Bowdoin courses typically meet for three hours a week, with the anticipation that additional time may be spent in lab, discussion group, film viewings, or preparatory work. Most courses earn one credit each. Music and dance performance courses generally earn one-half credit each. The one exception is Advanced Individual Performance Studies in music, which earn one credit each.
Typically, a course may only satisfy the requirements for one major or minor. Upon the consent of both departments, a maximum of one course may be used to meet the requirements of two majors or a major and a minor.
All students at Bowdoin are full-time students and, in order to make normal progress toward the degree, are expected to enroll in no fewer than four credits each semester. Students may not take more than four credits while on academic probation without approval from the Recording Committee. Seniors may be required to take one course per semester in their major department, at the department’s discretion.
No extra tuition charge is levied upon students who register for more than four credits, and, by the same token, no reduction in tuition is granted to students who choose to register for fewer than four credits during any of their eight semesters at Bowdoin. A student may be granted a tuition reduction for taking fewer than three credits only if a ninth semester is required to complete the degree and he or she has previously been a full-time Bowdoin student for eight semesters. All such appeals should be made in writing to the Dean of Student Affairs and the Senior Vice President for Finance and Administration & Treasurer.
Attendance and Examinations
Students are expected to attend the first meeting of any course in which they are enrolled. Students who do not attend the first meeting may be dropped from the course at the discretion of the instructor, but only if the demand for the course exceeds the enrollment limit. Otherwise, Bowdoin has no class attendance requirements, but individual instructors may establish specific attendance expectations. At the beginning of each semester, instructors will make clear to students the attendance regulations of each course. If expectations are unclear, students should seek clarification from their instructors.
Attendance at examinations is mandatory. An absence from any examination, be it an hour examination or a final examination, may result in a grade of F. In the event of illness or other unavoidable cause of absence from examinations, instructors may require documentation of excuses from the Office of the Dean of Student Affairs after consultation with the Health Center or the Counseling Service. Students bear ultimate responsibility for arranging make-up or substitute coursework. In unusual cases (family and personal emergencies, illness, etc.), examinations may be rescheduled by agreement of the course instructor and a dean.
Final examinations of the College are held at the close of each semester and must be given according to the schedule published each semester by the Office of the Registrar. No examinations may be given nor extra classes scheduled during Reading Period. All testing activity is prohibited during Reading Period including, but not limited to, take-home exams, final exams, and hour exams. All academic work, except for final examinations, final papers, final lab reports, and final projects, is due on or before the last day of classes; although instructors may set earlier deadlines, they may not set later deadlines. All final academic work, including final examinations, final papers, final lab reports, and final projects is due at or before 5:00 p.m. on the last day of the final examination period; although instructors may set earlier deadlines, they may not set later deadlines. In all cases, students should consult their course syllabi for specific deadlines for specific courses. The deadline for submitting final, approved Honors projects for the Library is determined by the College.
Athletics and other extracurricular activities do not exempt students from the normal policies governing attendance at classes and examinations. When conflicts arise, students should immediately discuss possible alternatives with course instructors. At times, however, students may find themselves having to make serious choices about educational priorities.
A student with three hour examinations in one day or three final examinations in two days may reschedule one for a day mutually agreeable to the student and the instructor. Other changes may be made for emergencies or for educational desirability, but only with the approval of the Dean’s Office.
Also, no student is required to take an examination or fulfill other scheduled course requirements on recognized major religious holidays and Martin Luther King Jr. Day. The College encourages instructors to avoid scheduling examinations on the following holidays:
* Holidays begin at sundown on the earlier date shown.
Course Registration and Course Changes
Registration for each semester is completed by submitting the Course Registration Card. Since most courses have maximum and minimum enrollment limits, as well as course prerequisites or enrollment priorities, students cannot be certain they will be enrolled in their top-choice courses. Consequently, the registration card should list four full-credit courses and up to two alternate courses for each. The card must be signed by the pre-major academic advisor (first-year students and sophomores) or the major department advisor(s) (juniors and seniors), and must be presented to the Office of the Registrar by 5:00 p.m. on the day specified in the registration instructions. Students receive initial notification of their courses within a few days, and Phase II Registration then gives students the opportunity to adjust their schedules. Students who are studying away are strongly encouraged to register at the same time that students are registering on campus; the Office of the Registrar Web site provides the necessary schedules and forms so that registration may be done electronically. All registration information may be found on the Registrar Web site.
