Transferring from Princeton to Stanford/MIT?

I just finished my freshman year at Princeton and I am heading into my sophomore year. I am an electrical engineering major. I was originally interested in Princeton’s unique attention to its undegrads and excellent financial aid. Although I have no issues with the culture of the school itself, there are a few reasons why I feel compelled to apply as a Stanford/MIT transfer (GPA: 3.7, advanced physics, data structures and algos, economics classes, chemistry, linear algebra and DiffEq):
1) Dual majoring. At Princeton, distribution and single major requirements prevent me from reasonably pursuing a double major in ECE and Econ. I’ve so far taken MicroEcon and MacroEcon, and enjoyed them so much that I wish to major in Econ. This is strongly discouraged at Princeton.
2) Lack of a business and medical school. When I applied and accepted my offer to Princeton, I actually thought that this would be an advantage. However, after creating a climate-related social media app and a AI-based day-trading app for college students during the school year, I found myself desperately searching for business mentorship. This is difficult to find at Princeton. Also, my freshman materials chemistry class has inspired an interest in biomedical research. Princeton lacks a medical school or formal biomedical engineering degree for me to pursue this seriously (yes, MIT itself does not have a medical school, but it works closely with Harvard’s).
3) Freedom to pursue internships/work opportunities during the school year. Both Stanford and MIT are in much more urban areas. This summer, I had a wonderful experience interning at a biotech start-up in the Bay Area. Ideally, I want to be in an environment which offers enough convenience (location-wise, near urban areas) to pursue similar internships. Also, I understand that Stanford informally encourages taking time away from school to explore such opportunities more seriously. Princeton, on the other hand, offers no such convenience or freedom.
4) This does not so much pertain to academics/ECs; but my dad was recently told that he suffers from serious heart problems. Given that he also recently moved to SoCal, I would feel more at ease if I was in closer proximity to him (at Stanford), should anything bad happen to him while he’s living on his own.

You’re looking to transfer as a rising junior?

What is your question? You want to transfer; go for it. I don’t get all of your reasons but if you’re able to articulate them on your transfer application you’ll have a non zero chance. Good luck.

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What is your question ?

It seems like you have a good grasp of what you want to do and why. It seems you prefer Stanford. It looks like they take transfers in fall only while MIT does both fall and spring.

You may or may not be able to transfer all your credits. If not, you may take longer to graduate.

Princeton does show (at least on the website) that you can study another area if even not a major. You would have to start again socially as a transfer but you have a great grasp of what you want and why.

Have you talked to pre med advising at Princeton ? I’m sure they can help with research opportunities…point you in the right direction. As for internships, you already had a great one. There will be no shortage of great opportunities at Princeton.

As for a double major, you can get in depth into Econ at another school. But make no mistake. Econ is not business. It’s a liberal art. And studying engineering at an ABET school alone makes it difficult to double major…it’s possible but likely not easy anywhere (within 4 years) because ABET has so many engineering and other requirements for a school to maintain certification.

So you have a good sense of what you want. So I guess you are looking for - good luck.


There are lots of universities that offer electrical engineering and have business and medical schools. Why did you pick those two? Ok, I know why, but given the low chances of being accepted you will need to consider if you want to apply to more less selective schools that fit your criteria, or just stay at Princeton if you aren’t accepted at either of those two. What is more important to you?

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If you cannot manage the transfer (which I hope you do – because you know what your missing amongst the things you want), you can manage some of your needs at Princeton. The actual major doesn’t matter for most things that you want do with an econ major – you can take as many econ classes as you want without doing a major. The electrical engg major greatly adds to the econ skill set. It doesn’t subtract. Princeton offers exceptional research access in any area you care about, as I am sure you well know. Mentorship for startups etc may be weaker than it is at MIT or Stanford – still exists.


Part of what I was thinking was what @neela1 said: You do not need to double major. Just take the economics courses. You might be able to get it as a minor but even this is not needed. Just taking the courses can be valuable.

Also, it is too late to apply to transfer starting in September 2022. Therefore it sounds like you are thinking of transferring starting in September of 2023. At this point you would already be half way through. If you did transfer at that point there is a risk that some of your course credits might not be accepted, so it might take you more than two more years to graduate.

However, Stanford has quite a few very good master’s programs, and some of them only take one year (although a relatively intense year – which can very interesting if you want to do it).

You can apply to transfer and see what happens. However, I think that you should seriously consider graduating from Princeton. Then if you are at some point in the future considering graduate school Stanford and MIT will still be there. Admissions to a graduate program (such as a master’s) is very likely a reach, but it is more likely than acceptance as a transfer student to either MIT or Stanford.


Very true.

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umm, MIT is not any closer to dad.

Stanford only accepts a handful (or two) of grads per year; nearly all are non-traditional students, so your odds are close to zero. Consider it for a master’s.

It’s very hard for engineering majors to double major at any university because of all the ABET required courses. That isn’t unique to Princeton.

Not having a graduate business or medical school should not hinder your ability to find a mentor at Princeton.

It’s very difficult to pursue an internship during the school year. Most engineering students work in the summer months or do co-ops.

If you want to be close to home because of your father’s health issues, expand your search to other schools other than just Stanford.


MIT is far away, and Stanford is still a trip there. Also, Stanford emphasizes non-traditional students for transfer students.

