Preparing for Brown
Frequently asked questions about preparing for Brown
While there are no specific course requirements for admission to Brown, you should take all of the fundamental courses that are essential preparation for university-level studies. Ideally, Brown undergraduates will have studied a foreign language for four years (or the equivalent). Studies will have included biology, physics, and chemistry and a higher level math. Applicants planning to concentrate in science, math or engineering will certainly benefit from more advanced courses in their area of interest.
Students who stretch themselves in one or more academic areas will stand out among applicants who choose a less demanding route. We are looking for students who are exceptionally eager to learn and willing to accept academic challenges. Brown also encourages the study of music and art.
The fundamental curriculum for college-bound students often includes the following coursework:
English - 4 years; Math - at least 3 years, preferably 4 years; Science - at least 3 years, including 2 years of lab science; Social Studies - at least 2 years of history, including American history; and Foreign Language - at least 3 years, preferably 4 years of a single language.
Your senior year is one quarter of your high school career and often includes some of the most substantial college preparatory coursework. Therefore, your senior year curriculum and performance are important indicators of your potential as a Brown student. Applicants who take a lighter course load or who show signs of underperforming academically are often passed over in favor of those who continue to excel during their senior year. Even admitted students should take care not to catch "senioritis." We review all the grades for both Early Decision and Regular Decision admitted students to make sure they are continuing at the same level as their performance in previous years of high school.
We would always prefer to see that a student has opted for the more rigorous approach to their high school education. In many high schools this means pursuing the AP or IB version of a course rather than a potentially less rigorous Honors or College Prep option.
At Brown, a number of academic departments recognize Advanced Placement (AP) examinations either for placement into an advanced course, and/or satisfaction of a concentration requirement, and/or for credit toward advanced standing. The particular scores required are determined by individual academic departments. The College is a good source for additional information about Brown’s AP placement policies.
Any work you have done beyond your high school curriculum is valued as we consider your candidacy, but Brown does not grant course credit based on exam scores or college credits earned before enrolling as an undergraduate. However, strong AP exam results or advanced coursework may allow students to forego certain course prerequisites and progress more quickly to upper level Brown offerings. Courses counting towards a student's high school diploma will not also count towards their college degree.
We do not have a preference for one rigorous curricular model over another, and are content to see that our applicants have taken whatever challenging courses are available to them.
Students matriculating at Brown may have completed the International Baccalaureate (IB) curriculum, A-level exams and many other international diploma or certificate programs. The College maintains Brown’s related placement and transfer credit policies and procedures and informs incoming students during the summer how they can request placement credits (which are not the same as course credits or concentration credits) to place into higher level courses. After initially receiving placement credit, if a student later needs actual course credit instead of placement credit in order to graduate, the student may consult with the academic dean for pre-Brown transfer credit.