Choosing a great college for undergrad studies can make a big difference when it comes to being a pre-med. But because there’s so much choice, and a lot of factors hanging in the balance, it’s difficult to know what schools are best.
Princeton, as a top-tier Ivy League school, has an excellent reputation in terms of academics, but does it stack up for pre-med?
We’ve done the research and reviewed the opinions of Princeton pre-med students to help save you time. Here’s what we found out!
Is Princeton Good For Pre-Med?
Princeton is a great school for pre-meds aspiring to study medicine. Although it has no affiliated medical school, it offers some of the most impressive extracurricular (shadowing, research, and volunteering) opportunities in the US. Its pre-health advisory service also does a top job of helping students improve applications, boasting an 84% admissions acceptance rate.
But while attending Princeton for undergrad offers no guarantee of a place in med school (you’ll still have to work hard to achieve a great GPA and MCAT score), its prestige and opportunities can go a very long way to help.
Does Princeton Offer Pre-Med?
Like many other institutions, there is no “pre-med” major at Princeton but rather a “track” called prehealth.
The prehealth program prepares students for an advanced degree in medicine, dentistry, nursing, optometry, pharmacy, public health, and veterinary medicine.
Students there can take a major in any field while having the support of the track to help guide their application. The track offers the versatility to pick from many different majors and minors.
For example, suppose you want to opt for biochemistry with a public health minor on the pre-health track. In that case, you can complete the conditions to graduate with your desired degree and the ones needed for medical school.
Suppose your major closely aligns with your prehealth courses (like the example above). In that case, you don’t have to take too many additional classes to complete the pre-health track.
But you still can major in music, performing arts, etc., and be part of the program. It just means you’ll have to pick up the common prereqs along the way!
Princeton Pre-Med Requirements
A pre-med student must fulfill:
- General education requirements
- Concentration requirements
- Pre-med prerequisites
These requirements will overlap to different degrees depending on the degree program (AB, BSE), concentration, and profession of interest.
For pre-med prereqs, Princeton’s HPA recommends students take the following courses:
- General Chemistry: CHM 201 (or 207) + CHM 202 or CHM 215 (if AP 1 Unit)
- Organic Chemistry: CHM 301 + CHM 302/304
- Biology: EEB 211 + MOL 214 or 215
- General Physics: PHY 101/103 + PHY 102/104/108 (or equivalent)
- Math: 1 semester calc + 1 semester stats
- Literature/English: 2 semester English literature/writing
- Biochemistry: MOL 345
Princeton’s HPA assists their pre-meds with course selection and academic advice. They also help students arrange clinical and research experiences, as well as civic engagement opportunities.
The college’s HPA can also help connect you with relevant clubs and organizations (more on these later) that can help improve med school applications.
What’s Good About Princeton Pre-Med
Princeton built their Prehealth track so that students can choose any major they want while creating an excellent foundation in STEM and writing.
But besides the degree of freedom being a pre-med at Princeton affords, here’s what else is good about their set-up:
- Princeton has an outstanding pre-health advisory service (the Health Professions Advising office) with tons of information to help assist students in their applications
- HPA offers individual and group advising from experienced pre-health staff
- Peer advising service (designed with freshman and sophomores in mind)
- HPA Jock Docs peer network for Princeton student-athletes (helps discuss the balance between athletic endeavours and prehealth)
- Various clinical opportunities in the the surrounding college community
- Princeton Office of Undergraduate Research offers research help and assistance
- Many health-related student organizations, including the Princeton HOSA: Future Health Professionals and the Princeton Pre-Veterinary Society (can help students explore further leadership and community service opportunities)
- The Princeton Public Health Review (PPHR), Princeton’s student-run medical journal, showcases the public health research by Princeton students and faculty members and editorializes on relevant local, national, and international events.
That last one is especially useful for helping you gain publications (something that looks amazing to medical school admissions teams).
Specific clinical opportunities offered by Princeton include:
- New Jersey Medical Reserve Corps
- Penn Med Princeton Medical Center Hospital Grand Rounds
- Penn Med Princeton Medical Center Hospital Volunteering
- Physician Shadowing
- Princeton First Aid & Rescue Squad (PFARS)
- St. Lawrence Rehabilitation Center (SLRC)
And many others.
Princeton Office of Undergraduate Research helps pre-meds who want to conduct research and aim for publications during the academic year (as well as keeping students informed about future research opportunities).
The Pace Center is Princeton University’s primary resource for civic engagement.
Getting involved enables pre-meds to gain crucial leadership and volunteer experience that can help their med school application shine.
What’s Bad About Princeton Pre-Med
Based on our research, the main complaints are as follows:
- Courses are very demanding and students can get overloaded (it can be a challenge to schedule in extracurricular activities around academic commitments).
