What is Brown’s Acceptance Rate & Admissions Requirements?

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Brown University is a popular choice among students looking for a high-quality undergraduate experience. Like the other schools in the Ivy League, Brown’s educational programs are top-notch, and it pairs this dedication to academic excellence with an appreciation of the creative arts. Students also love its innovative open curriculum, which allows them to customize their learning process.


Getting into Brown is a challenge; like the other Ivies, it’s an extremely selective school. If you’re interested in applying, here’s what you need to know about what it takes to get accepted to Brown.


Learn more interesting facts about Brown in this video!



Brown University’s Acceptance Rate is 8.3%


According to the most recent data available (for the class of 2021), Brown University’s current acceptance rate is 8.3%. This means fewer than one in every ten students who applies to Brown as an undergraduate is accepted.


Brown’s acceptance rate marks it as an extremely selective and competitive college; in fact, it’s among the twenty most selective colleges in the United States. Other colleges with similar acceptance rates include the University of Pennsylvania, the University of Chicago, and Northwestern University.


Like most top-tier colleges, Brown has seen acceptance rates gradually decline over time—in other words, it’s become more difficult to get in. If you’re planning to apply to Brown a few years from now, you may find that the acceptance rate (along with other admissions data and requirements) will have changed by then.


Brown’s Admissions Requirements


To be in the lucky 8.3% of applicants who are accepted to Brown, the first thing you’ll have to do is submit a complete application. Currently, the Brown application consists of the following components:


  • The Common Application or Coalition Application
  • Brown supplemental essays
  • SAT or ACT scores (writing section not required)
  • SAT Subject Test scores from two tests (not required but recommended)
  • High school transcript with grades, GPA, and class rank (if calculated)
  • Guidance counselor forms (guidance counselor recommendation, school report, and midyear report)
  • Two recommendations from teachers in major academic subjects
  • Graded paper from a humanities or social studies class
  • Video profile submission or in-person alumni interview (neither is treated preferentially)
  • $75 application fee or fee waiver


Brown’s application is due November 1 for Early Decision applicants, or January 1 for Regular Decision applicants. Early Decision applicants can expect to hear back by mid-December, while Regular Decision applicants receive their decisions by late March.


You may need to submit additional materials to Brown along with the basic application requirements listed above. For instance, if you’re applying to the PLME eight-year medical program or the Brown/RISD dual-degree program, you’ll have additional requirements to meet. If you’d like to submit AP or IB exam scores, upload audio or visual materials to demonstrate special talents, or send in materials regarding special circumstances, you’ll have the opportunity to do so.


Many students decide to visit Brown during the application process in order to get a better feel for the school, but this isn’t a required part of the application. If you’re not able to make an in-person visit, that won’t count against you in the admissions process.


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So, How Does One Get Into Brown?


Given that Brown receives over 32,000 applications each year for fewer than 1,700 spots in the matriculating class, it’s clear that simply turning in all the required portions of the application is only the beginning. In order to actually get into Brown, you’ll have to show the academic excellence, drive, and creativity that demonstrate you’ll be a strong addition to Brown’s campus both inside and outside the classroom.


You may notice that we haven’t listed minimum required standard test scores or a minimum GPA you’ll need to achieve. That’s because Brown, like many other top-tier colleges, doesn’t publish explicit cutoffs for these numbers that applicants need to meet in order to apply.


However, Brown’s website indicates that in 2016, the most recent year for which data is available, the middle 50% of incoming first-year students had a math SAT score of 690-790, and a reading SAT score of 680-780. Over the past decade, 93-94% of matriculating students have ranked in the top 10% of their high school classes. Academics matter, and this is the kind of competition you’ll be up against.


Just because Brown doesn’t set explicit limits for GPA or test scores doesn’t mean that you don’t need these to get into Brown; most successful applicants have excelled in these measures. It just means that high test scores and grades alone aren’t enough to get you admitted to Brown. The rest of your application is highly important in convincing Brown’s admissions office that you’ll be a good addition to the student body. In the next section, we’ll give some specifics about what Brown is looking for.


How to Make Your Application Stand Out


While all the schools at Brown’s level share some basic qualities they’re seeking in applicants, such as academic strength, extracurricular involvement, and strong recommendations from trusted educators, each college has some of its own particular priorities. Here’s how you can make sure your application showcases the qualifications and characteristics that Brown particularly prizes.


Take time to perfect your essay(s). Brown is looking for applicants whose essays show both strong writing skills and a creative, interesting perspective. Consider your topic carefully, plan out your essay before you start writing, and ask others to proofread and offer their thoughts.


Show that you’ve explored a variety of extracurricular activities and interests. Different schools differ on how they weigh depth and breadth when it comes to your extracurriculars, and while depth is important at Brown, this college particularly appreciates applicants whose interests are diverse. Including unusual or unexpected extracurriculars is a great way to make your application stand out.


No matter your expected major, show that you appreciate the humanities and liberal arts. Even if you’re planning to go into a STEM field, Brown will expect you to have engaged with these topics. This is a key part of Brown’s educational philosophy and the basis of offerings like the Program in Liberal Medical Education (PLME), which encourages students to pursue medical sciences while also exploring the liberal arts.


Emphasize your creative and artistic sides. Among top-tier colleges, Brown is known for its quirky, artsy character, which is bolstered by its close relationship with the Rhode Island School of Design (RISD), one of the best art schools in the country. Use your application to show off your most creative accomplishments and commitments to the visual and performing arts, whether in the classroom, in your extracurriculars, or on a more personal level.


Demonstrate that you’re a self-motivated learner who’s willing to think outside the box. Brown’s open curriculum, in which there are few course requirements, will give you the opportunity to craft your own educational plan. It’s your responsibility to use this freedom wisely, and Brown appreciates applicants whose past academic and extracurricular experiences show that they’ll make the most of it.


Your Next Steps


If you’re interested in applying to Brown, it pays to get started early and do your research in order to make the best showing you can in Brown’s very competitive applicant pool. Learn as much as you can about Brown and its application process. Look over Brown’s undergraduate admissions website and visit campus in person if you can, but also seek out other perspectives from guidance counselors, teachers, and current students or alumni.


Interested in learning more about Brown? Here are some perspectives from the CollegeVine blog!



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Monikah Schuschu
Senior Blogger at CollegeVine
Short bio
Monikah Schuschu is an alumna of Brown University and Harvard University. As a graduate student, she took a job at the Harvard College Office of Financial Aid and Admissions, and discovered the satisfaction of helping students and parents with the often-baffling college admissions process. She also enjoys fiber art, murder mysteries, and amateur entomology.