Admission to the Graduate School
Application procedures for admission to the Graduate School are available on our website.
Consideration is given to all complete applications received on or before the application deadline. Requests for financial aid do not affect an applicant’s chances for admission, as the Graduate School, together with the departments and programs, are able to offer relatively generous financial aid. Admission decisions are sent to applicants no later than March 15.
Applications are considered without regard to age, race, color, sex, religion, national or ethnic origin, or disability. In the 2009–10 academic year, there were 2,479 students enrolled in the Graduate School.
Students may find academic and employment data helpful in deciding whether or not to apply to the Graduate School. Recent experience of full-time degree candidates indicates that approximately 96 percent of an entering class return to the second year of study, 79 percent of that group return to the third, and 85 percent of those return to the fourth. The overall completion rate for the Ph.D. within seven years after a student’s initial enrollment is approximately 60 percent, although this time varies considerably by individual department. The average time to the Ph.D. over all departments, however, is considerably less than seven years; in 2008–09, the average time to the Ph.D. was 5.6 years. In 2008–09, over the whole Graduate School, 349 Ph.D.’s were awarded. Of these, 105 found employment in academic jobs, 139 held postdoctoral positions, and 88 were in nonacademic jobs. More detailed completion or placement information by department or program and by year about Ph.D. or master’s degree students is available from the Office of the Dean of the Graduate School, Princeton University, P.O. Box 255, Princeton, New Jersey 08544-0255.
Registration. All graduate students are required to register online in early September in order to receive their graduate awards and other University benefits to which they are entitled. Failure to register results in a loss of these benefits. The date, time, and place of orientation and new student sign-in are announced in students’ admission and reenrollment information. Students not able to register at this time should inform the Office of the Associate Dean for Academic Affairs staff as soon as possible in order to make special arrangements. Students should communicate with their departments well in advance of registration to learn of any departmental schedules that they must meet. International students must be lawfully present in the United States as a condition of registration. The Office of the Dean of the Graduate School has the authority to grant exceptions to this policy.
Reenrollment. Reenrollment is the annual process whereby every department and the Graduate School evaluate the academic progress of graduate-degree candidates. The reenrollment process, which is conducted during the latter half of the spring term, is often supplemented by other departmentally specific evaluations conducted at different times during the academic year (for example, doctoral students’ thesis committee meetings, which may occur once or at several times during an academic year). Students are encouraged to participate actively in the annual reenrollment process by preparing their own written statement describing academic progress during the current year, and goals and objectives for the coming year. All students eligible for reenrollment, including those writing dissertations, must make formal application each year through their individual department. Students who have satisfied all academic requirements within their department and demonstrated their readiness for continuing graduate work are offered reenrollment no later than June; others are notified about reenrollment when a basis for judgment is available.
Satisfactory academic progress is measured by the department. For students who have not yet taken the general examination, this includes completing high-quality work in courses and seminars, satisfying the residence and language requirements, and performing effectively in any assistantship or research position the student may hold. For students who have sustained the general examination, significant progress toward the completion of the dissertation is the central criterion. The Graduate School holds that academic programs should be completed quickly, compatible with good training, and therefore approves requests for reenrollment for the department’s normal program length plus up to but no more than two additional years of Dissertation Completion Enrollment status.
Dissertation Completion Enrollment. Enrolled Ph.D. students who have not completed their degree within their department’s normal program length (either four or five years, as specified by the department and the Graduate School) have the opportunity to be enrolled for up to two additional years in Dissertation Completion Enrollment (DCE) status. Eligible students apply for this status during the annual reenrollment process in the last year of their normal program length, and must be approved by their department and the Graduate School Office based on criteria for satisfactory academic progress (see above). Students in DCE status are fully and formally enrolled graduate students, working full-time to complete degree requirements. DCE students may be enrolled as regular (in residence) or In Absentia students (pursuing their work away from Princeton). In both cases, a marginal-cost tuition and the mandatory Student Health Plan fee will be charged. (In academic year 2009–10, these combined charges are $3,950.)
In-Absentia Status. Students may be recommended for reenrollment with in-absentia status if they are working full time on degree requirements not at the University and are present on campus less than a majority of days per week for an academic term or year. In-absentia status is granted for one year at a time, for up to two years, normally to students who have successfully completed the general examination. Students are encouraged to seek financial aid outside the University for the time spent in absentia. Students in absentia are considered fully enrolled graduate students and are required to register formally; all appropriate University benefits, with the exception of housing, are continued.
On-Leave Status. On the recommendation of the departmental director of graduate studies, the Graduate School may grant up to a year’s leave of absence at any one time to students in good standing. Leaves are granted for personal reasons, when the student will not be actively pursuing an academic course of study in fulfillment of Princeton’s degree requirements.
Students on leave have withdrawn formally from the graduate program and are not considered enrolled or registered students. Accordingly, no University student benefits continue. An extension of up to one additional year may be granted if the student so requests, but no longer. At that point, if the student does not return to the graduate program, his or her degree candidacy is terminated. In order to return to graduate work at a later time, the student must formally reapply. Leaves should be timed, whenever possible, to come at the end of a term, preferably at the end of a full academic year. Reenrollment after leave is subject to confirmation of continued professional suitability and a written request for reenrollment.
Withdrawal. A student who considers withdrawing from the Graduate School during the academic year should first discuss it with his or her director of graduate studies. If the student decides to withdraw, then he or she should communicate that decision in writing to both the director of graduate studies and the associate dean for academic affairs in the Graduate School. The student would then complete an end-of-enrollment form and return it to the department for a signature. All books must be returned to the library, and all financial obligations to the University must be cleared. A student withdrawing during the year who has been paid a stipend for any period of time beyond the date of withdrawal must refund the overpayment to the University.
Termination. The Graduate School may terminate a student’s degree candidacy when, upon the recommendation of the department, the student has not made satisfactory academic progress or when a student on leave has not requested reenrollment. In the case of Ph.D. students in particular, degree candidacy terminates automatically after a second failure of the general examination or after five years from the date of the student’s having passed the general examination if the student has not maintained regular contact with the department and the dissertation adviser.