There are numerous universities in southern California that may be close to where he is, meet your stated desires (although they would probably downgrade in what is probably an unstated desire for college prestige), and admit significant numbers of transfer students. If you happen to be a California resident, UCs like UCLA, UCI, UCR, UCSD, UCSB may be suitable, depending on where in southern California your father is. Otherwise, if you need financial aid, you may want to look at USC and other private universities in the area.

This may be less of an issue than having to catch up on general education requirements at the new college, especially since MIT has rather extensive general education requirements, many of which are expected to have been taken in the first two years.

your gpa will probably hurt you. it’s a great gpa esp at princeton as an engineering major but it’s on the low end for the transfer pool at stanford and MIT. fwiw ive seen a yale → stanford transfer before and they were a completely traditional applicant as well. I’d imagine it’ll be insanely difficult but if you made it to princeton you just might make it to stanford as well.

Transferring to another college rarely makes sense because it’s so disruptive to one’s college education, even if you beat the long odds and successfully transfer. The reasons you’ve listed are insufficiently convincing and compelling.

You seem to have lots of different interests and are unsure what you primary interest is. You’re still exploring. And Princeton seems to have offered you more than adequate opportunities for such exploration so far. Being able to explore is great, but you need to decide soon, whether you stay at Princeton or transfer elsewhere. As other posters have mentioned, having two majors isn’t a key to a successful college education or career in either one of the two chosen fields/majors. You can succeed in either one of them, or even some other field, if you acquire the requisite knowledge and experience.

You seem to need financial aid as well. The two schools you’re targeting to transfer to are generous, but they’re likely not as generous to traditional transfer students. Not only are their available slots for transfer students generally reserved for non-traditional students, but their financial aid resources are also generally reserved for these non-traditional students.

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We have a Rule of Three in our house: once you get to 3 reasons/excuses for doing/not doing something, the supposition is that you simply want/don’t want to do that thing.

OP, your reasons/excuses for transferring read more like rationalizations. If you already know the root of your reason for leaving Princeton- great. Just make sure that the schools you apply to will realistically resolve that reason (the axiom of “wherever you go, you will still be there”). If you don’t, focus on figuring that out.

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If you are set on transferring, you will need to expand your list.

Your dad’s illness is enough reason to transfer, although not an academic one, and not a reason to transfer to MIT obviously. Do you have other schools on your list in LA or on the west coast?

I don’t see the other reasons to transfer as necessarily being compelling to Stanford and MIT, and you have to convince them. It can be difficult to add a double major to an engineering major at any school. What are your career goals?

You have until next March or so to decide, unless you want to transfer for spring 2023, which requires Fall 2022 apps. Not all schools take spring transfers, including Stanford.

The FA for transfers at Stanford and MIT should not be an issue, as both completely fund all students in a generous manner. FA can be an issue at other schools for transfers, even at meet full need schools, so definitely check that as you go thru the process.

Good luck.

This is important and has been bugging me somewhere in the back of my mind.

Internships and coops and research opportunities are important. However, it is a lot easier to get these if you get to know your professors.

If a student transfers universities half way though university, it is going to make it more difficult to get to know your professors. This is going to make it more difficult to find a good internship. This in turn is likely to be more important than any difference between these three great universities (none of which are perfect, but no one and no university is perfect).

I am not a big fan of transferring between top universities unless you have a very compelling reason, such as your current university does not offer your major at all.


Should really be that “transferring to another college when already enrolled at a four year school rarely makes sense”. Since Princeton is not a two year school (e.g. community colleges or schools like Deep Springs College), it would take some very strong reasons (too expensive, no suitable major at all, exceptionally poor fit not initially noticed, current school is a specialty school and the student is no longer interested in or eligible for the specialty) to transfer.

Yes, if the OP applies to transfer as a junior, an intended major will likely need to be put on the application and be considered (in the context of prior college record) in admission decisions, since the transfer target college will want to know that the student will be on track to graduate in a reasonable time after entering as a junior.

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This looks a lot like the “grass is greener” effect.

(1) Princeton is not all that much farther from NYC than Stanford is from San Francisco. (San Jose is closer, Oakland a little more distant) “I need to transfer to shave some time off my commute time for an eventual internship” is not a compelling story. And the Stanford campus is anything but urban.

(2) “I want to go to MIT so I can go to Harvard” is not a compelling story either. MIT takes a dozen or two transfer applicants per year. Why should they burn a slot on someone whose plan is to use MIT to get to Harvard?

(3) Culturally, MIT is not aligned with double majors. For decades, there was no such thing. They are very good about letting students take any classes they wish, but the Institute sees little value in the credentialing that double majoring provides. For this reason (and the next), I think MIT would be a poor fit.

(4) Your story is that you can’t meet your goals at Princeton. Princeton for heaven’s sake! This is not a good look, and will only cause Admissions to think “He’s Princeton’s problem now. Why should we take him on?”

My advice is to figure out how to meet your goals at Princeton. Spend some quality time with your advisor.


As an aside, did you apply to those schools for freshman admission? I’m not sure what the best answer to that is:

  1. Yes, I applied, and was accepted, but now I’ve changed my mind.
  2. Yes, I was applied and rejected, but want to take another stab at it.
  3. No, MIT and Stanford weren’t even on my radar last year.

None of these are really positive - and I am not sure what the least negative is.

In my experience, exactly correct.

When I was at MIT I did consult with a professor about the possibility of taking on a double major. His basic answer was “there is no point”. I was already a math major. He suggested that I just continue as a math major, and take the courses in other areas that were of interest to me.

Many years later, I think that he was correct.