Brown University vs. USC: Which School is Right for You?

By Eric Eng

By Eric Eng

Students walking in the walkways of a campus.

Brown University vs. USC: Which School is Right for You?

When choosing a university, there are many factors to consider. From location and academic offerings to campus size and extracurricular activities, every aspect of a university can affect your experience as a student. This article will compare and contrast two top universities – Brown University vs. the University of Southern California (USC) – to help you determine which school is the best fit for you.

Location and Campus Size

Located in Providence, Rhode Island, Brown University is a small institution with a total undergraduate enrollment of just over 6,700 students. Its campus covers only 146 acres but is located in a vibrant college town with easy access to Boston and New York City.

In contrast, the University of Southern California is situated in Los Angeles, California, a large and bustling city. USC has a larger undergraduate population of over 19,000 students and covers 226 acres of prime real estate in downtown Los Angeles.

Both universities have unique locations and campus sizes, which may influence your decision. Brown University’s small campus provides a more intimate environment, while USC’s large campus offers more opportunities for career and social growth in the heart of a bustling city.

Another factor to consider when comparing the locations and campus sizes of Brown University and the University of Southern California is the climate. Brown University experiences all four seasons, with cold winters and hot summers, while USC enjoys a Mediterranean climate with mild winters and warm, dry summers.

This may be an important consideration for students who prefer a certain type of weather or are sensitive to extreme temperatures.

Brown University vs. USC: Admissions Requirements and Process

When it comes to admissions requirements, Brown University and USC are quite similar. Both require SAT or ACT scores, a high school transcript, and letters of recommendation. However, Brown University is well-known for its flexible test-optional policy, which allows students to choose whether or not they want to submit standardized test scores as part of their application.

Group of students smiling at while talking to each other.

On the other hand, USC requires all applicants to submit standardized test scores.

Brown University has a lower acceptance rate of 7.6% compared to USC’s 11%. However, both schools are highly selective, so it’s important to have a strong academic record, extracurricular activities, and exceptional essays to increase your chances of acceptance.

It’s worth noting that both Brown University and USC have holistic admissions processes, which means that they consider a variety of factors beyond just test scores and grades. This includes factors such as leadership experience, community involvement, and unique talents or achievements.

Additionally, both schools offer need-blind admissions, which means that they do not consider a student’s financial need when making admissions decisions. However, they do offer generous financial aid packages to students who demonstrate financial need.

Brown University vs. USC: Tuition and Financial Aid Options

Attending either Brown University or USC can be a significant investment in your future. Brown University’s tuition for the 2021-2022 academic year is $60,696, while USC’s is $60,275. However, both universities offer robust financial aid options, including need-based scholarships, grants, and student loans.

Brown University also has a no-loan financial aid policy, which means that they will not require you to take out loans to meet your demonstrated financial need.

USC has a similar policy, but only for families with an income of less than $80,000 a year. Ultimately, the cost of attendance will depend on the individual student’s financial situation and the financial aid packages offered by each university.

It is important to note that both Brown University and USC also offer merit-based scholarships, which are awarded based on academic achievement, leadership, and other criteria. These scholarships do not require demonstrated financial need and can significantly reduce the cost of attendance for students who receive them.

Additionally, both universities have work-study programs that allow students to earn money to help pay for their education. These programs provide part-time jobs on campus or in the local community, and the earnings can be used to cover tuition, fees, and other expenses.

Brown University vs. USC: Academic Offerings and Majors

Both Brown University and USC offer a wide range of academic programs and majors. Brown University is known for its strong liberal arts curriculum, with a focus on critical thinking and interdisciplinary studies. Some of its most popular majors include Computer Science, Economics, Biology, and Political Science.

USC, on the other hand, is known for its excellence in professional schools, including the Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism, the Marshall School of Business, and the Viterbi School of Engineering. Some of its most popular majors include Business Administration, Psychology, Biomedical Engineering, and Communication.

When choosing between these two universities, it’s important to consider your academic goals and areas of interest.

It’s worth noting that both Brown University and USC offer unique and specialized programs that may not be available at other universities. For example, Brown University offers a joint program with the Rhode Island School of Design, allowing students to earn both a Bachelor of Arts degree from Brown and a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from RISD.

Group of women smiling at the camera.

USC offers a highly-regarded program in Cinematic Arts, which includes majors in Film and Television Production, Writing for Screen and Television, and Interactive Media and Games.

Student Life and Extracurricular Activities

Both Brown University and USC have vibrant campus communities with a variety of student clubs, organizations, and activities. Brown University has over 460 student organizations, including academic clubs, cultural groups, and athletic teams. USC also has over 1,000 student organizations, including an active Greek life community, sports clubs, and service organizations.

When it comes to athletics, USC is known for its strong football program and has 21 varsity sports teams. Brown University also has a robust athletic department with 34 varsity sports teams, but athletics are not as much of a focus as they are at USC.

Aside from the numerous student organizations, both Brown University and USC offer a wide range of extracurricular activities. Brown University has a strong arts community, with a variety of music and theater groups, as well as an annual film festival. USC also has a thriving arts scene, with a renowned School of Cinematic Arts and a variety of music and theater groups.

