Registrar's Guide to Degree Requirements

See the catalog chapter:

Read the faculty determined graduation requirements.

Registrar's Guide Topics:

Below read the registrar's recommendations regarding how to fulfill the degree requirement "goals for the first and second years" in chapter 7 of the catalog.

Distribution Requirements
The Writing Course Requirement
The PE Requirement
The Foreign Language Requirement
The NSEP Requirement
The 20-Credit Rule
The Senior Year Rule

Distribution Requirement

Registrar's Guide to the Divisional Distribution Requirement

  • The Rule:
  • The "3-in-3" Rule summarized:
    • 3 full-credit courses in each of the 3 divisions
    • from at least two different subjects in each division
    • and at least two of three in each division have to be taken on the campus at Swarthmore.
  • The Registrar recommends:
    • Take at least two courses per semester toward fulfilling the 3-in-3 rule, until done
    • Take courses in different Divisions each semester (until done with a division)
  • Keep in mind...
    • Writing Courses and NSEPs also count for distribution
    • If you are expecting AP (or other non-Swarthmore) credit, 
      • for AP (and transfer credit) only one credit per division counts towards the 3-in-3 rule
      • AP credit can count for the "different department" part of the Distribution requirement
      • Eligible AP credit must be of 1.0 credit awards (half credit does not count)
      • AP credit is limited to certain conditions listed in the AP and IB credit Guide
    • 3-in-3 rule courses need be at least 1.0 credit and specified as counting toward a division in the Course Schedule
      • Half-credit courses do not count toward the 3-in-3 rule
      • Non-divisional interdisciplinary courses do not count toward the 3-in-3 rule
      • 1.5 credit Language courses do count toward Humanities distribution
    • For the "at Swarthmore" part of the requirement (two in each division), courses must be taught on the campus at Swarthmore.
      • "At Swarthmore" excludes Trico, Penn, transfer credit and AP/IB credit. Those can be the third credit, but none of those count for the "at Swarthmore" part of the requirement.
  • What is a "non-distribution" course?
    • Courses without approval to count in a division (Humanities, Natural Science and Engineering, or Social Sciences), or courses of less than 1.0 credit are "non-distribution" courses.
      • Non-distribution courses can count toward other requirements according to the rules of the requirements.  They might count toward a minor. They all count either inside or outside for the 20-credit rule, and they all count toward the 32 credit requirement.
      • Many courses coded as part of an inter-disciplinary program are non-distribution.  This is by design since many inter-disciplinary programs intentionally span more than one division.

Writing Course Requirement

Registrar's Guide to the Writing Course Requirement

  • Read the catalog rule in chapter 7.2:
    • Take 3 designated Writing courses, from 2 of the 3 divisions
      • Look for the label, they have to be specially approved
      • they can't all be in the division of your major
    • Writing courses have to taken on the campus at Swarthmore
      • not trico, not study abroad
  • The Registrar recommends:
    • Try to finish the requirement in the first 3 semesters
    • See the cartoon video
  • Here's why...
    • The Writing Course designation means the course includes explicit attention to teaching writing -- not just doing it.
    • Most designated Writing Courses are introductory in nature and are appropriate for first-year or second year students
    • Many designated Writing Courses are First-year seminars, and those are only open to first-year students
    • After sophomore year, the attractiveness of other course options can make it challenging to schedule designated Writing courses
    • Most upper level courses with a lot of writing are NOT designated Writing Courses because the courses focus on content without explicit attention to teaching writing
  • WARNING: Look for the label!
    • Designated Writing Courses are labeled
      • In the Course Catalog the label "Writing Course" follows the course description
      • In the Course Schedule the label "W" is the last thing in the course title.
    • The other way to know is to look on the approved list.

The PE Requirement

Registrar's Guide to the PE Requirement

  • The catalog chapter
    • Note that the PE requirement should be done by the end of the sophomore year
  • The Registrar recommends:
    • Complete at least 1 PE unit per semester until the requirement is done
    • Swimming Requirement
      • Either pass the swim test, OR complete a Swarthmore swimming class
        • The swim class earns a PE unit and fulfills the Swimming requirement at the same time
  • PE units are only available from one of these four ways:
    • 1) PE classes offered by the PE department or
    • 2) PE Dance classes offered by the Dance department or
    • 3) Varsity sports or
    • 4) Student Activity Groups and Clubs approved by the PE department for PE units
      • There is a limit of 2 units of club sports or SAGs any student can apply to the PE requirement of 4 units
      • Seniors are not allowed to take club sports or SAGs toward fulfillment of the PE requirement
    • Note that working out on your own does NOT earn PE units.

The Foreign Language Requirement

Registrar's Guide to the Foreign Language Requirement

  • The catalog rule -- see #4
  • The Registrar recommends:
    • If you think you have fulfilled the requirement but your degree audit does not indicate fulfillment, meet with the registrar to explain.
      • You may need to provide additional documentation.
  • The requirement is fulfilled by successful completion of the second-half of a year-long language course, or higher.
    • You can take language courses here at Swarthmore, at trico, or elsewhere in summer school.
    • The language requirement can be fulfilled by transfer courses approved for transfer by the department, or by non-transferred courses proven to the registrar with an official transcript.

The NSEP science lab requirement

Registrar's Guide to the NSEP Requirement

  • The catalog rule
  • The Registrar recommends:
    • Consider taking an intro science NSEP in your first year
  • NSEPs are labeled in the Schedule and Catalog
  • NSEPs count toward NS distribution as well as NSEP
  • Explore the subject as a prospective major

The 20 credit Requirement

Registrar's Guide to the Twenty course-credit rule

  • The Rule:
  • The Registrar recommends:
    For the first two years take courses in a variety of subjects
  • You will need by graduation 20 credits in subjects different from your major
    • For regular (non-special) majors, sum the credits with four-letter subject codes which are different from your major's four-letter code
    • There are different rules for special majors
    • The 20 credits can come from all kinds of degree-applicable credit, and it all counts without limits based on type of credit
      • AP credit counts (outside your major subject)
      • Transfer credit counts (outside your major)
      • Half-credit courses count (outside your major)
  • For double majors, the 20 course credit rule is calculated as if you had only one major
    • You only have to complete the rule once, from the perspective of either one of your majors (not both)