How to Get Into Brown University 2024

Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island, is the seventh-oldest higher-education institution in the United States and a member of the prestigious Ivy League. Its programme of study is wide-ranging and intensive, and Brown’s alumni have gone on to achieve great success in the fields of entertainment and business, science and politics.

If you’re thinking of applying to Brown, this is a guide to maximising your chances of success. 

Research Most Competitive Courses at Brown University 

Typically, an American university offers a broader curriculum than one in the United Kingdom. Students in the US take classes in a wide range of courses before choosing the subject in which they want to specialise.

Say that you’re passionate about studying history. At an American university, you’ll study courses in mathematics, science and so forth, before your focus narrows as a student of history.

At most American universities, this specialist subject is called a ‘major’. At Brown, it’s known as a ‘concentration’. 

Before you decide on your preferred concentration, you’ll sample a range of courses through a personalised study programme that you’ll build yourself. This is called the Open Curriculum.

When you apply to Brown, you’ll be asked which concentration you’re thinking of studying. It’s useful therefore to do some research into how heavily subscribed each of these courses is and what they involve. This research will give you some idea of the scale of the challenge ahead of you. 

Brown offers more than 80 courses, any one of which can be your concentration. These include Contemplative Studies, Data Fluency and Entrepreneurship, as well as more familiar academic subjects. You can spend a fascinating few days researching the full range of options on offer – we recommend you do so!

However, don’t be tempted to pick a less heavily subscribed course if you’re not passionate about that subject. Your choice of concentration won’t determine the success of your application, nor are the staff at Brown looking to fill a quota of applicants for each concentration.

Meet Brown University’s Entry Requirements 

Brown attracts applicants who have achieved the very highest grades throughout their time at school. However, you don’t have to have achieved specific grades in order to be offered a place there. What’s more, Brown’s staff knows that applicants across the globe will have had very different experiences of secondary education. (About 14% of students at Brown have been educated outside the USA.)

However, all successful applicants will have done the following:

1. Shown that they’re eager to rise to academic challenges in a variety of subjects.

2. Achieved excellent grades throughout their years in school.

3. Made significant contributions to the co-curricular life of their school.

If you’re serious about studying at Brown, you need to show evidence of this dedication and achievement throughout your years at high school.

Choosing the right combination of subjects at school will therefore maximise your chances of success.

If you’re a student in the UK, you should take GCSEs in English Literature, Maths, Biology, Chemistry, Physics, History and at least one additional language which you will continue studying in the sixth-form. This is not an exhaustive list – feel free to study any other subject which makes you passionate.

When planning what to study at A Level, choose a broad range of challenging subjects, including Maths, a language and a science. 

A student, for example, who takes A Levels in English Literature, French, History, Maths and Physics is likely to have developed a clear idea of the demands of studying at a university such as Brown. Brown’s website also cites Economics and Politics as useful subjects to have studied.

Scoring consistently outstanding grades in these subjects is an essential element of a successful application.   

Brown also expects students to be proficient users of English. If English isn’t your first language, it’s worth taking a test to demonstrate your competence in the language. Brown recognises the following test scores as minimum indicators of an applicant’s proficiency in English:

  • Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) – 105
  • International English Testing System (IELTS) – 8.0
  • 130 in the Duolingo English Test

Prepare Your Application Documents 

As with most US universities, Brown receives applications via the Common Application website, usually referred to as the ‘Common App’. Here you’ll submit information about yourself that will be read by the admissions staff at all the universities to which you’re applying.

Like many universities in the US, Brown operates an Early Decision system. This means that, if you have your heart set on Brown and Brown alone, you can send in your application to meet an earlier deadline. In 2023, this was November 1st. If you are successful in your Early Decision application, you are then committed to enrolling at Brown.

You can also apply for what’s called a Regular Decision, the deadline for which was on January 3rd in 2023

If you’re applying to Brown for an Early Decision, it is even more important that you start preparing  the following documents at the earliest opportunity. 

Personal Statement 

The Common App requires you to complete a personal statement, usually referred to as an ‘essay’, which will be read by admissions staff at all your chosen universities, including Brown. 

Your essay will respond to one of seven ‘prompts’ listed on the Common App form. These prompts ask you to reflect on your experiences, beliefs and values or demonstrate your intellectual curiosity. Prompts for applicants in 2023-4 included:

  • Reflect on a time when you questioned or challenged a belief or idea. What prompted your thinking? What was the outcome?
  • Discuss an accomplishment, event, or realization that sparked a period of personal growth and a new understanding of yourself or others. 
  • Describe a topic, idea, or concept you find so engaging that it makes you lose all track of time. Why does it captivate you? What or who do you turn to when you want to learn more?

Your response to one of these prompts will be between 250 and 650 words long. We recommend that your essay’s word-count is near the upper limit of this range.

This essay may be short, but writing it is no easy matter.

Take the second question in the list above. There will likely be several events in your life that have caused you to develop as a person. Choosing the one which best demonstrates your intellect and maturity is going to be time-consuming so it’s best you start drafting your response at an early stage. 

Working out precisely how this experience has changed you is also going to take time. You will need to plan, draft, re-draft and proofread your essay to ensure that it’s an honest, detailed and precise account of your experience. Start considering what you’ll write as soon as possible.

Two notes of caution: this is a personal essay so don’t be tempted to model your response on those of others. Similarly, don’t be tempted to use AI to generate material. The staff at Brown are interested in you as an individual.

As well as completing the forms on the Common App, you’ll also answer a number of questions that require short answers and which are specific to Brown. These include three essays of 200-250 words which ask you to reflect on aspects of your personality, your values and your enthusiasms. They also include four questions that require shorter answers still – for example, being asked to describe yourself in three words. All these questions are available to read on Brown’s website.

