The sun sets over Providence and Brown University. Viewed from Science Library
Mike Cohea—Brown University

Brown University

Jul 24, 2014

This Ivy League school gives students an unusual amount of academic freedom. The only class requirement is that students take at least one writing course by the end of sophomore year. Otherwise, undergrads can choose whatever courses they like, at Brown or just down College Hill at the Rhode Island School of Design. Grades are optional too—any class can be taken pass-fail. And students can design their own majors.

Besides liberal arts, Brown is known for strong science programs, especially in medicine, math, and computer sciences. That may be one reason why Brown graduates tend to do well on the job market. Recent grads earn almost $8,000 a year more than the average salary reported by graduates of similar colleges.

Although the school is comparatively small, with 6,400 undergraduates, Brown has the nation’s fourth-largest collegiate sports program, with 37 varsity teams, and participates in Division I. Among the highlights of the social calendar are the concert-filled Spring Weekend and the elegant Campus Dance on the main quad to kick off commencement weekend. And even though students call the main dining hall “The Ratty” (short for Refectory), the food is not bad.

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