Academics - Special Areas of Study

Arabic

Students interested in Arabic should contact Russell Hopley, lecturer in Arabic, or Lynn Brettler, academic department coordinator.

Arctic Studies

A focus in Arctic studies, offered through a variety of departments including the Department of Sociology and Anthropology, the Department of Earth and Oceanographic Science, the Environmental Studies Program, and the Peary-MacMillan Arctic Museum and Arctic Studies Center, provides students with opportunities to explore artistic, cultural, social, political, and environmental issues involving Arctic lands, seas, and communities. Students interested in the Arctic are encouraged to consult with the director of the Arctic Studies Center in order to plan an appropriate interdisciplinary program involving course work and fieldwork at Bowdoin, in study abroad programs, and in the North. Work-study and internship opportunities at the Arctic Museum complement the academic program.

Coastal Studies

The College offers expertise in the marine sciences primarily through the biology, earth and oceanographic science, and environmental studies departments and programs and two unique field sites: the Coastal Studies Center located on Orr’s Island in Harpswell, Maine, and the more remote Kent Island Scientific Station located in Canada’s Bay of Fundy. The College offers the Bowdoin Marine Science Semester (BMSS), an immersion experience in marine fieldwork, lab work, and independent research open to sophomores, juniors, and seniors from Bowdoin and other colleges who are interested in marine science. Students take four courses sequentially in three-to-four-week modules taught at the Coastal Studies Center, while residing on Bowdoin’s main campus. Other courses during regular semesters also take advantage of the temperate and subarctic environments of coastal Maine and the Canadian Maritime provinces; contact department coordinators for details. Summer research fellowships in coastal and marine studies are also available annually. Interested students should speak with David Carlon, associate professor of biology and director of the Bowdoin College Coastal Studies Center, or Rosemary Armstrong, coastal studies program coordinator.

Digital and Computational Studies

Digital and Computational Studies (DCS) is a curricular initiative premised on the recognition that the power of computation is fundamentally changing the world. Students in DCS courses, using digital and computational tools, explore methods in problem solving and creative expression across the curriculum while appreciating the historical and ethical implications of using these tools. DCS currently offers introductory courses that engage with topics such as the disruptive role of computation and digital information across disciplines, the basic elements of programming, the complex nature of data, computational thinking, and the power and privileges associated with the pervasiveness of digital culture in everyday lives. DCS courses at the advanced level are cross-listed with a variety of departments where the basic critical approaches of DCS are applied within particular disciplines. DCS is coordinated and supported by: Eric Chown, director and professor of computer science; Martha Janeway, coordinator; Crystal Hall, associate professor; Mohammad T. Irfan, assistant professor; and Fernando Nascimento, fellow.

Engineering Dual-Degree Options

Bowdoin College arranges shared studies programs with the University of Maine College of Engineering (open only to Maine residents), the School of Engineering and Applied Science of Columbia University, the California Institute of Technology (Caltech), and the Thayer School of Engineering at Dartmouth College.

Columbia and the University of Maine allow qualified Bowdoin students to transfer into the third year of their engineering programs after three years at Bowdoin (three years at Bowdoin and two years at the other institution, called a 3-2 option). Columbia also offers a 4-2 option, which may be of interest to some students.

Caltech invites highly qualified students to apply to their 3-2 program. Determination of acceptance is decided by the Caltech Upperclass Admissions Committee for students to transfer upon completion of their junior year.

Dartmouth offers a number of options, including taking the junior year at the Dartmouth’s Thayer School of Engineering, senior year at Bowdoin, and a fifth year of engineering at Dartmouth.

The student successfully completing the Columbia, Maine, or Caltech program earns a bachelor of science degree from the engineering school and a bachelor of arts degree from Bowdoin, both conferred at the end of their fifth year. For the Dartmouth program, the engineering courses are used as transfer credits to complete the Bowdoin degree, conferred after the fourth year. The Dartmouth engineering degree is conferred upon successful completion of a fifth year in engineering at Dartmouth.

Once a student decides to pursue a dual degree, the student must receive departmental permission and then meet with the associate registrar and submit a declaration of intent to pursue this program to the Office of the Registrar when applying to the subsequent institution.

Finally, students may also apply as regular transfer students into any nationally recognized engineering program, earning only a degree from that engineering institution.

These programs are coordinated by Associate Dean for Academic Affairs Charles Dorn with assistance from representatives from each natural science department, including Professor William Barker in the Department of Mathematics, Professor Stephen Majercik in the Department of Computer Science, and Professor Dale Syphers and Laboratory Instructor Gary Miers in the Department of Physics and Astronomy. Curricular requirements for engineering dual-degree options vary by program. It is important for students to get advising about the program early in their career at Bowdoin to plan a course of study that will satisfy major and distribution requirements. Students interested in these programs should contact Charles Dorn.

Legal Studies

Students considering the study of law may consult with Bowdoin Career Planning. Bowdoin applicants from every major and department have been successful applicants to highly competitive law schools. Students will be provided guidance and assistance on all aspects of the application process. It is best to begin planning for law school by the beginning of the junior year. Bowdoin Career Planning can introduce students to alumni attending law school or practicing law. In addition, the Career Planning library has excellent written and online resources about law schools and careers in the legal field. Bowdoin Career Planning also supports and assists Bowdoin alumni with the law school application process if they choose to apply in the years following graduation.

Bowdoin participates with Columbia University in an accelerated interdisciplinary program in legal education. Under the terms of this program, Bowdoin students may apply to begin the study of law after three years at Bowdoin. Students who successfully complete the requirements for the JD at Columbia also receive an AB from Bowdoin. Students interested in the Columbia program should meet with Professor Allen Springer during their first year at Bowdoin to plan a course of study that will satisfy major and distribution requirements. In addition, the student must meet with the associate registrar once departmental permission is received and submit a declaration of intent to pursue this program to the Office of the Registrar when applying to Columbia University.

Teaching

Students interested in teaching or enrolling in graduate programs in education should discuss their plans with faculty in the Department of Education. Because the course work leading to the coordinate major or minor in education, along with a concentration in a core secondary school subject area (English, world language, life science, physical science, mathematics, or social studies), is necessary for certification, it is strongly recommended to begin planning early. More information on the College’s teacher education program, Bowdoin Teacher Scholars, can be found here. Bowdoin Career Planning offers resources for students interested in education through career counseling and a small library that contains information on teaching. In-depth information about summer and academic year internships, volunteer opportunities with youth, and public and private school job openings can be found on the career planning website: careerplanning.bowdoin.edu/education.