If you’re a prospective medical student, applying for Brown’s Program in Liberal Medical Education, you will answer three additional, subject-specific questions on Brown’s website.

Letters of Recommendation 

As soon as you’re sure that you wish to apply to Brown, notify your teachers and tutors at school and let them know the relevant deadlines. The Common App will ask for their details so they can provide letters recommending you as a student.

You’ll be required to submit a recommendation from what is known as a Counselor who will provide information about your academic record and your contribution to school life. (If you study outside the US, you might not know this term. Your Counselor will be a member of staff who knows you well: s/he might be the headteacher or head of sixth-form)

They will also supply details of your academic achievements in a document known as a ‘transcript’. It’s important that they submit a transcript for every secondary school you’ve attended so Brown can see evidence of your high achievement across several years.

Brown also asks for recommendations from two teachers who have taught you for science, mathematics, social science, a foreign language or English.

The longer your teachers have to think about how they word their recommendations, the more detailed, precise and impressive they are likely to be!

Sit the Entrance Exams 

As of the 2023-24 admissions cycle, Brown University did not require entrance exams such as the SAT or ACT for applicants. However, this policy is set to change in the near future. 

Starting with the incoming classes of fall 2025, Brown will once again require prospective students to submit their SAT or ACT scores as part of the application process. This update marks a return to traditional admission requirements, aligning with many other universities and colleges in the United States that use these standardised tests to assess the academic preparedness of applicants. 

For students applying from outside the United States, it’s important to note that the SAT and ACT are critical components of the application to many American institutions of higher learning.

Attend Your Interview 

Brown no longer interviews its applicants. 

Instead, you’re encouraged to upload a two-minute video, introducing yourself and explaining your interest in studying at Brown.

This may seem a bit daunting but don’t worry. This isn’t an exercise in flaunting your prowess as a film director, nor does Brown’s staff have rigid, narrow expectations as to its content. Admissions tutors will use this video to get a sense of who you are as an individual student. 

To help you with this, Brown’s website contains some useful prompts, similar to those you’ll use in your essays. These include:

  • Describe how you were influenced by a book that changed your perspective.
  • Tell us about your favourite time of day.

These will give your video a topic-based focus and allow you to shine as an individual.

If you’re unsure where to start, this YouTube tutorial features some excellent advice from students at Brown about how to make the video.

Video Introduction: Do’s & Don’ts ( 

Apply for Scholarships and Financial Aid 

Brown prides itself on having met 100% of its student’s need-based financial aid: 52% of the class of 2027 received some form of need-based financial aid.

If you need financial aid in order to study at Brown, you should indicate this on your application form.

If you are a US Citizen or permanent resident, you can apply for federal aid at You should also register on the College Scholarship Services Profile. Registering for both of these services allows the staff at Brown to determine your financial needs.

The financial aid system varies for international students, so please visit the site below for further details.

Financial Aid Undergraduate | Brown University 

Top Tips for Getting into Brown University

  1. Begin the process early. Academic choices that you make aged thirteen or fourteen will boost your chances of making a successful application!
  2. Set yourself the highest standards across all your academic subjects. Brown is looking for students who can demonstrate years of consistently excellent achievement across a range of disciplines.
  3. Think carefully about the subject on which you want to concentrate; visit the pages of the relevant academic departments on Brown’s website to get a sense of what each one offers. You may chance upon a fascinating subject that you never knew existed.
  4. Keep reading widely beyond the school syllabus, challenging yourself by reading about unfamiliar subjects. 
  5. Discuss your application with teachers at your school at the earliest possible opportunity: make sure that they know what they have to do to support you in your application. 
  6. Keep a list of relevant deadlines pinned to your noticeboard; start every phase of the application well in advance of any deadline.
  7. Take time to plan, draft and re-draft the essays that you are going to submit. They might be short but they need to be meticulously organised and the products of careful thought. 
  8. Throw yourself into the co-curricular life of your school. Unlike the most competitive British universities, the best American universities place much higher value on applicants who contribute to school life beyond the classroom. 


  1. What is the Brown University acceptance rate?

Brown accepted 5.0% of applicants for the class of 2027. Its Program of Liberal Medical Education accepted 1.3% of applicants.

  1. Is Brown University a good university?

Brown has an excellent reputation. It is extremely competitive and attracts some of the finest minds from across the world. Brown is ranked 9th among the 439 National Universities in the USA. It boasts an 81% admission rate for its students who go on to apply to medical school and the same figure for those applying to law school.

Brown also boasts excellent levels of student satisfaction. The last recorded survey in 2018 showed 96% were satisfied with their overall experience at Brown.

Is Brown University a Russell Group / Ivy League university?

Brown is an Ivy League university.

  1. How hard is it to get into Brown University?

This is a difficult question to answer succinctly! As the 5% undergraduate acceptance rate indicates, Brown is very heavily subscribed, and successful applicants will boast track records of academic excellence. To put this into the context of other prestigious American universities, 3.41% of applicants were accepted at Harvard and 5.7% at Princeton for the classes of 2027.

  1. Does Brown University give contextual offers?

Brown recognises that academic opportunities vary significantly across the globe and considers all applicants within the context from which they are applying. 15% of Brown’s students are the first members of their family to have attended university, and 22% are from historically under-represented groups.

It does not, however, use any kind of quota-based system when selecting its students.

Getting Into Brown University: The Verdict 

Brown University sets high academic standards, and competition for places is very intense. Brown does, however, pride itself on its inclusiveness and, if you are committed to embarking on an intense, stimulating programme of academic challenge, Brown University will welcome your application.

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