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How to Get Into Bowdoin College: All You Need to Know

Monday, April 24, 2023


Bowdoin College is a small liberal arts college in Brunswick, Maine, just northeast of Portland. It does not offer professional track majors but has robust liberal arts offerings including a renowned environmental studies program. It is consistently ranked as one of the top 10 liberal arts colleges in the country by U.S. News and World Report.

Bowdoin is only a 30-minute drive from Portland and a few miles from the ocean. Beyond its main campus, Bowdoin also has the Schiller Coastal Studies Center, a center for research and recreation located a few miles away on Orr’s Island.

Read on to learn best practices that applicants should use to increase their chances of admission to Bowdoin College.

How to Get Into Bowdoin College: Table of Contents 

  1. When to Apply to Bowdoin College 
  2. How Hard Is It to Get Into Bowdoin College: Early Prep
  3. How to Actually Get Into Bowdoin College: The Application
  4. Class Profile
  5. What Makes Bowdoin College Unique?

When to Apply to Bowdoin College 

If you’re interested in applying to Bowdoin College, you should first familiarize yourself with Bowdoin’s profile and their application timeline. Bowdoin offers Early Decision, Early Decision II, and Regular Decision applications. Read on to get an overview of the Bowdoin College application process.

Bowdoin College Deadlines 

Bowdoin College’s application deadlines vary slightly from year to year, though they are fairly consistent. Here are the deadlines for the latest admission cycle:

Early Decision: November 15

Early Decision II: January 5

Regular Decision: January 5

Early, Rolling, and Regular Decision 

Bowdoin College offers Early Decision and Early Decision II options. It does not offer an Early Action application option. An early decision application type is an early, binding application. If you apply somewhere early decision and are admitted, you agree to attend. Applicants get their admissions decisions in December. Students can only apply to one school early decision and if admitted, they must withdraw their applications from everywhere else.

Early Decision II is the same binding agreement, but it is not an early application. The Early Decision II deadline is usually the same as the Regular Decision application deadline. Admission decisions for Early Decision II are typically released early and before the Regular Decision, usually in February.

Regular Decision is a regular, non-binding application type. At Bowdoin, all applicants get their admission decisions by mid-March. Bowdoin College does not offer a rolling admissions option. Rolling admission is when applications are accepted and reviewed without a single deadline but on an ongoing, rolling basis.

Waitlisted Applications 

Students who apply to Bowdoin Regular Decision or who are considered in the Regular Decision round may get waitlisted. The waitlist is one of the possible admissions decisions applicants can get. It is neither an admission nor a rejection but rather a “maybe.” If offered a spot on the waitlist, you may accept or deny your place. If you accept your spot on the waitlist, there is a chance a spot will open up during the summer and you may be given the opportunity to enroll at Bowdoin. That said, you should commit to one of the schools to which you were admitted in case you don’t get off of the waitlist.


A deferral admission decision is a possible admission decision in the Early Decision I and Early Decision II rounds. If you are deferred, your application will be reconsidered during the Regular Decision round.

Deferred students are encouraged to familiarize themselves with the college’s policy on deferrals. Some schools ask for additional materials while others ask you not to submit additional materials. If deferred from Bowdoin College, you may submit a letter of continued interest, and you may be required to submit mid-semester grades in your senior spring semester.

How Hard Is It to Get Into Bowdoin College: Early Prep 

Bowdoin College is one of the top liberal arts colleges in New England and in the country. Admission has gotten increasingly more competitive through the years, and it is one of the most selective liberal arts colleges in the country. It is a popular choice for students interested in a liberal arts education near Maine’s great outdoors. Read on to learn how you can improve your chances of admission.

Build Your Profile 

Bowdoin College looks for highly-engaged, curious, and bright young people who are ready to contribute to the campus’ lively academic discourse and student life.

Academic rigor and excellence carry significant weight during the application review process, though Bowdoin College employs the holistic application review process. In reviewing a student’s application, they want to understand why the applicant is interested in attending Bowdoin College.

Bowdoin College’s “Offer of the College” is an important element of what makes Bowdoin College unique. In fact, it is elemental to one of Bowdoin’s optional Common Applicant Supplements. To improve your chances of admission, familiarize yourself with the offer of the college to make sure your application supplement is as sharp as it can be.

Visit the Campus and a Class

One of the best ways to find out if Bowdoin is right for you is by visiting campus. Its unique location in mid-coast Maine is beautiful, and visiting campus is a great excuse to take a vacation in Maine.

If you are interested in Bowdoin, you can schedule an official campus visit through the office of admissions. You can book a campus tour and information session or just a campus tour led by a student tour guide. If you can’t make it to campus, you can also register for a virtual information session and a virtual student chat, an opportunity to connect with a current student virtually.

Though Bowdoin doesn’t have an official class visitation option, reach out to the admissions office if you’re interested in this kind of opportunity.

Connect With a Student 

Connecting with a current Bowdoin student is one of the best ways to learn if Bowdoin is a good fit for you. You can connect with a student by visiting campus, taking a tour, or participating in a virtual student chat, as mentioned above.

If you are admitted to Bowdoin, take advantage of the admitted student weekend offerings, which give you the chance to stay with current students and attend classes. This is the ultimate way to decide if Bowdoin is right for you.

Learn About Any Student Experiences 

You can learn about student experiences through Bowdoin’s website or by visiting campus. You can also learn about student experiences through Bowdoin’s social media, like Instagram and TikTok. Bowdoin students tend to take advantage of Bowdoin’s resources to embark on interesting research projects, internships, and fellowships.

How Do You Actually Get Into Bowdoin College: The Application 

Now that you’ve learned a bit more at Bowdoin, it’s time to think about how to apply. Bowdoin’s application process is similar to most colleges and universities. As a smaller college, the  admissions office may take more time reviewing each individual application.

