Bowdoin vs Dartmouth: A Comprehensive Analysis

By Eric Eng

By Eric Eng

Two college students smiling at the camera.

Bowdoin vs Dartmouth: A Comprehensive Analysis

If you’re a high school senior in the midst of college applications, you may be considering some of the top colleges in the Northeast. Two of the most highly regarded institutions in the region are Bowdoin College and Dartmouth College. While each of these schools has its own unique strengths and weaknesses, they both offer a rigorous academic environment and a vibrant campus life. This article will compare Bowdoin vs Dartmouth, so you can make an informed decision about where to continue your education.

Introduction: Why Compare Bowdoin and Dartmouth?

At first glance, Bowdoin and Dartmouth appear to be quite different in terms of location, campus culture, and student body. Bowdoin is a small liberal arts college located in the small coastal town of Brunswick, Maine, while Dartmouth is a larger Ivy League university situated in the scenic Upper Valley of New Hampshire. However, as we will see in this article, there are many similarities and differences between these two institutions that are worth exploring.

View of a woman studying.

One similarity between Bowdoin and Dartmouth is their commitment to providing a well-rounded education. Both institutions offer a wide range of academic programs and encourage students to explore different fields of study. Additionally, both schools place a strong emphasis on experiential learning, with opportunities for internships, research, and study abroad programs.

Location and Campus: The Pros and Cons of Maine and New Hampshire 

Bowdoin’s location in Brunswick offers both advantages and disadvantages. On the one hand, the town is charming and picturesque, with easy access to the Maine coast and plenty of outdoor activities. On the other hand, some students may find the town too small or isolated. In contrast, Dartmouth’s location in Hanover, New Hampshire, offers a more bustling campus environment with access to a wider range of cultural and social opportunities. However, Hanover is also more remote than Brunswick, which can make it more difficult to travel off-campus.

Despite the small size of Brunswick, Bowdoin College has a vibrant campus life with a strong sense of community. The college offers a variety of student organizations and clubs, as well as numerous events and activities throughout the year. Additionally, the college’s commitment to sustainability is reflected in its LEED-certified buildings and environmentally-friendly practices.

On the other hand, Dartmouth College’s location in Hanover provides students with easy access to the nearby White Mountains, which offer a range of outdoor activities such as hiking, skiing, and snowboarding. The college also has a strong athletic program, with numerous varsity and club sports teams. Additionally, the college’s commitment to undergraduate research provides students with opportunities to work closely with faculty members and gain valuable research experience.

Academics: Curriculum, Majors, and Student-to-Faculty Ratio between Bowdoin vs Dartmouth

Bowdoin and Dartmouth both prioritize a rigorous, interdisciplinary liberal arts education. Bowdoin’s curriculum is structured around a broad distribution requirement, with students expected to take courses in a range of fields, including social sciences, humanities, and natural sciences. In contrast, Dartmouth offers its students a flexible curriculum with a focus on hands-on experiential learning. Both institutions offer a wide range of majors, but Bowdoin’s smaller size means that some departments may have fewer resources than at Dartmouth. Additionally, Bowdoin boasts a student-to-faculty ratio of 9:1, while Dartmouth’s ratio is 7:1.

One unique aspect of Bowdoin’s curriculum is its commitment to environmental sustainability. The college offers a variety of courses and programs focused on sustainability, including a popular Environmental Studies major and a campus-wide initiative to reduce waste and promote renewable energy. Students can also participate in sustainability-focused extracurricular activities, such as the Bowdoin Organic Garden Club and the Outing Club’s eco-friendly trips. This emphasis on sustainability aligns with Bowdoin’s broader mission to create responsible global citizens who are committed to making a positive impact on the world.

Admissions: Acceptance Rates, Test Scores, and Diversity

Both Bowdoin and Dartmouth are highly selective institutions; Bowdoin’s acceptance rate for the Class of 2023 was 8.9%, while Dartmouth’s was 7.9%. Both schools place a strong emphasis on standardized test scores, with the middle 50% of enrolled students at Bowdoin scoring between 1400 and 1540 on the SAT and the middle 50% of enrolled students at Dartmouth scoring between 1420 and 1560 on the SAT. In terms of diversity, Bowdoin is consistently ranked as one of the most diverse liberal arts colleges in the country, with 47% of students identifying as people of color or international students. Dartmouth has also made strides in recent years to increase diversity among its student body.

Student Life: Housing, Clubs, Sports, and Community Engagement between Bowdoin vs Dartmouth

Bowdoin and Dartmouth both have active campus communities, with a wide range of extracurricular activities and organizations available to students. Bowdoin’s residential life is particularly notable, with students living in close-knit campus houses and participating in traditions like lobster bakes and the annual Ivies Weekend. Dartmouth also offers a diverse range of living options, including its famous “fraternities” (which are actually co-ed social organizations), and a thriving athletic culture, with 34 varsity sports teams and a robust outdoor program. Additionally, both institutions place a strong emphasis on community engagement, with opportunities for community service and social justice work readily available to students.

View of different sports equipments.

Furthermore, both Bowdoin and Dartmouth have active and supportive mental health resources available to students. At Bowdoin, the Counseling Service offers individual and group therapy, as well as workshops and events focused on mental health and wellness. Dartmouth’s Counseling and Human Development Office provides similar services, as well as a 24/7 crisis hotline for students in need. Both institutions recognize the importance of supporting students’ mental health and well-being, and strive to create a campus culture that prioritizes self-care and mental wellness.

