Frequently Asked Questions

Who has access to Polaris?

All faculty, students, academic department coordinators, and deans have access to Polaris. Staff who need student and/or course registration information to perform their job at Bowdoin also have access to Polaris. The role of the person will determine what information they see when they are in the system. Please contact the Polaris Assistance Line at x1414 (off-campus: 207-721-1414) or if you do not see the student/course information that you need.

Does Polaris have a preferred web browser?

Yes, to take full advantage of all the features available in Polaris, we recommend that you use the Firefox version 23.0.1 as your web browser. Polaris will work with other browsers (e.g., Safari, Chrome, and Internet Explorer 9 or higher) but its full functionality is best achieved with Firefox. Instructions for installing Firefox v.23 are provided.

I am unable to login to Polaris. What should I do?

Try to login again to Polaris with your Bowdoin username and password to be sure you typed it in correctly. Please contact the Polaris Assistance Line at x1414 (off-campus: 207-721-1414) or if you are not successful.

Will Polaris replace Blackboard?

No. Polaris will replace Bearings. Blackboard will remain the course management system where faculty upload course materials and use web-based tools for courses. However, Blackboard and Polaris will integrate so that courses viewable to faculty and students in Polaris portlets will link to the Blackboard course site.

How do I search for courses?

Underneath the word “Polaris”, click on “Class Finder” in the top menu. Use Class Finder to search for courses by subject, instructor, meeting time or course attributes such as division/ distribution requirements. In your search results, click on the CRN to see a full course description.

What is a CRN (course reference number)?

The CRN is a unique 5-digit number that the system arbitrarily creates to identify a particular course and section offered for the term. Students will enter CRN's when requesting courses during online registration. The CRN's for a course may be found in the Class Finder tool within Polaris and the Registrar's list of course offerings.

For example:
EDUC1101, Contemp American Education, TR 11:30am-12:55pm
CRN = 10123
BIO1109, Section A, Scientific Reasoning in Bio, MWF 9:30-10:25am
CRN = 10473
BIO1109, Lab 1, Scientific Reasoning in Bio, T 8:30-11:25am
CRN = 10477

What does “R” mean?

“R” represents Thursday. In Polaris, each day of the week is represented by one letter, as is common at many schools across the country. Polaris course schedules and the online registration system use “R” for Thursday. For example, a Tuesday/Thursday class is represented as “TR.”

Why did the course numbers change?

With an ever-growing selection of courses on campus, Bowdoin academic departments needed increased flexibility to number courses. The Polaris system offered the ability to increase number ranges as well as improve the course numbering system. First-year seminars are now numbered 1000 to 1049, courses intended for non-majors 1050 to 1099, introductory courses 1100 to 1999, intermediate courses 2000 to 2999, advanced courses/seminars 3000 to 3999, and advanced independent study and Honors courses are 4000 to 4999.

Will online course registration be first-come, first-serve?

Bowdoin will continue to offer a thoughtful course registration process. Registration Rounds 1 and 2 will provide students equal opportunity to register for courses based on course preferences. Registration Rounds 1 and 2 will function much like our former “Phase I” registration. Add/Drop I and Add/Drop II operate based on instructor permission to allow faculty to manage their waiting lists.

What is “class standing”?

At the beginning of each semester, students are classified for that semester based on a combination of credits earned after matriculation and number of semesters enrolled at Bowdoin. Class standing intends to reflect a student’s progress toward graduation more accurately than a student’s Class Year.

What does “Degree Requirements” in “My Academic Profile” mean?

Degree progress is a student’s progress towards meeting degree requirements. A student’s degree requirements are dictated by the year that s/he matriculates at Bowdoin. Degree requirements are published annually in the College Catalogue. Polaris displays a student’s exact catalogue year so both students and advisors know which requirements apply to that student.

What is Degree Progress?

Degree Progress displays a student’s full academic history and indicates whether a student has met his/her degree requirements. In the future, Degree Progress will indicate whether a student has met each of his/her declared major(s) and/or minor requirements

Compared to Bearings, what are the new pieces of information that I can see about my advisees in Polaris?

