Public and Community Service

Princeton students visit Tech Boston Academy as part of their Breakout Princeton trip in Boston focused on education reform and innovative learning techniques.
Princeton students visit Tech Boston Academy as part of their Breakout Princeton trip in Boston focused on education reform and innovative learning techniques. Breakout trips are sponsored by the Pace Center for Civic Engagement. Photo courtesy of the Pace Center
The commitment to public service is an integral part of a Princeton education. Inspired by Princeton's unofficial motto "Princeton in the nation's service and the service of humanity," all members of the Princeton community — undergraduate students, graduate students, faculty, staff and alumni — are encouraged to be civically engaged. On campus, the Pace Center for Civic Engagement offers more than 1,600 opportunities for volunteer service, and the Community-Based Learning Initiative connects students' academic work with local community projects. Off campus, the Bridge Year Program allows incoming freshmen to spend a year abroad in public service before starting their Princeton careers.

Service to the nation is deeply ingrained in Princeton's history from its earliest days. Following the untimely deaths of Princeton's first five presidents, John Witherspoon became president in 1768 and remained in that office until his death in 1794. During his presidency, Witherspoon shifted the college's focus from training ministers to preparing a new generation for leadership in the new American nation.

For the past 80 years, the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs has been preparing talented men and women for careers in the service of the nation and the world. The school's programs include an undergraduate major in public and international affairs, graduate degrees in public policy and public affairs, and a one-year degree program for mid-career professionals.

Today Princeton alumni are serving the public good in many and varied ways: in all branches of government, in international agencies, as volunteers in communities and schools, and through participation in charitable or nonprofit organizations.