For the sixth academic year in a row, Government and Legal Studies and Economics remain the two most popular programs of study for Bowdoin students.
The current sophomore Class of 2012 turned in major declarations to the Office of the Registrar at the beginning of March. The Office of Academic Affairs recently tabulated this data and found consistent trends in the popularity of various departments.
According to this data, 98 members of the Class of 2012 declared a major in Government and Legal Studies. This number is up by nearly twenty from the previous year, when only 77 students of the Class of 2011 opted for the government major. Ninety-five members of the graduating Class of 2010 will receive degrees in Government and Legal Studies next month.
Approximately 20.8 percent of the members of the Class of 2012 have declared a government major, compared with 17 percent of the Class of 2011. As of Fall 2009, 17.7 percent of all students studying on campus were government majors, according to figures provided by the Office of Institutional Research (IR).
Economics, in tandem with previous years, remained the second-most popular major, with 71 sophomores declaring.
Biology and History tied for the third most popular major, with 44 sophomores declaring in each department.
Rounding out the top five most popular programs was the Department of Environmental Studies, with 32 students declaring a major.
Many of these departments experience considerable overlap.
"It is important to note that many of these majors—approximately 30 percent—are doubled with another program. In addition, Environmental Studies is a coordinate major and must be combined with another major," said Associate Dean for Academic Affairs James Higginbotham.
Data from IR reveals that, on average, a little over a quarter of Bowdoin students elect to pursue a double major. Fewer than 10 percent of students declare coordinate majors.
"The totals, of course, are preliminary, for some students will change majors before they graduate," added Higginbotham.
There are also two sophomores pursuing student-designed majors.
It is unclear whether recent changes in academic programs impacted the major declaration process. The number of students declaring a major in the newly renamed Department of Earth and Oceanographic Sciences (formerly the Department of Geology) doubled from last year's count. However, the departmental name change was revealed publicly just one week ago, while students turned in major declarations to the Office of the Registrar on March 5.
The recent addition of the new Economics and Finance minor, however, has not seemed to have had an immediate impact on Bowdoin students. Only two students in the Class of 2012 declared the minor this spring, while the Class of 2011 currently boasts only one finance minor.
Overall data for the majors declared for the Class of 2012 reflected some subtle fluctuations from numbers in previous years.
For the Class of 2011, the top five majors declared were Government, Economics, Biology, Environmental Studies, and English.
Combined data for the Classes of 2012 and 2011, however, reflects changes in programs of study from previous classes. The psychology major, which occupied a spot on the top five majors for the Classes of 2009 and 2008, is conspicuously absent from current totals.