Online Learning

Online Learning at Brown University

Digital education programs are emerging as an important component of Brown’s ability to fully realize its mission of serving the community, the nation, and the world.

These programs are also key to our ability to be truly inclusive in bringing together diverse learners from a range of personal and professional backgrounds, and from all corners of the globe. Pathways to Diversity and Inclusion: An Action Plan for Brown University (2016) entered Phase II in April 2021, and it is central to the University’s strategic plan, Building on Distinction.

Low-residency and fully online programs serve students where they are and enable them to access educational programs that might not otherwise be accessible to them and to put their training and/or research to work in the service of larger endeavors. Excellent hybrid and online programs also increase options for students who work full-time and who seek the education, training, and knowledge to help them advance professionally. Online programs eliminate geopolitical barriers and enable international students to continue to participate in academic life at Brown.

Finally, online education offers the potential to reverse the cost of higher education by examining whether certain online programs - particularly those that are designed to serve the public good -- can be offered at tuition levels that make a Brown education more accessible to diverse learners around the world.


Brown offers a portfolio of low-residency, hybrid and fully-online, degree and non-degree programs & short courses:

Executive MBA

A low-residency Executive MBA is offered jointly with the triple-accredited IE Business School in Spain. The program was ranked 3rd among EMBA programs in the world by The Economist. Anchored in the values and strengths of both institutions, the IE Brown Executive MBA integrates innovative management skills with the human sciences and practical business studies. It is designed to develop well-rounded managers and entrepreneurs who do not shy away from difficult questions and who can therefore be change agents in their organizations, industries and communities.

Business executive MBA students in a classroom

Master's in Technology Leadership

A low-residency ScM in Technology Leadership, in the School of Engineering: was launched in 2016 and was designed to introduce mid-career professionals with a balance of technical expertise and foundational skills rooted in social science and humanities - like strategic thinking and persuasive communication - to prepare for evolving demands on leaders in the technology sector. The curriculum was designed to strengthen students’ education in four key areas: global value creation, leadership communication, strategic thinking, and innovation.

Mid-career professionals thinking strategically and communicating in classroom

Master's in Healthcare Leadership

A low-residency ScM in Healthcare Leadership, in the School of Public Health: is a 16-month program designed for physician leaders and ambitious healthcare professionals with an average of 15+ years of professional experience. The curriculum provides a sophisticated, cross-industry understanding of the policy, regulations and global forces disrupting the healthcare sector and the skills needed to meet the new and evolving demands for leadership. The program draws from Brown’s strengths in public health, policy, health economics, and evidence based medicine.

Physician leader and ambitious healthcare professional discussing new and evolving demands

Master's in Cybersecurity

A fully-online ScM in Cybersecurity in the Department of Computer an 18-month degree program that builds on Brown’s strengths in cybersecurity innovation. Rooted in interdisciplinary inquiry, the program offers two tracks – one in Computer Science and one in Policy, offered in collaboration with the Watson Institute for International and Public Affairs, and aims to provide students with rigorous technical skills and a comprehensive understanding of cybersecurity technology and policy at the local, national, and global levels.

Professionals with technical skills and a comprehensive understanding of cybersecurity technology working on solving complex issues

Master's in Innovation Management and Entrepreneurship

A blended-format ScM in Innovation Management and Entrepreneurship (PRIME), in the School of Engineering: A 15-month program designed for early career professionals looking to understand innovation at the intersection of business and engineering. The program challenges students to examine innovation through technology and positions graduates for careers in consulting, investment banking, health/medicine, traditional engineering and technology companies, and as founders of new ventures.

Career professionals looking to understand innovation at the intersection of business and engineering

Master's in Public Health

The School of Public Health offers a fully-online Master of Public Health (MPH), committed to flexibility for non-traditional adult learners, working professionals, and international students. This 24-month program will train students to examine health-related issues using methodological data tools including biostatistics, survey methods, and qualitative methods to critically assess a population’s health and develop action-based interventions that promote physical and mental health, and the prevention of disease and disability.

Public Health students in a meeting

Executive Education Courses

A mix of fully-online and blended, flexible, high-impact and innovative non-degree courses for individuals and organizations. Courses range from four weeks to six months and are led by world-class Brown faculty.

Participant facing laptop screen, video conferencing with a group of people

Certificate Programs

The School of Professional Studies offers non-degree certificate programs that vary in time commitment and offer a blend of self-paced, flexible, and interactive learning experiences — fully online, in-person, or a hybrid model.

Woman at desk, video conferencing with one person

State Authorization & Distance Education

Distance Education refers to online degree or certificate programs available to students physically located in other states and territories. It also includes certain educational activities that occur outside of Rhode Island, such as field placements and academic internships.

Brown University wants to provide students and prospective students who are located in other states the information they need to determine if Brown’s distance education offerings are authorized in their state. Providing this information to students is also mandated by state and federal laws and regulations governing State Authorization.

