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How To Get Into Brown: Proven Admission Strategies That Work

27 JUN 2022

Students who attend Brown not only learn from some of the greatest minds in the world, but they also collaborate with these esteemed faculty, addressing some of the most complex challenges facing the world today. Brown students are proud of the school's unique academic opportunities and the freedom it gives them to explore their passions without jeopardizing their education or future career goals. If you dream of a custom, highly-engaging education at Brown, this blog will help you get there. It explains everything you need to know about the application process and tips from our very own Crimson experts to help you stand out from the rest of the competition.


Brown Overview

Brown University is a private Ivy League university based in Providence, Rhode Island. Founded in 1764, Brown is a leading research university known for its innovative educational philosophy and undergraduate Open Curriculum.

Established in 1764 with the granting of the Charter by the Rhode Island General Assembly, it was officially named Brown University in 1804 after the son of a merchant and the college co-founder Nicholas Brown, Sr.

Brown offers undergraduate students an Open Curriculum, enabling them to build a personalized and challenging degree centered around what they love. Students establish their own goals while exploring academic areas that interest them.

How Does Brown's Open Curriculum Work?

For more than 50 years, Brown has utilized an Open Curriculum. Instead of taking a prescribed set of core classes, students are in charge of their education. They create their own experience and define their purpose. The curriculum facilitates learning and allows students to discover who they are and what's meaningful to them.

Brown doesn't offer majors. Instead, students choose from 80+ concentrations. They are required to take courses within their desired concentration but also have the freedom to select classes outside the concentration as well. All of the concentration paths lead to either a bachelor of science or a bachelor of arts degree.

How is Brown's Open Curriculum Different Than A Traditional Curriculum?

Unlike a traditional college path, students don't choose majors and aren't required to take every class (in a formulated order) in a particular degree path. Brown's Open Curriculum allows students to develop a personalized curriculum, giving them the freedom to study what they know they already love while discovering new paths and journeys.

Brown undergraduates also have a unique grading system. Students can take a course for a letter grade (A, B, or C) or choose a Satisfactory (S)/No Credit scale. Professors don't record failing grades, and students do not receive grade point averages either.

This unique system allows students the freedom to take classes that might typically be outside their concentration ("academic risks") without the pressure to make a specific grade in the course.

A Day in the Life: Brown University Student

How Hard Is It To Get Into Brown?

Getting accepted into Brown is extremely difficult. Like most Ivy League universities, Brown receives a record amount of applications and has record-low acceptance rates. The university accepted just 5% of applicants into the Class of 2026!

Brown Acceptance Rates For The Last Five Years

Brown's overall acceptance rate for the Class of 2026 was just 5%, an all-time low. With an average of just 6.18% over the last five years, Brown is one of the most competitive schools in the world. Brown was test-optional for the 2022-2023 application cycle, likely contributing to record-high application numbers and record-low acceptance rates.

Brown Admission Statistics
Head1Total ApplicantsAccepted StudentsAcceptance Rate
Class of 202650,6492,5575.0%
Class of 202546,5682,5375.4%
Class of 202436,7942,5336.9%
Class of 202338,6742,5516.6%
Class of 202235,4382,5667.0%
5 Year Average41,6242,0386.18%

What Kind Of Students Is Brown Looking For?

Since Brown offers a unique curriculum and a distinctive undergraduate experience, the university tends to attract students with unique views, experiences, and perspectives. Brown undergraduates thrive in the Open Curriculum model and believe schools can be both flexible and rigorous. 

Happy and Curious Students

Brown's students are known for their genuine happiness. They are enthusiastic about their academics because they're creating their own paths and taking classes in their most passionate subjects. Students at Brown are less interested in competition and getting ahead and more interested in exploring their passions, hard work, and creativity.  

Trustworthy & Personally Driven Students

Brown believes students should direct their education and gives them the freedom to build a personalized curriculum that fits their personal and professional career goals. Brown trusts that students know themselves best and will create a successful educational experience using the abundant resources available through the university.

Relaxed & Easy-Going Students

Even though Brown's curriculum and courses are challenging, it doesn't seem to affect the overall "vibe" on campus. Most Brown students describe themselves as easy-going and relaxed. 

Defining a typical Brown student is challenging because each student's experience is based on their intellectual journey. What does set them apart from other top universities is that Brown students are naturally curious about the world and have a strong desire to make a difference in their immediate community and around the world. 

College acceptance calculator

Brown Application Requirements

The Brown admissions team doesn't look for students who fit specific criteria. They look for students with unique talents and accomplishments. They want to admit students with energy and curiosity, especially those with fresh perspectives on the world around them. 

