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

Yale University and Brown University are distinguished members of the Ivy League. Every year, students from all over the world flock to New England to take advantage of the stellar opportunities these universities have to offer. From renowned justices to Nobel laureates to Hollywood actors, they boast some of the most well-known and most influential graduates and faculty in the world.

 

If you’re deciding between Yale vs. Brown, you’re facing a tough choice. In this post, we’ll go over their similarities and differences, to help you figure out which one is best for you.

 

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

 

Yale vs. Brown: A Quick Overview

 

Yale Brown
Location New Haven, CT Providence, RI
Campus Type Urban Urban
Undergraduate Enrollment 5,964 7,160
Acceptance Rate 6.3% 6.9%
U.S. News Ranking 3 14
Middle 50% SAT 1450-1560 1440-1550
Middle 50% ACT 33-35 33-35
Sticker Price $74,900 $76,604
Need-blind, no-loan, or meets 100% demonstrated need? Need-blind

No-loan

100% need met

Need-blind

No-loan for families with income < $100k

100% need met

 

Brown vs. Yale: A Closer Look

Location and Weather

 

Providence is a tight-knit city with plenty of arts culture, located near several other colleges, including the Rhode Island School of Design (RISD). There are numerous restaurants, museums, shops, theaters, and more within walking distance. Or, you can hop on the MBTA commuter rail and take the one-hour train ride to Boston.

 

Less than two hours from Providence by car or Amtrak, you’ll find New Haven. A smaller city than Providence — nearly 130,000 people to Providence’s 179,335 — New Haven is known not only for its renowned university but also for its world-famous pizza. A caveat to prospective Yalies: New Haven does have a fairly high crime rate, so you’ll need to be extremely careful.

 

One perk of New Haven is that it’s a short train ride to New York City on the commuter rail — just over an hour and a half.

 

Both cities are in Southern New England, where winters are cold and summers are hot. Make sure to bring a winter coat and snow boots!

 

Size

 

Brown is somewhat larger than Yale, with 7,160 undergraduates to Yale’s 5,964. Brown has slightly fewer graduate students (around 2,600) than Yale, which has around 2,800.

 

Around 70 percent of classes have fewer than 20 students at both schools, and the student to faculty ratio is 6:1.

 

Academics

 

Brown is notable for its open curriculum, in which students have no general or core requirements. Students are able to explore whatever subjects they desire, as long as they meet their major requirements. There are a number of special programs, including the eight-year Program in Liberal Medical Education (PLME), in which students are admitted to the medical program when they apply for undergraduate admission. It’s the only combined BS/MD program in the Ivy League.

 

Another special program is the five-year Brown/RISD Dual Degree Program, which allows students to earn degrees at both the research university and arts institution.

 

Yale does have some distribution requirements, although they’re less rigid than they are at many comparable schools. They include two course credits each in humanities and the arts, science, social sciences, social sciences, quantitative reasoning, foreign languages, and writing.

 

There are 80 majors available, covering a wide array of subjects. Theater, religious studies, and astrophysics are just some of the many disciplines available. Students can also participate in Residential College Seminars, covering nontraditional content.

Discover your chances at hundreds of schools

Our free chancing engine takes into account your history, background, test scores, and extracurricular activities to show you your real chances of admission—and how to improve them.

Housing

 

First-year students are required to live on campus with roommates at Brown, in community-based residence halls (there are some exceptions to this rule). A majority — 74 percent — of all undergraduates live on campus; as upperclassmen, students may live in themed houses, sharing the spaces with like-minded students. In total, students must live on campus for at least six semesters.

 

Like Brown students, first-year Yale students live on campus. Upon matriculation, they are assigned to one of 14 residential colleges. They remain affiliated with these colleges for their entire undergraduate experiences. Not only do these colleges offer a place to live, but they also create communities, providing seminars and connections with faculty. Only a handful of students live off-campus as juniors and seniors.

 

Financial aid

 

Although Yale and Brown have admittedly high sticker prices — $74,900 at Yale and $76,604 at Brown — many students are on financial aid, with the institutions committing to 100 percent of demonstrated need. Yale eliminated loans as part of these packages, though students may take out loans independently. Brown is also no-loan, but only for students with families with incomes of less than $100,000 per year. 

 

Like the other members of the Ivy League, neither school offers merit-based scholarships.

 

Sports and Extracurriculars

 

The Yale Bulldogs and the Brown Bears both play in the Ivy League and NCAA Division I. In addition to varsity sports, there are also a number of club sports and additional activities. Greek life exists at both schools, but it’s not as prominent as it is at some other universities. 

 

From opera and theater to bookbinding to social justice, the clubs and organizations are diverse and varied at Yale. Brown also offers plenty of activities, including improv and community service. Many students elect to study abroad at both universities, too.

 

Culture and Diversity

 

Brown’s diversity makeup (2018) is 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%

 

Yale offers the following statistics:

 

Ethnicity Percentage of Student Body
American Indian or Alaska Native 0.3%
Asian 14.7%
Black or African-American 5.8%
Hispanic of any race 9.8%
Native Hawaiian or other Pacific Islander 0.1%
White 42.7%
Race/ethnicity unknown 1.0%

 

Both institutions support LGBTQ+ students, with gender-inclusive housing options and other services. Brown, for example, has an LGBTQ+ Affirmative Health Research Group, and Yale offers an LGBT Studies Research Fellowship.

 

While both schools are left-leaning, Yale is known for being one of the most liberal Ivies, and many students are heavily involved in activism.

 

How to Decide Between Yale vs. Brown

 

Brown and Yale are both highly selective schools offering outside academic and extracurricular opportunities. They are also considered two of the most liberal and diverse members of the Ivy League and offer plenty of creative paths. That said, there are some notable distinctions.

 

Brown is more likely to appeal to students who:

 

  • Prefer an extremely flexible curriculum
  • Want to live in an artsy city

 

Meanwhile, Yale will attract students who:

 

  • Prefer a structured curriculum with the freedom to explore different interests
  • Wish to be involved in a tight-knit, active community
  • Are especially passionate about social causes and involved in activism

 

Applying to Brown or Yale? These are two of the most selective schools in the country, so you’re facing stiff competition. Learn what your real odds of admission are with our free chancing engine. You’ll also find plenty of tips to improve your chances of success. Sign up for your free CollegeVine account to get started.

Want more tips on improving your academic profile?

We'll send valuable information to help you strengthen your profile and get ready for college admissions.


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.