Princeton University Transfer Acceptance Rate, GPA, and Requirements

When you hear the words “Ivy League,” what words come to mind?

Intelligence? Respect? Success?

There’s a reason that those words have become synonymous with Ivy League schools. With roots that go back to before the founding of the United States, the Ivy League counts as its members some of the oldest and most venerable institutions in the country.

Schools such as Harvard and Yale belong to the Ivy League, universities that have trained Nobel laureates, presidents, and business leaders.

As impressive as those names may be, Princeton University stands above them all.

Founded in 1746 as the College of New Jersey, Princeton is generally accepted as the finest institution of higher learning not just in the United States, but in the entire world.

Unsurprisingly, it’s very hard to be accepted into Princeton University. As with its Ivy League sisters, thousands of hopefuls apply to Princeton each year, and only a tiny fraction receive letters of acceptance.

That’s even more true of transfer students. Those who want to leave their current institution for Princeton, usually in their sophomore year, need to provide the school with a good reason to allow the change.

But it isn’t all bad news. Even if they only accept a handful of transfer students each year, the fact remains that Princeton does allow people to transfer to their school.

To have the best chance of success, you need to know what Princeton expects of those transfer hopefuls, the application, and grade requirements. It will never be an easy process, but this information ensures that you’ll have a chance to study at one of the best schools in the world.

Princeton University Transfer Acceptance Rate

Princeton University
Public domain photo via Wikimedia Commons

In 2021, Princeton University offered admission to only 16 out of 1,349 transfer applicants, giving the school a transfer acceptance rate of just 1.2%.

Without question, that’s a very low rate, but not out of step with other Ivy League schools. Out of the Ivies, Princeton has one of the lowest acceptance rates, offering admission to just 3.98% of hopefuls.

As low as those numbers may be, they are actually higher than in years past. In fact, Princeton did not even accept transfer applications for many years, only reversing the policy in 2018.

Why the reluctance to accept transfer students?

There is no one clear answer to that question. In some cases, it’s because the University wants to mold students through their system. In other cases, there may be some skepticism about a student’s commitment.

Whatever the reasons, Princeton tends to prefer transfer applications from members of the military or low-income students.

Application Requirements & GPA for Princeton Transfers

Princeton does not have a minimum GPA requirement. However, given the school’s microscopic transfer acceptance rate, it’s safe to assume that you need to have a nearly perfect grade to be accepted.

That said, according to Princeton’s website, the school employs a “highly individualized holistic review of each applicant’s achievements, talents and potential to contribute.” 

In other words, Princeton wants only to transfer students who can bring something substantial and unique to their student body.

To assess their potential, Princeton requires transfer students to follow a three-step application process.

First, students need to submit to the school an application, along with a transfer supplement. In this supplement, students will explain their rationale for leaving their current institution for Princeton. Students must also pay an application fee, or apply for an application fee waiver, if applicable.

Along with their application, students must provide a written paper from a class taken within the past two years. The paper must be graded and should come from either an English or history course. However, students can provide a paper from a humanities or social sciences course in some cases.

Second, students must secure transcripts not only from their current institution but also from their high school and any other higher educational institution they’ve attended. Students will need a midterm report from their current institution to demonstrate their most recent grades.

As they find their transcripts, students should also secure letters of recommendation. At least one of these letters should come from a college professor or teaching assistant in one of the core subjects, such as English or math.

Finally, if students wish to submit their ACT or SAT scores, they should plan to send them to Princeton while completing their application. However, keep in mind that Princeton has temporarily suspended the requirement for standardized test scores. High scores will help your application, so you might consider sending particularly strong results.

Princeton University Transfer Deadline

Princeton University Nassau Hall
Public domain photo via Wikimedia Commons

The deadline for applying to transfer to Princeton University is March 1st each year. By that date, they must submit the transfer application and supplement, as well as the graded written papers. Letters and transcripts must be requested by that date as well.

Transfer hopefuls must take note of this date, as it differs from the one usually used by Princeton. For those applying to enter as freshmen, the university has a January 1st deadline

Transfer applicants have a full two months extra to complete their applications.

With that extra time, transfer hopefuls can put in some extra work to ensure that they construct the best possible application. 

In particular, those two months can be used to secure recommendations from qualified instructors, something that can carry a great deal of weight with the admissions committee.

Princeton also has additional deadlines for other parts of the application. Those who would like to apply for financial aid must complete all paperwork for scholarships and grants submitted by March 9th. If a transfer applicant wishes to send their SAT or ACT scores to Princeton, they must be submitted by March 31st.

What is the Decision Date for Princeton University Transfers?

Princeton University will notify transfer applicants of its decision sometime in mid-May. Those lucky few who receive letters of acceptance will need to reply by the end of May.

Without question, that comes much later than the university’s regular decision date, January 1st. Furthermore, incoming freshmen have much more time to respond to the school, as their decision to accept the admission offer does not need to be finalized until late May.

But this disparity should not come as too much as a surprise. After all, the transfer process is much different from a standard admission. The University needs to carefully examine all of the possibilities before determining if a student meets the requirements for such an extraordinary request.

In most cases, though, accepted applicants will not even need the full two weeks to decide if they will transfer to Princeton. Anyone willing to go through the incredibly detailed process of applying must know that they really want to attend Princeton.

Deciding Whether You Should Transfer to Princeton University

Princeton University
John Phelan, Walker Hall, Wilson College, Princeton University, Princeton NJ, CC BY-SA 3.0

We’ll be honest. It is very difficult to transfer to Princeton University. Not only does the school put a long list of requirements before those who want to transfer, but it has an incredibly low acceptance rate. 

With a rate of just 1.2%, that usually means 99 out of 100 applicants will be rejected by Princeton.

While that might seem like a good reason to give up, those numbers need to be put into perspective. While Princeton’s transfer acceptance rate is low, it’s not that much lower than its usual rate. Once only a moderately selective school, Princeton has recently become one of the most competitive, accepting only 1,498 freshmen in 2021.

In other words, it’s always hard to get into Princeton, no matter if you’re coming in as a freshman or a junior. But people continue to apply, and with good reason: Princeton is one of the best schools in the world.

According to U.S. News and World Report, Princeton ranks number one among all universities in the United States.

Over the years, Princeton has directly affected world politics, graduating U.S. Presidents Madison and Monroe, and U.S. Supreme Court Justices Sonia Sotomayor, Samuel Alito, and Elena Kagan. 

Projects such as the Department of Energy’s Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory are changing the world with its research on nuclear physics and new energy.

Is it hard to transfer to Princeton? Of course.

But is it worth it? Unquestionably. 

RECAP: How to Apply As a Transfer Student to Princeton University

The first thing to keep in mind when transferring to Princeton is that the school has some of the highest standards in the world. To change to Princeton, you must ensure that you have the highest grades and the most robust possible materials.

Because Princeton only accepts 1.2% of its transfer applicants, only the best of the best will get in.

Before March 1st, you must provide the university with transcripts from high school and every college you’ve attended, including your current institution. You must also fill out an application, which includes a special transfer addendum.

Princeton requires transfer students to submit a graded paper from one of their college classes and two letters of recommendation from academics. 

All of these materials should not only show how smart you are but also what unique abilities you will bring to Princeton as a transfer student.

It won’t be easy and the odds are slim, but it may be worth it to study at one of the world’s best colleges.