Additionally, both universities offer opportunities for students to engage in community service and social justice initiatives. Brown University has a Center for Public Service and Engaged Scholarship, which connects students with local organizations and provides resources for community-based research.

USC has a variety of service organizations, including the Volunteer Center and the Joint Educational Project, which offer opportunities for students to engage in service projects both locally and globally.

Housing Options and Amenities

Both universities provide a variety of on-campus housing options for students. Brown University has 18 residence halls, including traditional dorms and apartment-style buildings. USC has over 40 residence halls and apartments, including themed communities such as the International Residential College and the Honors House.

In terms of amenities, both universities offer state-of-the-art facilities, including libraries, research centers, and athletic complexes. Brown University’s John D. Rockefeller Jr. Library is known for its stunning architecture and special collections, while USC’s Doheny Library boasts over 3.2 million volumes and a wide range of digital resources.

Additionally, both universities have a variety of dining options available to students. Brown University has over 20 dining locations on campus, including cafes, restaurants, and food trucks.

USC has over 40 dining locations, including popular chains like Starbucks and Panda Express, as well as unique options like the Trojan Grounds coffee shop and the Rosso Oro’s Italian restaurant.

Brown University vs. USC: Career Services and Internship Opportunities

Both Brown University and USC have robust career services departments and offer a wide range of internship opportunities for students. Brown University’s CareerLAB offers comprehensive career support, including career assessments, resume and cover letter reviews, and job search strategies.

USC’s Career Center offers similar services and also partners with a wide range of industry-leading employers to provide exclusive internship opportunities.

In addition to the career services and internship opportunities offered by Brown University and USC, both universities also have strong alumni networks that can be leveraged by students.

Brown University’s alumni network is particularly active and engaged, with alumni events held around the world and a mentorship program that connects current students with alumni in their desired fields.

Students talking about something in a room.

At USC, students can also take advantage of the university’s location in Los Angeles, which is home to a thriving entertainment industry. The School of Cinematic Arts offers a variety of internship opportunities in film and television, and the Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism has partnerships with major media companies such as NBCUniversal and the Los Angeles Times.

Faculty and Research Opportunities

Brown University and USC are both home to exceptional faculty members who are world-renowned experts in their fields. Brown University’s faculty is known for their dedication to teaching and research, while USC’s faculty includes Pulitzer Prize winners, Nobel laureates, and even NASA astronauts.

Both universities also offer exceptional research opportunities for students, including the chance to work on cutting-edge research projects and collaborate with faculty members on research publications.

Additionally, Brown University and USC have established partnerships with various research institutions and organizations, providing students with access to even more research opportunities.

Brown University has partnerships with institutions such as the Marine Biological Laboratory and the Rhode Island Hospital, while USC has partnerships with organizations such as the Los Angeles County Museum of Art and the Jet Propulsion Laboratory.

Brown University vs. USC: Study Abroad Programs

Both Brown University and USC offer a variety of study abroad programs to students. Brown University has partnerships with over 200 universities worldwide and offers the opportunity to study abroad for a semester or a full academic year. USC has 120 study-abroad programs and also offers international internships and research opportunities.

In addition to traditional study abroad programs, Brown University also offers a unique program called the “Brown in Washington” program. This program allows students to spend a semester in Washington D.C., and take classes while also interning at a government agency or non-profit organization.

USC also offers a program called “Maymester,” which is a three-week intensive study abroad program that takes place during the month of May. Students can choose from a variety of destinations and topics, such as studying sustainable development in Costa Rica or exploring the history and culture of Japan.

Athletic Programs and Facilities

As mentioned earlier, both Brown University and USC have strong athletic programs with state-of-the-art facilities. Brown University’s athletic department offers a wide range of sports, from football and basketball to squash and volleyball. USC’s athletic department is known for its football program but also has excellent teams in other sports, including basketball and volleyball.

In addition to the sports mentioned above, both universities also have exceptional track and field programs. Brown University has a newly renovated track and field facility, which includes a 400-meter track, long jump pits, and pole vaulting areas.

USC’s track and field program has produced numerous Olympic medalists and has a world-class track and field stadium, the Katherine B. Loker Stadium.

Brown University vs. USC: Diversity and Inclusion on Campus

Students walking on the streets.

Both Brown University and USC are committed to creating diverse and inclusive campus communities. Brown University offers a variety of resources and support for underrepresented students, including the First-Generation College and Low-Income Student Center and the Brown Center for Students of Color.

USC also offers a variety of resources, including the Center for Black Cultural and Student Affairs and the Asian Pacific American Student Services office.

In addition to these resources, both universities also prioritize diversity and inclusion in their admissions processes. Brown University has implemented a need-blind admission policy, which means that a student’s ability to pay for tuition is not considered during the admissions process.

USC has also implemented a need-blind admission policy and actively recruits students from diverse backgrounds through programs such as the USC Bovard Scholars program.

