Pre-Doctoral Fellowship FAQs


Who is the Pre-Doctoral Fellowship program intended to support?

The pre-doc program is intended to support the University's efforts around access, diversity and inclusion.

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 departments field—are especially encouraged to apply.

I am an international student at a U.S. institution and currently hold a student visa. Am I eligible to apply for this program?


I have a master’s degree or am currently enrolled in a master’s degree program. Am I eligible to apply for this program?


I am a DACA student, am I eligible to apply for this program?

Yes. DACA applicants may contact [email protected] for further information about the Graduate School policy.


If I indicate interest in the Pre-Doctoral Fellowship, will I only be considered for this opportunity and not the regular length graduate program?

Applicants will be considered for both regular admission and the Pre-Doctoral Fellowship. Indicating interest in being considered for the Pre-Doctoral Fellowship 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.

Where in the application can I address my eligibility and/or interest in the Pre-Doctoral Fellowship?

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

How and when will I learn if I have been accepted as a Pre-Doctoral Fellow?

Determinations on an application for admission to the Graduate School are rendered by April. Determinations on the Pre-Doctoral Fellowship are inclusive of acceptance into a Princeton University graduate program, and are communicated in one notification. As such, if you have received an acceptance, waitlist, or non-acceptance notification for the regular PhD program, the determination then applies to the Pre-Doctoral Fellowship as well.


General Program

How is this program different from a post-baccalaureate program?

Most post-bac programs require students to apply for graduate school admission to enter the doctoral program after completion of the post-bac program.  It is the expectation that after successful completion of the Princeton Pre-Doctoral Fellowship year, pre-docs will enter the sponsoring departments' PhD program as first year graduate students without the need to re-apply. Successful completion is based on but not limited to, completion of an individualized one-year academic plan/course of study (determined by the Graduate School and the sponsoring department). 

Approved and relevant Princeton graduate courses completed during the pre-doc year may be applied toward degree completion. 

The Pre-Doctoral Fellowship also provides a number of benefits including but not limited to a fully-funded pre-doc year (including stipend, tuition, and benefits), enrolled student status, participation in the Graduate Scholars Program, and priority for University housing. 

How many pre-doctoral fellows will be accepted each year?

The fellowship began as a pilot program last year and will continue this academic year with a small group of students sponsored by engineering, natural sciences and humanities departments. A total of 17 academic departments will accept pre-doctoral fellow applicants as part of the program’s official launch during the 2020-21 application cycle, with cohort size determined by sponsoring departments and the Graduate School.

*Sociology will participate as a sponsoring department but will not start accepting applicants until next year during the 2021-2022 application cycle. 

Will I take courses with first year graduate students in my pre-doctoral year?

Pre-Doctoral Fellows have the opportunity to develop an academic plan in collaboration with their department which may include graduate and/or undergraduate courses.

Will I be assigned an academic advisor or research mentor during the pre-doctoral year?

Each Pre-Doctoral Fellow will be assigned at least one academic mentor.  The role of this mentor will be to assist the fellow to devise a plan of action for the academic year and to advise them as they implement this plan during their course of study.  Fellows will be expected to stay in regular contact with their mentors, and the mentor, for their part, will be expected to be readily available for consultation. Robust mentoring will be the key to the success of the Pre-Doctoral Fellow.

How will I receive feedback on my progress during the academic year?

In addition to regular advising from an academic advisor/mentor, pre-docs will undergo the re-enrollment process in the spring. Re-enrollment is the annual process whereby departments, programs and the Graduate School evaluate the academic progress of candidates for advanced degrees, including pre-doctoral fellows. The re-enrollment process, which is conducted during the latter half of the spring term, is often supplemented by other departmentally specific evaluations and/or discussions conducted at different times during the academic year (for example, pre-doctoral advisee/advisor meetings, dissertation committee meetings, etc. which may occur once or at several times during an academic year).

What are some examples of the type of training, coursework, or experiences a pre-doc may complete?

Each Pre-Doctoral Fellow will follow an individualized one-year academic plan/course of study as determined by the Graduate School and the sponsoring department. As the year is meant to address areas requiring supplementary preparation for the regular program, and the particularity of student circumstances, there is no prescriptive experience. However, some examples of possible activities could be language study, quantitative coursework, research experiences, or any other complementary activities that would be beneficial to a student entering the program the following year.