How to Get Into Bowdoin: Acceptance Rate + Requirements

Student celebrating after getting into Bowdoin College
Updated:
February 5, 2024
10 min read
Contents

”Rohan

Reviewed by:

Former Admissions Committee Member, Columbia University

Reviewed: 2/5/24

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 in Brunswick, Maine, has been home to many creative thinkers who share a passion for “seeking the common good.” 

Ranked as the 9th 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 and the best ways to strengthen your application and receive an acceptance. Read on to learn more!

Bowdoin College Acceptance Rate: 8.0%

Bowdoin’s acceptance rate is currently 8.0%. The fall 2023 admission cycle saw a significant uptick in applications, jumping from just over 9,000 to nearly 11,000! 

Bowdoin has had an average acceptance rate of about 9% for the past five years. The campus, which is small but mighty, hosts just under 2,000 undergraduate students at a time. 

Here is some more information on Bowdoin’s recent acceptance rates: 

Year Number of Applicants Number of Accepted Students Acceptance Rate
2023 10,966 879 8.0%
2022 9,376 862 9.2%
2021 9,325 822 8.8%
2020 9,402 861 9.2%

Source: Bowdoin College

Bowdoin Early Decision Acceptance Rate

Bowdoin’s Early Decision acceptance rate is 17.6% for the most recent cycle. This is nearly 10% higher than their overall acceptance rate of 8.0% but is a significant drop from last year’s ED acceptance rate of 26.5%. 

The Early Decision program is for students who hold Bowdoin as their top college choice. It is a binding program, which means that if you’re accepted to Bowdoin under Early Decision, you are required to enroll. 

Here’s a look at some of Bowdoin’s ED acceptance trends over the years: 

Year Number of Applicants Number of Accepted Students Acceptance Rate
2023 1,572 276 17.6%
2022 1,009 267 26.5%
2021 960 263 27.4%
2020 1,123 242 21.5%

Source: Bowdoin Common Data Sets

How Hard Is It to Get Into Bowdoin? 

It is relatively difficult to get into Bowdoin as its 8% acceptance rate continues to decrease - the rate for the class of 2027 was the lowest in Bowdoin’s history. However, if you have a well-rounded application, you can strengthen your chances! 

Take our interactive quiz below to find out how likely you are to get into Bowdoin.

Bowdoin College Admissions Statistics

Position yourself as a top applicant with the following scores:

Bowdoin College Average GPA: 3.93

Students should aim for a GPA of 3.93 or higher to get into Bowdoin. As a competitive school, having a high GPA shows that you are committed to and passionate about your studies.

Bowdoin College Average SAT Score: 1510

The average SAT score of successful Bowdoin applicants in the 2023-2024 admissions cycle was 1510, scoring a median of 750 on the Reading & Writing section and a 760 on the Math portion. However, some admits had SAT scores as low as 1480 and some as high as 1550.

Bowdoin College Average ACT Score: 34

In the most recent admissions cycle, Bowdoin applicants had an average ACT score of 32. However, the 25th to 75th percentiles ranged from 33-35. These are high scores, so you’ll need to get a top-notch score on the ACT to get into Bowdoin! 


Bowdoin is test-optional. But, if you have a good ACT or SAT score, it never hurts to submit it along with your application! 

What is Bowdoin College Looking For In Applicants? 

Bowdoin looks to admit students who are curious, bright, and engaged both inside and outside of the classroom, as well as students who are risk-takers and intellectually strong. 

The ongoing theme within the admissions process at Bowdoin is that they are “cooperative, not competitive.” In other words, they aim to attract students with the same values and curiosity and put more of a focus on that instead of academic accolades. 

While Bowdoin has a long history, its admissions process is relatively modern. Instead of focusing solely on an applicant's grades, Bowdoin invites applicants to share themselves and their accomplishments through many unique facets, which we'll highlight below.

