Swarthmore College

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School Overview

Established in 1864, Swarthmore College is a privately owned undergraduate liberal arts college with a total annual enrollment of roughly 1,500 students. It is located in Swarthmore, Pennsylvania about 10 miles from Philadelphia. The college was founded by Quakers who supported the abolitionist and women’s rights movements in the late 19th century. Swarthmore was also one of the first coeducational institutions in the country. Up until the 1930s, Swarthmore had a strong religious affiliation, but today, the college is non-sectarian.

If you’re looking for a top-notch and challenging liberal arts education, Swarthmore College may be just the school for you. It’s known for its well-rounded, focused curriculum that covers over 40 academic disciplines. Swarthmore emphasizes a unique style of discussion-based learning and strives to maintain small class sizes, whereby ensuring that each student receives the personalized attention they need to be successful. In fact, Swarthmore has a ratio of 1 faculty member for every 8 students. How many colleges can claim that? Swarthmore is also known for its commitment to excellence in academic achievement. Over 90% of the college’s students go on to attend graduate school and more than 20% will eventually earn a Ph.D. Some of the other colleges in the nation that have as high a number of their undergraduate students obtaining Ph.D.s include Harvey Mudd College, Cal Tech and Reed College.

Swarthmore has a lot more to offer than an exceptional academic program. Student life at Swarthmore is diverse and stimulating. The school features an array of year-round student events, activities, organizations and athletic programs. You’ll rarely run out of something fun to do at Swarthmore.

Swarthmore’s admissions team is very selective and they only admit the most qualified students. If you want to get into Swarthmore: do your best to get good grades; participate in extracurricular and leadership activities in high school; perform well on the ACT and/or SAT exams; and schedule an interview for Swarthmore’s early decision application as soon as possible. The early decision application deadline for fall term is November 15 (January 1 for regular decision).

Swarthmore is one of the private, liberal arts colleges that belong to the Tri-College Consortium. The other two member colleges are Haverford College and Bryn Mawr College. Through the consortium Swarthmore students can also take classes at either Haverford or Bryn Mawr. The consortium provides students with the resources of a large university without sacrificing the benefits of a small college (e.g., flexibility, personal attention, etc.).


Swarthmore offers students the opportunity to participate in a unique Honors Program based on the Oxbridge tutorial system, a rigorous and academically challenging teaching and learning system where students present their work and analysis in small groups directly to their professors and other students. During their junior and senior years, Honors students are able to take a series of seminars that provide them double credit. During each seminar students are required to perform topic-related research and analysis, and prepare up to two 10-page papers and one 30-page paper. Honors students may also be required to take several written and oral exams. Honors students can graduate with the designation of “Highest Honor” (reserved for the top student in each discipline), “High Honors” or “Honors”. Certain prerequisites (including an acceptable GPA) must be met in order to be admitted into the Honors Program.

Swarthmore is somewhat unique among undergraduate liberal arts colleges in that it offers a highly reputable engineering program. Engineering students at Swarthmore who successfully complete the 4-year program are awarded a Bachelor of Science (B.S.) in Engineering. A few other unique programs at Swarthmore include Interpretation Theory (a.k.a. Critical Theory), Peace and Conflict Studies, and Cognitive Science.

On average, total annual enrollment at Swarthmore is approximately 1,500 students. The college has around 160 full-time faculty members, nearly all of which have a Ph.D., doctorate or terminal degree in their field of study. Notwithstanding its relatively small size, Swarthmore offers a comprehensive selection of bachelor’s degrees in over 50 fields of study. Most of Swarthmore’s students go on to earn graduate degrees or professional degrees. Swarthmore is known for its rigorous academic program which has been ranked with the likes of Harvard, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Stanford and Yale.

Reputation and Rankings

Swarthmore College is consistently ranked among the top ten undergraduate colleges in the United States–and with good reason. Swarthmore produces some of the finest graduates of any college in the nation. Over the last four decades Swarthmore has produced 151 Fulbright Scholars, 30 Rhodes Scholars, 22 Truman Scholars, 8 Marshall Scholars, 13 Luce Scholars, 66 Watson Fellows, 3 Soros Fellows, 19 Goldwater Scholars, 84 Mellon Mays Undergraduate Fellows, 230 National Science Foundation Graduate Fellows, 13 National Endowment for the Humanities Grants for Younger Scholars, 35 Woodrow Wilson Fellows, and 2 Mitchell Scholars–an impressive record by any standard.

