Academics - Special Academic Programs

Arctic Studies

A concentration in Arctic studies, offered through a variety of departments including the Department of Sociology and Anthropology, the Department of Earth and Oceanographic Science, the Environmental Studies Program, and the Peary-MacMillan Arctic Museum and Arctic Studies Center, provides students with opportunities to explore artistic, cultural, social, political, and environmental issues involving Arctic lands, seas, and peoples. Students interested in the Arctic are encouraged to consult with the director of the Arctic Studies Center in order to plan an appropriate interdisciplinary program involving course work and field work at Bowdoin, in study abroad programs, and in the North. Work-study and internship opportunities at the Arctic Museum complement the academic program.

Coastal Studies

The College’s location on the coast of Maine affords distinct opportunities for students to study the complexities of coastal landscapes and seascapes. While the College does not offer a formal curriculum devoted to coastal studies, students can take courses focused on coastal issues in a variety of departments and programs including biology, earth and oceanographic science, government, economics, English, visual arts, sociology, anthropology, and environmental studies. Many of the courses take advantage of facilities located at the Coastal Studies Center on Orr’s Island (located twelve miles from campus), the Bowdoin Scientific Station (located on Kent Island in the Bay of Fundy), and a variety of other coastal locations in Maine. A number of coastal studies summer research fellowships are available annually to students. Interested students should speak with David B. Carlon, Associate Professor of Biology and Director of the Bowdoin College Coastal Studies Center, and Rosemary Armstrong, the Coastal Studies Program coordinator, for guidance in selecting courses with a coastal component and for more information about summer research fellowships.

Engineering Dual-Degree Options

Bowdoin College arranges shared studies programs with the University of Maine College of Engineering (open only to Maine residents), the School of Engineering and Applied Science of Columbia University, the California Institute of Technology (Caltech), and the Thayer School of Engineering at Dartmouth College.

Columbia and the University of Maine allow qualified Bowdoin students to transfer into the third year of their engineering programs after three years at Bowdoin (three years at Bowdoin and two years at the other institution, called a 3-2 option). Columbia also offers a 4-2 option, which may be of interest to some students.

Caltech invites highly qualified students to apply to their 3-2 Program. Determination of acceptance is decided by the Caltech Upperclass Admissions Committee for students to transfer upon completion of their junior year.

Dartmouth offers a number of options, including taking the junior year at the Dartmouth’s Thayer School of Engineering, senior year at Bowdoin, and a fifth year of engineering at Dartmouth.

The student successfully completing the Columbia, Maine, or Caltech program earns a bachelor of science degree from the engineering school and a bachelor of arts degree from Bowdoin, both conferred at the end of their fifth year. For the Dartmouth program, the engineering courses are used as transfer credits to complete the Bowdoin degree, conferred after the fourth year. The Dartmouth engineering degree is conferred upon successful completion of a fifth year in engineering at Dartmouth.

Once a student decides to pursue a dual degree, the student must receive departmental permission and then meet with the Associate Registrar and submit a declaration of intent to pursue this program to the registrar’s office when applying to the subsequent institution.

Finally, students may also apply as regular transfer students into any nationally recognized engineering program, earning only a degree from that engineering institution.

These programs are coordinated by Associate Dean Barry Logan, with assistance from representatives from each natural science department, including Professor William Barker in the Department of Mathematics, Professor Stephen Majercik in the Department of Computer Science, and Professor Dale Syphers and Laboratory Instructor Gary Miers in the Department of Physics and Astronomy. Curricular requirements for engineering dual-degree options vary by program. It is important for students to get advising about the program early in their career at Bowdoin to plan a course of study that will satisfy major and distribution requirements. Students interested in these programs should contact Barry Logan or seek out the representative in the department/program of their intended major.

Legal Studies

Students considering the study of law may consult with Scheherazade Mason at Bowdoin Career Planning. Bowdoin applicants from every major and department have been successful applicants to highly competitive law schools. Students will be provided guidance and assistance on all aspects of the application process. It is best to begin planning for law school by the beginning of the junior year. Bowdoin Career Planning can introduce students to alumni attending law school or practicing law. In addition, the Career Planning library has excellent written and online resources about law schools and careers in the legal field. Bowdoin Career Planning also supports and assists Bowdoin alumni with the law school application process if they choose to apply in the years following graduation.

Bowdoin participates with Columbia University in an accelerated interdisciplinary program in legal education. Under the terms of this program, Bowdoin students may apply to begin the study of law after three years at Bowdoin. Students who successfully complete the requirements for the J.D. at Columbia also receive an A.B. from Bowdoin. Students interested in the Columbia program should meet with Professor Richard E. Morgan during their first year at Bowdoin to plan a course of study that will satisfy major and distribution requirements. In addition, the student must: meet with the Associate Registrar once departmental permission is received and submit a declaration of intent to pursue this program to the registrar’s office when applying to Columbia University.


Students interested in teaching in schools or enrolling in graduate programs in education should discuss their plans with faculty in the Department of Education. Because the coursework leading to the teaching minor, along with a concentration in a core secondary school subject area (English, world language, life science, mathematics, physical science, or social studies), is necessary for certification, it is strongly recommended to begin planning early in order to reach your goals. (For information on the Bowdoin Teacher Scholars program, see pages 128–129.) Bowdoin Career Planning offers resources for students interested in education through career counseling and a small library that contains information on teaching; in-depth information about summer and academic year internships, volunteer opportunities with youth, and public and private school job openings can be found on the career planning website: