Formal requirements of the Graduate School are few and depend largely on the degree program to which the student has been admitted. All graduate students are required to register in September for the beginning of each new academic year. All candidates for advanced degrees (i.e., all graduate students) must spend at least one academic year in residence in Princeton or the vicinity, and Ph.D. candidates are expected to fulfill this requirement before taking the general examination.
Each student's academic program is arranged at the beginning of each term with the director of graduate studies or adviser. Although no specific courses are required by the Graduate School, many individual departments and programs do require specific courses or a specific number of courses or exercises as a part of their overall pre-Generals program. Because the Graduate School does not operate on a credit-hour or semester-hour system, there is no mechanical way to satisfy any portion of degree requirements by transferring credit for work completed at other institutions. In short, everyone enters the Graduate School as a first-year student. Students who have completed graduate level work elsewhere, however, may, in consultation with the director of graduate studies, be prepared to shorten the period of coursework and take the general examination earlier than the departmental norm, after having satisfied the residence requirement and any other departmental requirements.