Princeton University
#11 Overall Influence#5 Desirability Rank

Princeton University

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

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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

From Wikipedia

Princeton University is a private Ivy League research university in Princeton, New Jersey. Founded in 1746 in Elizabeth as the College of New Jersey, Princeton is the fourth-oldest institution of higher education in the United States and one of the nine colonial colleges chartered before the American Revolution. The institution moved to Newark in 1747, and then to the current site nine years later. It was renamed Princeton University in 1896.

Source: Wikipedia


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1 Nassau Hall, Princeton NJ 08544-0070

On Campus Crime Rates

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36 per 100k

Violent Crime

1 per 100k

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8 per 100k

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1 per 100k

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 . Princeton University’s most academically influential people include Eric Lander, Terry Sejnowski, and Elena Kagan.

Eric Lander
Eric Lander

American academic

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Terry Sejnowski

American neuroscientist

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Elena Kagan
Elena Kagan

Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States

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Bryan Caplan
Bryan Caplan

American political scientist

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Barry Mazur
Barry Mazur

American mathematician

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Norman Finkelstein
Norman Finkelstein

American political scientist and author

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Henry Fairfield Osborn
Henry Fairfield Osborn

American geologist, paleontologist, and eugenist

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James J. Gibson

American psychologist

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James J. Gibson

American psychologist

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Michael Lewis
Michael Lewis

American writer

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Robert Brandom
Robert Brandom

American logician

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Steve Forbes

American businessman and publisher

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