Frequently Asked Questions

We've grouped the most frequently asked questions into the following categories.

Completing the Application
Preparing for Brown
The Admission Process
Standardized Tests
Early Decision
Deferring Enrollment

International Students
Home-Schooled Applicants
Undocumented Students 

Completing the Application

Please see the Guide for Applying for complete information on the application process. 

What is the most important part of the application?
We read each applicant's file from cover to cover. Every component of the application coveys important information, but your academic accomplishments as a high school student will have the most influence on our admission decision.

What kinds of awards or distinctions should I include in my application?
You should include the achievements that make you feel particularly proud or that help to demonstrate your talents and interests. Keep in mind that a judiciously selected sampling may make a stronger impression than an exhaustive list.

For academic awards, please include enough detail so that we will understand the context of your accomplishment. For example, if you have won a poetry contest or placed high in a math competition, let us know in general terms the number of entrants or competitors and whether your award is an individual or a team achievement. You would not need to provide descriptions for common extracurricular recognitions, such as first chair of the orchestra, science club officer, sports team captain, or yearbook editor, but do note your title or role. If the activity or achievement would be less familiar to those outside your community, you may wish to include a brief explanation.

May I submit examples of my academic work?
For the overwhelming majority of applicants, your academic records and the support of your recommenders will provide all the information we need. If you think an accomplishment is particularly relevant, however, you may choose to submit an abstract describing a science or math research project, or creative writers might send a few carefully selected pieces (or excerpts). As a general rule, though, we favor quality over quantity in an application.

Are performing arts auditions (music, dance, drama) required?
No. Our performing arts faculty do not offer auditions. However, you may make inquiries about the opportunities for training and performing at Brown by contacting the appropriate department at Brown. Applicants with musical or artistic accomplishments may submit a portfolio in The Common Application, through SlideRoom.

May I submit additional letters of recommendation?
In our experience, the required counselor recommendation and two teacher recommendations provide all we need to make a thoughtful, informed admission decision. Because additional letters tend to echo the observations we already have in hand, we do not encourage you to seek out extra letters. If, however, someone has unique knowledge of certain strengths or accomplishments that would not be addressed in the required recommendations, you are welcome to have another person write on your behalf. Keep in mind that a stack of extra letters will almost never influence an admission officer in a positive way.

How and when do I pay the application fee?
The application fee of $75 is due when you submit your application. You may use a credit card by following the instructions on The Common Application or you may send a check payable to Brown University to the Office of College Admission.

Can the application fee be waived?
If the fee will present a considerable financial hardship for you and your family, you may ask your guidance counselor to submit a Fee Waiver Request.

May I call the Office of College Admission to check that items have been received?
We strongly prefer that you use our online Application Summary site to check whether items have been received and filed. With many thousands of documents and files, it is very difficult for us to check for individual items. The Application Summary site will indicate the most up-to-date status of your application.

What if the Application Summary page on the Undergraduate Admission website indicates that my application is incomplete, yet I am certain that the missing document(s) have been submitted?
In the case of paper documents, you should immediately arrange to have a duplicate document sent to the Admission Office. It may be that an item was delayed or lost in the mail or even that your name was smudged on a form and we were unable to match the document with your file.

What should I do if I have technical problems while working on The Common Application or when I submit the forms online?
Please refer to The Common Application Help resources.

The Common Application Secondary School Report and Teacher Evaluation Forms ask that I indicate whether I wish to waive my right to see the recommendation. Does my choice have any consequences in the admission process?
It is your right to view such documents if you are admitted and ultimately enroll. You also have the choice to waive that right, which your recommenders might appreciate as a sign of trust, and we appreciate as an indication that the recommender is providing unfiltered observations.

Does Brown admit freshmen for entry at mid-year?
No. We believe that the first year is best experienced as a coherent whole, so freshmen must begin their time at Brown in the fall semester.

