Frequently Asked Questions

Apply

How do I apply?
PRIME is a program within the School of Engineering and all applications to the Program must be completed on-line. You can upload supporting documents, i.e. letters of recommendation, statement of purpose, and a copy of your transcript. Additional information on applications.

Business Ideas

Can I develop my own business idea within PRIME?
Most ideas that students work on come from areas that they learn about at Brown, but a few may have an idea before they matriculate. In that case, we would evaluate whether we could help the student find an appropriate advisor who can work with them to develop this pre-existing idea, but this might not always be possible (either because the relevant expertise is not to be found at Brown, or the idea is at a stage that makes it inappropriate for the purposes of the program).

Is it expected that I launch the business that I work on in the PRIME program?
No, though we would be delighted if a student chose to do so. The main product of the program is the experience of how to take and develop a technology idea into a business. In the event that a business is to be further developed beyond the period of the course, Brown has resources that it can make available to the student. These would be made available on the same basis as for any other graduate research inspired business that comes about at Brown University.

Class statistics

Can you provide statistics on the incoming classes?
The typical incoming PRIME class is made up of 20 to 25 students. While the majority of students are graduates of US institutions, there is always a significant percentage of students from other countries.

Curriculum

Are there any electives in the PRIME curriculum?
The PRIME curriculum consists of 8 courses that normally fill an entire academic year. These are described on the courses page. The potential for an elective choice occurs in picking a technology area on which to focus and to develop a business plan. This is done in consultation with the PRIME faculty advisors. In addition a students may take up to two courses per year outside of the PRIME curriculum. These additional courses may be in any area of study. Permission from the student's faculty advisor and course instructor is required.

Deadline for applications

What is the deadline for applications?
The deadline for submission of PRIME applications from external applicants is February 28, 2014 

Brown Undergraduates interested in the 5th Year Master's Degree: your application deadline is May 1, 2014.

Degree

Is this program similar to an MBA? What degree will I receive?
No, it is designed to be very different. The PRIME program is only a year long, as compared with the typically longer MBA program. PRIME does not strive to provide the in-depth study of a business specialty as would take place in an MBA program. Rather, it is intended to introduce students from an engineering or science discipline to the workings of technology startup companies (and to the technology innovation process in larger firms), and to provide enough background so that the student can be effective in such an environment. PRIME students earn an ScM degree, a Masters of Science.

Can I earn a PhD in PRIME?
Currently PRIME students earn a Master’s Degree. Students from other PhD programs at Brown can earn a PRIME Master's degree alongside their program's PhD.

Is it possible to combine PRIME with other graduate programs at Brown?
Yes. This requires careful planning and coordination with the other program of interest, and we urge applicants interested in possibly pursuing a combined program of study to contact us, so that we may put you in touch with the relevant admissions coordinators in the other program of interest. Generally, if a student is interested in a PhD degree from another program at Brown, he or she should apply directly to that program, since in that case the program offering the PhD will be the one to decide upon admissions. In the past, several students enrolled in Engineering PhD programs at Brown have successfully completed requirements for the PRIME degree alongside their PhD studies. This normally involves spreading the PRIME courses over several years, and of course taking of PRIME courses needs to be approved by the student's PhD advisor. 

If an applicant is interested in applying for admission to two masters programs, the PRIME faculty need to work with the faculty advisors of the other program in order to determine whether the proposed combined program is feasible and how to best arrange the course of study. The applicant will need to qualify for admission to both programs, but will fill out only a single application. It will need to be decided in advance which academic unit (the School of Engineering or some other department) will handle the application, and this is why it is important for an applicant to indicate an interest in being considered for both in advance. 

Employment

Where do PRIME students find jobs upon graduation?
A main goal of the program is to prepare students to move into a technology startup environment. That said, the career opportunities are many. In addition to starting their own companies, PRIME graduates have secured positions in consulting, investment banking, also with health/medical companies, information technology, traditional engineering companies and with small technology firms. For a list of companies that have employed our graduates, please visit Careers of PRIME Alumni.

What resources are available to help PRIME graduates find employment?
Resources available to PRIME students through Brown’s Career Lab. PRIME students are welcome to participate in workshops and mixers sponsored by Betaspring, a mentorship-driven start-up accelerator program located in close proximity to Brown's campus.

Financial Aid

Is financial aid available for students?
As is generally the policy for all professional masters programs, the PRIME program unfortunately cannot offer any regular research or teaching assistantships to students. Brown’s Office of Financial Aid can help students explore possibilities for scholarships or loans, which would come from outside of PRIME or the School of Engineering.

Is financial aid available for international students?
The situation for international students is the same as for U.S. citizens, as described above. 

**Please note that the U.S. Government will not issue a visa to an international student who does not have proof that they can support themselves financially.

Previous Employment

I have been working in a technology business environment for 5 to 10 years. Is PRIME right for me?
The program is primarily designed for recent graduates of engineering and science programs. If one already has extensive business experience, it is quite possible that a traditional MBA is a more appropriate choice than the PRIME degree, which assumes relatively little familiarity with the business environment.

For students in this category, the new  IE-Brown Executive Masters Program is another alternative.  

Requirements

Do I need to have an engineering or science background in order to be admitted?
As it is presently set up, PRIME is primarily designed for students who have an engineering or science undergraduate background (this includes applied mathematics and computer science. Students from an industrial design background may qualify, depending upon background, as may students who have a significant technical background via some other route. A degree in the field is not necessary, but a significant amount of background (more than just a few courses) is desirable. This is because each student will have to develop a business plan around a technology area. Several students from an industrial design background and others with no undergraduate technical degrees have also successfully completed the program.

Are three references required for the application?
Yes, and this is very important. At least one of these references should be from someone who can comment on your technical background.

Schedule of Classes

When are classes held?
PRIME classes are typically held Monday through Thursday from 3:00 - 6:00pm. Please note that some events are scheduled outside these hours (ie some classes may be held on Fridays and there will be various evening events). Also, the PRIME Trip requires students to travel with the group for 10 -14 days.  (see Travel below)

Timeline

How long does it take to earn a degree?
PRIME students can earn an ScM degree in one academic year. Please note this is a non-thesis degree.

Do you offer part time options?
Yes, a student wishing to enroll part time can earn a PRIME degree in two academic years. Also, a student enrolled in a Brown University PhD program can spread their PRIME courses over several years.

Travel

What is involved in the globalization experience?
During the Spring semester, PRIME students and faculty visit companies and universities in other countries to observe the entrepreneurial environment. The duration of the trip is 10 – 14 days. The students learn about doing business in another country, and compare US experiences in the technology startup field with those in other countries. The choice of each destination country is made by the program faculty and is announced in the early fall.

Tuition and Fees

How much is tuition and what fees are associated with it?
Information on tuition and fees can be found at the following: 2013-14 Tuition and Fee Schedule . Please note that this information covers the 2013_14 academic year. Tuition and fee information for the 2014_15 will be published on the Bursar’s office web site by the end of February 2014.

Visiting Brown University

I’d like to visit the Brown University campus. Could I also visit the PRIME facilities?
Yes! We welcome all interested students and their families to visit our beautiful campus, take a tour of Brown University and also a tour of the PRIME facilities. Please let us know when you plan to be here so we can arrange a meeting with one of our faculty and current PRIME students.

Please contact us at prime@brown.edu