Graduate Handbook

This handbook describes the basic academic requirements and contains many tips and suggestions for new graduate students in the ORFE department.

Message from the Chair

Professor Ronnie Sircar

Ronnie Sircar

Welcome to the Department of Operations Research and Financial Engineering. I wish you the best for your academic success over the next few years. At Princeton, you will be among the best, brightest and most creative talents of your generation. ORFE is a small and friendly department -- please do introduce yourself to fellow students and to faculty when you see them. We are very happy that you chose to join us, and we look forward to learning about your research and ideas in the coming years.

Message from the Directors of Graduate Studies (DGS)

Professor Mykhaylo Shkolnikov (Fall)

Mykhaylo Shkolnikov

It is my great pleasure to welcome you to ORFE! ORFE combines Financial Mathematics, Machine Learning, Operations Research, Optimization, Probability and Statistics under one roof and it is my hope that you will thrive in this stimulating interdisciplinary environment. Please feel free to reach out for advice on academic matters as you progress through the various stages of graduate education.

Professor Matias Cattaneo (Spring)

Matias Cattaneo

Welcome to ORFE! I wish you the best success during your Ph.D. studies at Princeton University, and I look forward to getting to know you better over the upcoming years. Do not hesitate to contact me if you have questions or need assistance during your doctoral studies.

PhD Program Requirement Summary

In their first year, students sign up for the six core courses in optimization, probability and statistics, followed by a qualifying exam at the end of the summer, if required. In addition, at least two advanced courses and two semesters of directed research are completed under the direction of a faculty adviser in the student's area of interest by the end of the second year in preparation for the general examination (Generals). The general examination is taken in the spring of the second year of study. Usually, beyond the general examination, two to three years are needed for the completion of a suitable dissertation. Upon completion of thesis studies and acceptance of the dissertation by the department and the Graduate School, the candidate is admitted to the final public oral examination (FPO).

  • In the first year of graduate study, students must take all six core courses. Please note that core courses cannot be dropped without DGS approval.

    Core courses

    ORF 522 Linear & Nonlinear Optimization
    ORF 523 Convex and Conic Optimization
    ORF 524 Statistical Theory and Methods
    ORF 525 Statistical Foundations of Data Science
    ORF 526 Probability Theory
    ORF 527 Stochastic Calculus

  • Qualifying exams: Qualifying exams are held in September of the second year. Students can place out of the qualifying exams by receiving at least an A- grade in four of the core classes.

  • ORF 509 & 510: Before taking the general exams, Ph.D. students must complete two research projects under the supervision of an ORFE faculty member. Students are required to submit a written report on both projects. The results of ORF 510 are presented in the oral part of the general exam.

  • General exam (at the end of the second year)

  • All Ph.D. and M.S.E. candidates are also required to take EGR501 before the end of their second year. This is a half-semester course that will educate graduate students in engineering in the responsible conduct of research. The lectures provide theoretical background information as well as case studies about ethics in day-to-day research situations, publishing and peer-reviewing, student-adviser relationships, collaborative research, as well as in the big picture and considerations of long-term impact. The course is graded on a pass/fail basis.

  • Research dissertation and Final Public Oral Exam (FPO)

In addition, students take a number of additional classes. At least two of these classes at the 500 level (not including seminars) must be passed with at least a B+ requirement to pass the general exam. These two advanced courses can be chosen from the following list of relevant classes:

    ORF 504 Financial Econometrics
    ORF 505 Statistical Analysis of Financial Data
    ORF 531 Computational Finance in C++
    ORF 535 Financial Risk Management
    ORF 538 PDE Methods in Financial Mathematics
    ORF 542 Stochastic Control and Stochastic Differential Games
    ORF 543 Deep Learning Theory
    ORF 550 Topics in Probability: Probability in High Dimension
    ORF 565 Empirical Process and Asymptotic Statistics
    ORF 569 Special Topics in Statistics, Operations Research and Financial Engineering (e.g., Theory and Practice of Deep Learning, Probabilistic Theory of Network Games and Mean Field Interactions, Topics in Game Theory)

Courses of potential interest in other departments:

    APC 503 Analytical Techniques in Differential Equations
    COS 511 Theoretical Machine Learning
    COS 521 Advanced Algorithm Design
    COS 528 Data Structures and Graph Algorithms
    COS 534 Fairness in Machine Learning
    ECO 517 Econometric Theory I
    ECO 518 Econometric Theory II
    ECO 525 Financial Economics I
    ECO 526 Financial Economics II
    ECE 535 Machine Learning and Pattern Recognition
    ECE 538B Information Sciences and Systems Large Scale Optimization for Data Science
    MAE 546 Optimal Control and Estimation
    MAT 522/APC 522 Introduction to PDE
    MAT 527 Topics in Differential Equations: Global Solutions of Nonlinear Evolutions
    MAT 572/APC 572 Introduction to Combinatorial Optimization
    PHY 521/MAT 597 Introduction to Mathematical Physics

Research and Thesis Adviser

The core classes establish a solid foundation, establishing tools required for research in the disciplines covered by the department. The funding provided by the university for the first year provides freedom and time for students to acclimate to the new environment of graduate school, and to make a wise choice of research direction and adviser. Some may know early on the direction they wish to pursue, but for many, it is worth exploring a number of classes taught by a variety of professors before deciding.

