Academics - Major Program

The Major Programs

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 and may be found in the departments and programs of instruction list to the left. Interdisciplinary majors are described here. In certain majors, students declare a concentration, which is a focused course of study within a broader major.

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.

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, or Italian Studies)
Russian
Sociology
Theater

*This program only offers a minor.