Alumni Networks and Post-Graduation Success

Brown University and USC are both known for their exceptional alumni networks and post-graduation success. Brown University alumni include Pulitzer Prize winners, MacArthur Genius Grant recipients, and CEOs of major companies. USC alumni include Oscar winners, world-famous musicians, and successful entrepreneurs.

Both universities offer career support and networking opportunities for alumni and have a high post-graduation success rate. However, it’s important to note that post-graduation success ultimately depends on the individual student’s career goals, interests, and drive.

One factor that contributes to the success of alumni networks is the strong sense of community that both Brown and USC foster.

Students are encouraged to form connections with their peers and professors, which often leads to lifelong friendships and professional relationships. Additionally, both universities have active alumni associations that organize events and provide resources for graduates.

Another important aspect of post-graduation success is the quality of education that students receive. Brown and USC are both highly respected institutions that offer rigorous academic programs and opportunities for hands-on learning. Graduates are well-prepared to enter the workforce or pursue further education in their chosen fields.

Campus Safety and Security Measures

Both Brown University and USC prioritize campus safety and security. Brown University has its own fully-accrued public safety department, which includes both campus police and security personnel. USC also has its own Department of Public Safety, which includes a 24-hour emergency response team.

However, it’s important to note that both universities are located in urban areas, and safety measures are still necessary to ensure a safe and secure campus environment.

Additional safety measures implemented by both universities include campus-wide emergency alert systems, security cameras, and regular safety patrols. Brown University also offers a SafeWalk program, where students can request a security escort to walk them to their destination on campus.

USC has a Campus Cruiser program, which provides free transportation to students, faculty, and staff during evening hours.

Student Support Services and Resources

Group of students talking in a room.

Both Brown University and USC offer a variety of support services and resources for students, including mental health services, academic advising, and disability services.

Brown University’s Student Support Services Office provides a wide range of support for students with disabilities, including test accommodations and assistive technology. USC’s Center for Academic Support provides support for students with academic challenges and offers peer tutoring and supplemental instruction.

In addition to these services, both universities also have career centers that offer resources and support for students seeking internships and job opportunities.

Brown University’s CareerLAB provides career counseling, resume and cover letter reviews, and networking events. USC’s Career Center offers similar services, as well as career fairs and workshops on job search strategies and interview skills.

Brown University vs. USC: Student-to-Faculty Ratio and Class Sizes

Both Brown University and USC have a low student-to-faculty ratio, which allows for more personalized attention and support. Brown University has a student-to-faculty ratio of 6:1, while USC has a student-to-faculty ratio of 9:1.

Class sizes can vary depending on the course and major, but both universities prioritize small class sizes to ensure an intimate learning environment.

At Brown University, the average class size is around 20 students, with some classes having as few as 5 students. This allows for in-depth discussions and personalized feedback from professors. USC also offers small class sizes, with an average of 26 students per class.

The university also offers a variety of seminars and discussion-based courses to encourage student engagement and participation.

In addition to small class sizes, both universities offer opportunities for students to work closely with faculty members on research projects and independent studies. Brown University has a strong focus on undergraduate research, with over 70% of students participating in research projects during their time at the university.

USC also offers research opportunities for students, with a variety of research centers and institutes across different disciplines.

Campus Visit Experience for Prospective Students

If you’re considering either Brown University or USC, it’s important to visit the campus and get a feel for the student experience. Brown University offers campus tours led by current students, information sessions, and opportunities to attend class. USC offers campus tours and information sessions, as well as the opportunity to attend a USC football game and experience tailgating culture.

Additionally, both universities offer the chance to meet with admissions counselors and ask any questions you may have about the application process. It’s also a good idea to explore the surrounding areas of each campus to get a sense of the local community and what it has to offer.

Brown University is located in Providence, Rhode Island, a vibrant city with a rich history and cultural scene. USC is located in Los Angeles, California, a bustling metropolis with endless opportunities for entertainment and exploration. Overall, visiting the campus is an essential step in making an informed decision about where to attend college.

Reputation and Rankings of Each School

Group of students smiling and talking to each other.

Both Brown University and USC have strong reputations and consistently rank highly in national and international rankings. Brown University is ranked #14 in the 2022 US News & World Report’s National University Rankings, while USC is ranked #22. Both universities are also highly ranked in their individual fields of study.

Brown University is known for its strong liberal arts education and has been consistently ranked as one of the top universities in the country for undergraduate teaching. The university is also recognized for its research programs, particularly in the fields of neuroscience, computer science, and environmental studies.

On the other hand, USC is renowned for its programs in film, business, and engineering. The university has produced numerous successful alumni in the entertainment industry and is home to the highly-regarded USC Marshall School of Business. USC is also recognized for its research in areas such as cancer, stem cells, and renewable energy.

Conclusion: Which School is the Best Fit for You?

Ultimately, the decision between Brown University and USC depends on your individual needs and interests. Brown University offers a more intimate campus environment with a focus on liberal arts education, while USC provides a larger campus in the heart of Los Angeles with a focus on professional schools and opportunities.

Consider the factors outlined in this article – location, admissions process, academic offerings, student life, housing, career services, alumni networks, safety measures, and support services – to determine which university is the best fit for you.


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