The directed classes ORF 509 and 510 should be taken with a faculty adviser, with a grade received for both by the time of the general exams. Some take these classes in the spring of the first year and fall of the second year. Others take 509/510 in the fall and spring of the second year.

The department is small and there is plenty of opportunity to meet and talk with faculty about research interests. Please be pro-active in doing so as you discover your areas of interest. At various times, some faculty might simply be too busy to take on new students: do not take it personally if a faculty member is unable to take you on as an advisee, there are plenty of excellent research opportunities available to you. If a student works with a faculty adviser who is not a member of the ORFE department, there must also be a co-adviser who is an ORFE faculty member, and who is seriously involved in co-advising the student.

PhD Qualifying and General Examinations

The requirements for the Ph.D. degree include passing the qualifying exam requirements, the general examination, submission of an acceptable dissertation, and passing the final oral examination (thesis defense).

Qualifying Examination Procedure

Each student must satisfy qualifying requirements. Qualifying exams are offered in September of the student’s second year. A student who obtained a grade of A- or better in 4 of the 6 required classes will be exempt from the September qualifying exams. If this is not the case and the student obtained a grade of A- or better in 2 or more of the 6 required classes, the student will meet with the DGS to decide which exams may be taken in September to satisfy the requirements. The optimization exams are based on ORF 522 and ORF 523. The probability exams are based on ORF 526 and ORF 527. The statistics exams are based on ORF 524 and ORF 525.

The qualifying exams are oral, 90 minutes per course, and are administered by 2 ORFE faculty, who will provide the student with the exam questions a few hours before the exam.

The results of the qualifying exam(s) are determined by a vote of the faculty. If the student had a grade of A- or better in 3 of the required classes and passes 1 qualifying exam, or had a grade of A- or better in 2 of the required classes and passes 2 qualifying exams, the outcome of the qualifying examinations procedure is a "pass". If the student had a grade of A- or better in 3 of the required classes and fails the qualifying exam, or had a grade of A- or better in 2 of the required classes and passes only 1 of the 2 qualifying exams, the outcome of the qualifying examinations procedure is a "conditional pass". Otherwise the outcome of the qualifying examinations procedure is a "fail". In the last case, the student is usually given the MA degree and must terminate unless the faculty recommends otherwise.

Rules for pass/conditional pass/Masters (MA) degree

  • _4 A- in the 6 first-year courses: pass (no qualifying exams)
  • _3 A- in the 6 first-year courses, and passes one qualifying exam: pass
  • _3 A- in the 6 first-year courses, fails qualifying exam: conditional pass
  • _2 A- in the 6 first-year courses, and passes two qualifying exams: pass
  • _2 A- in the 6 first-year courses, and passes one qualifying exam: conditional pass
  • _2 A- in the 6 first-year courses, and fails both qualifying exams: Ph.D. candidacy ends, receives Masters (MA) degree
  • _<2 A- in the 6 first-year courses: no qualifying exam, Ph.D. candidacy ends, receives Masters (MA) degree

General Examination Procedure

ORFE students take the general exam in April or May of their second year. By that time, the students have met the qualifying examination requirements, have taken and passed ORF 509, have taken or are currently enrolled in ORF 510, and have passed with a B+ or higher two advanced courses. The student must have shown adequate progress in research, and an acceptable level of understanding of their area of specialization.

The general exam consists of two parts, a written and an oral part, both covering the student’s primary area of specialization. The written part requires taking and passing, with a B+ or higher grade, two approved advanced courses at the graduate (500) level beyond the 4 core classes counted for the Qualifying Exam. These two courses must be approved by the student’s adviser and the DGS.

For each student, an examining committee is selected by the student and adviser. The committee will be approved by the Director of Graduate Studies. Normally, the committee members comprise the students adviser(s) and two additional ORFE faculty or affiliated faculty. The committee will administer the oral exam, evaluate the student’s performance in research and overall knowledge of his/her field, and make a recommendation to the department faculty. A departmental faculty vote determines the final outcome. The oral exam may be up to 3 hours in length.

Information on the oral exam: Before the exam, the student is required to submit a comprehensive written report on the research conducted in ORF 509-510. It is due one week before the exam takes place. The report serves as the basis for the student’s presentation. The purpose of the presentation is to explain the research the student has done so far and plans to do in the future. Examining faculty may ask questions on the presentation and on any other material deemed appropriate for a comprehensive examination.

The possible outcomes of the general exam are as follows:

A. Student passes the exam and is admitted to Ph.D. candidacy, B. Student fails the exam but is given the option to retake the exam at a future date, C. Student fails the exam and must withdraw from the Ph.D. program.

As mentioned earlier, the ORFE faculty will determine the outcome based on the recommendation of the examining committee. In case C, the student is usually given the MA degree and must terminate unless the faculty recommends otherwise.

Annual Reenrollment

Second Year Reenrollment

Upon passing the general examination, the recommendation for readmission for the next academic year is made by the student’s thesis adviser and approved by the department faculty.