What application system does Brown use?

Brown only accepts The Common Application, and all students must apply through this application. 

Application Sections

Students must include the following sections within the Common Application:

  • General information related to all schools to which you are applying
  • Brown University-specific questions
  • Forms submitted by your school counselor and academic instructors

Us Application Ebook Banner

Brown GPA Requirements

Brown doesn't specify a minimum GPA, but most accepted students rank at the top of their high school graduating class. While grades are only one part of the application, they are still important. Admissions officers want to see students take challenging courses that enhance their educational journey, and they also want to see students commit to their coursework and learning experiences.

In general, a Brown student's average high school GPA is about 4.1. To get this GPA, students need nearly straight A's. They should also take AP or IB classes to show they can challenge themselves beyond the average requirements. If they do not have these grades, they should consider taking the SAT or ACT to help compensate for the grades.

Brown SAT/ACT Requirements

The SAT and ACTs were test-optional for the 2022-2023 admissions cycle. The university evaluates the test-optional policy each year using data and research they gather about the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on academic outcomes. The test-optional policy gets updated regularly, so check the website for updates.

Brown emphasizes that students who do not submit test scores will not be disadvantaged during the admissions process. The admissions team takes a holistic approach when reviewing applications, and they look at all parts of the application, including grades, academic rigor, letters of recommendation, extracurricular activities, and essays. While standardized tests are informative, they are only one piece of the picture.

If students choose to submit test scores, they can self-report them or send them officially to Brown. Brown has no minimum or cutoff scores required for admissions.

What SAT Score do you need for Brown?

While Brown doesn't have a minimum SAT requirements, a Brown student's average SAT score is about 1485.

What ACT Score do you need for Brown?

Brown doesn't specify an ACT minimum, but most applicants score between 33 and 35 on their ACT.

Further Reading

College acceptance calculator

Personal Essay and Brown Supplemental Essay Questions

To apply to Brown, students must complete the personal essay found in the Common Application.

Brown also requires applicants to complete supplemental essay questions.

Brown Supplemental Essay Questions

  • 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)
  • 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? (200-250 words)
  • 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)

Check out our guide on how to answer the Brown Supplemental Essays!

The Essay That Got Me Into Brown University

Extracurricular Activities For Brown

Passion and dedication reign at Brown. You'll likely fit into the Brown community if you're passionate about a particular subject or career area. When applying to Brown, your extracurriculars should align with your passion. If you join a club only because you want to add it to your extracurriculars list, Brown admissions will see right through that. Brown cares more about the quality of your involvement than the number of activities.

If you already know the career path you hope to take, try choosing extracurriculars that fit into that. For example, consider volunteering at an animal shelter if you want to become a veterinarian. Suppose you're interested in media. Consider interning at your local news station. If you connect your passions with your career path, Brown admissions will not only see your dedication to a particular activity, but they will also see your thoughtful approach to choosing extracurriculars in the areas you love.

Brown also likes to see you take leadership roles in your extracurriculars. You don't have to be the organization's president to show leadership. Leading an initiative or fundraiser for the group also shows leadership. If your high school or community doesn't offer a club or organization specific to your passions, start one! Taking the initiative is another form of leadership.

Additionally, if your extracurriculars help you make your community stronger or improve the lives of people around you, don't forget to note that on your application. The Brown admissions officers love to see you follow your dreams and help others simultaneously.

How to Build an Extracurricular Profile for US Uni's

Applying to Brown As An International Student

About 15% of Brown students come from abroad. If you're applying as an international student, you'll use the same application as US students and indicate your citizenship status according to the passport you plan to use when entering the US. 

English Language Proficiency Exam Requirements

Although Brown doesn't require an English proficiency examination for admission, you must be able to understand English in the classroom, express your thoughts quickly and clearly in spoken and written English, and read English easily. 

Brown recommends all international students take the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL), the International English Language Testing System (IELTS), or the Duolingo exams.

Brown Application Deadlines

Brown offers two application programs: Early Decision and Regular Decision. You should only apply during the early decision round if Brown is your first choice, and you will accept the offer of admission if admitted.

Brown Early Action & Regular Action Application Deadline
Early DecisionRegular Decision
Apply by November 1stApply by January 5th

3 Proven Tips On How To Increase Your Chances Of Getting Into Brown

1. Apply Early

Simply put, fewer students apply early. Statistically speaking, if you apply early, you have a higher chance of acceptance. But, you should only apply early to Brown if it's your first-choice school, and you must commit to attending Brown if you're admitted.

