Graduate School

Open Graduate Education

The Open Graduate Education Program allows select Brown doctoral students to pursue a master’s degree in a secondary field. All doctoral students are invited to propose their own combination of studies, free of any disciplinary barrier.

The Open Graduate Education program builds on the traditions of free inquiry and collaborative research at Brown. It aligns the training of doctoral students with the spirit of Brown's Open Curriculum for undergraduate students, a cornerstone of the University's pedagogy. The program was launched as a pilot project by the Graduate School in October 2011.

The objective of this program is to enable students to combine fields in unique ways and acquire expertise in more than one area. Consequently, there is no constraint on the choice of the secondary field -- as long as the master's program participates in the program -- and the field may be either close to or quite far removed from that of the doctoral studies.

The program is designed to enable select doctoral students to write unique dissertations, pursue research, and forge career pathways that require knowledge in more than one field. The overarching goal of the Open Graduate Education program is to provide Brown doctoral students with the opportunity to broaden their intellectual and scholarly horizons, without sacrificing depth of study, as they prepare to launch their careers.

The program welcomed its first cohort in the 2012-2013 academic year. In 2023-2024, we welcomed our eleventh cohort. There are currently 43 Open Graduate students and 66 program alumni.

Program Scope and Details

Each year, the program allows about 10 doctoral students -- from any discipline -- to pursue a master’s degree in a secondary field.  Participants are selected on the basis of an application.  Attending an information session is highly encouraged for interested students. 

The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation generously provides support for humanities students who participate in the project. See additional financial details included in information for prospective applicants.

Student Application

Complete through UFunds; the application is located under the “Graduate School Distinctive Opportunities” button. Required components:

  1. CV (or a Word document generated from your GSDCV submission)
  2. An attached PDF that addresses the following questions:
    -Your rationale for the proposed degree combination.
    -Your career plans and how they could be enabled by the secondary field.
    -The courses that you plan to take as part of your master’s program.
    -Your proposed path to complete both the doctoral and master’s degrees within six years (i.e., course sequencing, and which courses in which year). Be as specific as you can.
  3. Recommendation from the DGS of your PhD program and DGS of your proposed master's program. If you have been assigned a Research Advisor, an additional recommendation is required from that advisor.
    In UFunds, under “Request Recommendation From,” please enter the email addresses of the DGS of your PhD program, the DGS of your proposed master’s program, and your Research Advisor (if applicable). Your recommenders will receive emails from requesting that they complete recommendation forms to accompany your application.
  4. Students interested in seeking a Master’s of Public Health must submit an additional application to the School of Public Health. 

Application Deadline

February 12, 2024 at 5 pm