Princeton vs. Claremont McKenna: A Comprehensive Look at Two Top Universities

July 15, 2023
By AdmissionSight
Male student holding a book while smiling at the camera.

Princeton vs. Claremont McKenna: A Comprehensive Look at Two Top Universities

If you’re a high school senior and are planning on applying to college, you may have already heard of Princeton University and Claremont McKenna College.  This article will compare Princeton vs. Claremont McKenna on important metrics such as location, academic programs,  extracurricular activities, admission requirements, tuition, and career prospects.

These are two of the prestigious universities that attract students from all over the world, providing extraordinary academic and extracurricular opportunities to their students.

Introduction: Why Compare Princeton and Claremont McKenna?

Princeton University and Claremont McKenna College are both highly esteemed universities in the United States with a reputation for academic excellence, distinguished faculty, and an impressive alumni network.

Both offer exceptional opportunities in terms of research, practical experiences, networking, and overall student life. They have different features, strengths, and challenges that may or may not suit the preferences and needs of prospective students. Therefore, this article aims to present a comparative analysis of both universities so that you can decide which one to apply to or attend.

Princeton University, located in New Jersey, is one of the oldest and most prestigious universities in the United States. It has a strong liberal arts curriculum and is known for its rigorous academic programs in the sciences, engineering, and humanities.

The university has a diverse student body and offers a wide range of extracurricular activities, including sports, music, theater, and community service.

Claremont McKenna College, located in California, is a small liberal arts college part of the Claremont Colleges consortium. It strongly emphasizes economics, political science, and international relations and is known for its highly selective admissions process.

The college has a close-knit community and offers a variety of opportunities for students to engage in research, internships, and leadership development.

Princeton vs. Claremont McKenna: Location and Campus

Princeton University is located in the town of Princeton, New Jersey, approximately an hour and a half away from New York City and Philadelphia, and is surrounded by a cozy suburban setting. Its Gothic-style architecture and picturesque landscape make it one of the most aesthetic universities in the country.

On the other hand, Claremont McKenna College is located in Claremont, California, a small college town with a Mediterranean climate, and is part of the prestigious Claremont Colleges Consortium, which includes five other highly selective liberal arts colleges.

Students walking in the school campus.

The campus of Claremont McKenna is modern and compact, with Spanish-style buildings and well-manicured lawns. Both universities offer a great setting for learning and socializing, but Princeton may be a better fit for those who prefer a traditional campus environment, while Claremont McKenna may appeal more to those who favor a more urban and global milieu.

It’s worth noting that both Princeton University and Claremont McKenna College are located in areas with rich cultural and recreational opportunities. Princeton is situated in close proximity to several museums, theaters, and historical landmarks, including the Princeton University Art Museum and the McCarter Theatre Center.

Meanwhile, Claremont is just a short drive from Los Angeles, which offers many entertainment options, from world-class museums and galleries to theme parks and beaches. Additionally, both universities strongly commit to community service and offer numerous opportunities for students to engage in volunteer work and civic engagement projects in the surrounding areas.

Princeton vs. Claremont McKenna: Size and Student Body

Princeton University has a total enrollment of around 8,000 students, including both undergraduate and graduate students. Its undergraduate student body is comprised of approximately 5,400 students, with a slightly higher percentage of male than female students.

It is also known for having a diverse international student body, with around 12% of its undergraduate students being international. In contrast, Claremont McKenna College has a much smaller student population, with around 1,400 undergraduate students and a roughly equal gender distribution.

It also prides itself on having a highly diverse student body, with almost half of its students being students of color. Both universities have a strong commitment to academic and personal excellence, but the size and diversity of the student body may be a factor in selecting which university is right for you.

Another factor to consider when comparing the size and student body of these universities is the student-to-faculty ratio. At Princeton, the ratio is 5:1, meaning that for every five students, there is one faculty member.