Research Advising Committee for Ph.D. Candidates

If the thesis adviser plans to recommend against the readmission of the student, an examination committee must be formed to determine the progress of the student’s work and the recommendation must be made by the committee and approved by the department faculty.

Third and Fourth Year Advisory Committee

Optional If requested by either the student’s thesis adviser, or the student, or the Director of Graduate Studies, an examination committee shall be appointed by the department chair to examine the progress of the student. The committee would be composed of the student's adviser plus two other advisory faculty members. The student will present a seminar to this committee describing the proposed area of research, the background work completed in preparing for the research effort, the intended avenues of investigation, specific problems with the work the student feels are likely to cause the most difficulty, and the aspects of the work that will require the most guidance. The purpose of this interchange is to provide the student and the adviser some assistance in assuring that the research proceeds in a fruitful direction.

Dissertation and Post-Generals Courses

Usually completion of a suitable dissertation takes two to three years beyond the general examination. During those years the student is encouraged to select an area outside his/her specialty and to broaden his/her base of knowledge by enrolling in courses in that area. It is also expected that additional courses will be taken related to the student's specialty area. Upon completion and acceptance of the dissertation by the department, the candidate will be admitted to the final public oral (FPO) examination.

Final Public Oral

The readers and FPO examiners must be approved first by the ORFE department, and then by the Graduate School. The first reader is the principal adviser, and the second reader is an ORFE faculty member. An FPO examination committee and readers approval request must be submitted to the Department Chair’s office. Please submit at least two months before the anticipated FPO date to Connie Brown at [email protected]. If any reader is not a Princeton ORFE professor, your request should include a written justification why an external reader is needed, and their current CV. The committee of examiners for the FPO must include no fewer than two current ORFE faculty members, and no fewer than three current Princeton faculty members. If a committee member is not an ORFE faculty member, your request must include written justification why an external committee member is needed, as well as their current CV.

When your committee and readers are approved by the department, you will be notified in writing. You will provide your department-approved list to the Graduate Program Administrator, who will then send it to the Graduate School for approval. Once approved by the Graduate School, you can send your thesis to your readers. After the readers send their completed reports to the Graduate Program Administrator, they will be sent to the Graduate School along with your additional application materials and requested FPO date and time for approval. This must be done at least three weeks prior to the requested FPO date.

MSE Degree Requirements

The program requires, as a minimum, 10 courses in two years with a master\'s thesis. In particular, ORF 509 and 510 must be taken (and can be included in the required 10 courses). The grade for ORF 510 will be counted as the master thesis grade after an oral examination of the thesis with the student’s adviser and another ORFE faculty or associated faculty member. The following is a sample study plan. Make alterations as you deem appropriate, subject to the approvals of your adviser and the Director of Graduate Studies depending on your background and interests.

Sample Study Plan for MSE

First year-Plan A

Fall Spring
ORF 505 ORF 509
ORF 522 ORF 523
ORF 526 ORF 527
ORF 524 ORF 504

First year-Plan B

Fall Spring
ORF 505 ORF 509
ORF 522 ORF 504
ORF 526 ORF 527
Elective ORF 535

Second year-Plan A

Fall Spring
ORF 510 ORF 545
Elective Elective

Second year-Plan B

Fall Spring
ORF 510 ORF 525
Elective Elective

ORF 509/510 Requirements:

ORF 509 and ORF 510 are directed research. Under the direction of a faculty member, MSE students carry out research and write a report with the results presented in a final oral exam (510).

Other Regulations

Satisfactory Academic Progress

To establish the foundation for satisfactory academic progress, the Graduate School and academic departments expect the following from enrolled students, as evidence of their successful engagement with graduate work and for them to continue to receive their stipends and other benefits of enrollment:

  • Full-time Commitment. Graduate study at Princeton, at both the doctoral and master’s levels, requires full-time commitment to study and research on the part of students.

  • Presence: Students must be visibly present in the department and on campus, unless In Absentia or on an approved Leave of Absence. As importantly, students must be intellectually "present," that is, noticeably engaged in the normal work of their degree program---course-taking, paper-writing, research, teaching, seminar attendance.

  • Production: Students must be producing work of good quality, at the appropriate and expected stages of their degree program, and showing the products of their study and research to the faculty for evaluation.

  • Communication: Students must regularly communicate with and respond in a timely manner to communications from their department graduate program administrator, director of graduate studies, adviser(s), committee members, and other faculty members as appropriate. This is a reciprocal responsibility and graduate students should therefore expect regular and timely communication in order to maintain satisfactory academic progress.

Failure to perform according to these guidelines may result in, for example, deferred reenrollment or denial of reenrollment during the spring term review or termination at mid-year.

Academic Regulations and Fraud

The Graduate School has become increasingly concerned about academic fraud. Please take time to read information on "General Requirements for the Acknowledgment of Sources in Academic Work" and "Definitions of Academic Violations under the Jurisdiction of the Faculty-Student Committee on Discipline" contained in "Rights, Rules and Responsibilities". Upon entering Princeton, you also received information concerning this important subject. This information is furnished to make you aware of your responsibilities regarding University requirements on acknowledgment of sources and academic fraud. The department joins with the Graduate School in taking a strict stance in this area.

