If you ask Bates graduates what they value most about their time here, as often as not they’ll say something like, “Bates taught me how to think.” Supported by a dedicated faculty, Bates students learn to explore broadly and deeply, to cross disciplines and to question rigorously.

At Bates, students and faculty form a community of scholars who share a thirst for learning, drawing on the methods of the sciences, the patterns of logic and language, the study of societies and expression in the arts.

A Bates education fosters intellectual inquiry and reflection, personal growth, and a commitment to the world beyond oneself. Bates offers students a rigorous academic experience in a collaborative and supportive environment.

Majors & Minors

Majors and minors both promote deep and immersive study in a particular discipline or field. A major is required and comprises between 10 and 14 courses. A minor is optional and requires far fewer courses.

Almost all 36 Bates majors culminate in a one- or two-semester senior thesis or capstone project, a pivotal and valuable experience that’s treasured by generations of Bates graduates.

M major | m minor

*Engineering students participate in the 3-2 Dual Degree program, completing three years at Bates and two years at one of our partner institutions, including Case Western, Columbia, Dartmouth, RPI, or Washington University


  • 2,000 students
  • 20 students in the average class
  • 10-to-1 student to faculty ratio
  • 100% of faculty hold highest degree in their field
  • 100% of students complete a capstone or thesis
  • 60% of students study abroad
  • 31 NESCAC Division III teams
  • 110 student clubs, open to all
  • 160 community partnerships through the Harward Center
  • 0 fraternities and sororities
  • 5-week spring Short Term
  • 109 acres on Lewiston campus
  • 600 acres in Bates–Morse Mountain Conservation Area
  • 24,000 alumni


We have 36 majors. Some are surprising (neuroscience, rhetoric), many are interdisciplinary (American cultural studies, environmental studies), many are also offered as minors. All are designed to throw you headlong into the skills, practices, certainties and mysteries of at least one field; they’re also designed to lead to great things, including but not limited to graduate or professional school, enlightened leadership and making your own way in the world.

The Bates curriculum offers many options. You can design your own major. You can take our Dual Degree Engineering Program: three years at Bates, plus two years at a top engineering school (Case Western, Columbia, Dartmouth, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Washington University in St. Louis). You can also minor in the following:

  • Asian Studies
  • German and Russian Studies
  • Greek
  • Latin
  • Teacher Education

Most students take two General Education Concentrations (GECs — rhymes with “treks”), a group of four courses that add up to a sustained exploration of one theme. They’re like mini-minors.

Some recent GECs:

  • Archaeology and Material Culture
  • Bridging El Atlantico
  • Chinese Society and Culture
  • Considering Africa
  • Film and Media Studies
  • German in Vienna
  • North Atlantic Studies
  • Producing Culture: Arts and Audience
  • Russian in St. Petersburg
  • Shakespearean Acting

A GEC like North Atlantic Studies includes these courses:

  • Class, Inequity, Poverty and Justice
  • Sound
  • Water and Society
  • The Human Body
  • Middle East in Global Context
  • The Arctic: Politics, Economics, Peoples
  • Environmental Geochemistry
  • Vikings
  • Wabanaki History in Maine

Short Term

Our academic calendar is divided into two traditional semesters and one Short Term in late April and May. In Short Term, students take only one course, on a compressed schedule; they can also take internships or conduct fieldwork; a number of Short Term courses are conducted off campus. The result is a focused investigation of a single topic. A few recent Short Term courses:

  • Experimental Neuro/Physiology
  • Field Studies in Religion: Cult and Community
  • Geology of the Maine Coast by Sea Kayak
  • Monsters: Imagining the Other Practical Genomics and Bioinformatics
  • Roller Coasters: Theory, Design, and Properties

The First-year Seminar

One of the first courses you’ll take, and a model for the work you’ll do in the next four years: You, a professor and a handful of your peers get together and dig into a specialized topic. Recent examples:

  • Addictions, Obsessions, Manias
  • Anatomy of a Few Small Machines
  • DiY and Mash-up Culture
  • Latin American Time Machine
  • Searching for the Good Life
  • War and Poetry

The Faculty

Our student to faculty ratio is 10-to-1; there are 20 students in the average class; and every student works individually with a faculty mentor on their senior thesis — so not only will your professors know your name, they’ll also know where you’re coming from, where you want to go and how you might get there. Meals or coffee might be involved. Richly detailed letters of recommendation will almost certainly be involved. These are bright, accomplished, high-profile people whose priority is you.

Off-campus Study

About 60 percent of our students study abroad. We offer access to programs in more than 80 countries, many of which are off the standard track (Cameroon, Chile, Cuba, In dia, Nepal). Our faculty also develop and lead rigorous, cross-disciplinary Fall Semester Abroad trips. Some recent examples:

  • French Identity: Migration, Mutation, Exploration (Nantes)
  • German Literature, Art and Film in the 20th Century (Berlin)
  • Health Care in China (Kumming)
  • Russian Political Economy (St. Petersburg)

So, for example, the FSA on healthcare in China was codirected by an economics professor and a biology professor; it included immersive language courses, practical training in traditional Chinese and Vietnamese medicine, a rural health field trip, a week of independent travel, and coursework in the economics of China’s healthcare system and the biology of world health.

The Senior Thesis

Our academic program starts with an intensive, often interdisciplinary first-year seminar and ends with an intensive, often interdisciplinary senior thesis. The thesis is meant to make a meaningful contribution to the storehouse of human knowledge; it is also often the first step toward a job or graduate study. A few recent theses:

  • Disputing Development: The Politics of Progress on Kilimanjaro
  • Embodying Music: What Feeling Can Tell Us About Musical Expression
  • Galactic Dark Matter and the Cosmic Microwave Background
  • Quack to Hero: The Character of the Doctor in the 19th Century

Research and Opportunity

We do not live in a bubble. Research, fieldwork, internships, civic engagement — we do them all, they’re academically demanding, and they bring us in to the world. A few examples: Our Ladd Internship Program matches Bates students with selected employers and provides a stipend — i.e., money — to support them. The Mount David Summit, our annual campus-wide student research festival, features poster sessions, panel discussions and performances.

And our Harward Center for Community Partnerships develops or supports an astounding number of initiatives that combine rigorous intellectual work and hands-on civic engagement (an internship program at major museums for Art and Visual Culture students; a politics seminar on immigration that includes firsthand research at the California/Mexico border; a community-based senior thesis about converting wood waste into fuel). It also oversees the college’s Bonner Leader Program (scholarships for students who serve and lead), and gives grants to faculty, staff and students who think of innovative ways to work with communities across the street and around the world.