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.