The Bates legacy of academic exploration extends to our founding in 1855. At Bates, we don’t want you to blindly take classes. We want to you explore, challenge yourself, and in the process, discover who you are and where you’d like to be. How do we do this? For starters, we’re dedicated to personal learning. 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. We also encourage real world application of your knowledge through unique career and community partnerships, and ample research opportunities. Oh, and we’re not afraid to do things a little differently. Check out 4-4-1 and Building Opportunity below to see what we mean. All of this in a highly challenging and collaborative (read: not cutthroat) environment? Yes, please.
4-4-1: A Bates take on the school year
At Bates, we want students to have time for unique exploratory opportunities. With that in mind, our calendar is framed by two 4-course semesters and a Short Term in the spring where students focus on one class. Short term is your opportunity to dig into an area of passion, or try something completely new either domestically or internationally. For one month, the world is your oyster.
Two fundamental elements for lifelong learning are strong writing and clear thinking. At Bates, you’ll develop both from the start. Our First-Year Seminar (FYS) is a small class focused on improving your writing and critical thinking skills. Developing these skills early will help you in your transition to college-level academic work while also introducing you to your academic advisor.
Your First-Year Seminar professor will serve as your initial academic advisor. Once you declare your major—which isn’t required until the end of your sophomore year!—you can ask a professor to serve as your advisor for the remainder of your time at Bates. In addition to academic advisors, Bates students will also be assigned a Student Support Advisor.
The Finer Details
Majors & Minors: Limitless possibilities
We have 37 majors. Some are surprising (Neuroscience, Rhetoric), many are interdisciplinary (American Studies, Environmental Studies), most 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.
General Education Concentrations (GECs)
General Education concentrations challenge students to develop significant expertise outside their major. Each concentration consists of four courses chosen from a faculty-designed menu that is structured on the basis of a clearly articulated organizing principle. Some concentrations focus on a particular issue or topic or area of inquiry identified by several professors working across different disciplines; others are formed within a single discipline. Some concentrations may include relevant co-curricular experiences such as significant community service, orchestra, theatrical performance, or volunteer work.
General Education Requirements
All Bates students are expected to complete a small number of General Education Requirements, aimed at graduating well-rounded academics who are adept at making connections.
Preparing for next steps, the Liberal Arts Way
We know that you have something to share after 16 years of school. The Bates Senior Thesis is your opportunity to complete your undergraduate experience on an intellectual high note.
Off Campus Study
Off-campus study is popular at Bates because of its focus: through Bates guidance, you can trust that your off-campus study experience will be an expansion of your studies and research, not a reprieve.
Why wait? If you’re interested in a topic, we’re interested in helping you conduct high level research. Create your own study, or support the work of one of our innovative professors as soon as your first semester.
Courses that draw connections between what you’re learning in class with your future of meaningful work: it just makes sense.
Harward Center Connections
Our Harward Center for Community Partnerships supports an astounding number of initiatives that combine rigorous intellectual work and hands-on civic engagement.
Have a passion? Our Science Fellows, Dana Scholars, Bonner Leaders and Mount David presenters are taking their academic experience to the next level.
If you’re looking to pursue a Health Profession or Law post-graduation, then we’re here to help you prepare.
The Combined Plan allows you to gain broad exposure to the liberal arts while preparing for, and obtaining, a degree in engineering through one of our partner schools (Columbia, Case-Western, Dartmouth, RPI, Washington University).