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International Students

Three students in a lab

Swarthmore College welcomes students to our community from around the world. If you are an international student, you'll be in good company—international students, including undocumented students, make up about 14 percent of Swarthmore’s student body.

If you're applying as a first-year student, our application requirements are the same regardless of your citizenship.  If you are an international student and have matriculated at another university in the U.S. or abroad, you must apply as a transfer student to Swarthmore, even if you are willing to forego the credit you earned elsewhere.

Our regional deans are very familiar with the grading systems around the world and will review your transcripts in the context of your country’s academic system. When you apply to Swarthmore, committees of admissions deans review your application. We take into account what opportunities and resources you have had access to, your high school's curricula, your geographic location, your family background, and your cultural identity. Each admission decision is the result of a thorough, committee-based, holistic, contextual, and highly selective application evaluation.

Application Materials

If you are applying as a first-year student, our application requirements are the same regardless of your citizenship. However, there may be additional items that you wish to submit to supplement your application.

English Proficiency Tests

We do not require an English language proficiency score, but if the majority of your education has been taught in a non-English language curriculum, we encourage you to provide results from the TOEFL, IELTS, or Duolingo English Test. Fee waivers are available; please contact our office if you wish to take an English language proficiency test and cannot afford the fee.

Interviews

We encourage international students applying for admission to participate in an interview, either with an independent interview vendor or with a current student or alumni. If you decide to do an interview, please only choose one of the following options.

  • InitialView or Vericant
    • We allow students to submit interviews conducted through InitialView or Vericant for their application to Swarthmore. These interviews are not Swarthmore-specific, but help us understand you as an applicant. These are paid services. We have a limited number of fee waivers for students. If you need a fee waiver for one of these interview platforms, please contact us
  • Current Student or Alumni Interviews
    • International students who are current high school seniors can request a Swarthmore-specific interview, either with a current student or with a trained alumni volunteer. Interview requests for first-year applicants are now closed. Interviewing with a Swarthmore representative is free, and all interviews will be conducted virtually. Please note that we are not able to accommodate all interview requests. 
Authenticity of Documents

It is your responsibility to provide authentic documentation of all of your credentials. Your school transcripts must be original and certified with a school seal or a high-quality copy, and must be both certified and signed by the head of school and/or counselor. Your letters of recommendation should be written on official school letterhead, and official translations should be attached to the original document (if written in a language other than English).

Advanced Placement and International Baccalaureate Credit

Credit for Advanced Placement or International Baccalaureate exams is decided by individual departments at Swarthmore in consultation with the registrar. It is not necessary to attend a school that offers Advanced Placement or International Baccalaureate courses to be admitted to Swarthmore.

Financial Aid and Scholarships

If you are applying as a first-year international student, need-based financial aid (also called scholarships) is available. Regardless of your citizenship, if Swarthmore admits you and you applied for financial aid, we meet 100% of your institutionally determined financial need up to — and including — full tuition, room and board, and supplies. Our approach to financial aid and our commitment to providing financial aid to admitted international students is very rare among colleges and universities. Swarthmore is one of a small number of U.S. institutions that meets 100% of institutionally determined financial need and does not include loans in the financial aid it offers to international students.
 
If you think you will need Swarthmore College support any time during your four years here (for example, a younger sibling is also going to college in two years or a parent has a job contract that will expire), you must submit a financial aid application when you are applying for admission. An aid application after admission will not be considered. Admission to Swarthmore is need-aware for international citizens (excluding Permanent Residents, dual U.S. citizens, and DACA and undocumented students).
 
Your financial scholarship to Swarthmore will be based on the College’s determination of how much financial aid you need in order to afford a Swarthmore education (this is called “need-based” financial aid). For example, if our Financial Aid Office determines that you need $60,000 USD to make Swarthmore affordable, then you will receive a financial aid decision equivalent to $60,000 USD. The average financial aid decision for international students admitted to the Class of 2024 was more than $66,000 USD. 
 
It is very important that you complete the financial aid documentation we require in a timely fashion. Please review Swarthmore's financial aid applications instructions and deadlines for first-year international students and the common financial aid topics for international students. Please do not submit the certificate of finances and supporting bank statements unless you are admitted to Swarthmore and plan to enroll (or unless the Financial Aid Office specifically asks you to submit this information).

Campus Life 

Swarthmore is located about 11 miles (17 km) southwest of Philadelphia, the fifth-largest city in the United States. There is a train station on the edge of campus, and it’s a 25-minute ride to downtown Philadelphia on the direct commuter rail line. In addition, Philadelphia is a transportation hub for the East Coast. New York and Washington, D.C. are 2–3 hours travel time from Philadelphia. The Philadelphia International Airport is about 15 minutes away from campus by car.

Student Support

The International Student Center (ISC) creates a cultural environment with a sense of belonging and community through proactive communication, trust, and respect. The ISC is located within the Intercultural Center (IC) and works closely with the Interfaith Center, the Women’s Resource Center, and the Black Cultural Center, as well as identity-based student groups. Each August, the College hosts a special international student orientation program shortly before the broader first-year student orientation begins.

The Office of Academic Success coordinates advising for you and connects you to academic resources and other services on campus. Academic advisors help you select the courses that will give you the best liberal arts education possible. In addition to helping you select courses, advisors typically also help you adjust to college life and support you along your academic journey.  Academic support at Swarthmore extends beyond the classroom - all of the professors have weekly office hours, during which they are always happy to help with any questions you have regarding the course. In addition, Swarthmore has many teaching assistant groups led by students, with weekly sessions, during which the students, who have already taken the course, can help with homework, a lab assignment, or understanding the material in general.

Career Services offers individualized attention to students who seek jobs, career direction, guidance to select a major, internships, or entrance into graduate school. Through resume reviews, career counseling appointments, workshops, and events, Career Services supports you with internship, externship, and post-graduate career searches. International students can find part-time work opportunities on campus at places such as libraries, academic departments, or the Admissions Office. In order to work off-campus, you need employment authorization from the U.S. government; once this is obtained, you can work anywhere inside the U.S. during summer or winter breaks. The Dean of International Students is always available and ready to help with any questions related to authorization in the U.S.

Student Health and Wellness comprises Student Health Services, Counseling & Psychological Services, and a comprehensive wellness education team. Swarthmore’s Health and Wellness staff supports the needs of our diverse student body by providing individualized holistic care and campus-wide education.

Residence Life

Students enjoy a variety of activities on campus: all-campus parties, athletic events, music and artistic performances, academic conferences, movie nights, or just enjoying time with friends in a residence hall or dining hall. There is no division between international and domestic students in any dorms on campus and over 95% of students live on-campus all four years.  Swarthmore is proud to be a “cash-free campus”—that is, your annual activities fee covers all events on campus, so you don't need to carry cash to pay for them. The activities fee also covers printing and laundry.
 
Swarthmore students are never bored with so many student organizations on campus. Student-led clubs are accessible to anyone at Swarthmore. Every Fall there is a Club Fair organized by the College, where anyone can learn about the clubs at Swarthmore and sign up to participate. If the club of your interest is not present at Swarthmore, you can request funding from the College and start the club yourself. International students are automatically invited to join our i20 student organization, one of Swarthmore's largest (if not largest) club. i20 represents international students and students who went abroad for high school. 

Contact Us

If you have additional questions, please email us. To request additional information about Swarthmore College, please join our mailing list.