Is Brown University Ivy League? Ranking, Acceptance Rate, and More

For many academically rigorous students, life goals include going to an Ivy League school. Just the term “Ivy League” calls to mind the greatest thinkers of our generation, stately professors strolling the grounds in their caps and gowns, and students wrestling with the most critical academic questions. 

Most people know that Yale and Harvard are in the Ivy League. But is Brown University part of that elite group? 

As one of the “colonial colleges,” formed before the founding of the United States, Brown is among the country’s oldest schools. Established in 1764 as Rhode Island College, Brown University sits in the city of Providence. Where most of its contemporaries restricted access to particular religious affiliations, Brown broke the trend by admitting all eligible students, regardless of their beliefs. Although its motto “In Deo Speramus” declares hope in God, Brown has always taken a wide, progressive approach to scholarship. 

This commitment to innovation has allowed Brown to enjoy many other early advantages. The school boasts one of the country’s earliest engineering programs, as well as the third-oldest medical school in New England. It was one of the first Universities to grant doctoral degrees. In 1969, the school pioneered an “Open Curriculum,” which did away with general education requirements and allowed students to become “the architects of their own syllabus.”

With such forward-thinking, it’s no surprise that Brown has a proud tradition of developing outstanding graduates. Political figures such as Bobby Jindal, John F. Kennedy Jr., and Janet Yellin all attended Brown, as did pop culture stars Emma Watson, Laura Linney, and Lisa Loeb. Lois Lowry, author of the classic novel The Giver, and educational reformer Horace Mann wore Brown’s white, cardinal, and brown regalia.

With such an impressive history, no one can doubt Brown’s value as an institution of higher learning. But for some students, the name “Ivy League” carries a great deal of weight. It can’t just be tossed aside, no matter what the reason. So we must ask the question again, “Is Brown University an Ivy League school.” 

Is Brown an Ivy League School?

Brown University
Filetime, Brown Main Green at Dusk, CC BY-SA 4.0

Rest assured, future Bear. Brown University is indeed an Ivy League school. 

But before you celebrate too much, let’s put that into context. You might notice that I called you a future Bear because that’s the name of the school’s mascot: the Brown Bears. 

I say that not to be cheeky, but to draw attention to the meaning of the Ivy League designation. You see, the Ivy League is an athletic conference, established in 1958. To be sure, the Ivy League includes some of the most important and respected schools in the United States. It counts as its members Harvard University, Yale University, Columbia University, Cornell University, Columbia University, the University of Pennsylvania, Princeton University, Dartmouth University, and, of course, Brown University. 

Within its athletic conference, the Brown Bears enjoy an impressive record. Not only has the school won championships in Ice Hockey, football, and women’s gymnastics, but it has produced future sports stars. So successful have the Brown Bears been that U.S. News & World Report placed them on their College Sports Honor Roll for achievements in athletics and academics. 

But there’s a reason that people don’t think of sports when they hear Ivy League, and it’s not because they’re bad athletic schools (as Brown’s records can attest). Rather, the Ivy League collects some of the most academically rigorous and exclusive schools in the country. Every institution in the Ivy League has low acceptance rates, and Brown is no exception. In 2021, the University accepted simply 2,722 of the 32,724 applications they received. With an acceptance rate of only 8.3%, Brown becomes harder to enter than fellow Ivies Cornell, Dartmouth, and Penn. That’s even more impressive when you consider that they receive even more applications than Yale, one of the best-known Ivy League schools. 

While Brown University belongs in the Ivy League by virtue of its athletic conference associations, it also sits comfortably alongside its sisters in academic excellence, distinguished alumni, and exclusivity.

Brown University: Ranking, Acceptance Rate, and More

Why is it so hard to get into Brown University? Simply put, it’s because Brown is one of the best schools in the country. That’s why tens of thousands of people apply each year, and only a handful get accepted. 

