Course Load for Underclass Students
Students in the A.B. degree program are expected to complete 17 courses in the first four semesters. The normal route will be to take four courses in three of the first four semesters and five courses in the other semester. All freshmen and sophomores must still enroll in a minimum of three courses per semester. Freshmen must have seven courses to return as sophomores, and sophomores must have a minimum of 16 courses to begin junior year. Students in the B.S.E. program are expected to complete nine courses by the end of the freshman year, and 18 courses by the beginning of junior year. The academic unit at Princeton is a semester and not a single course, and students must successfully complete eight semesters (unless they have advanced standing) before graduation.
In any given semester, you may take one or more optional courses in addition to the standard course load. You should seek the advice of your adviser, dean, or director of studies when considering adding optional courses.
You are expected to finish all your courses during a term. However, in consultation with your academic adviser and dean or director of studies, you may be allowed to fall one course short of the usual number of courses in a term and thus incur a course deficiency. Course deficiencies are granted under the following guidelines:
1. If you are in the A.B. program, you must be enrolled in a minimum of three courses each term and must successfully complete a minimum of six courses for the year. To begin sophomore year, you must have successfully completed a minimum of seven courses. To begin junior year, you must have successfully completed a minimum of 16 courses.
2. If you are in the B.S.E. program, you must successfully complete a minimum of eight courses by the beginning of sophomore year. A student who finishes freshman year with seven courses must take at least one summer course before being permitted to proceed in the B.S.E. program in the fall. Sophomores must successfully complete at least four courses each term, with a minimum of 17 courses by the beginning of junior year.
3. You must request a course deficiency no later than the end of the ninth week of classes. The registrar will publish the final date for dropping courses each year. You will not be allowed to drop courses (including optional courses) after that date.
4. If you incur a course deficiency, you must make it up either by an extra Princeton course or by a preapproved course at another school.
Dropping Optional Courses
With the approval of your academic adviser you may drop an optional course before the end of the ninth week of classes. Remember that after the 10th week of classes begins, you must complete all your courses, regardless of whether or not they are required by your program. Failures in optional courses are treated in exactly the same way as failures in required courses.
You may elect pass/D/fail grading in four of the total number of courses required for graduation (31 for the A.B., 36 for the B.S.E.); however, you may elect only one pass/D/fail course per term. "Pass/D/fail only" courses do not count against your total budget of four pass/D/fail courses or against the one-per-term allocation. Grades in courses elected on a pass/D/fail basis will be recorded as P (A+ to C-), D, or F. Note that the grade of D is still a passing grade, but it is not subsumed under the designation of "P."
In general, you may elect to take on a pass/D/fail basis any nondepartmental courses, including those that fulfill distribution requirements, except for courses with a "no pass/D/fail" notation. It is a good idea, however, to discuss your pass/D/fail choices with your adviser or with your dean or director of studies and, when appropriate, with a preprofessional adviser. Most departments require that courses serving as prerequisites for entrance into the department be graded.
The pass/D/fail option may be elected between the beginning of the seventh and the end of the ninth week of classes. If you decide to change a course to pass/D/fail, keep in mind that the primary purpose of the option is to allow for experimentation and curricular adventure in a world where grades seem to count more and more heavily, especially when you apply to graduate or professional schools. Do your work in pass/D/fail courses diligently and with integrity. For your own intellectual development, it is as important to succeed in a pass/D/fail course as in a graded one.
Above all, do not neglect a pass/D/fail course. Every year a significant number of students fail courses they take on a pass/D/fail basis, either because they underestimated the amount of sustained work required to complete the courses successfully, or because they rarely attended lectures and precepts. Professors do not know who is taking the course pass/D/fail, and the work of all students is evaluated by the same standards. In some courses lack of attendance and class participation, regardless of performance on written exercises, is sufficient grounds for a failing grade.
Courses Taken for Credit Outside Princeton
Unless you are a student participating in a special program, you may take up to a total of three courses (as an A.B. student) or four courses (as a B.S.E. student) at other institutions that will count toward the 31- or 36-course total needed to graduate from Princeton. You may use these courses to make up deficiencies incurred by dropping or failing courses, or you may "bank" them in order to reduce your course load in future terms. These courses may be taken during summer school sessions or while you are away from Princeton on a leave of absence or other type of withdrawal. The University writing requirement and the B.S.E. computer science requirement may not be satisfied by a course taken at another school.
Courses taken for credit at other schools must be preapproved by your residential college dean or director of studies and by the departmental representative of the Princeton department offering courses in the discipline. They must be taken at an accredited four-year institution. Study Abroad courses must appear on the transcript of a four-year institution. Online courses are ineligible for transfer credit. Credit will be granted only if you receive a grade of C or higher. A C- is not acceptable; courses cannot be taken on a pass/fail basis. An official transcript must be sent to your residential college before you can count a course toward your Princeton degree. All transcripts should be received two weeks prior to the start of your next term at Princeton.
