How to Get Into Bowdoin

Student celebrating after getting into Bowdoin College
January 3, 2023
Bowdoin Acceptance RateBowdoin College Admissions RequirementsBowdoin Supplemental EssayBowdoin College InterviewApplying to Bowdoin College: Important DatesImproving Your Chances of Getting Into BowdoinFAQs: How to Get Into Bowdoin College


Reviewed by:

Rohan Jotwani

Former Admissions Committee Member, Columbia University

Reviewed: 01/03/23

Have you always wanted to get into Bowdoin College? Read on to learn how to achieve acceptance into Bowdoin.

Since 1994, the iconic Bowdoin College, located in Brunswick, Maine, has been home to many creative thinkers who share a passion for “seeking the common good.” 

Ranked as the 6th best liberal arts college in the U.S., Bowdoin College has long gained a reputation for attracting students willing and able to make a change in their world. If this sounds like you, you may be looking for advice on how to get into Bowdoin.

In this article, we'll break down how hard it is to get into Bowdoin, if at all, and the best ways to strengthen your application and receive an acceptance. Read on to learn more!

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Bowdoin Acceptance Rate

Bowdoin has an average acceptance rate of 9.6%. The campus, which is small but mighty, hosts just under 2,000 undergraduate students at a time.

Bowdoin College Admissions Requirements

If you’re planning on applying to Bowdoin, here is what you’ll need: 

Bowdoin also has many admission requirements that are optional, leaving the student to choose what they would like to include in their application. We’ll list them below. 

GPA Requirements

Bowdoin does not explicitly outline any GPA requirements. However, because admission to the school is difficult, you'll want to aim for as high of a GPA as possible. While GPA isn't everything to the Bowdoin admissions committee, having a high one can show that you are committed and passionate about your studies.

SAT/ACT Requirements

Like many other colleges, submitting SAT or ACT scores is optional for applicants. This is a practice that Bowdoin has been participating in since 1969. 

Bowdoin prefers to focus on your grades, writing skills, and your teachers’ letters of recommendation. This is why ensuring you have a top-notch supplemental essay within your application is essential. We'll share the best tips for your essay below.

Optional Video Response

Alongside your application, Bowdoin encourages applicants to include a video response to introduce themselves to the applicant committee. Don't stress too hard about prepping for this in advance - Bowdoin wants to see an applicant's true personality and values. 

If you decide to complete the optional video response, you'll be asked to answer a random prompt. Examples of prompts asked in previous years include:

After the prompt is read, you'll have up to 30 seconds to consider your answer before the camera starts recording and another two minutes to answer the question.

If you're not 100% satisfied with your answer on the first go, you can record another answer; however, you'll be asked a different question. Remember, there are no wrong answers. Just be sure to answer the question as authentically as possible!


In your Bowdoin College application, you'll need three letters of recommendation—one from a student counselor, one from a teacher, and another from a teacher, clergy, coach, or any other community member. 

The purpose of these recommendations is so that the admissions committee knows that you have people willing to vouch for your character, academic skills, and accomplishments. Positive recommendations can set you apart from other applicants and brings a strong case for your potential to succeed at Bowdoin.

Bowdoin Supplemental Essay

Bowdoin is a liberal arts college, and it is no surprise that the supplemental essay is included among the application requirements. Although it's optional for students, it comes heavily recommended and has the potential to increase your chances of being accepted.

The Bowdoin admissions committee wants to see how well you can express yourself and share your values. Doing so will allow them to evaluate how you would fit in at the school.

There are two writing prompts that you can answer for the supplemental essay. You may choose to complete them both if you wish. 

In the first supplemental essay, you will be asked to reflect on any line within The Offer of the College, a poem representing Bowdoin's values. If you choose this essay, take the time to discuss what your selected line means to you while showcasing your personality, values, and ethics.

The second supplemental essay focuses on navigating through differences. It encourages the applicant to share anything personal about themselves that they feel was not adequately shown in their application. Additionally, it can also showcase how they could navigate through differences and show adversity.

No matter your prompt of choice, you'll want to limit your response to 250 words. Your essay will have to be straight to the point, so focus on practicing and strengthening your supplemental essay writing skills beforehand. 

Bowdoin College Interview

Like the SAT or ACT scores, an interview with Bowdoin is not mandatory; however, it is strongly recommended. The interview will allow you to introduce yourself personally to the admissions team and share your academic interests and personal and future goals. 

It's also a fantastic opportunity to ask questions about the school, programs, or campus. It can lead to building a solid connection with your interviewer.

Participating in the interview can also make a positive impression on the admissions committee, more so than if you had just included your supplemental essay; so if an acceptance at Bowdoin is your goal, it's best to schedule an interview. 

Only one interview per student is allowed, so make sure you practice, practice, practice!

