Brown University vs. Harvard: Which University is Right for You?

By Eric Eng

By Eric Eng

Female student hanging out in the school grounds.

Brown University vs. Harvard: Which University is Right for You?

Are you trying to decide between Brown University and Harvard? You’re not alone. These two Ivy League institutions have a lot in common, but they also have significant differences. In this article, we’ll look at Brown University vs. Harvard in-depth, comparing everything from admissions requirements to campus life to career prospects.

By the end of this article, you’ll better understand which university is the right fit for you.

Admissions Requirements: How to Get into Brown and Harvard

Both Brown and Harvard are extremely selective schools, admitting only a small fraction of applicants each year. At Harvard, the acceptance rate for the class of 2024 was just 4.9%, while Brown’s was slightly higher at 6.9%.

Both schools require applicants to submit standardized test scores (either the SAT or ACT), high school transcripts, essays, and letters of recommendation. However, there are some differences between the two schools’ admissions requirements.

At Brown, applicants can choose whether or not to submit test scores, and the school has a more flexible approach to the application process, encouraging creativity and self-expression. Harvard, on the other hand, has a more structured approach and places a greater emphasis on academic achievement and extracurricular activities.

In addition to the required application materials, both Brown and Harvard also offer optional interviews for applicants. These interviews can provide an opportunity for applicants to showcase their personality and interests beyond what is included in their written application.

It is important for applicants to prepare for these interviews by researching the school and practicing their responses to common interview questions. Additionally, both schools value demonstrated interest, so it is recommended that applicants attend information sessions, visit the campus, and engage with the school through social media or email communication.

Campus Life: What to Expect at Brown and Harvard

Both Brown and Harvard offer a vibrant campus life, with a wide variety of student clubs, organizations, and events. Brown is known for its “open curriculum,” which allows students to design their own course of study with few requirements beyond the completion of a concentration (major).

Four students talking on the stairs.

This approach fosters intellectual exploration and encourages students to take risks. Harvard has a more traditional approach, with a core curriculum that includes courses in various disciplines. The school also has a strong emphasis on research, with many opportunities for students to get involved in groundbreaking scientific and social scientific work.

Aside from academics, both Brown and Harvard have a rich social scene. Brown has a strong focus on community building, with residential life playing a big role in campus culture. The school also has a thriving arts scene, with many student-run theater productions and art exhibitions throughout the year.

Harvard, on the other hand, has a more competitive social atmosphere, with many students involved in extracurricular activities such as sports and debate. The school also has a strong Greek life presence, with many fraternities and sororities on campus.

Both schools also offer many opportunities for students to engage in public service and community outreach. Brown has a strong commitment to social justice, with many student-led initiatives focused on issues such as environmental sustainability and racial equity.

Harvard has a long history of public service, with many students participating in programs such as the Phillips Brooks House Association, which provides volunteer opportunities in the local community.

Location, Location, Location: Differences Between Providence and Cambridge

Brown is located in Providence, Rhode Island, a charming and historic city that offers a high quality of life and easy access to other major East Coast cities. Students enjoy a vibrant arts scene, excellent restaurants, and a diverse range of cultural offerings.

Harvard is located in Cambridge, Massachusetts, just across the river from Boston. Cambridge offers a slightly more urban experience, with a thriving startup scene and easy access to all the amenities of Boston. Both cities offer excellent public transportation, with reliable bus and subway systems that make it easy to get around.

One major difference between Providence and Cambridge is the cost of living. While both cities are located in the Northeast and have a relatively high cost of living compared to other parts of the country, Cambridge is known for being particularly expensive.

This is due in part to the high demand for housing in the area, as well as the presence of many high-paying jobs in the tech industry. Providence, on the other hand, offers a more affordable cost of living, with lower housing costs and a lower overall cost of living index. This can be a major factor for students who are looking to save money while attending college.

Brown University vs. Harvard: Academic Programs

Both Brown and Harvard offer a wide range of majors and minors across all disciplines. Brown is especially known for its excellent programs in the humanities and social sciences, while Harvard is known for its strong programs in the natural sciences and engineering.

Both schools have a strong commitment to interdisciplinary study and offer many opportunities for students to explore multiple fields of inquiry.

Three students talking in a library.

At Brown, students have the option to design their own major through the Open Curriculum, which allows for a more personalized and flexible academic experience. Harvard, on the other hand, has a more structured curriculum with specific requirements for each major.