Changes in Course Status

Any changes (grading options, dropping or adding courses etc.) that you may need to make to your registered courses, should be discussed with your adviser or DGS prior to making changes. You may change your status in a course no later than two weeks prior to the last day of the regularly scheduled class of the semester. Core Course changes must be approved by DGS in writing.

Auditing Courses

  1. Courses selected by pre-Generals and Masters Students must be taken for a letter grade and cannot be audited.
  2. Post-Generals students may sign up for courses as audit.
  3. Post-Generals students may take courses on a pass/fail (P/F) basis with the approval of their adviser and the course instructor.

Generally, courses taken on a P/F basis should be outside of the student's primary area of interest.

Assistants in Instruction

Normally, PhD candidates receive appointments as assistant in instruction (AI) beginning their second year. All students are required to attend AI training prior to term. Before an international student can be appointed as an AI, they need: to pass the English Language Program (ELP) test administered by the Graduate School, and to complete any required ELP courses.

Part-time Employment

The following employment policy is quoted from the Princeton University Graduate School:

The Graduate School considers employment beyond a maximum full-time assistantship of 20 hours per week incompatible with full-time graduate study.

The Graduate School reviews students' on-campus employment records. Accordingly, the Graduate School can and will disallow part-time employment, excluding all service awards, if that employment does not comply with federal immigration and employment regulations, and/or fellowship policies. The following policies will be applicable:

Under no circumstance can a U. S. student or permanent resident work more than 20 hours per week from all sources (AI, AR and/or hourly employment). Any work beyond a full AI and/or AR appointment may jeopardize the full-time student status of this and other graduate students (with serious tax implications), and will therefore be closely scrutinized.

Under no circumstances can an international student on a visa, with a full AI and/or AR appointment, work even one hour more through hourly employment or otherwise. This not only jeopardizes the full-time student status of this and other graduate students as noted above, but it also violates the terms of the visa status.

International students may not accept off-campus employment without authorization from either the Immigration and Naturalization Service or the J-1 program sponsor. International students should contact the International Graduate Student Adviser (Office of General Counsel), for further information on employment eligibility.

Historically, in addition to being employed as ARs and AIs by the Department, graduate students have intermittently been involved in employment elsewhere. It is the concern of the Department that, at times, this latter type of employment is neither manageable nor necessary and, in fact, is incompatible with full-time graduate study. Therefore, the Department feels it is important to ensure the awareness of the above employment policy. Included in this policy is consulting projects. All employment other than an AR or AI is subject to review by the Director of Graduate Studies.

Students must seek approval of part-time employment opportunities by filing a Request for approval from their adviser and the Departmental Director of Graduate Studies.

Leave of Absence

Written approval of adviser and DGS are required. Leave of Absence forms are available on the department website under the About Tab, Internal, & Forms.

Holiday, Vacation, and Travel

All time away from campus (except weekends) must be approved in writing by your adviser and if an Assistant in Instruction, approval from the DGS and course instructor. An email requesting time away from campus with your leave and return date including reason for absence is appropriate. In the case of first year students that may not yet have an adviser, you must submit your request via email through Kim Lupinacci in the Graduate Office who will obtain approvals from the Director of Graduate Studies.

Graduate study is, understood to be a full-time commitment on the part of students. During an academic year, which includes the summer, graduate student degree candidates may take up to (but no more than) four weeks of vacation, including any days taken during regular University holidays and scheduled recesses (e.g., the fall- and spring- term breaks and inter-term break). The specific periods taken as vacation must not conflict with the student's academic responsibilities, coursework, research, or teaching, and should be discussed in advance with one's director of graduate studies, adviser, or dissertation committee.

If a student receives financial support for graduate study for only part of the year (e.g., regular term time, August 1 to May 31), then the amount of vacation should be prorated accordingly. If a student receives summer support and has taken the allowed vacation during regular term time, August 1 to May 31, then he or she should not take additional vacation time during the summer months of June and July.

If a student holds an external fellowship whose terms may conflict with this guideline, the student should consult first with the director of graduate studies or adviser.

PLEASE NOTE: All ORFE Graduate Students are required to be on campus during term time. Any time away from campus exceeding 3 business days MUST BE APPROVED in writing by your adviser or DGS for 1^st^ year students without an adviser. You are responsible for emailing a formal request to Kim Lupinacci in the student affairs office at least 2 weeks prior to leave. Kim will contact the DGS for approval and confirm with you the decision.

Please visit the Registrar's Web Site for the Princeton University Academic Calendar.

