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How to get into Bowdoin—General Information

Bowdoin College is a private liberal arts college located in Brunswick, Maine. The student population at Bowdoin is just over 1800. With small class sizes, world-class professors, and a beautiful campus, Bowdoin has plenty to offer any student. 

What we’ll cover in this How to Get Into Bowdoin guide:

  • Bowdoin average GPA
  • Average Bowdoin SAT scores and ACT scores
  • Bowdoin application deadline
  • Details on Bowdoin Early Decision
  • Preparing for the Bowdoin interview
  • Bowdoin class of 2025 statistics
  • And more! 

Want to know how to get into Bowdoin? We’ve got you covered. In this guide, we’ll walk you through every part of the Bowdoin application process. We’ll also discuss the Bowdoin Early Decision program and offer insights into how you can maximize your admissions odds. To boost your chances, you should start strategizing for the application process well before the Bowdoin application deadline. 

Figuring out how to get into Bowdoin takes strategy. We can help. CollegeAdvisor.com’s network of 300+ Admissions Experts (and former admissions officers) includes Bowdoin graduates. Create your free account or schedule a free advising consultation by calling (844) 343-6272. 

How hard is it to get into Bowdoin College?

According to U.S. News, Bowdoin is the #6 liberal arts college in the United States. As such, Bowdoin has a highly competitive admissions process—U.S. News labels Bowdoin a “most competitive” school. 

The Bowdoin acceptance rate is just 9%, which is far below the national average of 66%. In fact, the low Bowdoin acceptance rate matches that of some Ivy League universities. So, if you want to know how to get into Bowdoin, note that a strong Bowdoin application starts with high grades that match the Bowdoin average GPA. 

While Bowdoin is test-optional, you should also study to ensure solid Bowdoin SAT scores or ACT scores. Then, you’ll want to make your Bowdoin application shine with strong Bowdoin supplemental essays, an impressive Bowdoin interview, and engaging extracurriculars. These components will all help you contend with the low Bowdoin acceptance rate. 

What is the average GPA for Bowdoin College?

The Bowdoin average GPA for accepted students is 3.93. The average Bowdoin SAT score is 1405, and the average ACT score is 33. 

Bowdoin has a test-optional admissions policy. While many schools have just recently adopted test-optional policies, Bowdoin has been test-optional for over fifty years. This means that students can apply to Bowdoin without submitting SAT or ACT scores—in fact, 44% of the Bowdoin class of 2025 chose not to submit standardized test scores. 

For more information on whether to take standardized tests in our current test-optional environment, check out our article

So, if you don’t have strong Bowdoin SAT scores, don’t worry! Your application won’t be penalized if you don’t include them. However, you can still use the average Bowdoin SAT scores to get an idea of how you compare to other applicants. Think of the average Bowdoin SAT scores as a tool to help you as you build your school list and create your “how to get into Bowdoin” strategy. 

Since Bowdoin doesn’t require test scores, you should pay more attention to the Bowdoin average GPA than to the average Bowdoin SAT scores. You’ll notice that the Bowdoin average GPA is quite high—again, Bowdoin admissions are as competitive as some Ivy League schools! 

Choosing high school courses

To ensure you meet the Bowdoin average GPA, choose challenging yet manageable courses throughout high school. Colleges like to see that you’ve chosen classes that will stretch your skills and expand your knowledge. However, this doesn’t always mean you should take the hardest possible classes. Ultimately, your unweighted GPA will not account for course rigor. So, choose your courses carefully, and make sure you find a balance so that you meet the Bowdoin average GPA. You should work to ensure high grades well before your senior year to get ahead of the Bowdoin application deadline. 

For more tips on choosing classes that will help you meet the Bowdoin average GPA, check out our article. At the end of the day, don’t get too hung up on the Bowdoin average GPA or average Bowdoin SAT scores—instead, focus on choosing classes that interest and challenge you. You’ll do best in classes you care about!

What does the Bowdoin College application look like?

If you want to know how to get into Bowdoin, you should start strategizing for all parts of your Bowdoin application. Ensure you have each aspect of your application completed well before the Bowdoin application deadline. 

The Bowdoin application includes: 

For more information about the Bowdoin application (including all Bowdoin application deadlines and details), visit the Bowdoin website

Optional components of the Bowdoin application include: 

  •  Arts supplement
  • Additional Bowdoin supplemental essay
  • Bowdoin SAT scores or ACT scores
  • Financial aid application
  • Bowdoin interview
  • Video response

To maximize your “how to get into Bowdoin” strategy, you should also pay close attention to the Bowdoin application deadline. You’ll have a different Bowdoin application deadline depending on how you apply. Students can apply to Bowdoin through Questbridge, Bowdoin Early Decision I, Bowdoin Early Decision II, or Regular Decision. Both Bowdoin Early Decision admissions cycles are binding, so they are a great option if Bowdoin is your top choice.

