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The College Catalogue

Academics – Major Program

Students may choose one of six basic patterns to satisfy the major requirement at Bowdoin: a departmental major, two departmental majors (a double major), a coordinate major, an interdisciplinary major, a student-designed major, or any of the preceding with a departmental minor. The requirements for completing specific majors and minors are presented in detail in the section describing the courses offered by each department. See the section on Interdisciplinary majors.

Students should have ample time to be exposed to a broad range of courses and experiences before focusing their educational interests and so do not declare their majors until the fourth semester of their college enrollment. Students are required to declare their majors before registering for courses for the junior year or applying to participate in junior- or senior-year off-campus study programs. Students declare their majors only after consultation with a major academic advisor(s). Since some departments have courses that must be passed or criteria that must be met before a student will be accepted as a major, students are encouraged to think well in advance about possible majors and to speak with faculty about their educational interests. Students may change their majors after consultation with the relevant departments, but they may not declare a new major after the first semester of the senior year. Special procedures exist for student-designed majors. These are described below.

Departmental and Program Majors

Departmental and program majors are offered in the following areas:

Africana Studies German
Anthropology Government and Legal Studies
Art History History
Asian Studies Latin American Studies
Biochemistry Mathematics
Biology Music
Chemistry Neuroscience
Classical Archaeology Philosophy
Classical Studies Physics
Classics Psychology
Computer Science Religion
Earth and Oceanographic Science Romance Languages
Economics Russian
English Sociology
French Spanish
Gender and Women’s Studies Visual Arts

A student may choose to satisfy the requirements of one department or program (single major) or to satisfy all of the requirements set by two departments or programs (double major). A student who chooses a double major may drop one major at any time.

Coordinate Major

The coordinate major encourages specialization in an area of learning within the framework of a recognized academic discipline. The coordinate major is offered only in relation to the Environmental Studies Program. For a specific description of this major, see pages 143-144.

Interdisciplinary Major

Interdisciplinary majors are designed to tie together the offerings and major requirements of two separate departments by focusing on a theme that integrates the two areas. Such majors usually fulfill most or all of the requirements of two separate departments and usually entail a special project to achieve a synthesis of the disciplines involved.

Anticipating that many students will be interested in certain patterns of interdisciplinary studies, several departments have specified standard requirements for interdisciplinary majors. These are:

Art History and Archaeology
Art History and Visual Arts
Chemical Physics
Computer Science and Mathematics
English and Theater
Eurasian and East European Studies
Mathematics and Economics
Mathematics and Education

For complete descriptions of these interdisciplinary majors, see pages 220–224. A student may not select an interdisciplinary major after the junior year.

Student-Designed Major

Some students may wish to pursue a major program that does not fit the pattern of a departmental major, a coordinate major, or an interdisciplinary major. In such cases, a student may work with two faculty members to develop a major program that demonstrates significant strength in at least two departments. Such strength is to be shown in both the number and pattern of courses involved. A synthesizing project is required. Guidelines for the development of student-designed majors are available from the Office of the Registrar. Student-designed majors require the approval of the Curriculum Implementation Committee. Students must submit their proposals to the Curriculum Implementation Committee by December 1 of their sophomore year.

The Minor

Most departments and programs offer one or more minor programs consisting of no fewer than four courses and no more than seven courses, including all prerequisites. A minor program must be planned with and approved by both the student’s major and minor departments no later than the end of the first semester of the senior year. A minor may be dropped at any time.

The following departments and programs offer a minor:

Africana Studies
Anthropology Gay and Lesbian Studies*
Art (Art History or Visual Arts) Gender and Women’s Studies
Asian Studies (Asian Studies, Chinese, German
or Japanese) Government and Legal Studies
Biology History
Chemistry Latin American Studies
Cinema Studies* Mathematics
Classics (Archaeology, Classical Studies, Music
Classics, Greek, or Latin) Philosophy
Computer Science Physics
Dance* Psychology
Earth and Oceanographic Science Religion
Economics (Economics or Romance Languages
Economics and Finance) (French, Italian, or Spanish)
Education* (Education Studies Russian
or Teaching) Sociology
English Theater*
Environmental Studies

* These departments and programs offer only a minor.


Online Catalogue content is current as of August 1, 2014. For most current course information, use the online course finder. Also see Addenda.