FAQ for Students

Information for new students, including Arrival Day details, has been moved to the Class of 2024 and transfer students page.

Information relevant to all on-campus students has been moved to the On-Campus Students page.

The Bowdoin Residential Community Agreement is available here.

Contact Information

Parents are encouraged to email covpqs@bowdoin.edu with any non-emergency questions related to students and COVID-19. Please include your student’s name and a phone number where you can be reached; one of our parent liaisons will respond to you within twenty-four hours, Monday through Friday.

AcademicsStudent LifeCXD | Health and Wellness | Financial | Personal Leave of Absence | Other


1. Will the fall semester be credit/no credit again? 

The College will return to its standard grading for the 2020–2021 academic year. However, recognizing that students may encounter challenges this fall, several temporary grade-related policy changes for the fall semester will be implemented:

  • Credit/D/Fail grade mode will be available for students to choose until the day before Thanksgiving break begins (Tuesday, November 24, at 5:00 p.m.). Additional time to choose this option recognizes that students may encounter difficulties related to the public health and online learning context at any point in the semester, no matter how much effort they have been putting into their coursework.
  • Students may choose one course Credit/D/F with a full load of four credits, and this will not count against their career total of four.
  • As is standard policy, students may not choose the Credit/D/Fail mode for first-year writing seminars, distribution and division requirements, and, in most cases, major and minor requirements. However, in light of the current context, the faculty will meet early in the fall semester to discuss potential changes to these institutional policies on a temporary basis, and departments and programs will be asked by CEP this summer to consider whether any of their required courses might be taken Credit/D/Fail for current Bowdoin students.
  • From week seven to eleven (Wednesday, October 21, to Tuesday, November 24), all students carrying four credits or more who have already chosen to take one course Credit/D/Fail will be able to choose to take a second course Credit/D/Fail, and it will not count against the student's career total of four Credit/D/Fail courses. Students will initiate this request via a form that must be approved by the instructor of the course, the student’s advisor, and the student’s dean. 

2. Will grading change to pass fail if everyone has to leave campus mid-semester? 
There are no plans to do so.  However, the Curriculum and Educational Policy Committee will meet throughout the fall semester and will be able to consider whether circumstances warrant revisiting any academic policies. 

3. Since there will be no universal Credit/D/Fail system for the fall semester, is there a plan for how coursework will be handled if a student is forced to leave campus, if they become sick, or if a loved one becomes sick or dies?
Students should contact their dean for guidance on the options available and to help them make an informed decision and work with their faculty.

4. How can you ensure that all coursework and other learning experiences are accessible?

The implementation of accessibility standards, including captioning, is in place for all fall courses. The report from the Continuity in Teaching and Learning Group (CTLG) and the Bowdoin Online Teaching Team (BOLT) workshops emphasize universal design.

5. How can you make sure that “live” classes and other kinds of learning experiences are scheduled in ways that are fair for students in all time zones?
We have been deliberate in how we are crafting classes for the fall. Classes will be scheduled based on special Fall 2020 time blocks and designed with both synchronous and asynchronous elements to accommodate students in different time zones.

Each course has been assigned a time block consisting of three eighty-minute periods, scheduled at different times of day to give faculty the flexibility to best deliver online instruction. These time blocks are like “holds.” Not all of the blocks will be used for class sessions, and any extra time will be given back to the students. After registration, the professor will decide which part of these “holds” will be used for full class meetings, small group sessions, or other engagement with the class. The total time required for the course will be less than the time set aside for it. Faculty will be reaching out to you after registration to finalize course plans within your set time blocks, so be sure to check your email inbox. If you have questions about time blocks, contact the registrar’s office: registrar@bowdoin.edu.

6. Where can I find the course schedule for Fall 2020?
The course schedule for Fall 2020 can be found here. Watch the explainer video and view the complete schedule of Time Blocks for Fall 2020 here.

7. Can I register for two courses that have the same time block?
No. Faculty will be working with students to accommodate different time zones and life challenges, but you cannot schedule two courses in the same time block.

