Dartmouth and Bowdoin: Which College is Right for You?

By Eric Eng

By Eric Eng

Group of students talking.

Dartmouth and Bowdoin: Which College is Right for You?

In this article, we’ll compare two of the famous colleges in the Northeast, Dartmouth, and Bowdoin, to help you make informed decisions. Choosing a college is one of the biggest decisions that a student can make. Not only does it play a huge role in shaping your future academic and professional career, but it also plays a significant part in your personal growth as an individual.

Location and Campus

Location is a crucial factor when it comes to selecting a college. Dartmouth College is located in Hanover, New Hampshire, a small town in the Upper Valley region of New Hampshire near the Vermont border.

The college campus spread over 269 acres, is picturesque with colonial-style architecture and lush greenery. Bowdoin College, on the other hand, is located in Brunswick, Maine, a small coastal town.

The campus spans over 200 acres and is known for its beautiful architecture, red-brick walkways, and abundant natural beauty. Both campuses offer a serene and peaceful environment, and students can expect a real college-town atmosphere. However, some students may prefer the rural setting of Dartmouth, while others may prefer the proximity to a bustling city offered by Bowdoin’s location.

College students walking in the campus.

Aside from location, another important factor to consider when choosing between Dartmouth and Bowdoin is the size of the campus. Dartmouth’s campus is larger than Bowdoin’s, which means that students have more space to explore and more opportunities to find their own niche.

However, some students may find the size of Dartmouth overwhelming and may prefer the more intimate feel of Bowdoin’s campus. Additionally, Bowdoin’s smaller campus means that students are more likely to run into each other on a regular basis, which can foster a strong sense of community and camaraderie.

Academic Programs

Both colleges offer world-class academic programs in various fields of study. Dartmouth is widely recognized for its undergraduate and graduate programs in the sciences, engineering, social sciences, and humanities. It is considered to be one of the Ivy League schools, which puts it in an elite category in terms of academia.

Bowdoin, on the other hand, is renowned for its liberal arts curriculum and is often cited as one of the best liberal arts colleges in the country. Its most popular majors include government and legal studies, biology, and economics. Both colleges place a strong emphasis on research and experiential learning opportunities, and students can expect to be challenged and supported by a dedicated faculty.

One of the unique aspects of Dartmouth’s academic programs is its emphasis on interdisciplinary studies. Students have the opportunity to combine different fields of study to create their own major, allowing for a more personalized and tailored education. Additionally, Dartmouth has a strong focus on experiential learning, with opportunities for students to participate in research projects, internships, and study abroad programs.

Bowdoin’s academic programs also stand out for their emphasis on community engagement and social responsibility. The college has a strong commitment to sustainability and environmental stewardship, reflected in its curriculum and campus initiatives. Bowdoin also offers a variety of service-learning opportunities, allowing students to apply their classroom knowledge to real-world issues and make a positive impact in their communities.

Admission Requirements: Dartmouth vs Bowdoin

Admission requirements for both Dartmouth and Bowdoin are rigorous and highly competitive. Dartmouth College has an acceptance rate of 7.9%, and Bowdoin College has an acceptance rate of 8.9%.

Close up of students smiling at the camera.

To be considered for admission, applicants need to have strong academic records, impressive extracurricular activities, and standout personal qualities. Dartmouth generally looks for applicants with a strong academic background and unique experiences, while Bowdoin values characteristics such as intellectual curiosity, creativity, and initiative. Both colleges require applicants to submit standardized test scores, essays, and letters of recommendation.

However, there are some differences in the admission requirements between the two colleges. Dartmouth College requires applicants to submit SAT or ACT scores, while Bowdoin College is test-optional.

This means that applicants to Bowdoin can choose whether or not to submit their standardized test scores. Additionally, Bowdoin College requires applicants to submit a graded paper from a high school class, while Dartmouth does not have this requirement. It is important for applicants to carefully review the admission requirements for each college and tailor their application accordingly.

Student Life: Dartmouth vs Bowdoin

Student life at Dartmouth and Bowdoin is vibrant and engaging. Both colleges offer a wide range of clubs, organizations, and events that cater to diverse interests and backgrounds. Dartmouth has over 350 student organizations, including Greek Life organizations, and is known for its vibrant social scene.