This allows for more personalized attention and mentorship opportunities for students. Claremont McKenna College also has a low student-to-faculty ratio of 9:1, which allows for close relationships between students and faculty members.

Additionally, both universities offer a variety of extracurricular activities and opportunities for students to get involved on campus. Princeton has over 300 student organizations, including academic clubs, cultural groups, and sports teams.

Claremont McKenna College also has a wide range of student organizations, including a strong emphasis on community service and social justice initiatives. These opportunities can enhance the overall college experience and provide students with valuable skills and connections for their future careers.

Princeton vs. Claremont McKenna: Academics

Both Princeton and Claremont McKenna are known for their rigorous academic programs, with Princeton offering majors in dozens of fields, including engineering, humanities, natural sciences, and social sciences.

It also has several research centers and institutes that offer research opportunities to undergraduate and graduate students. Similarly, Claremont McKenna has a broad range of majors, with a focus on social sciences, economics, politics, and philosophy.

Its academic programs are taught by a faculty of distinguished scholars who are renowned experts in their fields. Both universities offer small class sizes, individualized attention, and a rigorous academic journey. The choice between which university to attend comes down to personal preferences and career goals.

Students sitted in their desks in class.

One factor to consider when choosing between Princeton and Claremont McKenna is the availability of resources. Princeton has a larger endowment and can offer more resources to its students, such as state-of-the-art research facilities and libraries.

On the other hand, Claremont McKenna is part of the Claremont Colleges consortium, which allows students to take classes and access resources at the other colleges in the consortium, including Pomona College and Harvey Mudd College.

Another important consideration is the availability of extracurricular activities. Both universities offer a wide range of clubs and organizations, including sports teams, music groups, and volunteer organizations.

However, Princeton has a larger campus and can offer more facilities for these activities, such as a larger sports complex and more performance spaces. Claremont McKenna, on the other hand, is located in a suburban area with easy access to outdoor activities such as hiking and skiing.

Princeton vs. Claremont McKenna: Faculty and Staff

The faculty at both Princeton and Claremont McKenna are committed to providing a high-quality education to their students. Princeton has over 1,200 full-time faculty members, with a faculty-to-student ratio 1:6.7.

In comparison, Claremont McKenna has a faculty of almost 150 members, with a faculty-to-student ratio of 1:9.3. Both universities have a faculty that is composed of renowned scholars, prize-winning writers, and esteemed researchers. Professors at both universities are accessible and dedicated to mentoring their students and pushing them to achieve excellence.

The difference, however, may lie in the faculty’s research interests and the opportunity to work closely with them. Princeton has a long history of conducting cutting-edge research, publishing influential papers, and winning coveted grants, while Claremont McKenna has a stronger focus on teaching and undergraduate research.

Additionally, both universities have a diverse faculty, with a mix of genders, races, and ethnicities. At Princeton, 44% of the faculty are women, and 25% are from underrepresented minority groups. At Claremont McKenna, 47% of the faculty are women, and 28% are from underrepresented minority groups.

This diversity in the faculty brings a variety of perspectives and experiences to the classroom, enriching the educational experience for all students.

Research Opportunities: What Kind of Research Opportunities Are Available at Both Universities?

As research institutions, Princeton and Claremont McKenna both offer excellent opportunities for students who want to pursue research projects. Princeton offers a variety of research centers and institutes in areas such as energy and environmental studies, neuroscience, and public policy.

On the other hand, Claremont McKenna primarily focuses on undergraduate research opportunities, with a few research centers and initiatives focusing on topics such as leadership and social impact.

Young woman typing in her laptop.

Both universities offer students the chance to work with faculty members on research projects, publish papers, present at conferences, and gain valuable skills and experiences that will prepare them for graduate study and beyond.

Additionally, both universities have programs that encourage interdisciplinary research. Princeton’s Program in Science, Technology, and Environmental Policy (STEP) and Claremont McKenna’s Robert Day Scholars Program in Economics and Finance offer opportunities for students to explore the intersection of different fields.