8. Certain classes are not easily done digitally, like studio and performing arts and labs. How are those being handled?

Following the recommendations in the CTLG report, we are committing to using best practices for these types of classes and have invested in the necessary tools to make adoption of these practices possible for faculty teaching such courses. The team providing faculty support and development (BOLT) will specifically address and support these types of classes.

9. Are any changes being implemented to the requirements for majors/minors? as a result of this?

There are no changes being implemented to the requirements for majors/minors. If departments or programs decide to make any changes, they would go through the normal faculty channels of approval.

10. Will faculty be required to hold synchronous meetings and not just have video lectures posted online?
Yes, faculty are expected to provide at least one hour of synchronous meeting time for each student each week.

11. In future semesters will any priority be given to students taking lab classes in their major? Not being in the lab is a huge setback to STEM students.
At this time no decision has been made about the spring semester, but it is a priority to make every effort to provide continuity of instruction so that students can complete their majors and honors projects in a timely fashion. 

12. Will students be able to give rolling feedback to the group spearheading the online learning environment so that any widespread or pressing issues can be immediately addressed and/or passed on to faculty rather than waiting until the end of the semester? 
Yes—students can pose their questions and concerns to askBOLT@bowdoin.edu. 

13. What will textbook costs be this fall since all classes, with the exception of first-year writing seminars, are online?
Although much of the materials used in coursework have been digitized and may be available to students at no cost, some courses will still require that students order textbooks.

14. What is the Baldwin Center for Learning and Teaching (BCLT) doing to support students who depend on their on-campus programming? Students who managed well on campus may have difficulty now—how do they access these resources?
The Baldwin Center continues to offer its full range of services to support all students, including one-on-one consultations, webinars, workshops, Q-tutors, STEM study groups, writing assistance, and peer mentors, as well as additional resources specific to the added challenges of online learning. The BCLT’s Online Learning webpage provides access to this extensive collection of available resources.

15. Will there be any change to the policy about transferring credit from courses taken elsewhere? If there is a college or university where I am living for the fall semester that is holding in-person classes, can I take classes there and have those credits count toward my Bowdoin degree?
Consistent with past policy, if students choose to take a personal leave of absence for the fall semester they are not permitted to transfer courses from another institution back to Bowdoin.

16. Some students may need to work to assist their families economically. Will reduced course loads be considered for them?
In keeping with our longstanding policy, students will need to be enrolled full-time at Bowdoin. If students need to make decisions about course load and other commitments, they are encouraged to talk to their academic advisor or dean to help make the choices that are best for them.

17. How will I meet with my advisor?
Meetings with faculty advisors will take place as usual, but they will happen virtually rather than in person. Use email to communicate with your advisor, and be sure to check your email regularly.

18. Will there be study away opportunities in the spring semester? Will there be any changes to the study away policy?

There has been no decision about study away for the spring semester. One important note: traveling to study in a country with a Level 4 travel advisory has been prohibited in the past and will continue to be prohibited. Additional information about off-campus study is available here

19. What library resources will be available for students studying remotely?
In order to treat all students equitably, those who are remote (not resident on campus) will be offered the same services regardless of where they are living: access to online resources and digital delivery of journal articles, book chapters, and tables of contents. In addition, we will offer remote students who are engaged in honors/independent study projects a books-by-mail service.  The library will mail books from Bowdoin’s collections as well as from Bates and Colby.   Additional information is available on the library's Fall 2020 page.

19. What is Bowdoin's Apple iPad program?

To provide broad accessibility and equity in the learning process and universal design advocated by the CTLG, the College is issuing an Apple iPad Pro, an Apple Pencil 2, and the Apple Magic Keyboard for iPad, which includes a trackpad. With this common mobile computing platform, students have the opportunity to connect to their classes, build community with each other, run the same apps and software at the same performance level, and also receive the same support, regardless of their location or learning situation. 

The iPads have Wi-Fi and cellular data connectivity (activated and covered by the College for those students who have internet connectivity needs).  Students should have received an email from Jason Pelletier for additional information about the iPads which contained the link to request activation of the cellular data option.  Note: When making a request, students must demonstrate an extenuating circumstance and/or need for cellular connectivity.  Not all requests will be honored and only requests from students living off campus will be considered - since on-campus students can utilize Bowdoin's Wi-Fi.

