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Welcome to the Program of Freshman Seminars in the Residential Colleges

During your four years at Princeton you will discover new ideas, new fields of knowledge, and the adventure of learning. There is perhaps no better way to begin this journey than by taking a freshman seminar. Open only to members of the freshman class, the program is designed to provide first-year students with an early opportunity to experience the excitement of working closely with a professor and a small group of fellow students on a topic of special interest. As you will see in our roster of seminar offerings, the variety of topics and faculty members involved in this program is truly extraordinary. Indeed, many of our students feel that their freshman seminar was one of their most enjoyable and meaningful academic experiences at Princeton — one that enabled them to discover new intellectual passions and form enduring relationships with faculty members and fellow students.

Freshman seminars for 2017-18 — The freshman seminars offerings for the Class of 2021 are now available online. Please be sure to review the key features of the program before applying.

Online application — The application process for spring-term freshman seminars will open in late October.

If you are applying for a freshman seminar, please note the following:

  • Freshman seminars, though extremely popular and much in demand, are not mandatory.
  • Freshman seminars applications are not processed on a first-come first-served basis. All applications are processed after the deadline.
  • You can access your application as many times as needed until the deadline, in order to edit your application essay and/or change your seminar preferences. Incomplete applications will not be processed. A complete application includes marking the checkbox "I have read all information provided above" and clicking the button "I accept and confirm my application is complete."
  • Your essay should explain why your top choice particularly interests you. It should not exceed 500 words.
  • All seminar placements will be made through an automated system that gives priority to your preferences. However, enrollment in each seminar may be limited to as few as 12 students, and student demand often exceeds the number of spaces available. If you are not assigned to any of your preferences, you will be placed on the waiting list for your top-ranked seminar. Faculty members are free to select students from their waiting lists when shaping their seminar rosters and, in doing so, may read the essays in order to understand the students' interests and motivations.
  • Please note that applying to just one seminar does not improve your chances of being placed into your top choice, so we encourage you to maximize your opportunity to take a freshman seminar by applying to more than one.

You may later drop out of the Freshman Seminar to which you have been assigned, should a schedule conflict arise or if you wish to switch seminars. However, we strongly encourage you to apply only for those seminar(s) that you truly hope to take if given the opportunity. You may take only one seminar per term, but taking a seminar in the fall term does not disqualify you from taking one in the spring.

Please direct questions to Sha Sanyal at or (609) 258-1402.

Calendars, policies, programs, regulations, requirements, and all other information herein apply to the academic year 2017-18 to the best of our knowledge as of July 1, 2017. The University reserves the right to change any of its calendars, programs, requirements, and services without prior notice, in accordance with established procedures.

Nondiscrimination Statement. In compliance with Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, and other federal, state, and local laws, Princeton University does not discriminate on the basis of age, race, color, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, religion, national or ethnic origin, disability, or veteran status in any phase of its employment process, in any phase of its admission or financial aid programs, or other aspects of its educational programs or activities. The vice provost for institutional equity and diversity is the individual designated by the University to coordinate its efforts to comply with Title IX, Section 504 and other equal opportunity and affirmative action regulations and laws. Questions or concerns regarding Title IX, Section 504 or other aspects of Princeton's equal opportunity or affirmative action programs should be directed to the Office of the Vice Provost for Institutional Equity and Diversity, Princeton University, 205 Nassau Hall, Princeton, NJ 08544 or (609) 258-6110.

Produced by the Office of Communications and Office of the Dean of the College; Jamie Saxon and Shakuntala Sanyal, editors.

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