The admission requirements and procedures are designed to help the college select, from among the students applying, those best qualified to benefit from the educational opportunities at Bates. As the emphasis at Bates is on the liberal arts and sciences, the secondary school record should demonstrate success in these fields. Applicants must present evidence of intellectual curiosity, good character, and thorough scholastic preparation. The college values and seeks a bold, and principled student body that embraces academic rigor, innovative thought, and community engagement. Each applicant is considered individually, and the Dean of Admission and Financial Aid may make exceptions to any requirement.

Admission Requirements

1. Application Form. Bates uses the Coalition Application and the Common Application. In addition to biographical data, the application requests information concerning the applicant's academic and extracurricular interests, and includes a required personal statement providing an opportunity for the applicant to write on suggested topics.

2. Record in Secondary School. The secondary school record should consist of courses of a substantial college-preparatory nature. Individual cases may vary, but it is recommended that students have taken four years of English and at least three years of each of the following: a foreign language, laboratory science, mathematics, and social science. The college requires successful completion of high school, GED program, or equivalent for enrollment to Bates.

3. Recommendations. The college receives recommendations from school officials and references named by the applicant. It should be understood that when a student waives the right to inspect that information, it is kept in strict confidence and is available only to appropriate college officers.

4. Standardized Test Scores. The submission of standardized testing (the SAT I, SAT II, the ACT, and Advanced Placement tests) is optional for admission. Independent of the admission process and solely for the purpose of the college's research, students who have taken the standardized tests must submit the results of these tests upon matriculation. 

Admission Procedures

To be considered for enrollment in fall 2024, a student must submit an admission application no later than 10 January 2024. A nonrefundable fee of $60 must accompany the application. Students for whom the fee would be a financial hardship may request a fee waiver.

The Office of Admission reaches its decision only after it has received the completed application form, essay, and all the data supporting an application (the transcript of the secondary school record and letters of recommendation).

As a general rule, applicants are notified of decisions in late March. Admitted students are asked to respond with a nonrefundable $300 enrollment deposit payment, postmarked by the candidate's reply date of 1 May. International students may make this deposit upon arrival on campus but must accept the offer of admission by 1 May. Upon matriculation this payment is applied to the student's account and is held until graduation. Students usually enter the college at the beginning of the academic year in September.

Early Decision

Candidates who are certain that Bates is their first choice should give serious thought to the binding Early Decision (ED) plan. Applicants for ED must complete the ED contract on the application and assure the college that they will enroll if admitted. Regular applications may be submitted to other colleges with the understanding that the candidate will withdraw these applications if admitted to Bates through ED. More information is available on the Admission website.

Deferred Enrollment

Each year, Bates receives requests from admitted students to defer matriculation for a specified period of time. The reasons for these requests vary greatly, but typically contribute to the student's development, and are generally approved.

Applicants requesting deferred enrollment should do so in writing to the dean of admission and financial aid at the same time that they accept Bates' offer of admission, no later than 1 June. Requests made after that date are considered on a case-by-case basis, but may not be as readily approved. Requests should be as detailed as possible with regard to the nature, timing, and importance of the intervening experiences.

Early Admission

Extremely capable students may be ready for college before they have completed the normal four-year secondary school program. The college welcomes inquiries from those who think they are prepared scholastically, and are sufficiently mature personally and socially, to undertake college work.

International Students

The college encourages international candidates with superior academic and personal qualifications to apply for admission to Bates. Non-U.S. citizens must submit the following: an application form; official or certified copies of secondary school transcripts; a school profile and/or explanation of the school's marking system if available; letters of recommendation; and certificates of completion and national examinations (if applicable).

All documents must be presented in English; original documents must accompany all certified translations. Applicants living abroad are advised to retain copies of their applications and to submit applications well in advance of the deadlines.

If English is neither the native language nor the primary language of secondary school instruction for four years, then results of an English-proficiency test like the TOEFL or IELTS are required. Submission of SAT I, SAT II, or ACT results is optional for all students.

