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Frequently Asked Questions about the Brown|RISD Dual Degree Program

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The Program

1. What is the Brown|RISD Dual Degree Program?

The Brown|RISD Dual Degree Program brings together two world-class institutions and offers students the opportunity to pursue collaborative and multidisciplinary work. Students will choose a concentration at Brown and a major at RISD. In the process, they develop and integrate diverse spheres of academic and artistic interests. Within a period of five years they will earn an A.B. or an Sc.B. from Brown and a B.F.A. from RISD.

2. What kinds of students would be attracted to the Brown|RISD Dual Degree program?

Students interested in combining film and video with screen or playwriting, photography with anthropology or urban studies, sculpture with music or performance, art and design with the sciences, theater with glass, and many other unique combinations. RISD and Brown offer different but complementary strengths: RISD offers intensive, specialized education in all categories of the arts and design; Brown offers comprehensive concentrations in the humanities, social sciences, physical, and life sciences. There are many possibilities – and some have yet to be explored!

Please note that not all combinations of majors at RISD and Brown may be possible because of the rigorous demands of the Dual Degree program. Currently, Dual Degree students are unable to declare a major in Architecture at RISD.

Admission and the Application Process

3. What is the application process?

Students who wish to apply to the five-year program must submit separate applications to RISD and to Brown, as well as submit the supplementary essay for the Dual Degree program at the time of application. Each admission office will conduct a separate evaluation before joint consideration for the Dual Degree Program. Consequently, it is possible that a student could be admitted to RISD only, to Brown only, or to both Brown and RISD but not to the Dual Degree program.

5. Can a student apply Early Decision?

Applicants may choose to apply to either Brown or RISD under their respective Early Decision Programs, with the understanding that if they are admitted via Early Decision, they agree to matriculate regardless of the outcome of their applications to the other institution and the Dual Degree program.

In mid-March of the application year, the Dual Degree Admission Committee will convene to discuss the applications of any Regular Decision applicants to the Program, and the applications of any Early Decision applicants who have been admitted or deferred. Final decisions will be mailed in late March or early April, immediately following the regular decision mailing date.

6. How many Dual Degree program students will be admitted?

The number of dual degree students admitted is strictly limited. We seek to enroll a class of 15 students each year.

9. What if I have additional questions about admission?

We are happy to answer any questions! General inquiries about the Dual Degree program can be directed to the Dual Degree Advisor and Program Coordinator at or or by calling 401-863-9836. For questions about the Brown admission process, please contact Brown Admissions at 401-863-2378, or If you have questions about the RISD application, please contact the RISD Admissions Office, 401 454-6300 or 800 364-RISD (364-7473), or

The Student Experience

10. How will students schedule classes at each institution?

Upon acceptance to the program after completion of secondary school, students will undertake a first year of Foundation Studies at RISD and no more than three courses at Brown, including a First Year Seminar during their first semester. During the second year, students complete at least five courses at Brown and courses at RISD dependent on their declared major. In all following years, students will schedule for coursework at both institutions in accordance with the requirements for their concentration and major. Throughout the program, students will work with the Dual Degree Advisor and Program Coordinator to develop and adjust a five-year plan to complete all requirements on time. Advisors on both campuses will also work with dual degree students to assist them in charting their plans for their respective academic programs at RISD and Brown.

11. What advising will be available?

Dual Degree students are assigned an individual faculty advisor on each campus in keeping with the existing practices of each institution. For descriptions of advising programs, please consult the individual websites of each college. In addition to the full range of resources at Brown and RISD, the Dual Degree program also has a full-time staff member dedicated to assisting students in developing their academic plans. The Brown|RISD Dual Degree Advisor and Program Coordinator, Cassie Bower ( or, also jointly with both institutions on issues of relevance to students' acadmemic and residential experiences. Students in the first and second year are also assigned a Brown|RISD Dual Degree Peer Advisor, and they have the option to continue working with a peer advisor in their third year.

The Brown|RISD Dual Degree program is governed by a joint committee comprised of faculty and staff from both schools. The committee is chaired by Brown's Deputy Dean of the College, Christopher Dennis (, and RISD's Associate Provost for Academic Affairs.

12. Where will students be housed?

Program participants will be housed at RISD during the first year and at Brown during the second year. In the following years, students can live on either campus or off-campus (with permission), according to individual preference and availability.

13. Can a student accelerate graduation with AP credits?

No. This is a five-year (ten-semester) degree program. Upon approval of deans from RISD, AP credits may be applied toward fulfilling certain distribution requirements. However, they cannot be used to shorten the length of the program.

Tuition and Financial Aid

14. How much does the program cost?

All tuition and financial aid for Dual Degree students will be figured at Brown rates for the duration of the program, and students enrolled in the program must pay no fewer than ten semesters of Brown tuition. If a student leaves the program and continues at Brown, Brown rates will apply; if a student leaves the program and continues at RISD, RISD rates will apply. For more information, see Brown’s tuition and fee schedule.

Many RISD courses carry associated lab and/or material and supplies fees. Please see the RISD Course Announcement Catalogue for details. These fees will be charged to the student account bill in aggregate with a generic description each semester. All payments and financial aid inquiries should be directed to Brown. Financial aid packages will be adjusted for these costs per student eligibility. Students should be aware that RISD projects often require students to purchase materials and supplies beyond those specifically attached to the course and should plan accordingly.

15. How do students apply for financial aid?

Applicants to the Dual Degree program must submit financial aid applications to both Brown and RISD, and follow the guidelines provided on each institution’s website. Given that students will be initially admitted through procedures in place at both institutions, financial aid will be made with respect to formulae operating at both. Should a student be rejected as a Dual Degree student, or choose to matriculate at only one of the two institutions, he or she will receive the financial aid package offered by that institution. Financial aid for students admitted into the Dual Degree program will be calculated according to the Brown formula.

16. What is Brown’s financial aid philosophy?

Financial aid at Brown is a partnership that draws on the combined resources of the student, his or her family, federal and state governments, and the University. Brown believes that the primary responsibility to pay for college lies, to the extent possible, with the family. Eligibility for aid from the University, therefore, is based on financial need. Brown, as a member of the Ivy League, does not offer aid based on academic achievement, athletic ability, or any other form of merit. For more information please review “General Questions” about Brown financial aid.

17. How does Brown determine financial need?

Demonstrated Financial Need is determined based on two primary factors: the Cost of Attendance and the Family Contribution. The Cost of Attendance is a combination of direct costs (tuition, fees, room & board), and indirect costs (books, supplies, and personal expenses). The Family Contribution is determined through an analysis of the information provided on the family’s financial aid application. Demonstrated Financial Need is calculated by subtracting the Family Contribution from the Cost of Attendance. For more information and examples please read the Brown financial aid, “Need Analysis.”

18. How much financial aid will I receive?

Because Brown meets full Demonstrated Need, students will receive an award equal to the difference of Cost of Attendance and Family Contribution. Awards generally consist of a combination of loan, campus employment, and grant funds.

19. What is need-blind admission?

Need-blind admission means that an applicant’s ability to pay for his or her education will not be a factor in the admission decision. In other words, a candidate’s financial need will not be taken into consideration when deciding to admit, wait list, or deny an applicant. This policy applies to all U.S. Citizens and Permanent Residents regardless of the program to which the applicant has applied. For more information, please read Brown’s “Need-Blind Admission.”

20. Is my financial aid renewable for all five years of the program?

Financial aid is renewable for all five undergraduate years, assuming eligibility continues. Students must reapply each year for financial aid. Renewal forms and procedures are distributed at the end of the fall term.