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Why Liberal Arts?

Students sit outside in chairs with flowers on the ground

What are the liberal arts?

Spanning every discipline of knowledge and thought, the liberal arts are the perfect education for the intellectually curious. This education empowers students to choose their direction by giving them the best possible grounding—no matter what they want to do.

Students at a liberal arts college like Swarthmore can explore the humanities and sciences while enjoying easy access to professors, research opportunities, and a wealth of resources. By teaching students how to learn, a Swarthmore liberal arts education gives students lifelong professional flexibility.

What does this education look like at Swarthmore?

Students generally spend their first two years exploring, taking courses in a range of disciplines across the humanities, social sciences, and natural sciences. As they gain a feel for the various disciplines, students encounter new ways of thinking and looking at the world. This broadens their abilities, forces them to adopt different approaches to understanding, and trains their minds to be agile. Once they have a strong sense of their interests and abilities, they select a major—their focus of study for the last two years.

What are the advantages of studying the liberal arts?

Students at liberal arts colleges have easier access to professors, research opportunities, and other resources. They aren’t constrained by the many administrative layers of larger institutions. This often results in richer, more active learning—and prepares students more fully for employment.

The liberal arts offer what is arguably the most practical education available. They ensure that students don’t narrowly specialize early in college, committing to a knowledge base that might not be relevant tomorrow.

What do liberal arts graduates do after college?

They get jobs. They go to graduate school. They lead their fields and change the world.

Wherever life after Swarthmore takes students, they’re ready.

Why Liberal Arts Quote

Swarthmore, the people and community, allowed me to appreciate and internalize the fundamental tenets of liberal arts: connecting broadly, understanding deeply, and thinking critically.

Class being taught on Science Center Lawn

What's Distinctive About Swarthmore Quote 2

The civic-mindedness, compassion, and fierce commitment to social justice that animate Swarthmore’s campus are the driving forces behind the work I do.

Student holds candle at vigil

The Past, Present, and Future of Liberal Arts Education

Learn more about the Aydelotte Foundation, which supports the creation and dissemination of liberal arts education knowledge as it exists across the broadest possible range of contexts and institutions.

Interested in learning more?