Admission. Policies and Procedures

In May 1989, the Governing Boards of Bowdoin College approved the following statement on admissions:

Bowdoin College is, first and foremost, an academic institution. Hence academic accomplishments and talents are given the greatest weight in the admissions process. While accomplishments beyond academic achievements are considered in admissions decisions, these are not emphasized to the exclusion of those applicants who will make a contribution to Bowdoin primarily in the academic life of the College. In particular, applicants with superior academic records or achievements are admitted regardless of their other accomplishments. All Bowdoin students must be genuinely committed to the pursuit of a liberal arts education, and therefore all successful applicants must demonstrate that they can and will engage the curriculum seriously and successfully.

At the same time that it is an academic institution, Bowdoin is also a residential community. To enhance the educational scope and stimulation of that community, special consideration in the admissions process is given to applicants who represent a culture, region, or background that will contribute to the diversity of the College. To ensure that the College community thrives, special consideration in the admissions process is also given to applicants who have demonstrated talents in leadership, in communication, in social service, and in other fields of endeavor that will contribute to campus life and to the common good thereafter. And to support the extracurricular activities that constitute an important component of the overall program at Bowdoin, and that enrich the life of the campus community, special consideration in the admissions process is also given to applicants with talents in the arts, in athletics, and in other areas in which the College has programs. The goal is a student body that shares the common characteristic of intellectual commitment but within which there is a considerable range of backgrounds, interests, and talents.

Although Bowdoin does not require that a student seeking admission take a prescribed number of courses, the typical entering first-year student will have had four years each of English, foreign language, mathematics, and social science, and three to four years of laboratory sciences. Further, most will have taken courses in the arts, music, and computer science.

Candidates applying to Bowdoin College are evaluated by members of the admissions staff in terms of the following factors: academic record, the level of challenge represented in the candidate’s course work, counselor/teacher recommendations, application and essays, overall academic potential, school and community involvement, leadership, and personal qualities.

Application and Admission Procedures

Students may apply to Bowdoin through the regular admissions program or through either of two early decision programs. The application deadline for Early Decision Option I is November 15. The deadline for Early Decision Option II and regular admission is January 1. Application materials for all programs are the same, except that early decision applicants must also complete the Early Decision Agreement that is included with the application materials.

The Common Application includes the Personal Application, the Secondary School Report, a Mid-Year School Report, two Teacher Evaluation forms, optional Arts and Athletics supplements, and the Early Decision form, if applicable. Students may apply using the Common Application or the Coalition Application; the requirements are the same, with no preference on which application is submitted. The College is also a Questbridge partner and accepts match and non-match applications (with the required supplementary short essay). Those who wish to be considered for financial aid must file the College Scholarship Service PROFILE online or the appropriate International Aid form. US citizens and permanent residents seeking financial aid are required to complete the FAFSA. Applicants for admission must also submit the $65 application fee or an application fee waiver. Application fees are waived for first-generation-to-college students and/or for any student applying for financial aid from the College.

Regular Admission

The following items constitute a completed admissions folder:

1. The Common Application, or the Coalition Application, or the Questbridge Application, and Bowdoin supplement submitted with the application fee ($65). The postmark deadline for regular applications is January 1.

2. School Report: The college advisor’s assessment of the candidate’s character and accomplishments and a copy of the secondary school transcript should be submitted to Bowdoin no later than January 1. A transcript of grades through the midyear marking period (Mid-Year School Report) should be returned to Bowdoin by February 15.

3. Recommendations: Each candidate is required to submit two teacher recommendations, which should be completed by two core academic subject teachers and submitted as soon as possible and no later than January 1. Core academic subjects are English, foreign language, mathematics, science, and social studies.

4. College Board or ACT Scores: Bowdoin is test-optional and allows each applicant to decide if his or her standardized test results should be considered as part of the application. In recent years, approximately 25-30 percent of Bowdoin’s accepted applicants decided not to submit standardized test results. The candidate is responsible for making arrangements to take the examinations and for ensuring that Bowdoin receives the scores if they want them to be considered as part of the application. Students should also arrange for an official report of the scores to be sent by the testing agency. Students choosing to submit their SAT I (Reasoning Test) and SAT II (Subject Test) or ACT scores should complete all examinations no later than January of the senior year.

Students will indicate their choice regarding use of tests on the application.

5. Visit and Interview: A personal interview is strongly encouraged. Interviews are available with a member of the admissions staff or a senior interviewer on campus. In addition, members of the Bowdoin Regional Admissions Volunteer Organization (BRAVO) are available in most parts of the country to provide interviews on a local basis. For further information on BRAVO, see Alumni and Community Organizations. A number of carefully selected and trained Bowdoin senior interviewers conduct interviews to supplement regular staff appointments during the summer months and from September into December. On-campus interviews are available from the third week in May through early December.

6. Notification: All candidates will receive a final decision on their application for admission by the end of March. A commitment to enroll is not required of any first-year candidate (except those applying for Early Decision) until the Candidates’ Common Reply date of May 1. To accept an offer of admission from Bowdoin, a student must submit a $300 admissions deposit, which is credited to the first semester’s bill.

