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How to Get Into Brown University: All You Need to Know

Friday, October 28, 2022

As a leading research university and a member of the Ivy League, it’s easy to see why many students have their sights set on Brown University. The school has many top-tier programs, in addition to a dual degree program with neighboring Rhode Island School of Design.

Since Brown University has a stellar reputation and receives thousands of applicants each year, students must go the extra mile to get a seat in the upcoming class. Read on to learn the best practices that applicants can utilize to increase their chances of admission and  what sets Brown University apart.

How to Get Into Brown University: Table of Contents

  1. When to Apply to Brown University
  2. How Hard Is It to Get Into Brown: Early Prep 
  3. How to Actually Get Into Brown: The Application
  4. Class Profile 
  5. What Makes Brown University Unique?

When to Apply to Brown University

The first step to applying to the university is to review the Brown application timeline and make sure you’re prepared to meet every admissions milestone. Like most top-tier colleges in the United States, Brown University utilizes a holistic admissions process that requires students to complete various steps and submit different materials on specific timelines. Here is an overview of the Brown University admissions process and dates to be aware of:

Brown Application Deadlines

Brown’s application deadlines vary slightly from year to year, but generally occur around the same time during the academic calendar. For students applying during the 2022-2023 admissions cycle, the major application deadlines are as follows:

  • Early Decision application deadline: November 1 (11:59 p.m. applicant’s local time)
  • Early Decision letters available online: Mid December
  • Regular Decision application deadline: January 5 (11:59 p.m. applicant’s local time)
  • Regular Decision letters available online: March 31
  • Commitment deadline for Regular Decision candidates: May 1

As you review Brown University’s admissions timeline, it’s important to keep in mind that Brown offers two different admissions options: Early Decision and Regular Decision. Students who choose to commit to Brown through the binding Early Decision process will need to complete their application by early November. These students will get their admission status by mid December. Applicants who opt for the Regular Decision round will need to submit their materials by early January and will hear back from Brown by late March. These students will also need to decide whether they wish to commit to the college by the beginning of May.

Early, Rolling and Regular Decision

As students enter high school, they may start hearing about different application processes, such as early action vs rolling admission. While much of the application process will be similar regardless of your timeline, it’s important to understand the distinct differences between early, rolling, and regular decision admissions options. 

There are two different forms of early admissions: Early Action and Early Decision. The key differentiator between the two is that Early Decision is binding, meaning that if a student applies to a college early decision and they are admitted, they must enroll. Meanwhile, Early Action admission is not binding. Another early action admission type is Restrictive Early Action, though Brown University does not offer this option. Restrictive Early Action stipulates that students cannot apply to any other private college through an early admissions program. Generally speaking, most Early Decision and Early Action deadlines are in the beginning of November, with decisions released approximately one month later in early-to-mid December. 

In contrast, rolling admissions do not follow a strict deadline. Most schools that offer a rolling admissions (RA) option accept applications from September through May. Despite this flexibility, it is still best to submit your application as early as possible, since RA schools only accept students until they reach their enrollment capacity. Brown University does not offer rolling admissions. 

Finally, universities offer a regular round admissions option. Students who apply via the regular round generally need to submit their applications by early January and they learn of their admissions results in April. Brown University does offer a regular round admissions option.

Waitlisted Applications

Given how competitive it is to get into Brown University, it’s not surprising that the college generally waitlists a portion of its applicants. The waitlist is composed of exceptionally strong and distinguished applicants; the college just doesn’t have enough room to admit every single qualified student that applies. Waitlisted students find out that they have been waitlisted when Brown releases its regular decision results. Then, students have the option to choose whether they wish to remain on the waitlist or not. It’s important to note that admissions waitlists are not ranked; instead, Brown admits students off of the waitlist according to institutional needs and to ensure that the upcoming class is balanced. 

Students who apply Early Decision cannot get waitlisted. However, these students may be deferred, which means that their application is moved for further consideration during the regular decision round. Students receive their final admission decisions when regular admission decisions are released in March. Many students want to know what to do if they have been deferred. The first step is to determine whether or not Brown University is still your first choice college. If so, it’s important to find out what materials the school needs from you, if any, (such as an updated transcript) and send them out as soon as possible.

