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Brown University is a nonprofit, leading Ivy League institution and the only major research university in the nation where undergraduates are the architects of their own course of study. Brown is distinguished by its unique undergraduate academic program — defined by its Open Curriculum — a world-class faculty, outstanding graduate and medical students, and a tradition of innovative and rigorous education that crosses and transcends fields of study.

The University’s mission — to serve the community, the nation, and the world by educating and preparing students (in the words of the College charter) to “discharge the offices of life with usefulness and reputation” — is fulfilled through strong faculty-student collaboration.

The seventh oldest university in America, Brown was established in 1764 as Rhode Island College in the town of Warren, Rhode Island, and enrolled its first students in 1765. In 1770 the College moved to its present location, and in 1804 it was renamed Brown University to honor a $5,000 donation from local merchant Nicholas Brown. Today the University’s main campus covers nearly 150 acres in the historic College Hill neighborhood overlooking downtown Providence, a vibrant city of some 190,000 people and the capital of Rhode Island. Brown’s campus in the Jewelry District is home to the Warren Alpert Medical School, Laboratories for Molecular Medicine, School of Professional Studies and South Street Landing, which houses more than a dozen administrative departments.

Brown draws students from all over the United States and many other countries, distinguished by their academic excellence, creativity, self-direction, and  leadership. With its student-centered approach to education, the University attracts leading faculty known both for prize-winning scholarship and research and also dedication to teaching. By providing rich undergraduate and graduate experiences, together with strong programs in medicine, public health and professional studies, the University fosters internal and external discovery at every level of the academic enterprise.

Brown is internationally known for its dynamic Open Curriculum for undergraduates, implemented by faculty vote in 1969. Undergraduates must pass 30 courses and complete the requirements for a concentration, or major, in order to receive a bachelor’s degree. The curriculum does not require distribution or core courses outside the concentration. More than 2,000 undergraduate courses support more than 80 concentrations, many of them interdisciplinary, and a wide variety of independent studies.

Three basic principles lie at the heart of the Open Curriculum: that students are active participants in learning; that acquiring analytical and critical skills is as important as mastering factual knowledge; and that learning requires opportunities for experimentation and synthesis that crosses boundaries that typically separate fields of study.

More than 3,500 graduate and medical students comprise approximately one third of the University’s total student population. Through the Graduate School, Brown offers more than 50 doctoral programs and more than 30 master’s programs across the life and physical sciences, social sciences, arts and humanities. An executive MBA is offered through the School of Professional Studies in partnership with the IE Business School in Madrid Spain. Across this wide range of doctoral, master’s and professional degree programs, students and faculty work together to shape rigorous, research-based experiences that respect and develop each student’s interests and ideas in ways that ultimately advance the trajectory of their careers.

The Warren Alpert Medical School, which awarded its first M.D. degrees in 1975, promotes the health of individuals and communities through education, research, and excellence in clinical practice. Warren Alpert is the only medical school in the state of Rhode Island and enrolls almost 600 students, most of whom are accepted through Brown’s unique Program in Liberal Medical Education (PLME), which combines undergraduate study with professional studies in medicine. The School of Public Health of Brown University is also the only such school in the state, training future public health leaders and advancing knowledge on pressing health challenges facing society, while enhancing population health and well-being.

In 2014, upon the close of the celebration of Brown’s 250th anniversary, the University launched an ambitious plan to recruit and retain more of the world’s top students and scholars; build resources to make Brown a leader in key areas of research, innovation and scholarship; catalyze entrepreneurship; improve the physical campus; amplify the student-athlete experience; and ensure students from all backgrounds can thrive at Brown. Arising from this extensive program of improvements, Brown launched an action plan to create a more diverse and inclusive campus, removed all loans from undergraduate financial aid packaged by the University, and implemented initiatives supporting the success of students inside and outside the classroom. In addition, a sustainability plan integrates research to train the next generation of climate action leaders.

Brown University is accredited by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges. In addition, the Warren Alpert Medical School is accredited by the Liaison Committee on Medical Education, and the School of Public Health is accredited by the Council on Education for Public Health. The School of Engineering has received accreditation from the Engineering Accreditation Commission of the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology for its bachelor of science programs in biomedical, chemical, computer, electrical, environmental, materials, and mechanical engineering. Within each of these concentration programs there are several options, each of which is accredited.

Academic Freedom

Consonant with Brown’s tradition concerning academic freedom, the faculty and Corporation, in 1966, adopted the following statement of principles:

Academic freedom is essential to the function of education and to the pursuit of scholarship in universities.

Therefore, Brown University, mindful of its historic commitment to scholarship and to the free exchange of ideas, affirms that faculty and students alike shall enjoy full freedom in their teaching, learning, and research.

Brown University also affirms that faculty and students shall have freedom of religious belief, of speech, of press, of association and assembly, of political activity inside and outside the University, the right to petition the authorities, public and university, to invite speakers of their choice to the campus, and that students and faculty as such should not be required to take any oath not required of other citizens. The time, place, and manner of exercising these rights on campus shall be subject to reasonable regulation only to prevent interference with the normal functions of the University.

Nondiscrimination and Anti-Harassment Policy

Brown University’s mission is “to serve the community, the nation, and the world by discovering, communicating, and preserving knowledge and understanding in a spirit of free inquiry, and by educating and preparing students to discharge the offices of life with usefulness and reputation.” This mission compels the University to create and maintain an environment that is free of any form of discrimination or harassment that is based upon a person’s race, color, religion, sex, age, national or ethnic origin – including actual or perceived shared ancestry or ethnic characteristics or citizenship or residency in a country with a dominant religion or distinct religious identity – disability, veteran status, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, or any other characteristic protected under applicable law, and caste, which is protected under The Corporation of Brown University’s Policy Statement on Equal Opportunity, Nondiscrimination and Affirmative Action. The University prohibits discrimination, harassment, or retaliation against individuals who report discrimination or harassment.

For more information about the nondiscrimination and anti-harassment policy, please visit

The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974

The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974 (P.L. 93–380) extends to a student the right of access to his or her education records maintained at the University. Education records are those records maintained by or for Brown University that directly relate to an individual who is or has been in attendance (enrolled) at Brown University and for whom Brown maintains educational records. Information and notification as to the type of record; the accessibility of and policies for maintaining, reviewing and expunging the record; and the procedure for inspecting, reviewing, obtaining copies of, or challenging the record are established and promulgated by the appropriate executive officers. Further information may be obtained on the Office of the Registrar's website. For the University's complete definition of directory information and disclosure please visit


Brown University often captures photographic images and video of campus life, events, ceremonies, and other activities to advance the mission of the institution. The University is not prohibited from capturing and using student images through photography or video for University purposes unless a student has requested that the University maintain the confidentiality of that student’s directory information, per FERPA. Students enrolled at Brown University who do not request directory withholding authorize the non-commercial use and reproduction by the University, or parties authorized by the University, of any photographs taken while at Brown without compensation. 

Faculty, staff, visitors to campus, and participants in University-sponsored events beyond campus also may have their images captured for news or promotional purposes.

All photographic prints and digital image and video files shall constitute Brown University property and be used to advance the University's educational objectives.


All Brown community members are subject to the University Code of Conduct and any other conduct codes or University policies outlining standards of behavior and required compliance with procedures and operations affecting Brown constituencies and their activities as members of a community established with values of respect for others and shared responsibility.