In 2012, Swarthmore College was ranked the No.3 liberal arts college in the nation by U.S. News & World Report, surpassed only by Amherst College and Williams College. Since the founding of U.S. News college rankings, Swarthmore is one of only three colleges nationwide that has repeated been ranked the No.1 liberal arts college in the United States. In its history, Swarthmore has been ranked the No.1 liberal arts college in the nation six times.

Other reputable industry publications, including Forbes Magazine, Businessweek, Wallstreet Journal, Princeton Review and Foreign Policy Magazine have repeatedly ranked Swarthmore among the top higher education institutions in the world.


Swarthmore is a highly selective college. In any given year, Swarthmore will only accept between 10-15% of applicants. For the Class of 2016, nearly a third of entering freshmen were their high school’s valedictorian, over half were in the top 2% of their graduating class, and almost all were within the top 10% of their high school graduating class. The average ACT score of entering freshmen range from 30 to 33 and SAT scores range from 670-760, 670-770, and 680-770 for critical reading, mathematics, and writing, respectively. Not only is Swarthmore highly selective, but competition to get accepted is intense.

General Information

Admission Office
500 College Avenue
Swarthmore, PA 19081
(610) 328-8300
(800) 667-3110
Fax: (610) 328-8580

Contact: James Bock
Dean of Admissions and Financial Aid
Main Address
500 College Avenue
Swarthmore, PA 19081
(610) 328-8000


Total undergrads: 1,490
First-time degree-seeking freshmen: 372
Degree-seeking undergrads: 1,477

Suburban setting
Small town (2,500 – 9,999)
Residential campus

Degrees offered:


Tuition & Fees

Estimated Annual Expenses 2008-’09 2009-’10 2010-’11 2011-’12 % change 2010-’12
Tuition and fees $34,884 $36,490 $37,860 $39,600 +4.60%
Books and Supplies $1,080 $1,110 $1,150 $1,150 0.00%
Living Arrangement – On Campus
Room and Board $10,816 $11,314 $11,740 $11,900 +1.36%
Other $1,435 $1,467 $1,515 $1,503 -0.79%
Living Arrangement – Off Campus
Room and Board $0 $0 $0 $0 0.00%
Other $0 $0 $0 $0 0.00%
Total Expenses 2008-’09 2009-’10 2010-’11 2011-’12 % change 2010-’12
In-state On Campus $48,215 $50,381 $52,265 $54,153 +3.61%
In-state Off Campus $35,964 $37,600 $39,010 $40,750 +4.46%
In-state with Family $35,964 $37,600 $39,010 $40,750 +4.46%

Financial Aid

Full-time Beginning Undergraduate Students
Type of Aid Students Percent Amount Average Per Student
All students financial aid 1 234 63%
Grant or scholarship aid 188 51% $5,822,936 $30,973
• Federal grants 50 13% $234,690 $4,694
• Pell grants 39 10% $137,678 $3,530
• Other federal grants 44 12% $97,012 $2,205
State/local government grant or scholarships 15 4% $34,760 $2,317
Institutional grants or scholarships 182 49% $5,553,486 $30,514
Student loan aid 73 20% $537,678 $7,365
• Federal student loans 69 19% $340,878 $4,940
• Other student loans 7 2% $196,800 $28,114

