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Undergrad Profile

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

Students at Brown are distinguished by their academic excellence, self-direction, and collaborative style of learning. 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. 

Brown’s unique Open Curriculum challenges students to define their own academic journey. Without distribution requirements, students have an unusual opportunity to pick their own courses and decide both how they will learn and how they will be evaluated for their work. Like students at other colleges, every undergraduate will eventually pursue a specific area of study (similar to a major; at Brown this is called 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 79 concentrations, many of them interdisciplinary. A wide variety of independent studies and student-initiated courses are also popular. Undergraduates may pursue a Bachelor of Arts (AB), Bachelor of Science (ScB), or a combined Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Science (AB/ScB) degree. Many of our departments also offer an optional Fifth-Year Master’s Program.

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.

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.

Expanded financial aid
Brown knows that families are concerned about their ability to finance the cost of college. So in addition to continuing a need-blind admission policy for all first-year applicants who are US citizens, Brown remains fully committed to meeting the demonstrated need of every admitted student. In 2016–2017 approximately 3,640 undergraduates received over $164 million in financial assistance from a variety of University and outside resources.

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.”




“The open curriculum allowed me to truly delve into Urban Studies and Political Science. As someone who came into the University knowing that I wanted to study these concentrations to pursue a career in urban education policy, Brown in particular has many courses devoted to the intersection of urban studies, political science, and education studies while also emphasizing social justice. Professors want us to interrogate the various ways we can challenge societal norms and prejudices and provides us with the resources to do so.”

— Julie Pham ’19