Miscellaneous Information

  • Watch your emails and Slack, and mark your calendars for the following departmental events. Your presence at these events will be appreciated.
    • Graduate Welcome Reception (September)
    • ORFE Social: beer, wine and food event (typically every other Friday during the semester in the 2^nd^ floor common area)
    • Academic job panel (early Fall semester)
    • Faculty Presentations to 1^st^ year incoming Graduate students (Spring semester)
    • Holiday Party (last week of classes in December)
    • Seminars: Statistics (Mondays), ORFE colloquium (Tuesdays), Probability (alternate Wednesdays), Financial Mathematics (alternate Wednesdays), Optimization (Thursdays).
  • Graduate Student Affairs Office is room 120, extension 8-4018, klupinac\
  • E-mail is how department correspondence is transmitted. PLEASE check it regularly.
  • Payroll checks are put in your mailbox on the last working day of the month. Go Green! Sign up for direct deposit via TIGERHUB.
  • Mailboxes are located on the second floor, Room 221. Please check your mailbox daily. The door to the mailroom is to be kept locked at all times.
  • The address for package delivery is: your name, Princeton University, 98 Charlton Street, Sherrerd Hall, Princeton, NJ 08544
  • A Fax Machine is located in the mailroom. To receive a fax, use 609-258-3791. To send International 9-011+number, In US-9+number, Campus 8+4 digit number.
  • You may use the copier as a scanner in room 107.
  • Telephones are located in every room. Local calls are free. In case of an emergency and you want to make a long-distance call, please contact the Department Manager, Connie Brown.
  • Graduate Student Kitchen, located in room 223. It is available to both graduate students and faculty in the ORFE department. Remember to clean up after your use. Vending machines are located in the basement. Please refrain from using the 3^rd^ floor kitchen facilities which is reserved for CITP faculty, staff and students.
  • Graduate Lounge, the open area located on the second floor provides a meeting space for graduate students and faculty. This is a common area shared by all. Please clean the area after using. This space is not to be used for office hours.
  • Bulletin boards. The graduate information board is located in the faculty and graduate open work space area on the second floor. There are also two seminar notice boards at the end of each hallway on the first and second floors. Information on current fellowships, scholarships, grants, call for papers, etc. to which students may apply are posted on the boards.
  • Other sources of useful information can be found on the Graduate School website.

Important Contacts

  • Chair, Professor Ronnie Sircar, 609-258-3255
  • Director of Graduate Studies, Professor Mykhaylo Shkolnikov, 609-258-1044 (Fall Term)
  • Director of Graduate Studies, Professor Matias Cattaneo, 609-258-8825 (Spring Term)
  • Department Manager, Connie Brown, 609-258-5422
  • Graduate Program Administrator, Kimberly Lupinacci, 609-258-4018
  • McCosh Health Center Emergency, 609-258-3139
  • Public Safety Non-Emergency 609-258-1000 Emergency 9-1-1

Welcome to the department, we wish you success as you pursue your graduate degree!

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Where can I have copies made?

    Copies related to courses can be made in room 107, see Kim for log in #.

  • Do you have a lost and found in Sherrerd Hall?

    Yes, if you have lost or found an item please go to Sherrerd Hall, room 105.

  • Is there a Notary Public on campus?

    You may find a Notary Public at Firestone Library, Credit Union and the Tiger Card Office located at A-level in New South.

  • Is there a place to have passport/visa photos taken?

    Yes, please visit the tigercard office, A-level in New South []. No Appt Necessary, $5 fee.

  • What is the mailing address for Sherrerd Hall?]

    • USPS: Princeton University, Your Name, Sherrerd Hall & Room Number, Princeton, NJ 08544
    • UPS/Fed Ex: Princeton University, Your Name, 98 Charlton Street, Sherrerd Hall, Room Number, Princeton, NJ 08544
    • Do not use nicknames---use your proper name.
  • How do I receive mail?

    • Regular mail will be placed in your mail slot in room 221.
    • UPS/Fed Ex/DHL-signed for by a dept office, you are contacted for pick up.
  • How do I send mail, is postage required?

    • Postage is required on all outgoing mail. You may purchase stamps at the Post Office located on Nassau Street. Campus mail should be placed in an interoffice envelope. There are trays in the mailroom for each type of mail.
  • How do I place a request for maintenance and service repairs?

    • Please contact Main Office. A work order request on your behalf will be submitted.*
  • Can I reserve a room for a meeting?

    • Yes, you may contact Kim or any department office administrator for help. Please note that classrooms require 3 working days' notice per registrar.
  • Can I set up my laptop to print in the mailroom?

  • Can you tell me when a Professor will be in?

    • It is best to send an email to the faculty member you wish to speak with.
  • Can I store my personal items in the building?

    • No, office space is a shared environment. Please contact student agencies for moving and storage needs.*
  • How do I sign up for ORF 511, Extramural Summer Project (CPT)?

  • Do I need to inform someone that I will not be on campus?

    • Yes, any time away from campus must be approved in writing by the DGS or your adviser with a copy to the graduate student affairs office.
  • Does the department order the book for me to use as a teaching assistant?

    • Yes, when you are notified of your assignment you are also given instructions on where to pick up reading materials, if any. Only required texts are provided to TA's.
  • Does everyone have to attend AI orientation prior to teaching?

    • Yes, AI orientation is mandatory in order to hold a teaching position.
  • Will the department provide a letter for my parents/family to visit?

    • No, the department will provide a letter for you, for visa purposes. Please contact visa services for information regarding parental visits.
  • Where can I have a poster printed?