The content of an elective course should fit generally within the range of course offerings in a Princeton department or program. In the case of a course proposed to substitute for a required prerequisite or required course in a Princeton department or program, the content should be substantially similar.
If you attend a summer session, you may take no more than two courses in any one summer. A one-term course must meet for a minimum of four weeks and 30 hours or more; a two-term course must meet for a minimum of eight weeks and 60 hours. A course or set of courses proposed to substitute for a course in a foreign language must meet a total of 60 hours and for a minimum of four weeks. Many departments (e.g., math, economics, physics) impose additional requirements and restrictions; check with departmental or program websites to determine the specifics of what they require.
You may use courses taken away from Princeton in partial fulfillment of certain distribution areas, with a limit of one course in each of two of the following distribution areas: literature and the arts; social analysis; or science and technology (please note, only non-laboratory science courses [STN] may be taken outside of Princeton; see page 9). In rare circumstances, departments may allow you to use one course as a departmental. One course credit can be granted for a beginning language course provided the course/s are preapproved by the department and the department determines at the conclusion of the preapproved summer study that you have progressed beyond the 102 level. Credit for 100-level language courses beyond 102 may be granted if preapproved by the department and the department determines that you have proceeded beyond the expected language level for that course. Credit will be given for the final course in an introductory sequence only if you pass the department placement test. It is not possible under any circumstances to use courses taken away from Princeton to substitute for a term of study at Princeton.
If you are on financial aid and are unable to meet your expected summer earnings contribution because of summer study, you should see a financial aid counselor, at 220 West College, to have your savings shortfall replaced. Student loans are available to meet tuition costs of approved courses.
Deadlines and Extensions
Meeting deadlines for all written work and taking exams when scheduled are serious and important parts of your academic obligations at Princeton. You will not receive an extension if you apply for it after the date on which a paper is due, nor will you always be allowed to reschedule a final exam because you did not take it at the announced time. Princeton has a strict policy on deadlines, and you would be ill served if you were not told, at the very beginning of your academic career, that deadlines will seldom be moved and should never be ignored.
All students are expected to take the midterm exams at the time and date specified by the instructor. If, however, for a good and sufficient reason you are unable to take a midterm exam as scheduled, please discuss the problem in advance with your instructor. Your residential college dean or director of studies may also be able to help you work with the course instructor to reschedule the examination.
All in-class final examinations are scheduled by the Office of the Registrar during an 11-day final examination period at the end of each semester. Examinations must be taken at the assigned times, so students should be prepared to be available throughout the examination period and should not schedule personal travel until the examination schedule has been published. Students may view the final exam schedule in TigerHub on or before midterm week.
The registrar, acting for the Faculty Committee on Examinations and Standing, may authorize a student to take an examination up to 24 hours before or after the scheduled examination time. Appropriate reasons for granting such requests are religious observance, personal emergencies, and more than one examination scheduled in a single calendar day. Examinations will normally be rescheduled during the 24 hours after the scheduled examination time; examinations will be rescheduled during the 24-hour period before the regularly scheduled time only in the most unusual and compelling circumstances.
A student who, because of illness or another compelling reason outside their control, needs to postpone a final examination more than 24 hours beyond the scheduled time may apply for authorization of a postponed examination. Students apply through their residential college deans or directors of studies. The request must be made prior to the scheduled examination time and must include the endorsement of the course professor. Approved rescheduled exams are administered by the Office of the Registrar during the first weeks of the subsequent term. These dates are firm and cannot be changed.
A student who has received authorization for a postponed final examination will receive the grade of Incomplete (INC) until the examination has been completed and a final grade reported. A student who fails to take a scheduled examination or a rescheduled examination will receive a failing grade for that portion of the course.
A student who becomes ill or otherwise incapacitated at the time of a scheduled examination should report immediately to University Health Services and then notify the deputy registrar, as well as the student's residential college dean or director of studies, as soon as possible. If a student elects to take the examination at the scheduled time, the student's grade will not subsequently be altered on the grounds of poor health or other problems.
A student who arrives late at an examination but within 30 minutes of the scheduled start time will be given the examination and permitted to complete as much work as possible during the remaining time. A student who arrives at an examination more than 30 minutes late must notify the deputy registrar immediately. A student who misses an examination entirely, for any reason, must report that fact to the deputy registrar as soon as possible. In these cases, upon review of the circumstances, the student may be allowed to make up the examination in the next available examination period. Such a make-up examination is permitted only once in a student's undergraduate career. Failure to report a missed examination within 24 hours of the scheduled examination time will result in a failing grade for the exam.
Submission of Papers and Other Written Work
Some of you have written many papers in high school, and some of you may have little experience in writing. Since for most of you writing many papers of varying length and depth will be an integral part of your Princeton education, you should be aware of the University rules governing submission of papers. These rules are taken seriously.