2. Find Your Community (And Get Involved!)

Community is an essential aspect of life at Brown. Brown students have the freedom to define what community means to them and build their world around that community. Admissions officers want to see that you already have a strong interest in your community and are getting involved in the areas you love most. Use the extracurricular and essay sections of the application to talk about your involvement in the community and what community means to you.

3. Learn Everything You Can About The Open Curriculum

Brown's Open Curriculum is unique to the school, and no other Ivy League offers anything like it. Show your excitement by learning about its history, unique opportunities, challenges, and how you hope to navigate the ambiguity of life at Brown. Talk to students and alumni about their experience with the Open Curriculum and how they benefitted from the freedom to build their own career paths. By researching the school and its unique qualities, you'll show admissions officers how much you love the school and how well you'll fit into the community.

How I Got Into Brown University

Increase Your Chances Of Getting Into Brown With Crimson Pathfinder

Applying to Brown takes time, planning, effort, and patience. It's easy to overlook a step or miss a deadline.

Crimson recently released Pathfinder - a comprehensive in-app tool that helps you stay on track but helps you quantify the value of activities you do in preparation to apply to US universities.

Contained within the Crimson app, Pathfinder is a master list of everything you can do during school to increase your chances of admission to Brown. Pathfinder includes over 280 goals, each with an assigned point value based on how much admissions officers will value that achievement.

Pathfinder ensures you stay on track between now and applying to a university. It accurately predicts your admission results (based on your achievements). Combined with guidance from your personalized strategist, you'll become a master of your US university applications!

Introduction to Crimson Pathfinder

Is Brown Right For You?

Brown is full of curious, intellectual, and free spirits, and students are as diverse as the Open Curriculum. Students who attend Brown are accomplished and passionate about their interests and celebrate each other's interests. Brown students don't fit a mold. Instead, they prefer to follow their own paths and expand their perspectives.

The students who do best at Brown are self-directed and not overly concerned about competing with each other. They understand everyone is on an educational journey, and they respect each other's journeys.

If this sounds like you, then you should definitely apply to Brown. But remember, only a small percentage of applicants get into Brown. Don't be discouraged if you don't get accepted. Some of the world's most brilliant and talented students do not get into this Ivy League school. Consider another school in the Ivy League or one of the top schools in the University of California system.

Make sure you have a solid list of safety, target, and reach schools that fit your academic and career objectives.

How Crimson Can Help Your Brown Application Stand Out

Many Crimson strategists graduated from Ivy League schools, including Brown. Some of our elite team came from higher education backgrounds, including professors, administration, and even admissions officers.

Our strategists chose to be part of Crimson's team because they want to see you succeed! They get to know you, what areas you struggle with, which advanced placement courses you should take, and which extracurriculars work well with your career path. They guide you through the application process and help you decide how many colleges you should apply to.

Mason is one of Crimson's top strategists, and here are four of his top tips for making your Brown application stand out.

  1. Build your profile to a high level of accomplishment in whatever area you excel at, especially showing yourself as a leader in your field.
  2. Focus on giving back to the community through high-impact activities.
  3. Strive for 10's across the board: A 10 is the highest possible level of accomplishment. Do your best to level up as much as possible in your high school career.
  4. Take the time to research Brown before answering the supplemental questions. SHOW rather than tell why you're a good fit for Brown and how you'll contribute to the campus community.

Crimson offers a wide range of educational support services that will help you tailor your education and application to align with Brown’s mission and requirements. From online tutoring and extracurricular mentoring to essay review and even postgraduate admissions, Crimson can help you get into Brown. Our admissions support team walks with you through the application process.

Final Thoughts

Brown's application review process focuses on each student's achievements in the context of what's available to them. They are reviewed based on each student’s accomplishments and potential for success. Admissions are not looking for a "perfect" student.

Don't apply to Brown if you don't like the idea of the Open Curriculum or the idea of creating your own educational path. Brown students consider this process fun and enjoy taking classes in subjects they are passionate about and love. If you prefer a guided list of courses with a clear graduation timeline, you might want to consider one of the more traditional Ivy League schools.

Brown is a tough school, but it's also a fun school! If you dream of attending Brown, don't let the low admissions rate scare you. Crimson can help you get into your dream school. We are the world's leading university admissions support company, helping students gain entry to some of the world's most competitive universities. Crimson students are 4x more likely to be admitted to top universities like Brown. Learn more through our Admissions Support program.

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