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The Guide to Choosing Courses

Below is material that will be helpful in assisting first-year students in their course selection.  The information below is designed to give students information on quantitative skills, writing and specific information for all academic departments.



First-year course schedules will vary widely depending upon a student’s high school preparation.  Advisees should be encouraged to follow the placement recommendations of the science and math departments so that they will neither coast through courses that cover material they have already studied nor flounder through courses for which they are under-prepared.  Some will have the background to be comfortable in two lab sciences while others may initially feel overwhelmed in a single introductory science or math course. 

However, most students will be best served if they enroll in only one, or at most two, science and math courses.

Students that are likely to be challenged by the transition to college will have a better chance of attaining their goals if they proceed at a slower pace in the sciences rather than to struggle through the courses before they have the appropriate foundation.  A successful start to college is more important than a fast start, even if it ultimately necessitates completing some pre-health requirements after Bowdoin.  In fact, keeping with national trends, ¾ of Bowdoin students entering health professions programs choose to matriculate two or more years after they graduate from Bowdoin.

The following is a list of the academic prerequisites for most medical and dental schools; programs in veterinary medicine and many allied health fields have a few additional requirements, as well.  AP credits may not be used to fulfill the science prerequisites in biology and chemistry, nor do all schools accept AP credit in physics.  Please be aware that a major in the sciences is not required.

If you or your students have any questions during registration, please do not hesitate to contact Seth Ramus at sramus@bowdoin.edu or x3624, or send students to 116 Moulton Union.  Students should also be encouraged to make an appointment to speak with Seth during their first semester.

Biology:  Two semesters with lab at a level higher than Biology 1101{101}; some additional biology is recommended.

Most students interested in the health professions complete Biology 1109 {109} or the 1101-1102 {101-102} sequence by the end of sophomore year. Prospective biology, biochemistry and neuroscience majors need to be sure to follow the recommendations of those departments.  Most students find it more helpful to take introductory chemistry before taking introductory biology, rather than the other way around.

General or Inorganic Chemistry:  Two semesters with lab.  Any two of the following may be used to fulfill this requirement: Chemistry 1191, 1192, 1101 {101}, 1102 {102}, 1109 {109}, 2100 {210}, 2400 {240}, 2510 {251}. 

Since Chemistry 1101 is offered only in the fall, students recommended for this course should consider taking it in their first semester if they are giving thought to study abroad during their junior year.  Otherwise, they will not be able to complete Organic Chemistry until senior year.

Organic Chemistry:  Two semesters with lab, Chemistry 2250 and 2260 {225 and 226}. 

Prospective science majors and students who plan to study abroad typically complete this sequence during their sophomore year, assuming they entered with a reasonable background in the sciences.

Biochemistry:  One semester Biology 2423 {223} or 2124 {224} or 2432 {232} or Chemistry 2320 {232}. 

Although only certain schools require biochemistry, most strongly recommend it.  We encourage all students to take at least one semester.  Biochemistry is now required for the MCAT exam.

Physics:  Two semesters with lab, usually Physics 1130 and 1140 {103 and 104}; students who place out of 1130 may take 1140 and 2130 {223}.

If a student is recommended for Physics 1093 {093}, the Department suggests that they try to take this course their first semester, as it is offered only in the fall.  It will be a helpful foundation for 1130 and, since it is not a lab course, it is reasonable for some students to consider taking it along with introductory biology or chemistry.  Physics 1130 and 1140 are calculus-based, so must be taken concurrently or after Math 1600 {161} and 1700 {171}, respectively, unless the student has placed out of one or both of these math courses.

Mathematics: Although relatively few medical schools have a specific math requirement, most value competence in calculus and statistics. 

As indicated above, our introductory physics sequence requires Math 1600 {161} and 1700 {171} or their equivalent.  Math 1500 {050} Quantitative Reasoning, may be a good starting point for those who need to strengthen their quantitative skills.  Students might also consider Math 2108 {204} / Bio 1174 {174} Biomathematics.  Students should at least one statistics course: Math 1200 {155} Statistics, Math 1300 {165} Biostatistics, or Psyc 2520 {252} Data Analysis.

English: Two semesters are required by most health professions programs.

Any First-Year Seminar, regardless of the department through which it is taught, will take the place of one semester of English.  Although in some instances schools will accept another writing-intensive course in lieu of English (with a letter from the professor), students are urged to take at least one course offered by the English Department (English 1070 or any course over 1000 are appropriate, students should seek advice from the English department before enrolling in English 1060).

Humanities, Social and Behavioral Sciences:  Some background in these areas is required by some health professions programs and recommended by most.  The new version of the MCAT beginning in 2015 will include questions about general psychology and sociology.  Students should consider taking introductory-level courses early in their Bowdoin career because there are upper-level sociology and psychology courses that may be particularly interesting to pre-health students.

The Director of the Quantitative Reasoning Program strongly recommends that you use the following cutoffs for Q-scores when advising students to help ensure that these students have a successful first semester transition into college academics:

Below 60% but at or above 50% on the Q-test indicates the student may have difficulties in some MCSR courses and is strongly advised to consider one of the following MCSR courses this year:

  • Math 1050, Quantitative Reasoning (offered in the fall and the spring by the Director or Lecturer of the QR Program) for a general entry-point course,
  • or Biology 1101 (offered in the fall), Chem 1091 (offered in the fall), EOS 1305 (offered in the spring), or Physics 1093 (offered in the fall) if the student also has an interest in science,
  • or ECON 1050 if the student is interested in Economics.

In addition these students should schedule a meeting with the QR Director, Eric Gaze, in the Center for Learning and Teaching located in Kanbar Hall at their earliest possible convenience.

Below 50% on the Q-test indicates the student should be advised to enroll in one of the following courses this year:

  • Math 1050, Quantitative Reasoning (offered in the fall and the spring by the Director or Lecturer of the QR Program) for a general entry-point course (please note: Eric Gaze’s signature is required for Math 1050),
  • or Chem 1091 (offered in the fall) or Physics 1093 (offered in the fall) if the student also has an interest in science,
  • or ECON 1050 if the student is interested in Economics.

For all students in Writing Project courses, trained student Writing Assistants read drafts of at least two papers, write comments on them, and discuss them in conferences with each writer.  Writers revise their papers and submit them to the course professor for further comment and a grade.

Africana St 1101                     Introduction to Africana Studies        J. Casselberry
Afr St/Eng 1108/GWS 1104       Black Women’s Literature                  M. Foster
Asian St 2050/Eng 2752           Writing China from Afar                    B. Kong  
English 2801                          Of Comics and Culture                       E. Muther
Cinema Studies 1101               Film Narrative                                     S. Childress
Cinema Studies 2252               Film History II                                    T. Welsch
Government 1600                   Intro to International Relations          B. Elias
Government 2515                   Politics of East Central Europe           L. Henry

Beginning in mid-September, Writing Assistants offer similar feedback in 45-minute conferences in our Writing Workshop. Writers may come from any Bowdoin course. They may bring a draft for review or ask for a planning conference before drafting their paper. Workshop conferences are held in the Center for Learning and Teaching, 102 Kanbar Hall, on Sunday evenings through Thursday afternoons. Writers can get more information and reserve conferences online at http://www.bowdoin.edu/writing-project or they can drop in to the Workshop for a conference as time permits. For more information on Writing Project workshops, courses, or semester-long writing partnerships, please see the website or call the Director of the program, Kathleen O’Connor (X3760).