More details about Bowdoin's iPad program are available on the iPad program FAQ.

20. Will students taking a personal leave of absence this semester receive an iPad?

No, only enrolled students are receiving iPads this fall.

Student Life

1. What is Bowdoin doing to ensure a meaningful student life experience this fall?
The Division of Student Affairs is working to create exciting and engaging experiences for students beyond their academic coursework. These include activities and events and help students build virtual communities through residential life, student activities, the Office of Career Exploration and Development (CXD), athletics, and the Office of Inclusion and Diversity. In addition, residential life staff will continue to build strong virtual communities throughout the fall.

2. How will I find out about clubs and activities that will be available online in the fall? How do I join them?
There will be a virtual student activities fair on for students to sign up for clubs and other activities. You will be getting information once the semester starts with details on the fair and how to sign up for clubs.

3. Will there be lectures and programming this fall that are available to all students? How will that work?

Both academic affairs and student affairs are working on booking speakers and lectures for on and off-campus Bowdoin audiences.

4. How will student activities be scheduled in ways that are fair for students in all time zones?

Student activities will work to find ways to accommodate time difference when scheduling student activities. We hope to have many of the large-scale programs recorded for students to view at times that work best for them.

5. How will students know when student life activities and events are happening this fall? 
The College?
There is a new Bowdoin College app that offers information about events, student resources, students clubs, and lots more. The Bowdoin CampusGroup App can be downloaded onto any mobile device or accessed online.

6. Where can I get more information about the CampusGroups app?
More information about the CampusGroups app is available in this video.


1. How are you going to offer services remotely?
CXD is offering all of the programming online that it would normally provide to students in person this year, including mock interviews, treks, Connection events, Sophomore Boot Camp, skills workshops, employer and alumni panels, and employer information sessions.

2. How will all students be able to participate in employer recruiting events this fall, even if they are not on campus?

Employers who traditionally recruit on campus at Bowdoin will be recruiting virtually this fall, just as they will for all other colleges and universities. One advantage of the virtual recruiting events is that it often makes it possible for more students to participate in employer information sessions and recruiting events than they are able to accommodate on campus. Students should log in to Handshake for information about upcoming employer recruiting events.

3. Seniors are going to be particularly stressed about additional obstacles due to this pandemic. What should they do to connect with CXD? What is CXD planning for them?

CXD will be working closely with seniors during this stressful time to help them with their job searches. In addition to the programming traditionally offered, CXD is developing new opportunities for students to engage with employers, alumni, and CXD staff for the fall. Students should log in to Handshake for information about job postings and upcoming events, employer sessions, workshops, and more. 

4. Are there any grants for students who want to engage in a fall semester internship or research?
Our focus remains funding for summer internships and there are no plans currently to subsidize fall internships.

Health and Wellness

1. How can students whose wellness may depend on College programs—counseling, the Health Center, SWAG, and more—access these support services?
All offices that support student health and wellness will be providing services to students on and off campus this fall. Students with specific questions should reach out directly to the appropriate office to discuss their needs and to develop a plan for how they can best access the appropriate services. Students who are new to Bowdoin will be introduced to these services during their first semester on campus.

2. How is counseling preparing to handle the anticipated increase in demand for their services this fall?
Bowdoin counseling services (individual, group, psychiatric) for students in Maine will be offered via telehealth appointments using Microsoft Teams. For out-of-state students these services may be available depending on the laws of the state in which they live. For all students regardless of where they are living, the counseling center is developing a combination of mental health workshop series, wellness classes, mini-mental health presentations via Zoom, daily office hours for mental health consults with staff members, and Instagram Live sessions for specific mental health topics. In addition, the counseling center will continue to provide twenty-four hour, on-call crisis management for all students utilizing ProtoCall Services and an on-call counselor from our staff—this will include assisting students with the process of finding resources in their area.

3. Will students still be covered under the College’s health insurance policies?
Bowdoin health insurance will be offered to all students.

4. Will there be online health and wellness classes available?

We are working to offer a robust schedule of classes on health and wellness that will be available to all students.

