Selection Process

Bowdoin seeks students who are bright and engaged inside and outside the classroom, and who demonstrate curiosity and a willingness to take intellectual risks.

Bowdoin is also a community of diverse backgrounds, beliefs, and experiences. For each entering class, we are interested in students who respect different views, opinions, and backgrounds, and who welcome the challenges associated with such diversity.


Of the credentials Bowdoin evaluates, a student's overall academic record is by far the most important. Although Bowdoin does not require a prescribed high school program or number of courses, the typical entering first-year student will have had four years each of English, foreign language, mathematics, social science and three to four years of laboratory sciences.

Candidates applying to Bowdoin are evaluated individually. Admissions officers pay special attention to:

  • Academic (grade) success
  • Level of course challenge
  • Counselor and teacher recommendations
  • Writing samples
  • Overall academic potential
  • School and community involvement
  • Character and personality

How does the Admissions Office review my file?

All completed applications will be read by at least two readers. The first reader is typically the Admissions staff member assigned to act as a liaison for the particular region, state, or country in which the student attends high school. The second reader is typically a randomly selected member of the staff who is able to provide a fresh perspective on the application.

The decisions on some applications will be rendered after the second read is completed. Two-thirds of the applications, on the other hand, will be put through a committee process, during which applications are individually discussed and adjudicated by a group of Admissions staff.

How do interviews factor into the selection process?

A personal interview is strongly encouraged, but is not required for admission. The interview will give you a chance to talk informally about your academic interests, major activities, and future goals. You will also have an opportunity to ask questions and learn more about Bowdoin.

A candidate’s chances for admission are not diminished because of the lack of an interview, but the interviewer’s impressions of a candidate’s potential can often be helpful to the Admissions Committee.

Interviews are available on campus with Admissions staff or a carefully selected and trained Bowdoin senior. If you are not able to interview on campus, we encourage you to meet with a member of the Bowdoin Alumni Schools and Interviewing Committee (BASIC) in your home region.

Schedule an interview »

When (and how) will I be notified about my decision?

Early Decision I candidates will be notified by mid-December. Early Decision II candidates will be notified by mid-February. Regular Decision candidates or those deferred from an Early Decision round will be notified by April 1.

Financial aid decisions arrive with, or shortly after, an offer of admission.

Bowdoin releases admissions decisions into applicants' portals. For that reason, we recommend that applicants share a durable, long-term email address with us in their applications. We send instructions for creating and accessing applicant portals to the email address listed on your application. Students admitted to Bowdoin will receive additional information about enrollment-related concerns through USPS Priority Mail.

For privacy reasons, it is Bowdoin policy not to release decisions over the phone. If sufficient time has passed since a decision mailing date (as announced on the Admissions website) and a decision hasn't arrived, applicants should contact the Admissions Office.

Does Bowdoin use a waiting list?

Yes, Bowdoin offers Waiting List positions to a select group of applicants each year.

The Waiting List is not ranked. After May 1, the Admissions Committee will conduct a final review of candidates who have indicated they wish further consideration for admission, and we will select additional students for the entering class depending on the number of available spaces. In recent years, the number of students admitted after May 1 has ranged from zero to fifty.

Does applying for financial aid affect my chances of admission?

With the exception of transfer and international students, admission to Bowdoin is “need-blind” -- meaning that a student’s financial aid eligibility is not considered in the selection process.

It is also the practice of Bowdoin College to meet the full calculated financial need of all enrolled and entering first-year students.