Brown University vs. Cornell: A Comprehensive Analysis

By Eric Eng

By Eric Eng

Students smiling at the camera.

Brown University vs. Cornell: A Comprehensive Analysis

Choosing the right university to attend can be overwhelming, especially when deciding between two excellent schools, Brown University and Cornell.  This article will compare Brown University vs. Cornell across 19 categories, including their campuses, academic programs, extracurricular activities, and more, to help you make the best decision for your future.

Both universities are well-respected institutions with a long history of academic excellence, but they differ in various ways.

Location and Campus Size

Brown University is located in Providence, Rhode Island, a small city known for its arts, culture, and food scene. The university’s campus is relatively small, with just over 140 acres of land. Cornell, on the other hand, is located in Ithaca, New York, a small college town situated in the Finger Lakes region of the state.

Cornell’s campus, by comparison, is much larger, with over 4,000 acres of land. While both campuses have their charms, the size and location of each can significantly impact your college experience.

One advantage of Brown’s smaller campus is that it allows for a more intimate and tight-knit community. Students are more likely to run into each other on campus and form close relationships with their peers and professors. Additionally, the smaller campus size means that students can easily navigate the campus and get to their classes without feeling overwhelmed or lost.

On the other hand, Cornell’s larger campus offers more opportunities for outdoor activities and exploration. With over 4,000 acres of land, students can hike, bike, and explore the natural beauty of the Finger Lakes region. The larger campus also means that there are more facilities and resources available to students, including research labs, athletic facilities, and libraries.

Admission Requirements and Acceptance Rates

Brown University and Cornell are both selective universities that receive thousands of applications each year.

Brown has an acceptance rate of 6.9%, while Cornell’s acceptance rate is slightly higher at 10.6%. Both universities require similar application materials, including transcripts, standardized test scores, essays, and letters of recommendation. However, the average SAT score for admitted students is slightly higher at Cornell, while the average ACT score is slightly higher at Brown.

In addition to these requirements, both universities consider extracurricular activities, leadership experience, and community involvement when making admissions decisions. Brown University strongly emphasizes a student’s demonstrated interest in the university.

At the same time, Cornell values diversity and seeks to admit students from a wide range of backgrounds and experiences.

It is important for prospective students to carefully review the admissions requirements and consider how they can showcase their unique strengths and qualities in their application.

Academic Programs and Faculty

Both Brown University and Cornell offer a wide variety of academic programs, with strengths in a range of fields.

Brown is known for its focus on undergraduate education, with an open curriculum that allows students to design their own course of study. Cornell, by comparison, is a much larger research institution with a broader range of graduate programs. Both universities have renowned faculty members, with many distinguished scholars and leaders in their fields.

Brown University has a strong emphasis on interdisciplinary studies, with many programs that combine multiple fields of study. For example, the Watson Institute for International and Public Affairs offers a concentration in Development Studies, which draws on economics, political science, sociology, and other disciplines to explore issues related to global development.

Cornell, on the other hand, has a number of specialized research centers and institutes, such as the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and the Atkinson Center for a Sustainable Future, which provide opportunities for students to engage in cutting-edge research.

Male student sitting on a table with books while smiling at the camera.

Both universities also have a commitment to diversity and inclusion. Brown has a need-blind admission policy and meets the full demonstrated financial need of all admitted students, regardless of their background.

Cornell has a number of programs and initiatives aimed at promoting diversity, such as the Office of Academic Diversity Initiatives and the Latino Living Center. Both universities also have active student organizations and affinity groups that provide support and community for students from underrepresented backgrounds.

Brown University vs. Cornell: Student Life and Culture

Brown and Cornell each have a unique student culture and set of traditions. Brown has a reputation for being a liberal and inclusive campus, with a large LGBTQ+ community and a strong focus on social justice.

Cornell, by contrast, is known for its school spirit and competitive athletics programs. Both universities offer a wide range of student organizations and clubs, from political groups to cultural organizations and everything in between.

