Brown University SealBrown University

What is the Open Curriculum?

Category: 
About Brown


Like many institutions dedicated to the liberal arts, Brown encourages its undergraduates to study broadly, to become self-reflective, to engage in community life and to rigorously develop their communication skills.  Unlike other American colleges and universities, Brown has no required core curriculum or distribution requirements that students must complete in order to graduate.  Students at Brown have unparalleled freedom to shape their own education and to make their college curricula a more thorough reflection of their own interests and aspirations.

Brown’s Open Curriculum is based on three principles. The first is that students ought to take an active role in their education by assuming responsibility for the direction of their learning. Secondly, an undergraduate education is seen as a process of individual and intellectual development, rather than simply a way to transmit a set body of information. Finally, the curriculum should encourage individuality, experimentation, and the integration and synthesis of different disciplines.

The only specific curricular requirements at Brown are that all students must successfully complete at least 30 courses in eight semesters, that every undergraduate must complete at least one concentration program (often called a “major” at other colleges), and that students must be able to demonstrate excellent skill in written English before they graduate.