Laptop Requirement

The Brown School requires that all students own a laptop.

This policy has been adopted for many reasons: 

  • University-managed computing resources are limited. Personally owned laptops allow students to be productive and connected, regardless of location.
  • Computer use is essential for Brown School students’ educational experience. 
  • Technology literacy is crucial to student success and professional development. 
  • Laptops are needed for 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 2.2 GHz or faster (note: Apple Silicon/M1 NOT supported)
  • Memory: 8 GB or more 
  • Operating System: Windows 10 or currently supported macOS version
  • Hard Drive: 256 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 meet or exceed the recommendations listed above.

Do not purchase microsoft office or windows 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 Window-specific software on a Mac, you can download and install Windows through WashU’s On the Hub store.  


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 use or 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 or when possible, to find it available at no cost. Most purchased software is available to students on a 6 or 12-month term, and is priced comparably with textbooks. 

What About Macs? 

Some software that is commonly used in Brown School courses and available to students at no cost is Windows-only (ArcGIS and SAS). While Intel-based Macs can run Windows in a virtual machine, additional virtualization software like VMWare or Parallels must be installed. Please note that Windows virtualization is not supported on Apple’s newest M1 processors. If you have questions about running Windows on your Mac, please contact the Washington University Tech Den.

Tech Support For Student Laptops 

Washington University Tech Den provides technology services to the Washington University student community. In 2021, the WashU Tech Den was completely renovated and redesigned to meet the needs of graduate, professional and commuter students. The Tech Den supports students in the use of core technologies, including laptop purchasing guidance, laptop repairs/loaners, network connectivity, email, printing and software support.

Are There Specific Webcam Recommendations? 

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.