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About the 2020-21 Academic Year

Academic Calendar | Class Time Grid | Courses | Credits | Degree Requirements | Enrollment | Grading | International Students & Americans Living Abroad | Leave of Absence | Off-Campus Study | On-Campus Experience | Registration | Textbook Fund

Academic Calendar

We have made adjustments to the academic calendar to accommodate our continued modified operations. View the spring academic calendar here.

Class Time Grid

Classes take place Monday through Friday. The weekly class schedule is similar to the past schedule, now with 30-minute breaks between class periods and two lunch periods. Classes that used to start at 8:30 a.m. now begin at 8 a.m.. The new course periods provide time and space to transition between courses for on-campus experiences as well as breaks between remote sessions. Please see the class schedule website.


Bryn Mawr and Haverford College courses can be taken remotely by following the normal approval process. UPenn has suspended the course exchange program for the Spring 2021 semester.  

Hybrid courses have in-person components, which will depend on the discipline and subject. All courses, whether remote or hybrid, are available for remote students.

Currently, there is an expected cap of 20 students on in-person experiences to follow CDC guidance on physical distancing in classrooms and other campus spaces. Total enrollment of classes that are hybrid may have more than 20 students, but the in-person aspects of a hybrid class will only have 20 students total.

All courses, whether remote or hybrid, are available for remote students. Each hybrid course might be somewhat different; they may involve different synchronous sections depending on the students, and asynchronous activities and tasks.

Different departments may have different approaches to labs; for information about a department of your interest, see their website first.

Your professors are working to ensure that finals at home are equitable and doable. 


For the Spring 2021 semester, the normal load is 4 credits, and students with permission of their advisors are allowed to take 5 or more credits (use this form [pdf]). Students need to be enrolled in a minimum of 3.0 credits to be considered full-time. College policy does not permit programs of fewer than 3.0 credits in the fall or spring semester (see catalog 7.7).

Degree Requirements

Students may take a leave of absence between their last two semesters of full-time study, and they can even study elsewhere and follow the rules for transfer credit to transfer up to 2.0 credits toward the Swarthmore degree without violating the senior year rule. If you have further questions about the senior year rule, see catalog chapter 7.6.1 or contact the Registrar.

You may be able to finish in December,  or even in  January, if all your requirements can be completed by the end of the fall or January terms. Please see the Registrar’s December Finisher website. 


It is possible for new students to start in the spring semester, but instruction may be remote if only juniors and seniors are allowed to return to campus. Please contact the Admissions Office with any questions.

One of your credits might be a Bryn Mawr or Haverford course if it is approved according to our normal process for approving Tri-Co courses. Your overall enrollment must be a minimum of 3.0 credits in the fall. Keep in mind that during Spring 2021 , Swarthmore students can only take remote courses at Bryn Mawr or Haverford through the Tri-Co consortium. 


Upon recommendation of the Council on Educational Policy, the College returned to a normal grading policy in the fall 2020 semester, with students receiving letter grades for work accomplished. 

First semester first-year students received Credit/No Credit for the fall 2020 semester and J-term. N.B. Credit/No Credit from the spring 2020 semester does not count towards the four optional Credit/No Credit. More information on the College's Credit/No Credit policy.

International Students & Americans Living Abroad

The International Student Center is currently working on a variety of responses to the SEVP guidelines. Any urgent questions should be directed to Assistant Dean and Director of  International Student Programs Jennifer Marks-Gold. 

This important Information for international students and Americans living abroad about transfer credit and study opportunities in your country of residence is available on the Off-Campus Study Office website.

Leave of Absence

The financial withdrawal policy describes the financial implications of leave request timing. Please read the Taking Time Off website for more information.

Off-Campus Study

International students and Americans living abroad can find information on study opportunities in their country of residence on the Off-Campus Study website.

We encourage anyone interested in studying abroad to use this time to review your academic plans and consider how you might include study abroad in the future. A decision will be made by July 2021 as to whether students will be allowed to participate in Fall 2021 Off-Campus Study. More information is available in the FAQs for Fall 2021 study abroad.

On-Campus Experience

On-campus experience and facilities are limited to students who reside in the residence halls.


You should not assume that a remote course is asynchronous. Most courses will have weekly meetings and sets of synchronous activities. Faculty are aware of time zone issues and will try to make as many adjustments as possible.

Textbook Fund

The Textbook Affordability Program (TAP) will supply each registered Swarthmore student with $700 annual credit in the Swarthmore Campus & Community Store to support the student's purchase of required course materials, including both print and digital formats. For more complete information on the program, please see TAP Information for Students.