Applying to Bowdoin College: Important Dates

Are you set on applying to Bowdoin College? To successfully submit your application, here are some important dates and deadlines you'll need to know about. 

Bowdoin College application deadlines
Source: Bowdoin College

When preparing to apply to Bowdoin, keep note of these dates. The last thing you'll want to do is spend much time creating an exceptional application only to miss the deadline to submit it!

Improving Your Chances of Getting Into Bowdoin

If Bowdoin remains a top option in your pick of colleges, there are certain things you may want to do to strengthen your application and improve your chances of receiving an acceptance. 

Apply to Early Decision

If Bowdoin is your top choice for college, consider applying to the Early Decision Applications. 

The Early Decision I intake requires the applicant to submit their application by November 15th. This may seem like an early deadline, but candidates will have first dibs when filling in spots within specific programs. This means that you will be among the first intake introduced to the admissions committee, and you will have a better chance of being accepted.

If you need more time to apply, but you're still set on attending Bowdoin, you may apply for the Early Decision II application intake. This intake operates precisely the same as the Early Decision I intake, except it has a later deadline. 

The only catch? Regardless of the Early Decision intake that you're a part of, it's considered a “binding” decision—meaning that you will have to commit to attending Bowdoin and withdraw your applications to other schools.

If you're not 100% sure Bowdoin is your number one choice, or if you still want to weigh your options after receiving an acceptance, you may want to apply to the Regular Decision intake.

Make the Optional Additions a Requirement

The admissions process at Bowdoin has many optional application materials. The choice of what to include within the application is up to the candidate.

However, since Bowdoin focuses on learning more about you as an applicant through these optional materials, you'll want to include as many as possible. Even though all applications are judged equally, regardless of what the applicant submits, it's best to let your personality shine through these optional additions.

The more additions you include, the more potential you have to convince the admissions committee that you belong at Bowdoin. Take advantage of that opportunity!

Perfect Your Writing

Completing the optional additions within your application to Bowdoin is a sure way to stand out, but you'll stand out even more with a convincing, persuasive, and informative essay. 

You'll want to make sure that you leave the admissions officers with no choice but to accept you. Remember to practice your response to the supplementary questions until you feel that you've depicted the most authentic response possible. 

Consult an admissions counselor to help you achieve this and provide feedback so that you end up with an extraordinary writing piece for your application.

Once you've finished writing your supplemental piece, remember to edit for grammatical or contextual errors and to ensure you meet the word count.

Practice Your Interview Skills

Even though booking an interview with Bowdoin admissions is optional, it's still one of the best ways to introduce yourself and make yourself unforgettable. You'll want to make the best impression possible—and what better way to do that than to show Bowdoin who you are in person?

To make yourself unforgettable, you'll have to have an unforgettable interview, which comes with practice. Have a friend or family member role-play as one of the admissions persons, and figure out your “script” ahead of time. This way, you won't stumble over any words, and you'll determine what to say to wow the admissions committee ahead of time. 

Your interviewer will undoubtedly appreciate and be impressed by your preparedness, allowing them to see how vital acceptance at Bowdoin is to you. 

FAQs: How to Get Into Bowdoin College

Still looking for guidance on how to get into Bowdoin College? We've outlined some frequently asked questions below. 

1. How Hard Is It to Get Into Bowdoin?

With a 9.6% acceptance rate, getting into Bowdoin is challenging. However, those who are up to the challenge, and focus on creating a stellar application showcasing their personality and values, will have a better chance of receiving an acceptance. 

2. What Kind of Students Does Bowdoin Look For?

According to its website, Bowdoin looks for students of “uncommon promise, and uncommon character.” In other words, they look for students willing to march to the beat of their drum—yet are able to problem-solve and come up with solutions together.

3. What GPA Do You Need for Bowdoin College?

While there is no specific GPA required for Bowdoin College, since it is an incredibly prestigious and selective school, it's recommended to have as high of a GPA as possible to secure admission.

4. How Selective Is Bowdoin?

Bowdoin is very selective, with a 9.6% acceptance rate. Bowdoin also prides itself in basing its admissions on more than just grades. Ideally, they're looking for students engaged within and outside the classroom and those with an innate curiosity willing to take risks.

Since these traits are not always evident through a common application, those who volunteer that information through supplemental materials (such as an additional writing supplement or booking an in-person interview) will have a better chance of being selected for admissions by Bowdoin. 

Final Thoughts

Bowdoin College is an excellent choice if you're looking for a top liberal arts college that will inspire you to bring integrity, problem-solving, and context to the world around you. 

With its holistic and unique take on the typical application process, students can express themselves and let their personalities and values shine through as a proper introduction to the Bowdoin admissions committee.

There's no doubt that at first glance, Bowdoin looks like a hard college to get into. But, by following the tips and strategies outlined in this article, you stand an excellent chance of receiving an acceptance. Best of luck!

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