The Open Graduate Education Program allows select Brown doctoral students to pursue a master’s degree in a secondary field. All doctoral students are invited to contemplate and propose their own combination of studies, free of any disciplinary barrier.
The Open Graduate Education program builds on the traditions of free inquiry and collaborative research at Brown. It aligns more closely the training of doctoral students with the spirit of Brown's Open Curriculum for undergraduate students, a cornerstone of the University's pedagogy. It grew out of a Graduate School pilot project, which was unveiled in October 2011 and updated in December 2014.
The objective of this program is to enable students to combine fields in unique ways and acquire expertise in more than one area. Consequently, there is no constraint on the choice of the secondary field -- as long as the master's program participates in the program -- and the field may be either close to or quite far removed from that of the doctoral studies.
The program is designed to enable select doctoral students to write unique dissertations that require knowledge in more than one field. Our overarching idea is that the Open Graduate Education program will provide Brown graduate students with the opportunity to broaden their intellectual and scholarly horizons, without sacrificing depth of study, as they prepare to launch their careers.
With three cohorts of participants and its first graduate, the Graduate School conducted a review of the program in the summer and fall of 2014. Based on participant feedback, the Graduate School has updated the program’s financial model. For details, see Information for Prospective Applicants.
The program welcomed its first cohort in the 2012-2013 academic year. As the 2019-2020 academic year begins, we welcome our eighth cohort. There are currently over 40 Open Graduate students and 30 program alumni.
Current Students | Program Alumni
Program Scope and Details
Each year, the program allows about 10 doctoral students -- from any discipline -- to pursue a master’s degree in a secondary field. Participants are selected on the basis of an application. Attending an information session is highly encouraged for interested students.
To make this additional study possible, the Graduate School will support the component of the student’s effort that is devoted to the secondary field from separate resources. The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation generously provides support for humanities students who participate in the pilot project. See additional financial details included in information for prospective applicants.
- Information for Prospective Applicants
- List of participating master's programs
- Full application package
- Doctoral DGS form
Master's DGS form
Research Advisor form
Student application only
Application deadline: Second Friday in February
First cohort selected (March 2012)
Nine Students Embark on ‘Open Curriculum’ Path (March, 2013)
PhD Students Broaden Goals Via Open Graduate Education (March 2014)
11 PhD Students Embark on ‘Open Graduate’ Journeys (March 2015)
PhD Students Embark on 'Open Graduate' Journeys (March 2016)
New Class Gains Tools for Innovative Research (March 2017)
Open Graduate Education Provides Varied Perspectives, Novel Research, Job Market Advantage (April 2018)
From Chemists to Theatre Studies, Eleven Students are Selected for Open Graduate Education (April 2019)
Read what members of the first cohort have to say about the Open Graduate Education program.