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Preparing for Brown

What kinds of courses should I take to best prepare for Brown?
Our most competitive applicants present credentials which include coursework in all core academic areas - English, mathematics, sciences, social studies, languages - for all four years of high school. At a minimum you should present:

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
Foreign Language - at least 3 years, preferably 4 years of a single language

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 at least one foreign language for four years (or the equivalent). Studies will have included biology, physics, and chemistry, and at least an introductory course in calculus. 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 chose a less demanding route. We are looking for students who are exceptionally eager to learn and willing to accept academic challenges. Keep in mind that Brown also encourages the study of music and art.

How important are my senior year courses and grades in the admission process?
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 under performing 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 to perform up to our high standards.

Does Brown favor Advanced Placement courses over International Baccalaureate courses or vice versa?
No. We are content to see that our applicants have taken whatever challenging courses are available to them. We do not have a preference for one curricular model over another.

Does Brown award credits toward graduation based on Advanced Placement exams or for courses completed at another college?
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.

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The Admission Process

Does Brown use a formula to evaluate academic credentials?

No. There is no formula that would accurately capture the academic ability and personal qualities we value most.

What are the grade and score ranges for successful applicants?
You can learn more about the range of credentials for admitted students on our Admission Facts page. The figures are meant to provide a broad perspective of the academic strength of our pool of applicants only; they are not a set of requirements and should not be used to predict odds of admission.

Is there a minimum grade average or class rank expectation for applicants?
No, but we understand that because Brown tends to attract applicants who have done exceptionally well, there may be a misconception that only straight A students are admitted. The fact is that it does not make sense for us to focus solely on grades as there other indications of academic and intellectual talent.  We know that grades at one school are not awarded in the same way as they are at another school. The same applies to class rank. Everything else being equal, students with high grades often do stand out among our applicants, but we do not make our admissions decisions based on a grade average or class rank without also considering the many other factors that help us gauge an applicant's promise.

How does Brown evaluate my high school record?
The most important consideration is your high school performance and preparedness. When it comes to assessing performance, we look beyond your grades to also consider how well you have mastered certain skills associated with learning. We review your teacher recommendations to get a sense of your curiosity, problem-solving abilities, openness to different points of view, ability to express yourself orally and in writing, work ethic, etc. To assess preparedness, we review the depth and breadth of the academic learning you have undertaken thus far. We want to know whether you have taken advantage of the courses available to you in your school, and whether you have challenged yourself in advanced classes, and whether have stretched yourself with outside-of-school educational opportunities.

Does Brown take into account the level of competition at different high schools?
Yes. Communities vary widely in what they can provide in their high schools. We know that there are excellent, highly motivated students in every community and we encourage them to apply.

Does Brown rank high schools?
No. While we do consider characteristics such as a high school's level of academic offerings and rigor, we choose to concentrate on how well a student has used the resources available to him or her. We do not start with the assumption that students from a certain school are better candidates than those from another school.

Does Brown take into account the range of curricular offerings available at different schools?
Yes. We know that curricular offerings vary from school to school. Our strongest candidates have taken full advantage of what is available to them in their own schools. Highly motivated students often find outside learning opportunities (e.g., local college courses, independent study) to supplement their high school curriculum, especially when they have exhausted available courses.

Does Brown limit the number of applicants who can be admitted from a school or geographic area in a given year?
No. We view our applicants as individuals and pay no attention to the number of candidates from a single school or area. We know that there are rumors about patterns of admission for an individual school, but the truth is that we never place restrictions on the number of students we might admit from a certain school or geographic location.

Do students with relatives who are Brown alumni have an advantage in the admission process?
Brown takes into account the natural affinity for the University that often emerges among family members of our graduates. In particular, we will note when an applicant has a parent who has graduated from Brown. While such a relationship may be a consideration when it comes to choosing among equally strong candidates, it does not ensure admission. Brown has a strong responsibility to create a new generation of successful college graduates.

Does Brown have admission quotas for any category of applicant?
No. While it may be interesting to describe a student population in terms of certain characteristics (the number of men and women, potential engineers, Oklahomans, students of color, international citizens, home schoolers, and so on), there are no quotas of any kind.

Brown values diversity—what does that mean in the admission process?
We look for intelligent, highly motivated students from all walks of life who have diverse backgrounds, interests, and cultural heritages.

The application asks whether I was suspended or expelled from school. Would disciplinary action automatically disqualify me for admission to Brown?
No. We do ask for an explanation, however, so that we can better understand the circumstances and your perceptions of any such disciplinary action.