How Hard Is It to Get Into Brown: Early Prep

Brown University is one of the most prestigious colleges in the country. Every year, thousands of applicants apply and only a small percentage of these students are offered a seat in Brown’s incoming class. While admission to Brown is notoriously competitive, students can increase their chances of admission by preparing well in advance and doing their research to become experts on the school. 

Build Your Profile

Because Brown University receives an influx of applications each year, students should understand what the university is looking for in order to position themselves to stand out from the crowd. Academic performance carries the most weight in Brown University’s admissions process. Brown’s admissions officers will affirm intellectually curious students who demonstrate an ongoing commitment to challenging themselves and expanding their horizons. Brown University’s website states that Brown University expects students to take a minimum of four academically challenging courses per semester and that a fifth course is preferable. Their website also states that students should take a broad range of classes, including four years of English and math, as well as three to four years of science, history, social studies, and foreign languages. 

In addition to academic excellence, Brown University is interested in applicants who have pursued passions and interests throughout high school. Brown refers to majors as “concentrations” and the university asks applicants to identify their top choice-concentrations on their application. While Brown acknowledges that some students may not be ready to commit to a particular area of study, the institution asks applicants to list their top choice concentrations in order to learn about their academic interests and goals.  

Throughout the application, students should include what they are passionate about, what they’ve done to pursue these passions throughout high school, and how attending Brown University will help them take these pursuits to the next level. Students should include writing that spotlights their academic interests as well as extracurricular activities that are meaningful to them. Rather than trying to pad their application with as many activities as possible, applicants should highlight a handful of interests and activities that they genuinely care about and that they have dedicated a significant amount of time to. 

Visit the Campus and a Class

If you’re eager to attend Brown University, visiting the campus is one of the best things you can do to convey your interest. Registering for a campus tour is a powerful way to demonstrate your interest in attending the college, which is something admissions officers consider during their application reviews. If possible, see if you can sit in on a class to get a taste of the lecture or discussion experience and make sure to spend several hours walking around to get a feel for the campus.

Connect With a Student

In addition to touring the campus, it can be helpful to get a student’s perspective on their experience at Brown University. If you have any friends or acquaintances that are currently enrolled, don’t hesitate to reach out to get your burning questions answered. You may also reach out to the admissions office and ask them to put you in touch with a current student with similar interests.

Learn About Any Student Experiences

When you’re touring Brown, your tour guide will likely be a current student. If you have the opportunity to ask your guide a few questions, use this as another chance to learn directly about the student experience.

How Do You Actually Get Into Brown: The Application 

Here’s the bad news: there is no magic trick or tried-and-true strategy that will guarantee you admission to Brown University. The good news: there are several steps you can take to increase your odds of admission and set yourself apart for all of the right reasons. 

GPA Requirements

Brown University doesn’t have a required minimum high school GPA for admission. However, the university emphasizes that academic excellence carries the most weight in the admissions process. 95% of admitted students graduated in the top 10% of their high school class, so it is safe to say that most students who are admitted to Brown have strong GPAs. 

SAT and ACT Scores

Much like GPAs, there’s no minimum SAT or ACT score that students must achieve to apply to Brown. However, the middle 50 percent of admitted students scored between 1500 and 1570 on the Composite SAT and the middle 50 percent of admitted students scored between 33 and 36 on the ACT. The best thing you can do to do well on the SAT or ACT is to begin preparing many months before your testing date through self-study, tutoring, and practice exams.

Personal Statement

The personal statement is an opportunity to demonstrate both your writing skills and the qualities that set you apart from other applicants. Students can choose from a handful of different essay prompts and must write an essay that is between 250 and 650 words long. Instead of worrying about what you “should” sound like, it’s best to focus on letting your authentic voice and unique personality shine through. 


In addition to the Common App essay prompts, the university asks you to answer three Brown supplemental essay questions to learn more about your interests and the role you would play on campus. Each response must be between 200 and 250 words. The questions are as follows:

  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.
  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 as 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?
  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.

