It is sometimes possible to receive Swarthmore credit for chemistry courses taken at other colleges and universities. If you wish to take a chemistry course on another campus and to receive Swarthmore credit for doing so, it is essential that you follow the proper procedure, and that you plan in advance. It is also important to realize that not all courses will be eligible for credit. (Note, however, that courses taken by Swarthmore students during the academic year at Bryn Mawr or Haverford are handled by a different procedure (cross registration), and under ordinary circumstances are automatically eligible for Swarthmore credit).
Before Registering for the Course
- Get essential information and materials about the course you wish to take, including:
- A syllabus, indicating at a minimum the number of hours of instruction and the major topics covered. The more detailed the syllabus, the better.
- The identity (title and author(s)) of the textbook that will be used.
- A laboratory schedule and syllabus, indicating at a minimum the number of laboratory meetings, the length of the meetings, the titles of the experiments, and the nature and number of the writing assignments (lab reports).
- Get a pre-approval form from the registrar's office.
- Bring both the course materials and the pre-approval form to the faculty member designated by the chair for the course you plan to take. (** see list below)
The faculty member will look at the materials you have brought, and make a tentative assessment about the suitability of the course. Signing of the pre-approval form is not a guarantee that the course will be eligible for Swarthmore credit, but rather an indication that the course is highly likely to be eligible, based on the information available at the time. If the course is deemed to be suitable, then you must finish the procedure for receiving Swarthmore credit after you have completed the course.
- Particularly for courses beyond the first year (i.e., beyond Chem 10 and 22), we pay close attention to the rigor of the course as well as the topics covered and the number of classroom and laboratory hours.
** Faculty members designated by the Chair for course considerations:
- Chem 10 (General Chemistry): Kevin Welch
- Chem 22 (First Semester Organic Chemistry): Paul Rablen
- Chem 32 (Second Semester Organic Chemistry): Bob Paley
- Chem 38 (Biochemistry): Stephen Miller
After Taking the Course
- You will need to bring your completed course materials back to the faculty member you consulted earlier for pre-approval. You should bring the actual lecture and laboratory syllabi used, your exams, your lab notebook, your lab reports, etc. You will also need to print out and fill out a final transfer credit approval form. [pdf]
- If everything is in order, the faculty member will then fill out the final transfer credit approval form, which then must be returned to the registrar.
The pre-approval is only tentative.
It represents an indication by the chemistry department that we BELIEVE the course you are planning to take is eligible for Swarthmore credit. However, it is not an absolute guarantee. That is because sometimes the materials we see beforehand, when we sign the pre-approval form, do not accurately represent the way the course actually ends up being conducted.
We grant transfer credit in two slightly different ways.
- If the course you propose to take is substantially equivalent to one of our courses, we direct the registrar to write it down on your transcript with that course number.
- On the other hand, if the course is of a nature such that we believe it deserves recognition as a Swarthmore credit, but it is not substantially equivalent to any particular one of the courses we offer at Swarthmore, then we direct the registrar to write the course down as Chemistry XXX, i.e., with no Swarthmore equivalent course number. The title of the course appears on the transcript in either case.
The latter distinction makes some difference for students who wish to take a chemistry course at another campus and then take a subsequent course here at Swarthmore, or who wish to major or minor in Chemistry/Biochemistry. For instance, consider a student who wanted to take first semester organic chemistry (Chemistry 22) elsewhere, and then continue with second semester organic chemistry (Chemistry 32) at Swarthmore. This plan would be viable only if the course taken off campus qualified specifically for Chemistry 22 credit, rather than just "generic" chemistry credit. A course that only qualified in the "generic" sense would not adequately prepare a student to step into Chemistry 32.