At Brown, students are encouraged to take an active role in shaping their academic experience. The Open Curriculum allows students to design their own course of study without the traditional requirements of a core curriculum. This approach fosters a sense of intellectual curiosity and exploration and encourages students to pursue their passions and interests.

Cornell, on the other hand, offers a wide range of academic programs and majors, from engineering to hotel management. The university is also home to several research centers and institutes, providing students with opportunities to engage in cutting-edge research and innovation.

Additionally, Cornell has a strong commitment to sustainability, with initiatives such as the Sustainable Campus program and the Cornell Farm providing students with hands-on experience in environmental stewardship.

Brown University vs. Cornell: Extracurricular Activities and Athletics

Both Brown University and Cornell offer a variety of extracurricular activities and athletics programs. Brown has an impressive range of arts and cultural organizations, as well as a thriving community service program. Cornell is home to one of the country’s largest athletics programs, with over 30 varsity teams and a strong focus on sports culture.

At Brown, students can participate in a wide range of clubs and organizations, including a capella groups, dance troupes, and theater productions. The university also has a strong focus on community service, with opportunities for students to volunteer both on and off campus. Brown’s student-run newspaper, The Brown Daily Herald, is also a popular extracurricular activity.

Cornell’s athletics program is not only one of the largest in the country but also one of the most successful. The university has won numerous national championships in sports such as lacrosse, wrestling, and ice hockey. In addition to varsity sports, Cornell also offers a variety of club and intramural sports for students to participate in.

The university’s outdoor education program is also a popular extracurricular activity, offering students the opportunity to go on hiking, camping, and rock climbing trips.

Research Opportunities and Funding

Cornell’s status as a major research institution means that it offers a wide range of research opportunities for students. The university has an extensive network of research centers and institutes, as well as numerous opportunities to work with faculty members on research projects.

Brown, by comparison, has a more limited research program but still offers opportunities for students to engage in independent research and work with faculty.

Furthermore, Cornell provides ample funding opportunities for research projects. The university offers grants and fellowships to support student research, as well as funding for travel to conferences and other research-related events. Brown also offers funding for research projects, but the availability of funding may be more limited.

In addition to traditional research opportunities, Cornell and Brown both offer unique programs for students interested in interdisciplinary research. Cornell’s Atkinson Center for a Sustainable Future, for example, brings together faculty and students from across disciplines to work on sustainability issues.

Brown’s Data Science Initiative similarly encourages collaboration between students and faculty from different fields to tackle complex data-related problems.

Alumni Networks and Career Services

Both Brown University and Cornell have large alumni networks that can be helpful in securing internships and job opportunities after graduation.

Female student answering a test while smiling.

Cornell has a particularly strong alumni network in the business and technology fields, while Brown has a reputation for producing successful entrepreneurs and social justice advocates. Both universities also offer extensive career services programs, including career counseling, resume writing workshops, and networking events.

In addition to the career services programs offered by Brown and Cornell, both universities also have active alumni mentorship programs. These programs connect current students with alumni who work in their desired fields, providing valuable guidance and networking opportunities.

Brown’s alumni mentorship program is particularly robust, with over 1,000 alumni volunteers available to mentor students. Cornell’s program is also highly regarded, with many alumni mentors holding leadership positions in their industries.

Brown University vs. Cornell: Philanthropy and Community Engagement

Brown is known for its commitment to community engagement and social justice. The university has a strong focus on service learning and encourages students to engage with the local community through various service projects. Cornell also has a strong tradition of philanthropic giving, with a particular emphasis on supporting sustainability and environmental initiatives.

One of the ways Brown promotes community engagement is through its Swearer Center for Public Service, which offers a variety of programs and resources for students to get involved in community service and social justice initiatives.

Additionally, the university partners with local organizations and non-profits to provide students with meaningful service opportunities that address pressing social issues.

Cornell’s commitment to philanthropy is reflected in its many fundraising campaigns and initiatives.

