Brown UniversityLogo Brown UniversityLogo

Undergrad Profile

Brown University is a leading liberal arts institution with a distinctive undergraduate academic program, a world-class faculty, and a tradition of innovative and rigorous multidisciplinary study. 

A commitment to diversity and intellectual freedom has remained a hallmark of the University since its establishment. Brown is the only major research university in the nation where undergraduates are the architects of their own course of study. 

Students at Brown are distinguished by their academic excellence, self-direction, and collaborative style of learning. Brown faculty are deeply committed to teaching, preeminent in their fields, and leaders in advancing knowledge that has broad scholarly, theoretical, and practical applications. Virtually all faculty members teach undergraduate courses. Small seminars give first-year students an immediate opportunity for an intimate learning experience.

Brown is different. Brown’s unique approach to education, our Open Curriculum, enables students to define the academic journey for themselves. Students have an unusual opportunity to pick most of their own courses and decide both how they will learn and how they will be evaluated for the work they complete. Like students at other colleges, every Brown undergraduate will eventually pursue a specific area of study (a “concentration”) and will demonstrate excellence in writing, but at the same time, students at Brown have more opportunity to define their own education than students at any other American university. Students are excited by the prospect of exploring familiar and unfamiliar academic terrain, thereby testing their own intellectual limits.

More than 2,000 undergraduate courses support over 78 concentrations (majors), many of them interdisciplinary. A wide variety of independent studies and student-initiated courses are also popular. Undergraduates may pursue a Bachelor of Arts (A.B.), Bachelor of Science (Sc.B.), or a combined Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Science (A.B./Sc.B.) degree. Many of our departments also offer an optional Fifth-Year Master’s Program.

Faculty support
A strong academic advising program is crucial for the success of a flexible curriculum. Because students are responsible for their decisions, the University offers highly personalized advice and guidance to help students make informed choices. Each first-year student is provided with an academic advisor as well as a Meiklejohn (peer academic) advisor. Many first-year students participate in the Curricular Advising Program, where each participant’s academic advisor is also an instructor in one of his or her first-year courses, ensuring a more natural advising partnership.

Admission to Brown is highly selective. Applicant assessment is based on academic performance, teacher and counselor recommendations, extracurricular activities, talents and interests, a personal statement, and standardized testing scores. All applicants are reviewed in the context of the opportunities available to them. The admission committee strives to admit a class of curious and independent scholars who will bring to campus a wide variety of experiences and perspectives.

Expanded financial aid
Brown knows that families are concerned about their ability to finance the cost of college, particularly in these economically uncertain times. So in addition to continuing a need-blind admission policy for all first-year applicants who are U.S. citizens, Brown remains fully committed to meeting the demonstrated need of every admitted student. In 2014–2015 approximately 3,400 undergraduates received over $142 million in financial assistance from a variety of University and outside resources.

The campus
Brown’s campus hosts a mix of architectural styles representing everything from American Colonial and Greco Revival to English Renaissance. And though exteriors often convey a sense of history, the campus itself is thoroughly modern. Between 2011–2012 the University unveiled a new student center, a new center for the creative arts, a new medical school building, and a state-of-the-art Aquatics and Fitness Center. In the last five years alone, Brown has spent over $500 million on new construction.

At Brown you will live on campus in one of the newly renovated dorms for at least your first six semesters. Upperclassman housing options include fraternities, program houses, co-ops, and apartment-style living.

A message from Dr. Christina H. Paxson, Brown’s 19th president
“American universities are admired around the world for their research, their inventiveness, their universal accessibility, and their success at preparing generation after generation for what Brown calls ‘lives of usefulness and reputation.’ Few schools offer anything like Brown’s curriculum, which combines academic rigor with an astonishing level of flexibility and invites students to be active partners in planning their course of study. Widely known for the excellence of its undergraduate programs, research opportunities, and public service, Brown is an internationally recognized research university whose students and faculty are globally engaged in programs of academic exchange and service learning. I invite you to come see for yourself what makes Brown Brown.”




“Brown students continue to surprise and inspire me daily. Each person brings forward an interesting perspective, actively seeking to learn more about the world through interactions with one another, spreading this culture of curiosity and intellect that’s really tangible on College Hill. Having access to such a wide array of passionate people leads to the conversations that really make a college experience exceptional! They are some of the most valuable resources on campus.”
— Jonathan Cruz ’14