New Graduate Student FAQ

We're so excited you're coming to Brown in the fall! These are some technology questions we've heard from incoming graduate students.

If you have a question that's not addressed here, please get in touch with the IT Service Center. We're looking forward to meeting you and helping you with technology during your time at Brown.

Brown University students in the fall

Computers and Software

What computer should I bring to Brown in the fall?
While computer labs are available, most students at Brown bring laptops. For most purposes, Mac and PC work equally well. We estimate around 65% of students have Mac laptops, and 35% Windows. Some also bring Linux computers or Chromebooks - Chromebooks work except they currently do not support Brown's Virtual Private Network (VPN) yet, which can be an issue if you are trying to access certain Brown resources (like library journals) or keyed software from off-campus.

For departments with specialized computing needs, we recommend asking your department. Many of those departments have their own labs for specialized software. We have some general recommendations on our Buying a Computer page. Also, keep in mind that the Brown Bookstore Technology Center provides warranty repairs for Dell and Apple computers. This will prevent a hassle if your new computer has an issue while you're at Brown. 

Do I get a discount on computers? 
The Brown Bookstore Technology Center offers student discounts on Dell and Apple computers. Apple and Dell also have educational discounts on their websites, and you might find other vendors who do as well: Apple Student DiscountsDell Student Discounts

Are there loaner laptops available?

Yes - if your laptop breaks, or you didn't bring a laptop and you need one for a short time, the IT Service Center has some loaners.  More information about IT Service Center equipment loans

What type of hardware or software will I need for particular courses?
We recommend contacting the department to ask, but many departments with specialized software needs have their own labs.  

What software is available for free for incoming students?
We're glad you asked! Before you buy any software, check to see if we already offer it for free. Three you should especially note are Microsoft OfficeRosetta Stone, and Adobe Creative Cloud. If you're a committed student, you're already in our systems as a student and can start installing and using this software.

What type of computer support is available?
If your computer has a problem, the IT Service Center  can help you troubleshoot. However, they don't repair personal computers, so if you need a repair or part, they'll send you a block away to the Brown Bookstore Technology Center. The Bookstore does warranty repairs for Dell and Apple computers under warranty, and for-fee repairs for anything else.


Are there printers on campus?
Yes, PAWPrints allows all students to print to Brown printers in common areas from their personal computer or a computing lab. Graduate students also may have access to departmental printers.

Where are PAWPrints printers located?
Here's a map!

How much does printing cost? Do we get a credit
7¢ black and white single sided, 10¢ black and white double sided, 25¢ for color prints. 

Can I set up a wireless printer on campus?
We've found some wireless printers are difficult, or sometimes impossible, to set up on an enterprise wireless network like Brown's. In addition, other people may be able to see and print to your printer. In most cases, you can still use wireless printers the old-fashioned way (with a USB cable) if this is a problem.  If you bring one, use these instructions to connect it. If you just try to connect without the instructions, it will not work.


Is wifi available throughout campus?
Yes! We're proud of our wireless coverage and trying to improve it all the time.  Here's a coverage map and a list of completed and planned improvements.

 What network should I connect to?
Definitely Brown! It's the secure network. If you use Brown-Guest instead, your traffic is not encrypted. However, we've made it available for guests and for devices that can't connect to Brown (like a gaming system). 

How do I connect my gaming system / wireless printer / Roku / etc.?
If you want to use these devices on campus, you will need to register them in our system before trying to connect them to Brown-Guest. Please see instructions at If you try to connect them to the network before following the instructions to register the device's address, you may have to contact the IT Service Center to have the device un-registered. We've found that a lot of devices are able to connect, but unfortunately Chromecasts are not.


How do I set up voicemail?
If you have a phone in your department, you can email to request a voicemail account. Once it is set up, see for information on how to access and use voicemail.

Do Brown students get cell phone discounts?
Yes - check out discount codes on our Buying a Cell Phone page. 

Course Resources

Where can I find information about courses, like syllabi? is a great place to browse courses. In many cases, instructors have uploaded syllabi.

Does Brown have online courseware / a Learning Management System?
Yes, we use Canvas!  You can access Brown's Canvas system at

Written by on