Don’t be fooled by the liberal arts label. Swarthmore students in the sciences and engineering win more than their share of National Science Foundation and other science fellowships. The programs in Biology, Physics, Astronomy, Astrophysics, Chemistry, Computer Science, and Mathematics are in a league with those at big technical universities. The difference at Swarthmore is that you can also pursue your liberal arts interests.
Swarthmore’s Engineering program is among the best in the country. If you want to be an engineer but aren’t willing to give up music, religion, theater, or political science, this is the place for you. Swarthmore’s Engineering graduates are welcomed in graduate programs throughout the country, and many go directly to jobs in the field.
Academics that stretch your mind
Surveys of liberal arts colleges generally rank Swarthmore in the top three in the country. And it’s true that the academic life at Swarthmore is intense and exciting. It’s an alchemical mix of top-notch professors, brilliant students, excellent facilities, and an atmosphere with equal parts love of learning, cooperation, and mutual respect.
Swarthmore is exclusively undergraduate. That means the radio station, engineering labs, weight room, and all other facilities are available just for you. So are the professors. (There are only eight of you for every one of them.) And because Swarthmore is small, you always have the chance to participate—even if you don’t make captain of the debate team or edit the newspaper.
Classes are tough, but you love them. Top grades aren’t the objective. You work hard because you want to, because there is nothing like knowing something new. You spend hours at dinner debating points of philosophy and language. You fall down laughing over biology jokes.
Come junior year you can choose to study in Swarthmore’s unique graduate-style honors program, where you take final exams before a panel of distinguished scholars from other colleges. This will teach you more than you can imagine about the world, the process of learning, and most of all, yourself.
Swatties are an unusual lot: smart, funny, a little off the beam. And they’re passionate about whatever they do, which is rarely what you’d expect. Engineers go to Nepal to study philosophy. Philosophers edit chess magazines. Biology majors go on to medical school and develop a sideline in photojournalism.
You apply to Swarthmore because you love learning and you’re very good at it. What might surprise you coming from high school is that everybody here loves learning and is good at it too.
At first, being among this crowd can be intimidating. But when you discover how fast and how far they can take you intellectually, it starts to feel like flying.
Curious about what you can do with a Swarthmore education? Here are a few examples...
Hayden Dahmm ’15 won a Marshall Scholarship studying Engineering.
Hayden Dahmm ’15, an honors Engineering major and McCabe Scholar from Springfield, Pennsylvania, was one of 31 scholars chosen from a national pool to receive Marshall Scholarships in 2015. The scholarship provides full tuition and living expenses to support two years of study at any university in the United Kingdom.
Dahmm described what it’s like to be a blind engineer: “As a sighted engineer, in theory, I could just look at a graph and understand the relationships that it’s trying to show. But since I can’t see those graphs, I have to find another way to access that information.” Dahmm, along with help from his professors and fellow students, created a program called Sound Plot, which converts graphs into short sound bites.
“Just because you can’t see the technology doesn’t mean you can’t understand it,” Dahmm says. Dahmm, who also earned a minor in Environmental Studies, is enrolled in graduate studies at Imperial College London.
Jason Heo ’15 launched an anti-hunger app.
Siblings and Swarthmore alumni combined forces to create FarePath, a Web and mobile platform co-founded by brothers Jason Heo ’15 and Yongjun Heo ’09 that brings the savvy of a tech startup to the fight against hunger.
“The technology and social sectors generally operate in distinct and disconnected silos,” says Jason, who graduated with a degree in Economics and Political Science in 2015. “But there’s an opportunity for social organizations to make data-driven decisions and for groups such as FarePath to engage young people with the mobile technologies they already use.”
Farepath uses GIS-mapping to show where each can of food goes, disrupting the standard model of people giving time or money to large organizations with a vague sense of its direct impact.
Jason developed the program with support from Swarthmore’s Lang Center for Civic and Social Responsibility, receiving funding to work at food banks in San Francisco and Swarthmore.
Jason handles the on-the-ground elements of Farepath, while Yongjun, a serial entrepreneur who majored in Biology at Swarthmore and earned a Mitchell Scholarship, oversees the design and development of mobile technology.