5. Will there be digital opportunities to practice our faith and faith-related events with other Bowdoin students?
Student groups, including those of faith-related practices, will continue to offer events for both on and off-campus students. Information about specific events will be shared at the beginning of the semester.


What will tuition be for the Fall 2020 semester?

There will be no increase in the comprehensive fee or tuition for the Fall 2020 semester over what was charged in 2019–2020, and the room and board charge will be prorated for the period at the end of the semester when on-campus students will no longer be in residence. The fall semester fee for on-campus students will total $33,935. Those who will be off campus will be charged only the tuition component of this comprehensive fee for the semester, which is $27,911.  

Students with the highest need who are studying off campus this term may have a credit up to $3,500, and those with the highest need who are studying on campus this term may have a credit up to $2,000 in recognition of the unexpected costs of having students living at home rather than at Bowdoin this fall.
Additionally, Bowdoin has removed the expectation that aided students will earn money during the summer and the fall term and has increased their Bowdoin grant to meet their newly established need.

All of us at the College are very mindful that a Bowdoin education is expensive and that for all of our families it is a significant sacrifice. Central to the decision to keep the comprehensive fee and tuition at 2019–2020 levels is that the essence of what we do is to provide our students with an outstanding liberal arts education delivered by outstanding faculty who develop personal connections with our students. While the experience will certainly be different in the fall, the essence of what we do will not change. In addition, we have 100 percent of employees working, and they are each dedicated to ensuring that we deliver an excellent “Bowdoin” education to our students.

Beyond this central reason, our costs will be going up this year as we invest in this education and create the conditions for health and safety on campus. Of our peer liberal arts schools and the Ivies (plus Chicago, Stanford, and MIT) there are only two schools that are lowering their fees from the 2019–2020 level—Williams and Princeton. A few have done as we have and kept the fees flat with last year, including Amherst, Swarthmore, Trinity, Chicago, and Pomona (which will have no students on campus), and a number of schools have raised their fees over what was charged last year, including all of the NESCAC schools (except Williams, Amherst, Trinity, and ourselves), Brown, Carleton, Dartmouth, Harvard, MIT, Stanford, Wellesley, and Yale.

Personal Leave of Absence

1. How did the College handle requests for personal leaves of absence (PLOA)? 
Students were given until July 12, 2020, at noon EDT to request a PLOA or Fall 2020. All of the one hundred and sixty-one students who requested a PLOA were granted one and have been assured that as long as they remain in good standing while on leave, they will be able to apply for readmission in the semester in which they have expressed to return. Additionally, for the spring readmission, we are going to move the personal leave readmission date to earlier in the semester to allow them to participate in the spring housing lottery and course registration (this will also be helpful to our friends in residential life and the registrar’s office). 

At this time, if a student has an extenuating circumstance and needs to pursue a PLOA, they should contact their dean directly. Visit the archive for details about the process or to learn more about a personal leave of absence.

2. Are students planning on taking a PLOA in the fall still considered part of the Class of 2023 (or Class of 2022 or Class of 2021)? 
Yes, students who take a PLOA will still be considered part of their original class. 

3. Will members of the Class of 2023 who have taken a PLOA this fall still be able to declare majors when we return in the spring?
Bowdoin students declare a major during their fourth semester of Bowdoin coursework. More information about declaring a major is available here.


1. Will there be a fall break this semester?
There will be a fall break from courses, although students on campus will be asked to remain on campus.

2. Will PolarFlix and XFINITY on Campus be available for all students, including students not campus?
PolarFlix will be available to all students, but XFINITY on Campus will only be available to students living on campus.

3. If seniors are invited to return to campus this spring, but not all students, will they be able to decline on-campus housing and live off campus?
At this time no decisions have been made about the spring semester.

4. Will athletes be given priority to return to campus for the spring semester?
The College will prioritize the return of seniors, juniors and sophomores to campus during the spring semester. Athletes within those classes will not be given preference in the return to campus decision-making process. In the event seniors, juniors and sophomores are able to return to campus, the College will take into consideration the positive impact having first-year athletes return to campus in the spring would have on the ability for sophomore, junior and senior students to engage in intercollegiate competition. A decision has not been made regarding the return of first-year student-athletes at this time.