic microorganisms. 
Equipment is also available in the Geosciences Department for independent work.
CEE students in the CEE 308 lab
CEE students in the CEE 308 lab