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The Undergraduate College

Program of Study

Princeton offers two bachelor’s degrees: a bachelor of arts (A.B.) and a bachelor of science in engineering (B.S.E.). Within these degree programs, students can choose from among 80 departments and interdepartmental programs. In lieu of existing programs, students may apply for independent concentration.

Undergraduates in the A.B. program must successfully complete general education requirements that include two courses each in literature and the arts, science and technology (at least one course must be with laboratory), and social analysis; and one course each in epistemology and cognition, ethical thought and moral values, historical analysis, and quantitative reasoning. A.B. candidates also must satisfy writing and foreign language requirements.

Departmental requirements combine upper-level courses with independent work in both the junior and senior years. A senior thesis is required of all A.B. candidates.

Engineering students take at least seven courses in the humanities and social sciences, in addition to satisfying the writing requirement and meeting the requirements in mathematics, physics, chemistry and computer programming as specified by the School of Engineering and Applied Science. B.S.E. students are required to take one course in four of the following six areas: epistemology and cognition, ethical thought and moral values, foreign language, historical analysis, literature and the arts, and social analysis.

All engineering departments offer upperclass students opportunities to pursue independent work in lieu of formal coursework. In some departments, independent work or a senior thesis is required for completion of the B.S.E. degree.

Departments and Programs

Students may choose from among 34 majors, or an independent concentration, and participate in 47 special programs, many of them interdisciplinary or interdepartmental. The University also provides ample support resources, such as a modern language lab that bolsters the instruction in 21 modern languages currently offered.

Academic Departments

Undergraduates may concentrate their studies in the following fields:

  • Anthropology
  • Architecture
  • Art and Archaeology
  • Astrophysical Sciences
  • Chemical and Biological Engineering
  • Chemistry
  • Civil and Environmental Engineering
  • Classics
  • Comparative Literature
  • Computer Science
  • East Asian Studies
  • Ecology and Evolutionary Biology
  • Economics
  • Electrical Engineering
  • English
  • French and Italian
  • Geosciences
  • German
  • History
  • Independent Concentration
  • Mathematics
  • Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering
  • Molecular Biology
  • Music
  • Near Eastern Studies
  • Operations Research and Financial Engineering
  • Philosophy
  • Physics
  • Politics
  • Psychology
  • Religion
  • Slavic Languages and Literatures
  • Sociology
  • Spanish and Portuguese Languages and Cultures
  • Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs

Interdepartmental Programs

Interdisciplinary and interdepartmental programs are available to complement more traditional courses of study. Participants in programs take designated courses in the subject area and prepare substantial independent work toward completion of a certificate of proficiency.

Undergraduates may supplement their concentration by participating in any of the following programs, all of which grant certificates of proficiency:

  • African American Studies
  • African Studies
  • American Studies
  • Applications of Computing
  • Applied and Computational Mathematics
  • Architecture and Engineering
  • Biophysics
  • Contemporary European Politics and Society
  • Creative Writing
  • Dance
  • East Asian Studies
  • Engineering Biology
  • Engineering and Management Systems
  • Engineering Physics
  • Environmental Studies
  • European Cultural Studies
  • Finance
  • Gender and Sexuality Studies
  • Geological Engineering
  • Global Health and Health Policy
  • Hellenic Studies
  • Humanistic Studies
  • Jazz Studies
  • Judaic Studies
  • Language and Culture
  • Latin American Studies
  • Latino Studies
  • Linguistics
  • Materials Science and Engineering
  • Medieval Studies
  • Musical Performance
  • Near Eastern Studies
  • Neuroscience
  • Planets and Life
  • Quantitative and Computational Biology
  • Robotics and Intelligent Systems
  • Russian, East European and Eurasian Studies
  • South Asian Studies
  • Statistics and Machine Learning
  • Sustainable Energy
  • Teacher Preparation
  • Technology and Society
  • Theater
  • Translation and Intercultural Communication
  • Urban Studies
  • Values and Public Life
  • Visual Arts

Areas of Concentration

Undergraduate concentration patterns have remained fairly constant over the years. Here, in descending order, are the 15 areas of concentration for juniors and seniors that were most popular in academic year 2012-13:

