What are the Best Majors at Brown?

By Eric Eng

By Eric Eng

View of Brown University building.

What are the Best Majors at Brown?

What are the best majors at Brown? Known for its distinct Open Curriculum, Brown allows students to explore academic passions without the constraints of core requirements, making it an especially attractive destination for those who value academic freedom and personal exploration.

Brown University is a prestigious private institution that belongs to the Ivy League and is located in Providence, Rhode Island. Brown University is a preeminent academic institution as well as the seventh-oldest college in the United States.

A commitment to academic quality, intellectual freedom, and creating an impact to serve people, communities, and society better is at the core of the University’s teaching, research, and scholarship. This commitment is at the heart of everything the University does.

Three students reading near a building.

While all of Brown’s departments offer high-quality instruction and research opportunities, several majors have been particularly acclaimed. The following are some of the best majors at Brown University:

Computer Science

The field of computer science has become an indispensable resource for researching an ever-expanding variety of subjects, from the workings of the human mind to the depths of space.

The use of computational methods is becoming increasingly important in cutting-edge work across the board in the sciences as well as in many areas of the liberal arts. The computer science curriculum for first-year students at Brown is intended to provide a foundation in both the practical and theoretical aspects of the field while also providing an in-depth study of selected subfields.

Traditional topics like analysis of algorithms, artificial intelligence, databases, distributed systems, graphics, mobile computing, networks, operating systems, programming languages, robotics, and security are included here, while novel areas like games and scientific visualization are also present.


One of the best majors at Brown is economics. Through this program, students gain a better understanding of markets, corporations, and financial institutions. They also delve into public discussions about economic policy, encompassing topics like taxation, government expenditure, trade, globalization, health, and welfare.

The study of economics focuses on how individuals, businesses, and governments decide how to utilize their available resources to achieve their goals. The concentration in economics prepares students for graduate study in fields such as business and law, as well as for graduate study leading to teaching and research in economics.

Young woman studying in a library.

Additionally, the concentration in economics can serve as a stepping stone to employment in business, and finance, as well as non-profit and government organizations. Students have the choice of pursuing either business economics or the standard concentration, both of which also provide a professional track as an additional option.


Students are encouraged to study the science of life and living matter in both a comprehensive and in-depth manner as part of the Biology specialization. Students who intend to earn a Bachelor of Arts (A.B.) or Bachelor of Science (Sc.B.) degree in biology can anticipate receiving a well-rounded education in the field by taking a variety of classes in one or more of the following three subfields: cell and molecular biology, structure and function, and organismal biology.

In addition, students working toward a Bachelor of Science degree must finish a thematic track. This allows them to acquire a comprehensive knowledge of a specific subfield, such as immunopathology, ecology, evolutionary biology, physiology/biotechnology, cell, and molecular biology, or physical sciences.

The concentration places an additional emphasis on both practical skills and the design of experiments. At least three of the concentrator’s compulsory classes must include hands-on experience in the lab or the field.


The study of history focuses on how societies and cultures from different parts of the world evolved throughout the course of time. Students who major in history develop skills in writing and critical thinking, as well as in understanding issues from a range of points of view.

Two students talking in a room full of glass.

The history department provides students with the opportunity to study a wide range of topics, from ancient Greek and Roman civilizations to the histories of Africa, the Middle East, the Americas, and Asia, amongst others, all of which are concerned with the development of human experience over the course of time.

Some classes focus on the history of a specific nation (like China or Brazil), while others emphasize a specific era in that nation’s history (e.g. Antiquity or the 20th century). Students can engage in various activities and gain a wide range of perspectives on the past and the present if they take advantage of our extensive course offerings.


Quantity, structure, space, and change are the topics investigated by mathematics, a grouping of scientific disciplines that includes geometry, algebra, and calculus.

Among the best majors being offered at Brown, students who want to concentrate on mathematics have the opportunity to investigate these ideas because of the department’s extensive course offerings and adaptable concentration requirements. Bachelor of Arts or Bachelor of Science degrees are possible upon completion of the focus (the latter is strongly recommended for students interested in pursuing graduate study in mathematics or related fields).