All Degrees and Programs

Total of All Education Programs 408
Area, Gender, Cultural, Ethnic, and Group Studies 16
African-American/Black Studies 1
American/United States Studies/Civilization 1
Area Studies, Other 1
Asian Studies/Civilization 7
Ethnic, Cultural Minority, Gender, and Group Studies, Other
French Studies
German Studies
Latin American Studies
Near and Middle Eastern Studies 3
Russian Studies
Women’s Studies 3
Biology and Biomedical Sciences 50
Biochemistry 2
Biological and Biomedical Sciences, Other
Biology and Biological Sciences, General 48
Computing and Information Sciences 12
Computer and Information Sciences 12
Education 24
Bilingual, Multilingual, and Multicultural Education, Other
Education, Other 24
Engineering 17
Engineering 17
English Language, Composition and Literature/Letters 27
English Language and Literature 26
English Language and Literature/Letters, Other 1
Foreign Languages, Literatures, and Linguistics 35
Ancient/Classical Greek Language and Literature
Chinese Language and Literature 4
Classics and Classical Languages, Literatures, and Linguistics
Comparative Literature 7
French Language and Literature 5
German Language and Literature
Japanese Language and Literature
Latin Language and Literature 4
Linguistics 7
Russian Language and Literature 1
Spanish Language and Literature 7
History 19
History 19
History, Other
Human Services
Public Administration and Social Service Professions, Other
Public Policy Analysis
Mathematics and Statistics 18
Applied Mathematics, Other
Mathematics 18
Multi-/Interdisciplinary Studies
Biological and Physical Sciences
Mathematics and Computer Science
Medieval and Renaissance Studies
Multi-/Interdisciplinary Studies, Other
Peace Studies and Conflict Resolution
Natural Resources and Conservation
Environmental Studies
Physical Sciences 19
Astronomy 1
Astrophysics 2
Chemical Physics 1
Chemistry 7
Geology and Earth Science
Physical Sciences, Other
Physics 8
Psychology 35
Physiological Psychology/Psychobiology
Psychology 31
Psychology, Other 4
Social Sciences 106
Economics 48
International Relations and Affairs
Political Science and Government 40
Political Science and Government, Other
Social Sciences, Other 18
Visual and Performing Arts 30
Art History, Criticism and Conservation 4
Dance 1
Drama and Dramatics/Theater Arts 8
Film/Cinema/Video Studies
Film/Video and Photographic Arts, Other 8
Fine/Studio Arts 7
Music 2
Musicology and Ethnomusicology
Visual and Performing Arts, Other
Above data represents first majors only.
(-) Indicates that a program is not offered at this level.

Admissions Information

Application Fee

College has an application fee: Yes

Regular application fee: $60

Online application fee: $60
Enrollment Rates

Percent applicants admitted: 16%

Percent students who return for sophomore year: 96%

Admissions Considerations
Secondary school record: Required
Recommendations: Required
Admission test scores (SAT/ACT): Required
TOEFL: Recommended

Undergraduate Admissions Fall 2011
Number of Applicants: 6,547
Percent Admitted: 15%
Percented Admitted Who Enrolled: 39%

Test Scores: Fall 2011

SAT Critical Reading

  • 680 (25th Percentile)
  • 770 (75th Percentile)

SAT Math

  • 670 (25th Percentile)
  • 760 (75th Percentile)

SAT Writing

  • 680 (25th Percentile)
  • 770 (75th Percentile)

ACT Composite

  • 30 (25th Percentile)
  • 34 (75th Percentile)

ACT English

  • 31 (25th Percentile)
  • 35 (75th Percentile)

ACT Math

  • 29 (25th Percentile)
  • 34 (75th Percentile)

ACT Writing

  • 8 (25th Percentile)
  • 10 (75th Percentile)

Enrollment Statistics

Undergraduate Attendance Status

Undergraduate Student Gender

Undergraduate Student Age

Undergraduate Student Residence

Undergraduate Race/Ethnicity

Retention and Graduation Rates

Retention Rates for First-Time Students Pursuing Bachelor’s Degrees

Overall Graduation and Transfer-Out Rates for Students

Graduation Rates for Students Pursuing Bachelor’s Degrees

6-Year Graduation Rate by Gender for Students Pursuing Bachelor’s Degrees

6-Year Graduation Rate by Race/Ethnicity for Students Pursuing Bachelor’s Degrees

Undergraduate Majors

Area, Ethnic, Cultural, & Gender Studies

Asian Studies B
German Studies B
Women’s Studies B

Arts, Visual & Performing

Art History/Criticism/Conservation B
Dance B
Drama/Theater Arts B
Film Studies B
Fine/Studio Arts B
Music – General B

Biological & Biomedical Sciences

Biochemistry B
Biology B

Computer & Information Sciences

Computer/Information Sciences – General B


Education – General B


Engineering – General B

English Language & Literature

English Language & Literature – General B

Foreign Language & Literature

Chinese B
Classics B
Comparative Literature B
French B
German B
Greek, Ancient B
Japanese B
Latin B
Linguistics B
Russian B
Spanish B


History – General B


Mathematics – General B

Multi/Interdisciplinary Studies

Medieval/Renaissance Studies B

Philosophy & Religion

Philosophy B
Religion/Religious Studies B

Physical Sciences

Astronomy B
Astrophysics B
Chemical Physics B
Chemistry B
Physics B


Psychobiology/Physiological Psychology B
Psychology – General B

Social Sciences

Anthropology B
Economics B
Political Science/Government B
Sociology B

Degree levels for each major are designated by the following letters:

    A = Associate degree
    B = Bachelor’s degree
    C = Certificate or diploma

*We do not guarantee the accuracy of information on this page. All information is subject to change. You should confirm all information with a college admissions officer.