Department Number of Concentrators
Economics 280
Politics 231
Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs 164
History 143
Molecular Biology 142
Psychology 140
Ecology and Evolutionary Biology 133
Computer Science 119
English 105
Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering 102
Operations Research and Financial Engineering 91
Sociology 87
Anthropology 77
Chemical and Biological Engineering 77
Mathematics 73

The Creative Arts

The Lewis Center for the Arts is the academic unit comprising the programs in creative writing, dance, theater, visual arts and the Princeton Atelier. The center puts the arts at the heart of the Princeton experience. The work coming out of more than 120 courses offered each year, along with visits by world-renowned guest artists, is shared with the larger community through more than 100 public arts events presented annually. Students may earn certificates in creative writing, dance, theater and visual arts in addition to the bachelor’s in their major area of study; a bachelor’s in studio art is offered through the Department of Art and Archaeology in collaboration with the Lewis Center.

Creative Writing. The Program in Creative Writing offers undergraduate students the unique opportunity to pursue original work in fiction, poetry, screenwriting and translation in small workshop classes with renowned practicing writers. A reading series brings distinguished poets and writers to campus to read from their work.

Dance. The Program in Dance exposes students to professional artists and scholars in dance through courses, special workshops and guest choreographers. The program offers training in modern and contemporary dance and ballet. Courses focus on technique, repertory, choreography, history and criticism. The program’s dance concerts offer opportunities for dance performance and present works choreographed by students, faculty and guest artists.

Theater. The Program in Theater offers workshop courses in acting, directing, design, writing, performance, history and criticism — all taught by professional artists, scholars and critics. The program also presents productions acted and directed by students. The Music Theater Lab brings together students, faculty and guest artists in the creation, study and performance of music theater.

Visual Arts. The Program in Visual Arts introduces students to the studio arts in the context of a liberal arts education. Courses are offered in ceramics, drawing, film theory and history, painting, photography, digital photography, printmaking, sculpture, and film and video production. A series of exhibitions and screenings highlight student work created in the program.

The Princeton Atelier. The Princeton Atelier brings together professional artists from different disciplines to create new work in the context of semester-long workshops with students.

Performance Central. The Performance Central Series offers high-profile performances, readings and lectures by notable artists in the areas of creative writing, dance, music, theater and the visual arts.

Music Study. Princeton attracts student musicians who want a broad liberal arts education and the chance to pursue their musical interests. The Department of Music offers courses in composition and theory, as well as music history and literature. Courses that incorporate student performance are offered each year. The Lewis Center also offers courses in musical theater and performance studies.

Fellowship Programs. In collaboration with the Department of Music, the Lewis Center offers two fellowship programs supporting individual artists. The Hodder Fellowships provide a year of support to provide emerging artists with time and space to create new work. The Fellowships in the Creative and Performing Arts, supported in part by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, provide a two-year residency for emerging artists to teach and engage with the creative community at Princeton.

Arts and Transit Project. Three new arts buildings to house the Lewis Center for the Arts and some functions of the Department of Music are part of the project that will remake an area along University Place and Alexander Street just south of the McCarter Theatre Center and just east of Forbes College. The plan also includes designs for a new Dinky train station and Wawa convenience store, and renovation of the existing rail station buildings for a restaurant and café. Infrastructure improvements to the site and adjacent roadways, a multimodal transit center, and extensive landscaping are also part of the project. Construction began in spring 2013.

Awards and Fellowships

Princeton students do very well in national scholarship and fellowship competitions. During the past 10 years, 15 Princeton undergraduates have been U.S. Rhodes Scholars.

The table below lists seven of the award programs open to graduates and shows the number of Princetonians who have won these scholarships over the past five years.

  Awarded nationally† 08–09 09–10 10–11 11–12 12–13
Churchill 11 1 2 1 0 1
Fulbright 1,560 13 16 11 5 17
Gates Cambridge 90 1 1 2 5 3
Hertz 30 0 1 2 1 2
Marshall 40 1 1 1 5 2
NSF* 2,000 14 35 29 31 27
Rhodes 32 3 1 2 4 0

†Approximate number, varies by year
*In 2009–10, the National Science Foundation increased the numbers of awards it gave by 66 percent.