Does Brown work with agents or third parties?
Brown does not support the use of agents in the application process.  Our office works directly with applicants, schools, government, Education USA, and community based organizations. 

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Standardized Tests

How do I submit standardized test results?
You will have the opportunity to indicate which colleges you would like to receive your SAT or ACT results when you take the tests. You should be sure to indicate that you wish Brown to receive official results. (For the SAT, Brown = 3094. For the ACT, Brown = 3800)

If my test results appear on my secondary school transcript, do I need to submit official results?
Yes. Before we make a final decision on your application, we must have your official test results.

Are both the SAT and ACT required?
No. We require the SAT Reasoning Test and two SAT Subject Tests or the ACT with the writing component. If you happen to submit the SAT and the ACT, we will consider both.

Does Brown prefer the SAT over the ACT or vice versa?

Are there minimum standardized test requirements or expectations for applicants?
No. While we do receive many applications from students with high test scores, we consider standardized test results in the context of all the other information we have about a candidate. We find that many of our applicants demonstrate strong academic potential in spite of relatively modest test scores.

How does Brown evaluate standardized tests?
We look at your test scores along with other information about your academic promise as we read your complete application. We do not attempt to assess test results in a formulaic way. If you have taken tests more than once, we concentrate on your highest scores. For the three components of the SAT, we focus on your best scores, regardless of the date you took the test. We do not calculate averages, nor do we look at the sum total of the components.

Does Brown allow the Score Choice option for reporting SAT results?
We automatically focus on your highest test scores and therefore Score Choice is a bit redundant. With Score Choice, it is very important that you have the SAT Critical Reasoning tests and two SAT Subject Tests results available to us when we begin reading completed Early Decision applications in December. You must not wait to see December or January test results before making your score choices.

We will consider test results from the December and January SAT exams as those scores will reach us in time for us to see them before our final decisions are made in late March.

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If I hope to play a varsity sport at Brown, how do I express that desire?
You should contact the coaching staff for the sport you wish to play. They can discuss with you the characteristics of the program and the ways you can demonstrate your potential for contributing to the team.

Is the admission process different for prospective students who wish to play varsity sports?
No. All applicants to Brown have the same requirements and deadlines. Our athletic coaches will let us know which applicants would be welcome additions to their teams, but admission decisions are made by the admission staff.

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How important are the alumni/ae interviews?
The conversation you will have with a graduate of the University is just one aspect of your Brown application. Our alumni/ae write to us about the strengths they see in candidates based on one relatively brief encounter. Rarely will an interview be the determining factor in an application. We suggest that you view it as an opportunity to learn more about Brown and to further convey your best qualities as a student and person.

Are interviews with admission officers offered on campus or in my area?
No. Unfortunately, our admission officers are not able to conduct individual interviews on campus or elsewhere due to the large number of potential candidates. We are happy, though, to answer questions from visitors and callers. We also provide group information sessions and tours to students and their families who come to the campus.

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Early Decision

If I apply Early Decision to Brown, may I also apply to other colleges?
Early Decision is intended for students who consider Brown their top choice. The program allows first-year applicants to apply for admission to Brown in the fall of their senior year and receive an admission decision in mid-December. Applicants and their families should be aware that admission via our Early Decision program is a binding agreement to attend Brown.

Applicants pursuing admission under Brown's Early Decision program may not submit an application to another Early Decision plan. Students admitted under Early Decision are expected to enroll at Brown and to withdraw all pending applications.

What are the possible Early Decision outcomes?
We do admit a portion of our Early Decision applicants, which means that their college application process is over. For other early applicants, we defer the final decision until spring and then reconsider them along with the Regular Decision candidates. We also turn down Early Decision applicants who, based on our experience, are clearly less academically strong than the overall pool of applicants to Brown.

If I apply and am admitted using the Early Decision option, am I committed to attending Brown?
Yes. You should carefully consider your choices before applying for Early Decision.

