Princeton vs. Brown Universities: Which is the Better Choice?

By Eric Eng

By Eric Eng

View of a woman sitting on the stairs of a school thinking of something.

Princeton vs. Brown Universities: Which is the Better Choice?

If you’re a high school senior about to embark on your college journey, deciding where to apply to and attend can be a daunting task. After all, you’re choosing your home for the next four years and beyond. With so many options out there, it’s important to compare and contrast and make an informed decision. In this article, we’ll take a deep dive into two prestigious Ivy League universities: Princeton vs. Brown.

We’ll explore everything from academic programs to extracurricular activities and beyond to help you determine which school is the better choice for you.

Introduction: Understanding the Importance of Choosing the Right University

Choosing the right university is a decision that can impact the rest of your life. Not only will you receive a top-notch education, but you’ll also make lifelong connections, establish a network of alumni, and gain invaluable experiences. The wrong choice can result in wasted time, money, and resources. That’s why it’s so important to evaluate and compare universities before making a decision.

When evaluating universities, it’s important to consider factors beyond just academics. Look into the campus culture, extracurricular activities, and opportunities for internships and research. Additionally, consider the location of the university and whether it aligns with your personal preferences and goals.

By taking a holistic approach to your decision-making process, you can ensure that you choose a university that not only provides a quality education, but also sets you up for success in all aspects of your life.

Princeton University: A Comprehensive Overview

Princeton University is a private Ivy League research university located in Princeton, New Jersey. Established in 1746, it has a long and rich history. Princeton’s undergraduate program is renowned for its focus on small class sizes and individual attention. Its unique residential college system allows students to live and learn among a small group of peers, fostering a tight-knit community.

Students talking about something in a room.

Princeton University is also known for its strong graduate programs, particularly in the fields of engineering, economics, and public policy. The university’s Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs is highly regarded and has produced numerous leaders in government and public service.

In addition to its academic programs, Princeton is home to a vibrant arts community. The Lewis Center for the Arts offers courses and programs in creative writing, dance, theater, music, and visual arts. The university also hosts a number of cultural events throughout the year, including concerts, exhibitions, and performances.

Brown University: A Comprehensive Overview

Brown University is a private Ivy League research university located in Providence, Rhode Island. Established in 1764, it has a reputation for innovation and independence, with an open curriculum that allows students to design their own academic path.

Brown’s undergraduate program is interdisciplinary and liberal arts-focused, encouraging exploration and offering opportunities for hands-on learning. Brown also has a strong commitment to diversity and inclusion, as evidenced by their “no-loan” financial aid policy for families earning less than $60,000 per year.

Brown University is home to over 9,000 students, with approximately 6,700 undergraduates and 2,500 graduate students. The student body is diverse, with students from all 50 states and over 100 countries. Brown also has a strong commitment to community service and civic engagement, with over 80% of students participating in community service during their time at the university.

Brown University is known for its strong research programs, with over 70 research centers and institutes. The university is particularly well-known for its research in the fields of neuroscience, computer science, and public health. Brown also has a strong commitment to sustainability, with a goal of achieving net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2040.

Princeton vs. Brown Universities: Academic Programs and Majors Offered

Princeton and Brown both offer a wide range of academic programs and majors. Princeton has 36 academic departments and programs, with popular majors including economics, computer science, and psychology. Brown also has a diverse set of programs, with popular majors including computer science, biology, and engineering.

Brown’s open curriculum allows students to explore a variety of subjects, including non-traditional areas of study like environmental studies and Africana studies.

In addition to their traditional academic programs, both Princeton and Brown offer unique interdisciplinary programs that allow students to explore multiple fields of study. Princeton’s Program in Law and Public Affairs combines coursework in law, politics, and economics, while Brown’s Program in Liberal Medical Education allows students to earn both a bachelor’s degree and a medical degree in eight years.

These programs provide students with a well-rounded education and prepare them for a variety of career paths.