The following information will be helpful in explaining the approach taken by academic departments and programs in advising first year students about their curriculum and the sequencing of classes.


First-year students interested in Africana Studies have many courses available to them. There are a number of first-year seminars as well as Africana Studies 1010, Introduction to Africana Studies, which is offered in the fall (and is required for the major/minor). First-year seminars count toward both the major and the minor. These courses do not assume any prior work in Africana Studies. Because Africana Studies is an interdisciplinary program, there are courses cross-listed in other departments that would be appropriate for first-year students (e.g., Music 1292 (Africana Studies 1592), History 1241 (Africana Studies 1241)); for a full listing of these courses, please consult the course catalogue and the other sections of this document.

The major in Africana studies consists of nine interdisciplinary and disciplinary courses in African American, African Diaspora, and African Studies. The course requirements for the major are as follows:

  • Africana Studies 1010 – Introduction to Africana Studies is offered every Fall semester.
  • The Intermediate Seminar(s) in Africana Studies – 2000-level courses expand on the major concepts and methodologies in AFS 1010 by deeply engaging intersectional theories of race, class, gender, and sexuality, as multi-layered and co-constituted. The Africana Studies Intermediate Seminars are organized around major national and transnational themes that shape African American, African Diaspora, and African experiences. These themes include but are not limited to: comparative slavery and resistance; black feminist thought; Africana political thought; Africana literary traditions; religions in the African Diaspora; democracy and citizenship in African American & African Diaspora contexts; colonialism and post-colonialism in African & African Diaspora contexts. These seminars pay particular attention to students’ analytical, writing, and communication skills. Students will be required to write several short analytical papers drawn from the works of major Africana studies intellectuals in the humanities and social sciences. Students who plan to major in Africana Studies are encouraged to take the AFS 1010 before fulfilling the Africana Studies Intermediate Seminar requirement.
  • Africana Studies 3000-level course – senior seminars require students to conduct intensive research on a major topic in Africana Studies that they have explored during the course of their academic experience in the Africana Studies Program.  They will require students to apply rigorous humanities and social science theories and concepts to African American, African, or African diaspora themes in the formulation of their final research projects.  These seminars will be offered by core and affiliate faculty members in the Africana Studies program every semester.

The minor in Africana studies consists of five disciplinary and interdisciplinary courses in African American, African and African Diaspora Studies. The course requirements for the minor are as follows:

  • Africana Studies 1010 - Introduction to Africana Studies
  • Four Africana Studies elective courses from any of the two Africana Studies tracks. Three of these courses must be at the 2000 and 3000 levels. Only one of these four electives can be an independent study course or a course taken at other colleges/universities.
  • A first-year seminar in Africana Studies will count towards the minor in Africana Studies. 


Students have the opportunity to study Arabic for four years at Bowdoin. Arabic at the elementary and intermediate levels is taught intensively, ensuring that students have acquired a solid foundation in Arabic grammar and vocabulary by the end of their second year of study. Third-year Arabic expands upon this foundation, and provides additional exposure to authentic reading and audio-visual materials. Fourth-year Arabic allows students an in-depth exploration of topics related to the history, literature, and culture of the Middle East and North Africa, from both the medieval and modern periods. Courses at the fourth-year level are reading intensive and are conducted entirely in Arabic.

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, and environmental issues involving Arctic lands 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. 


AH 1100: Introduction to Art History is the best starting place for most students. It is required for the major and a pre-requisite for many upper-level art history courses. First-year seminars provide a more focused exploration of art-historical questions and topics. (They do not, however, count towards the major.)

2000 level courses are also open to first year students, under certain circumstances. Students who scored a 4 or 5 on the AP exam in Art History are eligible to place out of AH 1100 and may register for any 2000 level course in the department. Other students with significant background in art history may also wish to enroll at the 2000 level; if a course has a pre-requisite, students should contact the instructor directly to discuss their preparation and interest in the course. For 2000-level courses without pre-requisites, it is generally advisable to have some experience in a field of study related to the course topic and/or time period (e.g. literature, history). 

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Students thinking about a potential Asian Studies major should be advised that majors are required to take two years of language in East Asia or the equivalent of one intensive year of a South Asian language. Introductory Chinese and Japanese classes can only be taken in the fall semester and continue sequentially in the spring. Taking Japanese or Chinese language their first semester will help students prepare for an Asian Studies major and make it easier for them to study abroad in Asia if they so wish. Students who have studied Japanese/Chinese in high school should have received a placement recommendation based on their performance on the placement test this summer and their language consultation. If a student was unable to take the placement exam, they should consult with someone in Japanese/Chinese as soon as possible.  (Back to top).


First-year students with an interest in Biochemistry should consider introductory courses in Chemistry and/or Biology, which are both required for the Biochemistry major.  Please consult the Tips for Biology and Chemistry for information about entry points into those areas. A typical Biochemistry major has completed two semesters of organic chemistry (for which Chemistry 1102 or 1109 are prerequisites) by the end of the sophomore year. (Back to top).


The Biology Department has recommended either Biology 1101 (the first semester of a two-semester sequence) or Biology 1109 (a one-semester course) for each student who has completed the online biology placement and quantitative skills tests.  All students who are considering taking a Biology course at Bowdoin must take the Biology online placement test prior to enrolling in Introductory Biology; they may only enroll in the course in which they are placed. The placement test is required for any student wishing to enroll in an introductory biology course (including upperclassfolk).

First-semester students should have taken the placement and QR tests prior to arriving on campus.  If students wish to enroll in an Introductory Biology course and have not yet taken the Biology on-line placement exam by the time Advisors are assisting them with their course choices, Advisors should advise such students to go to the Blackboard placement site immediately.  

Students should let Pam Bryer (pbryer@bowdoin.edu; x3072) know when they have completed the online tests so that their recommendations can be added to the list.  Students who have completed one or more semesters at Bowdoin since first taking the placement test may retake the test; these students should let Pam Bryer know, so that the previous score for their exam can be cleared from Blackboard.

AP5/IB7 Students: Although we recommend that all students start with Biology 1101 or Biology 1109, students who earned a 5 on the AP biology exam or a 7 on the higher level IB biology exam, and also have laboratory experience, may be prepared to take a 2000-level biology course. These students can apply at the beginning of their first year to enter a 2000-level biology course without taking Biology 1109.

The application includes: (1) taking the online Biology placement and QR tests, (2) filling out a laboratory and analytical skills checklist, and (3) submitting a laboratory/research portfolio described on the Biology Placement Blackboard site. After reviewing these materials, we will invite students to take a 2000-level biology without having taken Biology 1109 if they have a background that we think may allow them to succeed. We expect that only a few students will meet the criteria to take a 2000-level biology course without Biology 1109.

Registration for a 2000-level biology course that has space available will require the professor’s signature. Invited students should make an appointment to talk with the course professor during orientation (or Round I registration in November for classes taught in the spring). The students should also be advised to avoid overburdening themselves with laboratory classes, particularly in their first semester (e.g., if a student invited to take a 2000-level biology class also places into Chemistry 2250 Organic Chemistry or another 2000-level laboratory science class).

We are happy to speak with any student (or Advisor) with questions about placement or our introductory biology courses. Please contact Pam Bryer (x3072).


Note:  Starting in 2015-16, new placement recommendations now serve as pre-requisites for enrollment in chemistry courses numbered 1091 or greater.

Chemistry major and minor.  All Chemistry major concentrations (see Academic Handbook) have common core curriculum requirements:  Chemistry 1091 and 1092, or Chemistry 1101 and 1102, or Chemistry 1109; Chemistry 2100; Chemistry 2250; Chemistry 2400; Mathematics 1700 or higher; and Physics 1130 and 1140.  Students are advised to begin their core curriculum as soon as possible. 

Placement exam.  Students intending to enroll in any chemistry course numbered 1091 or greater MUST complete the Chemistry placement exam.  Any student who completes the chemistry placement exam later than August 1st must notify Penny Westfall (Chemistry Department Coordinator; pwestfall@bowdoin.edu; x3218) when they have completed the exam.  Placement (summarized below) is determined based on the results of this and other exams (including the Quantitative Reasoning Placement Examination, SAT and AP or IB scores). 

Placement Recommendation

Comments/Course(s) in which student has permission to enroll

Chem 1091

Chem 1091

Chem 1101

Chem 1101

Chem 1109/1101

Student should discuss their placement with the department; permitted to enroll in either Chem 1109 or Chem 1101*

Chem 1109

Chem 1109

Chem 2000-level/Chem 1109

Student should discuss their placement with the department; permitted to enroll in either Chem 2000-level or Chem 1109*

Chem 2000-level

Student is strongly encouraged to enroll in a 2000-level course; student is also permitted to enroll in Chem 1109

*see explanation below

Course information.  Figure 1 provides a summary of courses that serve as entry points to the chemistry curriculum and the semesters these courses are offered.  Additional course information is found below.

Summary of entry points for matriculating students.

Figure 1.  Summary of entry points (highlighted in grey) for matriculating students.

Chemistry 1091 (Introductory Chemistry and Quantitative Reasoning I) is offered as an invitation-only fall-semester course and is intended for students with limited background in chemistry who would benefit from additional time devoted to improving quantitative skills.  Chemistry 1091 leads to Chemistry 1092 in the spring.  Chemistry 1091 meets for three one-hour lecture sections per week, one three-hour laboratory per week, and one 1.5-hour problem solving/quantitative skills building session per week.  All sessions are mandatory.  One session of Chemistry 1101 meets as the same time as Chemistry 1091, allowing a student (after consultation with the department) to transfer (in the first two weeks of the semester) from Chemistry 1091 to Chemistry 1101 if that is deemed appropriate.

Chemistry 1101 (Introductory Chemistry I) is only offered as a fall-semester course and is intended for students with limited to adequate backgrounds in chemistry. Chemistry 1101 leads to Chemistry 1102 in the spring.  Chemistry 1101 meets for a total of three lecture-hours per week, and one three-hour laboratory per week.  All sessions are mandatory.  Faculty may also elect to hold non-mandatory study/review sessions each week. 

Chemistry 1109 (General Chemistry) is a one-semester course, taught during both the fall and spring semesters intended for students with solid high school chemistry preparation. Chemistry 1109 meets for a total of three lecture-hours per week and one four-hour laboratory per week.  All sessions are mandatory.  Faculty may also to elect to hold non-mandatory study/review sessions each week. 

The Chemistry 1109/1101 recommendation indicates that a student is on the border between two entry points to the chemistry curriculum.  A student with such a recommendation should consult with Professor Stemmler, Chemistry 1101/1109 instructors, or faculty at the Academic Fair to ensure a proper entry to the curriculum.

The Chemistry 2000 recommendation is targeted at students with outstanding high-school chemistry preparation. Depending on the Chemistry placement exam results, students with scores of 4 or 5 on the Chemistry AP exam (or comparable IB scores), and others with advanced backgrounds in chemistry, may bypass Chemistry 1109 for an appropriate 2000-level chemistry course. These course options are Chemistry 2250 (Organic Chemistry I) and Chemistry 2100 (Chemical Analysis) in the fall semester and Chemistry 2400 (Inorganic Chemistry) and Environmental Chemistry (Chemistry 2050) in the spring semester.  While Chemistry 2510 and 2520 are also entry points, student must also meet prerequisites in Math and Physics to enroll in these courses. Students should consult with a chemistry faculty member at the Academic Fair or at some other time during Orientation to ensure their appropriate advanced level course. In the past, students who enrolled in Chemistry 1109—as opposed to starting with the recommended 2000 level course—found this course to be a repetition of their previous course work and not challenging. Conversely, students who were recommended for, and chose to enroll in, 2000-level Chemistry courses during their first year were typically very successful in those courses. Many first year students enroll in Chemistry 2250 and students are encouraged to contact Profs. Broene, Danahy or Gorske about Chem 2250. Students interested in Chemistry 2100 are strongly encouraged to contact Prof. Stemmler before enrolling. Students can contact Prof. Nagle to discuss Chem 2400, Prof. Vasudevan to discuss Chem 2050, Prof. Takematsu to discuss Chem 2510 and Prof. Nkomo to discuss Chem 2520. 

The Chemistry 2000/1109 recommendation indicates that a student is on the border between two entry points to the chemistry curriculum.  A student with such a recommendation should consult with Professor Stemmler, Chemistry 2000-level instructors, or faculty at the Academic Fair to ensure a proper entry to the curriculum.

Additional information:  When deciding to begin with a 1000-level chemistry course or a 1000-level biology course during their first semester, many students have found a grounding in chemistry helpful before beginning a course in biology.  As a word of caution, some first-year students find it advantageous to wait until their sophomore year to start chemistry; however, this means they cannot take Organic Chemistry I, Chemistry 2250, until their junior year if they begin with Chemistry 1091/1101/1109 as a sophomore. In looking beyond the first year, many students have found obtaining a spot in their preferred section of Organic Chemistry I (Chemistry 2250) difficult during their sophomore (or beyond) years.  Regardless of the reason for the difficulty, if enrolling in Chemistry 2250 is a student's priority, students should construct a flexible schedule that allows for multiple enrollment possibilities for Chemistry 2250 (and an appropriate laboratory).  Many times, difficult choices must be made.

