Transfer Applicants

Most students who are unsatisfied with their college experience don’t consider transferring to another school.  Most students are unwilling to put up with the extra work, emotional energy and personal upheaval that transferring requires.  Consequently those who do take the initiative to transfer are already a significant distillation of the American college population.  Transfers are those people who are unwilling to settle.  They are willing to do the extra work to get what they want.  And they are willing to take the path less-traveled to arrive at a better place.  These qualities that transfers possess prepare them well for college in general and for Brown in particular.

Brown’s Open Curriculum is designed for the student who takes unusual initiative and demonstrates unusual independence.  This could be part of the reason why transfers routinely do so well at Brown both academically and socially.  It also might explain why so many of our most famous alumni originally came to Brown after a year-or-two at another institution. 

Brown welcomes between 100 and 200 transfer students to campus each year, and transfers constitute an important and significant part of our campus community.  We are happy to have you here.  

One application, two times to enroll

Brown admits transfers in two cohorts: one group will enroll at Brown in the following fall semester and another group will enter in the following spring semester.  Although there are two possible semesters of entry there is only one transfer admission process per year, and the deadline to submit the transfer application every year is March 1.

Brown admits transfers who will begin their time at the college as first-semester sophomores, second-semester sophomores and first-semester juniors.  All transfers must successfully complete a minimum of four semesters and 15 courses at the college in order to earn their undergraduate degree. 

First-or-second-semester sophomores who are admitted to Brown for the spring are given the option of remaining at their current college in the following fall or spending that semester studying abroad through one of three Brown-sponsored study abroad programs in Spain and the United Kingdom.  Typically a little more than half of all spring semester transfers study abroad through Brown in the semester prior to their enrollment.  

Eligibility Requirements

  • Transfer applicants must have completed at least two semesters of college work prior to their enrollment at Brown.  Students who will have completed more than four semesters of college work prior to their enrollment are discouraged from applying.
  • High school students who are currently enrolled in dual degree programs or early college programs are not eligible to apply as transfers.  These students may only apply as first-year applicants.
  • Students who have already completed a bachelor’s degree at another college are ineligible to apply as transfers.
  • Applicants from British universities must have completed a year or more of their undergraduate education prior to applying.  We will make exceptions to this rule for applicants from British universities that provide graded fall-semester transcripts for their students.

Application Checklist

  • Application Fee of $75 or a Fee Waiver
  • Common Application Transfer Application
  • Questions specific to Brown University, including our essays. Which are found in the Common Application section labeled “Questions”
  • Official copy of your high school transcript
  • Official copy of your current college transcript – including grades from your fall 2015 semester work and a list of your current course enrollments.
  • College Official’s Report
  • Two Instructor Evaluations that have been completed by faculty at your current college
  • Mid Term Report (In most cases we expect that this will be received by our office by April 1)
  • SAT or ACT (required for any student not applying from an American community college)
  • Financial Aid Applicants must submit the appropriate financial aid documents when they apply. For more information visit the Office of Financial Aid.

Important Notes on Submitting Documents

  • Applicants should submit the majority of their application using the Common Application website.
  • Official documents like transcripts, testing reports and letters of recommendation must be submitted to the Office of College Admission by the institutions or parties that created those documents.  We cannot accept official documents that have been mailed or emailed to our office by applicants.
  • By mid-March the Office of Admission will send transfer applicants a username and password that they can use to check the completeness of their application online.
  • It is likely that any document received by our office will not be entered into our application database until a week after it has been received.  If you have recently submitted a document, please understand that it may take a week or more before it is listed on your application account as having been received.


Although freshman applicants to Brown are typically interviewed by a college alumnus transfer applicants to the college are not interviewed, prior to their decisions being released, except in unusual circumstances.

Fee Waiver*

We understand that the cost of applying to college can be prohibitive for some applicants and their families.  If the application fee constitutes a financial hardship we will accept a fee waiver in lieu of the application fee itself.  The College Board provides fee waivers to students who take the SAT, and these fee waivers are accepted by our office.  We will also accept a fee waiver in the form of a letter (printed on college letterhead) from a dean, advisor or financial aid officer at your home institution that vouches for the authenticity of your claim that the application fee constitutes a financial hardship. 

Testing Requirements

  • Brown requires that all applicants to the college submit the results of either the SAT or the ACT when they apply.  
  • It is highly recommended that international applicants submit the official results of the TOEFL or IELTS.
  • Applicants applying to Brown from American community colleges, junior colleges and two-year colleges may apply without submitting the results of the SAT or the ACT. Although community college applicants may apply to Brown as transfer applicants without submitting SAT or ACT results, they fare much better in our process if they do submit the results of these tests.  In a given transfer application cycle the number of transfer students admitted without either SAT or ACT results is typically three or fewer.

Transfer Credit

Generally speaking, most liberal arts courses taken at other colleges and universities are transferable to Brown.  More specifically, Brown will transfer credit for courses at other colleges that are similar to courses offered in our own curriculum.  If you are wondering which of your classes will be transferable you should peruse Brown’s online Course Search to see if the University offers a similar course. Brown will not award transfer credit for correspondence courses, online courses, courses taken during summer programs or for courses that were taken as part of a dual enrollment curriculum.  Brown also will not award transfer credit for AP test scores. 

