Declaring a Concentration

Students must declare a concentration no later than the middle of their fourth semester, before pre-registering for semester five (usually spring semester of sophomore year). Transfer students who matriculate with 4th or 5th semester standing must declare a concentration in their first term at Brown. Below is a step-by-step guide to the declaration process.

  1. Visit Focal Point, Brown's concentration portal. Even if you think you know which concentration you want to declare, take the time to explore all of your options—you have almost 80 choices! Additional instructions for prospective concentrators may be listed on department websites, so be sure to check those as well.
  2. Review the courses you have taken at Brown (and obtain syllabi and a copy of your transcript if you have attended another institution) and list those that might count toward your concentration. Map out the additional courses you need to take to complete your proposed concentration, and list the additional courses you plan to take to complete your degree requirements.
  3. Make an appointment with a concentration advisor in your chosen area. Take the concentration course lists you developed to this meeting. If you need concentration approval for courses transferred from another institution, ask what materials you need to bring for approval. You may also need departmental approval to receive credit equivalent to a specific Brown course. If you plan to study abroad, inquire about relevant concentration policies.
  4. Write your personal statement, along with your list of proposed courses, in Brown's online declaration system in ASK.
  5. Pay attention to deadlines. With the exception of transfer students who enter as fifth-semester students, students are not allowed to register for fifth-semester courses unless a concentration declaration is on file by the designated date. Check the Academic Calendar on the Registrar's website for the deadline in a given semester.

Bear in mind that your declaration is a blueprint subject to revision (with your concentration advisor's approval, of course). Work on building relationships with your concentration advisor, other faculty, and an academic dean. As your understanding of your educational goals evolves, the people in your advising network will help you to think through your options and to craft a course of study that is right for you.