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Academics Away

Central, of course, to off-campus study is academics! While students choose not to earn major/minor credits away (for instance, some departments can't award OCS credit towards a minor), it is important students have an academic rationale or hook for their program and class choices.

Students must take a full course load of classes in liberal arts subjects.

  • The Options List specifies how many classes/credits constitutes a full load at each program. Don't assume about credits. Not all credits are created (or weighted) equal. We don't want you returning to Bowdoin with a shortage!
  • No extra credit is awarded for courses above the normal course load; a maximum of 4 credits per semester or 8 credits per year is transferable.
  • Non-liberal arts subjects include business, marketing, communications, sports, physical education, agriculture, among others. 
  • Questions about what constitutes a full course load or liberal arts subject? Email OCS!

Guidelines for receiving general Bowdoin credit

  • All classes must be submitted to OCS for general approval within the first week of on-site course registration.
  • Credit will not be awarded for classes that cover material already learned at Bowdoin.
  • Students are not able to take an independent study as an elective course. 
  • Final exams must be taken if required of host-country students and open to visiting students; alternative forms of assessment are not acceptable.
  • A minimum grade of C- (or the equivalent) must be earned.
  • No distribution credits may be earned.
  • No classes may be taken pass/fail.
  • Grades earned abroad will not be calculated in the Bowdoin GPA.
  • Bowdoin does not award credit for internships, with very few exceptions. Students who take an internship may take it as an overload (with the program's permission); in some cases the experience forms the foundation for an independent study at Bowdoin. Occasionally students majoring in a foreign language may be allowed to take a maximum of one internship for credit, provided that the work of the internship is in the foreign language and prior authorization is obtained from the appropriate language department at Bowdoin. Students who take the American University Washington Semester internship must upon return submit a substantial research paper to Professor Janet Martin for approval; failure to submit the research paper will result in no credit at all for the entire semester.

Guidelines for receiving credit towards your major/minor

  • Every department sets its own rules about what major/minor credit it accepts from off-campus study programs. Students must determine this information with each department, and that is part of the reason that advisor signatures are required on all OCS applications. See student handbook for information from your department(s) of interest for links to each department's stated policy on OCS. We strongly recommend an in-person confirmation in case of delays in web updates or nuances to the policies.
  • Students must directly communicate with their advisors (and cc:OCS) to get pre-approval for their major/minor credit.
  • Students should bring papers, syllabi, and other course materials back to Bowdoin for the evaluation of major credit by departments. (The materials may also be needed for evaluation of general credit by the registrar.) Approval for you to go on a program does not constitute automatic approval of program courses for either general or departmental credit.

Learning Accommodations

If you receive accommodation at Bowdoin for a documented learning disability, you should establish beforehand with your program or university whether it can make similar accommodations. While some foreign universities and programs can do so, remember that assessment in many university courses remains heavily weighted towards final examinations.

Library Guide for Students Abroad

This guide will help you navigate how to access research assistance and outline what library resources are available to you while you study away.

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Occasionally students majoring in a foreign language