Frequently Asked Questions

Frequently Asked Questions

Parent FAQs

Enrollment Status
Grades and Transcripts
Course Registration
Earning a Bowdoin Degree
Personal Information

Enrollment Status

How may I verify a student's enrollment at Bowdoin--for insurance companies, loan/scholarship managers, etc.?
Bowdoin College has authorized the National Student Clearinghouse to act as our agent for certification of student enrollment during the academic year. If you are a student or outside agency, please visit the Clearinghouse at or to request a certification. If you have any questions, contact the National Student Clearinghouse at (703) 742-4200,, or 2300 Dulles Station Boulevard, Herndon, VA 20171.
Please note that certifications for each semester are issued after students return to campus and have completed their online enrollment forms. If there is an insurance or scholarship deadline requiring a letter prior to the start of the semester, we will issue a letter indicating that the student is "expected to be enrolled" for the semester but we cannot verify actual enrollment until the semester is underway. If such a letter is required, please email

Grades and Transcripts

May I see my son/daughter's grades?
Grades are issued only to students. After each semester, the Office of the Registrar sends students an email stating when grades will be available for viewing in Polaris (our online student information system). No paper grade reports are sent. Students who need an official report of their grades are welcome to request an official transcript (see next question).
May I request a transcript?
Bowdoin College has authorized the National Student Clearinghouse to provide online transcript ordering. Current and former students, please visit to order all official transcripts. 
How much do transcripts cost?
Transcripts remain free of charge for all current and former students. The only fee associated with transcripts is for expedited shipping. Should a current or former student choose expedited shipping as the delivery method for their transcript order, they will be charged a fee of $20.00 US dollars. This fee can be paid by credit card through the National Student Clearinghouse.
Does Bowdoin offer Unofficial Transcripts?
No, but current students are welcome to view their unofficial academic histories online through Polaris. Please note, at this time only current students are able to use this service. Alumni will need to follow the instructions above for requesting an official transcript.
Does Bowdoin have a Dean's List?
The Sarah and James Bowdoin Scholar awards (see question immediately below) represent Bowdoin's Dean's List.
How are the Sarah and James Bowdoin Scholar awards determined?
The Sarah and James Bowdoin scholarships, carrying no stipend, are awarded in the fall on the basis of work completed the previous academic year. The award is given to the 20% of all eligible students with the highest grade point averages (GPAs). Eligible students are those who completed the equivalent of eight full-credit Bowdoin courses during the academic year, six credits of which were graded, and seven credits of which were graded or non-elective Credit/D/Fail. In other words, among the eight required full-credit courses or the equivalent, a maximum of two credits may be taken Credit/D/Fail, but only one credit may be for a course the student chose to take Credit/D/Fail. Grades for courses taken in excess of eight credits are included in the GPA.

A book, bearing a replica of the early College bookplate serving to distinguish the James Bowdoin Collection in the library, is presented to every Sarah and James Bowdoin scholar who has earned a GPA of 4.00.
What criteria are used to award Latin Honors?
General honors (or Latin honors) are awarded with the degree on the basis of an average of all grades earned at Bowdoin, with a minimum of 16 credits required for the computation. To compute the average, an A is assigned four points; a B, three points; a C, two points; a D, one point; and an F, zero points. Plus (+) or minus (-) modifiers add or subtract three-tenths of a point (0.3). Half-credit courses are weighted as one-half course. Credit (CR) grades are omitted from the computation, but a D or F grade received in a course taken on a Credit/D/Fail basis does count. In the case of a course taken at Bowdoin one or more times, only the first grade will be included. The resulting grade point average (GPA) is not rounded. A degree summa cum laude is awarded to students whose GPAs are in the top 2% of the graduating class; a degree magna cum laude is awarded to students whose GPAs are in the rest of the top 8% of the graduating class; and a degree cum laude is awarded to students whose GPAs are in the rest of the top 20% of the graduating class.

The criteria for awarding Latin Honors for previous class years are explained online (

Note: It is Bowdoin's policy not to disclose the cutoffs for Latin Honors.