“We’re excited to use our skills for change,” Jason says.
Claudia Luján ’15 won an entrepreneurial Venture for America Fellowship.
When you think entrepreneur, you probably don’t think background in Biology and English Literature. But Claudia Luján ’15 defies categorization. In recognition of the leadership and collaboration skills Luján honed at Swarthmore, Venture for America (VFA) named the El Paso, Texas, native one of its 2015 Fellows. VFA aims to help revitalize American communities through entrepreneurship, placing its fellows in two-year positions with startup companies it partners with in 12 cities.
“I don’t think there’s a better place to learn how to run a business than a startup,” she says. “You have the ability to learn alongside a small team and really contribute to the direction of the company.”
Among Luján’s experiences at Swarthmore included helping to launch the first student-led science journal. She relished the interdisciplinary nature of the College, which she says “fundamentally shaped” how she approaches problems.
“I have a wide set of seemingly unrelated skills that are actually very useful at a startup,” says Luján. “You have to think quickly on your feet and come up with innovative solutions. Having the capacity to tap into a variety of perspectives for a given problem is something I can thank Swarthmore for.”
Swarthmore, Pennsylvania, is located 20 kilometers southwest of Philadelphia. Our idyllic, 425-acre campus is a designated arboretum—complete with rolling lawns, creeks, and hiking trails. Downtown Philadelphia is less than 30 minutes away, and both New York City and Washington, DC, are a two-hour drive from campus.
Type of School: Private, non-sectarian, liberal arts with engineering
Size of Campus: 425 acres, 12 miles/20 kilometers from Philadelphia
Number of Students: 1,581
Number of Faculty: 185
Colleges, Programs, and Degrees: Bachelor of Arts, Bachelor of Science in Engineering
Geographic Diversity: All 50 states; more than 70 countries; 17% non-US citizens
International Student Services: There are several student-run international student groups at Swarthmore. The largest is the International Club. Other groups include SAO (Swarthmore Asian Organization), Deshi (Swarthmore South Asian Organization), SOCA (Swarthmore Students Of Caribbean Ancestry), Enlace (Hispanic/Latino organization), SASA (Swarthmore African Students Association), and PRO (Pacific Rim Organization).
Activities include organizing cultural presentations, promoting cultural togetherness, encouraging diversity, and educating students about different cultures. Groups also sponsor social events on weekends to which the entire student body is invited.
The Admissions Office hires one international student intern each year to assist with international recruitment efforts and serve as a liaison between the International Club and the Admissions Office.
International Student Budget:
Tuition $ 48,720
Fees $ 384
Personal Expenses, Books, and Supplies $ 2,560
Room and Board $ 14,446
Total $ 66,110
Financial Aid: Financial aid is available to foreign students applying as freshmen. None is available for transfers, so the College does not accept transfer applications from foreign students who require aid. Financial aid is exclusively need-based, and the financial aid package awarded will include some combination of grants (scholarships) and work-study. It is very important to complete the financial aid documentation required by our Financial Aid Office in a timely fashion. No special applications for scholarship aid are necessary, as our financial awards are need-based, not merit-based.
Test Score Requirements: Applicants to the Swarthmore College Class of 2020 and beyond are required to submit either the SAT or the ACT. We do not require the optional essay section of the SAT or the optional Writing section of the ACT. If submitted, scores from those sections will not be considered in our application review. SAT Subject Tests are not required for admission but will be considered if submitted. Prospective engineers are encouraged to submit the Math 2 Subject Test. Scores from the old and the new SAT will be accepted for students applying to enter in the fall of 2017. Equal consideration will be given to scores from either version of the test. TOEFL or IELTS is strongly encouraged for non-US citizens whose native language is not English and/or who are studying in non-English language curriculums. In addition, you will need to submit certification of your family’s finances and secure a valid US visa. It is expected that students will be enrolled in the most challenging secondary school option available in their country’s educational system. You will complete the same academic requirements to graduate as any other Swarthmore student.
Application Deadlines and Fees: Fall Early Decision: November 15; Winter Early Decision: January 2; Regular Decision: January 2; application fee: $60