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Academics

Distribution Requirements

Students must take at least one full-credit course (or the equivalent) in each of the following five distribution areas:

  • Mathematical, Computational, or Statistical Reasoning. These courses enable students to use mathematics and quantitative models and techniques to understand the world around them either by learning the general tools of mathematics and statistics or by applying them in a subject area. (Designated by MCSR following a course number in the course descriptions.)
  • Inquiry in the Natural Sciences. These courses help students expand their scientific literacy through an acquaintance with the natural sciences and with the types of inquiry in those disciplines, developed by engagement in active and rigorous study of scientific problems. (Designated by INS following a course number in the course descriptions.)
  • Exploring Social Differences. These courses develop awareness, understanding, and skills of analysis for examining differences such as those in class, environmental resources, ethnicity, gender, race, religion, and sexual orientation across and within societies and the ways that these are reflected in and shaped by historical, cultural, social, political, and economic processes. (Designated by ESD following a course number in the course descriptions.)
  • International Perspectives. These courses assist students in gaining a critical understanding of the world outside the United States, both contemporary and historical. (Designated by IP following a course number in the course descriptions.)
  • Visual and Performing Arts. These courses help students expand their understanding of artistic expression and judgment through creation, performance and analysis of artistic work in the areas of dance, film, music, theater, and visual art. (Designated by VPA following a course number in the course descriptions.)


First-year seminars, independent study courses, and honors projects do not fulfill any of the five Distribution Requirements. Further, these requirements may not be met by Advanced Placement or International Baccalaureate credits, and may only be satisfied with courses taken at Bowdoin. These requirements should be completed by the end of the student’s fourth semester in college. A course will be counted as meeting a Distribution Requirement if a student earns a grade of D or better; courses will not be counted if they are elected to be taken on a nongraded (Credit/D/Fail) basis, though courses will count if they are required to be taken on a nongraded basis. Students may not count the same course toward more than one Distribution Requirement.

Also note that the requirement of completing a first-year seminar will not be met if the seminar is taken on a nongraded (Credit/D/Fail) basis.

DIVISION REQUIREMENTS

Students must take at least one full-credit course (or the equivalent) from each of the following three divisions of the curriculum.

  • Natural Science and Mathematics: Designated by the letter "a" following a course number in the course descriptions.
  • Social and Behavioral Sciences: Designated by the letter "b" following a course number in the course descriptions.
  • Humanities: Designated by the letter "c" following a course number in the course descriptions.


Like the Distribution Requirements, Division Requirements may not be met by Advanced Placement or International Baccalaureate credits, and may only be satisfied with courses taken at Bowdoin. A course will be counted as meeting a Division Requirement if a student earns a grade of D or better; courses will not be counted if they are elected to be taken on a nongraded (Credit/D/Fail) basis, though courses will count if they are required to be taken on a nongraded basis. With one exception, students may count the same course to meet a division and a distribution requirement. The exception is a course that is designated to meet the humanities division requirement and the visual and performing arts distribution requirement; students may not count such a course to meet both requirements.