Chemistry courses numbered between 1000-1090 are meant to fulfill the INS requirement and assume no previous science background. They are appropriate for students who do not intend to take further courses in chemistry at Bowd


First-year students interested in Cinema Studies can enroll in Cine 1101 (Film Narrative), Cine 1115 (Shakespeare on Film), Cine 1005 (Musical Biopic), Cine 1025 (Crime Film), Cine 1029 (Comediennes, Historians, and Storytellers), Cine 2202 (Film History II, 1935 to 1975), or Cine 2254 (Topics in Chinese Cinema).  Students who choose to minor in cinema studies need to take a total of five courses.  These must include Cine 1101, Cine 2201 or 2202 (History of Film I or II), a 3000-level seminar, a course that incorporates theory, and a course in non-U.S. cinema.  Students can count one class for more than one requirement (i.e., a 3000-level course with a theory component).  No more than two courses below the 2000 level will count toward the major.


Members of the Classics Department faculty are always happy to meet with students individually to discuss placement and sequencing of courses. The Classics Department offers three different majors, in Classics (focusing on ancient Greek and/or Latin languages and literature); Classical Studies (an interdisciplinary approach to classical civilization through a study of its history, literature, philosophy, religion, and material remains); and Classical Archaeology (focusing on the material culture of the classical world). There are also numerous options for minors offered by the department; interested students should talk with a faculty member about their options.

Students interested in beginning Latin and/or classical Greek should enroll in 1101. Latin 1101 is offered in the fall and Latin 1102 in the spring; however, Greek 1101 is offered in the spring, with Greek 1102 offered in the fall. Because of the sequential nature of language study and the pattern of offerings in the department, students should plan on taking both semesters of Latin during one year; students interested in the elementary Greek sequence should plan to take 1101 in the spring and 1102 the following fall.

There is a Latin placement exam that can be downloaded from Blackboard. Students who have already studied Latin and/or Greek in high school will be advised about appropriate placement during the language placement meeting held during Orientation. Students unable to attend this placement meeting should contact a faculty member in the Classics Department to arrange for a placement interview. Most first-year students continuing Latin enroll in Latin 2203, though those with exceptionally strong backgrounds are welcome in the 3000-level course. Most first-year students continuing Greek enroll in Greek 2203, which is offered in the spring semester, but the department makes placement recommendations on an individual basis.

All 1000- and 2000-level courses listed under the Archaeology and/or Classics rubrics are open to all students, and spaces have been set aside in all of these courses for first-year students.

Courses in Archaeology are particularly prone to fill quickly (as do other regular offerings in the department such as Classics 1101 and 1111/1112). Students who are unsuccessful in gaining admission to one of these courses should contact the professor and ask to be put on a waiting list; meanwhile, they should consider taking another course in the department to demonstrate their interest in the discipline and make themselves better prepared for other courses in the department.


Students interested in Computer Science start with  CS 1101 (Introduction to Computer Science),  which  provides a basic introduction to problem solving and programming.  The class has no pre-requisites and assumes no prior knowledge of computers.  CS 1101 is the first course in the CS major/minor sequence, but it should not be viewed as a course only for students intending to major in CS. Many first-years who have taken it to satisfy a general interest in computer science have found it to be a rewarding, albeit challenging, course.  The class has a weekly 1.5 hour lab.

Students with sufficient programming experience (such as AP)  may be able to skip CS 1101 and go directly into CS 2101 (Data Structures), which covers more advanced programming techniques.  There is no placement test and the students interested in this possibility should contact the department.


Earth and Oceanographic Science courses enable students to make connections between physical and biological worlds and to study human and environmental interactions.  Bowdoin’s geographical location near Maine’s mountains, rivers and coast means classes can readily access these outdoor natural laboratories. In many courses, students complete research projects and/or work with community partners to apply their learning to problems of environmental and local importance.

EOS 1105 (Fall), EOS 1505 (Spring), and EOS 1305 (Spring) are aimed at first-year students, assume no previous science background, meet the INS requirement and meet the division requirement for natural science and mathematics. EOS 1305 also meets the MCSR requirement. Any one of the introductory courses may lead toward the Earth and Oceanographic Science major. EOS 2005, Biogeochemistry, is a required course for the major - we encourage potential majors to take this course in their sophomore year.

Earth and Oceanographic Science is a popular coordinate major with Environmental Studies. EOS 1505 (Oceanography) and EOS 1305 (Environmental Geology and Hydrology) are cross-listed with Environmental Studies (ES 1102, ES 1104 and ES 1515) for joint EOS and ES credit, and meet the introductory science course requirement for ES.


As of Summer 2014 Economics now requires all students take a placement survey on Blackboard before enrolling in their first economics course.  Based on their answers to the placement survey students may be placed in the following gateway courses:

  • Economics 1050  Introductory Microeconomics and Quantitative Reasoning
  • Economics 1101 Introductory Microeconomics
  • Economics 1102 Introductory Macroeconomics
  • or a 2000-level elective of their choosing.

Students who have not taken the placement survey will need to see the economics placement coordinator to obtain permission for their first economics course.  The current economics placement coordinator is Professor Rachel Connelly.

Economics 1101 is Introductory Microeconomics.  We offer multiple sections every semester.  This is the gateway course for most of your advisees.

Economics 1050 is Introductory Microeconomics and Quantitative Reasoning.  This is a course which covers all the material in Econ 1101 in a more supported Quantitative Reasoning environment.  The main difference is a required weekly lab taught by QR faculty in conjunction with Econ faculty.  Students with low Q-Skills scores who want to take Introductory Microeconomics have two alternative pathways.  They can take Economics 1050 or they can take Math 1050 and then take either Economics 1050 or Economics 1101. Economics 1050 satisfies the MCSR requirement and serves as a prerequisite for Economics 1102 and several additional 2000 level electives.  Economics 1050 will be taught every fall.  

Students who have taken AP Microeconomics and received a 4 or 5 will be placed in Economics 1102 Introductory Macroeconomics.  If they want to forfeit their economics AP credit they will need an override from the economics placement coordinator.

Students who have taken AP Microeconomics and AP Macroeconomics and received a 4 or 5 will be placed in any 2000-level elective if they want to take an Economics course in the fall term. If they want to forfeit their economics credit they will need an override from the economics placement coordinator.  If they want to start immediately with Intermediate Microeconomics, Econ 2555, they should wait until the spring term.

Econ 1100 is intended for students who just want some exposure to Economics, but do not plan to continue. Econ 1100 does NOT serve as a prerequisite for any Economics course. Students who think they might want to major or minor in Econ, or just take several Econ courses, should take the gateway course they have been placed in.  Students who take Econ 1100 and decide to continue in Economics must return to their gateway placement.  


Students who have an interest in studying education (including those who hope to become certified secondary school teachers) should take Education 1101 either their first or second semester. The course is frequently over-enrolled, but the Department offers one section every semester. If students express an interest in becoming certified to teach in public schools, they should speak with an Education Department faculty member as soon as possible.


We encourage first-year students to take a first-year seminar in the fall.  They are also eligible to take 1100-level courses, but these are no longer serving as gateways to the major.  They are intended for students with an interest in English who do not plan to major.  (They still count toward the major, however.)

Our new gateway courses are 2000-level seminars, which are writing intensive courses capped at 16 that focus on the types of methodologies that are crucial to advanced work in the major.  These include, among other skills: learning how to read and engage with literary criticism and theory; assessing sources; designing an annotated bibliography; delivering an oral presentation to a group of peers; and receiving advanced library and IT training.  

