Laptop Requirement | Brown School at Washington University in St. Louis
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Laptop Requirement

The Brown School requires that all students own a laptop.

This policy has been adopted for many reasons: 

  • Computer use is essential for Brown School students’ educational experience. 
  • University-managed computing resources can be limited, and personally owned laptops allow students to be productive and connected, regardless of location. 
  • Technology literacy is crucial to student success and professional development. 
  • Laptops contribute to the facilitation of team-based assignments and activities. 

System Recommendations 

Students should have their laptop with them when they arrive for the fall semester. If you own a laptop that was purchased in the last two years, it should be sufficient for your time at the Brown School. If your system is older than two years old, we strongly suggest you purchase a new system. 

Current minimum recommendations for a laptop: 

  • Processor: Intel i5 or faster 
  • Memory: 8 GB or more 
  • Operating System: Windows 10 
  • Hard Drive: 250 GB (SSD recommended) or more 
  • Webcam with microphone
Purchasing Your Computer 

The Brown School has standardized on Dell systems for our internal use and have found them to be of high quality at competitive prices. There are options to purchase a laptop that meets specified requirements at discounted prices through the WashU Campus Store website. These systems are ready to order as configured, or can be used a starting point to adjust the configuration to meet your specific requirements. Other systems and form factors from different manufacturers are acceptable as well as long as the specs are similar. 

Do not purchase Microsoft Office with your laptop. 

All Washington University students are eligible for a Microsoft Office Pro license at no cost through their Office 365 benefits. If you intend to use Windows-specific software on a Mac, however, you will need to purchase and install your own copy of Windows on the Mac.


Computers fail at times, and laptops are susceptible to wear and physical damage. It is important to have a warranty that covers your time at the Brown School. It is strongly recommended that onsite service be included in your warranty to avoid the possibility of service delays.


Some Brown School courses require the purchase of additional software. These software titles will be called out on the course syllabus along with links to purchase the software at a discounted price. Most software is available to students on a 6 or 12-month term, and is priced comparably with textbooks. 

 What About Macs? 

The Brown School has standardized on PCs and Microsoft Windows. We recommend that students do the same. If you choose to use a Mac laptop, please note that you may need access to Windows software while you are a student here. This can be accomplished using Boot Camp or a virtualization program such as VMware Fusion or Parallels Workstation. Visit the Washington University OnTheHub store for more information and to obtain the necessary software.  

Tech Support for Student Laptops 

Washington University Tech Den can provide limited support for student laptops, primarily focused on network connectivity and printing. Hardware support must be handled through the personal laptop manufacturer or retailer.


Classes sometimes require a webcam for use with Zoom, Respondus, and other video and web conferencing tools. If your laptop does not come with an internal webcam, some external webcams will work as well. You can find a full list of Zoom-compatible webcams online, and you can join a test Zoom meeting to check your webcam.