Pre-Doctoral Fellowship Initiative

Jael Hernandez-Vasquez holding a microphone speaking at an event

The pre-doctoral fellowship is a one year, fully funded fellowship that includes an offer of regular admission to the sponsoring doctoral program the following year. The fellowship is intended for students who would benefit from an additional year of training before formally entering the sponsoring department’s Ph.D. program.


Princeton University’s culture and unique characteristics are strengthened by its diversity. As articulated in the University’s Statement on Diversity and Inclusion, which was included in the University’s Report of the Trustee Ad Hoc Committee on Diversity, dated September 2013, “Princeton University is a community devoted to excellence in education and scholarship. We believe that only by including people with a broad range of experiences and perspectives are we able to realize our potential—to expand our capacity for teaching and learning, to increase opportunities for innovative research, and to equip students for lives of service and leadership in an increasingly pluralistic society. Thus, the goals of excellence and diversity are inextricably linked.”

In furtherance of these goals, the Graduate School in partnership with sponsoring departments at Princeton University is launching a new pre-doctoral fellowship initiative. The pre-doctoral fellowship is a one-year, fully funded fellowship that includes an offer of regular admission to the sponsoring doctoral program the following year. The fellowship is intended for students who would benefit from an additional year of training before formally entering the sponsoring departments' PhD program. Successful completion of an individualized one year academic plan/course of study as determined by the Graduate School and the sponsoring department is required for matriculation into the doctoral program the following year. The academic plan/course of study will be individually tailored to the needs and background of each fellow. In general, the academic plan/course of study will include pre-doctoral fellows taking two or three courses each semester from among our graduate and/or undergraduate offerings, supplemented by individual faculty mentoring, tailored instruction in department specific research methods, and/or work in sponsoring faculty members' lab.


Members of groups who contribute to the University’s diversity—including members of groups that have been historically and are presently underrepresented in the United States (e.g., racial and ethnic minorities, individuals from first-generation/low-income backgrounds, etc.) and those who have made active contributions to enhancing access, diversity, and inclusion in the sponsoring department's field—are especially encouraged to apply.   

Pre-Doctoral Benefits

Full funding for academic year (tuition and stipend)

Priority for University housing

 Graduate Scholars Program Invitation*

*Pre-docs are invited to participate in the Graduate Scholars Program (GSP), a cohort-based community for entering first-year graduate and pre-doctoral students from diverse backgrounds designed to enhance and support academic, social, and community development during their initial graduate school experience.

Applications Open in September

How to Apply 

Within the regular admission PhD application, applicants must select "yes" to the "Are you interested in being considered for the Pre-Doctoral Fellowship Initiative?" question.

If you answer 'yes' to the "Are you interested in being considered for the Pre-Doctoral Fellowship Initiative?" you will then be prompted to briefly explain why you are interested in being considered for the Pre-Doctoral Fellowship initiative. [500 words max]. 

Your response can address any of the following questions:

How would you benefit from the fellowship? What would you want to accomplish during your fellowship year? What skills would you want to enhance during your fellowship year?

Note: Your answer to these questions will have no impact on the admission process for the department to which you are applying and does not finalize enrollment in the pre-doctoral fellowship program.

Participating Departments

Specific departments are participating in this program, therefore only those departmental applications will include the pre-doctoral fellowship initiative question.

At this time the participating departments include:

  • Art and Archaeology (ART)
  • Astrophysical Sciences (AST)
  • Classics (CLA)
  • Chemical and Biological Engineering (CBE)
  • Chemistry (CHM)
  • Computer Science (COS)
  • East Asian Studies (EAS)
  • Ecology and Evolutionary Biology (EEB)
  • Economics (ECO)
  • Electrical Engineering (ELE)
  • Geosciences (GEO)
  • Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering (MAE)
  • Operations Research and Financial Engineering (ORFE)
  • Philosophy (PHI)
  • Physics (PHY) 
  • Politics (POL)
  • Princeton Plasma Physics Lab (PPPL)  
  • Psychology (PSY)
  • Quantitative and Computational Biology (QCB)
  • Religion (REL)  
  • School of Public and International Affairs (SPIA) STEP Program
  • Sociology (SOC)  
  • Spanish and Portuguese (SPO)

Application Requirements

Application requirements are department specific, please check our Fields of Study page to determine the application requirements for the department you are interested in applying. The requirements may include but are not limited to the following:

  • Statement of Academic Purpose                    
  • Diversity Statement
  • Resume/Curriculum Vitae
  • Recommendation Letters
  • Transcripts
  • Fall Semester Grades
  • GRE (department specific, some departments do not require the GRE)
  • Sample of written work

Application Deadline

Click HERE for a list of all department deadlines. (E.g. November 15 — 11:59PM Eastern Standard Time). Pre-Doctoral Fellowship application deadlines correspond with the sponsoring department's PhD application deadline.

Fee Waiver Requests 

Please see details regarding fee waivers here.

Contact Us

Please address program-related questions to Assistant Dean Joseph Lewis at [email protected]

For application-related questions please reach out to [email protected] for assistance and allow at least 24 hours for a response. When contacting us, please include your application number, full name and associated email address.

Applicants who require additional accessibility assistance may also contact [email protected] or call (609) 258-3034.

Learn more about the Grad Scholars Program (GSP)!

Grad Scholars Program (GSP)

Check out the Prospective Ph.D. Program (P3)!

P3 Prospective Phd Preview


Pre-Doctoral Fellowship in the News!

Princeton’s new pre-doctoral fellowship aims to help diversify academic pipeline
Aug. 18, 2020
Written by Emily Aronson


Princeton’s Graduate School has launched a new pre-doctoral fellowship, which will fund students to study at Princeton for a year before they enroll as first-year Ph.D. students. Students from groups historically underrepresented in higher education are especially encouraged to apply for…