The College

Course Selection

Every year Brown offers nearly 2,000 courses across 45 departments, as well as opportunities to create your own courses, take classes at the Rhode Island School of Design and study abroad or at another U.S. institution.

Choosing courses for a semester of study can be a daunting process at Brown. Options are available in so many different areas that narrowing down one’s course selection to four may initially seem impossible.

The following suggestions may help focus the task:

  • Browse the Course Announcement Bulletin and departmental websites to get a sense of the range of course offerings in a given semester. Check departments in which you think you may never feel a stirring of interest; what you find may pique your curiosity.
  • Choose a balanced set of courses. If you are considering a career in medicine, for example, avoid the temptation to take two challenging science classes in the same semester. Instead, sample courses from the humanities, social sciences and natural and physical sciences. If you are planning on taking a large lecture course, make sure you balance this with a class that is small in size.
  • Give serious thought to taking a language course. Students who plan to study abroad are often required to demonstrate proficiency in the host country’s native language. Some introductory language courses are year-long courses that require students to complete both semesters in order to earn credit for the course.
  • First-year students are strongly encouraged to enroll in a First-Year Seminar or a course on Race, Power, and Privilege. First-Year Seminars are small courses that introduce incoming students to a field while allowing students to build community with one another and their instructor. Courses on Race, Power, and Privilege examine issues of structural inequality, racial formations and/or disparities, and systems of power within a complex, pluralistic world. Once you’ve chosen a course in one or two of these programs, focus on selecting courses in disciplines different from those courses.
  • Remember that your initial course selection is a plan, not a contract. Students change their minds any number of times before finally settling on the four courses that seem best for a given semester.

Course Tools

A suite of online tools will help you navigate Brown's extensive course offerings. You may search Brown's course offerings at Courses @ Brown, where you will find a wealth of information about each course and can download syllabi. At the beginning of each term, during the shopping period, you can access materials for most courses in Canvas, Brown's course management system.

Brown invites students to preregister for their courses and modify their course schedules during the first two weeks of each term.
As an undergraduate at Brown, you may choose to take a course either for a grade or satisfactory/no credit.
For over 30 years, Brown has had a course indicator that highlights the University's commitment to the intellectual study of race, racial formations, inequality and social justice.