Brown University
#36 Overall Influence#7 Desirability Rank

Brown University

University in Providence, Rhode Island

By James Barham, PhD

Brown began life as the College in the English Colony of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations (officially) or Rhode Island College (unofficially). It is the twelfth-oldest institution of higher learning in the US.

Rhode Island College was established in the town of Warren on the eastern shore of Narragansett Bay, a few miles south of the city of Providence. The school moved to Providence in 1770.

The College was established by a group of Baptist ministers (that being the religious affiliation of Rhode Island’s founder, Roger Williams), working in close cooperation with Quakers (Friends), Congregationalists, and Anglicans (Episcopalians). The College’s charter stated that there was to be no religious test for entrance.

A family consisting of four brothers—Nicholas, John, Joseph, and Moses Brown—was heavily involved in the College’s affairs from the beginning. Joseph Brown was a professor of Physics there, and John Brown served as treasurer for some 20 years during the Revolution and after.

In addition, Nicholas’s son, Nicholas Brown, Jr., was a very successful businessmen who made a series of generous gifts to the College to boost its endowment. In 1804, the College expressed its gratitude to the Brown family by changing its name to the present one.

Brown is linked to seven Nobel Prize laureates, namely,:

  • Physicists, Leon Cooper & J. Michael Kosterlitz
  • Chemist, Lars Onsager
  • Physiologists, George Snell & Craig Mello
  • Economists, George Stigler & Vernon Smith

Other notable faculty and alumni include:

  • Early-20th century Japanese scholar, educator, and social reformer, Fukuzawa Yukichi
  • Financier and philanthropist, John D. Rockefeller, Jr.
  • Psychiatrist, Aaron T. Beck
  • Novelists, Jeffrey Eugenides & Edwidge Danticat
  • Singer, Mary Chapin Carpenter
  • Actresses, Laura Linney & Emma Watson
  • Film director, Todd Haynes
  • Radio personality, Ira Glass
  • Media mogul, Ted Turner
  • Entrepreneur and investor; John Scully III
  • Entrepreneur, philanthropist, and 2020 Democratic Party presidential nomination candidate, Andrew Yang
  • Economist and former Federal Reserve Chairwoman, Janet Yellen
  • Former US diplomat, Richard Holbrooke
  • Former World Bank President, Jim Young Kim


What does this school look for?

Annual Applications




Graduation Rate


Median SAT Score


Median ACT Score



How much does it cost to attend?

Tuition (in-state)


Fees (in-state)


IncomeAverage Net Cost

After Graduation

Averages for 10 years after enrolling

Avg Earnings




Campus Life

What's it like to attend this school?

The People

Full time on-campus stats

Student Body






The Campus

Where will you be attending?


One Prospect Street, Providence RI 02912

On Campus Crime Rates

Property Crime

14 per 100k

Violent Crime

0 per 100k

What is Brown University known for?

Our answer to this is to show you the disciplines in which a school's faculty and alumni have had the highest historical influence. A school may be influential in a discipline even if they do not offer degrees in that area. We've organized two lists to show where they are influential and offer corresponding degrees, and where they are influential through scholarship although they don't offer degrees in the disciplines.

Top areas of influence with degrees offered

#26 World Rank #13 USA Rank
#19 World Rank #15 USA Rank
Computer Science
#22 World Rank #16 USA Rank
#37 World Rank #16 USA Rank
#36 World Rank #17 USA Rank
#29 World Rank #24 USA Rank
#30 World Rank #24 USA Rank
Political Science
#46 World Rank #26 USA Rank
#28 World Rank #26 USA Rank
#44 World Rank #26 USA Rank
#80 World Rank #30 USA Rank
#68 World Rank #31 USA Rank
Religious Studies
#43 World Rank #33 USA Rank
#51 World Rank #33 USA Rank
#68 World Rank #33 USA Rank
#92 World Rank #35 USA Rank
#66 World Rank #36 USA Rank
#67 World Rank #37 USA Rank
#118 World Rank #42 USA Rank
Earth Sciences
#131 World Rank #49 USA Rank

Other areas of influence

#33 World Rank #28 USA Rank
Criminal Justice
#40 World Rank #22 USA Rank
#90 World Rank #69 USA Rank
#125 World Rank #91 USA Rank
Social Work

Influential People

Who are Brown University's Most influential alumni?

Brown University's most influential alumni faculty include professors and professionals in the fields of Computer Science, Education, and Literature. Brown University’s most academically influential people include Ted Turner, Lillian Moller Gilbreth, and Kenneth R. Miller.

Ted Turner
Ted Turner

American media mogul, entrepreneur, and philanthropist

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Lillian Moller Gilbreth
Lillian Moller Gilbreth

American psychologist and industrial engineer

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Kenneth R. Miller
Kenneth R. Miller

American biologist

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John Hay
John Hay

American statesman, diplomat, author and journalist

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Horace Mann
Horace Mann

American politician

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David Lodge


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Jeffrey Eugenides
Jeffrey Eugenides

Novelist, short story writer, teacher

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Randy Pausch
Randy Pausch

American professor of computer science, human-computer interaction and design

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Anne Fausto-Sterling
Anne Fausto-Sterling

American sexologist

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Andrew Chaikin

American journalist and writer

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Robert MacArthur
Robert MacArthur

American ecologist

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Edwidge Danticat
Edwidge Danticat

Novelist, short story writer, memoirist

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