Brown University vs Barnard College: A Comprehensive Analysis

By Eric Eng

By Eric Eng

a father helping her daughter to make recommendation letter

Brown University vs Barnard College: A Comprehensive Analysis

Deciding where to attend college can be a daunting decision. With so many excellent schools across the country, it can be challenging to determine which one will be the best fit for you. In this article, we will conduct a thorough analysis of two liberal arts colleges, Brown University vs Barnard College.

We will compare them across several categories, including location and campus size, admissions requirements, academic programs, and more. By the end of this article, you should have a better understanding of which college might be the right fit for you.

Location and Campus Size: Brown University vs Barnard College

Both Brown and Barnard are located in urban areas, in Providence, Rhode Island, and New York City, respectively. Brown’s campus covers 146 acres, while Barnard’s is much smaller, at 4.6 acres. While Brown’s campus is more sprawling, Barnard’s compact size allows for easy navigation between buildings. However, both colleges offer vibrant city life with plenty of cultural opportunities, restaurants, and attractions.

Barnard College's front building

Additionally, Brown’s location in Providence offers easy access to other colleges and universities in the area, such as Rhode Island School of Design and Providence College. Barnard’s location in New York City provides students with endless opportunities for internships and networking in various industries, including finance, media, and the arts.

Admissions Requirements and Acceptance Rates: Brown University vs Barnard College

Both schools are highly selective, with low acceptance rates. Brown had an acceptance rate of 5% in 2022, while Barnard’s acceptance rate was 11%. However, Barnard requires that applicants identify as women, while Brown is a coeducational school. Both schools require competitive SAT or ACT scores and strong academic records.

In addition to academic requirements, both Brown and Barnard also consider extracurricular activities, essays, and letters of recommendation in their admissions decisions. Brown places a strong emphasis on its Open Curriculum, which allows students to design their own academic paths, while Barnard has a required Core Curriculum that all students must complete. Both schools also offer need-based financial aid to admitted students.

Academic Programs and Majors Offered: Brown University vs Barnard College

Brown offers over 80 concentrations for undergraduate students, along with the ability to design a unique course of study through the Open Curriculum. Barnard offers more than 50 academic majors and concentrations, with the option to take courses at Columbia University as well. Both schools offer a robust liberal arts education, with a range of courses across humanities, social sciences, and natural sciences.

a male law student studying

In addition to the traditional academic programs, both Brown and Barnard offer a variety of interdisciplinary programs that allow students to explore multiple fields of study. Brown’s Program in Liberal Medical Education (PLME) allows students to pursue both a Bachelor’s degree and a Medical degree in eight years. Barnard’s Athena Center for Leadership Studies offers a unique program that combines women’s leadership education with a liberal arts curriculum.

Furthermore, both schools have a strong commitment to undergraduate research. Brown’s Undergraduate Teaching and Research Awards (UTRA) provide funding for students to conduct research with faculty members. Barnard’s Summer Research Institute offers students the opportunity to conduct research in a variety of fields, including science, social sciences, and humanities.

Faculty and Class Size Comparison: Brown University vs Barnard College

Brown has a larger faculty size with a student-faculty ratio of 6:1, while Barnard’s student-faculty ratio is 9:1. Both schools boast renowned faculty, with Nobel laureates, MacArthur Fellows, and Pulitzer Prize winners among them. Class sizes are small at both colleges, with intimate seminar-style courses that allow for plenty of interaction with professors.

Additionally, Brown University offers a unique program called “Open Curriculum” which allows students to design their own academic path without any required courses. This program gives students the freedom to explore their interests and passions and encourages them to take courses outside of their major.

On the other hand, Barnard College has a strong emphasis on women’s leadership and empowerment. The college offers various programs and resources to support women in their academic and professional pursuits, including the Athena Center for Leadership Studies and the Barnard Career Development Office.

Student Life and Extracurricular Activities: Brown University vs Barnard College

Both Brown and Barnard offer a vibrant campus life with plenty of extracurricular activities. Brown has over 400 student organizations, including a cappella groups, improv troupes, and cultural clubs.

Barnard has over 100 student-run organizations, including theatre groups, debate societies, and social justice organizations. Both schools offer athletic programs, with Brown’s Division I status and Barnard’s ability to participate in Columbia University’s athletic programs.

Aside from the numerous student organizations, both Brown and Barnard offer a variety of events and activities throughout the year. Brown hosts an annual Spring Weekend, which features concerts and other performances, as well as a campus-wide celebration. Barnard hosts an annual Big Sub event, where students come together to create and eat a giant submarine sandwich.

Additionally, both schools have resources and support systems in place for students to pursue their interests outside of the classroom. Brown has a Student Activities Office that helps students start and manage their own organizations, while Barnard has a Beyond Barnard program that connects students with internships, research opportunities, and other career-related experiences.

