The Preceptorial System

Most classes at Princeton are small. The ratio of students to faculty is 5 to 1, and even lecture courses average just 30 to 40 students. This means that at Princeton, no one gets lost in the crowd.

Students have the opportunity to engage their classmates and course materials even more closely in precepts, which are small discussion groups that meet weekly to further explore the readings and topics of a particular course. The precept provides an open forum in which students are encouraged to voice their opinions and challenge those of their peers.

The precept is a defining component of a Princeton education. Loosely based on the tutorial systems of Oxford and Cambridge, it was introduced by Princeton University President Woodrow Wilson in 1905 as a way for students to engage actively in their learning process.

Precepts may be led by the professor who teaches the course, by other faculty members or by advanced graduate students. Students have the opportunity to meet with a professor during regular office hours to bring up questions and ideas one-on-one.