How To Get Into Brown University: The Definitive Guide

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September 8, 2022
About Brown UniversityBrown University RequirementsBrown University Acceptance RateBrown University Class Profile and DemographicsBrown University EssaysHow to Prepare for the Brown University InterviewHow to Apply to Brown UniversityTips to Get Into Brown UniversityShould I Apply to Brown? FAQs

”Mary

Reviewed by:

Mary Banks

Former Admissions Committee Member, Columbia University

Reviewed: 5/18/22

Are you interested in learning about Brown University? Read on to explore it's admissions requirements, class profile, and essay prompts.

Applying to college can be a stressful and time-consuming process. Not only deciding what schools you want to apply to but learning all the requirements for each of them can be tricky, too. We make things easy for you; if you’re considering applying to Brown University, you’ve come to the right place. 

With a population of 7,125 undergraduate students, 2,689 graduate students, and 611 medical students, and offering over 2,400 undergrad courses, Brown is a prestigious, well-respected, and competitive Ivy League university that will open your doors to a bright future and foster a life-long learning attitude. In this article, we’ll cover everything you need to know about how to get into Brown University.

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About Brown University

Brown University is a private, very prestigious Ivy League university located in Providence, Rhode Island. It was founded in 1764 as the college in the English Colony. As a leading research university, Brown stands out for its student-centered learning and for offering a deep sense of purpose. Staff and faculty are driven by the idea that their work will positively impact the world. 

Brown University prepares its students to flourish as independent thinkers, innovative collaborators, and active global citizens involved in important issues. The university prides itself on being inclusive and respectful to all beliefs and needs, stating that as a student, you have the freedom to study what you choose and the flexibility to discover what you love through Brown’s famous open curriculum. 

Unlike most universities, where students must complete a set of core courses, at Brown University, you are in charge of your own education and developing a personalized course of study. 

Brown refers to its students as “architects of their own education,” because they give you the freedom to sample courses in a wide range of subjects before diving deep into an academic concentration. 

This is the perfect way to foster your love and passion for education. It’s not easy to be in charge of such an essential thing as your education; that’s why decisions must be made in an informed and mindful way. As a Brown graduate, you will be prepared to thrive as an independent, strong, and innovative leader in whichever path and concentration you choose. 

Brown University’s mission statement is very straightforward; to “serve the community, the nation and the world by discovering, communicating and preserving knowledge.” Through a partnership of teachers and students, Brown University fosters a spirit of free inquiry and understanding and educates its students to walk out of university with resourcefulness and reputation.

Brown University Requirements

A strong GPA and good test scores are basic requirements for admission to Brown University and high school graduation, timely submission of the Common Application.

While there’s no minimum required test score or GPA for Brown University, it’s wise to pay attention to the average GPA and test scores of accepted students as they can give you an idea of what level of excellence the school is looking for. 

One of the most important requirements to get into Brown University is the rigor of your senior year academic coursework. Applicants who take more challenging classes and continue to excel during the last year of high school are highly desired. Brown carefully reviews all candidates' transcripts to ensure they continue to perform equally well throughout their entire high school trajectory. 

Since they clearly value quality over quantity, they prefer students who have chosen a more rigorous approach to their high school education, which usually means the AP or IB version of a course rather than Honors or College Prep options. 

Test Scores

There’s no exact SAT requirement at Brown University, but based on data from previous years, you’ll need at least 1420 to be considered for admission. The middle 50% of admitted students scored between 1480 and 1560 on the Math and Evidence-Based Reading and Writing portions of the SAT.

The average ACT scores tend to be between 33 and 35, which is where the middle 50 percent of admitted students fall. You will have to score highly on the ACT to be considered for admission as over 50% of admitted students received an ACT score of 35-36.

If you’re an international student or you’ve completed your high school education in a language other than English, you’ll also need to provide English proficiency evidence through TOEFL or IELTS. There’s also no requirement for admission, but a score of 100 or above on the internet-based TOEFL exam or a score of 8.0 or above on the IELTS is expected. 

It’s also important to note that standardized test scores will be optional for first-year applicants, at least through the 2021-2022 admission cycle. If submitted, they will be taken into account within the context of the information provided by the applicant. If you haven’t been able to take the exam, it will not jeopardize your application. This won’t change until further notice. 

