Revised Academic Calendars

For the 2020-21 academic year at Brown, the University will offer three terms of instruction, arranging for undergraduate students to be on campus for two of these three terms, providing an environment with fewer students on campus at any one time. Each term will be slightly compressed at 14 weeks rather than the usual 15.

Major dates for the academic calendar for undergraduate and graduate students are summarized as follows:

  • The fall term will begin Sept. 9, 2020. After Thanksgiving break (which will begin at noon on Nov. 25), there will be a weeklong remote reading period Nov. 30 to Dec. 4, followed by a remote final exam period Dec. 7-11.
  • The spring term will begin Jan. 20, 2021. Remote reading period will begin April 12 and will be followed by remote final exams April 19-23.
  • The summer term will begin May 12, 2021. Remote reading period will begin Aug. 2 and will be followed by remote final exams Aug. 9-13.

Visit the Academic Calendar page maintained by the Office of the Registrar for more details:

Academic Calendar

As shown in the following table, juniors and seniors will attend during the fall and spring terms; and first-year students will attend during the spring and summer terms. Sophomores will attend fall-spring but could be shifted in full or in part to fall-summer if public health conditions worsen over the course of the fall:

  First Year Sophomore Junior Senior
Fall   X X X
Spring X X* X X
Summer X X*    

*Sophomores may be fall/spring or fall/summer.

The University’s total undergraduate enrollment is about 6,800. With expected reductions in enrollment because of travel limitations and other factors for some students, the result of distributing the academic calendar across three terms is approximately 4,600 undergraduate students on campus in the fall term. This enables a reduced density consistent with guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH.

“Quiet Period,” Reading Period and Breaks

The start of classes each term will be preceded by a “quiet period,” during which students will be expected mostly to self-quarantine within their residences. Each term will include two or three long weekends. However, longer breaks like fall and spring recess will be eliminated due to calendar constraints and to avoid out-of-state travel.

Reading period — the period following the end of classes and prior to final exams that is devoted to study — and final exams will be offered remotely. And in the fall term in particular, students who leave campus for Thanksgiving will not be permitted to return to campus.

Eligible students may opt to complete one or both of their terms remotely, and during “off” terms, students will not be enrolled at Brown and can pursue internships, research programs or other academic/professional development opportunities.

Graduate students (doctoral and master’s) will enroll primarily in the fall and spring terms, although we anticipate that significant numbers of new international students may need to defer arrival due to expected delays in visa processing. Most of the essential graduate courses will be delivered in fall or spring.

In most graduate programs, summer is traditionally used for fieldwork, full-time lab research or internships. Graduate students who are unable to come to campus in September will be given the option to defer for one term (with or without an online start in the fall), for one year, or to begin the program online and to join on campus part way through the fall term. In all other respects, graduate instruction will be similar to the plans described for the undergraduate program.

Medical education is substantively different from undergraduate and graduate programs in many respects, including the fact that third- and fourth-year instruction takes place almost entirely in Brown’s affiliated hospitals and is subject to the plans and policies of those institutions. The Warren Alpert Medical School (AMS) has adopted the following guiding principles for delivering the medical curriculum in the coming year:

  1. Continue to deliver an innovative, evidence-based curriculum that creates an optimal educational experience for all medical students.
  2. Use a variety of pedagogical methodologies including, but not limited to, lecture, small groups and clinical experiences.
  3. Adhere to best practice guidelines from the CDC and RIDOH in regard to physical distancing and other safety precautions.
In order to do so for first-year medical students (beginning on August 3, 2020), AMS will:
  1. Conduct all large group lectures virtually through delivery mechanisms such as Zoom, Panopto and Brainshark. (Note: as the first year, first term typically progresses, up to 50% or more of students typically watch recorded lectures rather than attend lectures in person.)
  2. Conduct small groups in person or, in some cases, through a hybrid model of virtual and in-person methods of delivery.
  3. Continue with the clinical skills component of the first year in person, using social distancing guidelines to ensure safety of students, faculty and standardized patients (for example, reducing the number of students in clinical skills suite rooms by 50%).
  4. Continue students working with mentors in the clinical setting for a half day per week (with appropriate personal protective equipment provided).
  5. Conduct anatomy laboratory sessions using a mix of prosections and mobile applications.
  6. Administer examinations either: (1) remotely using Zoom or artificial intelligence applications; or (2) in person, adhering to guidelines from CDC/RIDOH on appropriate physical distancing.
For second-year medical students (beginning on August 5, 2020) AMS will:
  1. Conduct all large group lectures virtually through delivery mechanisms such as Zoom, Panopto and Brainshark. (Note: In the second year, many students typically watch recorded lectures rather than attend lectures in person).
  2. Conduct small groups in person or, in some cases, through a hybrid model of virtual and in person.
  3. Continue with the clinical skills component of the first year in person, using social distancing guidelines to ensure safety of students, faculty and standardized patients (for example, reducing the number of students in clinical skills suite rooms by 50%).
  4. Continue students working with mentors in the clinical setting for a half day per week (with appropriate personal protective equipment provided).
  5. Administer examinations either: (1) Remotely using Zoom or artificial intelligence applications; or (2) in person, adhering to guidelines from CDC/RIDOH on appropriate physical distancing.
For third- and fourth-year medical students (first term began on May 26, 2020) AMS has done the following:
  1. Appropriate personal protective equipment has been provided for all students at the same level as other health care providers in the setting in which students are working for all clinical rotations that began on May 26, 2020.
  2. Any didactic sessions for students (typically groups of 12 or less) are conducted either in person (usually at hospital sites) or virtually (if a larger group).
  3. Written (multiple-choice) examinations are proctored remotely via Zoom.
  4. Objective Structured Clinical Examinations are administered in AMS’s clinical skills suites with appropriate precautions (1 student: 1 standardized patient ratio; each individual wearing masks).

Last updated July 7, 2020. Information on this page may be updated as the University’s planning evolves and/or public health guidance prompts a shift in Brown’s operations and protocols.