Registration for continuing students occurs at the end of the prior semester, generally about four weeks before final examinations. Registration for new students occurs during orientation. Enrollment in courses is complete only when students submit the Enrollment Form, which must be submitted by the end of the first week of classes. This form verifies that a student is on campus and attending classes. A student who does not submit the Enrollment Form may be removed from all classes and barred from using many of the services of the College, including, but not limited to, dining services, library services, and fitness services. Enrollment Forms submitted late are subject to a $20 fine. Any student who registers initially for courses after the first week of classes must pay a $20 late fee.
Once classes begin, students may adjust their course schedules by submitting an Add/Drop card to the Office of the Registrar. Students have two weeks to make the necessary adjustments to their schedules. An instructor will allow a student to add a course if the following three conditions have been met: (1) the student has the necessary qualifications, including but not limited to the course prerequisites; (2) the approved maximum class size limit has not been reached; and (3) the student and instructor have agreed on how missed class material and assignments will be managed. No course may be added or dropped after the second week of classes. Students in their first semester at Bowdoin, however, have an extended drop period of six weeks; this longer period for new students recognizes the fact that new students sometimes undergo a period of adjustment to college-level work. Anyone who wants to add or drop a course after the two-week deadline must petition the Recording Committee, except for first-semester students who may drop through the sixth week with the permission of their dean and advisor. Generally petitions are only approved if the student can show extreme personal or medical reasons for the lateness of the change. Any course dropped after the deadline will appear on the transcript with a grade of W (for withdrew). Late adds will require that the student has been attending the course from the very beginning of the semester. Documentation may be required. Course changes made after the deadline will require payment of a $20 late fee per change, unless the change is made for reasons outside the control of the student.
A student will not receive a grade for a course unless he or she has completed and submitted the forms to register for or add the course. Also, a student will receive a failing grade for a course he or she stops attending unless a drop form has been completed and submitted before the deadline. Students are expected to monitor their records in Bearings, the College’s student information system; this includes monitoring the courses for which they are registered. The student bears ultimate responsibility for completing and submitting forms that provide the College with an accurate record of the student’s course schedule.
With approval of a project director, a student may elect a course of independent study for which regular course credit will be given. A department will ordinarily approve one or two semesters of independent study. Where more than one semester’s credit is sought for a project, the project will be subject to review by the department at the end of the first semester. In special cases, the Recording Committee, upon recommendation of the department, may extend credit for additional semester courses beyond two.
There are normally two levels of independent study and each should be registered for under the appropriate course number. A directed reading course designed to allow a student to explore a subject not currently offered within the curriculum shall be numbered 291–294. An independent study that will culminate in substantial and original research; or in a fine arts, music, or creative writing project; or that is part of a departmental honors program shall be numbered 401 or higher. Collaborative studies allow students to work in small groups guided by a member of the faculty. Intermediate collaborative studies are numbered 299; advanced collaborative studies are numbered 405. Independent and collaborative studies may not be taken on a Credit/D/Fail basis.
In independent study and honors courses that will continue beyond one semester, instructors have the option of submitting at the end of each semester, except the last, a grade of S (for Satisfactory) in place of a regular grade. Regular grades for each of the individual semesters of the course shall be submitted at the end of the final semester.
Course grades are defined as follows: A, the student has mastered the material of the course and has demonstrated exceptional critical skills and originality; B, the student has demonstrated a thorough and above average understanding of the material of the course; C, the student has demonstrated a thorough and satisfactory understanding of the material of the course; D, the student has demonstrated a marginally satisfactory understanding of the basic material of the course (only a limited number of D grades may be counted toward the requirements for graduation); F, the student has not demonstrated a satisfactory understanding of the basic material of the course. Plus (+) or minus (–) modifiers may be added to B and C grades; only the minus (–) modifier may be added to the A grade.
Faculty report grades to the Office of the Registrar at the close of the semester. Each student in each course must be given a grade by the grade submission deadline as established by the Registrar. Grade reports are available to students in Bearings shortly after the grade submission deadline.
Once reported, no grade is changed (with the exception of clerical errors) without the approval of the Recording Committee. Grades cannot be changed on the basis of additional student work without prior approval of the Recording Committee. If students are dissatisfied with a grade received in a course, they should discuss the problem with the instructor. If the problem cannot be resolved in this manner, the student should consult with the chair of the department and, if necessary, with a dean, who will consult with the department as needed. The student may request a final review of the grade by the Recording Committee.
Most departments will not accept as prerequisites, or as satisfying the requirements of the major, courses for which a grade of D has been given. Questions should be referred directly to the department chair. Students who receive a grade of D or F in a course may retake the course. Both courses and both grades will appear on the transcript, but only one course credit will be given for successful completion of a given course.