GPA

Brown University requires its applicants to be at the top of their class and have excellent grades. The average GPA of the admitted freshman class at Brown University is 3.94 on the 4.0 scale. 

The average unweighted GPA is 4.08. For this reason, we recommend that you stay on top of your course load and grades, especially in your senior year of high school. 

Brown University Acceptance Rate

Brown University’s acceptance rate is usually around 7%, although it has gotten as low as 5.0% for the undergraduate Class of 2026. Despite this seemingly low number, it’s one of the Ivy League schools with one of the highest acceptance rates, Harvard being the most competitive one, with an average percentage of 3.43% acceptance rate, and UPenn being the least competitive, with around a 9%.

Brown University Yield Rate

Brown University’s yield rate is the percentage of accepted students who enroll divided by the total number of admitted students, which is currently 69%. This is also behind other Ivy League schools like Harvard, Stanford, UPenn, and Yale.

How Hard is it to Get into Brown University?

The acceptance rate for Brown is 5%. This means that out of 100 applicants, only five are admitted, making it a very selective school. If you prepare accordingly and strive to meet the school’s requirements and beyond, you’ll have no problem standing out. 

Take into account, however, that being academically excellent is not enough to get into Brown University; the vast majority of the school’s applicant pool is at the top 10% of their high school class. You’ll need to prove that you’re beyond that. 

Brown University Class Profile and Demographics

Brown University’s class is one known for its culturally and demographically diverse body of students. According to the university’s class profile page, 43% of their students identify as people of color, and all 50 states are represented, which is a very impressive stat, even for an Ivy League university. Globally, 63 countries are represented by undergraduates, as well as 69 languages. 

Brown University Student to Faculty Ratio

Brown University’s student to faculty ratio is 6:1. Also, 69% of their undergrad classes have fewer than 20 students, and all faculty teach undergraduates. This means that you’ll get plenty of face-to-face time with your professors, some of the best teachers, and researchers in their field. 

Brown University Essays

College application essays are not to be taken for granted, and Brown University is no exception. For this school, you’ll have three prompts you’ll need to answer, all with a word count limit of 250. Excellent and extensive preparation is critical when writing your college application essays. In this section, we’ll talk about Brown University’s prompts and how to nail the essays. 

Brown University Essay Prompts

You should be able to get these from the school’s website. Be sure to cover the personal statement as well.

1. "Brown’s Open Curriculum allows students to explore broadly while also diving deeply into their academic pursuits. Tell us about any academic interests that excite you and how you might use the Open Curriculum to pursue them while also embracing topics with which you are unfamiliar." (200-250 words)
2. "Brown’s culture fosters a community in which students challenge the ideas of others and have their ideas challenged in return, promoting a deeper and clearer understanding of the complex issues confronting society. This active engagement in dialogue is present outside the classroom as it is in academic spaces. Tell us about a time you were challenged by a perspective that differed from your own. How did you respond?" (200-250 words)
3. "Brown students care deeply about their work and the world around them. Students find contentment, satisfaction, and meaning in daily interactions and major discoveries. Whether big or small, mundane or spectacular, tell us about something that brings you joy." (200-250 words)

How to Write the Brown University Essays

First, consider the length of the essays. Each of the prompts has a word count between 200 and 250. This means that you’ll need to keep your answers simple, concise, and straight to the point. 

We recommend that you start preparing the essays early in the game. Give yourself enough time to go through all the steps. 

Research

First, do extensive research about the school, its famous open curriculum, and everything that makes it different. The first prompt is a hybrid of the old and common questions “why us” and “why the major.” You’ll have to strategically adapt the answer to Brown University’s teaching style, mission, and values. 

Brainstorm

After the research is done, think about and brainstorm some of the things you’re the proudest of about yourself. In the Brown essays, you’ll need to comfortably talk about yourself, your strengths, and what makes you unique. Write down some ideas, and let them grow. 

Organize

After brainstorming, organize the ideas. Create an outline of every question, and don’t expect it to be perfect immediately. You’ll notice that you probably want to talk about more things than you have space for. This is why creating an outline is helpful; cut down sections and sacrifice the parts that don’t necessarily help expand the main idea of the response. 

