The history of Brown University spans 257 years. Founded in 1764 as the College in the English Colony of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations, Brown is the seventh-oldest institution of higher education in the United States and the third-oldest institution of higher education in New England.At its foundation, the university was the first in the U.S. to accept students regardless of their religious affiliation.Brown's medical program is the third-oldest in New England while its engineering program is the oldest in the Ivy League.
The university was one of the early doctoral-granting U.S. institutions in the late 19th century, adding masters and doctoral studies in 1887.
In 1969, Brown adopted its Open Curriculum—which has since come to define the university's approach to undergraduate education. In 1971, Brown's coordinate women's institution, Pembroke College, was fully merged into the university.