Students applying to the Brown|RISD Dual Degree Program with Rhode Island School of Design must answer one question:

  1. The Brown|RISD Dual Degree Program draws on the complementary strengths of Brown University and Rhode Island School of Design (RISD) to provide students with the opportunity to explore diverse spheres of academic and creative inquiry, culminating in a capstone project that interrelates the content, approaches, and methods from two distinct learning experiences.

    Based on your understanding of the academic programs at Brown and RISD and the possibilities created by the BRDD program’s broadened learning community, specifically describe how and why the BRDD program would constitute an optimal undergraduate education for you. As part of your answer, be sure to articulate how you might contribute to the Dual Degree community and its commitment to interdisciplinary work. (650 word limit)

Letters of Recommendation

Brown University requests two letters of recommendation and will accept up to four, in addition to a required counselor letter of recommendation. Teacher recommendations should highlight your love of learning and the impact you have on the classroom. The statement from your counselor can speak to your character and how you interact with the community at large. Since most teachers and counselors will get an influx of requests for letters of recommendation, aim to ask your instructors by the end of your junior year so that they have plenty of time to draft their letters.

Admission Interviews

In years past, students had the option to interview with Brown alumni as a way to learn more about the school and tell the university more about themselves. However, Brown recently announced that they are no longer offering interviews. Instead, applicants are encouraged to consider submitting a two-minute video in which they introduce themselves to the Brown admissions office.

Contribution to the Brown Community

Brown University admissions officers are eager to admit applicants who will make a lasting impact on the Brown community. Throughout every component of your application process, including supplemental essays and videos, make sure to highlight your goals and the role you would take on once enrolled at Brown University. Don’t shy away from specific details; it’s best to name specific clubs you wish to join, classes you’re excited to take, and research opportunities that you would be enthusiastic to take part in.

Class Profile 

Acceptance rate  5.23%
Class size 2,557
Undergraduate majors Computer science, Econometrics and Quantitative Economics, Biology/Biological Sciences

As you’re learning about how to get into Brown University, don’t forget to review the university’s class profile. Every school includes slightly different information in their class profile, but almost all class profiles highlight the college’s most recent acceptance rate, class size, and the majors that the college is best known for. This information can help you get a sense of a college’s admissions standards and assess your chances of admission.

What Makes Brown University Unique?

There are plenty of differentiators that make Brown University unique. The university is known for its Open Curriculum, which allows you to develop a personalized course of study. As opposed to many other colleges, Brown does not have a set of core courses or course requirements that all students must complete. Instead, their Open Curriculum provides greater freedom for you to study what you choose, as well as the flexibility for you to discover what you love. 

In addition to choosing your own classes, there is no shortage of options when it comes to extracurricular activities. Brown University has more than 400 student organizations, from the Debating Club to the Outdoor Leadership Team to the Sustainable Food Initiative. Brown also has an array of athletic offerings, including 34 varsity sports teams and 25 intramural sports options. 

The university also hosts some must-see destinations. Brown is home to the John D. Rockefeller Library, as well as the John Carter Brown Library, an independent center for advanced research in history and the humanities. Students will also be close to the RISD Museum in Providence, which houses an amazing collection of art and design from around the world. It’s one of the largest university art collections in the country.

Additionally, many notable alumni from Brown have made their mark in politics, business, the media, and the arts. 

Admission Consulting

Most students and families can benefit from college admissions counseling, especially if they’re interested in gaining admission to a top-tier college like Brown University. Working with an admissions counselor gives students the chance to receive personalized guidance throughout every step of the application process, including compiling a balanced college list and brainstorming for their personal statement. 

Before committing to the invaluable experience of working with a college admissions counselor, it’s important to assess whether you’re ready to give the admissions process your all. To make the most of college counseling, students must be engaged in the process and excited about their academic future. It’s also important to select a college admissions counselor who is accredited, qualified, and has ample admissions experience. Do plenty of research so you can pick an admissions counselor who brings out the best in you. Needless to say, it can be tough to gain admission to Brown University. That’s why IvyWise admission experts are here to help. Take the first step towards getting into your dream school and schedule an Initial Consultation.


Related Topics

Choosing a College, College Prep
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