The Bowdoin application deadline is November 5th for Questbridge students. For Bowdoin Early Decision students, the Bowdoin application deadline is November 15th. Finally, the Bowdoin application deadline for Regular Decision and Bowdoin Early Decision II students is January 19th. 

What extracurriculars does Bowdoin look for?

Choosing the right extracurriculars is another important part of building your “how to get into Bowdoin” strategy. Given the low Bowdoin acceptance rate, you should make sure your extracurriculars are top-notch. 

Your extracurriculars form a crucial part of your candidate profile. When the Bowdoin admissions team looks at your application, they want to understand your story. No single extracurricular activity will guarantee you admission into Bowdoin—or any other school, for that matter. 

So, focus on choosing extracurriculars that matter to you. Find what interests you, and delve deep. Don’t join the student council or volunteer at an animal shelter because you think it will improve your admissions odds—that’s not how to get into Bowdoin. Instead, follow your passions and find ways to stand out in your chosen area. Choose depth over breadth, and look for ways to show off your leadership, collaboration, and skill. 

If you want to learn more about choosing the right extracurriculars for you, read our article here

What is the acceptance rate for Bowdoin College?

Bowdoin College is a highly competitive school. The Bowdoin acceptance rate is only 9%, so you should do all you can to stand out. 

However, while the overall Bowdoin acceptance rate is less than 10%, the Bowdoin acceptance rate for Early Decision students is 22%. So, if Bowdoin is your top choice, consider applying through Bowdoin Early Decision. Keep in mind that Bowdoin Early Decision is binding, so if you’re admitted, you must attend. If you’re applying to Bowdoin Early Decision, you also want to pay attention to the Bowdoin average GPA starting your junior year of high school. 

Whether you apply through Bowdoin Early Decision or not, don’t get hung up on the Bowdoin acceptance rate. At the end of the day, you have no control over the Bowdoin acceptance rate, so don’t make it the foundation of your “how to get into Bowdoin” plan. Instead, focus on submitting the best application you can, including strong Bowdoin supplemental essays and engaging extracurriculars. 

Want more information on how acceptance rates work? Check out our expert guide

Does Bowdoin College have interviews? 

Bowdoin College offers in-person and online Bowdoin interviews to every applicant. While Bowdoin interviews are entirely optional, Bowdoin strongly encourages all students to schedule a Bowdoin interview. So, to strengthen your “how to get into Bowdoin” strategy, we recommend you schedule an interview.

Your Bowdoin interview will be conducted by a member of the admissions team, a Bowdoin alumnus, or a trained interviewer. During your Bowdoin interview, your interviewer will ask you about your background, interests, and school experience. 

Practice and prepare

To prepare for your Bowdoin interview, try to schedule a mock interview with a counselor or advisor. Be ready to talk about who you are, what matters to you, and where you see yourself in the future. 

Don’t let the Bowdoin interview process scare you! Think of your Bowdoin interview as a chance to learn more about Bowdoin and help Bowdoin learn more about you. For more information about the Bowdoin interview process, visit the Bowdoin website

In addition to the Bowdoin interview, Bowdoin offers students the chance to submit an optional video response to a randomly assigned basic personal question. Like your Bowdoin interview, your video response helps the Bowdoin admissions team learn more about your background, interests, and character. For more details on the Bowdoin video response, click here

How do you write a Bowdoin supplemental essay?

To strengthen your “how to get into Bowdoin” strategy, you should pay close attention to the Bowdoin supplemental essays. As you think about how to get into Bowdoin, make sure you start your Bowdoin supplemental essays well before the Bowdoin application deadline. This is particularly important if you’re applying through Bowdoin Early Decision. 

There are three Bowdoin supplemental essays. The prompts for the Bowdoin supplemental essays, in brief, are as follows:

  • How did you learn about Bowdoin College? 
  • Which line from Bowdoin’s “Offer of the College” resonates most with you and why?
  • Is there any additional information that you would like the Bowdoin admissions team to know?

Break it down

The first of the Bowdoin supplemental essays—and the only required Bowdoin essay—is only 140 characters. Be honest and clear, and highlight any personal connection you have to Bowdoin.

The second of the Bowdoin supplemental essays gives you 250 words to work with. While this prompt is technically optional, you should complete it in order to boost your “how to get into Bowdoin” strategy. Choose a line from the “Offer” that connects to your interests, goals, or priorities. Then, use your response to show the admissions team why you belong at Bowdoin. The best Bowdoin supplemental essays will use specific details and engaging language to tell a compelling story. 

While we would usually recommend that students complete all optional supplemental essays, the third Bowdoin supplemental essay is a little different. If you have any extenuating circumstances that have impacted your life, you should probably complete the third of the Bowdoin supplemental essays. If not, you don’t need to worry about responding to this prompt. 