Are my chances for admission increased if I apply Early Decision?
Our pool of early applicants tends to include a very high proportion of exceptionally talented students and a higher rate of admission for Early Decision applicants reflects that phenomenon. It does not imply an automatic advantage for all early candidates. We admit Early Decision applicants only when we are confident that we would offer them admission as a Regular Decision applicant.

What does a "deferral" to the Regular Decision process really mean?
Students whose Early Decision applications are deferred are well-qualified for study at Brown. A deferral should not be seen as an indication of shortcomings. Deferred applicants will be considered anew among the Regular Decision applicants. Our goal is to admit the most capable and diverse group of students with respect to their interests, backgrounds, and potential to contribute to the Brown community and beyond.

May I submit additional or updated information if I am deferred?
You may certainly let us know if there is a significant accomplishment or a noteworthy change in your circumstances, but it is not necessary to amend your application as a matter of course. Remember that a deferral does not mean that an applicant has fallen short in terms of qualification for admission. Make sure that your counselor has the Mid-Year Report form so we can receive your fall term grades and any updates your school would like to provide.

What if another college offers me admission and requires a commitment before I have heard from Brown?
You should contact our office if you are presented with an unusual dilemma, but colleges are almost always willing to allow students the opportunity to receive notification from other schools before requiring a commitment.

Our Early Decision notification occurs by mid-December and Regular Decision applicants are notified on or near April 1st. We are not able to give advance decisions, because we are fully engaged in piecing together an entire group of admitted students rather than merely determining whether to admit an individual applicant.

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Deferring Enrollment

Is it possible to defer enrollment after I have been admitted to Brown?
You may request a deferral in writing. Deferrals for one year are almost always granted, provided you do not intend to enroll in a degree program at another college. Students admitted from our waiting list are not eligible for deferral. 

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International Students

Is the admission process the same for international applicants?
International applicants adhere to the same requirements, standards, and deadlines as all students. In addition, students who are currently attending schools outside of the United States must submit predicted final examinaton grades. We highly recommend that students whose first language is not English take the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) exam. Please be sure to carefully review our policies regarding financial aid for students who are not U.S. citizens or Permanent Residents.

How does Brown evaluate non-U.S. credentials?
We are familiar with many of the academic credentials, exams, and educational systems around the world and will research any unfamiliar systems to increase our understanding. While certain credentials may be quite different from those commonly used in the United States, we still seek students who present evidence of academic ability and a genuine interest in learning. While we tend to admit students who have achieved at the highest levels in their own systems of education, we focus on the whole person and look well beyond the numerical results achieved in examinations and exam predictions.

My final grades are exam results that will not be available until the end of my secondary school studies. How does that affect my application to Brown?
When final examination results are not available until after our admission decisions are made (e.g., British A-Levels), we rely on the predicted results as provided by your school officials and on any other academic credentials that are already available. We trust that your actual examination results will reasonably match the predicted outcomes, and review the final results with care. We must reserve the right to rescind an offer of admission in the event that actual results do not meet the predictions.

Must I take the SAT if I have taken or will take other examinations in my own country?
Yes. The results of the SAT or ACT give us a consistent measurement for all candidates. While most international exams measure knowledge gained during a specific course of study, the SAT or ACT indicates a student's accumulated general knowledge and overall thinking ability in certain broad subject areas.

How would Brown view an SAT Subject Test in my native language?
We place no specific requirements on your choice of Subject Tests, but you would be wise to take tests that will display your strength in other areas. The SAT Subject Tests in languages are designed to test a student's abilities in a foreign language. For you to do well in the Subject Test in your native language would not provide us with helpful information.

Must I take the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL)?
We highly recommend that you take the TOEFL if English is not your native language, regardless of your citizenship. If your score on the SAT Reasoning test is above a 650, it is not necessary to take the TOEFL. We will also accept the results of the IELTS. We expect the score of a 100 or above on the TOEFL and an 8.0 on the IELTS.

Does the TOEFL replace the SAT?
No. The tests have very different purposes.

Can tests be waived?
No. If taking our required tests is impossible or presents a significant hardship, however, we will evaluate an application without the tests.

Are interviews offered outside the U.S.?
Yes. We have alumni/ae volunteers all over the world. But because we cannot guarantee that volunteer interviewers will be available in every location, students who are not scheduled for an interview are not at any disadvantage in the admission process.