Through these programs, students can apply their knowledge to real-world problems. These programs also provide students with access to experts in various fields and networking opportunities that can help them advance their careers.

Extracurricular Activities: What Kind of Clubs, Sports Teams, and Social Activities Are Offered at Princeton and Claremont McKenna?

Princeton and Claremont McKenna offer various extracurricular activities, from sports teams to cultural clubs to service organizations. Princeton has over 300 student organizations to choose from, including student government, performing arts groups, and Greek life organizations. It also has a strong athletic program, with 35 varsity sports teams and beautiful athletic facilities.

Claremont McKenna, similar to other liberal arts colleges, focuses on smaller, niche-based clubs, such as the Outdoor Adventures Club, the Scholar Ballers Association, and the Advocates for Survivors of Sexual Assault.

It also has a strong NCAA Division III athletic program, where students can participate in sports such as soccer, basketball, and swimming. Both universities offer a variety of social events and cultural activities, ranging from lectures to concerts to film screenings, that allow students to engage with their communities and expand their horizons beyond the classroom.

Additionally, both universities offer opportunities for students to engage in community service and volunteer work. Princeton has a dedicated center for community service, which connects students with local organizations and provides resources for service projects.

Claremont McKenna has a similar center for civic engagement, which offers programs such as the Civic Engagement Fund and the Community Engagement Fellows program.

Furthermore, both universities have strong entrepreneurship programs and resources for students interested in starting their own businesses. Princeton has the Keller Center for Innovation in Engineering Education, which offers courses, workshops, and funding opportunities for student entrepreneurs.

Claremont McKenna has the Kravis Lab for Social Impact, which provides resources and support for students interested in social entrepreneurship and innovation.

Princeton vs. Claremont McKenna: Admission Requirements

As two of the nation’s most prestigious universities, Princeton and Claremont McKenna have highly selective admissions processes. Applicants have to submit a range of materials, including transcripts, test scores, essays, recommendations, and extracurricular activities.

Princeton has an acceptance rate of around 6%, with an average SAT score of 1450-1570 and an average GPA of 3.9. Claremont McKenna has an acceptance rate of around 10%, with an average SAT score of 1410 and an average GPA of 3.9. Both universities look for students with exceptional academic achievement, intellectual curiosity, leadership potential, and a passion for learning.

Young woman who looks like she is thinking.

In addition to academic achievements, both Princeton and Claremont McKenna also value diversity and inclusivity in their student body. They actively seek out students from different backgrounds, cultures, and experiences to create a vibrant and dynamic community on campus.

This means that applicants who have overcome significant challenges, have unique perspectives, or have contributed to their communities in meaningful ways may have an advantage in the admissions process.

Furthermore, both universities offer need-blind admissions, which means that a student’s financial situation is not considered when making admissions decisions. This ensures that all qualified students, regardless of their financial background, have an equal opportunity to attend these prestigious institutions.

However, both universities have high tuition fees, and students are encouraged to apply for financial aid to help cover the costs of attendance.

How Much Does It Cost to Attend These Universities, and What Financial Aid Is Available?

Both Princeton and Claremont McKenna are expensive for students to attend, but they offer substantial need-based financial aid packages and merit-based scholarships to help alleviate the burden.

Princeton’s tuition and fees for the 2021-2022 academic year are around $53,890, with an additional $17,640 for room and board. Claremont McKenna’s tuition and fees for the same period are around $58,660, with an additional $16,634 for room and board.

Both universities offer financial aid packages that can cover up to 100% of demonstrated need, as well as merit-based scholarships that can range from a few thousand dollars to full-tuition coverage. Students and families are encouraged to apply for financial aid early and explore all their options to make attending these universities affordable.

It’s important to note that financial aid packages and scholarships are not the only ways to make attending these universities more affordable. Students can also consider taking advantage of work-study programs, which allow them to work part-time on campus and earn money toward their education.

