An Insight into Brown’s Ranking: Is It Worth the Hype?

By Eric Eng

By Eric Eng

Brown University building

An Insight into Brown’s Ranking: Is It Worth the Hype?

Brown University, nestled in the heart of Providence, Rhode Island, is a beacon of academic excellence that has earned a commendable reputation worldwide. As an Ivy League institution, it commands respect and attracts top-tier students and faculty from across the globe, contributing significantly to Brown’s ranking.

Over the years, Brown University’s standing in various national and global university rankings has been a subject of interest for students, parents, and academicians alike, given the weight these rankings carry in shaping academic and career trajectories.

The examination of Brown’s ranking provides insight into the university’s unique strengths and its appeal to a global audience. The university’s distinctive open curriculum, world-class faculty, robust research output, and commitment to student success are just a few factors that have propelled it to the top echelons of academic rankings.

In the following sections, we will delve deeper into Brown’s ranking, the components that contribute to its status, and the broader implications these rankings hold for prospective students and the university community at large.

The Ivy League Legend: Brown University

Brown University is a private Ivy League research university located in Providence, Rhode Island. Established in 1764, it is the seventh-oldest institution of higher education in the United States and one of the nine colonial colleges chartered before the American Revolution.

As an Ivy League institution, Brown University is recognized globally for its exceptional educational programs and commitment to high-quality research. It is renowned for its distinctive undergraduate experience highlighted by its open curriculum, which was first implemented in 1969.

Unlike other universities where students must meet core curriculum requirements, Brown’s open curriculum allows students to shape their own academic study with the guidance of faculty advisors. Students are encouraged to explore a broad range of subjects and to delve deeply into their chosen areas of study.

View of Brown University campus

Brown University is also home to a number of prestigious graduate programs, including the Warren Alpert Medical School, the School of Public Health, the School of Engineering, and the School of Professional Studies, among others. The university offers advanced study in more than 40 academic departments and programs.

The university is committed to fostering a diverse and inclusive academic community, with students from all 50 U.S. states and more than 115 countries. With a student population of over 10,425 (as of 2023), Brown offers a vibrant and culturally rich environment.

Brown University’s faculty are at the vanguard of their disciplines and are known for their dedication to teaching, research, and innovation. The faculty includes Nobel laureates, Pulitzer Prize winners, and other distinguished scholars who are leaders in their respective fields. The university has a low student-to-faculty ratio, allowing for small class sizes and individualized instruction.

Research at Brown University is characterized by a high level of collaboration across disciplines and departments, and the university is home to several leading research institutes and centers. The university is classified as an institution with “very high research activity” by the Carnegie Classification of Institutions of Higher Education.

Situated in the heart of Rhode Island’s capital city, Brown University offers a rich array of cultural, sporting, and community engagement activities. Its historic campus and state-of-the-art facilities provide an ideal setting for academic inquiry and personal growth.

In summary, Brown University is more than just a place for academic study. It’s a vibrant, innovative community where students and faculty work together to challenge conventions, create new knowledge, and contribute to solving some of the world’s most pressing problems.

What is the Ranking of Brown University?

What is the ranking of Brown University? As an Ivy League institution, Brown University has consistently maintained an impressive position in various university rankings, both nationally and globally. However, it’s important to understand that university rankings are determined by a variety of factors, each of which provides a different perspective on the institution’s overall quality.

U.S. News & World Report

U.S. News & World Report is one of the most reputable sources for university rankings in the United States. It provides a broad evaluation of universities based on a variety of factors, including undergraduate academic reputation, student retention, faculty resources, financial resources, student excellence, and alumni giving, among others.

Brown University was ranked 13th among National Universities in the U.S. News & World Report’s 2022-2023 rankings. This ranking places Brown among the top-tier institutions in the country, including its fellow Ivy League universities.

A ranking of 13th is a reflection of Brown’s commitment to maintaining high academic standards, a robust research output, and a well-rounded, enriching educational experience for its students. This position is derived from an amalgamation of various metrics, each contributing to the overall score.

For instance, Brown’s exceptional faculty resources contribute significantly to its high ranking. Factors like class size, faculty salary, faculty degree level, student-to-faculty ratio, and proportion of full-time faculty measure faculty resources. With a low student-to-faculty ratio and a faculty composed of distinguished scholars, Brown ensures that students have the opportunity to interact closely with their professors, enhancing the overall learning experience.