The University will not pre-evaluate transferable credit prior to acceptance.  Transferable credit is determined after a student enrolls.  When an applicant is accepted their acceptance letter will include information about the semester level at which they will enter (first-semester sophomore, second-semester sophomore or first-semester junior), but the number of transferable courses will not be determined until the Dean of the College Office has access to an admitted applicant’s final college transcript (typically in the summer - for fall admits, or winter - for spring admits) before they enroll.

What makes a good transfer applicant?

First and foremost the Office off College Admission seeks to admit candidates who will be academically successful at Brown.  To this end the most important pieces of a transfer applications include:

  • The college transcript (curriculum and grades)
  • Recommendation letters from college faculty
  • Standardized test scores (the SAT or ACT)
  • The high school transcript

Since Brown’s admission process is a highly selective one, we also want to choose applicants who will add, in some concrete way, to Brown’s undergraduate community.  We look for applicants with long-term commitment to extracurricular activities who we expect will involve themselves in similar pursuits at Brown.  And we actively try to admit students from a variety of perspectives and backgrounds: to make Brown’s undergraduate student body a thorough reflection of the diversity of identity and perspective that exists in the nation and in the world.

We hope that following transfer admission statistics will give you a better picture for the type of applicants whom we admit.


Transfer Application Cycle

Spring 2013

Spring 2014

Spring 2015

Number Applied




Number admitted (fall & spring combined)




Percent Admitted




Number enrolling (fall and spring)




Percent Enrolling




SAT Critical Reading, middle 50% of admits




SAT Math, middle 50% of admits




SAT Writing, middle 50% of admits




ACT composite, middle 50% of admits




Average College GPA of admits




In the last three years the Office of Admission has admitted transfer students from nearly 200 different colleges and universities worldwide.  Below is a sample of the colleges that are sending transfer students to Brown for the 2015-2016 academic year.

Arizona State University
Bunker Hill Community College
California Institute of Technology
Carnegie Mellon University
Colby College
Colorado College
Columbia University
Community College of Rhode Island
County College of Morris
Dartmouth College
Deep Springs College
Dutchess Community College
Eastman School of Music
Florida Atlantic University
Holyoke Community College
Macalester College
Macaulay Honors College
Middlebury College
National Research University (Russia)
Northern Virginia Community College
Northwestern University
Oberlin College
Providence College
Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
San Diego Mesa College
Savannah College of Art and Design
Seattle University
Singapore Management University
Smith College
St. John’s College, New Mexico
University of Alabama, Tuscaloosa
University of California, Berkeley
University of California, Los Angeles
University of Chicago
University of Illinois, Chicago
University of Massachusetts, Amherst
University of Miami
University of Nebraska, Lincoln
University of Pennsylvania
University of Toronto (Canada)
Universidad San Fran de Quito (Ecuador)
University of Sussex (UK)
University of Virginia
Wesleyan University
Williams College
Yale University



Financial Aid

Brown’s transfer admission process is need-aware, meaning that an applicant’s ability to pay for tuition, room and board is factored in when we make an admission decision.  Brown guarantees to meet the full-demonstrated need as determined by the Office of Financial Aid of all its admitted students.  If you are a transfer applicant who may need financial aid at some point during your Brown career you must submit a financial aid application when you first apply.  Admitted transfer applicants who did not apply for aid in their original transfer application are not eligible to apply for financial aid at any point later in their time at Brown. 

Transfer Calendar

February 2, 2016  
Transfer applicants applying for financial aid must submit their CSS Profile by this date.

March 1, 2016                   
Application deadline for Transfer applicants.  Your Transfer Common Application and Brown Supplement must be postmarked by this date.  The other elements of your application may be postmarked after this date.

March 15, 2016 
Transfer applicants applying for financial aid must submit their Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) by this date.

Mid-May 2016                   
Transfer decisions are mailed.  Applicants may be admitted for either the fall 2016 semester or the spring 2017 semester.

Early June 2016                 
Commitment deadline for Transfer applicants.  Unlike other colleges, Brown has no enrollment deposit.

June 17, 2016                    
Final transcript deadline. Enrolling transfers for the fall 2016 and spring of 2017 must submit their final 2015-2016 college transcript by this date. 

September 3, 2016          
Start of orientation for transfer students entering Brown in the fall of 2016

September 7, 2016          
First day of classes for the Fall 2016 semester

January 4, 2017                 
Final transcript deadline for transfer students entering Brown in the Spring of 2017.  If you spent the fall 2016 semester studying at your previous college or taking courses part-time at a different college or studying overseas through a Brown-sponsored program in Europe, you must submit your final fall 2016 transcript by this date.

January 21, 2017               
Start of orientation for transfer students entering Brown in the spring of 2017

January 25, 2017               
First day of classes for the Spring 2017 semester

If you have admission-specific questions, please contact us.