    • Poster printing can be done through Printing and Mailing which is located at the corner of Charlton and Nassau.*

Helpful Links

Policy for Travel (CONCUR)

Policy for Student Travel, Travel Reimbursement and Reimbursement of Out of Pocket Expenses

About Concur:

The Concur Travel and Expense System must be used to request student travel for both individuals and groups. All travel funded by university or sponsored research funds must be submitted through the Concur Travel and Expense System. All travel reimbursement requests for out of pocket expenses and non-travel reimbursement requests are also submitted through this system. <;.

Concur will allow you to:

  • Plan, estimate expenses, and book travel online
  • Maintain an online profile to store information such as frequent flyer numbers and other preferences
  • Upload electronic copies of your receipts
  • Create expense reports for reimbursement
  • Create non-travel reimbursement requests

Pre and Post Travel and Expense Requirements:

Graduate students are required to submit travel requests in Concur for all travel.

Important! Before submitting a travel request, you must complete all of the required steps and forms listed as part of the Princeton Travel & Expense Program as well as the ORFE Pre-Authorization form. Once you receive the approval from the ORFE Grants Manager, you will be able to proceed with your travel arrangements and purchases.

In addition to entering the travel information in Concur, you must also update your profile to include a mobile phone number and e-mail address where you can be reached while traveling. You will then need to respond to a verification request from your phone and email account.

Accessing Concur

To log into Concur:

  1. Go to <;.
  2. Enter your Princeton netID and password, and click Login.

Setting up Approvers and Delegates:

Default Approver

  1. From the Profile menu, should be at the top of the page, select profile settings
  2. On the left-hand side of your screen under "Expense Settings", select Expense Approvers.
  3. Enter Lauren Coleman or net id lc19 in the search field and select from the dropdown list.
  4. Click **Save.

Expense Delegate

This will allow an ORFE administrator to assist you if needed with preparation of travel and misc. expense reports for reimbursement.

  1. Under Expense Settings, select Expense Delegates.
  2. Select Add.
  3. Add the following list of netids and select from the drop-down list: connieb (Connie Brown), lc19 (Lauren Coleman), klupinac (Kimberly Lupinacci), lc6684 (Liz Canfield)
  4. Check off "Can Prepare" and "Can View Receipts" for all above
  5. Select additional checkboxes for Lauren Coleman, Connie Brown & Liz Canfield "Receives Emails", "Can Approve", "Receives Approval Emails"

Verify your email address

Please verify your @princeton email address along with any others you may use when arranging travel or submitting expenses. You can elect to have emails sent to one or multiple addresses, but verifying emails allows you and your expense delegate to upload documents to your account via email.

  1. Once you have saved an email address, click the "Verify" link.
  2. Check your email for a verification message from Concur.
  3. Copy the code from the email message into the "Enter Code" box next to the email address below.
  4. Click "OK" to submit the code and complete verification.

Entering a New Travel Request

You can open the travel request page by clicking the Requests from the menu across the top of the page. Next, click Create a Request > New Request. The request opens on the Request Header tab. You will need to complete all fields with a red bar at the beginning of the field on the Request Header tab, and add all travel segments on the Segments tab. Concur also has a mobile application.

Report Header:

  1. Report Name: Your Last Name/Name of Conference/Event/month you will be attending.
  2. Report Date: Date you are creating report.
  3. Report Type: Are the expenses domestic or international?
  4. Business Purpose: Purpose (ex. Presenter/Attendee)/Conference or Event Name/Month attending.
  5. Trip ID: Your Last Name/Conference or Event and Year
  6. Comment: Anything else ORFE should know.
  7. Department: Located on your Pre-Authorization Form.
  8. Fund: Located on your Pre-Authorization Form.
  9. Program: Located on your Pre-Authorization Form.
  10. Site: N/A Leave Blank
  11. Project: Located on your Pre-Authorization Form.
  12. Activity: Located on your Pre-Authorization Form

Adding Expenses and Attachments to your Concur Report:

  1. Click New Expense, and choose expense type.
        a. All boxes with the red horizontal line must be completed. Please make sure the vendor name is also completed.
  2. Itemized receipts must be provided for all travel related expenses. If the itemized receipt is not attached you will not be reimbursed. This includes receipts for lodging, meals, registrations, etc.
  3. Business Purpose and Trip ID will auto populate from the report header.
  4. Conference documentation is required and must be uploaded to the report. It should include 2 pages only (not the whole program)
        a. page one is the cover page showing conference name, dates and location of conference
        b. page two is the page showing the title of the requestors talk and their name.
  5. You will upload a copy of the signed pre-approval form from your adviser approving your travel to your expense report. To do this, from within the expense report select “Receipts”, “Attach Receipt Images”, and upload the document from your computer. The email can be in a .png, .jpg, .jpeg, .pdf, .html, .tif or .tiff formats, but cannot be uploaded from the receipt store or via email at this time.