A student may choose to take a limited number of courses with the Credit/D/Fail grading option as opposed to earning regular letter grades. Courses to be taken on a Credit/D/Fail basis should be so indicated on the registration card or add/drop card. A course may be changed from letter grades to Credit/D/Fail or vice versa up until the end of the sixth week of classes. When a student chooses the Credit/D/Fail grading option, a grade of CR (credit) is given if the student produces work at a level of C- or above, a grade of D is given if the student produces work at a D level, and a grade of F is given otherwise.
In any given semester, a student must be enrolled in a minimum of 4.0 total credits to elect the Credit/D/Fail grading option for a course. A student who has 5.0 or more credits in his/her semester course load may elect to take an additional course on a Credit/D/Fail basis. A student may elect the Credit/D/Fail grading option for up to four courses within the 32 credits required for graduation; courses in excess of the 32 credits required may be taken Credit/D/Fail without limit as to number, beginning with the semester following the one in which the 32 credits are completed and as long as the semester course load totals 4.0 credits or more. Courses that are only graded Credit/D/Fail (music ensemble and dance and theater performance courses, as examples) are not counted within these restrictions.
Most departments require that all courses taken to satisfy requirements for the major or minor be taken for regular letter grades. Courses taken to satisfy the College’s first-year seminar requirement must be graded with regular letter grades, and courses satisfying distribution and division requirements must also be taken for regular letter grades (unless CR, D, and F are the only grades given for the course). An independent study or honors project may not be taken on a Credit/D/Fail basis.
A grade of CR (credit) will not count toward a student’s GPA. A grade of D or F received on the Credit/D/Fail grading scale will count toward a student’s GPA, and it will count toward academic standing (probation, suspension, and dismissal).
The College expects students to complete all course requirements as established by instructors. In unavoidable circumstances (personal illness, family emergency, etc.) and with approval of the dean of student affairs and the instructor, a grade of Incomplete may be recorded.
An Incomplete represents a formal agreement among the instructor, a dean, and the student for the submission of unfinished coursework under prescribed conditions. Students must initiate their request for an Incomplete on or before the final day of classes by contacting a dean. If the Incomplete Agreement Form has not been approved and received in the Office of the Registrar by the grade submission deadline and no other grade has been assigned, a grade of F will be recorded. If the Incomplete Agreement Form has been approved and signed by all necessary individuals, a date is set by which time all unfinished work must be submitted. In all cases, students are expected to finish outstanding coursework in a period of time roughly equivalent to the period of distraction from their academic commitments. In no case will this period of time extend beyond the end of the second week of classes of the following semester. The instructor should submit a final grade within two weeks of this date. If the agreed-upon work is not completed within the specified time limit, the Office of the Registrar will change the Incomplete to Fail or ask the instructor to give a grade based on work already completed. Extensions must be approved by the dean of student affairs. Any exceptions to these rules may require approval of the Recording Committee.
Comment, Failure, and Distinction Cards
Faculty should communicate the progress of students in their classes periodically through Comment Cards. The written observations alert students, academic advisors, and the deans to potential problems confronting students. They can also be used by faculty to highlight improvement or successes. Students should view comment cards as academic progress reports providing warnings or highlighting achievements. When comment cards are used for warning purposes, the student should immediately seek out his or her instructor to discuss strategies for improvement. Academic advisors and deans can also be very helpful in developing strategies for improvement and identifying existing support services and resources, but it is the student’s responsibility to seek out each of these people. Not all course instructors utilize Comment Cards so students should not rely on this form of communication as their only source of feedback regarding their progress or standing in a course.
At the end of each semester, instructors issue Failure Cards to students who fail courses. These notations provide precise reasons for a student’s failing grades. Students and academic advisors generally find these comments instructive as they plan future coursework. In some cases, when a student has performed exceptionally well or has accomplished something that is particularly noteworthy, an instructor may issue a Distinction Card at the end of the semester.
The Office of the Registrar will furnish official transcript copies upon written request. There is no charge for transcripts unless it is requested that materials be sent by an overnight delivery service.
Statement of Student Responsibility
The College Catalogue is available online to every Bowdoin student at bowdoin.edu/catalogue. Also, students have access to their academic records on Bearings, the College’s student information system. In all cases, the student bears ultimate responsibility for reading and following the academic policies and regulations of the College and for notifying the Office of the Registrar of any problems in his or her records.