However, Harvard also offers a wide range of research opportunities for students to engage in cutting-edge scientific and technological advancements.

Additionally, both schools have robust study abroad programs that allow students to immerse themselves in different cultures and gain a global perspective. Brown has partnerships with universities in over 50 countries, while Harvard has its own study abroad center in Cambridge, England.

These programs provide students with the opportunity to take courses not offered at their home institution and to develop language skills and cross-cultural competencies.

Brown University vs. Harvard: Faculty and Teaching Styles

Both Brown and Harvard have excellent faculties made up of accomplished scholars and researchers who are leaders in their fields. Brown places a greater emphasis on teaching, with a high instructor-to-student ratio and a commitment to small class sizes. Harvard has a more research-oriented approach, with larger lecture classes and a focus on faculty-led research projects.

However, it is important to note that teaching styles can vary within each university and even within each department. For example, while Harvard may have a more research-oriented approach, some professors may still prioritize teaching and offer smaller discussion sections or one-on-one meetings with students.

Similarly, while Brown may prioritize teaching, some professors may still heavily emphasize research and encourage students to participate in their projects. Therefore, it is important for students to research and consider individual professors and their teaching styles when choosing courses and universities.

Student Body Diversity: Examining Demographics at Brown and Harvard

Both Brown and Harvard place a high value on diversity, with student bodies that are among the most diverse in the Ivy League. Brown has a student body that is known for its liberal and politically engaged outlook, with a strong commitment to social justice and activism.

Harvard has a more traditional and conservative reputation, but the school has made significant strides in recent years to promote diversity and inclusivity on its campus.

According to recent data, Brown’s student body is made up of 44% of students of color, with 14% identifying as Black or African American, 22% as Asian American, and 8% as Hispanic or Latinx.

Harvard’s student body is slightly less diverse, with 35% of students of color, including 6% who identify as Black or African American, 23% as Asian American, and 8% as Hispanic or Latinx. Both schools have also made efforts to increase representation of other underrepresented groups, such as LGBTQ+ students and students with disabilities.

Brown University vs. Harvard: Extracurricular Activities

Both Brown and Harvard offer a wealth of opportunities for students to get involved outside the classroom, with hundreds of student clubs and organizations to choose from. At Brown, students can participate in everything from a capella groups to social justice organizations to sports clubs. Harvard offers similar opportunities, including many student-run businesses and startups.

Four students smiling at the camera.

Additionally, both universities have a strong emphasis on community service and volunteerism. Brown’s Swearer Center for Public Service offers a variety of programs and initiatives for students to engage in community service, while Harvard’s Phillips Brooks House Association is one of the largest student-run public service organizations in the country.

Furthermore, both Brown and Harvard have a vibrant arts scene, with opportunities for students to participate in theater productions, music ensembles, and visual arts organizations. Brown’s Granoff Center for the Creative Arts provides resources and support for students interested in pursuing the arts.

At the same time, Harvard’s Office for the Arts offers a wide range of programs and events for students to explore their creative interests.

Career Opportunities: Post-Graduate Prospects at Brown vs. Harvard

Both Brown and Harvard are renowned for producing successful graduates who go on to impressive careers in a wide range of fields. Brown alumni are known for their entrepreneurial spirit and innovative thinking, while Harvard alumni often occupy positions of power and influence in law, finance, and politics.

Both schools have robust career services offices that assist students in finding internships and job opportunities after graduation.

However, there are some notable differences in the post-graduate prospects of Brown and Harvard graduates. Brown graduates tend to have a higher rate of starting their own businesses, with many going on to become successful entrepreneurs. On the other hand, Harvard graduates often have a higher rate of securing prestigious jobs in top-tier companies and organizations.

Another factor to consider is the location of each school. Brown is located in Providence, Rhode Island, which has a growing startup scene and a strong focus on innovation and technology. This can provide unique opportunities for Brown graduates looking to start their own businesses or work in the tech industry.

Harvard, on the other hand, is located in Cambridge, Massachusetts, which is home to many of the world’s top financial and consulting firms. This can provide Harvard graduates with a strong network and access to high-paying jobs in these industries.

Financial Aid and Scholarships: Which University Offers Better Support?

Both Brown and Harvard are committed to providing financial aid to students who need it, with generous need-based aid packages and merit-based scholarships available.