- There are complaints about grade deflation.
- Undergraduate theses at Princeton require many hours of research and study. Students usually have to dedicate the summer before their senior year to it; a period when many other of the countries pre-meds are busty studying for the MCAT.
Princeton’s Pre-Med Acceptance Rate
Getting into medical school as a pre-med depends on factors like your MCAT score, GPA, and interview performance. Evaluations are holistic rather than specific.
But according to the school’s data, the acceptance rate of Princeton pre-meds to US medical schools has been 84% in the last five years.
Here’s the data from 2016 to 2020:
- 576 out of 684 (84%) medical school applicants were accepted via three different paths:
- Thirty-five were accepted through Sophomore Early Assurance Programs.
- 450 out of 516 (87%) applying with a Princeton committee letter of recommendation were accepted.
- 91 out of 132 (69%) of those applying by other means were accepted.
Of applicants who were accepted without post-bac coursework in 2017-2020, the middle 80% were in the following GPA and MCAT ranges (10% were higher and 10% were lower):
- 3.39-3.94 cumulative GPA (with a median of 3.70)
- 3.28-3.95 bio/chem/physics/math (BCPM) GPA (with a median of 3.69)
- ~511 to ~524 MCAT (with a median of 519)
However, getting into Princeton as an undergrad (before signing up to the Prehealth track) is pretty tough. According to 2020’s data, Princeton’s acceptance rate was just 6% (1450-1570 SAT or a 32-35 ACT).
Which Princeton Majors Are Best For Pre-Meds?
Princeton advises students to consider several questions when settling on a major. These include:
- What do you like to study?
- Beyond knowledge gained, how will your major help you to learn to think, analyze, and communicate in new ways, and how will that apply to medicine or other careers?
- What kinds of questions do you want to answer in your independent work?
- What are the faculty and students in the department like?
- Will you have time to pursue this concentration alongside other interests?
A lot of these questions are similar to those we cover in our article on the easiest pre-med major here.
The most popular majors for Princeton applicants accepted to med school between 2016 and 2020 were:
- Molecular Biology
- Ecology & Evolutionary Biology
- Public & International Affairs
- Chemical & Biological Engineering
- Economics (tie)
Accordingly to the HPA, however, about one-third of applicants to medical school are non-science majors.
Is Princeton Good For Biology?
Princeton was ranked #6 on US News’ list of the best schools for Biology majors. Princeton offers a great Molecular Biology Major that can be a good fit for aspiring pre-meds looking to go on to become physicians.
Is Princeton Good for Pre-Med: Reddit’s Opinion
In addition to our research, Reddit is a good place to get an unbiased opinion on the school’s pre-med offering and its potential pros/cons.
Here are some of (what we feel are) the platform’s most relevant comments…
They did away with the official grade deflation policy but it is something that is ingrained in the culture at Princeton. Classes are very difficult and competitive ESPECIALLY in premed classes where students are cutthroat and GPAs suffer as a result.– u/liv12394
Medical schools know about Princeton’s GPA issue. They don’t consider a 3.5 at Princeton and a 3.5 at [college] as equivalent. When I applied just after they technically got rid of deflation, there was still a letter going out to schools explaining the grading policy. And, it’s not like you’re the only kid from Princeton applying.. schools aren’t stupid, they know your GPA will be deflated because you are coming from Princeton– u/mixed_recycling
Real Talk Princeton
Another place to go to get unfiltered insider info on pre-med life at Princeton is the student-run Tumblr site; Real Talk Princeton.
Using the search bar to find content on “medical school”, you’ll find a lot of useful info you might not be able to read otherwise. You’ll have to do a bit of digging to find the really valuable stuff, but it’s worth it if you’ve got a couple of hours.
Conclusion: Is Princeton Good For Pre-Med?
Princeton is a top school for pre-med. Its acceptance rate for health programs is a solid 84%, and it offers outstanding opportunities for research, civic engagement, and clinical experience.
On the negative side, there is probably some grade deflation (possibly owing to Princeton’s prestige and competitive academics), and students can get overloaded with classes very easily.
Despite that, the college’s pre-health advisory service does a good job preparing its undergrads. They have everything you need to create an unbelievable med school application, offering impactful support and important application-relevant opportunities.
For a more detailed overview of what student life can be like as a pre-med at Princeton, check out the following video…
Writer | Lawyer | PhD Student at @DerechoUCA and @UFPel
I spend most of my time washing dishes, changing diapers, playing doll/ball/house/doctor/cooking with my daughter, and making my son sleep. I write and read about education, philosophy, law, religion, finance, and real estate when there is some time left. And I usually don’t sleep!