Bates meets the full demonstrated financial need for all admitted students, regardless of citizenship status, for all four years. Although Bates is not need-blind for non-U.S. citizens, the college offers one of the most generous and inclusive financial aid programs in the United States.

The intent to apply for need-based financial aid for the first year must be indicated prior to the release of the applicant's admission decision from Bates. Requests for need-based financial aid after admission notifications are not considered. Required documents are due at the time of application.

Advanced Standing for Entering First-Year Students

Most Bates courses carry 1.0 course credit.  Exceptions include Short Term courses, some applied music and dance courses and performance-based courses, which carry 0.5 course credit. Students who enter as first-year students must earn at least 28.0 Bates credits in order to be awarded a Bates degree. With a total of 32.0 course credits required for the degree, up to 4.0 non-Bates credits may be applied toward the total. Advanced Placement, International Baccalaureate, A-Level Examination, and transfer credits are all considered non-Bates credits and may not exceed 4.0 credits in total.

Advanced Placement. Bates participates in the Advanced Placement (AP) Program of the College Entrance Examination Board. Credit is awarded only upon receipt of official scores from The College Board. A student who achieves a score of 4 or 5 on an Advanced Placement examination given by the Educational Testing Service may be granted 1.0 or 2.0 course credits depending on the content covered by the examination.. A student achieving a score of 3 on an examination covering the equivalent of 2 semesters of college work may be granted 1.0 course credit; no credit is granted for a score of 3 on an examination covering the equivalent of 1 semester of college work. A maximum of 4.0 non-Bates credits, including Advanced Placement credit, may be applied to the Bates academic record. Credit equivalencies may be viewed on the Registrar's website.

International Baccalaureate. Credit is awarded only upon receipt of the official International Baccalaureate (IB) transcript with the examination scores. The IB subjects must be equivalent to subjects taught at Bates, with "English" accepted only if the focus was on literature rather than language instruction. For courses taken in the "Higher Level Subjects" category, 1.0 Bates credit may be awarded for each IB course with an examination grade of 5. 2.0 Bates credits may be awarded for each IB course with examination grades of 6 or 7. For courses taken in the "Standard Level Subjects" category, 1.0 credit may be awarded for each course with an examination grade of 6 or 7. A maximum of 4.0 non-Bates credits, including International Baccalaureate credit, may be applied to the Bates academic record.

A-Level Examination. Credit is awarded for successful scores on A-Level (Advanced Level) examinations only, and not for O-Level (Ordinary Level) or AS (Advanced Subsidiary) examinations. Credit is awarded upon receipt of the official copy of examination grades presented on the General Certificate of Education. No credit may be granted for English-language examinations or the general paper. 2.0 Bates credits may be awarded for each A-Level examination graded A or B, with 1.0 possible credit for a B in mathematics). 1.0 Bates course credit may be awarded for a grade of C. A maximum of 4.0 non-Bates credits, including A-Level credit, may be applied to the Bates academic record.

Advanced Placement, International Baccalaureate, and A-Level Credit and General Education. AP, IB, or A-Level credit awarded as equivalent to a specific Bates course may be used to fulfill the same General Education requirements that the equivalent Bates course fulfills, exclusive of writing requirements.

Other Advanced Standing Programs. Not all students have access to Advanced Placement, International Baccalaureate, or A-Level examinations, but it is not possible to fairly evaluate all of the many other advanced standing programs currently available. Credit is awarded therefore only to successful scores on Advanced Placement, International Baccalaureate, and A-Level examinations. Coursework undertaken in other advanced standing programs, however, may be used to place into higher-level Bates courses and students should consult with the appropriate department or program chair.

Advanced Standing for Transfer Students

The college welcomes applications from students who wish to transfer to Bates from other institutions. Bates transfers courses completed at accredited colleges and universities under guidelines established by the faculty. The college's transfer credit policy is described here.

In order to graduate, a student who matriculates at Bates as a first-year student completes a minimum of 32.0 credits, which includes 1.0 credit earned from two half-credit Short Term courses. A transfer student must attend Bates for a minimum of four semesters and earn a minimum of 16.0 Bates course credits, including 1.0 credit earned from two half-credit Short Term courses, to earn a Bates degree. While students may have earned more than the allowable number of transferable credits at their previous institution, they must choose which they wish to apply to their Bates record at the time of transfer. Students may not transfer in courses taken elsewhere to count as Short Term courses.