During the term all papers and other written work are due at the time set by the professor. If, however, because of circumstances beyond your control you are unable to meet the deadline, be sure to discuss the delay with your instructor and arrange for a new due date. At the end of each term, there is also a University deadline for the submission of all written work, usually the last day of the reading period (this year, Tuesday, January 17, 2017, for the fall term; Tuesday, May 16, 2017, for the spring term).
Any postponement of written work beyond the University deadline must be approved by your dean or director of studies and the professor in charge of the course. Be sure that you receive written authorization prior to the deadline. Do not assume that you will receive permission to submit written work -- papers, problem sets, or homework -- beyond the University deadline. You should consult your dean or director of studies as soon as it is apparent to you that your work cannot be completed on time. Normally, only short-term extensions are granted, and the new deadline will not extend past the last date of the examination period. In exceptional cases, a longer-term extension may be granted at the discretion of the residential college dean. Remember that postponements normally will be granted only for reasons beyond your control.
Honor Code and Other Academic Integrity Regulations
The honor system was established at Princeton in 1893 and is an integral part of the code by which the community lives. All written examinations and tests are conducted under the honor system, and students assume full responsibility for academic honesty during examinations. You will have ample opportunity to learn about the Honor Code, but it is the responsibility of each student to know it and to abide by it. Infractions of the Honor Code are the concern of the Honor Committee.
There is a separate faculty/student Committee on Discipline that is concerned with violations of rules pertaining to all academic work other than in-class examinations, (that is, papers, laboratory reports, problem sets, and so on). Since many students, especially those new to college, are uncertain about what constitutes an academic infraction -- for instance, plagiarism or excessive collaboration -- you should carefully read the appropriate sections of Rights, Rules, Responsibilities and Academic Integrity at Princeton. You can also consult your professor or preceptor in the course for which you are preparing an essay or research paper. While conventions may differ from one discipline to another, it is your responsibility to become familiar with the University's expectations (see "Academic Writing" on page 17).
Midterm grades and final grades are not sent home to your families. When, however, midterm grades indicate serious academic difficulties, the student receives a letter from the residential college dean, and a copy of the letter is normally mailed to the families.
We expect that you will have a good and successful year. Although each year only a very small number of students encounter serious academic difficulties, you should know the circumstances under which a student in their first two years at Princeton is put on academic warning, academic probation, or required to withdraw.
Academic Probation and Academic Warning
At the end of each academic term the Committee on Examinations and Standing reviews the academic records of all students. Students with poor overall standing, as reflected by several D's, F's, or deficiencies, are placed on academic probation. The records of students on academic probation will be reviewed by the committee at the end of the following term. Students on academic probation are expected to improve their records so that there will be no further questions about their ability to complete the program of study.
A student whose record does not improve substantially while on academic probation may be required to withdraw by the Committee on Examinations and Standing. A single failing grade or a record with two or more D's while on academic probation will normally result in a required withdrawal.
Letters of academic warning are issued to students whose records for the preceding term, while not warranting academic probation, indicate weak academic performance. Academic warning is intended to alert students to the need for improvement and to suggest ways in which performance might be enhanced.
1. A student ordinarily will be required by the Faculty Committee on Examinations and Standing to withdraw from the University at the end of a term or year on the basis of the following provisions:
a) A freshman who receives the grade of F in three or more courses or incurs three deficiencies in one term or incurs a total of four deficiencies during the year.
b) A student who receives a grade of F in two or more courses in any term of sophomore, junior, or senior year; or the grade of F in three consecutive terms in sophomore, junior, and senior years; or the grade of F in a total of four or more courses in sophomore, junior, and senior years.
c) A student who has been placed on academic probation (see above) and whose record fails to improve substantially during the term.
d) A student on writing probation during the spring of sophomore year who, regardless of performance in other courses, fails to complete the writing requirement.
e) A student who, prior to the start of any given academic year, has not successfully completed the minimum number of courses needed for advancement.
2. A student may be required to withdraw at the end of a term if the student receives a grade of F in one or more courses and the grade of F in independent work for the term. A student whose overall departmental performance has been only marginal ordinarily will be required to withdraw if withdrawal is recommended by the department.
3. A student who has been required to withdraw is normally required by the Faculty Committee on Examinations and Standing to apply for readmission to repeat the unsuccessful term at Princeton. All grades received during the failed term will be recorded on the Princeton transcript.
4. Readmission to Princeton is never guaranteed to a student who has been required to withdraw, but the Faculty Committee on Examinations and Standing may grant a second opportunity after a student has demonstrated readiness to resume academic work. In general, the committee will insist on a strong record of performance in a demanding work experience or successful completion of courses at another school. Specific requirements may be established by the committee.
5. A student who has left the University twice for academic reasons should not expect a third opportunity to qualify for a degree.