The university has raised millions of dollars to support research, scholarships, and community outreach programs. In recent years, Cornell has also made significant investments in sustainability, including the creation of a new sustainability center and the implementation of green energy initiatives on campus.

Cost of Attendance and Financial Aid Options

The cost of attendance at Brown University and Cornell can vary significantly depending on a range of factors, including scholarships, financial aid, and living expenses. Both universities offer generous financial aid packages to qualified students, with a particular emphasis on need-based aid.

However, tuition and other expenses at both universities can be quite high, so it’s important to consider your financial situation carefully before making a decision.

It’s worth noting that both Brown University and Cornell have resources available to help students navigate the financial aid process. At Brown, the Office of Financial Aid provides personalized assistance to students and families and also offers workshops and information sessions on financial planning.

Similarly, Cornell’s Office of Financial Aid and Student Employment provides a range of services, including financial counseling and assistance with completing financial aid applications.

Additionally, both universities offer work-study programs that allow students to earn money to help cover their expenses. At Brown, students can participate in the Federal Work-Study Program, which provides part-time jobs on campus or with approved off-campus employers.

Cornell offers a similar program, as well as a range of other employment opportunities both on and off campus.

Campus Safety and Security

Brown University and Cornell both have strong safety and security programs in place to protect students and staff. Both universities have campus police departments and other security measures, such as emergency call boxes and security cameras, to ensure a safe campus environment.

Three students sitting near a building and smiling at the camera.

However, it’s important to note that no campus is completely immune from crime, so it’s always important to take precautions and stay aware of your surroundings.

Additionally, both universities offer resources and support for students who may have experienced or witnessed a crime. This includes counseling services, victim advocacy programs, and reporting mechanisms to ensure that incidents are properly addressed and investigated.

It’s important for students to know that they have access to these resources and should not hesitate to seek help if needed.

Brown University vs. Cornell: Diversity and Inclusion Initiatives

Both Brown and Cornell have made efforts in recent years to promote diversity and inclusion on their campuses. Brown has a reputation for being particularly open and welcoming to students of all backgrounds, with a large and active multicultural center. Cornell has a range of diversity initiatives, including a diversity and inclusion council and a multicultural student center.

At Brown, the Office of Institutional Equity and Diversity works to ensure that the university is inclusive and welcoming to all students, faculty, and staff. They offer training and education programs on topics such as unconscious bias and microaggressions and work to create a campus culture that values diversity and promotes equity.

Cornell also has a strong commitment to diversity and inclusion in its admissions process.

The university actively recruits students from underrepresented groups and offers a range of support services to help them succeed academically and socially. Additionally, Cornell has a number of student-led organizations that promote diversity and inclusion, such as the Black Students United and the Asian and Asian American Center.

Brown University vs. Cornell: Student Success Rates and Graduation Statistics

Both Brown University and Cornell have impressive graduation rates, with the vast majority of students completing their degrees on time. Brown has a slightly higher graduation rate, at 95%, compared to Cornell’s 93%. Both universities also report high rates of student satisfaction and success, with many graduates going on to successful careers in a range of fields.

Additionally, both universities offer a variety of resources and support systems to ensure student success. Brown University has a comprehensive advising program, which pairs each student with a dedicated academic advisor to help them navigate their academic journey.

Cornell offers a range of academic support services, including tutoring and study groups, to help students excel in their coursework. These resources, combined with the universities’ high graduation rates, demonstrate a strong commitment to student success and achievement.

Faculty-Student Ratio Comparison

Brown University and Cornell have different faculty-student ratios, with Brown having a slightly higher ratio of faculty to students.

This can impact the quality of education you receive, as a lower ratio can indicate more individualized attention from faculty members. However, both universities have highly qualified faculty members, so the ratio should not be the only factor you consider when making a decision.

It is important to note that the faculty-student ratio can also vary depending on the specific program or department within a university. For example, Cornell’s engineering program may have a lower ratio than Brown’s liberal arts program.

