The Pathway Program: Putting TCNJ Within Reach

Since 2012, the Pathway Program has provided an avenue for hundreds of motivated students to begin their college career at TCNJ, earning credit toward their degree while benefiting from wraparound support. Participants initially join the Lions family on a non-matriculated basis, taking a maximum of three courses in the fall. Upon successful completion of the fall semester, students fully matriculate into their intended major in the spring.




Return for second semester


Majors available

Your advisors will reach out to provide guidance on taking placement tests and to get you registered for the appropriate fall courses. In some cases, they may recommend a summer class to lay the foundation for your success. A one-day orientation program in July will prep you for the semester ahead.

With help from your Pathway advisor, you’ll be registered for three courses common to the schedule of any entering student. You’ll also complete a noncredit College Success course.

You’ll be fully matriculated in the major listed in your Pathway acceptance letter if you met regularly with your designated advisor throughout the fall and passed all your classes with a GPA of 2.3 or higher. If you didn’t, you may be able to remain in the program for a second semester.

Program Information

First-semester curriculum: Pathway students enter TCNJ in the fall on a non-matriculating basis, meaning they are not enrolled in a degree program or major. Participants take 3 course units in their first semester (3.5 for engineering students):

  • A First-Year Writing or First-Year Seminar class
  • Two liberal learning or major-specific classes, as deemed appropriate.

A course unit is equivalent to 4 credit hours. Credit earned accrues toward a degree.

In the fall, students also complete a noncredit College Success course.

While participants are prevented from taking a fourth course in the fall, they may take a summer or winter course at TCNJ.

Wraparound support: Pathway students benefit from a variety of resources that help promote their overall success and wellness. Personalized advising and attention begin almost immediately following a student’s decision to enroll. Additional services include tutoring, health and wellness programming, academic coaching, and more.

Second-semester matriculation: Participants are guaranteed matriculation status for the spring semester in the major listed in their Pathway acceptance letter and contract, provided they satisfy the following requirements:

  • Earn a minimum cumulative GPA of 2.3 or higher.
  • Successfully pass all courses. (Withdrawals and grades of “incomplete,” “in-progress,” and “F” are disqualifying.)
  • Meet regularly with a designated advisor.

Note that while students may matriculate with a 2.3 GPA, some programs (such as those that require certification) may require a higher GPA to be successful. Certain majors may have further expectations, which can be found on the Pathway Program Contract participants must read and sign to begin their journey as Pathway students.

If matriculation requirements are not met: Pathway students who don’t meet the requirements to matriculate in their second semester may be offered an additional, non-matriculated semester at TCNJ. This will be at the discretion of the Office of Admissions in consultation with the Center for Student Success and academic advisors.

Changing majors: As noted above, Pathway students matriculate in the major indicated in their program acceptance letter. Although major changes are not guaranteed, there is an internal major change process at TCNJ, which can be explored after full matriculation and consultation with an academic advisor.


Applying: The Pathway Program does not have a separate application. Students apply for general admission to The College of New Jersey. If, in reviewing an application, our admissions counselors feel this program would be the best fit for a student, they will extend an offer of admission to the Pathway Program. (Note: Applicants to all majors at TCNJ are eligible for the Pathway Program, with the exception of nursing.)

Accepting our invitation: You must submit two forms — the Pathway Acceptance Notification Form and the Pathway Contract, both found in the online Application Portal — along with a nonrefundable $600 enrollment deposit by June 1 to confirm participation.

Requesting a spot on the waitlist: Students may decline their offer of acceptance into the Pathway Program and request a place on the TCNJ waitlist for general fall admission by using the Pathway Enrollment Notification form. Waitlisted students are typically notified of a decision in June. Because the college admits as few as 10 students from the waitlist in some years, the Pathway Program is the best avenue to guarantee a seat in the incoming class.

Tuition and Financial Aid

Cost: TCNJ discounts the cost of attendance for the fall semester for all Pathway students. For example, fall 2022 Pathway tuition and fees were $7,498, compared to $8,998.95 for matriculated, full-time, in-state students. The final discounted cost for the coming fall will be available after it is set by the college’s Board of Trustees in early July.

The discounted cost covers all courses, campus computer access, the student activity fee, and the student center fee. Health insurance is not included but is required for all TCNJ students. Although the college strongly encourages students to stay under their parent/guardian’s insurance if possible, Pathway students have the option to purchase TCNJ health insurance.

Financial aid: As non-matriculated students, Pathway participants are not eligible for financial aid for the fall semester. The only lenders currently available to non-matriculated students are College Ave and Sallie Mae. Upon matriculation in the spring semester, eligible students can apply for aid via the FAFSA form. (TCNJ’s Title IV School Code is 002642.)

Billing: Students are billed in mid-July with a payment due date in mid-August. A third-party payment plan is available and requires that at least 50% of the term bill be paid before the end of October (see payment plan agreement for specific date) to avoid being withdrawn from fall courses.

Campus employment: Non-matriculated students are able to hold campus jobs, but they aren’t eligible for work-study positions. These opportunities become available upon matriculation.

Housing and Campus Life

Housing: Though not required, Pathway students are strongly encouraged to live on campus. Research shows that students who live on campus the first and second year perform better. The total cost of room and board will be added to the fall bill. Pathway students are able to live in the same campus residential spaces as other first-year students.

Varsity athletics: NCAA rules prohibit non-matriculated students from participating in varsity sports. Pathway students can, however, participate in the many intramural and club sports at the college. They are eligible to participate in varsity athletics upon matriculation.

Clubs and organizations: TCNJ encourages all students to get involved with the Lions community. There are a few exceptions: Pathway students are not able to join the Student Finance Board, be Student Government Association representatives, or hold leadership positions in campus organizations. These options become available without restrictions to all Pathway students once they matriculate.