Start Writing

Write your essays based on the outlines. If you follow your polished outlines, writing the responses will only be the last step and a piece of cake. 

Make Revisions

Revise, revise and revise. Once you’re finished writing, give yourself plenty of time to revise your writing; look for grammar errors, spelling mistakes, and clarity. It’s a good idea to even ask for external feedback; let others read your essays and give you your opinion. Unbiased feedback can go a long way! 

If you follow these steps, you’ll create beautiful and impressive essays, but don’t forget to start early in the game. This is crucial as you never know what could happen; don’t let external situations ruin your application. 

How to Prepare for the Brown University Interview

Unlike other universities, there’s no required interview for prospective undergraduate students at Brown University. However, every applicant has the opportunity to submit a video introduction and alumni interview along with their application if they wish for the Board of Admission to learn more about them. Both are entirely optional. 

The video introduction is a great way to provide information beyond the one provided in your application. There’s no specific topic or format, so you can be creative and share whatever you want. If you decide to submit a video interview, you should be strategic about it; share something meaningful that makes you unique and will help you stand out. The time limit for the video introduction is 2 minutes. 

Video Introduction Tips 

Alumni interviews have been offered in the past as a way for potential students to get to know the university while also sharing about themselves. This optional part of the application is unavailable until further notice, but you can still participate in the video introduction.

How to Apply to Brown University

To apply to Brown University, you’ll need to submit several documents along with your application. To complete the application, you should use the Common App, which is very convenient if you also apply to other universities. Most colleges use the Common App for their undergraduate applications. 

You’ll first need to create an account on the Common Application website, which you will use for all your college applications. Once you’ve created your account, you’ll need to add Brown University to your list of colleges. 

There are three different sections in the Common Application: 

You’ll find the Brown-specific questions in the sections labeled “questions.” If you’re applying to the Liberal Medical Education Program or the Brown-Rhode Island School of Design Dual Degree Program, you’ll need to also complete program-specific essays.

Along with the application, you’ll be presented with either online or paper methods to invite school officials and instructors to supply records and recommendations. This process should begin as early as possible to allow them plenty of time to respond before the deadline. The required documents are the following: 

To complete your application, you’ll need to submit a $75 non-refundable application fee or a fee waiver.

Brown University Application Process and Deadlines

Submitting your application in a timely fashion is crucial, as you won’t be able to submit it past the deadline. So, here are the dates that you should take into account and save to your calendar. 

Brown University Regular Application Deadline

The regular application deadline is January 5. If you apply under the Regular Decision plan, you’ll have the opportunity to consider other college options before making a final decision by May 2. In this case, you’ll receive an admission decision from Brown University by early April. 

Brown University Early Decision Date and Acceptance Rate

If you’re applying through Early Decision, you must submit your Common Application by November 1. Brown University offers Early Decision for students who would like early notification of their admission and are ready to commit. 

If you apply under the Early Decision, Brown University asks you not to submit another early decision application to any other institution. It needs to be mentioned that applying under the Early Admission plan doesn’t improve your chances of getting accepted.

There are three possible outcomes when you apply under the Early Decision plan: 

Tips to Get into Brown University

After looking at Brown University’s requirements for admission and learning how to apply, we can conclude that it’s not a piece of cake to get into this competitive Ivy League university. Here are some tips to make the process of applying less painful and as smooth as possible. 

Submit a Video Presentation 

Like we’ve seen earlier, Brown University allows you to submit an optional 2-minute video along with your application; take advantage of it! Even though they encourage applicants who want to give some additional information to do it, we think everyone should do it. It’s not essential, but you definitely should put some time and thought into it. Let your uniqueness shine through at the same time that you remain professional. 

Since Brown University doesn’t use interviews in their undergraduate admission process, it’s the only opportunity you have to let them see and hear you, which can make a big difference. 

Find Good Recommenders 

Teacher recommendations are significant in the eyes of Brown University’s admission committee. In these letters of recommendation, they want to get more than just a vague idea of who you are; they want to hear from a reliable source what you excel in and what makes you unique; choose your recommenders wisely! Ask teachers who know you well and that are likely to write remarkable and genuine things about you. 