It is important to research the ratio for your specific area of study to get a more accurate understanding of the level of individualized attention you may receive. Additionally, other factors such as class size, teaching style, and availability of resources should also be considered when making a decision about which university to attend.

Brown University vs. Cornell: Campus Resources for Students such as Libraries, Health Services, etc.

Students lounging in the school grounds.

Both Brown University and Cornell offer a range of campus resources to support student success, including libraries, health services, and counseling centers. Cornell’s libraries, in particular, are among the best in the country, with over 8 million volumes and extensive online resources.

Brown has a range of health and wellness resources, including a state-of-the-art medical center and a wellness office that offers free classes and workshops.

In addition to these resources, both universities also offer career services to help students prepare for life after graduation. Cornell’s career services include resume and cover letter reviews, job and internship search assistance, and career fairs. Brown’s career services offer similar support, as well as networking events and alumni connections.

These resources can be invaluable for students as they navigate their post-college plans.

Student Housing Options

Brown University and Cornell offer a variety of on-campus housing options for students, including traditional dorms, apartments, and suite-style living arrangements. Both universities have different policies regarding on-campus housing, so it’s important to research the options thoroughly before making a decision.

Additionally, both universities also offer off-campus housing options for students who prefer to live independently or cannot find on-campus housing. These options include rental apartments, houses, and shared living spaces.

It’s important to note that off-campus housing may require a longer commute to campus and may not have the same level of support and resources as on-campus housing.

Brown University vs. Cornell: Study Abroad Opportunities

Both Brown University and Cornell offer extensive study abroad opportunities for students, with programs in a wide range of countries and languages. Brown’s international programs are particularly well-regarded, with a strong focus on immersive, experiential learning experiences.

Cornell has over 100 study abroad programs in more than 60 countries, offering students a diverse range of opportunities to study abroad.

Additionally, both universities offer financial aid and scholarships to help students cover the costs of studying abroad. Brown University has a dedicated office for financial aid and scholarships for study abroad programs, while Cornell offers a variety of funding options, including need-based grants and merit-based scholarships.

These resources make studying abroad more accessible and affordable for students from all backgrounds.

Internship Opportunities for Students

Both Brown University and Cornell offer a range of internship opportunities for students, with extensive connections to employers and real-world work experience. Cornell’s location in New York City, among other factors, can provide students with significant internship opportunities in a range of fields, particularly in finance and technology.

Brown also cultivates strong relationships with local and national employers to offer internships to its students.

In addition to the internship opportunities offered by Brown and Cornell, many other universities across the United States also provide their students with access to internships. For example, the University of Michigan has a dedicated career center that helps students find internships in a variety of industries, including healthcare, engineering, and marketing.

Similarly, the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) has a robust internship program that connects students with companies in the entertainment, media, and technology sectors.

Internships can be a valuable way for students to gain hands-on experience in their chosen field, build their professional network, and enhance their resumes. Some internships may even lead to full-time job offers after graduation.

It’s important for students to research and apply to internships early, as many companies have competitive application processes and limited spots available.

Professional Development Programs for Students

Four students from different races talking and looking at a tablet held by a male student.

Both Brown University and Cornell offer extensive professional development programs to help students prepare for their careers after graduation. Cornell’s career development office offers workshops, courses, and job fairs to help students gain the skills they need to succeed in a range of fields.

Brown’s career development center offers a similar range of services, including resume writing help and interview practice.

Rankings Comparison of Brown University and Cornell

Finally, it’s worth noting that both Brown University and Cornell are highly ranked institutions, consistently appearing in lists of the top universities in the country and the world.

Brown is generally ranked slightly higher for undergraduate education, while Cornell is ranked more highly for its graduate research programs. However, rankings should only be one factor to consider when making your decision, as the best school for you will depend on your individual needs and goals.

Overall, Brown University and Cornell are both excellent universities with a lot to offer students. By considering the 19 categories outlined above, you can make an informed decision about which school is the best fit for you. Good luck!


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