Course Registration

How will a student register for classes next semester while s/he's currently studying abroad?
Registration occurs near the end of the prior semester, generally about three or four weeks before final examinations. Specific instructions for participating in registration are emailed to students and posted on the website of the Office of the Registrar during those times of the year that they apply. Students who participate in registration while off campus use Polaris just as they would on campus. If a student is studying away with minimal access to the internet, alternate arrangements for registration can be made with the Registrar and their Academic Advisor in advance.
Once the new semester's classes begin, students may adjust their schedules by participating in the add/drop registration process.
My son/daughter is a high school student. May s/he audit a Bowdoin course?
A high-school student may audit a Bowdoin class when permission is granted by the course instructor in consultation with the student’s high school guidance department. There is no official Bowdoin College record kept. Auditors will not appear on official class lists. The instructor informs the student’s high-school guidance counselor of the student’s grade at the end of the semester. At the suggestion of the instructor, auditors may elect to receive electronic services from the College, which would include access to e-reserves and electronic materials and inclusion on the class email list. An auditor’s request for electronic services form (available at the Office of the Registrar and at must be signed by the instructor and submitted to the Office of the Registrar. The fee for electronic services is waived for high-school students. Please visit the Auditing a Course page for more detailed information.

Earning a Bowdoin Degree

What are Bowdoin's approved majors and minors?
See the web page, Choosing a Major ( Bowdoin’s program of majors is also detailed in the College’s annual Catalogue. The most recent digital version of the College Catalogue is available online.
What are the requirements for completing an honors project?
The degree with a level of honors in a major subject is awarded to students who have distinguished themselves in coursework in the subject and in an honors project. The award is made by the faculty upon recommendation of the department or program. The honors project offers seniors the opportunity to engage in original work under the supervision of a faculty member in their major department or program. It allows qualified seniors to build a bridge from their coursework to advanced scholarship in their field of study through original, substantial, and sustained independent research. The honors project can be the culmination of a student’s academic experience at Bowdoin and offers an unparalleled chance for intellectual and personal development. Students who have attained a specified level of academic achievement in their field of study by their senior year are encouraged to petition their department or program to pursue an honors project carried out under the supervision of a faculty advisor. The honors project usually takes place over the course of two semesters; some departments allow single-semester honors projects. The honors project results in a written thesis and/or oral defense, artistic performance, or showing, depending on the student’s field of study. Students receive a grade for each semester’s work on the honors project and may be awarded a level of honors in their department or program, as distinct from general honors. The honors project process differs across departments and programs in terms of qualification criteria, requirements for completion, the level of honors awarded, and the use of honors project credits to fulfill major course requirements. In general, each semester’s work on an honors project will be considered an independent study numbered 401 or higher until the honors project is completed. Students must complete an honors project to be eligible for departmental or program honors. If students do not fulfill the requirements for completion of the honors project but carry out satisfactory work for an independent study, they will receive independent study credit for one or two semesters. All written work in independent study accepted as fulfilling the requirements for departmental honors will be deposited in the College Library. See more Honors Project information online.
When will the Registrar notify my son/daughter if s/he has not met his/her degree requirements?
Students are responsible for tracking their own degree progress at Bowdoin. The Office of the Registrar reviews degree progress after course registration for a student’s last semester is finalized. No student should wait until the last minute to review his/her degree progress with an academic advisor because additional coursework may be required. Students will generally receive written notice by May 1 in their last spring semester that they have been given preliminary clearance to graduate. Final clearance is determined after final grades for the spring semester have been received and all academic work has been completed.
Must my son/daughter complete all requirements before participating in commencement?
Students may take part in only one Commencement, and they are normally expected to complete all degree requirements before they participate in graduation exercises. Students with two or fewer credits remaining and who can expect to complete all requirements by the end of the following August may be allowed to participate in Commencement but will not receive a diploma. In such cases, the degree will actually be conferred at the May Commencement following the completion of all requirements, and the diploma will be mailed to the student at that time. Speakers at Commencement and other students playing visible leadership roles in the ceremony must have completed all requirements for graduation.

Personal Information

May I tell someone that my son/daughter's address or contact information has changed?
Students inform us when their contact information has changed. Every semester, students must submit an online Enrollment Form by the end of the first week of classes. This form allows students to update personal and directory information. If changes to personal or directory information need to be made after the Enrollment Form has been submitted, students should use the online Address/Contact Change Request form (
What privacy rights do students have?
Federal legislation has established guidelines governing the way in which colleges maintain and supervise students’ educational records. Refer to Student Privacy Rights Policies in the student handbook ( to learn about students’ rights under the Family Education Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) of 1974, and to learn about Bowdoin’s privacy policies.

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Contact us at or 207-725-3521.