English Major

There is no required gateway course to the major. All entering first-year students may enroll in first-year writing seminars, 1100-level courses, and some 2000-level courses. All second-semester first-year students may enroll in any 2000-level course. Prospective majors are encouraged to take a first-year writing seminar in their first year and an intermediate (2000-level) seminar in their second year. Students planning to undertake an honors project are encouraged to take a 3000-level seminar and the ENGL 2841 Introduction to Literary and Cultural Theory course in their junior year. 

Note that these requirements are new for the 2021—2022 academic year and apply beginning with the Class of 2025. Students who matriculated before fall 2021 must meet the requirements from the Catalogue of the academic year of their entry to Bowdoin. Catalogues from prior years can be found in the Archive.

The major requires a minimum of ten courses. These must include the following:

Required Courses
Select two pre-1800 courses.2
Select two courses in African American, Asian American, Indigenous, Latinx, multiethnic American, or global literature. a2
Select one intermediate seminar (2000–2099).1
Select one 3000-level seminar.1
The remaining courses may be selected from first-year writing seminars, introductory courses at the 1100 level, intermediate or advanced literature courses at the 2000 and 3000 levels, intermediate independent study, advanced independent study or honors (numbered 4000–4051), and introductory or advanced creative writing courses in the English department.4

No more than two courses may come from the department’s roster of first-year writing seminars and introductory courses; no more than two creative writing courses count toward the major. ENGL 1050 Writing Studio, ENGL 1060 English Composition, and ENGL 2805 Teaching Writing: Theory and Practice do not count toward the major; ENGL 1070 The Art of Rhetoric and Composition is eligible for major or minor credit.

English Major with Concentration in Creative Writing

English majors with a concentration in creative writing must satisfy the requirements for the major, including an introductory-level and an intermediate- or advanced-level creative writing course in a single genre, and an additional elective course in another creative writing genre. Two of these creative writing courses may be the two allowed within the ten courses required for the major, with an additional creative writing course above the ten required (for a total of eleven courses). One independent study may count toward the concentration with approval from the department chair.

English Minor

The minor requires five courses in the department. At least three of these must be numbered 2000 or higher. No more than one creative writing course may count toward the minor. ENGL 1050 Writing StudioENGL 1060 English Composition, and ENGL 2805 Teaching Writing: Theory and Practice do not count toward the minor. Transfer credits and independent studies may not be applied to the minor. Minors may double-count one course with another department or program. 

Interdisciplinary Major

The department participates in an interdisciplinary major in English and theater. See the Interdisciplinary Majors.

Additional Information and Department Policies

Major/Minor Grade Policy

  • Courses that count toward the major and minor must be taken for a letter grade (not Credit/D/Fail), and students must earn grades of C- or better in these courses.
  • Majors may double-count three courses with another department or program. 

Transfer Credit Policies

With the approval of the chair, the English department accepts up to two transfer credits for classes taken outside of the department, either at Bowdoin or at another institution. Students may count one upper-level (2000- or 3000-level) course in cinema studies toward the major. Students may count up to two upper-level foreign language literature or film courses taken at Bowdoin or at another institution, provided that the works are read in that language, or taught in one of the official languages of the foreign country where the course is taken. Only one pre-1800 course may be transferred for credit. The department does not give transfer credit for 2000-level seminars or 3000-level seminars. Students may not apply transfer credits to the minor. Students planning to study away should meet with the chair of the department at least one semester prior to departure.

Advanced Placement/International Baccalaureate (AP/IB)

Students who received a minimum score of four on the English Literature and Composition AP exam, or a minimum score of six on the English IB exam, are eligible to receive a general credit toward their degree (though not toward a major or minor) following the completion of an English course, not including ENGL 1050 Writing Studio, ENGL 1060 English Composition, ENGL 1070 The Art of Rhetoric and Composition, or creative writing courses (numbered 1200–1299 and 2850–2899), with a minimum grade of B-. In order to receive credit for advanced placement work, students must have their scores officially reported to the Office of the Registrar by the end of their sophomore year at Bowdoin.

This is an excerpt from the official Bowdoin College Catalogue and Academic Handbook. View the Catalogue