Brown University

Brown University is located in the state of Rhode Island, which has the smallest land area of any state in the US. It is part of the Ivy League, and it is the tenth-oldest university in the country. Among Brown’s graduates are eight Nobel laureates, including Brown professor J. Michael Kosterlitz, who won the 2016 prize in physics.


  • Average freshman retention (2015): 98%
  • Average graduation rate (2015): 85% within four years, 96% within 6 years.

Popular undergraduate programs (class of 2015):

Notable graduate programs:

Notable Alumni:

  • Jim Yong Kim: president of the World Bank Group (since 2012), former president of Dartmouth College.
  • Emma Watson: actress and UN Goodwill Ambassador

Academic Life

Undergraduate students at Brown do not declare majors, as most other universities do. Instead, each student is responsible for designing their own course of study. To accomplish this, students are assigned advisors. They are also encouraged to have deans and other faculty work with them to provide a bigger perspective on their choices. Brown’s low faculty-to-student ratio and open curriculum design make this seemingly impossible idea come to life.

Two pieces of trivia about Brown

  • The Annmary Brown Memorial houses an extensive collection of books, American Civil War memorabilia, and letters. It also houses Annmary Brown herself. Brown (the daughter of Nicholas Brown II, for whom the university was named) married avid book collector Brigadier General Rush Christopher Hawkins in 1860. When Brown passed away in 1903, Hawkins built the memorial, later donating it to the city of Providence. The rear of the building is the marble crypt, where Hawkins was buried next to his wife after his death in 1920.
  • Sayles Hall hosts an organ concert every year on Halloween night. Aside from the “spooky” feel of organ music, this particular organ is special because it is the largest Hutchings-Votey pipe organ left in the world. The builders of these magnificent instruments were only in business for seven years in the early 20th century, declaring bankruptcy four years after their main factory burned down. Yale University also has a surviving Hutchings-Votey organ, which resides in Woolsey Hall.

Student Life

Providence, Brown’s home city and the third-largest city in New England, boasts five other higher education institutions and several art museums and performance halls. Collaboration with other schools is central to Brown’s educational philosophy. Recently, Brown University was awarded a grant to strengthen the presence of the humanities in their curriculum.

Admissions Statistics (Class of 2019):

  • 30,396 applicants
  • 5% admitted (16% international students)

How to apply to Brown:

  • The Common Application. Brown’s website notes the following:
    “If you have indicated an interest in Chemistry, Computer Science, Engineering, Geology, Mathematics or Physics you must complete the Science/Engineering essays.”
  • Transcript
  • National examination scores, if applicable
  • Mid-year school report
  • Recommendation letters from teachers and/or school officials. Note: if you are considering a Bachelor of Science degree, Brown requires that one recommendation be from a math or science teacher.
  • SAT with Essay or ACT with Writing
  • 2 SAT Subject Tests (recommended, but not required. Strongly encouraged for science and engineering students.)
  • TOEFL or IELTS (necessary for non-native speakers of English without 3 years of language experience)

Application Deadlines:

  • November 1 (Early Decision)
  • January 1 (Regular Decision)