Continue Your Education
Academic departments advise students seeking advanced degrees related to their undergraduate studies. There are other campus resources, too.
Preparing for Graduate School
Each year, a small number of Bowdoin students continue directly to graduate school. The majority take 2-5 years before pursuing graduate education in order to clarify their professional and personal goals. Before deciding on a graduate program, do your research.
Graduate degrees are usually academic or professional, although there are some both, such as a PhD in Social Work. Academic degrees (MA, MS, PhD) involve the intensive study in an academic field. Professional degrees (MBA, JD, MD, MEd, MSW, MPH etc.) stress practical application of knowledge and skills. For some professions, there is one distinct path, while for others there are different graduate degrees that can qualify you for a professional career.
When considering programs, learn about the research areas of faculty and employment of recent graduates. How established is the program and how strong is the alumni network? Are there alternative paths to get to the same goal/licensure/salary range that should be considered?
While at Bowdoin, attend the Graduate and Professional School Fair held every October. Programs represented range from Social Work, Public Health, Law, Journalism, Arts, Education, Health/Medicine, Environment and Sustainability, and Business.
With few exceptions, applications require a personal statement, letters of recommendation, an official transcript, and test scores. Some programs will also require interviews. The strongest letters of recommendation are from professors who have had you in more than one class and know your work.
Application timelines vary. Law school and medical school have their own specific and distinct application process. For law school, make an appointment with Nancy Gibson, the Pre-Law Advisor in Career Exploration and Development. If you wish to go to medical school or other health science graduate school, contact Seth Ramus, Health Professions Advising. For all other graduate programs, connect with faculty and the applicable Career Exploration and Development advisor.
Your personal statement is the most important part of your application. You need to state your motivation for applying (why this program? whose research interests you?), the experiences you bring, and the questions you want to explore. You will need to write multiple drafts, so start early. Ask you professors for feedback.
To obtain an official transcript (both current students and alumni), go to www.studentclearinghouse.org, select “Order or Track a Transcript” under the Order-Track-Verify menu, and select Bowdoin College.
- GRE – Graduate Record Exam. Computer administered, required for most academic programs.
- GMAT – Graduate Management Admissions Test. Required for most business schools.
- LSAT – Law School Admission Test. Administered at Bowdoin four times per year.
- MCAT – Medical College Admission Test.
If you are applying to medical schools, you need to start the process 20 months before you wish to enroll. Meet with Seth Ramus to talk about the process and the importance of getting a committee letter.
12-15 months before you intend to enroll, research schools and programs. Take tests. Request letters of recommendation. Start on your personal statement.
9-12 months before you intend to enroll, revise and polish your personal statement. Ask a professor to read over your statement and provide feedback. Revise again! Confirm that letters of recommendation have been completed. Submit applications. Except for medical school, applications are usually due in the fall and early winter prior to the year you wish to enroll. Application deadlines may be earlier if you are applying for financial aid.
Acceptance into graduate school is on a rolling basis, usually from mid-February and into the summer. Once you have heard from your programs, let you recommenders know and thank them. Talk with your professors about your options.
Most PhD programs offer stipends ($20,000 – $35,000 per year) and do not charge tuition. You will be expected to be a Teaching Assistant or Research Assistant as part of your acceptance into the program.
Funding for Master’s level programs is variable – some may offer RA or TA positions and tuition reductions while others will require you to pay full cost.
Fellowships for graduate school provide financial support and often include opportunities to attend conferences. Information about these programs are on the Bowdoin Office of Student Fellowships and Research website.
Need-based loans are given by the government through the Stafford or Perkins Loan programs. Graduate school applications will have more information about them.
Check with the Student Aid Office for information on graduate scholarships available through Bowdoin.
More information on financial aid: