Testing

The information in this section relates to the testing program for individuals at Princeton who are not exhibiting symptoms consistent with COVID-19. If you are experiencing symptoms related to COVID-19, please visit this University Health Services webpage for information on symptomatic testing.

Princeton’s asymptomatic testing protocol is designed to screen our University population and to identify positive cases at early stages to ensure that they are isolated to prevent community transmission. The protocol includes testing at regular intervals for Princeton University undergraduate and graduate students, faculty, staff, and researchers who are on-campus and meet certain criteria.

Individuals should not take part in the asymptomatic testing protocol if they are ill. Also, we do not have a process for expediting individual results, and we cannot guarantee results on a specific timeline.

For important information about the test and how the University may use or disclose your personal information, please read “Informed Consent for COVID-19 Testing (PDF).” Individuals participating in the asymptomatic testing protocol are required to agree to the terms of the consent prior to participation.

Testing is not sufficient to prevent transmission

Wearing facial coverings, washing hands frequently, and maintaining at least 6 feet /2 meters of physical distancing from others are individual behaviors which are shown to reduce risk of spread of the virus. Testing is intended to identify those who have already contracted the virus (with or without symptoms), isolate them to avoid additional spread, and use contact tracing to limit further spread. These practices complement each other to reduce community infections.

Test results are a snapshot in time, indicating that an individual was or was not infected with COVID-19 at the time the sample was submitted, and that snapshot should not be used as an indication that it is safe to be around others without physical distance or face coverings. 

Type of test being used by Princeton

Our asymptomatic protocol uses a diagnostic test, also known as an RT-PCR test, which allows for detection of the virus’s genetic material in the sample a test participant provides. Unlike antigen tests, a confirmatory test is not required for RT-PCR tests. For more information about the different types of COVID-19 tests, see this FDA webpage.

Testing Frequency by Status 

  • Undergraduate students and graduate students are required to provide samples twice weekly. 
  • Graduate dependents over the age of 18 who live in congregate housing* are required to provide samples twice weekly. 
  • UHS Medical Staff and Department of Public Safety Patrol Staff provide samples twice weekly. 
  • Employees and affiliates provide a sample once a week.

*Congregate housing locations includes the following locations: New Graduate College, Old Graduate College and any of the annexes (11, 15, 16 and 24 Dickinson Street, 35 and 45 University Place, 31 Edwards Place, and any residential college).