Don’t Obsess Over Admissions Data

While it may seem like an impossible mission and way too overwhelming to ignore, don’t let the data let you down. Focus on your strengths and what you have to offer instead. Change the negative narrative to a positive one; the first step to get there is to believe you can do it! 

Dedicate plenty of time to the essays. You may have already noticed that we like putting a lot of emphasis on preparing and revising. These two steps in the writing process are essential for an outstanding essay. Starting the essays at the last minute is a huge mistake you want to avoid if you want to succeed in the admission process. 

Mention Family Members Who Are Brown Alumni

Brown University uses a very fancy term to refer to students with immediate relatives that also attended the university; legacies. If you happen to have a parent who graduated from the school, be sure to mention it in your application or your essays, as it will give you a clear advantage over other candidates that may have a similar academic profile as yours. Ivy League alumni are communities, and it always pays off to let the admission committee know that you’re related to someone that attended in the past. 

Start Your Application Early 

Extensive preparation will be your best friend when it comes to getting admitted to Brown University. From gathering documents to brainstorming the essay prompts, we can’t stress this enough; get started as soon as possible.

Should I Apply to Brown University?

“It’s too hard,” “I’m never going to make it,” “It’s not worth it”... and a million more things you might be telling yourself if Brown University is your dream school, but you see it as an almost impossible mission. Don’t let these doubts rule you. Applying to the school will be a challenging and long process, but it’ll be worth it. 

So, if you’re thinking about going to graduate school or applying to medical or law school, we recommend that you do apply to Brown, as these “life after Brown” statistics are very promising. 

If you’re still a sophomore or even a junior, and you’re starting to consider the possibility of applying to this Ivy League school, we recommend that you take an informed and honest look at your academic profile. 

Do your grades align with the average GPA of Brown University? Are you taking or planning to take hard or college-level classes? If your grades are good but not perfect, you’ll need to crank it up a notch. From the moment you decide to apply, focus on improving yourself, and thus your future application, every day. 

Your academic standing is very important, but take a look at the extracurricular activities you are currently doing. Are you involved in something specific? Do you volunteer? If you don’t, this is the perfect time for you to find a passion you maybe didn’t even know you had. Get involved in something that makes your heartbeat, and then report your experience. 

You shouldn’t let fear stop you from applying to any school. Hard work goes a long way; if you’re committed to doing it, you will. Passion, motivation, constancy, and vision; that’s what you need to create a perfect application in less than two years. 

FAQs

1. What does Brown University look for in applicants?

Brown University is looking for students who “possess an intense curiosity and aspire to make a positive impact on the world.” The following categories are ranked as “very important” to the admission process: class rank, GPA, the rigor of high school report, standardized test scores, application essay, recommendation letters, talent and abilities, and personal qualities. 

2. Does Brown University accept transfer credit?

Brown University does accept transfer credit, but the university will not evaluate your credits prior to acceptance. 

Brown doesn’t have an established agreement for transfer credit with any institution. The university will not award credit for correspondence courses, online classes, courses taken during summer programs, or AP test scores. Most liberal arts courses taken at other nationally accredited colleges or universities are transferable to Brown University. 

You can use the online course reach tool to determine which of your classes will be transferable and/or see if the school offers similar courses. 

3. Who is eligible to apply as a transfer student?

To be considered a transfer student, you must have completed at least a full year of college study. Part-time and full-time students may both apply for admission as transfer students, as well as individuals coming from both two and four years colleges. 

If you’re admitted as a transfer student, you must be enrolled full-time at Brown for at least four semesters before your graduation expected date. That’s why it’s not encouraged for students who have completed over four college semesters to apply to Brown University. 

4. Is Brown University an Ivy League school?

Yes, there are eight Ivy League schools, and Brown University is one of them. It’s a private and very competitive research university. The other Ivy League members are Columbia University, Cornell, Dartmouth College, Harvard University, UPenn, Princeton, and Yale University. 

5. Can I get into Brown University with a 3.5 GPA?

Earning a high GPA is not enough to get into Brown University. Whether a 3.5 GPA is good enough to get in will be determined by other factors rather than by the GPA itself. If you make yourself stand out in every other aspect, like test scores, essays, recommendation letters, and special abilities, you’ll have a higher chance of getting accepted. 

