How to Write a Sophomore Plan of Study

Chocolates, Chai and Choosing event. Photo credit: Melissa Tier '14.

The "Sophomore Plan" is a reflection on your experiences, and a plan for your remaining time at Swarthmore. The Plan is also a central piece of your application for your academic major(s) and - if sought - your minors(s).

The Sophomore Plan has a few parts:

  • A brief (1-2 page) description of the primary interests, purposes, and principles that organize your program of study, including major(s), minors, off-campus study, Honors, etc.
  • A semester-by-semester list of courses and seminars which are central to your academic program. This list will assist planning for the next two years. Note: because of leave patterns and other factors, there is no guarantee that you will be admitted to all seminars and courses you list, even if your program is approved.
  • Any forms required by individual departments, individualized special majors, etc.

If your Plan of Study is a special major, please consult the College Catalog regarding the development of the plan, as there are already "regularized" special majors described there (e.g. Cognitive Science, Neuroscience, Educational Studies, special majors).

For a truly "individualized" special major, you should consult the departments under which this type of major will be supervised and you must complete the following form on paper:

Guidance and Advising

During the first and second week of the spring semester, each department and program, as well as the Honors program, will offer an informational meeting for prospective majors. These meetings are intended to provide more specific information about the department or program, its faculty, its expectations, and its requirements for a major and minor.

The Lang Center for Civic and Social Responsibility and Career Services will also hold advising sessions. The Lang Center staff are eager to talk with students interested in connecting community service or activism to their academic plans. Career Services counselors can help students think about how their choices relate to job or educational possibilities; they have data available on the occupations of alumni who have graduated from all of Swarthmore's majors. Student Academic Mentors (SAMs) will hold sessions in the dorms and, with their immediately relevant experience, can support students through the sophomore plan of study process itself.

After attending informational sessions, students pursue individual advising regarding their intended program of study. They must submit a completed Request for a Sophomore Plan Advisor directly to the department in which they are interested. Students wishing to double major must submit one form to each major department, and also to any minor department or program. The department will assign a faculty member to each student for the specific purpose of discussing their plans for the future.

The advisor will help students develop a plan of study for their final two years at the College and provide guidance as students write their Sophomore Plan narratives. It is the student's responsibility to meet with their advisor during the advisor's scheduled office hours.

Students who expect to pursue teacher certification should also have their plans reviewed by the faculty in the Department of Educational Studies as the requirements of the state for certification are very specific and insistent.

Majors, double majors, and minors

Each student is (only) required to have one major, which may be a departmental, an inter-departmental, or a special major.

A student may choose to major in two subjects simultaneously, or "double major." Students considering this option should be aware that some departments require a higher grade point average for double majors. Also, having two majors may limit a student's flexibility in course selection.

Students may also choose to pursue one or two minors with some limits. A minor may be completed in course or as part of an Honors program. Most departments and interdisciplinary programs offer course minors. Those departments or programs not offering course minors are:

  • Comparative Literature
  • Economics
  • Political Science
  • Sociology & Anthropology
  • Studio Art

These departments and programs do offer Honors minors.

Students will normally apply for admission to the Honors Program at the time they write their Sophomore Plan of Study. Students will be accepted into Honors as sophomores with the provision that their work will continue to be of Honors quality. Students may also apply later to enter the Honors Program.

Limits on multiple majors/minors

Students may have up to two majors; a student with two majors may not have a minor.

One exception: A student in Honors (having an Honors major and an Honors minor) may have a second major outside of Honors so long as that second major is the same subject as the Honors minor. This is the only circumstance in which a student may major and minor in the same subject.

Students may have one or two — but no more than two — minors, if they have only one major.

Overlap rule: Minors will include at least five credits, four of which may not overlap with the student's major or other minor. Information on the overlap rule is available on the Registrar's Website.