Research Opportunities and Funding Comparison: Brown University vs Barnard College

Both Brown and Barnard have top-notch research opportunities, with plenty of funding available for students. Brown has several research and innovation centers, including the Brown Institute for Brain Science and the Watson Institute for International and Public Affairs. Barnard has several research centers, including the Barnard Center for Research on Women and the Athena Center for Leadership Studies.

Female Bioengineering student working on a lab.

Additionally, both Brown and Barnard offer undergraduate research programs that allow students to work closely with faculty members on research projects. Brown’s Undergraduate Teaching and Research Awards (UTRA) program provides funding for students to conduct research during the summer or academic year.

Similarly, Barnard’s Summer Research Institute (SRI) offers funding for students to conduct research during the summer months. These programs provide valuable opportunities for students to gain hands-on experience in their field of study and contribute to cutting-edge research.

Athletics Programs and Facilities Comparison: Brown University vs Barnard College

Brown has a strong Division I athletics program, with a range of varsity sports, club sports, and intramural options. The athletic facilities at Brown include a state-of-the-art fitness center, an Olympic-sized pool, and an ice hockey rink.

While Barnard does not have varsity sports, students have the opportunity to participate in Columbia University’s athletics program. Barnard also has a fitness center and an Olympic-sized pool on campus.

Additionally, Brown University has a long-standing tradition of excellence in athletics, with numerous national championships and Olympic medalists among its alumni. The university also places a strong emphasis on the well-being of its student-athletes, providing resources such as sports medicine and nutrition services.

At Barnard, students can also take advantage of the fitness classes and wellness programs offered through the Barnard Physical Education Department, which include yoga, dance, and self-defense.

Diversity, Inclusion, and Campus Culture Comparison

Brown and Barnard both prioritize diversity and inclusion on campus. Brown has made efforts to increase the diversity of its student body in recent years, with incoming classes becoming more racially, socioeconomically, and geographically diverse. Barnard has a commitment to gender equity and has made efforts to increase the representation of students from marginalized communities. Both schools have a range of resources and affinity groups to support underrepresented students.

Additionally, Brown has implemented a number of initiatives to promote inclusivity on campus. These include the creation of a Diversity and Inclusion Action Plan, which outlines specific goals and strategies for increasing diversity and creating a more inclusive campus environment. The university has also established a number of centers and programs focused on supporting underrepresented students, such as the First-Generation College and Low-Income Student Center and the LGBTQ Center.

Similarly, Barnard has taken steps to address issues of diversity and inclusion on campus. The college has implemented a Bias Response Team, which provides support and resources for students who have experienced bias or discrimination. Barnard has also established a number of programs and initiatives focused on promoting diversity and inclusion, such as the Bold Women’s Leadership Network and the Athena Center for Leadership Studies.

Tuition, Fees, and Financial Aid Comparison

Tuition and fees at both Brown and Barnard are high, with Brown’s annual cost of attendance being over $78,000 and Barnard’s being over $75,000. However, both schools offer generous financial aid packages, with need-based aid and merit-based scholarships available to students. Brown also offers a no-loan policy for students from families with incomes below a certain threshold.

It is important to note that while the cost of attendance may seem daunting, both Brown and Barnard have a strong commitment to making their education accessible to students from diverse socioeconomic backgrounds. In addition to need-based aid and merit-based scholarships, both schools also offer work-study programs and other forms of financial assistance to help students cover the cost of attendance.

It is recommended that students and families explore all available options and resources to make an informed decision about financing their education.

Rankings, Accolades, and Reputation Comparison

Both Brown and Barnard are highly regarded institutions, with strong national and international reputations. Brown is consistently ranked in the top 20 national universities by U.S. News & World Report, and Barnard is consistently ranked in the top 30 liberal arts colleges. Both schools have outstanding faculty, rigorous academic programs, and a commitment to innovation and excellence.

One area where Brown and Barnard differ is in their size and student population. Brown has a larger undergraduate population of around 7,000 students, while Barnard has a smaller undergraduate population of around 2,500 students. This difference in size can impact the student experience, with Brown offering a wider range of academic and extracurricular opportunities, while Barnard provides a more intimate and close-knit community.

Another factor to consider is location. Brown is located in Providence, Rhode Island, a vibrant city with a rich history and culture. Barnard is located in New York City, providing students with access to countless opportunities for internships, networking, and cultural experiences. While both locations have their advantages, students should consider which environment would best suit their personal and academic goals.

Which One is the Best Fit for You? A Personal Assessment:

If you are considering Brown University vs Barnard College, it’s important to think about what you want out of your college experience. Do you prefer a sprawling campus or a smaller, more compact one? Are you looking for a robust athletic program, or do you prefer a college with no varsity sports? Do you want to study in a big city, or would you prefer a quieter college town? By answering these questions, you can determine which college might be the best fit for you.

Overall, both Brown and Barnard are excellent choices for a liberal arts education. While there are some differences between the two schools, they share a commitment to excellence and a dedication to providing students with a well-rounded educational experience. With this comprehensive analysis, you are now equipped with all the information you need to make an informed decision about where to attend college. Best of luck in your decision-making process!

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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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