Another important component of the U.S. News & World Report ranking is student retention. Brown University boasts high freshman retention and graduation rates, indicating a high level of student satisfaction and success.

Alumni giving is another factor that bolsters Brown’s ranking. A high rate of alumni giving often reflects graduates’ satisfaction with their educational experience and their desire to contribute to the institution’s future.

Times Higher Education World University Rankings

The Times Higher Education World University Rankings is among the most prestigious and widely recognized university ranking systems. It assesses universities across all of their core missions—teaching, research, knowledge transfer, and international outlook. The performance indicators are grouped into five areas: Teaching (the learning environment); Research (volume, income, and reputation); Citations (research influence); International outlook (staff, students, and research); and Industry Income (knowledge transfer).

Brown University was ranked 61st in World University Rankings for 2023 and ranked 6th in the US College Rankings for 2022. Brown University has consistently ranked within the top 100 universities globally in the Times Higher Education rankings, a testament to its strong reputation and commitment to high-quality education and research.

Brown’s position in these rankings reflects its strength in various areas. In terms of teaching, Brown’s unique open curriculum and its commitment to undergraduate education have been recognized. The university’s research strength is also significant, with faculty members contributing to advancements in a variety of fields. Citations of Brown’s research in academic articles indicate the influence and impact of the work being done by the university’s scholars.

The international outlook is another area where Brown excels, with students and faculty members from around the world contributing to a diverse and vibrant academic community. Lastly, Brown’s collaborations with industry partners in research and knowledge transfer further enhance its standing in these rankings.

QS World University Rankings

Brown University was ranked 63rd  in the QS World University Rankings 2023. The QS World University Rankings is one of the most prestigious and widely recognized international university rankings. It evaluates universities on a variety of factors, including academic reputation, employer reputation, student-to-faculty ratio, citations per faculty, and international faculty and student ratios.

Brown’s position in the QS World University Rankings is a testament to its international standing and the high regard for its academic output. The academic reputation, a significant factor in the QS rankings, is assessed through a global survey of academics who are asked to identify the institutions where they believe the best work is taking place within their field of expertise. Brown’s strong showing in this category is indicative of the respect it commands in the global academic community.

Another crucial factor contributing to Brown’s QS ranking is the university’s employer reputation. This is determined through a survey of employers worldwide, who identify the universities they perceive to be producing the best graduates. Brown’s good standing in this metric reflects the high employability of its graduates and the university’s success in equipping its students with skills that are valued in the job market.

In terms of faculty-student ratio, Brown University’s commitment to maintaining small class sizes and promoting individualized instruction has also positively impacted its ranking. This indicator reflects the university’s commitment to providing a supportive and enriching learning environment for its students.

Lastly, the international faculty and student ratios demonstrate the diversity and global appeal of the university. Brown University’s diverse student body and faculty, hailing from over 100 countries, create a rich and inclusive academic community that enhances the learning experience.

It’s worth noting that while these rankings provide valuable insights, they do not capture all aspects of what makes a university great. Factors such as student life, campus culture, community engagement, and the availability of extracurricular opportunities also play a crucial role in shaping the university experience.

As such, while Brown University’s high rankings certainly reflect its academic excellence and research prowess, the university offers many other qualities that contribute to its reputation as one of the world’s leading institutions of higher education.

Why Do College Rankings Matter?

Why do college rankings matter? College rankings, including those in which Brown University is featured, serve several important functions for universities, prospective students, and the wider academic community. These rankings can significantly influence perceptions of a university’s reputation, prospective students’ decisions, the university’s attractiveness to faculty and researchers, and even the willingness of donors to contribute to the institution.

Reputation: Brown University, like other institutions, benefits from high rankings in that they enhance its reputation both domestically and internationally. A high ranking is often seen as a mark of quality, indicating that the university performs well in key areas such as teaching, research, faculty quality, and graduate outcomes.

Attracting Students: Rankings can also play a role in attracting prospective students. For many students and their families, rankings are a starting point in the college selection process. They provide a way to compare institutions using a common set of metrics. Brown’s ranking can attract a broader and more diverse pool of applicants, which in turn can contribute to a vibrant and high-achieving student body at Brown.