Bowdoin has over 100 student-run clubs, including a strong focus on sustainability and active outdoor recreation. Both colleges encourage students to pursue their passions, get involved in the community, and make new friends.

Aside from the numerous clubs and organizations, both Dartmouth and Bowdoin offer a variety of resources to support student well-being. Dartmouth has a robust health center that provides medical and mental health services, as well as a center for student accessibility that offers support for students with disabilities. Bowdoin has a wellness center that provides counseling and health services, as well as a resource center for students from underrepresented backgrounds.

Athletics and Extracurricular Activities: Dartmouth vs Bowdoin

Both Dartmouth and Bowdoin have a strong tradition of athletics and offer a wide range of sports for students to participate in. Dartmouth competes in Division I of the NCAA and has a total of 34 varsity sports, including football, baseball, basketball, and track and field.

Group of students talking in a room.

Bowdoin competes in Division III of the NCAA and has a total of 31 varsity sports, including ice hockey, lacrosse, sailing, and tennis. Both colleges also offer a wide range of extracurricular activities related to sports, such as outdoor recreation clubs, fitness classes, and intramural sports leagues.

However, while both colleges have a strong focus on athletics, they differ in their approach to extracurricular activities. Dartmouth has a larger variety of clubs and organizations, including a strong focus on community service and the arts.

Bowdoin, on the other hand, has a smaller student body and a more intimate campus community, which allows for a closer-knit group of students involved in extracurricular activities. Additionally, Bowdoin has a strong emphasis on sustainability and environmentalism, with many clubs and organizations dedicated to these causes.

Faculty and Class Size: Dartmouth vs Bowdoin

Both Dartmouth and Bowdoin boast of a highly experienced and knowledgeable faculty. Dartmouth has over 950 faculty members, with a student-to-faculty ratio of 7:1, while Bowdoin has over 200 faculty members, with a student-to-faculty ratio of 9:1.

Both colleges emphasize small class sizes, allowing for more individualized attention and fostering close relationships between students and professors. Students can expect to receive mentorship and guidance from professors who are leaders in their respective fields, and engage in critical thinking and intellectual discussions.

Additionally, both Dartmouth and Bowdoin offer opportunities for students to work closely with faculty members on research projects. Dartmouth’s Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program (UROP) provides funding and support for students to conduct research alongside faculty members, while Bowdoin’s Independent Study program allows students to work one-on-one with a faculty member to complete a research project in their field of interest. These programs not only enhance students’ academic experiences but also prepare them for future careers or graduate studies.

Alumni Network and Career Prospects: Dartmouth vs Bowdoin

Both Dartmouth and Bowdoin have a strong and active alumni network, with graduates holding influential positions in various fields of work. Dartmouth has an alumni network of over 80,000 individuals, while Bowdoin has a network of over 30,000 alumni.

Business people discussing documents and ideas at meeting

Graduates of both colleges have gone on to pursue successful careers in fields such as finance, law, medicine, technology, and education. Students can expect to receive ample support and mentorship from alumni regarding internship and job opportunities, and career advice.

However, there are some differences in the alumni networks of Dartmouth and Bowdoin. Dartmouth’s alumni network is known for its strong presence in the finance and consulting industries, with many graduates working in top firms such as Goldman Sachs and McKinsey & Company.

On the other hand, Bowdoin’s alumni network has a strong focus on the arts and humanities, with many graduates pursuing careers in fields such as journalism, publishing, and the non-profit sector.

Despite these differences, both Dartmouth and Bowdoin offer excellent career prospects for their graduates. According to a recent survey, over 90% of Dartmouth graduates and 95% of Bowdoin graduates are employed or pursuing further education within six months of graduation. This is a testament to the strong academic programs and supportive alumni networks of both colleges.

Financial Aid and Scholarships: Dartmouth vs Bowdoin

Dartmouth and Bowdoin offer generous financial aid and scholarships to provide students with access to higher education, regardless of their background or financial status. Dartmouth meets 100% of demonstrated financial need and is committed to providing need-blind admissions for domestic students.

Bowdoin also meets 100% of demonstrated financial need and has eliminated loans from its financial aid packages. Both colleges have dedicated financial aid offices that can assist students in navigating the financial aid process and identifying available resources.

