Independent Concentration

Independent concentrations represent a distinctly personal and individualized approach to undergraduate education. An independent concentrator creates his or her own program of study, organizing a body of courses from several departments around a central theme, topic, or set of related inquiries. The approach and coursework draw on different existing departments, but the concentration must articulate a coherent field of study, with a disciplinary focus and cohesive connection between its various components. This program encourages students to strengthen their skills in a subject or area of knowledge that is academically rigorous and intellectually rewarding.

The independent concentration must explore some question or field of study that cannot be explored in a similar way in one of the standard concentrations available at Brown. Like all concentration programs at Brown, independent concentrations must articulate how the concentration is part of the Liberal Arts program at Brown, and must, therefore, accord with Brown's Mission Statement. Concentrations that focus on vocational, technical, or business training of the kind not offered at Brown will not be accepted.

Independent concentration proposals are reviewed and approved by the College Curriculum Council.

While the majority of independent concentrations are unique and require multiple phases of formulation and approvals, the following tracks and their respective requirements have been formally approved and require only approval from the respective concentration advisor(s) in the department(s) associated. *Note well: If the track is jointly offered it requires sign off from both departments. Prospective concentrators should complete the declaration process in ASK by selecting Independent Concentration, followed by the appropriate track and track advisor.

Pre-Approved Tracks

Modern Culture and Media-French Track

This track is offered jointly by the Department of French Studies and the Department of Modern Culture and Media. It is intended for students who wish to receive special preparation in French language and literature, with emphasis on contemporary semiotic theory, and those students whose primary interest is in theory and who wish to strengthen their knowledge of French language, literature, and culture. In addition to a Senior Thesis, students will take five courses in French and five in Modern Culture and Media. Students wishing to declare this concentration must select an advisor from each of the two sponsoring departments.

Required courses:

Honors: Students who qualify for Honors in the Independent Concentration, Modern Culture and Media-French track are eligible to apply to do an Honors project or thesis. Applications will be screened by both MCM and French Studies. (Application forms should be submitted by prospective honors students in the beginning of the 7th semester. They are available in the MCM office.) If approved, a student must then register for MCM 1990 or FREN 1990, a one-credit thesis course in which they complete the Honors project.

Modern Culture and Media-German Track

This track is offered jointly by the Department of German Studies and the Department of Modern Culture and Media. It offers interested students an opportunity to explore the phenomenon of "Germany" using the approaches of cultural theory. Students will take a number of required courses through which they learn the basic theories and approaches to issues of language and meaning, subjectivity and identity, ideology and consciousness, gender and sexuality, and theories of narrativity. Other courses offer the student an overview of the German textual traditions in literature, philosophy, music, film, and the fine arts. German language proficiency is expected of all participants in the program and may be gained by a variety of approaches available within the German Studies Department. Overseas study at Berlin's Humboldt University or in special cases at an equivalent institution is considered a normal part of this joint concentration. All students will be required to complete a final project.

Requirements in addition to Senior Thesis:

Twelve courses are required.


  1. Two courses from among:

  2. GRMN 0900, Introduction to German Studies
  3. Requirements:

    1. Two courses in German Studies at the 1000-level with topics relevant to the focus area

    2. A senior thesis: GRMN 1990 or MCM 1990

    3. Six courses from the following:
    4. Students are encouraged to examine the Course Announcement carefully in consultation with their advisors to select courses that augment their concentration and, in particular, inform their final projects. In addition, students will normally complete two to four of those electives while studying in Berlin or at another location approved by the concentration advisor.

    5. Students who are unable to study in Germany will be required to demonstrate reading knowledge of German.
    6. Students are encouraged to consult with the concentration advisors for German Studies and Modern Culture and Media as early as possible in order to begin planning their course work sequences and their final project.

Modern Culture and Media-Italian Track

This track is offered jointly by the Italian Studies Department and the Department of Modern Culture and Media. The program includes 11 courses.

Requirements in addition to Senior Thesis:

The following 6 courses are to be taken in the Italian Studies Department:

The following 5 courses are to be taken in the Modern Culture and Media Department:

At least 1 course numbered MCM 1200

At least 1 course numbered MCM 1500

Students are encouraged to consider study at the University of Bologna through the Brown Program in Bologna, though this is by no means a requirement for fulfillment of the program. Courses taken at the University of Bologna may substitute for Italian Studies and MCM courses (no more than 2 from either department) at the discretion of the student's advisors.

Honors: Honors will require a thesis and will normally be undertaken by signaling intent during the junior year.

Statistics Track

Statistics has a theoretical core surrounded by a large number of domains of application in diverse fields, including economics, psychology, biology and medicine, sociology, population sciences, government, anthropology, astronomy, physics, chemistry, geology, engineering, and computer science. At Brown, graduate training in Biostatistics is available in the Department of Biostatstics and in Mathematical Statistics in the Division of Applied Mathematics. In addition, several other departments are offering introductory and even advanced courses in statistical methodology, including the Departments of Economics, Sociology, Cognitive, Linguistic and Psychological Sciences, Political Science and Computer Science.

The Undergraduate program in Statistics, established in 1997, is an interdepartmental program, administered by the Department of Biostatistics and leading to the Sc.B. degree. The program is constructed on several premises: that statistics is a scientific discipline in its own right, with its characteristic methodology and body of knowledge; that it is essentially concerned with the art and science of the analysis of data; and that it is best taught in conjunction with specific, substantive applications. To this end, the concentration is designed to provide a foundation of basic concepts and methodology, requiring students to take core courses in the discipline itself, and to expose students to a cross-section of statistical applications, through courses (of their own selection and subject to approval) in the social, biological, and natural sciences. In a senior honors thesis, each student will be required to carry out a major project of statistical data analysis in one of these disciplines. The program prepares students for careers in industry and government, for graduate study in statistics or biostatistics and other sciences, as well as for professional study in law, medicine, business, or public administration.

Requirements in addition to Senior Thesis:

The program begins with a foundation in mathematics and computing, combined with an elementary introduction to statistical thinking and practice. A set of three core courses builds on this foundation by providing a comprehensive account of the fundamentals of statistical theory and data analysis. At this point, the students in the concentration are ready to delve into more advanced material covering important areas of statistical methodology. In addition to formal coursework, students will have opportunities to acquire practical experience in study design, data management, and statistical analysis by working as undergraduate research assistants in projects in one of the participating academic departments or research centers at Brown.

The program requires twelve one-semester courses and participation in the senior seminar. The required courses are as follows:

Level I: Foundations

Level II: Core courses in theory and data analysis

Level III: Advanced courses in statistical methods

Prospective students will be able to obtain Advanced Placement credit for the requirements in mathematics, computing, and introductory statistics. Students who have already completed an introductory course in statistics will be granted permission to proceed to Level II core courses if they meet the prerequisites in mathematics and computing.

Honors: Honors work in the Independent Concentration, Statistics track requires the completion of a senior thesis and a superior record in the program.

The program is administered by the Department of Biostatistics, located at 121 South Main Street, 7th floor.

For additional information please contact: Roee Gutman, Box G-S-121-7; Telephone: 401-863-2682; Fax: 401-863-9182; e-mail: Roee Gutman

Page last updated in July, 2012.

Back to Brown University Registrar's Home Page