Dartmouth vs. Brown: Which College is Right for You?

Two of the oldest institutions for higher learning in the United States, Brown University and Dartmouth College are also members of the esteemed Ivy League. The quintessential New England universities continue to draw students from all over the world. 

 

Brown boasts notable alumni including Janet Yellen, Emma Watson, Ira Glass, and Horace Mann, while Dartmouth is alma mater to Shonda Rimes, Dr. Seuss, David Benioff, and Kirsten Gillibrand.

 

If you’re deciding between these two schools, you may be wondering which one is better-suited to your needs. We’ll cover the similarities and differences between Brown vs. Dartmouth in this post. 

 

Learn more about Dartmouth and Brown and see your chances of acceptance.

 

Dartmouth vs. Brown: A Quick Overview

 

Dartmouth Brown
Location Hanover, NH Providence, RI
Campus Type Rural Urban
Undergraduate Enrollment 4,417 7,160
Acceptance Rate 7.9% 6.9%
U.S. News Ranking 12 14
Middle 50% SAT 1440-1560 1440-1550
Middle 50% ACT 32-35 33-35
Sticker Price $76,623 $76,604
Need-blind, no-loan, or meets 100% demonstrated need? Need-blind

No-loan for families with income < $100k

100% need met

Need-blind

No-loan for families with income < $100k

100% need met

 

Brown vs. Dartmouth: A Closer Look

 

Location and Weather

 

Brown is located in Providence, the capital of Rhode Island. Despite being small, with a population of nearly 180,000, Providence is a bustling city with a thriving arts culture. There is a distinct college town vibe; Brown shares the city with several other colleges and universities, including its neighbor, the Rhode Island School of Design. While there’s plenty to do right in Providence, including visiting the many restaurants and shops on Thayer Street and dining on Federal Hill, Providence’s own Little Italy, students can also take a day trip to Boston, which is just an hour away on the MBTA commuter rail. 

 

A Northeastern city, Providence experiences all four seasons, with hot summers and cold winters. 

 

Hanover’s weather is even colder and snowier. The town is located in rural New Hampshire and allows you to bask in nature and enjoy all the woods, lakes, gardens, and other beauty the area has to offer. But if you’re worried there’s not enough to do, keep in mind that there are plenty of museums, cultural attractions, and restaurants. If you’re an active person, you’ll be able to ski and skate to your heart’s content, as well as take advantage of indoor sports arenas.

 

Size

 

With 4,417 undergraduate students and more than 2,100 graduate students, Dartmouth is smaller than Brown, which has 7,160 undergraduates and more than 2,600 graduate students. 

 

Class sizes are comparable; Dartmouth’s student to faculty ratio is 7:1 and 64.2% of classes have fewer than 20 students, while Brown’s student to faculty ratio is 6:1 and 69% of classes have fewer than 20 students.

 

Academics

 

One distinctive feature of Brown is its open curriculum. Students are afforded flexibility when choosing their courses and are not required to complete specific core courses. (Bear in mind, however, that you will still be required to complete courses for your concentration.) And with more than 80 concentrations, there are plenty of topics to explore.

 

Brown offers many unique programs. One rigorous track is the Program in Liberal Medical Education (PLME), which enables students to complete their undergraduate education and medical school in eight years. This is the only combined BS/MD program in the Ivy League, and admission is extremely competitive.

 

Brown also partners with the Rhode Island School of Design (RISD) to offer the five-year Brown/RISD Dual Degree program, in which students can study and receive degrees in both the arts and academics.

 

In contrast, Dartmouth does have some general education requirements, such as a first-year writing component, physical education, and Distributive and World Culture. There are more than 60 majors available, and students can also design their own majors, involving two or more departments or programs, along with independent research or study. Another option is to declare a modified major, which combines two disciplines and emphasizes one — Dartmouth gives the example of “economics modified with history.”

