The P in Princeton stands for P/D/F?

April 1, 2024
Jocelyne Wijaya '26

Princeton students are familiar with the University’s famous P/D/F policy. 

For some students a P/D/F is the admittance that perhaps that experimental physics class wasn't as easy as expected. But for many others, the P/D/F is a symbol that represents something else entirely: the University’s commitment to ensuring students can explore different subjects without fear. 

P/D/F is a policy implemented by the University that allows students to opt not to receive a grade and instead receive a “pass,” “fail,” or a D. As the undergraduate website explains, “the intent of the pass/D/fail option is to encourage exploration and experimentation in curricular areas in which the student may have had little or no previous experience,” (2024). This policy is a lucrative option for many students because it allows them to take classes beyond their comfort zone without impacting their GPA. 

The only stipulation is that it can only be used once a semester and it cannot be utilized for a class required for one’s intended major. Oh, and you have a limit of 4 P/D/F classes during your time here at Princeton. Rules aside, the P/D/F policy is arguably a fantastic option for students who are looking to expand their knowledge in different subjects.

For example, as a Politics major, I’ve taken classes on Philosophy, Computer Science, and everything else in between. These classes have challenged me in ways different from what I expect in my politics classes. I trade in Rousseau for Descartes and Arendt for Booleans. Additionally, I find myself grappling with different concepts that I’d be apprehensive to learn had I not been given this opportunity to freely pursue different subjects. Put simply, the P/D/F policy has truly allowed me to expand my breadth of knowledge; I am given the option to learn without the fear that my GPA will be significantly impacted — especially if I find out that I may not be a natural in specific fields. Especially given my ever changing interests, the P/D/F policy has truly been of great use to me. 

The P/D/F was a tool I was unaware of coming to Princeton but something I now truly believe is important in any University; the pursuit of knowledge should not be penalized or limited to mandated classes and I believe that the University does a good job of broadening these horizons through the  P/D/F option.