An Overview

Bowdoin College offers an excellent academic preparation for a career in the health professions, and each student receives assistance in selecting an appropriate path through the curriculum.  The Office of Health Professions Advising helps undergraduates and alumni investigate their options in health care, and guides and supports candidates through the application process to graduate professional programs.

Selection of Major   

There is no specific pre-health major at Bowdoin; it is possible to concentrate in any academic discipline at the College and gain admission to a health professions program. We hope that the intellectual curiosity of our students will lead them to explore diverse fields and to develop backgrounds and abilities in areas of interest.  We encourage each student to select as a major the discipline they are most passionate about studying


Students may seek advice at any time regarding the preparation and academic planning for the health sciences from the Director of Health Professions Advising and from faculty members in the sciences.  At a group meeting during Orientation, first-year students are introduced to the expectations of the various health professions programs, and are advised of the opportunities available to them for academic and career guidance. Other programs are scheduled during the academic year for sophomores, juniors and seniors.  In addition, all interested students are invited to attend panel presentations on campus and to participate in discussions with health care providers, medical students, and professional school admissions representatives.  Students are able to explore their interests in greater depth by engaging in related internships and community service.  The College has volunteer programs with two hospitals in Brunswick, and a network of local health professionals makes it possible for undergraduates to participate in "informational interviewing" and "job shadowing."  

It is the policy of Bowdoin to assist any student or graduate of the College who is seeking admission to a program in the health professions.  Each year, 30-40 individuals request committee letters and credential packets from the Office of Health Professions Advising, and work closely with the advisor throughout the application process. 

Applying to Health Professions Programs

Admission to health professions programs, particularly in allopathic and veterinary medicine, continues to be very competitive.  In keeping with the national trend, in recent years many Bowdoin pre-meds have elected to gain additional experience between college and medical school.  Their interim pursuits have been many and varied, including, for example, research, international community service, additional academic work, teaching and health care consulting.  Of those who have matriculated in medical school during the past five years, 36% have chosen to do so either the fall after graduating from Bowdoin or the following year, 45% have enrolled 2-3 years out of college, and 19% have entered medical school 4-8 years after receiving their undergraduate degree.  In addition to those whose commitment to a career in health care is longstanding, each year the applicant group includes a few individuals whose interest in medicine was sparked after they graduated. 

Admission to Health Professions Programs 

We urge prospective students who are trying to choose between undergraduate schools to look beyond the statistics of each institution to the quality of the curriculum, the pre-health advising, the opportunities in and beyond the classrooms and laboratories, and the support that is offered applicants to health professions programs.  We are extremely proud of the success of our graduates, but in reviewing our favorable numbers, kindly keep in mind that we encourage individuals to apply to programs in health care fields when, and not before, they are in a position to be realistic candidates.  The annual acceptance rate of those who applied through Bowdoin to enter medical school in 2001-2010 has averaged 86%.  The average over the past three years has been 84%.  All of the candidates who applied to enter veterinary medicine, dental medicine, nursing, nutrition, occupational therapy, pharmacy, physician assistant, public health and sports nutrition programs during the past three years were accepted.

For a list of the health professions programs in which Bowdoin graduates are currently enrolled, please see Schools Attended by Alumni


Bowdoin is an active member of the Northeast Consortium on Medical Education (NECOME), a group that includes nine medical schools and nine undergraduate institutions. The College is also affiliated with professional organizations such as the National and Northeast Associations of Advisors in the Health Professions (NAAHP and NEAAPH).