7. Bowdoin will waive the application fee for any first-generation-to-college student and/or for any student applying for financial aid from the College. Other candidates requiring an application fee waiver may request the standard College Board form from their guidance counselor or have the counselor write to request a fee waiver, explaining the extent to which the fee would represent an excessive burden for the candidate’s family.

Early Decision

Bowdoin offers admission through two Early Decision programs in addition to the Regular admission round. Candidates who are certain that Bowdoin is their first choice may wish to consider this option. The guidelines for Early Decision are as follows:

1. Candidates’ application files must include the Early Decision agreement form, indicating that they wish to be considered for Early Decision and that they will enroll if admitted. Early Decision candidates may file regular or non-binding early applications at other colleges, but only with the understanding that these will be withdrawn and no new applications will be initiated if they are accepted under an Early Decision plan.

2. The Common Application, or the Coalition Application, or the Questbridge Application, essays, accompanied by the Early Decision agreement, a School Report Form, a secondary school transcript of grades, two teacher recommendations, and the application fee of $65 (or fee-waiver form) must be submitted to Bowdoin by November 15 for Early Decision I (notification by mid-December), or by January 1 for Early Decision II (notification by mid-February).

3. Candidates admitted via Early Decision who have financial need as established through review of required financial aid documents by the College will be notified of the amount of their award along with their Early Decision acceptance, provided their financial aid forms are on file at Bowdoin by the application deadlines.

4. Submit SAT or ACT scores if the candidate so desires.

5. An Early Decision acceptance is contingent upon completion of the senior year in good academic and social standing.

6. There are three possible admission decisions for Early Decision I candidates: admission to Bowdoin, deferral for consideration in March, and denial of admission. In addition, Early Decision candidates may be placed on the waiting list for possible admission in May or June. Each year a number of applicants who are deferred under Early Decision are accepted in March, when decisions on all regular admissions are released. Early Decision candidates may be denied admission if the Admissions Committee concludes that their credentials will not be competitive for further consideration in the Regular admission round.

7. Responsibility for understanding and complying with the rules for Early Decision rests with the candidate. Should an Early Decision candidate violate the provisions of the program, the College may rescind any offer of admission and financial aid.

Deferred Admission

Admitted students who wish to delay their matriculation to the College for one year must request a deferred enrollment from the dean of admissions by July 1, explaining the reasons for delaying matriculation. Bowdoin will hold a place in the next entering class for any student who is granted a deferment. The student, in return, must agree to withdraw all applications at other colleges or universities and may not apply for admission to other institutions during the deferral year. Financial aid candidates must reapply for aid during the year following the deferral. The $300 nonrefundable admissions deposit is still due by the May 1 reply date.

Admission with Advanced Standing

Bowdoin recognizes College Entrance Examination Board Advanced Placement and International Baccalaureate results and may grant advanced placement and credit toward graduation for superior performance in those programs. Applicants to Bowdoin are encouraged to have AP and IB test results sent to the Admissions Office.

Decisions on both placement and credit are made by the appropriate academic department in each subject area. Some departments offer placement examinations during the orientation period to assist them in making appropriate determinations. Every effort is made to place students in the most advanced courses for which they are qualified, regardless of whether they have taken AP or IB examinations before matriculation. Determinations of advanced placement and credit are made during the student’s first year at Bowdoin. Credit and placement policies for AP and IB examinations may be found on the Bowdoin website at

Some students have the opportunity to enroll in college-level course work prior to graduation. Bowdoin College will consider granting credit for pre-college course work, providing the following criteria have been met: the course work must have been completed on a college campus, must have been completed in a class with matriculated college students, may not have been used to satisfy any high school graduation requirements, and must represent a standard of achievement comparable to what is expected at Bowdoin in a field of study characteristic of the liberal arts.

First-year students who matriculated prior to fall 2013 may apply a maximum of eight course credits toward the degree from the Advanced Placement program, the International Baccalaureate program, or pre-college course work. Students who matriculate beginning in the fall of 2013 may apply a maximum of four pre-matriculation credits toward the Bowdoin degree from approved exams or other approved college/university courses.

Home-Schooled Applicants

Home-schooled applicants and candidates applying from secondary schools that provide written evaluations rather than grades are required to submit SAT I (Reasoning Test) and two or more SAT II (Subject Test) test results or ACT test results. SAT Subject Tests should include Math Level I or Math Level 2 and a science. In addition, home-schooled candidates must submit the Home-School Supplement, which can be found on Bowdoin’s website at A personal interview is also strongly recommended.

International Students

The Admissions Committee welcomes the perspective that international students bring to the Bowdoin community.

Admissions policies and procedures for international students are the same as for regular first-year applicants, with the following exceptions:

1. In addition to the admission forms required of all candidates, students whose secondary school education has followed neither the standard US format nor the International Baccalaureate must submit the International Supplement, which is available from the Common Application or from the Bowdoin College website.

