Skip to main content

Commencement 2020 By the Numbers

Amphitheater during spring

Sunday’s commencement will be held virtually for the first time in College history, as a result of the novel coronavirus. As unfortunate as that is, however, the ceremony will still represent the culmination of four years of exploration and growth for seniors, spirited instruction and collaboration from faculty, and multifaceted support of staff from all corners of campus. It’s a celebration for and by the entire College community. 

But before final touches are made on the virtual presentation and the diplomas (and some goodies) mailed to seniors, let’s examine Swarthmore’s Commencement — its 148th — by the numbers.

  • 418:  Graduating seniors.
  • 418: Packages to be delivered to seniors containing a diploma, t-shirt, and cookies from Dining Services.
  • 320+: Itea virginica (Henry’s Garnet) Virginia sweetspire plants included in those packages for seniors who took the Scott Arboretum up on their offer, in keeping with tradition.
  • 10+: staff members — from the Campus & Community Store, Print Services, the Registrar’s Office, and Post Office — who rolled the diplomas, assembled the packages, and will ship the boxes next week. 
  • 25+: Students and staff members who helped to produce the virtual presentation, including the senior class officers, Lang Performing Arts Center, Information Technology Services, the Music and Dance Department, and Communications. 
  • 1:  Swarthmore College Chorus performance of “Alma Mater” to open the ceremony.
  • 283: Seniors who submitted photos for the commencement video.
  • 84:  Students who are first in their family to graduate from college. 
  • 80:  Students receiving honors.
  • 259: Written exams administered across 100 subjects and 24 disciplines.
  • 316:  Oral honors exams taken, almost all on video conferencing sites like Zoom with a few over telephone as a backup.
  • 132:  External honors examiners hosted, from across the U.S., Norway, and Canada.
  • 7: Number of examiners who are also Swarthmore alums.
  • 60: Honors special projects and theses.
  • 1:  Cohort — the second — of Swarthmore Summer Scholars to graduate. 
  • 84:  Students with the most popular major, Economics.
  • 151:  Students with double majors.
  • 72:  Students with special majors, including Comparative Racial and Transnational Politics, Political Science & Architectural History, and Environmental Anthropology.
  • 225:  Students with a minor.
  • 1:  Student with the College’s newest minor, Global Studies.

  • 45:  International students from 25 countries, as well as 35 U.S. citizens who have dual citizenship in 21 additional countries.
  • 38:  States represented by students, including Washington, D.C.
  • 26:  Students with one or more parent who is an alum.
  • 12:  Students with one or more grandparent or great-grandparent who is an alum; three also have one or more parent who is an alum.
  • 26:  Other students with a Swarthmore family connection (sibling, cousin, aunt, or uncle).
  • 10+:  National award winners, including a Marshall Scholar, a Fulbright grantee (Natasha Markov-Riss), a Goldwater Scholar, a Gaither Fellow, a Luce Scholar, a Roothbert Fund Scholar, a Newman Civic Fellow, a Next Generation Peacemaker Awardee, a Stanford University Innovation Fellow, and a U.S. State Department Critical Languages Scholar (Elizabeth Gonzalez).
  • 1:  Student who earned Pennsylvania teaching certification.
  • 244 (and counting):  Donors to the Senior Class Gift.
  • 2:  Board members of the Swarthmore chapter of the National Society of Black Engineers.
  • 21:  Athletes from the senior class who reached the NCAA quarterfinals or beyond (2017 volleyball, 2018 baseball, and 2018 and 2019 men’s basketball).
  • 1:  Men's basketball player with his own cheering section of elementary schoolchildren.
  • 10:  Art majors who contributed to the senior thesis exhibitions catalog [PDF] this spring.
  • 4:  Seniors (Ruby Bantariza, David Molina Cavazos, Ariana Hoshino, Natasha Markov-Riss) to have their work featured at the first-ever virtual Tri-Co Film Festival (whose shorts program can be viewed here through May). 
  • 5: Members of Swarthmore’s Green Advisors.
  • 7: Mellon Mays Undergraduate Fellows.
  • 6: Lang Opportunity Scholars.
  • 3:  Languages in which the virtual Commencement will be available  (English with Spanish and Mandarin subtitles).
  • 2:  Social media channels, Facebook and YouTube, on which the College’s virtual Commencement will be featured.

Updated May 26:

  • 4,000:  Views on YouTube
  • 1,300:  Comments on Facebook

Submissions Welcome

The Communications Office invites all members of the Swarthmore community to share videos, photos, and story ideas for the College's website. Have you seen an alum in the news? Please let us know by writing