Two students talking in a table.

Attracting Faculty and Researchers: High-ranking universities like Brown are often more attractive to faculty and researchers. Being associated with a highly-ranked university can enhance a scholar’s reputation and provide more opportunities for research funding and collaboration.

Funding and Donations: Rankings can also influence funding and donations. Donors, both individual and institutional, may be more likely to contribute to a highly-ranked university. Additionally, high rankings can help universities secure funding from industry partnerships and research grants.

Benchmarking Performance: Rankings provide a benchmark for Brown University to measure its performance against other institutions. They can help the university identify areas of strength and areas that may need improvement.

However, it’s important to note that while rankings are useful, they are just one measure of a university’s quality and should not be the only factor considered by prospective students or faculty. They often fail to capture the full range of a university’s strengths and the unique opportunities it offers. At Brown University, aspects such as the open curriculum, the strong sense of community, and the focus on undergraduate teaching and research might be undervalued or overlooked in ranking metrics. Yet, they are integral to the Brown experience.

While college rankings matter for Brown University and play a significant role in shaping perceptions and decisions, they only tell part of the story. Brown’s commitment to academic excellence, student-centered learning, research innovation, and community engagement go beyond what can be captured in a ranking.

What is the Benefit of Brown’s Ranking in College Application?

What is the benefit of Brown’s ranking in college application? Brown University’s impressive ranking can offer several benefits to college applicants and the overall application process:

Recognition of Quality: A high ranking is often associated with quality. By applying to a highly-ranked university like Brown, students signal their ambition and pursuit of excellence. Brown’s ranking indicates that the university is recognized for its commitment to rigorous academics, exceptional faculty, and abundant resources.

Young teacher talking to a group of students.

Competitive Edge: Graduating from a highly ranked institution like Brown can give students a competitive edge in both further education and the job market. Employers and graduate programs often recognize the value of a degree from a highly-ranked institution due to their reputation for producing well-rounded, critical-thinking, and ambitious graduates.

Attractiveness to International Students: For international students, rankings can be especially important as they might not be as familiar with U.S. universities. Brown’s ranking can signal that the university is well-respected globally, which can be a significant draw.

Two women talking while sitting near a table.

Research Opportunities: High-ranking universities like Brown often have strong research programs. For students interested in research or planning to pursue a career in academia or a research-intensive field, these rankings can be a good indicator of the opportunities available.

Network and Connections: Highly ranked universities often have a large network of successful alumni, which can be advantageous for internships, job opportunities, and mentorship

Students smiling at the camera while doing a thumbs up.

Financial Aid: Top-ranked universities often have more resources, including financial aid. Brown, for example, is committed to meeting 100% of demonstrated financial need for all undergraduate students.

While these benefits are significant, it’s also essential for students to remember that rankings don’t tell the whole story about a university. Factors such as academic programs of interest, campus culture, student support services, location, and financial considerations are also crucial in the college application and selection process. A university might be highly ranked overall but may not necessarily be the best fit for every individual student’s needs and goals.


In conclusion, while rankings like those from U.S. News & World Report and QS World University Rankings attest to Brown University’s academic strength and research prowess, they don’t capture the full essence of the Brown experience. The open curriculum, high-quality faculty, vibrant campus life, and the success of its graduates contribute to making Brown University a unique and distinguished institution.

Brown University indeed lives up to its hype, but it also offers so much more. It is a place where students are encouraged to follow their academic interests freely, where research and innovation are at the forefront, and where the focus is on creating a well-rounded university experience. Above all, Brown is a place that prepares its students to be leaders, thinkers, and innovators, regardless of the path they choose to follow after graduation. This, more than any ranking, is the true value of a Brown University education.

The rankings are impressive, and they add to Brown University’s prestige, but the real essence of Brown lies in its commitment to student-centric learning, research, and post-graduation success. So, whether you are a prospective student or just someone interested in higher education, Brown University definitely deserves your attention.

Want to learn more about your chances of getting into Brown University? You’ve come to the right place. At AdmissionSight, we have over 10 years of experience guiding students through the competitive admissions process.

AdmissionSight can help you put your best foot forward when applying to college this fall. Contact us today for more information on our services.



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