International Relations

One of the top majors at Brown is International Relations (IR). This focus has a multidisciplinary core at its center and is divided into two sub-themes: political economy and society, and security and society. Students must also fulfill a language requirement over three years, which should be related to their chosen world area. All students concentrating in this area must complete a capstone project incorporating research in a second language.

Of course, these are just a few examples, and many other departments at Brown. Each student’s experience at Brown University is unique, and the “best” major often aligns with individual passions and career aspirations rather than any objective ranking.

How Do You Decide on Your Major?

Choosing among the best majors at Brown or any other school is one of the most important choices that a high school or college student has to face. According to one survey, 61% of college graduates would switch their majors if they could go back to school.

Group of students studying in a library.

Yet, not all experience regret upon obtaining their degree. Below is a compilation of key factors to ponder when choosing a major, coupled with guidance on picking the right college once that decision is finalized.

Reflect on Your Abilities

Begin by listing your achievements and interests. After drafting it, seek feedback from close family and friends regarding what they believe are your standout qualities. Often, an external perspective can highlight strengths and talents we might overlook.

Note down topics that have intrigued you, even if you’ve never delved deep into them. Also, remember skills or hobbies you once excelled in but have since abandoned, especially if it’s been a while.

Explore Potential Careers

With your list of interests, research professions that align with those passions. For example, if music fascinates you, consider roles such as a music teacher, event organizer, or positions within music-focused nonprofits.

Compile a list of potential jobs and consider shadowing professionals in those fields to gain a real-world understanding of the role. If in-person shadowing isn’t feasible, consider reaching out via platforms like LinkedIn to set up a virtual discussion or phone call to inquire further.

Project Future Earnings

The Bureau of Labor Statistics documents many career trajectories. Browse through it to find fields you’re keen on. This can help you discern available roles within those sectors.

Using your shortlisted careers, ascertain which ones exhibit promising growth rates and offer salaries compatible with the lifestyle you envision. While earnings shouldn’t be the sole determinant in choosing a career, they play a pivotal role. Knowing potential earnings can guide your decisions about investing in higher education.

Visualize your post-college aspirations too. If you dream of starting a family, living in a bustling city, or traveling extensively, ensure your chosen profession supports those goals.

Evaluate Your Academic Commitment

All majors aren’t equivalent in terms of effort. Assess how much time you’re willing to dedicate to your education and your desired level of commitment.

Additionally, investigate if your chosen field mandates further academic qualifications after your undergraduate degree. Knowing if you’d need a master’s or professional degree to achieve your career aspirations is crucial before settling on a bachelor’s program.

What are Your Chances of Getting Into Brown?

The admissions process at Brown University is notoriously competitive. Brown University, much like the other universities in the Ivy League, is inundated with an unprecedented number of applicants but maintains an unprecedentedly low acceptance rate.

Only five percent of those who applied were chosen to join the Class of 2026 at the university. Therefore, in order for students to give themselves the best possible opportunity of getting into Brown University, they need to schedule time in their schedules to prepare and refine their applications.

Brown University is an excellent choice for students with high standardized test scores and solid academic backgrounds; yet, the college also significantly emphasizes the liberal arts and humanities. Not only should your application appropriately reflect your academic achievements, but it should also clearly express your enthusiasm for the arts and humanities. Make it a point to connect the dots between the things you’ve achieved academically, the things you’ve done for your community, and the things you’ve enjoyed doing outside of school to paint a complete picture of who you are.

The admissions team at Brown evaluates applicants based on their achievements relative to the opportunities available. Applicants are assessed both on their past accomplishments and their potential for future success. The admissions process isn’t about finding a “flawless” student.

If the idea of the Open Curriculum or charting your own academic journey doesn’t resonate with you, Brown University may not be the right fit. Brown students relish the freedom of studying subjects they’re passionate about. If you’re seeking a more rigid curriculum and a predefined educational roadmap, you might consider other Ivy League institutions with a more conventional approach.

Want to learn more about choosing the best majors at Brown? Or do you need help putting the finishing touches on your college applications? At AdmissionSight, we have over 10 years of experience guiding students through the competitive admissions process

AdmissionSight can help you put your best foot forward when applying to college this fall. Contact us today for more information on our services.



Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Sign up now to receive insights on
how to navigate the college admissions process.