Bowdoin College is a private liberal arts college located in the coastal Maine town of Brunswick
Founded in 1794, the Bowdoin College currently enrolls 1,839 students, and has been coeducational since 1971. Bowdoin offers 33 majors and 4 additional minors, and has a student-faculty ratio of 9:1. Famous alumni include Nathaniel Hawthorne, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Franklin Pierce, and Joshua Chamberlain. Bowdoin has an acceptance rate of 14.5% and was listed as the fourth-best liberal arts college in the U.S. in the 2014 U.S. News & World Report rankings.
Bowdoin is located on the shores of Casco Bay and the Androscoggin River, 12 miles (19 km) north of Freeport, Maine, and 28 miles (45 km) north of Portland, Maine. In addition to its Brunswick campus, Bowdoin also owns a 118-acre (478,000 m²) coastal studies center on Orr’s Island and a 200-acre (809,000 m²) scientific field station on Kent Island in the Bay of Fundy.
Bowdoin is consistently ranked among the top ten liberal arts colleges in the United States by U.S. News & World Report. In the 2014 edition of the rankings, Bowdoin ranks fourth. In 2006, Newsweek described Bowdoin as a “New Ivy”, one of a number of elite colleges and universities outside of the Ivy League. Bowdoin is also part of the SAT optional movement for undergraduate admission. Bowdoin was the first college to be named “School of the Year” by College Prowler.
The Government & Legal Studies Department, whose prominent professors include Paul Franco and Richard E. Morgan, was ranked the top small college political science program in the world by researchers at the London School of Economics in 2003. Government & Legal Studies was the most popular major for every graduating class between 2000 and 2009. Other departments are also strong, including economics, the natural sciences, English, and Romance Languages.
Course distribution requirements were abolished in the 1970s, but were reinstated by a faculty majority vote in 1981, as a result of an initiative by oral communication and film professor Barbara Kaster. She insisted that distribution requirements would ensure students a more well-rounded education in a diversity of fields and therefore present them with more career possibilities. The requirements of at least two courses in each of the categories of Natural Sciences/Mathematics, Social and Behavioral Sciences, Humanities/Fine Arts, and Foreign Studies (including languages) took effect for the Class of 1987 and have been gradually amended since then. Current requirements require one course each in: Natural Sciences, Quantitative Reasoning, Visual and Performing Arts, International Perspectives and Exploring Social Differences. A small writing-intensive course, called a First Year Seminar, is also required.
In 1990, the Bowdoin faculty voted to change the four-level grading system to the traditional A, B, C, D and F system. The previous system, consisting of high honors, honors, pass and fail, was devised primarily to de-emphasize the importance of grades and to reduce competition. In 2002, the faculty decided to change the grading system so that it incorporated plus and minus grades.
Other prominent Bowdoin faculty include (or have included): Edville Gerhardt Abbott, Charles Beitz, John Bisbee, Paul Chadbourne, Thomas Cornell, Kristen R. Ghodsee, Eddie Glaude, Joseph E. Johnson, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Elliott Schwartz, and Scott Sehon.