Here is some further information on how Bowdoin College evaluates applications, as seen in their basis for selection

Academic Very Important Important Considered Not Considered
Rigor of secondary school record X
Class rank X
Academic GPA X
Standardized test scores X
Application essay X
Recommendations X

Non-Academic Very Important Important Considered Not Considered
Interview X
Extracurricular activities X
Talent/ability X
Character/personal qualities X
First generation X
Alumni/ae relation X
Georgraphical residence X
State residency X
Religious affiliation/commitment X
Volunteer work X
Work experience X
Level of applicant’s interest X

Bowdoin College Admissions Requirements

Getting into Bowdoin is challenging; while tests are optional, you should aim for an SAT score of around 1510 and an ACT score of around 34. Similarly, you’ll need a near-perfect GPA to be considered competitive. To further differentiate your application, submit a stellar essay and leave a lasting impression through your video interview!

Here are the other application requirements you’ll need to satisfy: 

  • An accurately filled-out application 
  • $65 application fee or fee waiver 
  • The Bowdoin Supplement, which consists of certain questions within the application
  • Three recommendations: one from a teacher, one from a counselor, and one additional recommendation letter 
  • A Secondary School Report, which details information about the applicant’s high school education and curriculum
  • A Secondary School Transcript or Early Decision Candidate Transcripts (if applicable)
  • A Mid-Year Transcript

Bowdoin also has many admission requirements that are optional, leaving the students to choose what they would like to include in their application. These include an arts supplement, the Bowdoin supplemental essay, and optional SAT/ACT scores, among others. 

Bowdoin College Application Deadlines

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.

Application Step Deadline
Early Decision I applications due November 15
Early Decision I notification date Mid-December
Early Decision II applications due January 5
Regular Decision applications due January 5
Regular Decision financial aid application due February 1
Early Decision II notification date Early February
Transfer applications due March 1
Regular Decision notification date Mid-March
Transfer notification date Early May

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!

Bowdoin College Regular Decision Deadline

If you’re applying to Bowdoin College through Regular Decision, you’ll need to submit your admissions application by January 5. However, you don’t need to submit a financial aid application until February 1. 

Bowdoin College Early Decision Deadline

If you’re applying to Bowdoin through Early Decision I, you’ll need to submit both your admission and financial aid applications by November 15. The deadline for Early Decision II applications, both admission and financial aid, is January 5. 

How to Improve Your Chances of Getting Into Bowdoin College

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

clock on desk

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

The Early Decision I deadline of November 15 may seem early, 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

student writing in notebook

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

female student sitting on couch typing on laptop

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 responding to the supplementary questions until you feel 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. Reaching out to college admissions directly also demonstrates an interest in the school, which is admirable. 

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

female student being interviewed

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. 

Bowdoin College Essay Prompts

Bowdoin is a liberal arts college, so it is no surprise that the Bowdoin 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 prompt specifically says: 

The Offer of the College represents Bowdoin’s values. You have the option to reflect on the line you selected and how it has meaning to you. (Optional, with a max of 250 words.)” 

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.

The prompt specifically asks: 

“Bowdoin believes that only through building a more diverse and inclusive campus community will the College best prepare graduates to be contributing and useful citizens of the world. Every graduate of this institution should be confident in their preparation to be able to navigate through differences and in all sorts of situations. A Bowdoin education does not guarantee these skills, but it does impart a set of tools necessary to bravely enter unfamiliar conditions with the confidence to deal effectively with ambiguity.

If you wish, you may share anything about the unique experiences and perspectives that you would bring with you to the Bowdoin campus and community or an experience you have had that required you to navigate across or through difference.  (Optional, with a max of 250 words.)” 

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 perfecting your supplemental essay writing skills beforehand. 

Optional Video Response

student recording herself

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:

  • “Tell us how you would like to spend your birthday.”
  • “What's the best thing that's happened to you in the last year?”

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!

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 learn about Bowdoin from alumni 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 a college interview

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

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. 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, and yet are able to problem-solve and come up with solutions together.

2. What is Bowdoin College Known For? 

Bowdoin is known for being a “Little Ivy” and is one of the top-ranking liberal arts colleges in the United States. They are also known for valuing cooperation, not competition, and so foster an environment of teamwork and collaboration. 

3. How Selective Is Bowdoin?

Bowdoin is very selective, with an 8.0% average 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 who are willing to take risks. 

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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