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Science & Engineering Profile

Science and engineering are full of paradoxes:

• Physicists discover that at the subatomic level, the solid world around us is actually made of energy.

• Engineers fabricate machines of iron that fly through air.

• Biologists study life but can’t define it.


And—paradoxically—you’ll find an extraordinary undergraduate science education, including engineering, at a college better known as one of the top liberal arts institutions in the country: Swarthmore.

                                     Here’s why...

Swarthmore is dedicated to teaching undergraduates. Even as a first-year student, you’ll work closely with the brilliant scientists and engineers who make up our faculty. They are experts who obtained their doctorates at the top research institutions in the country and do fascinating, cutting-edge research. Yet their first calling and commitment is teaching undergraduates.

As a result, you’ll never sit in a survey course with 1,500 other students listening to a professor you’ll never meet. Your papers will never be graded by graduate student teaching assistants. Instead, you’ll work directly with professors in small classes and labs that give you lots of opportunities to ask questions, investigate ideas, and push experiments to the limits. 

Swarthmore graduates are welcomed at the most rigorous graduate programs in the country because they have a solid foundation in the sciences and are already accustomed to graduate-level research.

Learn by doing: labs
At Swarthmore all science and engineering courses have lab sections that let you discover the world for yourself. You may explore quantum electronics with a state-of-the-art titanium-sapphire laser or study the origins of life using a DNA amplification chamber.
Some of the pieces of equipment at your disposal cost a quarter of
a million dollars or more, but no one thinks twice about allowing undergraduates to use them. In fact, we bought them especially for you.
There are no graduate students here. In addition to classes and labs, you will have the opportunity to work with professors on their own research. Swarthmore faculty are awarded many research grants each year, most of which include funding for research assistance. You may want to spend a summer gaining graduate-level experience on one of these projects.

Science in context
There’s more to you than the scientist. At Swarthmore the musician, the lin
guist, the political scientist, and the philosopher in you will all get the same attention and respect as the biologist or engineer.

When you graduate from Swarthmore, you’ll have learned how to write clearly and persuasively, to assemble knowledge from many sources, to present ideas, to take a risk—in short, how to think.

Exploring a wide range of interests at Swarthmore will also make you a better scientist. In the “real” world, science doesn’t happen in a vacuum. You need to have the vision to seize new opportunities, understand the larger context, overcome political hurdles, write successful grant proposals, and explore the ethics of your research.

That’s what a liberal arts education is all about. And in a time when the frontiers of science change daily, it’s your best insurance for a constantly growing, challenging future. 





Programs in engineering and the sciences:

• Astronomy

• Biology

• Chemistry

• Computer Science

• Engineering

• Environmental Studies

• Mathematics

• Physics

• Statistics


These may also be combined: Astrophysics, Bioengineering, Biochemistry, Neuroscience, and so on.




• In 2016 Swarthmore students bested 20 other schools at Georgetown’s Innovation Marketplace Challenge with a proposal for an electric moped ride-sharing program in Jakarta, Indonesia, aimed at reducing air pollution and traffic.

• Swarthmore ranks #3 among US colleges and universities for students who go on to earn PhDs.

• 88% of our seniors and alumni who apply to medical school are accepted, compared to the national average of 41%.


Five Nobel Laureates are Swarthmore alumni. Swarthmore is also extraordinarily well represented in the membership of the National Academy of Sciences and other prestigious science and engineering organizations.


Swarthmore’s facilities are extensive
and up-to-date, but there are too many to list. (Please feel free to call and talk to the head of the department you’re interested in for more information.)


In the sciences and engineering, virtually all of Swarthmore’s professors hold doctoral degrees.