 

The D-Plan, which divides the academic year into four 10-week terms, offers significant flexibility to students, who choose 12 terms to attend the school over their enrollment at Dartmouth. This gives them the opportunity to enjoy other pursuits: a study abroad experience, an internship, and so on.

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Housing

 

Nearly 90% of Dartmouth students live on campus in some capacity. These options include residence halls, affinity houses, and Greek life houses. As freshmen, students live in clusters. Sophomores, juniors, and seniors can explore a variety of models, such as affinity housing, which connects people with specific interests like sustainability.

 

At Brown, 74% of undergraduates live on campus. First-year students are required to live on campus with roommates in small, community-driven residence halls. Upperclassmen can live in themed program houses to live and learn among others with shared interests. All students are required to live on-campus for at least six semesters, with some exceptions.

 

Financial aid

 

Both Dartmouth and Brown are need-blind and committed to meeting 100% of demonstrated financial need. Additionally, the schools are no-loan for families with annual incomes of under $100,000. The sticker prices are comparable—around $76,600 each.

 

As per the Ivy League agreement, neither Dartmouth nor Brown offers merit scholarships. However, students may apply for merit scholarships from outside organizations.

 

Sports and Extracurriculars

 

Both Dartmouth and Brown participate in the Ivy League and NCAA Division I. But extracurricular life extends far beyond athletics. 

 

At Dartmouth, Greek life plays a prominent role in the social scene. Not your cup of tea? Consider other extracurricular opportunities, such as the Dartmouth Outing Club, the oldest club of its kind in the U.S. Many students choose to study abroad, too, taking advantage of one of the more than 40 programs around the world. 

 

Brown has more than 400 student organizations, such as IMPROVidence and Volunteer for Veterans. While Greek Life does exist, it draws fewer students than it does at Dartmouth. Study abroad is also an important feature of the Brown experience, with more than 450 undergraduates studying in more than 75 countries each year.

 

Culture and Diversity

 

Brown’s diversity statistics from 2018 are as follows:

 

Ethnicity Percentage of Student Body
White 61.9%
Asian 22.7%
Hispanic or Latino 12.9%
Black or African American 10.8%
American Indian or Alaska Native 1.8%
Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander 0.5%

 

Brown offers a number of initiatives to support LGBTQ+ students, such as the LGBTQ+ Affirmative Health Research Group, which has the mission of advancing the health of sexual and gender minority populations. Undergraduates may also request to live in gender-inclusive housing.

 

Nearly half of Dartmouth’s admitted students for Class of 2023 were students of color. Roughly 16% of these admitted students for this class were first-generation. A small percentage (12%) came from countries outside the U.S. Like Brown, Dartmouth offers several initiatives for LGBTQ+ students, including student advising and gender-inclusive housing.

 

How to Decide Between Dartmouth vs. Brown

 

Dartmouth and Brown both have a lot to offer but will appeal to different students. If you’re looking for the freedom to explore different interests and choose your own curriculum, you’ll find it at Brown. Meanwhile, if you prefer a more structured approach to your education, consider Dartmouth.

 

That’s not to say Dartmouth doesn’t afford you flexibility. The D-Plan gives you a chance to pursue outside interests during your time away from school. 

 

Another distinction between the schools is the surrounding communities. While Providence isn’t as large a city as New York or Boston, it is a lively area with plenty to see and do. Dartmouth, on the other hand, is in rural Hanover, offering a quieter vibe.

 

Dartmouth and Brown are both extremely selective and accept only a small percentage of students each year. Want to know your odds of admission to these and other top-tier schools? Our free chancing engine evaluates your academic profile to predict your chances of acceptance to more than 500 colleges and universities. Create a CollegeVine account for this and other information, including advice on how to improve your profile.

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Laura Berlinsky-Schine
Senior Blogger at CollegeVine
Short bio
Laura Berlinsky-Schine is a graduate of Johns Hopkins University, where she majored in Creative Writing and minored in History. She lives in Brooklyn, New York and works as a freelance writer specializing in education. She dreams of having a dog.