Princeton University

An Undergraduate Experience Like No Other

Princeton University is a vibrant community of scholarship and learning that stands in the nation’s service and the service of humanity. Chartered in 1746, Princeton is the fourth-oldest college in the United States.

One of the University’s most distinctive characteristics is its closely knit and integrated residential community. Housing is guaranteed for undergraduates, and nearly all students live on campus. The residential experience is central to Princeton’s educational program, and the residential colleges offer students a supportive and enriching environment full of opportunities for personal growth.


Princeton University advances learning through scholarship, research, and teaching of unsurpassed quality, with an emphasis on undergraduate and doctoral education that is distinctive among the world’s great universities, and with a pervasive commitment to serve the nation and the world.

The University’s defining characteristics and aspirations include:

a focus on the arts and humanities, the social sciences, the natural sciences, and engineering, with world-class excellence across all of its departments;

a commitment to innovation, free inquiry, and the discovery of new knowledge and new ideas, coupled with a commitment to preserve and transmit the intellectual, artistic, and cultural heritage of the past;

a faculty of world-class scholars who are engaged with and accessible to students and devoted to the thorough integration of teaching and research;

a focus on undergraduate education that is unique for a major research university, with a program of liberal arts that simultaneously prepares students for meaningful lives and careers, broadens their outlooks, and helps form their characters and values;

a graduate school that is unusual in its emphasis on doctoral education, while also offering high quality masters programs in selected areas;

a human scale that nurtures a strong sense of community, invites high levels of engagement, and fosters personal communication;

exceptional student aid programs at the undergraduate and graduate level that ensure Princeton is affordable to all;

a commitment to welcome, support, and engage students, faculty, and staff with a broad range of backgrounds and experiences, and to encourage all members of the University community to learn from the robust expression of diverse perspectives;

a vibrant and immersive residential experience on a campus with a distinctive sense of place that promotes interaction, reflection, and lifelong attachment;

a commitment to prepare students for lives of service, civic engagement, and ethical leadership; and

an intensely engaged and generously supportive alumni community.


For more than 260 years, Princetonians have shaped and cherished a remarkably rich body of traditions, from the athletic competitions of Cane Spree and the Big Three bonfire to the colorful spectacle of the P-rade and songsand cheers passed on by generations of students and alumni. Over the years, countless Princetonians have embraced and helped to grow these traditions, ensuring the connection to the past while looking toward the future. We are all guardians of Princeton traditions.

Cane Spree currently takes place at the Princeton Football Stadium. On a late afternoon in early October, freshmen and sophomores, men and women, battle for class supremacy — on Powers Field competing in relay races, obstacle courses and various other sport activities. At the end of the day, all convene for the traditional cane wrestling, followed by a BBQ supper on the concourse at the stadium.

The bonfire is one of the most memorable, and sporadic, of all traditional Princeton activities, celebrating that the Princeton football team had the best record in a single season among the Big Three — Harvard, Yale and Princeton.

The P-rade, one of the most popular and colorful reunion events, officially began in the late 1890s but evolved from earlier traditions. Despite occasional route changes over the years, the procession order remains traditional. At 2 p.m. on Reunions Saturday, the Nassau Hall bell tolls and the 25th Reunion Class leads the P-rade from Nassau Hall to Poe Field. 

The classes then process in descending order, beginning with the “Old Guard” (classes beyond the 65th Reunion), followed by the 65th Reunion Class and each class prior, and ending with the graduating seniors. Graduate alumni march between the 24th and 26th Reunion Classes. The P-rade ends when the senior class sprints onto Poe Field, charging past the reviewing stand where the University president, the president of the Alumni Association and other dignitaries watch and wave.

Student Life

A vast range of cultural, educational, athletic and social activities are available to Princeton students, faculty and staff. Getting involved in campus life is the quickest way to become a part of the University community, and to create one’s own Princeton experience. Campus life activities are built around the concepts of encouraging each community member to express his or her talents and to respect all members of our pluralistic community.

Some 300 student-led organizations make it easy for Princeton students to pursue existing interests or explore new ones.

Students may choose to participate in dance, media (film, broadcast and print), music (vocal and instrumental), theater, service and social, political and special interest, student government, debate, educational, ethnic and religious organizations.


Originally, Princeton’s mascot was the lion—seen by the administration as the most regal animal. However, in 1867 the sophomore baseball team decided to adorn orange ribbons with black numerals. The orange and black combination stuck and by the early 1880s florid sports writers began to refer to Princeton’s teams as the Tigers. In 1911 the lions that flanked the entrance to Nassau Hall were replaced by the bronze tigers we see today.

Princeton Today

Students may choose from among 37 academic concentrations in the humanities, social sciences, natural sciences and engineering. They graduate with a degree of either A.B. or B.S.E. Interdisciplinary certificate programs offer students a wealth of opportunities for focused study that supplements the primary work of the concentration.


Today, more than 1,100 faculty members instruct approximately 5,200 undergraduate students and 2,600 graduate students.

Interesting Facts

The Continental Congress met in Nassau Hall, which served as the capitol of the United States for approximately five months in 1783.

The nation’s first cheer took place at Princeton during a football game in the late 1880s, when a group of male students led a crowd in the first recorded, organized chant, which today is Princeton’s legendary “locomotive.”

During the first modern Olympic games in 1896, Robert Garrett, Class of 1897, won first place in both the discus and the shot put, second place in the long jump, and third in the high jump.

On November 19, 1969, Charles “Pete” Conrad, Class of 1953, became the third person to walk on the moon, and planted a Princeton flag there.

Famous Graduates

Michelle Obama

(born January 17, 1964) attended Princeton University, graduating cum laude in 1985, and went on to earn a degree from Harvard Law School in 1988. Following her graduation from Harvard, she worked at a Chicago law firm, where she met her husband, future U.S. President Barack Obama. The couple married on October 3, 1992. As first lady, she has focused her attention on current social issues, such as poverty, healthy living and education.

Woodrow Wilson

(born December 28, 1856) spent his youth in the South, as the son of a devout Presbyterian family, seeing the ravages of the Civil War and its aftermath. A dedicated scholar and enthusiastic orator, he earned multiple degrees before embarking on a university career. In a fast rise politically, he spent two years as governor of New Jersey before becoming the two-term 28th president of the United States in 1912. Wilson saw America through World War I, negotiating the Versailles Treaty and crafting a League of Nations, a precursor to the United Nations. He suffered his second stroke during the last year of his presidency and died three years after leaving office, on February 3, 1924, with sweeping reforms for the middle class, voting rights for women and precepts for world peace as his legacy.

Mauler Pattern Thin
Mauler Pattern Thin