Polaris displays information about students whom you advise or are majors/minors in your department/program. New available information includes: contact information for a student’s instructors, a student’s major/minor advisor(s), and a student’s assigned dean. Additionally, Polaris displays a student’s class standing, the catalogue year on which his/her degree requirements are based, and any holds for registration.

Where are my class lists?

Use the drop-down menu in the My Class Lists portlet to select and view a class list. You can also print your class list or email your class from this portlet.

How do I send comment cards?

Comment cards can be sent from the “My Class Lists” portlet by clicking the comment card icon comment-card-icon next to the student's name.
Detailed directions can be found here.


Can I download my class list to open and save in Excel?

Class lists can now be downloaded as CSV files which can be opened and saved as an Excel file. The "Download Class List" option is in the "My/Dept Class Lists portlet" next to the "Print Class List" option.

Please remember that Firefox is the recommended browser.

How can I get a list of the majors/minors in my department/program?

Faculty may visit the Major/Minor portlet on the "Dept" tab of Polaris to access these lists. 

How do I look up information about one of my advisees?

Underneath the word “Polaris”, click on “Student Lookup” in the top menu. To find a specific student, either use the drop-down menu to search through a list of students viewable to you or type a student's first name, last name or ID number in the search box. Note: You can either use first or last name but not both. Remember that searches default to active students. If you are looking for an inactive student, please select ”Inactive Students” from the drop-down.

Why are a student’s grades not displaying in the “Grades” Portlet?

Click on the “Show” link on the upper right to display the grades for the most recent semester. Students requested this privacy option for increased security when using public machines. The Registrar's site has information about grade symbols.

Why is the Status Portlet blank?

Click on the “Show” link on the upper right to display a student’s enrollment status. Students requested this privacy option for increased security when using public machines.

How do I look up a student’s full academic history?

Degree Progress will show the full academic history of your advisees or the majors/minors in your department/program. Degree Progress indicates whether a student has met his/her degree requirements.

What are the changes related to cross-listed courses?

Polaris displays all cross-listings for all courses; however, when registering students will need to register for the course from its originating department.

Why can’t I see parent information?

The FERPA guidelines state that a faculty member cannot contact the parent of a student without the student’s written permission. A student is free to share his/her parent contact information with you, if they so choose. If you have an issue where you feel contact with a parent is important, please reach out to the student’s dean. To see a student’s dean assignment, click on the “Student Dean” tab in the “Academic Contacts” portlet.

Why do some items read “confidential” in Polaris?

Only information relevant to a person’s role at the college is made available in Polaris. If you have any questions about your access to information, please call the Polaris Assistance Line at x1414 or send an email to

Will all staff have access to Polaris?

Because Polaris contains student information that is private and protected by FERPA, only staff whose job requires that they have access to such student information will have access. If you need access to Polaris, please contact the Polaris Assistance Line at x1414 or

How do I see my full academic record?

Click on “Degree Progress” in the “My Academic Profile” portlet. For more information, view the Degree Progress Guide.

Why are my grades not displaying in “My Grades”?

Click on the “Show” link on the upper right to display the grades for the most recent semester. Students requested this privacy option for increased security when using public machines. The Registrar's site has information about grade symbols.

Why is the “My Status Portlet” blank?

Click on the “Show” link on the upper right to display a student’s enrollment status. Students requested this privacy option for increased security when using public machines.

What do I do if information within the “My Personal Profile” portal is incorrect?

To update or correct address or contact information, use the Online Enrollment Form if you have not yet submitted for this semester or, later in the semester, submit an Address/Contact Change Form online.

Where can I find my placement exam scores?

The “My Academic Profile” has tabs to display “Placement Scores” and “Test Scores” such as SAT and AP scores.

When will my final exams be held this semester?

Within the “My Courses” portlet, click on the “Final Exams” tab to see the date, time, and location of the final exams for each of your courses.