Swarthmore College

Swarthmore, PA

Swarthmore College

Swarthmore, PA

Explore Swarthmore College's Featured Profiles:

Undergrad Science & Engineering Diversity

A passion for learning

Swatties are an eclectic lot: smart, funny, and passionate about whatever they do. Engineers become game designers and pioneers in sustainable agriculture. Philosophers go on to work as data scientists and entrepreneurs. Biology majors develop leading research on HIV and develop a sideline in photojournalism. Swatties forge their own paths. When you apply to Swarthmore College, it should be because you love learning and new ideas excite you. When you join our community, you'll find that everybody here shares your passion for learning. Swarthmore will challenge you academically—but when you discover how fast and how far Swarthmore can take you intellectually, it starts to feel like flying.

Swarthmore’s commitment to financial aid and access is at the core of our educational mission. Our institutional financial aid meets 100% of a student’s full determined need and is loan-free. Furthermore, we practice need-blind admission—meaning a student’s ability to pay is not factored into their admission decision—for all domestic students (US citizens, permanent residents, eligible non-citizens such as refugees, and undocumented students who graduate from a high school in the United States).

Dynamic community
On any given day, you may perform ecology fieldwork in the Crum Woods with your labmate turned best friend, or after a lively lunch date with your hallmates, conduct research for your environmental economics course on how Swarthmore’s system of green roofs reduces energy costs. Maybe you’ll watch the friends you made in Acting 101 rehearse their theater performance in the leafy Scott Amphitheater, spend all Sunday afternoon recharging on the sun-drenched lawn of Parrish Beach, or clear your head with a group trail run through the woods. Some of the best hours of your life will be spent sitting in the hall outside your room at odd hours having conversations with your neighbors about anything and everything—from the lecture you heard earlier that day to your favorite restaurants in nearby Philadelphia.

The friends you make at Swarthmore come from all over the world, from Iowa to Ghana, from New York City to a small town in Oregon. They come from all different backgrounds, too. They’re the first in their families to attend college. They’re undocumented immigrants. They were top of their class at their rural high school. The friends you make here will challenge you intellectually, support you through hard times, and throw you a surprise birthday party. Forty years from now, when your first-year roommate drops in from Paris or Poughkeepsie, it will seem like only days since you last talked.

Academics that stretch you intellectually
It’s true the academic life at Swarthmore is rigorous and exciting. It’s an alchemical mix of top-notch professors, brilliant students, excellent facilities, and an atmosphere with equal parts cooperation and discovery. Swarthmore is an exclusively undergraduate college with an intentionally small student population. That means the radio station, engineering labs, state-of-the-art fitness center, and all other facilities are readily available for any student—so are the professors for research opportunities, office hours, or the drop-by conversation about your favorite films and recipes.

Classes will challenge and inspire you in equal measure. In fact, first semester you’ll take all pass/fail classes so you can adjust to the rigor of a Swarthmore education while exploring new subjects and topics you never considered before. Top grades aren’t the objective. We don’t do GPAs here. You work hard because you want to, because there is nothing like knowing—really knowing—something you didn’t know before. You’ll spend hours at dinner debating arcane points of philosophy and language. You’ll fall on the floor laughing over chemistry jokes.

Come junior year, you can choose to study your major in the College’s unique intense and in-depth graduate-style Honors Program, where you take final exams before a panel of distinguished scholars from other colleges and experts from the field. All of this will teach you more than you can imagine about the world around you, the process of learning, and—most of all—yourself.

Top sciences and Engineering              
Bolstered by a curiosity and breadth of knowledge you’d expect from the liberal arts, our STEM students are well-rounded, equipped to collaborate effectively, and prepared for new technologies. Swarthmore students in the sciences and Engineering win more than their fair share of National Science Foundation and other science fellowships. Our Astronomy, Astrophysics, Biology, Chemistry, Cognitive Science, Computer Science, Engineering, Mathematics, and Physics programs are in a league with those at big technical universities. The difference is that here you can also pursue your interests beyond STEM and even integrate them into your studies, like an engineering alum turned creative director for a major video game company or an Astronomy major who pursued science journalism.  

Swarthmore’s Engineering program is among the strongest in the country and one of the few accredited programs at a liberal arts institution. If you’ve always wanted to be an engineer while still diving into music, religion, theater, or political science, this is the place for you. A liberal arts–based Engineering program prepares future engineers to understand the full context of their work in the world. Swarthmore’s Engineering graduates are welcomed in graduate programs throughout the country, and many go on directly to jobs in the field.

Common good
If you haven’t already, chances are at Swarthmore, you’ll begin a lifelong habit of involving yourself in the larger world. Community building has been rooted in the College’s principles for more than 150 years since its founding. Swarthmore’s forward-looking Quaker founders built the College on the premise that all people have an inner light that must be respected and that each of us can make the world a better place.

Today, there are several kinds of grants available to help students carry out such efforts while they’re at Swarthmore. These grants cover costs for participating in the social action program, allowing you do to things like rehabilitating low-cost housing, for instance, or helping nursing homes manage elderly patients. The Lang Center for Civic and Social Responsibility supports students in these endeavors; they can help connect you with service projects, coordinate a community-based learning component to your academic work, or provide scholarship and grant funding to support a social action project you design.

Suburban campus, cosmopolitan life
The College’s 425-acre campus is an arboretum whose beauty defies description. Hundreds of varieties of plants and trees grace the rolling lawns and wooded creek. Yet the historic, cultural, and contemporary city of Philadelphia is only 30 minutes away by the train that stops at the foot of campus, and New York City and Washington, DC, are within a 90-minute train ride. You can also take exchange courses at nearby Haverford College, Bryn Mawr College, or the University of Pennsylvania.

Come for a visit
There’s no substitute for walking in the woods, talking with students, and discussing your interests with a professor in your major. We’re really looking forward to meeting you.

Fast Facts

• There are 1,647 students at Swarthmore.

• They come from all 50 states and 75 countries.

• The College is coeducational and has been since its founding in 1864.

• The student-faculty ratio is 8:1.

• There are more than 100 student activity groups on campus.

• Athletics are Division III and include 22 varsity intercollegiate teams.

• The library has over one million volumes and is linked to the libraries at Bryn Mawr and Haverford for interlibrary loan.

• All campus events are free to students.

The admission process at Swarthmore is need-blind for US citizens, permanent residents, and undocumented students graduating from US high schools; that is, you are accepted based on your record without reference to your financial situation. All who demonstrate financial need are offered aid—more than half of every class. Awards are generous. The average financial aid award for the incoming Class of 2023 was $56,326 and included need-based scholarships and campus jobs—but no loans. 

An Inside Look