For more details on the Bowdoin supplemental essays, check out our essay guide

How does Bowdoin College review applications?

If you want to create a solid “how to get into Bowdoin” plan, it’s important to know how your readers will evaluate your application. 

Like many top schools, Bowdoin uses a holistic admissions process. This means they look at each student as a whole person, including their grades, Bowdoin supplemental essays, extracurriculars, accomplishments, and personal background. As a test-optional school, Bowdoin does not focus on standardized test scores, though the addition of strong Bowdoin SAT scores can help strengthen any application. 

Bowdoin admissions officers pay special attention to the following qualities:

  • ​Academic (grade) success
  • Level of course challenge
  • Counselor and teacher recommendations
  • Writing samples
  • Overall academic potential
  • School and community involvement
  • Character and personality

Bowdoin also considers demonstrated interest or DI. This means that the Bowdoin admissions team tracks where and how you engage with the school. For instance, if you attend a Bowdoin information session, visit the campus, or meet with a member of the admissions team, Bowdoin cares! Like other schools that consider DI, Bowdoin understands that students who have created relationships with Bowdoin are more likely to attend. 

So, if Bowdoin is your top choice, make sure you show your interest. Of course, the best way to increase your DI is to apply through Bowdoin Early Decision. 

Does Bowdoin consider my social media accounts?

While thinking about how to get into Bowdoin, students may worry about how their social media presence might affect their admissions odds. According to one survey that Kaplan conducted in 2013, 33% of 381 Admissions Officers said they used social media to learn more about an applicant. This is particularly true at smaller schools like Bowdoin and other liberal arts colleges. 

Additionally, while colleges might not search for your social media profiles, they do track their mentions on Twitter, Instagram, and other platforms. So, if you mention Bowdoin College on social media, make sure you do so responsibly. One Bowdoin applicant in 2013 undermined her admissions odds by posting offensive content while at an information session. While this sort of event doesn’t happen often, it’s still a good reminder to use social media with care.

Finally, though your social media might not directly impact your admissions odds, employers and internship directors might look at your accounts. Improper social media usage could disqualify you from opportunities that would boost your candidate profile. Even beyond the college application process, you should be using social media responsibly

So, play it safe. While the Bowdoin admissions team probably won’t read your Twitter or check your Instagram, you should still ensure that your posts wouldn’t undermine the rest of your application.

Is Bowdoin the school for me?

As you think about how to get into Bowdoin, it’s important to reflect on how Bowdoin aligns with your goals and priorities as a student. 

Bowdoin is a liberal arts college that values “kindness, creativity, diversity, and hard work.” With small class sizes, students at Bowdoin can expect a lot of personal attention from professors. Bowdoin graduates have gone on to work for the US Government, Massachusetts General Hospital, Goldman Sachs, and other major institutions and companies. Plus, while Maine winters are not for the faint of heart, Brunswick is a lively town with great restaurants, coffee shops, and more. 

So, if you’re thinking about applying to Bowdoin, ask yourself the following questions:

  • Will a small liberal arts college suit my educational needs?
  • Do I want to work closely with professors?
  • Will a small-town college experience fit my priorities?
  • How will an education from Bowdoin help me meet my goals?

By answering these questions, you will be able to determine if Bowdoin is the college for you. If you’re still curious, you can read about Bowdoin’s campus life. Looking for more details on Bowdoin? You can also check out our Bowdoin College page

Additional tips on how to get into Bowdoin

1. Build your profile

When thinking about how to get into Bowdoin, remember that the school wants to admit students who follow their passions and show deep engagement with their interests. Well before the Bowdoin application deadline, try to pursue opportunities that will bolster your candidate profile. Then, build an application narrative around your achievements and goals. 

2. Show your interest

Bowdoin takes DI seriously—you can see this when looking at the difference between the Bowdoin acceptance rate for Early Decision and Regular Decision students. So, if you want to know how to get into Bowdoin, make sure you visit the campus, attend an information session, or speak with a Bowdoin representative. You should also consider Bowdoin Early Decision if you know Bowdoin is the school for you. 

3. Don’t wait

The Bowdoin application deadline can sneak up on you. Be proactive about scheduling your Bowdoin interview, especially if you’re applying to Bowdoin Early Decision. The earlier you start thinking about your candidate profile, extracurricular activities, and Bowdoin supplemental essays, the more time you’ll have to make sure you stand out to the admissions team.

Figuring out how to get into Bowdoin can seem stressful, especially given the low Bowdoin acceptance rate. However, if you follow the tips in this guide, you’ll set yourself up for success. Good luck!


This guide was written by Abbie Sage. If you want to know how to get into Bowdoin, we’ve got you covered. CollegeAdvisor.com’s network of 300+ Admissions Experts (and former admissions officers) includes Bowdoin graduates. Create your free account or schedule a free advising consultation by calling (844) 343-6272.