Must the application forms be completed in English?

Will Brown accept letters of reference in languages other than English?
If one of your teachers is more comfortable writing to us in his or her native language, please arrange to have another person (preferably a school official) send a written English translation along with the original letter.

Can I pay my application fee in a currency other than the U.S. dollar?
No. We must receive the fee in U.S. currency. Using a credit card is most convenient for this purpose.

Can a non-U.S. citizen request a fee waiver?
Yes. If the fee will present a considerable financial hardship for you and your family, you may ask your guidance counselor to submit a Fee Waiver Request.

How will I be notified of the admission decision?
You can obtain the decision on your application from our online Application Summary site. Access to this site will be provided once we receive your application. If you are admitted, you will also receive important documents by mail.

Are there quotas for international students?
No. We value the presence of international students in the Brown community, but we do not set targets or limits on the number of international students we  admit in any given year.

Can advanced standing be awarded to students based on certain international exam results or higher level study as a secondary school student?
Brown does not grant course credit based on international examination scores or advanced coursework completed prior to enrollment. However, strong exam results or advanced coursework may allow students to forego certain course prerequisites and progress more quickly to upper level Brown offerings.

Is financial aid available to international students?
Brown meets the full demonstrated need of all admitted first-year students who have applied for financial aid. However, financial aid for foreign citizens  is limited and financial need is considered during the admission process. Foreign citizens must apply for financial aid at the time of admission if they have reason to believe they will need assistance at any point during their time at Brown. International students who do not receive financial aid upon admission to Brown will not be eligible for University aid in future years. 

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Home-Schooled Applicants

Is the admission process different for home-schooled applicants?
Our evaluation process is the same for all first-year applicants, but home-schooled applicants may have to present some of the required documents in a different format than what would be provided by traditional schools.

Who should complete my Secondary School Report and Teacher Evaluation forms?
The Secondary School Report form should be completed by the persons most responsible for guiding your overall learning. In addition, we would be interested to know why you and your family opted to pursue home schooling rather than a more traditional public or private school education. We would also be curious about the resources used to craft the home-schooling curriculum and about the degree of liberty you have had in guiding your own education.

We would prefer to see letters of recommendation from instructors who have taught you in a traditional classroom setting and who can speak to your abilities and potential in an objective way. For these reasons we would prefer not to receive letters of recommendation from your parents, immediate relatives, or from academic tutors in the paid employ of your family. If all of your instructors fall into one of these three groups, then we will accept letters of recommendation from any of them.

What should I submit if I do not have a traditional high school transcript?
We need a detailed accounting of the entire curriculum you have undertaken during the last four years. Please list all subjects covered as well as the books and/or other learning resources you used. If you have taken courses at a local college, high school, or through a distance education program, then you should submit official transcripts from those sources to supplement your self-designed transcript.

What other information should I provide?
In addition to the testing and recommendation requirements common to all applicants, you may submit the results of additional SAT Subject Tests or AP tests and one additional letter of recommendation from someone other than your parents, your immediate relatives, or a tutor in the paid employ of your family. 

Undocumented Students

What is Brown's policy on admitting undocumented students?
Brown University will give admission applications submitted by undocumented students the same consideration given to any other applications it might receive. Undocumented students who are admitted to Brown will be offered financial assistance based on demonstrated need. In accordance with the law, Brown will fund, admit, enroll, and apply similar private aid policies to its undocumented students.

What is Brown's financial aid policy for students whose parents are undocumented?
Students whose parents are undocumented are eligible for financial aid. In these cases, the University will offer a financial aid package based on documentation showing the parents' annual income. 

  • Tuition and Aid - Transfer and international students are admitted to Brown under a need-aware admission policy, which mean that their financial need will be a factor in the admission decision. To be considered for financial assistance at any time during their undergraduate years at Brown, transfer and international applicants must apply for financial aid when they first apply for admission. 
  • Undocumented students who are admitted to Brown are eligible for financial aid as specified in the first-year, transfer, and resumed undergraduate education policies. We invite you to learn more about how our admission and financial aid policies relate to your circumstances.


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