Brown has a no-loan policy, which means that students don’t have to take out loans to cover their tuition costs. Harvard also offers generous financial aid packages, but some students may be required to take out loans to cover their expenses.

It’s important to note that both universities have different criteria for determining financial aid eligibility. Brown considers a student’s family income, assets, and other factors, while Harvard takes into account a student’s family income, assets, and expenses.

Additionally, both universities offer work-study programs to help students cover their expenses while gaining valuable work experience.

Brown University vs. Harvard: Alumni Networks

Both Brown and Harvard have extensive alumni networks that offer opportunities for networking and mentorship. Brown alumni are known for their loyalty and support of the university, with many staying actively involved in the school’s various programs and initiatives.

Female student shaking hands with someone.

Harvard alumni are known for their powerful connections and influence in various industries, making the school a great choice for students who aspire to positions of leadership and influence.

However, it’s important to note that the success of graduates from both universities extends beyond just their alumni networks. Brown and Harvard both have rigorous academic programs that prepare students for a wide range of careers.

Additionally, both schools have a strong emphasis on community service and social responsibility, instilling in their graduates a sense of civic duty and a desire to make a positive impact in the world.

Campus Facilities: Comparing Dorms, Libraries, Dining Halls, and More

Both Brown and Harvard offer state-of-the-art facilities, including modern dorms, extensive libraries, and excellent dining options. Brown is known for its beautiful, environmentally sustainable facilities, including a LEED-certified student center and various green spaces around campus.

Harvard has numerous libraries, including the world-renowned Widener Library, which contains millions of volumes.

In addition to the impressive facilities, both Brown and Harvard offer a wide range of extracurricular activities for students to get involved in. Brown has over 300 student organizations, including a student-run radio station and a community service organization.

Harvard has over 400 student organizations, including a debate team and a theater group. Both universities also have extensive athletic facilities, with Brown offering a state-of-the-art fitness center and Harvard boasting a historic football stadium.

Brown University vs. Harvard: Athletics Programs

Both Brown and Harvard offer comprehensive athletics programs, with numerous varsity and club teams to choose from. Brown is known for its strong women’s and men’s soccer teams, while Harvard has a dominant men’s ice hockey team and a strong football program.

However, if you’re interested in track and field, Brown might be the better choice. Brown’s track and field program has consistently ranked in the top 25 nationally, with several athletes competing at the Olympic level. Harvard’s track and field program, while still competitive, has not achieved the same level of success as Brown’s.

Research Opportunities: Exploring Research Opportunities at Brown vs. Harvard

Both Brown and Harvard offer extensive research opportunities for students, with numerous grants and projects available across a wide range of disciplines.

Brown students have the opportunity to work on cutting-edge research projects in fields like environmental science and public health, while Harvard students may participate in groundbreaking research in fields like artificial intelligence and biotechnology.

However, there are some differences in the research opportunities offered by these two universities. Brown University has a strong focus on undergraduate research, with many opportunities for students to work closely with faculty members on research projects.

On the other hand, Harvard University has a larger research budget and more resources available for graduate-level research, which may provide more opportunities for students interested in pursuing advanced research projects.

Tuition Costs and Fees: Comparing the Price Tag of Attending Brown vs. Harvard

Graduation cap and a roll of dollars placed next to each other.

Both Brown and Harvard are expensive schools to attend, with tuition and fees that can easily exceed $50,000 per year. However, both schools are committed to making their education accessible to all students, with extensive financial aid and scholarship programs.

It’s worth doing the math for your own individual circumstances, but both schools are reasonably on par with one another in tuition costs and fees.

One factor to consider when comparing the cost of attending Brown versus Harvard is the cost of living in the surrounding area. While both schools are located in expensive cities, Boston tends to have a higher cost of living than Providence. This means that students attending Harvard may need to budget more for housing, food, and other expenses than students attending Brown.

Another consideration is the availability of part-time work opportunities. Both schools offer work-study programs, but the job market in Boston may be more competitive than in Providence. This could make it more difficult for Harvard students to find part-time work to help offset the cost of tuition and living expenses.

In conclusion, both Brown University and Harvard University have a lot to offer students who are looking for a world-class education. Ultimately, the choice between the two will depend on your individual priorities, interests, and goals.

We hope this article has provided you with valuable information that will help you make an informed decision about which university is right for you.


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