As of 2014, there are no longer any prerequisites for any 2000-level course.   Any student at Bowdoin may sign up for any 2000-level course, including 2000-level seminars, with the exception of first-semester first-year students.

AP credits will not count towards the English major or minor, but students who received scores of 4 or higher on the English Literature AP Exam (not the English Language exam) will receive one AP credit upon the successful completion of an English first-year seminar or literature course with a grade of B- or higher.


The Environmental Studies program offers a coordinate major. Students major in Environmental Studies and also have a disciplinary major, either in a departmental major such as Biology, Economics, History, etc, or in a program major such as Asian Studies, Gender, Sexuality, and Women’s Studies, etc. A maximum of two courses taken to satisfy the College’s distribution requirements or to fulfill the requirements of a second major may be double-counted toward the environmental studies major requirements, except as noted.

The major consists of 9 courses: ES 1101, Introduction to Environmental Studies; an introductory science course; three core courses: science (Perspectives in Environmental Science (ES 2201/ Bio 1158/ Chem 1105), humanities (ES 2403/History 2182), and social science (see the ES website for a list of ES social science core courses); three courses to fulfill the ES concentration; and a senior seminar.

First-year students interested in Environmental Studies should consider taking ES 1101, Introduction to Environmental Studies, the gateway course, in the fall.

In the spring students should consider taking the ES core course in environmental science ‘Perspectives in Environmental Science’ (ES 2201/Bio 1158 /Chem 1105); and the environmental humanities core course ‘Environment and Culture in North American History’ (ES 2403/History 2182).

Students will also need to take an ES social science course numbered ES 2300-2330. Please see the ES website for current social science core course offerings

Students who received a score of 5 on the Environmental Science AP Exam should contact the ES Program for more information on receiving credit. See the ES webpage for additional major requirements.

The ES Program also offers an ES minor, which consists of five courses (see the website for more information).



Students interested in taking a GLS course during their first year are encouraged to sign up for a cross-listed first-year seminar or 1000-level course either in the fall or spring; they may also enroll in GLS 2001 in the spring.  (Beginning in the fall of 2015, the Gender and Women’s Studies Program (GWS) and Gay and Lesbian Studies Program (GLS) will merge into the Gender, Sexuality, and Women’s Studies Program (GSWS). For the coming academic year, courses in GSWS will be offered under the headings of GLS and GWS.)


Students may begin with GWS 1101 (Introduction to Gender and Women’s Studies, which is taught every semester) or with one of the many 2000-level courses offered in GWS and by affiliated faculty in other departments and programs. As long as a course has a GWS designation (it may be, but is not necessarily a primary designation), it counts towards the major or minor. (Beginning in the fall of 2015, the Gender and Women’s Studies Program (GWS) and Gay and Lesbian Studies Program (GLS) will merge into the Gender, Sexuality, and Women’s Studies Program (GSWS). For the coming academic year, courses in GSWS will be offered under the headings of GLS and GWS.)



First-year students considering either beginning or continuing the study of German are strongly encouraged to take a course during their first semester. Those who have studied German before entering Bowdoin must take the German Placement Questionnaire and receive a course placement recommendation; a course placement recommendation is required to register for any course above GER 1101. If a student was unable to complete the placement questionnaire and/or attend the consultation during orientation, they should consult with someone in German as soon as possible. Students with no prior exposure to German are encouraged to begin their study in the first semester because doing so will allow them to take full advantage of options open to them, including study in a German-speaking country. German courses numbered 2205 and higher count for the International Perspectives (IP) requirement. German 1101 is open to those with no previous study in the German language. German 1150-level courses (such as GER 1152 {IP, VPA} and 1156 {ESD, VPA}) are taught in English and are open to all students with no previous language study required.


First-year students interested in government should be encouraged to take one of the department’s first-year seminars, all of which are offered during the fall term. Another option appropriate for students seeking a solid background in a specific departmental area of concentration is to take one of the department’s introductory lecture courses. Introduction to International Relations (Gov 1600) will be offered in the fall term.  Introduction to American Politics (Gov 1100) and Introduction to Comparative Politics (Gov 1400) will be offered in the spring term.

All of the first-year seminars and all of the introductory lecture courses are considered "Level A" courses in government, and all can be used to fulfill major requirements.  However, for those considering a major in government, please note that only two Level A courses (and only one of these can be a first-year seminar) can be counted towards the nine- course major requirement, and only one can be used in the student’s area of concentration. More advanced students may wish to consider enrolling in a 2000-level course; many are technically open to first-year students. However, students should be aware that enrollment pressures, particularly during the fall term, mean that only a few first-year students will actually be able to get into these higher level courses. It is very important to have alternative courses in mind.


First-year students can begin their study of history at Bowdoin at a variety of levels. Some students start at the introductory level (1000-level courses) or in a first-year seminar. Other students, especially those who took AP or AP-equivalent history courses in high school, begin with intermediate level lectures (2000-2499). Because the history department is committed to providing students with a variety of historical perspectives, we encourage students to explore offerings in non-western history (Africa, East Asia, Latin America, and South Asia) early on. Students should consider taking one intermediate seminar (2500-2999) by the end of their sophomore year. Potential majors considering study abroad should plan to meet with a history professor sooner rather than later to ensure they make good progress on the major.


Latin American Studies is an interdisciplinary program with strengths in Romance Languages and Literatures, History, Anthropology, Economics, and Music. Required courses include a language course (Latin American Studies [Spanish] 2409 OR 2410 OR Latin American Studies [French 2407] 2407); a 2000-level course in the social sciences; and a History course that surveys the region (such as Latin American Studies [History] 2401 "Colonial Latin America" or Latin American Studies [History] 2402 "Modern Latin America"). Students should address the language requirement early on and take an introductory course such as Anthropology 1101, Economics 1101, or Sociology 1101. History courses are another good place to begin as they offer an excellent overview of the region and have no prerequisites.


A course from the calculus sequence (Math 1600, 1700/1750, 1800) is the traditional entry into the study of mathematics at Bowdoin. However, introductory courses in Quantitative Reasoning (Math 1050), Statistics (Math 1200, 1300) and Biomathematics (Math 1808) are also possible choices. Advanced students can begin at even higher levels.

Course Placements

The Mathematics Department has used the information you supplied in the Mathematics Placement Questionnaire as well as your score on the Quantitative Reasoning Placement Examination to identify appropriate courses to begin your study of mathematics at Bowdoin. In particular, the Mathematics Department may provide two course placement recommendations: one in mathematics (primarily calculus) and one in statistics.

Mathematics course placement recommendations include:

  • Math 1600
  • Math 1700
  • Math 1750
  • Math 1800
  • Math 2000, 2020, or 2206

In addition, if your placement recommendation is Math 1700 or above and you’ve had a year of high school or college biology, you are also allowed to enroll in Math 1808, Biomathematics.

If the placement information available to the Mathematics Department is not sufficient to determine an appropriate recommendation, the initial placement recommendation will simply be “See Chair of the Mathematics Department” or “See Director of Quantitative Reasoning”. A student with such a recommendation will not be allowed to enroll in any mathematics course until the required consultation has taken place.