In addition to their financial aid offerings, both Dartmouth and Bowdoin also offer a variety of scholarships to students. Dartmouth offers merit-based scholarships, such as the Dartmouth Scholars Program, which provides full-tuition scholarships to high-achieving students with financial need. Bowdoin offers a range of scholarships, including the Bowdoin Prize for Undergraduate Research, which awards up to $15,000 to students conducting independent research projects.

Furthermore, both colleges have programs in place to support students who may face financial challenges during their time at school. Dartmouth offers emergency funding for unexpected expenses, such as medical bills or travel costs, through its Student Relief Fund.

Bowdoin has a program called the Student Support Fund, which provides financial assistance to students who experience unexpected financial hardship, such as the loss of a job or a family emergency.

Student Diversity and Inclusivity: Dartmouth vs Bowdoin

Dartmouth and Bowdoin are committed to fostering a diverse and inclusive community, where students from all backgrounds feel welcome, supported, and empowered. Dartmouth has a dedicated office of diversity and inclusion and a range of programs and initiatives aimed at promoting belongingness and equity.

Group of students walking in the campus.

Bowdoin also has a strong focus on diversity and inclusivity, with a diversity and inclusion group that works to create a positive and inclusive campus experience for all students. Both colleges have various resources, including affinity groups, workshops, and cultural celebrations, to celebrate and foster diversity.

However, there are some differences in the way Dartmouth and Bowdoin approach diversity and inclusivity. Dartmouth has a larger student body and a more diverse student population, with a higher percentage of students of color and international students.

This diversity is reflected in the range of cultural organizations and events on campus. Bowdoin, on the other hand, has a smaller student body and a less diverse student population but has made significant efforts to increase diversity in recent years.

The college has implemented new recruitment strategies and expanded financial aid to attract a more diverse student body. Despite these differences, both colleges are committed to creating a welcoming and inclusive environment for all students.

Social Life on Campus: Comparing Dartmouth and Bowdoin

Dartmouth and Bowdoin offer distinct social scenes, catering to different interests and preferences. Dartmouth is known for its lively Greek Life scene, with over 30 fraternities and sororities on campus. It also has a vibrant party scene and a range of events and activities taking place on and off-campus throughout the year.

Bowdoin offers a more laid-back social scene, with a focus on outdoor recreation, sustainability, and arts and culture. It has a strong community spirit, with events such as lobster bakes, student-led performances, and community service projects. Both colleges offer plenty of opportunities for students to socialize, make new friends, and create lifelong memories.

One of the unique aspects of Dartmouth’s social scene is its tradition of “singing societies.” These are a cappella groups that perform at various events and competitions throughout the year. They are highly competitive and prestigious, with only a select few students being chosen to join each year. In addition to Greek Life and singing societies, Dartmouth also has a strong sports culture, with many students attending games and participating in intramural sports.

Bowdoin’s social scene is heavily influenced by its location in Maine. Students often take advantage of the nearby beaches, mountains, and forests for outdoor activities such as hiking, skiing, and kayaking.

The college also has a strong commitment to sustainability, with many events and initiatives focused on environmental awareness and conservation. Bowdoin’s arts and culture scene is also noteworthy, with a variety of student-led performances and exhibitions taking place throughout the year.

Housing Options at Dartmouth and Bowdoin

Dartmouth and Bowdoin offer various housing options, ranging from traditional residence halls to apartment-style living and special interest housing. Dartmouth has over 20 residence halls, and each house has its culture and traditions.

Bowdoin has five residential neighborhoods, each with its style and personality, including a special interest housing option for seniors. Both colleges offer fully furnished living spaces, and students are guaranteed on-campus housing for all four years.

At Dartmouth, students can also choose to live in affinity housing, which is designed to bring together students with shared identities or interests. These communities provide a supportive environment for students to explore their identities and connect with others who share similar experiences.


In conclusion, Dartmouth and Bowdoin are two excellent colleges that offer exceptional academic programs, strong extracurricular opportunities, and a supportive and engaged community. Both colleges have their unique strengths and characteristics, and the choice between the two ultimately depends on your individual goals, interests, and preferences.

We hope that this article has helped you gain a better understanding of the similarities and differences between the two colleges, and can now make an informed decision on which college is right for you. Good luck!

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