Academics - Major Program

Students may choose one of six basic patterns to satisfy the major requirement at Bowdoin: a departmental major, two departmental majors (a double major), a coordinate major, an interdisciplinary major, a student-designed major, or any of the preceding with a departmental minor. The requirements for completing specific majors and minors in each department are presented in detail in each entry under the list appearing to the left. Interdisciplinary majors are described here.

Students should have ample time to be exposed to a broad range of courses and experiences before focusing their educational interests and so do not declare their majors until the fourth semester of their college enrollment. Normally students are required to declare their majors before registering for courses for the junior year or applying to participate in junior- or senior-year off-campus study programs. Students declare their majors only after consultation with a major academic advisor(s). Since some departments have courses that must be passed or criteria that must be met before a student will be accepted as a major, students are encouraged to think well in advance about possible majors and to speak with faculty about their educational interests. Students may change their majors after consultation with the relevant departments, but they may not declare a new major after the first semester of the senior year. Special procedures exist for student-designed majors. These are described below.

Departmental and Program Majors

Departmental and program majors are offered in the following areas:

Africana Studies

Anthropology

Art History

Asian Studies

Biochemistry

Biology

Chemistry

Classics

Computer Science

Earth and Oceanographic Science

Economics

English

Francophone Studies

Gender, Sexuality, and Women's Studies

German

Government and Legal Studies

Hispanic Studies

History

Italian Studies

Latin American Studies

Mathematics

Music

Neuroscience

Performance Arts

Philosophy

Physics

Psychology

Religion

Romance Languages and Literatures

Russian

Sociology

Visual Arts

A student may choose to satisfy the requirements of one department or program (single major) or to satisfy all of the requirements set by two departments or programs (double major). A student who chooses a double major may drop one major at any time.

Coordinate Major

The coordinate major encourages specialization in an area of learning within the framework of a recognized academic discipline. Coordinate majors are offered in education and environmental studies. For a specific description of these majors, go to the education and environmental studies sections.

Interdisciplinary Major

Interdisciplinary majors are designed to tie together the offerings and major requirements of two separate departments by focusing on a theme that integrates the two areas. Such majors usually fulfill most or all of the requirements of two separate departments and usually entail a special project to achieve a synthesis of the disciplines involved.

Anticipating that many students will be interested in certain patterns of interdisciplinary studies, several departments have specified standard requirements for interdisciplinary majors.

These are:

Art History and Archaeology

Art History and Visual Arts

Chemical Physics

Computer Science and Mathematics

English and Theater

Mathematics and Economics

Mathematics and Education

Physics and Education

See interdisciplinary majors for complete descriptions.

Student-Designed Major

Some students may wish to pursue a major program that does not fit the pattern of a departmental major, a coordinate major, or an interdisciplinary major. In such cases, a student may work with two faculty members to develop a major program that demonstrates significant strength in at least two departments. Such strength is to be shown in both the number and pattern of courses involved. A synthesizing project is required. Guidelines for the development of student-designed majors are available from the Office of the Registrar. Student-designed majors require the approval of the Curriculum Implementation Committee. Students must submit their proposals to the Curriculum Implementation Committee by December 1 of their sophomore year.

The Minor

Most departments and programs offer one or more minor programs consisting of no fewer than four courses and no more than seven courses, including all prerequisites. A minor program must be planned with the student’s minor department no later than the end of the first semester of the senior year. A minor may be dropped at any time.

The following departments and programs offer a minor:

Africana Studies

Anthropology

Art (Art History or Visual Arts)

Asian Studies (Asian Studies, Chinese, or Japanese)

Biology

Chemistry

Cinema Studies*

Classics (Archaeology, Classical Studies, Classics, Greek, or Latin)

Computer Science

Dance

Earth and Oceanographic Science

Economics (Economics or Economics and Finance)

Education

English

Environmental Studies

Gender, Sexuality, and Women’s Studies

German

Government and Legal Studies

History

Latin American Studies

Mathematics

Music (Music or Music Performance)

Philosophy

Physics

Psychology

Religion

Romance Languages and Literatures (Francophone Studies, Hispanic Studies, and Italian Studies)

Russian

Sociology

Theater

* This program only offers a minor.