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

  • Applicants who submit transfer applications to Brown in the spring of 2017 will only be eligible to apply if they will have completed at least one year of full-time college enrollment before September 2017.
  • University rules stipulate that anyone admitted as a transfer must be enrolled full-time at Brown for at least four semesters prior to earning their undergraduate degree.  For this reason we discourage transfer applications from students who will have accrued more than four semesters of college work prior to their enrollment at Brown.
  • High school students who are currently enrolled in dual-degree programs or early college programs are ineligible 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.

Testing Requirements

  • Brown requires that transfer applicants submit the results of either the SAT 1 or the ACT when they apply.  This applies to both domestic and international applicants.  Only one group of applicants are permitted to apply without submitting SAT 1 or ACT scores: American citizens or U.S. permanent residents applying from domestic community colleges, junior colleges or two-year colleges.  
  • English language proficiency must be achieved before you are admitted. Brown does not offer courses in English as a Second Language for its undergraduates and does not accept, on a provisional basis, students who are deficient in English. We highly recommend that international applicants take the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) or the IELTS and arrange for Brown to receive the official results.  If you are applying to Brown from a country that does not provide access to SAT or ACT testing centers then you are required to submit the results of the TOEFL or the IELTS when you apply.  A TOEFL score of 600 or above on the written exam or 100 or above on the internet-based exam, or an 8.0 on the IELTS, is expected in most cases.  International applicants who have attained an SAT Critical Reading score of 650 or higher on the old SAT 1 (for testing dates earlier than March 2016) or of 700 or higher on the new SAT 1 (for testing dates in March 2016 or later) do not need to submit a TOEFL or IELTS score.
  • Although domestic applicants from community colleges, junior colleges and two-year colleges are allowed to apply without submitting SAT 1 or ACT results, these applicants fare better in our admission process if they do submit the results of those tests.  Per year Brown typically admits three or fewer transfer applicants who have not submitted the results of either the SAT 1 or the ACT.

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. 

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.

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 2016 semester work and a list of your current course enrollments.
  • College Official’s Report
  • Two Instructor Evaluations that have been completed by faculty who have taught you 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 all domestic and international applicants, except for domestic applicants applying from domestic community colleges)
  • 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 such as 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. In early April we will email you to let you know if any required documents are missing from your application file.
  • The Office of College Admission does not accept or review supplementary materials from transfer applicants.  Transfer applicants should not submit art samples or music portfolios since these materials are not evaluated as part of the transfer admission process.

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. 


  • 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 an unusual circumstance.

Transfer Calendar

February 1, 2017 
In order to ensure a financial aid notification is available at the time of admission, students should submit both the Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) and their CSS Profile by this date.  Transfer applicants who are interested in applying for federal and institutional financial aid may complete both forms beginning on October 1, 2016.

March 1, 2017                  
Application deadline for Transfer applicants.  Your Transfer Common Application and Brown Supplement must be submitted online by 11:59 p.m. on this date.  The other elements of your application may be received after this date.

Early April 2017
If required materials are missing from your application, you will be emailed a reminder to login to the Brown portal to view what credentials have been received, and what is still missing.

Mid-May 2017                   
Transfer decisions are released online.  Applicants may be admitted for either the fall 2017 semester or the spring 2018 semester. You will receive an email from Brown when your admission decision is available for viewing online.

Early June 2017                
Commitment deadline for Transfer applicants.  Unlike other colleges, Brown has no enrollment deposit.

June 16, 2017                    
Final transcript deadline. Enrolling transfers for the fall 2017 and spring of 2018 must submit their final 2016-2017 college transcript by this date. 

September 2, 2017         
Start of orientation for transfer students entering Brown in the fall of 2017

September 6, 2017          
First day of classes for the Fall 2017 semester

January 2, 2018                 
Final transcript deadline for transfer students entering Brown in the Spring of 2018.  If you spent the fall 2017 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 2017 transcript by this date.

January 20, 2018              
Start of orientation for transfer students entering Brown in the spring of 2018

January 24, 2018               
First day of classes for the Spring 2018 semester

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

What Makes a Good Transfer Applicant?

First and foremost the Office of College Admission seeks to admit candidates who will be academically successful at Brown.  To this end the most important pieces of a transfer application 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.  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 the following transfer admission statistics will give you a better picture for the type of applicants whom we admit.


Transfer Application Cycle

Spring 2014

Spring 2015

Spring 2016

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 four years the Office of Admission has admitted transfer students from 218 different colleges and universities worldwide.  Below is a sample of the colleges that are sending new transfers to Brown in the 2016-2017 academic year.

Arizona State University
Berkshire Community College
Boston College
Bronx Community College
Broward Community College, Fort Lauderdale
Cañada College
Carleton College
Colby College
Columbia University
Concordia University
Dartmouth College
DePaul University
Deep Springs College
Emory University
Grinnell College
Haverford College
Indian River Community College
Indiana University, Bloomington
Macaulay Honors College, City University of New York
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Middlebury College
Netaji Subhas Institute of Technology (India)
Northeastern University
Northern Virginia Community College
Northwestern University
Oberlin College
Pima Community College
Salt Lake Community College
Scottsdale Community College
Skidmore College
Suffolk University
Swarthmore College
University of California, Los Angeles
University of Colorado, Boulder
University of Chicago
University of Edinburgh (Scotland)
University of Maryland, Baltimore County
University of Massachusetts, Amherst
University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill
University of Pennsylvania
University of Richmond
University of San Diego
University of Utah
University of Virginia
University of Western Ontario (Canada)