    a) All students must complete the travel/expense request for approval at least 3 weeks prior to booking the travel or making any purchases.
    b) Travel/Expense must be signed by the Adviser/Supervisor and the ORFE Grants Manager before travel/Expense is booked or purchased.
        a. Please send completed form with adviser’s approval to Liz Canfield, [email protected].
        b. Liz Canfield will review and send approval to book travel and/or expense.
        c) If student does not receive pre-approval before booking the travel or making the purchase, they WILL NOT be reimbursed.
        d) All foreign travel must be registered with and approved by the Graduate School prior to making travel arrangements. Instructions for this, as well as other steps to take before traveling can be found here.
        e) Make sure you follow instructions. All forms must be completed prior to booking the travel, if they are not completed you will not be reimbursed.

    a) All expenses and travel must be substantiated and submitted in Concur for approval within 30 days after the expense is incurred. Expenses that are not submitted in a timely manner may be reported to the IRS as taxable income. Contact Liz Canfield [email protected] with questions.
    b) Receipts
        * Itemized receipts are required for all expenditures and travel requests.
        * If the itemized receipt is not included, that line item WILL NOT be reimbursed.

III. ARRANGING TRAVEL     a) The preferred method of arranging travel is for you to add your personal credit card information to your Concur profile and use the Concur system for all arrangements. Or contact Princeton University’s travel management company, World Travel. If the conference you are attending has arranged for a “conference rate” on hotel rooms, you should follow the instructions provided by the conference to take advantage of the discounts. Conference rates are not available in Concur.

    a) Air Travel
        * Booking Airfare
            * Reservations should be made at least 14 days in advance to ensure the most convenient and cost-effective fares.
            * Travelers must purchase the lowest available economy class airfare that meets the needs of the business trip.
        * Airline Requirements for Sponsored Projects:
            * Under the Fly America Act (FAA), government regulations require the use of a U.S. air carrier when traveling outside the U.S.
            * Open Skies Agreement provides that qualifying travelers, may travel on airlines from the European Union, Australia, Switzerland and Japan as well as U.S. Flag Air Carriers.
        * Changes, Cancelations, and Unused Tickets
            * When travel plans must be changed due to unforeseen circumstances, the traveler is responsible for notifying Carlson Wagonlit Travel.
            * Traveler will be responsible for cost of ticket, if not reimbursable, if the cancellation or change is a non-emergency.
            * Unused tickets cannot be used for personal travel.

    b) Lodging
        * Reservations may be made online through Concur or by contacting Carlson Wagonlit Travel. When booking a hotel for a conference where there is a special conference rate, the reservation may be made directly with the hotel.
            * the itemized hotel bill must be included with the expense report.
            * Travelers are responsible for cancellations/no shows for non-emergency reasons.
        * The class of hotel must be reasonable and appropriate for the business purpose and location. University travelers should stay in standard rooms only.
        * Rate guidelines by location (includes taxes and fees):
            * United States: – $350 New York City, San Francisco
            * $300 Washington D.C., Boston
            * $250 All other U.S. locations
            * International: – $350 Delhi, Johannesburg, London, Mumbai, Nairobi, Pairs, Rome – $300 All other international locations
            * Traveler will be responsible for any amount charged over the rate guidelines for that area.

    c) Car Rental
        * When to use
            * Rental cars should be used when they are less expensive than alternative means of transportation (e.g., taxi, car service, or train) or where there are convenience or safety issues that justify the additional cost. – Explanation of rental must be included on the Travel/Expense Request.
        * Reservations
            * Should be made through Concur or by contacting Carlson Wagonlit Travel to ensure that travelers receive the negotiated rate, insurance and other benefits.
        * Car Class
            * Rental of up to a mid-sized car is an allowable expense.
            * Motorcycle/moped rentals or vehicle upgrades are not allowable.
        * Insurance
            * While on domestic University business, decline Collision Damage Waiver (CDW) and personal liability insurance offered through the rental company, provided that the reservation is made through Concur Travel or by contacting Carlson Wagonlit Travel.
                – If proof of insurance is needed, contact the Department of Risk Management at (609) 258-3046.
            * When renting vehicles in a foreign country, collision auto liability insurance options must be accepted. Undergraduate students are prohibited from renting vehicles in international locations.
        * Gasoline
            * Employees are expected to refuel the rental car prior to returning to the rental agency and to decline the pre-paid fuel options. The cost of the fuel for the return is an allowable expense. All other fuel fill ups are the responsibility of the traveler.
        * Incidental Expenses
            * All business-related tolls and parking charges that are not part of a student’s regular commute are allowable expenses.

    d) Taxis
        * When to use
            * Taxis should be used for in-city destinations whenever possible, unless a rental car or other means of transport is more cost effective or where there are convenience or safety issues that justify the additional cost.
        * Tips
            * It is customary to provide a tip for the taxi service of approximately 15%.
        * Payment/Receipt
            * Please make sure you receive a receipt of your payment, this must be included with your reimbursement request.