On the U.S. News and World Report’s rankings of the best American schools, Brown sits at #14, tied with Vanderbilt University and above fellow Ivy Cornell University. Furthermore, U.S. News puts Brown at #3 for Best Colleges for Veterans and #1 on its lists of Writing in the Disciplines and Best Undergraduate Teaching. goes even further, putting Brown #8 on its overall rankings, and #7 on its lists of Best Private Colleges and Best Private Universities. gives Brown an A+ overall score, citing the school’s Academics, Diversity, and Value. These values earn the University the #2 spot on its lists for Colleges with the Best Professors in America and Best Colleges for Global Studies in America, and #1 on the list of Best Colleges for English in America. 

Even the Washington Monthly, which scores institutions to a much more demanding scale that includes social mobility and service as well as research quality, puts Brown in its top 50, ranking it at #37

As these publications show, Brown has earned the respect it is due as an Ivy League school, besting its sisters in many categories. With such accolades, one can understand why so many people apply each year. But the school’s low acceptance rate means that it can keep class sizes small, with an average student-to-teacher ratio of 6:1 and more than 69% of courses with twenty or fewer students

Those lucky few accepted into Brown get to enjoy the benefits of a $4.7 billion endowment. That amount goes to fund not only the school’s ambitious research projects but its acclaimed faculty. Students at Brown clearly enjoy one of the most rigorous and satisfying educational experiences. 

How to Get Into Brown

If you want to be part of the lucky 8.3% who get accepted into Brown, what must you do? 

In short, work hard. Like every other Ivy League school, Brown expects to be the best of the best, and they’ll only let in the top of the class. Applicants have an average GPA of 4.08, which means that you’ll not only need to get straight As in high school, but you’ll also have to do so in top-level courses, such as AP and even college classes. No fluff stuff will pass. 

For 2021-2022 only, Brown has made standardized tests optional, so you don’t necessarily need to take the ACT or SAT. However, they have required them in the past, and strong scores can make your application look good. Of course, with an average SAT score of 1485 (755 Math, 730 Reading) and an average ACT score of 34, you’ll need to do well. 

But even if your grades aren’t quite at this level, you’re not necessarily out of luck. Like many elite colleges, Brown University values a well-rounded and experienced student, attributes that cannot be reflected in grades and test scores. For that reason, the University looks at extracurriculars and letters of recommendation. These materials show other aspects of your identity, such as your ability to make decisions, be reliable, and improve your community. If you can show that you’ll make Brown a better place and that Brown can help you make the world a better place, then they’ll be more likely to extend admission, even if your scores are a bit low. 

That’s particularly true if you have supplementary materials that you can provide in your application. Arts and music students can give examples of their capstone projects to show the admissions board their creativity and innovation. Likewise, scholars can provide a copy of an academic essay they wrote in high school to show admissions how Brown’s faculty and resources can advance your research goals. 

Whatever course of study you chose, be sure to present yourself as a fully rounded student, strong in both academics and social skills. 

Recap: Brown Is an Ivy League School

As one of the best universities in America, Brown University is undoubtedly an Ivy League school. It belongs on the list according to every criterion. Not only is the University part of the Ivy League athletic conference, but it has excelled in the area of sports, winning championships, and creating Olympians. Brown is one of the oldest Universities in the nation and has pushed innovation in American higher learning. It is an extremely exclusive school that uses its large endowment and celebrated faculty to create the best and brightest students globally. 

Even outside of the Ivy League, Brown ranks high, besting nearly every other institution in the United States. As the rankings have shown, Brown features some of the most engaging and committed teachers, and it cannot be beaten for those who want to study English. 

Of course, like any good school, Brown is hard to get enter. Applicants will not only need the best possible grades, but also strong standardized test scores and impressive supplementary materials. However, artists and scholars have additional chances to show their value to the school, with spaces to show their latest projects and research. 

Unsurprisingly, such a stellar education does not come cheap. Tuition and fees for the 2021-2022 semester reached over $59,000. However, students can offset that price tag with scholarships and financial aid, which the university does offer to those in need. 

Is a Brown University education worth that much? Only you can decide that for yourself. This article has laid out the many advantages of attending Brown, including a stellar reputation, incredible resources, and a long history of excellent students. 

While it may be true that you don’t need to go to an Ivy League school to change the world, the designation is more than a fancy title. Ivies give students the support and training they’ll need to reach their goals. And with such remarkable resources, Brown University continues that tradition.