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Academics

Bowdoin’s curriculum offers a bold blueprint for liberal education designed to inspire you to become a world citizen and leader with acute sensitivity to the social and natural worlds. Its interdisciplinary focus encourages connections among subjects, helps you discover disciplines that excite your imagination, and gives you practical skills for addressing the challenges of a changing world.

With 33 academic departments, cutting-edge interdisciplinary programs, a flexible curriculum, and lots of opportunity for research, fieldwork, and creativity, a Bowdoin education is highly personal. Over half your non-major credits are up to you, so you can work very deeply in one concentration or two, or try out whole new fields.

Over 60 percent of students complete independent studies, working one-on-one with faculty on topics they co-design. These projects range from directed reading courses, to yearlong research, to creative projects in writing, theater and dance, music and the visual arts. Many of these projects pave the way for honors projects, which are available for students in all majors who are ready for advanced scholarship in their field of study.

The Role of the Arts in the Liberal Arts | Statement on a Liberal Education

A Sample List of Courses

First Year Seminars

  • Arab and Jew in Literature and Film
  • Global Media and Politics
  • Imaginary Plagues
  • The Pursuit of Peace

Inquiry in the Natural Sciences

  • The Science of Food and Wine
  • Marine Environmental Geology
  • The Physics of the Environment
  • Stars and Galaxies

Exploring Social Differences

  • Lawn Boy Meets Valley Girl: Gender and the Suburbs
  • The City as American History
  • The Sixties
  • Women in Religion
  • Cultural Interpretations of Medicine

International Perspectives

  • Conquests and Heroes
  • Hindu Cultures
  • Berlin: Sin City, Divided City, City of the Future
  • Entering Modernity: European Jewry
  • Conquest, Colonialism, and Independence: Africa Since 1880

Math, Computational or Statistical Reasoning

  • Watershed Hydrology
  • Natural Resource Economics and Policy
  • Artificial Intelligence
  • Economics of the Life Cycle
  • Biomathematics

Visual and Performing Art

  • City, Anti-City, and Utopia: Building Urban America
  • Modern and Contemporary Art in China
  • Music of the Caribbean
  • Performance Art
  • Love in Lyric and Song
Majors and Distribution Requirements

Students may choose one of six options to satisfy the major requirement at Bowdoin, departmental majors, double major, coordinate major, interdisciplinary major, student designed major, or any of the preceding with a departmental minor. Learn more about Choosing a Major »

The Distribution Requirements include one required course in each of the following areas, some of which may fulfill a major or divisional requirement as well:

  • First Year Seminar – This keystone course takes students to the heart of a discipline, developing their scholarship skills in small classes with faculty who are working in a specific topic area.
  • Inquiry in the Natural Sciences – Students learn how to pursue scientific questions in hands-on labs and in the field, working alongside active research scientists.
  • Exploring Social Differences – These innovative courses explore differences between the built and natural worlds, social groups, and historical, political and economic forces.
  • International Perspectives – Examinations of societies, historical issues, and cultural trends help Bowdoin students learn to navigate in a variety of cultural contexts.
  • Mathematical, Computational or Statistical Reasoning – These courses embrace the data-driven nature of the 21st century with subjects as wide-ranging as economics, sociology, psychology, mathematics and computer science.
  • Visual and Performing Arts – Immersion in the arts gives students firsthand experience of the artistic process, deeper aesthetic judgments, and new ways to see the world.