Statistics course placement recommendations include:

  • Math 1200
  • Math 1300

Your course placement recommendations are binding. The only courses for which you are allowed to register are those indicated by the placement recommendations provided to you and your advisor by the Mathematics Department. If you believe your course placement recommendation might not be accurate or you wish to register for a mathematics course not on your recommendation list, you should consult individually with members of the Mathematics Department at the Academic Fair.  A change in your course placement recommendation will become official only when approved by the Chair of the Mathematics Department.

Relevant Information about Specific Non-Calculus Courses

(Detailed descriptions of these courses can be found in the Course Guide.)

Math 1050: If your mathematical background indicates the need for additional preparation prior to enrolling in other quantitatively intense courses, you may be recommended to enroll in Math 1050, Quantitative Reasoning. The purpose of the course is to provide a firm foundation for further classes in mathematics, science, and economics. Admission into Math 1050 requires permission from the Director of Quantitative Reasoning. This course is offered every semester.

Math 1200: This introductory statistics course assumes only a minimal background in mathematics and no previous background in statistics. Math 1200 is not appropriate for students who have studied AP Statistics in high school or for students who intend to enroll later in Math 2206 and Math 2606, the mathematics major level probability and statistics courses. In addition, if you are considering a major in psychology or economics, you should probably refrain from enrolling in Math 1200 since psychology and economics each have their own discipline specific statistics courses. Math 1200 is offered every spring semester.

Math 1300: Biostatistics is an introduction to the statistical methods used in the life sciences, and assumes a mathematics background equivalent to Mathematics 1600, Differential Calculus. However, you should not enroll in Math 1300 if you intend to enroll later in Math 2206 and Math 2606, the mathematics major level probability and statistics courses. In addition, if you are considering a major in psychology or economics, you should probably refrain from enrolling in Math 1300 since psychology and economics each have their own discipline specific statistics courses.  Math 1300 is offered every semester.

Math 1808: Biomathematics is the study of mathematical modeling in biology, with a focus on translating back and forth between biological questions and their mathematical representation. The prerequisites for the course include a background in differential calculus (the equivalent of Math 1600) along with a year of high school or college biology.  Math 1808 is offered every fall semester.

Math 2000, 2020, and 2206: Students with highly advanced preparation will be recommended for Math 2000, Linear Algebra, Math 2020, Mathematical Reasoning, or Math 2206, Probability. If you are in this category you are strongly encouraged to attend the session for advanced students during Orientation. At this session you will learn about your full range of course options and will receive individual advice based on your preparation and academic goals.  Math 2000, 2020, and 2206 are each offered every semester.


The Music department offers three types of courses:  1) Musicology courses (x1xx-x3xx) do not require the placement exam and consider the intersection of music and economics, history, philosophy, politics, and/or sociology. 2) Theory and Composition courses (x4xx-x5xx) require the placement exam (except for Mus 1051) and are notation-based courses that explore the construction and creation of music itself. 3) Performance courses (x6xx-x8xx) do not require the placement exam and include ensembles, private lessons, and intermediate- and advanced-level classes in historical performance, improvisation, and technique. 

First-year students interested in music are encouraged to take either an introductory musicology course (11xx-13xx) or a music theory course (1051, 1401, or 2403) as well as an ensemble and/or private lessons. 

Courses below the 1000-level and all 1000-level courses other than 1401 usually do not have prerequisites and require no prior musical experience.  Placement into 1401 and 2403 is only possible through the theory placement exam on Blackboard; after taking the exam, first-year students should consult with the department in Gibson 101 between 2:45 and 3:15 pm on Sunday, Aug. 30.  

Most 2000-level courses have prerequisites or require instructor permission. 

Music Ensembles and Private Music Lessons.  Students interested in Music Ensembles and Private Music Lessons typically enroll in these (for a 1/2 credit each) in addition to their four academic courses for a total of five credits a semester.   This procedure is standard and should not be considered an overload.

Music Ensembles.  Most participants in music ensembles are not majors or minors, so any student with interest should consider participating. The Afro-Latin Music Ensemble is open to any student regardless of musical background. The Concert Band is open to any student with band experience, and the Middle Eastern Ensemble is open to any student who has played a string or wind instrument, who sings, or who would like to learn Middle Eastern percussion.  The Chorus, Chamber Choir, Chamber Orchestra, Chamber Ensembles, and Jazz Ensembles are auditioned; audition and rehearsal information is posted on the first floor of Gibson Hall.  (Note that in some cases, a science lab conflict with a scheduled rehearsal time can be worked out.)

A half credit per semester (on a credit/D/fail basis) can be earned for ensemble participation, but attendance guidelines must be followed for a passing grade (in some cases un-registered students are allowed to participate). The same course number is used for every semester of enrollment in the same ensemble.

Private Music Lessons.  Private lessons (Individual Performance Studies) are open to any student on a non-credit basis and may be taken for credit if an audition is passed.  To pass, instrumentalists must demonstrate an intermediate or higher level of accomplishment, and voice students must show an aptitude for singing pitches.  There is a fee for lessons, but students on financial aid can audition for scholarships. Students should sign up for lesson auditions and scholarship auditions through Linda Marquis (Gibson Hall 103, 725-3321) during the first week of classes.

Students taking lessons for credit receive a half credit per semester, graded A-F.   The number 2805 is used for the first semester and the number 2806 for all semesters on the same instrument thereafter. If a second instrument is studied, 2807 is used for the first semester and 2808 for following semesters.  If a third instrument is studied, 2809 is used for all semesters.  Advanced lessons (3805-3807) require a full-length recital, are awarded full credit, and are graded A-F.

Distribution Requirements.  The Humanities (c) requirement is met by all music courses, and the VPA requirement is met by most music courses (please consult the Course Guide for more information).


Students interested in majoring in neuroscience should begin by taking Introductory Biology and/or Introductory Psychology, both of which are required for the major (please consult Biology for information about which Introductory Biology course will be most appropriate). These courses serve as prerequisites for the two introductory level neuroscience classes, Neurobiology (Biology 2135, fall semester) and Physiological Psychology (Psychology 2050, spring semester), either of which will prepare students for entry into the mid-level lab courses that form the core of the neuroscience major. We encourage students interested in majoring in Neuroscience to speak with faculty in the Neuroscience program early in their Bowdoin career, particularly if they are interested in studying abroad.

Students are also encouraged to consult with the Chemistry department about their placement into chemistry courses, as a semester of Organic Chemistry is also required for the major.


In all Philosophy courses, there’s a great emphasis placed on writing skills and careful reading of texts. The goal is to understand complex ideas and arguments and to produce clear, precise, jargon-free prose. There is no single “Intro” course. It’s generally good to start with a first-year seminar or a 1000-level course. Students seeking a background in the history of philosophy are advised to take Phil 2111 (Fall) and 2112 (Spring), which cover ancient Greek philosophy (pre-Socratics to Aristotle) and early modern European philosophy (Descartes to Kant), respectively.

