Almost two and a half centuries of history
Brown was founded in 1764—the third college in New England and the seventh in America. Brown was the first Ivy League school to accept students from all religious affiliations, a testament to the spirit of openness that still typifies Brown today.
Originally located in Warren, Rhode Island and called the College of Rhode Island, Brown moved to its current spot overlooking Providence on College Hill in 1770 and was renamed in 1804 in recognition of a $5,000 gift from Nicholas Brown, a prominent Providence businessman and Brown alum, Class of 1786.
Women were first admitted to Brown in 1891. The Women’s College was later renamed Pembroke College in Brown University before merging with Brown College, the men's undergraduate school, in 1971. The northern section of campus where the women’s school was situated is known today as Pembroke Campus.
The first master’s degrees were granted in 1888 and the first doctorates in 1889. The first M.D. degrees of the modern era were presented in 1975 to a graduating class of 58 students. Today, Brown awards some 90 medical degrees annually from the Alpert Medical School.
Undergraduate education changed dramatically in 1970 with the introduction of what has become known as the Brown Curriculum. The idea for this change came from a report written by undergraduates Ira Magaziner ‘69 and Elliot E. Maxwell ’68, as part of a GISP (Group Independent Study Project) that examined education at Brown.
The new curriculum eliminated core requirements shared by all Brown undergraduates and created specific departmental concentration requirements. This approach has defined the undergraduate academic experience at Brown ever since, demanding that students serve as the architects of their courses of study.
Constant change defines Brown’s past and future, though the university’s culture is rich in tradition. Brown’s first building, for example, the red-bricked University Hall, was built in 1770 and still stands on the College Green. Today, the core campus consists of 235 buildings on 143 acres on the East Side of Providence. The Warren Alpert Medical School and the Laboratories for Molecular Medicine are housed in state-of-the-art facilities in Providence’s historic Jewelry District.
Launched in 2002, The Plan for Academic Enrichment built on Brown’s strengths and set new benchmarks of excellence in research, education, and public leadership. Transformation of the Engineering program into a School of Engineering and Public Health program into a School of Public Health were direct results of these efforts.
In its current process of strategic planning, Brown continues to follow its mission—seeking ways to improve, expand its scope, and better serve the world as a leading institution for education, discovery, and global intellectual progress.