The following credentials are due in the Office of Admission by 1 March for fall semester consideration: the application and fee; official secondary school and college transcripts; a college catalog describing courses completed and those in progress; a statement of good standing from a college official; two letters of recommendation (one from college professors, one from a college advisor/counselor or high school guidance counselor); and an essay concerning the applicant's motivation to transfer. Submission of standardized testing results is optional.

When a transfer student is admitted, the student's transcript is reviewed for transferable credits and allowable General Education credits.

Visiting Students

Bates welcomes applications from students attending other colleges who wish to enroll for a limited time as non-degree visiting students. Enrollment on a visiting basis can be for one semester or a year. While enrolled, visiting students pay the same tuition, room, and board fees and have the same privileges and obligations as regular degree candidates. They are not, however, eligible to receive financial aid or to play an NCAA-sanctioned varsity sport. At the end of the term of study, a transcript of the visiting student's course work may be sent to the home institution upon request.

To apply, the student should file the regular application for admission, indicating "visiting student" status, and submit the following credentials: an official college transcript, two letters of recommendation from college faculty, a letter of recommendation from a dean or advisor, a statement of good standing from a college official, and an essay explaining the student's interest in Bates and in becoming a visiting student.

High School Scholars

Under the High School Scholars Program, arranged in conjunction with the guidance offices at local high schools, a limited number of qualified high school seniors may enroll in a Bates course each semester free of charge. Students apply through their high school guidance office to the Bates Office of Admission. Students receive a Bates transcript following successful completion of each course. Each student is limited to one course per semester for a total of two courses under this program.

High School Scholars who later wish to matriculate must meet admission requirements and are subject to decisions made by the Dean of Admission and Financial Aid and the Registrar concerning the credits toward a degree, which may include consideration of courses completed as a High School Scholar.

Community Scholars

Each semester, as space within courses permits, Bates admits Community Scholars, students who are not degree candidates. No more than two courses may be taken each semester; the fee per course for 2023-2024 is $2,200. No financial aid is available for Community Scholars and they are responsible for any additional fees associated with a course. A transcript is available showing completion of each course. Community Scholars are not degree-seeking candidates and are limited to a maximum of four courses at Bates. Community Scholars may not enroll in Short Term courses. College employees, spouses or domestic partners, and dependents seeking Community Scholar status should refer to the Bates Employee Handbook for more information about the Community Scholar Program for employees. Interested applicants should submit the application form to the Registrar with a $25 application fee one month prior to the beginning of the semester, and meet with the Registrar. Entry into courses depends on the space available.

Community Scholars who later wish to matriculate must meet admission requirements and are subject to decisions made by the Dean of Admission and Financial Aid and the Registrar concerning the credits toward a degree, which may include consideration of courses completed as a Community Scholar.

Auditing Students

Application by community members to audit a course is made with the Registrar in consultation with the instructor of the course. Permission to audit a course is withheld if, in the judgment of the Registrar or the instructor, it is not appropriate to audit the course or too many applications to audit are received.

Members of the college staff, their spouses or partners, and their dependents may apply to audit courses with permission from the Office of Human Resources.

The auditing fee for non-matriculated students in 2023–2024 is $800. No credit is earned; the audit is not recorded on a permanent record. An auditor should not expect to have papers and exams graded; therefore, auditing is seldom permitted in courses where the method of instruction involves significant individual attention and guidance or extensive use of equipment. Matriculated Bates students may audit courses with prior permission of their advisor, the instructor of the course, and the Registrar. An audited course may not be converted at a later date to a course taken for credit and is not recorded on the academic record. Entry into courses depends on the space available. Auditing students may not enroll in Short Term courses.

Student Retention and Graduation

The federal Student Right to Know Act requires institutions of higher education to make available six-year graduation rates. The most accurate information related to Bates’ retention rates over several years may be found on the college's institutional research dashboard.