There are no prerequisites for 2000-level classes, and many first-year students have done well in them. However, the topics at the 2000 level are generally more focused and the material is more challenging, so first-year students are advised to discuss with the instructor whether a given class is suitable for them.

Logic (2223) differs from other philosophy courses in that it counts for the MCSR requirement, and it has problem sets and exams rather than papers. The course is a rigorous introduction to formal symbolic logic, and its aim is to help us in distinguishing valid from invalid arguments. Many philosophy majors tell us they wish they’d taken logic earlier in their college careers, because it has made them better at framing and analyzing arguments in other classes. The course presupposes no mathematical or philosophical background, and first-years are encouraged to take it.


Physics has a placement test to assess student readiness for Physics 1093 (Introduction to Physical Reasoning), Physics 1130 (Introductory Physics I), or Physics 1140 (Introductory Physics II). Students should have taken the on-line test prior to arriving on campus. However, if a student has neglected to do so, the test is still available on Blackboard and should be taken as soon as possible.

Physics 1093 is a course for students interested in a physics- or engineering-related major who need to work on quantitative reasoning and advanced problem solving before beginning calculus- based physics. The departmental placement exam is intended to identify students who might benefit from this focused instruction on study skills for the physical sciences. Physics 1093 is a general course that is designed to prepare students for success in introductory chemistry, computer science, and calculus as well as physics.

Physics 1130 is the first semester of laboratory-based physics. It requires good problem solving skills and quantitative literacy. Students in Physics 1130 are not expected to have taken any previous physics courses but should be ready for a fast-paced introductory course that emphasizes independent learning. Students can enroll in Physics 1130 concurrently with Mathematics 1600. Please encourage first-year students who concurrently enroll in 1130 and Math 1600, or any students concerned about their level of mathematical preparation, to make themselves known to the course instructor. Some proactive attention is often all that is needed to help students with less mathematical background succeed in physics.

Physics 1140 is the second semester of laboratory-based physics. Advanced placement credit is available for students with qualifying scores on the AP exam. Students who have a strong background in Mechanics but no AP scores can be placed in Physics 1140 after taking the departmental placement exam. However, such students do not get AP credit for Physics 1130.


The first course is Psychology 1101, Introduction to Psychology, which is prerequisite to all other psych courses (other than any first-year seminar we may be offering). If a first-year student is interested in a psychology major or minor, we recommend s/he take 1101 in the fall of the first year. A student who has a score of 4 or better on the AP exam, or a score of 5 or better on the IB Higher level exam may skip Psyc 1101. For these students, we recommend Psyc 2010, 2020, or 2060 in the fall; or 2010, 2030, 2040, or 2050 in the spring. Although these students are also eligible to take Psyc 2510 in the fall of their first year, we strongly advise them to wait at least one semester before doing so.


Because the Religion department at Bowdoin does not require students to take Religion 1101 in order to enroll in its intermediate or upper level courses, there is more than one way to begin to take religion courses.

The department consistently offers one or two first-year seminars each year semester for incoming students. These are designed to afford students ample opportunities for discussion and writing on topics that are multifaceted, controversial, timely, and of particular interest to college students. One first-year seminar may count toward the religion major.

Religion 1101 (Introduction to the Study of Religion), which is offered every fall and spring, is comparative in approach and lays out the theoretical contours of the field. Since it is an excellent preparation for intermediate and advanced level courses in the department, potential majors should enroll as early as possible in this course. Students are introduced to a theme or topic in at least two religious traditions and to various methodologies and specialized vocabularies employed in the field.

In the spring of 2016, the Religion Department will be introducing a new 1000-level course, Introduction to the Religions of the Middle East.  This course will survey religions such as Islam, Judaism, and Christianity and will show how these religions are tied to their historical and political contexts.

Finally, first-year students are welcome to enroll in our 2000-level courses. The Religion department at Bowdoin is one of the few departments that regularly offer courses at the 2000-level in which students closely examine a particular topic or area (e.g. Hinduism, Buddhism, Bible) over the course of a year.
 Because there are few pre-requisites in the Religion Department, many students do begin with a 2000-level course.

Although none of the department’s courses reflect an assumption that students have a background in the particular subject area, the courses are academic in approach and require that students engage course materials with intellectual rigor. In other words, religions are not evaluated from the perspective of one’s own religious assumptions, convictions, and practices but treated as texts, practices, and institutions requiring historical and cultural contextualization. Religion courses at Bowdoin require a fair amount of writing and classroom participation. They provide students with an excellent opportunity to sharpen their analytic problem solving and writing skills. Moreover, as the study of religion is interdisciplinary, our courses expose students to various disciplinary approaches in the humanities and social sciences. Students learn to test and compare tools in various fields and to apply these tools to a topic in religion.


Francophone Studies:

Placement recommendations are based on information provided by the student and her/his placement test score. Students should enroll in the recommended course but may move between course levels in the first weeks of classes should they feel they have been misplaced. Please strongly encourage students to begin their language study at Bowdoin in the fall semester, as language courses are sequential, the first course of the sequence (1101, 2203, and 2305) being offered ONLY in the fall semester. Waiting would in most cases push their French studies back a full year. Students are encouraged to attend the French Open House during orientation and to talk with a member of the department should they have any questions about courses or their placement.

French 1101 is open to students with no previous exposure to the language. All other first-year students who studied French in high school (with the exception of those who received a 5 on the AP or a 6 or 7 on the higher-level IB) should have taken the placement exam prior to arriving on campus. However, if a student was unable to do so, the test is still available on Blackboard. S/he should complete the test and notify someone in the department as soon as possible so that the test may be corrected and the student given an appropriate placement.

Students who received a 5 on the French AP or a 6 or 7 on the higher-level IB automatically place into the 2407-2410 level. French 2407-2410 are not sequential. Students may take them in any order. Students who place into 2407 or 2409, offered in the fall semester, also place into 2408, 2410, or 2411 offered in the spring semester. Incoming students will receive one course credit for an AP exam on which they scored a 4 or a 5 or a higher-level IB exam on which they scored a 6 or 7 once they have completed at least one French course at Bowdoin with a grade of B- or better. French majors and minors are required to take either 2407 or 2408 AND one of 2409, 2410 or 2411.

Italian Studies:

Please strongly encourage students to begin their language study at Bowdoin in the fall semester, as language courses are sequential, and the first course of the sequence (1101, 2203, and 2305) is offered ONLY in the fall semester. Waiting would, in most cases, push their Italian studies back a full year. There is one exception: "Accelerated Elementary Italian" (Ital. 1103), which is offered in only in the Spring for students who are placed in French, Spanish, or Latin 2305 or above. Ital. 1103 covers two semesters of Elementary Italian in one semester, but is not double the hours or double the credit, just faster-paced.

