Brown University News Bureau

The Brown University News Bureau

1996-1997 index

Distributed June 27, 1997
Contact: Mark Nickel

A brief history and description of Brown University

Brown University, located on College Hill in Providence, R.I., was established in 1764 as the seventh college in America and the third in New England. Originally called Rhode Island College and located in Warren, R.I., the college moved to its present location in Providence in 1770. In 1804, in recognition of the contributions of Nicholas Brown, its name was changed to Brown University.

Brown began offering graduate courses in the 1880s and established a formal graduate school in 1927. Women were admitted beginning in 1891, with the establishment of the Women's College, renamed Pembroke College in 1928. Pembroke and the Brown College merged in 1971.

In 1972, the Brown Corporation approved a Medical Education Program which led to the M.D. degree. That program later adopted a unique eight-year continuum for medical education, called the Program in Liberal Medical Education, which sought to continue non-medical academic interests throughout a student's career. In 1991, the Corporation voted to change the name to the Brown University School of Medicine.

One of the hallmarks of a Brown education is the Brown Curriculum, which encourages students to assume responsibility for shaping their own course of study in consultation with faculty advisers. By eliminating distribution requirements or courses that are required of all students, the Brown Curriculum affords students maximum flexibility while retaining intellectual rigor. Required courses are confined to a student's concentration (academic major), typically between 8 and 21 courses.

After more than two centuries of change and growth, Brown continues to draw men and women from all over the United States and more than 70 foreign countries.




Social Sciences9138129
Physical Sciences13025155
Life and Medical Sciences7526101


The University library system contains more than 5 million items including bound volumes, periodicals, maps, sheet music and manuscripts, and procures more than 60,000 items each year. The library will celebrate acquisition of its 3 millionth book this fall.


During the past two years, Brown has attracted an average of 15,000 applicants for about 1,360 slots in each class. The Class of 2001, which will enter this fall, will include 738 women and 659 men, nearly 10 percent of whom are international students.


Brown's operating budget for 1997-98 is $250.4 million. Tuition is $22,592; total student charges (tuition, room, board and fees) come to $29,900. Tuition accounts for nearly 80 percent of the University's unrestricted revenue.

The University's endowment, currently valued at approximately $850 million, contributes more than 10 percent of the University's total revenues, compared with 7.5 percent a decade ago.


The 145-acre main campus comprises 234 buildings, including the W. Duncan MacMillan Undergraduate Sciences Center, currently under construction at the corner of Thayer and George Streets. The building will be ready at the start of the 1998-99 academic year.


Brown offers one of the broadest varsity athletic programs in the nation. With 17 women's teams, 17 men's teams and two coed teams, Brown provides nearly 1,000 opportunities for competition in the Ivy League at the NCAA Division 1 level. Brown's 57 acres of sports areas include a football stadium, hockey rink, 10-lane Olympic swimming pool, squash and handball courts, saunas, 14 tennis courts, an outdoor all-weather track and many other facilities.