Princeton University
#8 Overall Influence#5 Desirability Rank

Princeton University

Private Ivy League research university in Princeton, New Jersey, United States

About This School

How does this school stack up?

By James Barham, PhD

Although only the ninth-oldest university in the country, Princeton is one of the most historic. Originally founded as the College of New Jersey, the school’s sixth presidents, the Scottish theologian and educator John Witherspoon, signed the Declaration of Independence—the only college leader to do so. The next year, George Washington’s colonials dealt a small but significant blow to Lord Cornwallis’s superior forces at the Battle of Princeton on January 3, 1777. The victories at the earlier Battle of Trenton and at Princeton had an important positive effect on American morale, leading to increased enlistments in Washington’s army.

Princeton has pursued a different strategy over the years from its Ivy League confrères. For example, it has no law school, medical school, or business school. It has only loose academic connections to the nearby Princeton Theological Seminary and Institute for Advanced Study. In spite of its seemingly narrow focus on the arts and sciences to the detriment of professional training, Princeton nevertheless maintains a towering reputation for the cutting-edge academic research of its faculty, as well as for their teaching prowess (all professors are expected to teach undergraduates). Perhaps due to this focus, Princeton has also developed a reputation for academic “toughness,” resisting the grade inflation trend rampant elsewhere in American academia and insuring a challenging intellectual experience to even its very best incoming students.

On the roster of preeminent, Princeton-connected names in the sciences, Nobelists in physics have been the most prominent, including:

  • Arthur Compton
  • Wolfgang Pauli
  • Eugene Wigner
  • Richard Feynman
  • John Bardeen
  • Philip Anderson
  • Steven Weinberg
  • Frank Wilczek
  • Kip Thorne
  • James Peebles

Princeton has special strength in mathematics, being connected to many Fields Medalists, including:

  • John Milnor
  • Edward Witten
  • William Thurston
  • Terence Tao
  • Manjul Bhargava
  • Akshay Venkatesh

In addition, the great mathematician, logician, and father of the theory of computation, Alan Turing, received his doctorate from Princeton.

Among other eminent philosophers and logicians who have been associated with university, we may mention:

  • Alonzo Church
  • John Rawls
  • Robert Nozick
  • Donald Davidson
  • Saul Kripke
  • Jerry Fodor
  • David K. Lewis
  • Cornel West
  • Peter Singer

Four Princeton-connected individuals have won the Nobel Prize in Economics, namely,

  • Gary Becker
  • John Nash
  • Michael Spence
  • Angus Deaton

Another special strength of Princeton has lain in the fields of law and politics. The school has contributed three Presidents to the United States, namely,

  • James Madison
  • Woodrow Wilson
  • John F. Kennedy

as well as a host of other prominent statesmen, including:

  • John Foster Dulles, US Secretary of State under President Dwight D. Eisenhower
  • Influential diplomat, George F. Kennan
  • James A. Baker, US Secretary of State under President George W. Bush
  • Supreme Court Justices, Samuel Alito, Elena Kagan, & Sonia Sotomayor

Finally, some other distinguished individuals linked to Princeton include:

  • Anthropologist Mary Douglas
  • Novelist F. Scott Fitzgerald
  • Playwright Eugene O’Neill
  • Literary critic, Edmund Wilson
  • Attorney and consumer advocate, Ralph Nader
  • Financial journalist, Michael Lewis
  • Automobile company chief executive, Lee Iacocca
  • Amazon founder, Jeff Bezos
  • Army General and public servant, David Petraeus
  • Actor James (“Jimmy”) Stewart


What does this school look for?

Annual Applications




Graduation Rate


Median SAT Score


Median ACT Score



How much does it cost to attend?

Tuition (in-state)


Fees (in-state)


IncomeAverage Net Cost

After Graduation

Averages for 10 years after enrolling

Avg Earnings




Campus Life

What's it like to attend this school?

The People

Full time on-campus stats

Student Body






The Campus

Where will you be attending?


1 Nassau Hall, Princeton NJ 08544-0070

On Campus Crime Rates

Property Crime

36k per 100k

Violent Crime

1k per 100k

City Crime Rates

Property Crime

8k per 100k

Violent Crime

1k per 100k

Influence Rankings by Discipline

How’s this school influential?

#1 World Rank #1 USA Rank
#4 World Rank #1 USA Rank
#6 World Rank #6 USA Rank
Computer Science
#6 World Rank #5 USA Rank
#6 World Rank #5 USA Rank
#7 World Rank #6 USA Rank
Political Science
#7 World Rank #4 USA Rank
#8 World Rank #4 USA Rank
#9 World Rank #4 USA Rank
#10 World Rank #5 USA Rank
Earth Sciences
#10 World Rank #6 USA Rank
#11 World Rank #10 USA Rank
#13 World Rank #12 USA Rank
Criminal Justice
#13 World Rank #6 USA Rank
Religious Studies
#13 World Rank #9 USA Rank
#13 World Rank #12 USA Rank
#14 World Rank #9 USA Rank
#14 World Rank #10 USA Rank
#15 World Rank #7 USA Rank
#19 World Rank #8 USA Rank
#22 World Rank #12 USA Rank
#32 World Rank #23 USA Rank
#58 World Rank #48 USA Rank
Social Work
#86 World Rank #65 USA Rank

Influential People

Who are Princeton University's Most influential alumni?

Princeton University's most influential alumni faculty include professors and professionals in the fields of Mathematics, Physics, and Computer Science. Princeton University’s most academically influential people include Alan Turing, James Madison, and Grover Cleveland.

Alan Turing
Alan Turing

British mathematician, logician, cryptanalyst, and computer scientist

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James Madison
James Madison

5th president of the United States

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Grover Cleveland
Grover Cleveland

22nd and 24th President of the United States

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Edward Said
Edward Said

Professor of literature and a public intellectual

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John Bardeen
John Bardeen

American physicist and engineer

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F. Scott Fitzgerald
F. Scott Fitzgerald

Novelist and screenwriter from the United States

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John Rawls
John Rawls

American political philosopher

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Steven Weinberg
Steven Weinberg

American theoretical physicist

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Gary Becker
Gary Becker

American economist

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Marvin Minsky
Marvin Minsky

American cognitive scientist

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Eric Schmidt
Eric Schmidt

Software engineer, businessman, former Google CEO

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Edward Witten
Edward Witten

American theoretical physicist

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