Choosing a Concentration

Choosing a concentration at Brown can be both exciting and daunting. Brown offers nearly 80 concentrations in dozens of academic departments and interdisciplinary areas of study, so students have a wealth of options at their disposal.

Some students decide on a concentration during their first year of study; many others change their minds several times before settling on a concentration. Certain concentrations, such as engineering, have a high number of required courses. Students who think they may want to concentrate in such areas are well advised to take an introductory course in the concentration during their first semester of study.

The steps below will help you take full advantage of Brown's open curriculum while honing in on the concentrations that are right for you.

  • When choosing courses each semester, consider some of them as possible "trial runs" for a concentration. Evaluate your likes and dislikes; try to get a feel for your academic strengths and weaknesses as they might apply to a given field. Might one or more of these areas of study "fit" you as a possible concentration?
  • Seek advice about your concentration options from several different sources. Although the final choice of concentration is, of course, yours alone to make, professors, deans, and other students can help you see new perspectives, and may have information critical to your decisions. Your intended concentration may have an affiliated Departmental Undergraduate Group (DUG) that can provide insight into a course of study.
  • Review requirements on Focal Point for concentrations you are considering. If you are considering declaring an independent concentration, visit the Curricular Resource Center (CRC) to consult with one of the peer counselors and to review a database of previously approved independent concentrations. You will also need to meet with Besenia Rodriguez, Dean of Upperclass Studies in the Dean of the College Office.
  • Attend the Concentration Fair in October and visit concentration advisors during their extended open hours in early spring. Use these visits to discuss details of various concentrations with departmental advisors. You can also make appointments with concentration advisors at any time of the year.