Faculty and Alumni: Notable Professors, Research Opportunities, and Career Pathways

Both Bowdoin and Dartmouth boast impressive faculty rosters, with numerous distinguished professors and scholars on staff. Bowdoin is well-known for its commitment to undergraduate research; the Bowdoin Science Experience program pairs students with faculty mentors and provides funding for summer research projects. Dartmouth is similarly invested in undergraduate research, as well as in experiential learning opportunities like internships and study abroad programs. In terms of alumni success, both schools have produced notable graduates in a range of fields, including politics, business, and the arts.

Additionally, both Bowdoin and Dartmouth offer robust career services to their students and alumni. Bowdoin’s Career Planning Center provides resources such as resume and cover letter reviews, job and internship search assistance, and networking opportunities. Dartmouth’s Center for Professional Development offers similar services, as well as career fairs and employer information sessions. Both schools also have strong alumni networks that can be valuable resources for job seekers and those looking to make professional connections.

Financial Aid and Tuition: Affordability and Scholarships between Bowdoin vs Dartmouth

Both Bowdoin and Dartmouth are committed to making their education accessible to students from all socio-economic backgrounds. Bowdoin is one of the few colleges in the country that meets 100% of demonstrated need for all enrolled students without offering loans, while Dartmouth has a robust need-based financial aid program as well as merit scholarships for top students. However, both institutions also have high tuition costs; for the 2020-2021 academic year, Bowdoin’s tuition and fees were $59,450, while Dartmouth’s were $60,117.

Despite the high tuition costs, both Bowdoin and Dartmouth offer various options for students to manage their expenses. Bowdoin provides work-study programs, which allow students to work part-time on campus to earn money for their education. Dartmouth also offers a variety of payment plans, including a monthly payment plan, to help students and families manage their tuition costs.

Additionally, both institutions have scholarship programs that can help offset the cost of tuition. Bowdoin offers merit-based scholarships for exceptional students, while Dartmouth has a variety of scholarships available for students with specific interests or backgrounds, such as the Native American Program Scholarship or the First-Generation Student Scholarship.

Career Outcomes: Job Placement Rates, Starting Salaries, and Graduate School Acceptances

Graduates of both Bowdoin and Dartmouth are highly sought after by employers and graduate programs. Bowdoin has a strong track record of success among its graduates, with 93% of the Class of 2019 either employed or attending graduate school within six months of graduation. Dartmouth boasts similar success, with 95% of alumni employed or attending graduate school within six months of graduation. Additionally, both institutions have robust career services offices that provide students with access to networking opportunities, career counseling, and job search resources.

Furthermore, both Bowdoin and Dartmouth have strong alumni networks that provide valuable connections and opportunities for current students and recent graduates. Alumni from both institutions are actively involved in mentoring programs, job shadowing opportunities, and career fairs. These networks also offer a sense of community and support for graduates as they navigate their careers.

Campus Culture: Traditions, Events, and Campus Climate between Bowdoin vs Dartmouth

Both Bowdoin and Dartmouth have their own unique campus cultures, with traditions and rituals that make each institution distinct. Bowdoin’s Ivies Weekend and lobster bakes are well-known among students and alumni, while Dartmouth’s Winter Carnival and Homecoming traditions are similarly popular. In terms of campus climate, both institutions have been working to address issues of inclusivity and belonging in recent years, with Bowdoin launching a Campus Climate Survey in 2018 and Dartmouth establishing an Office of Institutional Diversity and Equity.

University students sitting next to each other next to a building.

Additionally, both Bowdoin and Dartmouth offer a wide range of events and activities for students to participate in outside of their academic coursework. Bowdoin’s Outing Club is a popular organization that offers outdoor adventures such as hiking, camping, and skiing. Dartmouth’s student-run theater group, the Dartmouth Theater Ensemble, puts on several productions each year. Both institutions also have a variety of student clubs and organizations that cater to a wide range of interests, from political activism to cultural celebrations.

Athletics: NCAA Division I versus Division III

One of the key differences between Bowdoin and Dartmouth is their athletic programs. Bowdoin is a Division III school, meaning that it does not offer athletic scholarships and places a greater emphasis on intramural and recreational sports. Dartmouth, in contrast, is a Division I school with a strong athletic tradition; its football team, for example, has won 18 Ivy League championships. However, both institutions value athletics as an important component of campus life and offer a wide range of opportunities for students to participate in sports.

Another important difference between Division I and Division III athletics is the level of competition. Division I schools typically have larger budgets and more resources to recruit top athletes, resulting in a higher level of competition. Division III schools, on the other hand, prioritize the student-athlete experience and often have a more balanced approach to athletics and academics. While Division III athletes may not compete at the same level as Division I athletes, they still have the opportunity to excel in their sport and make meaningful contributions to their team.

Conclusion: Which College is Right for You?

Ultimately, the decision of whether to attend Bowdoin or Dartmouth will depend on a range of factors, including your academic interests, personal preferences, and financial situation. Both institutions offer a top-notch education and a vibrant campus community, but they differ in terms of location, curriculum, student body, and athletic culture. We hope that this comprehensive analysis has given you a better sense of what each school has to offer, and we wish you the best of luck as you make your final decision.

It’s important to remember that choosing a college is a personal decision and what works for one person may not work for another. It’s also important to consider factors such as campus resources, extracurricular activities, and career opportunities when making your decision. Take the time to visit each campus, talk to current students and faculty, and weigh your options carefully. Remember, the college you choose will shape your future, so choose wisely.


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