Faculty and Staff at Princeton and Brown Universities: A Comparative Analysis

Both Princeton and Brown have highly qualified faculty and staff members. Princeton boasts 22 Nobel laureates among its faculty, and a student-to-faculty ratio of 5:1. Brown has a student-to-faculty ratio of 7:1 and a similarly impressive faculty, with Pulitzer Prize winners and MacArthur “Genius” grant recipients among its ranks.

boarding school students talking to a teacher

Both universities prioritize teaching and research excellence, with professors often conducting groundbreaking research in their fields.

However, there are some differences in the faculty and staff composition between the two universities. Princeton has a larger percentage of tenured faculty members, with 70% of its faculty holding tenure positions. In contrast, Brown has a higher percentage of non-tenure track faculty members, with 60% of its faculty being non-tenure track.

This difference in faculty composition can impact the teaching and research priorities of each university, as tenured faculty members may have more job security and academic freedom to pursue long-term research projects, while non-tenure track faculty members may have more teaching responsibilities and less time for research.

Campus Life at Princeton and Brown Universities: A Comparative Study

While Princeton and Brown have different campus cultures and atmospheres, both offer vibrant and fulfilling campus experiences. Princeton is known for its picturesque campus, with Gothic-style architecture and pristine grounds. The residential college system fosters tight-knit communities and traditions, and there are over 300 student organizations on campus.

Brown, on the other hand, has a more eclectic campus culture, with an emphasis on student autonomy and creativity. With over 400 student organizations, the school offers a wealth of opportunities for involvement and engagement. Both universities prioritize the well-being of their students and offer a variety of support services and resources.

One notable difference between the two universities is their approach to undergraduate research. Princeton has a strong focus on undergraduate research, with opportunities for students to work with faculty members on cutting-edge projects. Brown also values undergraduate research, but places a greater emphasis on independent study and self-directed learning.

This approach allows students to pursue their own interests and passions, and to take ownership of their academic experience. Both universities provide ample resources and support for students interested in research, including funding opportunities, mentorship programs, and research symposia.

Princeton vs. Brown Universities: Facilities and Resources Available

Princeton and Brown both have impressive facilities and resources available to their students. Both schools have extensive libraries, labs, and research centers, as well as state-of-the-art athletic and fitness facilities. Princeton’s campus features a world-renowned art museum, and Brown’s campus is home to the Granoff Center for the Creative arts.

Both universities also prioritize sustainability and have implemented initiatives to reduce their carbon footprint.

In addition to the facilities mentioned above, both Princeton and Brown offer a variety of resources to support student success. Princeton has a writing center, tutoring services, and a career services office to help students with job searches and internships. Brown has a student support services office, a center for academic support and tutoring, and a career development center.

Both universities also have robust study abroad programs, allowing students to gain international experience and broaden their perspectives.

Admissions Requirements and Process for Princeton and Brown Universities

Both Princeton and Brown have highly selective admissions processes. Princeton received over 35,000 applications for the class of 2025 and admitted only 3.56% of applicants.

Brown received over 46,000 applications for the same class and admitted 5.4% of applicants. Both universities take a holistic approach to admissions and consider a variety of factors beyond test scores and grades, including extracurricular activities, essays, and recommendations.

student taking a practice exam

It is important to note that both Princeton and Brown have different requirements for standardized testing. Princeton requires applicants to submit either the SAT or ACT, as well as two SAT Subject Tests. Brown, on the other hand, has a test-optional policy and does not require applicants to submit any standardized test scores.

However, if an applicant chooses to submit test scores, Brown will consider them as part of the application review process.

Princeton vs. Brown Universities: Financial Aid Options Available

Both Princeton and Brown are committed to making their schools accessible to all students, regardless of financial need. Both universities offer generous need-based financial aid policies, with Princeton’s “no-loan” policy for families earning under $65,000 and Brown’s “no-loan” policy for families earning under $60,000.

Both schools also offer merit-based scholarships and work-study programs to help finance a college education.

Princeton and Brown also provide additional resources to help students navigate the financial aid process. Both schools have dedicated financial aid offices that offer one-on-one counseling and assistance with completing financial aid applications.

Additionally, Princeton and Brown have online resources, such as calculators and FAQs, to help students and families understand the financial aid process and make informed decisions.

It’s important to note that while both universities have similar financial aid policies, there may be differences in the specific amounts and types of aid offered. It’s recommended that students and families carefully review each school’s financial aid information and contact the financial aid office with any questions or concerns.

Student Diversity at Princeton and Brown Universities: A Comparative Look

Princeton and Brown both have diverse student populations, with students from all 50 states and over 100 countries represented. Princeton’s student body is 47% white, 26% Asian, 13% Latino, and 8% Black, while Brown’s student body is 48% white, 22% Asian, 14% Latino, and 7% Black. Both universities prioritize diversity and inclusion and offer support services and resources for underrepresented students.

In addition to racial and ethnic diversity, both Princeton and Brown also have a diverse range of socioeconomic backgrounds represented among their student populations. At Princeton, 60% of students receive financial aid, and the university has a need-blind admission policy for domestic students.

Brown also has a need-blind admission policy and offers a range of financial aid options, including grants, loans, and work-study programs.

Both universities also have active student organizations and initiatives focused on promoting diversity and inclusion on campus. Princeton has a Diversity and Inclusion Committee, which works to create a more inclusive campus environment, and a number of student-led groups, such as the Black Student Union and the Asian American Students Association.

Brown has a similar range of student organizations, including the Latinx Student Alliance and the Queer Alliance, and also offers diversity and inclusion training for faculty and staff.

Princeton vs. Brown Universities: Extracurricular Activities Available

Both Princeton and Brown offer a wide range of extracurricular activities, including clubs, sports teams, and community service organizations. Princeton has over 300 student organizations, including performing arts groups, student publications, and service organizations.

Brown has over 400 student organizations, including political and social action groups, media outlets, and cultural and identity-based organizations. Both schools also offer a variety of study abroad programs and internship opportunities.

Additionally, both universities have unique extracurricular activities that set them apart. Princeton has a renowned debate team that competes nationally and internationally, as well as a student-run business organization that provides real-world experience for aspiring entrepreneurs.

An academic competition awarding ceremony


Brown, on the other hand, has a strong focus on community service and offers a variety of programs that allow students to engage with local organizations and make a positive impact in the surrounding area. Both universities also have a thriving arts scene, with opportunities for students to participate in theater productions, music ensembles, and visual arts exhibitions.

Career Prospects for Graduates of Princeton and Brown Universities

Graduates of Princeton and Brown are highly sought after by employers and boast impressive career trajectories. According to a survey by PayScale, the median mid-career salary for Princeton graduates is $150,000 per year, while the median mid-career salary for Brown graduates is $130,000 per year.

Both schools have strong career services departments to help students navigate the job market and connect with potential employers.

Princeton and Brown graduates are not only successful in terms of salary, but also in terms of job satisfaction. A survey by Forbes found that both schools ranked in the top 20 for alumni who reported feeling fulfilled in their careers. This is likely due to the strong liberal arts education that both schools provide, which emphasizes critical thinking and problem-solving skills that are highly valued by employers.

Additionally, both Princeton and Brown have a strong network of alumni who are willing to help recent graduates find job opportunities. Many alumni are involved in mentorship programs and networking events, which can be invaluable resources for students looking to start their careers.

This network extends beyond just the United States, as both schools have a global presence and alumni in countries all over the world.

Conclusion: Making the Right Choice between Princeton and Brown University

After evaluating and comparing Princeton and Brown across a variety of factors, it’s clear that both universities offer unparalleled educational experiences and opportunities. Ultimately, the decision of which school to attend should be based on personal factors such as academic interests, campus culture, location, and financial considerations.

Whether you choose Princeton or Brown, you’ll be joining a community of passionate and dedicated scholars and making an investment in your future.

It’s important to note that while both Princeton and Brown are highly respected institutions, they have their own unique strengths and weaknesses. For example, Princeton is known for its strong emphasis on undergraduate research and its small class sizes, while Brown is known for its open curriculum and its focus on interdisciplinary studies.

It’s important to carefully consider these differences and how they align with your own academic goals and interests when making your decision.


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