Princeton University, a private, non-sectarian institution in Princeton, New Jersey. Founded in 1746, it is the fourth oldest college in the United States. Princeton was originally for men only and did not accept women undergraduates until 1969.


Princeton's college, its original school, provides undergraduate instruction in arts and sciences. The university's other schools are the Graduate School (established in 1901), the School of Engineering and Applied Science (1873), the School of Architecture (1919), and the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs (1930).

The preceptorial system is used in upperclass courses in the humanities and social sciences and in many courses for underclassmen. Under this plan, a small group of students meets with a faculty member to discuss the subject matter instead of attending formal lecture classes. In the natural sciences, small groups of students work in the laboratory under direct faculty supervision. In order to graduate, a senior must submit a thesis and pass a comprehensive examination.

Buildings and Grounds

Nassau Hall, Princeton's first structure, now houses administrative offices. When completed in 1756, it was the largest academic building in the colonies. The Continental Congress met here in 1783. The building was named a national historic landmark in 1964.

Firestone Memorial Library is the main library building. It contains some 3,500,000 volumes, including one of the finest collections of Oriental books and manuscripts in the Western world. Also in the main library building is the John Foster Dulles Library of Diplomatic History, which includes the private papers of the former secretary of state. The James Forrestal Research Campus is a center for major scientific research programs.

The Princeton Museum of Natural History is located in Guyot Hall. McCormick Hall houses the Art Museum, a center for the study of art and archeology, and the Marquand Art Library. Other landmarks are University Chapel, Cleveland Tower of the Graduate School, and Palmer Memorial Stadium. Numerous pieces of sculpture by major artists, including Pablo Picasso, are located on Princeton's campus.

The Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton Theological Seminary, and Westminster Choir College, all located in Princeton, cooperate with the university. Princeton University Press is legally separate from the university but maintains close ties.


Princeton was founded as the College of New Jersey by several Presbyterian synods in 1746. In 1747 the school was opened in Elizabeth. A few months later it was moved to Newark, and in 1756 to Princeton. The school was known as Nassau Hall, and later as Princeton College, before officially becoming Princeton University in 1896.

Two Princeton graduates—James Madison and Woodrow Wilson—have been Presidents of the United States. Wilson was a professor at Princeton, and then its president, 1902–10. He raised the school's academic standards and introduced the preceptorial system. Other Princeton students have included Benjamin Rush, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Norman Thomas, John Foster Dulles, and James Forrestal. Among faculty members have been Joseph Henry, Arnold Guyot, and Henry DeWolf Smyth.