2. Students whose primary language of instruction at the secondary school level is not English must submit official results of the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) by the appropriate deadlines. If necessary, students may substitute results from the International English Language Testing System (IELTS) for the TOEFL.

3. The TOEFL may be waived for students whose primary language of instruction for the past three years has been English.

4. All international students who submit the College Scholarship Service Foreign Student Financial Aid Form or the Bowdoin International Financial Aid Form or Canadian students who submit the Canadian Financial Aid Form (both available on the Bowdoin website) when they file the application for admission will be considered for Bowdoin funds to defray part of their college costs. Bowdoin has limited scholarship funds for students who are not US citizens or US permanent residents and eligible candidates are evaluated under a need-aware admissions policy. These scholarships often cover the full cost of tuition, fees, and room and board. The competition for these financial aid packages is intense. Candidates who do not apply for financial aid during the admissions process should not expect funding at any time in their course of study at Bowdoin College.

Transfer Students

Each year, a limited number of students from other colleges and universities will be admitted to sophomore or junior standing at Bowdoin. The following information pertains to transfer candidates:

1. Citizens of the United States should file the Transfer Common Application or Transfer Coalition Application and essay (a brief statement indicating the reasons for transferring to Bowdoin), and the Bowdoin Supplement (available from the Common Application or Coalition Application or Bowdoin’s website at with the $65 application fee by March 1 for fall admission. March 1 is also the deadline for those seeking spring admission, although space is rarely available in the spring. International students must file the application by March 1 for fall or spring admission and include the Bowdoin Supplement, the International Supplement, and the application fee. Applicants must arrange to have submitted by the same deadlines transcripts of their college and secondary school records, a statement from a dean or advisor at their university or college, and at least two recommendations from current or recent professors. Interviews are strongly recommended but not required. As soon as it becomes available, an updated transcript including spring semester grades should also be sent. Candidates whose applications are complete will normally be notified of Bowdoin’s decision in early May.

2. Transfer candidates usually present academic records of “B+” work or better in a course of study that approximates the work that would have been done at Bowdoin, had they entered as first-year students. Bowdoin accepts transfer credit for liberal arts courses in which a grade of C– or higher has been received. Transfer students should understand that although they may expect an estimate regarding class standing upon transferring, official placement is possible only after updated transcripts have arrived at the registrar’s office and have been appraised by the appropriate dean and academic departments. To qualify for the bachelor of arts degree, students must complete Distribution Requirements and Division Requirements, and these requirements normally must be satisfied by courses taken at Bowdoin.

3. Although two years of residence are required for a Bowdoin degree, students who have completed more than four semesters of college work are welcome to apply for admission, with this understanding. Students who have already received their bachelor’s degree are ineligible for first-year or transfer admission.

4. The financial aid funds available for transfer students may be limited by commitments the College has already made to enrolled students and incoming first-year students. US applicants for aid must submit a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) and the College Scholarship Service’s PROFILE by March 1. International applicants for aid must file either the College Scholarship Service Foreign Student Financial Aid Form or the Bowdoin International Financial Aid Form (available on the Bowdoin website) by March 1. Canadian applicants must submit the Canadian Financial Aid Form (available on the Bowdoin website).

Special Students

Each semester, as space within the College and openings within courses permit, Bowdoin admits a few special or visiting students who are not seeking a degree from Bowdoin. In general, this program is intended to serve the special educational needs of residents in the Brunswick area who have not yet completed a bachelor’s degree, as well as students who are pursuing a degree elsewhere and who, for truly exceptional reasons, wish to take a course at Bowdoin. Teachers wishing to upgrade their skills or Bowdoin graduates who need particular courses to qualify for graduate programs are also considered for this program. Special students are billed at a per course rate for up to two courses per term. No more than two credits may be taken each semester. No financial aid is available for special students. Interested applicants should submit the completed special student form and enclose the $65 application fee at least one month prior to the beginning of the semester. A personal interview is required. Inquiries should be addressed to the Special Student Coordinator in the Admissions Office.

Summary of Application Deadlines

Application materials for admission include the completed Common Application and Bowdoin Supplement. New applicants should submit these materials in accord with the following deadlines:

Early Decision I

  • November 15: Common Application or Coalition Application or Questbridge Application and Bowdoin supplement

Early Decision II

  • January 1: Common Application or Coalition Application or Questbridge Application and Bowdoin supplement

Regular Admission

  • January 1: Common Application or Coalition Application or Questbridge Application and Bowdoin supplement

International Applicants

  • Must submit materials according to the deadlines above: Common Application, Coalition Application, Bowdoin supplement, International Supplement, TOEFL Report

Transfer Applicants

  • Fall: March 1: Common Application or Coalition Application and Bowdoin supplement

All correspondence concerning first-year and transfer admission to the College should be addressed to the Office of Admissions, Bowdoin College, 5000 College Station, Brunswick, ME 04011; Tel. 207–725–3100, Fax: 207–725-3101