It’s important to learn about this process early so you can prepare and be strategic to set yourself up for a successful application process. Remember that the admissions process is made up of both hard and soft factors, all of which come together in the holistic admissions process. Colleges including Bowdoin evaluate applicants through holistic admissions to ultimately make their admissions decisions.

Bowdoin College requires students to submit a Common Application or a Coalition Application. Other application materials include an academic transcript and letters of recommendation. Optional application materials include standardized test scores, essay supplements, and a video response.

GPA Requirements 

Bowdoin College doesn’t publish GPA requirements or average GPAs. According to data from the 2021-2022 admissions cycle, 83% of admitted students were in the top 10th of their high school class.

SAT and ACT Scores 

Bowdoin’s SAT and ACT scores have been optional since 1969. The college does not require students to submit an SAT or ACT test for admission. However, if students submit scores, they will be considered as part of the holistic review process.

The middle 50% evidence-based reading and writing score for students admitted for the fall of 2022 was 730. The middle 50% in math for students admitted for fall 2022 was 740. If you have strong scores to submit that are close to or above these averages, they may strengthen your Bowdoin application.

Personal Statement 

As with any college, the Common Application Personal Statement is an important part of the Bowdoin application. The Common Application gives students the option to choose between seven different prompts, ranging from specific to very open-ended. Students can write about virtually anything. The personal statement is the ultimate application “soft factor.” It’s an opportunity for applicants to introduce themselves to the admissions committee beyond the numbers.


Bowdoin has one required essay supplement and two optional essay supplements.

Bowdoin’s required essay supplement is quite simple. It asks: How did you first learn about Bowdoin?

This is an opportunity to highlight your passion and excitement for the college. Give specific examples of how your curiosity for the college got started.

Bowdoin has two optional supplemental essays. Applicants serious about Bowdoin should respond to these supplements. They give applicants an additional opportunity to demonstrate their interest in the college and to introduce themselves to the office of admissions.

The first supplement asks applicants to choose one of the elements of the “Offer of the College” and explain how and why it resonates with them. The second optional prompt asks students to elaborate on something about themselves that they were unable to include anywhere else in the application.

Bowdoin also gives applicants the opportunity to submit a spontaneous completely optional video response.  This is an additional opportunity for Bowdoin to get to know you.

Letters of Recommendation 

Bowdoin College requires three letters of recommendation: one from a teacher in a core subject, one from the applicant’s high school counselor, and another from any adult that can speak to the applicant’s qualifications. Applicants should request letters of recommendation from a teacher who can speak to their academic ability. Applicants should ask teachers of classes they have excelled in.

Submit your request with a copy of your resume and some highlights of your best work. This will remind your teacher what to highlight in their letter.

Admission Interviews 

A personal interview is strongly encouraged, though not required. Students can interview with a Bowdoin student interviewer or member of the admissions staff if visiting campus. They can also interview with a Bowdoin alumnus in their area.

If you are serious about attending Bowdoin, you should schedule an interview. It’s a more personalized opportunity to introduce yourself to Bowdoin, beyond what’s available on your written application.

Contribution to the Bowdoin College Community 

Bowdoin College boasts a very active and robust campus. For a small college, there are many student activities to choose from, and the average student is very involved. Applicants to Bowdoin should strive to show a high level of involvement in high school. This will reflect well on their applications and show their likelihood to stay as involved once they arrive at Bowdoin.

Bowdoin wants to see its students contribute to the community by living the Offer of the College. So, whether it be about “counting nature an intimate acquaintance” through leadership training with the Bowdoin Outing Club or “calling art a familiar friend” as a student curator at the Bowdoin College Museum of Art, students contribute to the Bowdoin community through their commitment to the Offer of the College.

Finally, the Offer of the College encourages students to support and encourage each other rather than compete against one another. “To gain a standard for the appreciation of others’ work,” the offer reads. This makes for a very supportive environment that promotes solidarity rather than cutthroat competition.

Class Profile 

Acceptance rate 9.2%
Class size 1,950
Diversity % range 37.6%
Undergraduate majors 40+

What Makes Bowdoin College Unique? 

Bowdoin College is the only college located in mid-coast Maine. It’s accessible to Portland and not far from Boston for students flying in from around the country. Its focus on environmental studies and interdisciplinary liberal arts learning is also unique.

Bowdoin offers more than 100 student clubs and activities. There’s something for everyone, including club and intramural sports and Division III NCAA sports that compete in the NESCAC (New England Small College Athletic Conference).

Bowdoin is also known for its world-class museums. The Bowdoin College Museum of Art is a beautiful neoclassical art museum known for its architecture, and the Peary-MacMillan Arctic Museum is named after Bowdoin graduates and Arctic explorers Robert E. Peary and Donald B. MacMillan.

Bowdoin is the right place for you if you’re a curious, self-starting student who wants to be immersed in a tight-knit, intellectual environment. With the ocean and the mountains at your doorstep, Maine is the perfect place for students looking to learn while surrounded by the great outdoors.

Admission Consulting 

To gain admission to a place like Bowdoin College, you should consider admission guidance. Most applicants can benefit from additional admissions consulting to guide them through the process, from building a strategic application plan, to essay brainstorming and submission.

You should consider working with an admissions consultant if you’re serious about the college admissions process. It is a long process that takes hard work but it is made easier with the guidance and expertise of a professional college admissions consultant.

It might not be worth working with an admissions consultant if you’re not serious about the process and aren’t willing to put in the time and effort the applications will take. But if you’re ready to move forward, you don’t have to go through this process alone.

Getting into Bowdoin College can be tough, but IvyWise’s admission experts are here to help you with the application process. Take the first step towards getting into your dream school and set an Initial Consultation.



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