Additionally, some students may be eligible for outside scholarships or grants from organizations or foundations. It’s important to research and apply for these opportunities as well to maximize the amount of financial assistance available.

Princeton vs. Claremont McKenna: Student Life

The student life experience at Princeton and Claremont McKenna is dynamic, intellectually stimulating, and socially diverse. Students at both universities are encouraged to explore new interests, engage with their communities, and take advantage of all the opportunities that the university has to offer.

At Princeton, students can participate in events such as the famous “Princeton Preview,” which provides admitted students the chance to tour campus, meet with professors and current students, and have a glimpse of the academic and social life at the university.

Students walking in the campus.

Claremont McKenna offers a week-long orientation program for all incoming freshmen, where they can meet their peers, learn about the college’s values and traditions, and prepare for the academic journey ahead. Both universities also offer residential colleges and dining halls that foster a sense of community and belonging among students.

Additionally, both universities have a wide range of extracurricular activities and clubs that cater to different interests and passions. Princeton has over 300 student organizations, including academic clubs, cultural groups, and sports teams. Claremont McKenna has a similar number of clubs with a focus on leadership development and community service.

Students at both universities can also participate in study abroad programs, research opportunities, and internships that provide valuable hands-on experience and exposure to different cultures and industries.

Princeton vs. Claremont McKenna: Career Prospects

Princeton and Claremont McKenna have impressive track records of preparing students for successful careers after graduation.

Princeton’s Career Services Office offers career counseling, job search support, networking opportunities, and events that connect students with employers across various industries and sectors. It also has a strong alumni network that students can leverage to find jobs or internships.

Claremont McKenna’s Career Services Office provides similar resources and assistance, with a focus on helping students develop their leadership and communication skills, as well as their understanding of global issues.

Because of the prestigious reputation of both universities, graduates tend to have a wide range of career options, from finance and consulting to research and public service. The choice of which university to attend comes down to personal preference and career goals.

However, there are some differences in the career prospects offered by these two universities. For example, Princeton has a strong emphasis on research and innovation, which can be beneficial for students interested in pursuing careers in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields.

On the other hand, Claremont McKenna has a strong focus on social sciences, economics, and public policy, which can be advantageous for students interested in careers in government, public service, or non-profit organizations.

Another factor to consider is the location of the universities. Princeton is located in New Jersey, which is close to major financial centers like New York City and Philadelphia. This can be advantageous for students interested in careers in finance, banking, or consulting.

Claremont McKenna, on the other hand, is located in California, which is known for its thriving technology industry. This can be beneficial for students interested in careers in tech or entrepreneurship.

Conclusion: Which University Comes Out on Top?

Comparing Princeton and Claremont McKenna is akin to comparing apples and oranges. Both universities offer outstanding opportunities for academic, personal, and social growth but have their unique strengths, features, and challenges that can mean different things to different people.

If you value a traditional campus environment, architectural history, and a deep commitment to research, Princeton may be the right fit for you. If you are looking for a small, intimate, and collaborative community with a focus on undergraduate research, social justice, and leadership, Claremont McKenna may be the better choice.

Female student thinking while standing near the wall.

Ultimately, the decision to attend either university should be based on your personal goals, passions, and aspirations and not solely on external factors such as rankings or prestige. Therefore, take your time, explore all your options, and choose the university that speaks to you the most.

It is important to note that both Princeton and Claremont McKenna have strong alumni networks that can provide valuable connections and resources for students after graduation.

Princeton alumni are known for their success in fields such as finance, law, and politics, while Claremont McKenna alumni are often leaders in business, entrepreneurship, and public service. These networks can be a valuable asset for students seeking internships, jobs, or mentorship opportunities.

Another factor to consider is the location of each university. Princeton is located in New Jersey, which offers easy access to major cities such as New York and Philadelphia. While Claremont McKenna is located in California, providing opportunities for outdoor activities and a vibrant cultural scene. One location may be more appealing, depending on your interests and career goals.


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