State Authorization refers to the requirement that institutions of higher education obtain authorization for their distance education offerings from individual states, in accordance with each state’s laws and regulations.

    Brown University is a Rhode Island institutional member of the State Authorization Reciprocity Agreement (SARA), an agreement among member US states, Washington D.C. and territories that establishes comparable national standards for interstate offerings of postsecondary distance education courses and programs, including those offered online. SARA is intended to make it easier for students to take online courses offered by postsecondary institutions based in a state other than their home state. SARA is overseen by the National Council for State Authorization Reciprocity Agreements (NC-SARA) and administered by four regional education compacts; the New England Board of Higher Education (NEBHE) is the regional entity for Rhode Island.

    NC-SARA policies and standards, including those for consumer protection and the resolution of complaints, apply to interstate distance education offered by participating NC-SARA institutions to students in other NC-SARA states. Complaints about a RI-SARA institution’s operations are to be resolved under the RI-SARA provisions.

    The Rhode Island Council on Postsecondary Education (CPE) and the Office of the Postsecondary Commissioner (OPC) administer NC-SARA for Rhode Island and have the authority and responsibility to resolve student and other complaints about Rhode Island’s SARA-approved institutions.

      Brown University makes every attempt to resolve student complaints within its academic and administrative departments. Students should first attempt to resolve any concerns by utilizing existing University procedures.

      For Online Students Located in SARA Member States and Territories
      After you have exhausted the complaint procedures made available by Brown University, you may submit written complaints and supporting documentation alleging consumer fraud, state licensing of postsecondary institutions, and/or quality of education or accreditation requirements relating to a Brown University online or blended course/program to: 

      Commissioner of Postsecondary Education
      Rhode Island Office of the Postsecondary Commissioner
      560 Jefferson Boulevard
      Warwick, RI 02886-1304

      Recommended Content of the RI-SARA Complaint
      Initial complaints should include the complainant’s full name, address and contact information, including email address and telephone number. Complaints should specify enrollment status, i.e. whether the student is a current, former or prospective student; and they should be specific in describing the nature of the complaint and relevant information: the name of the parties involved, including witnesses, dates, the name of the institution, the policy or procedure violated (if known) and contact information. Any supporting material that substantiates the complaint also should be included.

      After receiving a complaint, the OPC will review the submitted materials and contact the submitter for any required additional information or clarifications. The OPC will then send a copy of the complaint to Brown and ask for a response within three weeks.

      After receiving Brown’s response, the OPC will determine whether Brown's student complaint process has been followed and exhausted and what additional steps or follow-up may be taken. The OPC will inform both parties involved in the complaint.

      If a person bringing a complaint is not satisfied with the outcome of the institutional process for handling complaints, the complaint (except for complaints about grades or student conduct violations) may be appealed to the OPC within two years of the incident about which the complaint is made. The resolution of the complaint by the OPC, through its RI-SARA complaint resolution process, will be final.

      If you have questions about the complaint process, or want to clarify that your individual complaint is reviewable by the OPC, please feel free to contact the OPC office by phone at 401-736-1100 or online at

      Complaints involving quality or accreditation requirements may also be filed directly with:

      New England Commission of Higher Education (NECHE)
      3 Burlington Woods Drive, Suite 100
      Burlington Woods, MA 01803-4514

      Information for the Public: Comments and Complaints

      Brown University’s accreditation documents may be viewed here:
      NECHE Accreditation

      PLEASE NOTE: Students residing in California who wish to file a complaint and supporting documentation alleging consumer fraud, state licensing of postsecondary institutions, and/or quality of education or accreditation requirements regarding a Brown University online or blended course/program should contact:


      Degree Recognition

      We advise prospective students interested in a Brown University degree to determine whether the degree will be recognized in the student’s country of residence and/or any country in which the student intends to work. Some countries may not formally recognize foreign online degrees, which may impact the ability to later enroll in other educational programs or to seek employment with a government employer or other employers requiring specific credentials. 

      Restrictions and Licensing Requirements

      To comply with OFAC restrictions and licensing requirements, Brown University currently does not offer online programs to individuals physically located in the following areas: Cuba, Iran, North Korea, Syria, and the Crimea, Donetsk and Luhansk regions of Ukraine. Please note that this limitation is location based, as well as applies to all citizens of these countries, regardless of location, who are ordinarily resident in these countries.

      More information pertaining to embargoed country regulations for online courses can be found here


      The following Brown teams work to support the successful design and delivery of fully online (credit and non credit), hybrid, and low residency programs to diverse populations of learners at the pre-college, undergraduate, graduate, and professional levels.

      Academic Innovation Eco-System diagram

      Provides back-office support for program operations and administration, including marketing, admissions, enrollment management, student services, and some aspects of project planning
      Supports teaching and learning excellence for all academic programs and faculty, staff, and students
      Delivers high-quality IT solutions and services that further Brown University's ability to achieve its mission of excellence in education, research, and public leadership