Italian students are encouraged to talk with a member of the department, should they have any questions about courses or their placement. Italian 1101 is open to students with no previous exposure to the language. Italian 1103 is open to students who are placed in 2305 or above in French, Spanish, or Latin. Any first-year students who studied Italian in high school should have taken the placement exam prior to arriving on campus. However, if a student was unable to do so, the test is still available on Blackboard. S/he should download the test and return the completed test to someone in the dept. as soon as possible. Incoming students will receive one course credit for an AP exam on which they score a 4 or a 5 or a 6 or 7 on the upper-level IB (once they have completed at least one Italian course at Bowdoin and earned a B- or above).

Hispanic Studies:

Any student planning to take Spanish at Bowdoin must have taken the placement test prior to arriving on campus (available on Blackboard). If a student did not take the placement exam, s/he should consult with the Department. Students should enroll in the recommended course but may move between course levels, after consulting with instructors, during the first weeks of classes should they feel they have been misplaced. All students are required to take the placement exam in Spanish if they have taken any Spanish before. Please strongly encourage students to begin their language study at Bowdoin in the fall semester, as language courses are sequential. Waiting would in most cases push their Spanish studies back a full year. Students are encouraged to talk with a member of the department should they have any questions about courses or their placement.
Spanish 1101, offered every fall, is exclusively for students with no previous exposure to the language (please consult with Spanish faculty if the student speaks the language at home or has studied it for at least a semester in the past). Spanish 1102 and 1103 are offered in the spring semester only. Spanish 2203 is normally offered in the fall semester only. Spanish 2204: one section is offered this fall, two sections are offered every spring. Spanish 2305: three sections are offered this fall, at least one section is normally offered every spring. All Spanish 1101-2305 courses require a one-hour-per-week discussion session in addition to the regularly scheduled classes (discussion sessions for 1101 - 1102 are determined during the second week of classes, the others are listed in the schedule of course offerings). Spanish 2409 and 2410 are not sequential; they can be taken in any order.

AP/IB Credit Guidelines: Incoming students who received scores of 4 or higher in the AP Spanish exam, or 5 or higher in the IB exam, will be awarded one AP/IB credit upon completion of a course, level 2305 or higher, with a grade of B- or higher. Only one AP/IB credit may be earned per person per language.


All first-year students who are considering studying Russian should be encouraged to take a course during their first semester: this will guarantee that they will be able to major in Russian should they so choose, and also travel to Russia junior year. Russian 1101 is open to students with no previous exposure to the language; students who have previously studied Russian must consult with a member of the department for placement. As a general rule of thumb, two years of high school Russian equals one year of college Russian; the department, however, always decides placement on a case-by-case basis. Heritage speakers (i.e., students of Russian origin who have spoken the language at home but have not studied it formally) are encouraged to take our upper-level courses (Russian 3099 and higher), but they, too, should consult with the department before enrolling. Every year, the Russian Department offers several courses on literature and culture in English translation; these courses are open to all students without prerequisite, and fulfill various distribution requirements.


The Sociology & Anthropology department offers several courses appropriate for any first-year student. This fall the sociologists are offering two first-year seminars, one on Racism (Soc 1010), and one on Landscape, Energy, and Culture (ES/Soc 1026).  In addition, two sections of Intro to Sociology (Soc 1101) will be offered for the fall semester and one section in the spring (2015).

In the fall the anthropologists are offering one section of Intro to Cultural Anthropology (Anth 1101), and Anth 1150 Introduction to World Prehistory. In the spring (2016), they are offering another section of Intro to Cultural Anthropology (Anth 1101) as well as Intro to Archaeology (Anth 1102). 

Neither the 1000-level courses nor the first-year seminars assume any prior work in sociology or anthropology. All other courses in the department require one of the three introductory core courses (Anth 1101, Anth 1102, Soc 1101) as a prerequisite (different 2000-level courses require different ones); students interested in taking 2000-level sociology or anthropology courses including courses relevant to the health professions (public health, medicine, nursing) should take the required introductory course as soon as possible.

Interdisciplinary Offerings within the Department:

The following courses consider both theater and dance through interdisciplinary lenses and are open to all without prerequisites:  Principles of Design (1302), Introduction to Black Performance Studies (2503), Drag in Art and Performance (2504), and Performance for Social Change (1503).


1. Those with little or no dance experience are advised to take Beginning Technique and Repertory (1211-1212), Making Dances (1101), Cultural Choreographies (1102), or Dancing Histories (1501).

2. Dance Technique and Repertory are both half-credit courses:  Students may take Technique alone, or combine it with Repertory for a full credit—but NOT Repertory by itself.  Dance Technique and Repertory courses may be repeated up to four times at each level.

3. Students with previous dance experience who wish to take Technique or Repertory should sign up at the intermediate level (2211-2212), or consult with the department to enter at the advanced level (3211, 3212)

4. Students should always come to the first class meeting of the semester, especially studio classes, if they want to take but were not placed in a course. There is typically some shuffling during the first week of the semester as students move between classes to find their appropriate level.

5. Although Dance Intermediate Ballet (2221) requires students to have taken Introduction to Ballet (1221), the Intermediate course may be appropriate for students with dance experience prior to Bowdoin, but such students must obtain instructor permission prior to registration.


For Students with no previous theater experience, we recommend Making Theater (1101), or Acting I (1201). (Spaces have been reserved for first year students.) Students interested in design may enroll in Principles of Design (1302).  Those interested in directing can now enroll in Directing (2203) as the prerequisite for the 2000-level Directing course has been dropped. These courses expose students to many aspects of the art form, including scripting and structuring, performance, design, and direction.  They excite the theatrical imagination and provide an excellent foundation for future work.

Students interested in acting are encouraged to follow the performance track of Theater 1201, 2201, and 2202 in order to be able to later enroll in 3000 level performance courses. Any 1000 level course in the department fulfills the prerequisite needed for upper-level work. Students should be aware that the performance-based courses, while not reading and writing intensive, require, on average, four hours of outside class time per week for rehearsal. Additionally, attendance in these courses is mandatory.

Finally, students have the opportunity to take part in the department’s fall musical, “Sondheim on Sondheim.”  This performance is the fall semester’s offering for Production and Performance (1700) a half-credit course with a professional theatrical director. Auditions will be Sunday, September 6, 6:00-9:00 pm.  Interested students should sign up for a 5 minute audition slot on the Callboard right outside the department office (204 Memorial Hall).


We advise anyone considering a Visual Arts major or minor, or a joint major involving Visual Arts, to take Art 1101 (Drawing I) as soon as possible, but any course with a 1000 number is a good place to begin.

Like Drawing I, we also offer a variety of other courses without prerequisites. Any of these –Photo I, Printmaking I, or Sculpture I – are the courses we recommend to someone with no background – or even with a fair amount of background – in the subject. These courses presume no previous knowledge or aptitude beforehand; only a strong interest in the subject and the willingness to work.

We often get requests from students who have AP credits or previous experience asking if they can waive Drawing I or other intro courses, which we strongly discourage and rarely permit. Whatever a student's previous background, it's in the nature of visual arts studies – and the fact that every studio teacher approaches the material from a unique perspective – that intro art courses are rarely redundant. Visual arts courses at Bowdoin are also designed with a liberal arts orientation that sets them apart from those in a non-liberal arts curriculum, as well as providing a unique foundation for the courses to follow.