Who is the Typical Brown School Student?

Choosing the right graduate program is about a lot of things – scholarships and funding, research opportunities, location, academic expectation, etc. You want to know what your life will look like over the next two years.

For me, one of the most important parts of my day-to-day life is the people I’m surrounded by. In grad school, that’s even more important because we learn so much from each other in classroom discussions and casual lunch chats. With that in mind, I wanted to answer a question we get fairly often: Who is the typical Brown School Student? 

Diversity in Every Area 

Brown School students represent pretty much every demographic criteria. We’re all ages, all levels of work experience, and span broad spectrums in gender, sexuality, race and culture. We come from all over the country and the world. You can view our student body profile, but the highlights include: 

  • More than one-third of our cohort is students of color 
  • 11% are international students 
  • Almost half of the cohort is a first-generation undergrad or grad student 
  • Ages range from 20 – 58  

More than two-thirds of students relocate to St. Louis to attend the Brown School, which means we have a variety of experiences and perspectives in every class. In our Admissions’ Student Ambassador team alone, you can see that we come from every corner of the nation and across the globe. Work to advance equity, diversity and inclusion is at the heart of the Brown School, and the School strives to create an inclusive and equitable environment. Read more about the Brown School’s commitment and strategy.

Academic and Professional Backgrounds 

Our holistic review process means that there are no prerequisite degrees for our programs. We consider work and degrees in other fields, as well as complementary disciplines like psychology, social work and biology. Having a related undergraduate degree is not necessary, or even important, in the application process. A quick, very informal survey of my friends in the MSW program showed that we had undergrad degrees in theater, social work, marketing, mechanical engineering, psychology and education.  

This variety of academic and professional backgrounds translates to dynamic conversations in class. We use our diverse skill sets to analyze problems and collaborate on potential solutions from different angles.  

Finding Your Spot 

With 10 concentrations in our MSW program and six specializations in the MPH program, students can study what they’re passionate about. That leads to a cohort of students who have unique interests, each tailoring their curriculum to the skills and knowledge that would serve them best. Even within concentrations, you may choose to take things in a micro direction, a macro one, or anywhere in between. As an added bonus, to diversify your knowledge base you can take electives or substitute courses from other concentrations, degree programs, or even schools at Washington University.   

Additionally, the Brown School offers a range of student groups for every interest or identity, which you can get involved with after your classes.  

The Common Denominator 

So, I’ve told you all the ways we differ, but maybe you’re still wondering: what’s the thing that makes a Brown School student? What’s the one thing that sets us apart? What’s the one quality that would make me fit in?   

My answer: Passion. Brown School students, in my experience, are united in their desire to make the world a better place. We don’t always agree on the best way to go about it, but we are eager to learn from each other and to find solutions that increase equity and quality of life for individuals and communities across the globe.  

Social and health issues are at the forefront of our minds and hearts, but we put people first. In my experience, my Brown School cohort believes in the power of community and collaboration to encourage each other, but also to build professional relationships that will last. I’ve seen fun Friday night drinks lead to strategic discussions about defunding the police and serious class discussions and workgroups fade into gossip about the Bachelorette. 

The Bottom Line 

Our application process brings together a group with diverse and unique interests, united by our commitment to equity and excellence. (I know that sounded like it was straight out of a brochure, but it has the added benefit of being true.) 

So, if any of this sounds like you, then the “typical” Brown School student might just look like you. Still not sure or have more questions? Hit us up! We love chatting with prospective students, sharing our experiences, and hearing about yours. Contact your Student Ambassadors at brownadmissions@wustl.edu