Transfer Student Transfer Credit

Transfer credit policy for Entering Transfer Students

Swarthmore technically does not transfer credit; Swarthmore awards credit for work done elsewhere. Credit for work done elsewhere is awarded to transfer students by the Swarthmore Registrar according to guidelines approved by the faculty.

Swarthmore evaluates all presented transcripts representing work done at 2-year or 4-year schools, so long as the work done was considered transferable to a liberal arts bachelors degree program. Consistent with our transfer credit rules for incoming first-year students, we normally do not consider work done during the high school years for transfer of credit toward the Swarthmore degree.

Official transcripts from previous schools are required, and, to be considered for credit at Swarthmore, courses must have been graded straight C or better. Swarthmore does not establish articulation agreements (automatic transfer credit agreements) with any school. Credit for work done elsewhere is always done on a course by course basis. Course descriptions and occasionally work done by the student facilitate the credit award process.

The Swarthmore Registrar only performs transfer evaluations for admitted transfer students.

Swarthmore looks at the transfer student's record as a whole as well as course by course, and awards credit in order to retain, as much as possible, the sophomore or junior transfer student's progress toward earning his or her liberal arts bachelor's degree. Swarthmore determines the proportion of a liberal arts bachelor's degree completed at the other school(s), and as much as possible maintains that proportion upon transfer to Swarthmore. Swarthmore uses the semester-course-credit unit of credit, one course at Swarthmore is normally worth one credit, and 32 credits are required for the BA. Because one of Swarthmore's graduation requirements is four semesters of study at Swarthmore, the maximum amount of credit awarded for work done elsewhere to junior transfer students is normally capped at 16 Swarthmore credits.

The criteria for awarding course credit for work done elsewhere depend on whether the course comes from a liberal arts curriculum, and whether it might generally fit within or reasonably supplement Swarthmore's curriculum. Some pre-professional courses might not transfer, but liberal arts courses generally will transfer, particularly if they come from subjects and fields Swarthmore teaches. Most credit awards are departmental without carrying specific Swarthmore course numbers. Exact course articulation is not required. Transfer students should expect Swarthmore placement and credit as appropriate for all work done previously. Swarthmore does not expect transfer students to repeat work already done.

To protect transfer students' ability to take courses in a major at Swarthmore, normally no more than 3 credits in any one department transfer into that department.  Courses over the 3 will be placed into another category and included in the holistic evaluation so they continue to count overall.  The initial transfer of credit is provisional pending the major department’s review and possible revisions.  The holistic evaluation and credit total won’t change, but the course specifics might, to better serve majoring at Swarthmore.

Other rules for transfer students:

Applying for a Major: Junior transfer students must soon apply for a major at Swarthmore. Sophomores apply for a major in the spring of their sophomore year at Swarthmore. The College cannot assure any student of being admitted to any major program in advance of the student's personal consultation with the department chair. Students may be deferred admission to a major until satisfactory completion of Swarthmore College courses in the department. Junior transfers should secure an adviser in their intended major department immediately. Some of our most popular majors, such as Economics and Computer Science, may not be possible to complete in four semesters unless the transfer student is advanced in those fields already.

Swarthmore's Distribution Graduation Requirement: Note that all transfer students are required to have transferred or completed at Swarthmore at least three credits in each Division, one of which must be a Natural Sciences and Engineering practicum ‘NSEP’ (an approved lab science course). Also, by the end of the senior year, transfer students must have transferred and/or completed at Swarthmore 20 credits outside their major to fulfill the distribution requirement. Swarthmore awards course credit for work done elsewhere as much as possible to facilitate the transfer student's fulfillment of Swarthmore's course-specific degree requirements. Please read the catalog chapter on Educational Program, for full discussion of the distribution requirements.

Swarthmore's Writing Course requirement and 'at Swarthmore' requirements for transfer students: Rather than transfer writing courses, Swarthmore partially exempts transfer students from the Swarthmore 3-course Writing requirement as it would apply to first-years. Likewise transfer students are exempted from that part they could not have done of the 'at Swarthmore' course requirement expected of first-years. Transfer students entering as rising sophomores must complete a total of two Swarthmore Writing courses (from any division), and in each division complete at least one course of at least one credit here at Swarthmore. Transfer students entering as rising juniors must complete one Swarthmore Writing course (from any division), but they have the 'courses at Swarthmore' part of the distribution requirement waived.

Swarthmore's PE Graduation Requirement: Transfer students can either apply transfer PE units toward the 4-unit physical education graduation requirement or opt for a reduction in the PE requirement based on the student's transfer status, but transfer students cannot both transfer PE units and receive a reduction in the requirement. The optional reduction in PE units depends on the transfer class of the student. Transfer students who enter Swarthmore as sophomores can opt to complete 3 units of physical education and pass a survival swim test (a reduction of 1 PE unit). Transfer students who enter Swarthmore as juniors can opt to complete 2 units of physical education and pass a survival swim test (a reduction of 2 PE units).

Four semesters of full-time study are required to be done at Swarthmore, two of which must be done in the senior year. We normally limit transfer credit to 16 Swarthmore credits (half of the Swarthmore degree). Another consequence of this is that semester study abroad is not possible for junior transfer students.

A word on AP credit: AP is handled completely differently than college credit from the previous school. AP credit will be awarded in addition to transfer credit, but AP credit is not a part of the transfer credit evaluation. Credit comes directly from the department based on AP scores, which transfer students need to have sent from the College Board. The complete rules for AP credit are the same for all students and are available from the Swarthmore Registrar web site. AP credit is normally recorded during or soon after the semester at Swarthmore.