Also, depending on how rigorous your high school courses are, your 3.5 GPA will be considered differently. Overall, a 3.5 GPA is not outstanding for Brown University, as the average tends to be around 3.9 out of a 4.0 scale. However, if your application is well-rounded and exceptional in every other aspect, it will most likely be considered. 

6. How do I stand out in the Brown University application process?

The 5.4% acceptance rate is quite a low one. To determine who meets the extremely high standards, the university uses a holistic admission approach. If all you can offer and bring to the table is a perfect 4.0 GPA, chances are you’ll be part of the big chunk of mediocre applicants. 

They want to be impressed by your unique talents, accomplishments, motivation and drive. They don’t want to see all the ten extracurricular spaces of the Common Application filled, but instead, they want to see how you excel in one or two of them. Being unique and showcasing your exceptional and personal talents is what will make your application stand out. Brown University is looking for excellence and uniqueness; avoid a mediocre application at all costs. 

7. When should I prepare for Brown University?

The deadline for regular application is January 5, and if you’re applying through Early Decision, it’s November 1. In both cases, you want to start preparing as early as possible. 

Ideally, you’ll use the summer before your senior year to start gathering all needed documents and start preparing so that when the application portal opens, you’re ready to fill everything up. Preparing early means no last-minute surprises, which is vital to submit a perfect application on time. 

8. Can I submit supplementary documents or information to have a better chance to get into Brown University?

If you're applying to Brown University, you’re not required nor expected to provide additional materials as part of your application. However, if you wish to do so, you have the opportunity to do it. You can use your Brown Applicant Portal for potential updates or additional information you’d like to share. 

You can include a resume, a writing sample, an abstract of scientific research, a portfolio of your art, or any information you were unable to include in your Common Application.

You may also provide additional letters of recommendation, although it’s not recommended. Usually, the required letters of recommendation from a counselor and two teachers accomplish their goal sufficiently and provide enough information to make a thoughtful admission decision.

9. I’m a homeschooled student, is the application process different for me?

Brown University’s evaluation process is the same for all their first-year applicants. However, there are some things you need to take into account if you’re homeschooled

Homeschooled applicants can present some of the documents required to apply in a different form than traditional applicants. For example, The Secondary School Report form for homeschooled students must be completed by the person who’s the most responsible for guiding you in their overall and transitional learning throughout high school. 

When it comes to the required letters of recommendation, it’s always preferred if the recommenders are not immediate relatives, your parents, or any academic tutors directly employed by them, as Brown University wants to hear from someone who can speak to your potential and abilities in an objective way. If you’ve ever been taught in a traditional classroom, we advise that atleast one of your letters of recommendation is from that time. If that’s not possible, Brown University will accept and consider letters from any of the stated above. 

If you don’t have a traditional high school transcript, you should provide a “detailed account of the entire curriculum” of the last four years.

Also, if you’re a homeschooled applicant, it’s a good topic to include in one of your essays. As Brown University mentions on their website, the admission committee would like to hear about the reasons for your family’s decision to homeschool you and hear about your own opinion about the method and the level of freedom you had as well. So, don’t forget to mention this important piece of information! 

10. What should I do if you get rejected from Brown University?

If you get rejected from Brown University, you’ll need to wait until next year to reapply, even if you applied through the Early Decision plan. However, don’t panic. Let’s take a look at the different options you have if you’ve been rejected: 

If you chose to attend another college before reapplying, you’d need to apply as a transfer student; if you just take a gap year, you’ll be applying again as a freshman. Either way, make sure to start the application process early; you still need plenty of time to prepare.

Final Thoughts

Brown University is indeed a very prestigious and competitive school. Famous for its flexible Open Curriculum, Brown students enjoy a welcoming and diverse environment while powering through the rigor of the coursework and the responsibility that making significant decisions of one’s education involves. 

Making yourself stand out in the application process won’t be easy, but it will be essential to be one of the few that get accepted. Being constant, motivated, and determined will help you get there; remember to be yourself along the way and show how you’re unique and why you’re a good candidate for Brown University. 

Now that you know all about Brown University and the application process, it’s time for you to get to work. Remember, start early, visualize your goal, and do it! 

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