    e) Limousine & Shuttle Service
        * When to Use
            * Limousine and shuttle services should be used when they are less expensive than alternative means of transportation or when there are convenience or safety issues that justify the additional cost. When traveling with others, it is often more economical to coordinate travel times and share a limousine or shuttle service.
        * Reservations & Preferred Service Providers
            * Use one of our preferred vendors when reserving limousine or shuttle service for travel in the Philadelphia to New York corridor. Make reservations online using Concur Travel or by contacting Carlson Wagonlit Travel.
        * Tips
            * Tips are included in the price we have negotiated with our preferred vendors for travel in the Philadelphia to New York corridor. Additional tipping is not an allowable expense. When using a non-contracted limousine or shuttle service for travel outside the Philadelphia to New York corridor, a tip of approximately 15% is an allowable expense.

    f) Personal Automobile
        * Acceptable Usage
            * Use of personal auto for business purposes is allowed when it is less expensive than alternative means of transportation or when there are convenience or safety issues that justify the additional cost. Use of personal automobile for normal commute is not an allowable expense.
        * Mileage Reimbursement
            * If a personal automobile is used for business purposes, you will be reimbursed at the current IRS authorized mileage rate for miles incurred in excess of your normal commute. The personal mileage reimbursement covers all costs related to the operation of the vehicle, including service, maintenance, insurance, depreciation, and gas.
        * Gasoline
            * the prices of gas is factored into the mileage reimbursement rate and is therefore not an allowable expense when traveling by personal automobile.
        * Tolls
            * All tolls incurred while traveling for business are allowable expenses. This does not include tolls incurred for normal commute.
        * Parking
            * All Parking for business purposes are allowable expenses. Commute-related parking charges are not allowable expenses.
        * Maintenance/Repairs/Fines
            * Regular car maintenance, fines, penalties, towing, and repairing are not allowable expenses.

    g) Train- Other Transportation
        * Travel by rail is allowed when it is less expensive than alternative means of transportation or when there are convenience or safety issues that justify the additional cost.
            * Business class is not allowable on funding from Sponsored Projects.

h) Individual Meals & Incidentals
        * Purchase of alcohol will not be reimbursed.
        * All meals require an itemized receipt. If there is not an itemized receipt attached, it will not be reimbursed.
        * Expenses incurred in Princeton, NJ will not be reimbursed without written permission.
        * Meals should not exceed the following rates:
            * Breakfast Max: $17.00
            * Lunch Max: $18.00
            * Dinner Max: $34.00
            * Incidentals Max: $5.00
            * First and Last day of travel should not be greater than $55.00
        * Please note you cannot combine lunch and breakfast to higher your meal reimbursement. In addition, you will not be reimbursed for snacks unless you are substituting one snack for one meal.
        * If meals exceed the rates above, the traveler will be responsible for the difference.
        * You will not be reimbursed for any meals included with your conference fees.


Keep this for reference if you plan to travel while at Princeton.


Please follow these steps to ensure your travel is considered for all eligible funding. These steps must be followed at least THREE WEEKS prior to departure date.

  1. Consult your adviser about the intended trip, obtain approval for travel using our Pre-Authorization Form (can pick up in Rm. 103) and request support as applicable. HINT: Your adviser’s approval and trip details will be required for all of the remaining steps so it is a good idea to have the Pre-Authorization form ready when applying for funding outside of the department.
  2. Apply for funding through the Graduate School and completing the SAFE application required.
  3. Apply for funding through the School of Engineering and completing the online form required.
  4. Apply for funding through the Department of Operations Research & Financial Engineering by emailing Kimberly Lupinacci. Your email must contain your Pre-Authorization Form with adviser’s signature, list of all funding received to-date for the trip AND the amount being requested of the department in US Dollars.

Starting March 11, 2019, graduate students traveling to locations with elevated risk will be required to complete an additional review process that includes receiving a safety and security assessment for their itinerary from ISOS, the University’s provider of emergency and support services for international travelers (more on ISOS below) and signing a document acknowledging the risks associated with the travel they plan to undertake. You will be notified if your itinerary includes a location that is deemed to be higher risk.

Travel Resources

We encourage you to take advantage of the many international travel resources available to graduate students at Princeton:

  • Travel Toolkit – This link provides Princeton-specific information and advice to make sure you are well-prepared for international travel.
  • University Health Services (UHS) – All international travelers are urged to contact Travel Medicine for pre-departure planning, immunizations, travel-related prescriptions, education, and post-travel evaluation of medical problems acquired abroad.
  • International SOS (ISOS) – ISOS provides emergency and support services for international travelers. All University members on University-sponsored trips are automatically enrolled in ISOS coverage. ISOS is also a resource for local expertise and advice before and while traveling.
  • International Health Insurance – The University provides international health coverage to all students with a current passport or student visa who are temporarily traveling or residing outside of their country of regular residence as part of a University activity, program, research, or other sponsored travel. Coverage is provided by Nationwide Insurance in conjunction with ISOS. There is no enrollment required and there is no separate ID card. One of the benefits of the insurance coverage is that if a Princeton student contacts ISOS to coordinate the care and payment of medical care, they will not incur out-of-pocket payments in most cases.
  • Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) – Students who are U.S. citizens must enroll in STEP and request automatic alert updates from the U.S. State Department on the countries they are visiting. Students who are not U.S. citizens should register with their government or local embassy if possible.

In closing, we hope that you take full advantage of the international travel resources available to you at Princeton. All the best for a productive semester!