Swarthmore College Highlights

School Information

Phone Number: (610) 328-8000
Website: www.swarthmore.edu
Type of School: 4-year, Private non-profit
Apply Online: www.swarthmore.edu/admissions-aid/apply-to-swarthmore
Address: 500 College Ave, Swarthmore, PA 19081
Setting: Suburb: Large
Campus Housing: Yes

Students & Programs

Student Population: 1,594
6-yr Graduation Rate (Bachelor's): 94%
Student-to-faculty Ratio: 8 to 1
Distance Learning Programs:
Distance Learning Students*: 1,594 (100% of total students)
Degree Levels Offered: Bachelor's

* Students taking at least 1 distance learning course

Tuition & Financial Aid*

In-state Tuition: $54,656
Out-of-state Tuition: $54,656
% of Students Receiving Financial Aid: 63%
Avg. Amount of Grant or Scholarship Aid Awarded: $51,408

* Full-time beginning undergraduate students. Financial aid is available to those who qualify.

Swarthmore College Programs

See the degree programs that are offered at Swarthmore College.

Degree Name Cert Assoc Bach Mast Doct
Area, Ethnic, Cultural, Gender, and Group Studies 13
Biological and Biomedical Sciences 6
Computer and Information Sciences and Support Services 1
Education 3
Engineering 1
English Language and Literature/Letters 3
Foreign Languages, Literatures, and Linguistics 10
History 2
Liberal Arts and Sciences, General Studies and Humanities 1
Mathematics and Statistics 2
Multi/Interdisciplinary Studies 8
Natural Resources and Conservation 1
Philosophy and Religious Studies 4
Physical Sciences 7
Psychology 4
Public Administration and Social Service Professions 3
Social Sciences 8
Visual and Performing Arts 12
Grand total 89

* Based on programs that produced 2019-2020 graduates

Tuition & Financial Aid

See what it costs to enroll at Swarthmore College and how many students are receiving scholarships, grants, or loans as financial aid to help cover the costs of tuition.

Undergraduate Student Tuition

Average tuition and fees for academic year:

Tuition and Fees 2019-2020
In-state $54,656
Out-of-state $54,656
Books and supplies $1,400

Graduate Student Tuition

Average tuition and fees for academic year:

Tuition and Fees 2019-2020
In-state $0
Out-of-state $0

Undergraduate Student Financial Aid, 2018-2019

Full-time Beginning Undergraduate Students

Type of Aid Number Receiving Aid % Receiving Aid Avg. Amt. of Aid
Any student financial aid 261 63%
Grant or scholarship aid 231 56% $51,408
Student loan aid 42 10% $8,986

All Undergraduate Students

Type of Aid Number Receiving Aid % Receiving Aid Avg. Amt. of Aid
Grant or scholarship aid 997 61% $48,199
Federal student loans 253 15% $5,942

Admissions & Enrollment

See the admission requirements for Swarthmore College. Find out how many students apply and how many are accepted. View a graphical breakdown of the gender, age, and ethnicity of currently enrolled Swarthmore College students.

Undergraduate Admissions, Fall 2020

Total Male Female
Number of applicants 11,442 4,763 6,679
Percent admitted 100% 10% 8%
Percent admitted who enrolled 4% 4% 3%

Admissions Considerations

Required Recommended Optional
Secondary school GPA
Secondary school rank
Secondary school record
Completion of college-preparatory program
Formal demonstration of competencies
Admission test scores
Other Test (Wonderlic, WISC-III, etc.)
TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language

Swarthmore College Enrollment, Fall 2020

Total Enrollment 1,594
Undergraduate enrollment 1,594
Graduate enrollment 0

Undergraduate Attendance

Undergraduate Gender

Undergraduate Age

Undergraduate Race/Ethnicity

Undergraduate Distance Education

Undergraduates taking 100%, Some, or No Distance Education

Graduate Distance Education

Graduate students taking 100%, Some, or No Distance Education

Swarthmore College Accreditation

This institution is accredited by Middle States Commission on Higher Education

Specialized institution accreditations:

*General information for this school has been gathered from the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) database, a service provided by the U.S. Department of Education. CollegeAtlas.org does not guarantee the accuracy of information on this page. All information is subject to change. You should confirm all information with a college admissions officer.

If you work for a school and would like to update your data please contact us.

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