Founded in 1864 and located 11 miles southwest of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Swarthmore College is a private institution with an undergraduate enrollment of 1,581. In 2017, U.S. News & World Report ranked Swarthmore College as number four on its list of Best National Liberal Arts Colleges. The school offers more than 100 on-campus organizations, and an estimated 40 percent of students study abroad. Notable alumni include Robert Zoellick, former president of the World Bank, former presidential candidate and Massachusetts governor Michael Dukakis and Nancy Grace Romance, known as the “mother of the Hubble telescope” and NASA’s first chief of astronomy in the Office of Space Science.

Swarthmore College Accreditation Details

Swarthmore College is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education. The school’s engineering program is accredited by the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET).

Swarthmore College Application Requirements

Required materials for admission into Swarthmore College include a completed Questbridge Application, Coalition Application or Common Application as well as a $60 application fee. Students must also submit a maximum of 250 word essay indicating why they are interested in apply to and attending the school as well as their high school transcripts and a guidance counselor recommendation. Standardized test scores and two academic-subject teacher evaluations are also required. Students may also request an off-campus or on-campus interview prior to applying.

Tuition and Financial Aid

Tuition for Swarthmore College is approximately $48,720, excluding a $384 student activity fee which covers campus movie nights, lectures, trips to Philadelphia, social events, concerts, printing, laundry, participation in sporting events, IT support and more. The school acknowledges that 52 percent of full-time undergraduates receive some form of need-based financial aid, and the average need-based grant or scholarship award is $44,256. All students seeking financial aid must complete the CSS PROFILE, and the financial aid application process differs for international and domestic students. In addition, Swarthmore College offers several U.S. Veterans Affairs (VA) education benefits and participates in the Yellow Ribbon Program.

Degrees Available

Swarthmore College offers 86 undergraduate degrees within 18 broad fields of study, including engineering, history, educational studies and computer science, and students may also choose to design their own majors.

The school’s Engineering Department provides students with a rigorous, broad education that emphasizes strong synthesis and analysis skills. Engineering majors must complete 12 engineering credits and eight credits in science and math. Courses include computer vision, principles of computer architecture, numerical methods for engineering applications and fundamentals of food engineering. Students will also learn about technology, electrical circuit analysis and mobile robotics, where they will address the problems of motivating and controlling robots to act intelligently in unpredictable, dynamic environments. Mechanics, solar energy systems and electronic circuit applications are also studied in depth, as students work to understand new technical and non-technical challenges in the design of solutions.

The courses offered by the History Department provide students with an understanding of the nature of history as a discipline and introduce them to the institutional, cultural and social developments that have produced today’s world. All history majors must take at least nine credits in history and complete the Senior Research Seminar. Students will analyze the contexts in which people have worked and lived, and the coursework emphasizes historical methodology as well as the fundamentals of historical writing and research. After graduation, students are prepared for a wide range of professions and occupations, ranging from public interest foundations and trade unions to elementary and high schools, from the world of medicine to government service, from the public to the private sector and from publishing and journalism to consulting. Courses include history versus Hollywood, Latin American history, early modern European history, the medieval Mediterranean, African American history and United States history.

The Department of Educational Studies encourages undergraduates to think creatively and critically about the processes of learning and teaching and about education’s place in society. Students are also prepared to do graduate study in education, to work in the areas of educational policy or research and to enter the teaching profession. The special major requires 10 to 12 credits, at least five of which must be in educational studies. Coursework draws on multidisciplinary approaches, including work in history, economics, political science, anthropology, sociology and psychology. Students may also complete the requirements for teacher certification, minor in Educational Studies and/or design a special major in Educational Studies and a second discipline in either the Honors program or another course. Although some graduates teach, others have worked in policy agencies or non-profits, have become lawyers or doctors or have completed doctorates in linguistics, English, psychology, anthropology, sociology, education and other fields. Students may expect to take classes in teaching diverse young learners, language minority education, adolescence, teaching English as a second language, creative writing outreach, educational psychology and special education.

Swarthmore College’s Computer Science Department offers courses that emphasize the fundamental concepts of computer science, treating today’s systems and languages as examples of underlying concepts. Earning this degree within a liberal arts environment will hone students’ skills in concise and clear communication, critical thinking and problem solving. Students pursuing an undergraduate degree in computer science must take nine courses in computer science and two math or statistics courses at the Linear Algebra level or above. Students must also maintain at least a B- average in the program’s introductory course. Students will take a wide variety of courses such as data structures and algorithms, computer graphics, computer networks, database systems, operating systems, theory of computation, artificial intelligence, principles of computer architecture and natural language processing. They will also develop in-depth knowledge of robotics, cloud systems and data center networks, computer vision and programming languages.

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Students seeking an undergraduate degree from Swarthmore College may design their own special major. In some fields such as neuroscience, linguistics and language, chemical physics, biochemistry and astrophysics, previous students have already worked with faculty members to develop curricula, but in other cases, students and their faculty mentors may design their own distinct academic program. Examples of these individualized programs of study include majors in technology and the human experience, urban studies and health and social policy. Like traditional majors at Swarthmore College, the build-your-own major requires at least 10 courses that provide the student with a comprehensive understanding of the chosen topic.