How to Get Into Bowdoin: Acceptance Rate & Strategies

June 14, 2023

Bowdoin College is among the most selective and respected liberal arts colleges in the United States, right up there with schools like Amherst, Swarthmore, and Claremont McKenna. These schools lack may the global name recognition of Ivy League universities (at least within the general public), but–make no mistake–institutions like Bowdoin College sport single-digit acceptance rates and present a massive admissions challenge even for students at the very top of their high school class who earned just-about-perfect SAT/ACT scores.

Bowdoin has always had high admission standards, but the quest to gain acceptance into this Maine-based liberal arts gem has never been tougher, as the following stats show:

  • 2006: 21%
  • 2012: 16%
  • 2023: 7.8%

To give prospective Bowdoin applicants a better sense of their admissions chances, this blog will touch on the following topics:

  • Bowdoin College acceptance rate 2023
  • Bowdoin College Early Decision acceptance rate 2023
  • SAT, ACT, and class rank of accepted Bowdoin College applicants
  • Bowdoin Admissions trends for the Class of 2027
  • Bowdoin College’s system for rating applicants
  • A look at the demographics of current Bowdoin College undergraduates
  • The percentage of accepted students that attend  (yield rate)
  • Tips for applying
  • A look at the Bowdoin essay prompts
  • How to assess whether applying to Bowdoin College is even worth the $65 application fee (for you)

Let’s begin with an examination of the most recent admissions data.

Bowdoin College Acceptance Rate – Class of 2027

Bowdoin received 10,966 applications for a place in the Class of 2027 and accepted just 850. This means that the Bowdoin College acceptance rate was 7.8% in 2023. The last few cycles saw the following acceptance rates:

  • Class of 2026: 9%
  • 2025: 9%
  • 2024: 9%

Bowdoin Early Decision Acceptance Rate

Bowdoin received a record 1,572 ED applicants for the Class of 2027. It is believed that roughly 30% of ED applicants (across both rounds) were accepted. The previous year, the Bowdoin ED acceptance rate was 27%.

The College offers an ED1 and ED2 option.

Bowdoin College Admissions – SAT, ACT, and Class Rank

Bowdoin, of course, has long been a test-optional school. Yet, among those in the Class of 2026 who submitted scores, the median SAT score was 1460 and the median ACT score was 33. Looking at Class of 2026, data, 83% of enrolled freshmen finished in the top 10% of their high school class and 95% were in the top quartile.

Admissions Trends & Notes – Class of 2027

  • There were 10,000+ applications for the Class of 2027, an increase from the prior year and an all-time record.
  • 54% of the Class of 2027 identify as students of color.
  • 27% of the Class of 2027 are first-generation students.
  • 7% of the incoming class will be international students.
  • Admitted students came from all 50 states and 43 countries.

How Bowdoin College Rates Applicants

Bowdoin uses a truly holistic admissions process and views eight factors as “very important” to the admissions process: rigor of high school course load, class rank, GPA, application essays, recommendations, extracurricular activities, talent/ability, and character/personal qualities.

Straight from the Bowdoin admissions office:

  • “Bowdoin seeks students who are bright and engaged inside and outside the classroom, and who demonstrate curiosity and a willingness to take intellectual risks.”

Bowdoin College Acceptance Rate (Continued)

  • “All completed applications will be read by at least two readers. The first reader is typically the admissions staff member assigned to act as a liaison for the particular region, state, or country in which the student attends high school. The second reader is typically a randomly selected member of the staff who is able to provide a fresh perspective on the application. “While there is no specific set of secondary school classes required for admission, most successful applicants have pursued the strongest program of study available at their secondary school—typically including four years of study in English, math, science, social studies and foreign language—and have achieved the highest levels of academic performance.”
  • “The decisions on some applications will be rendered after the second read is completed. Two-thirds of the applications, on the other hand, will be put through a committee process, during which applications are individually discussed and adjudicated by a group of admissions staff.”

Bowdoin College Demographics

Let’s look at the demographics of the Bowdoin College undergraduate student body. The following are the U.S. states that sent more than ten students into the Class of 2027:

  1. California
  2. Massachusetts
  3. New York
  4. Maine
  5. New Jersey
  6. Florida
  7. Connecticut
  8. Illinois
  9. Maryland
  10. Pennsylvania

7% of undergrads are international students. The greatest percentage of international students come from the following countries:

  1. China:
  2. Canada
  3. Thailand
  4. The U.K.
  5. Hong Kong

Bowdoin College Acceptance Rate (Continued)

In terms of ethnic identity, the breakdown is as follows:

  • White: 57%
  • Asian: 9%
  • Hispanic: 11%
  • African American: 6%
  • Two or More Races: 9%

A look at the gender split reveals that the university enrolls a slightly greater number of women than men on campus:

  • Men: 49%
  • Women: 51%

Admitted 2027 students attended the following types of high school:

  • Public: 57%
  • Private: 31%
  • Parochial: 12%

Bowdoin College’s “Yield Rate”

Bowdoin College’s yield rate—the percentage of accepted students who elect to enroll, divided by the total number of students who are admitted is 59%. This places them well above other top liberal arts schools such as Williams College, Pomona College, and Swarthmore College.

Tips for Applying to Bowdoin College

If you plan on joining the 10,000+ Bowdoin College hopefuls for the next admissions cycle, you should know the following:

  • If Bowdoin is your top choice, you’ll want to strongly consider applying ED I by November 15 or ED II by early January. The Regular Decision deadline falls in the first week of January, but the acceptance rates are significantly lower in this round.
  • Bowdoin does recommend that students sit for an evaluative interview.
  • Your counselor and teacher recommendations will be key. Visit our blog for tips on requesting high school letters of recommendation.

Bowdoin College Acceptance Rate (Continued)

  • Bowdoin College does not consider “demonstrated interest” so you will not be judged on whether or not you made a campus visit, contacted an admissions officer, etc.
  • You can apply through the Common Application or Coalition Application.
  • You’ll need to submit a Mid-Year Report in late February so remember to keep those grades up throughout your senior year of high school.
  • Make sure to dedicate sufficient time and effort to the supplemental essay prompts offered by Bowdoin College. In the 2022-23 cycle, there were two essays one of which is technically optional (but don’t skip it):

Bowdoin Supplemental Essays

1) How did you first learn about Bowdoin? (Limit 140 characters.)

2) Generations of students have found connection and meaning in Bowdoin’s “The Offer of the College.”

To be at home in all lands and all ages;

to count Nature a familiar acquaintance,

and Art an intimate friend;

to gain a standard for the appreciation of others’ work

and the criticism of your own;

to carry the keys of the world’s library in your pocket,

and feel its resources behind you in whatever task you undertake;

to make hosts of friends…who are to be leaders in all walks of life;

to lose yourself in generous enthusiasms and cooperate with others for common ends –

this is the offer of the college for the best four years of your life.

-William DeWitt Hyde, 7th President of Bowdoin College, 1906

Which line from The Offer resonates most with you? (Select an option.)

Bet you weren’t expecting to take an English exam on your application! This is really a two question prompt, so skip down to the next question for our full walkthrough.

Optional: The Offer represents Bowdoin’s values. Please reflect on the line you selected and how it has meaning to you. (Limit 250 words)

Bowdoin College Acceptance Rate – Final Thoughts 

Just about everyone accepted in Bowdoin finished at or near the top of their high school class and boasts many special talents both inside and outside of the classroom. Given the single-digit acceptance rate, any student applying to a school of Bowdoin College’s caliber also needs to also have a proper mix of “target” and “safety” schools on their college list. More on creating a balanced college list can be found here.