Skip to main content

Domestic Exchange

U.S. Study Away and Swarthmore's Limited Domestic Exchange Programs

Related Link: Off-Campus Study Office

Note that the terms: "domestic exchange," "leave of absence," and "visiting student" are carefully defined in the paragraphs below.

U.S. Study Away

In consultation with a dean, students can plan a "leave of absence" from Swarthmore to study elsewhere in the U.S. The other school would have to permit what are typically called "visiting students". Importantly, taking a leave to become a visiting student elsewhere means any Swarthmore financial aid will not travel with you, and you would need to make your financial arrangements with the other school directly, just as you would have to contact the other school to see if they would take you as a visitor, etc. Many schools are very happy to take visiting students, and my office can facilitate your going by writing an official letter saying you have Swarthmore's permission to study elsewhere as a degree candidate here, but there is no Swarthmore institutional support for studying elsewhere domestically while on a leave of absence. Students doing this do so on their own.

Students planning a leave of absence should consult with a dean and complete the necessary form prior to the deadline published each semester (usually December 1 and April 1). The form asks students to specify the date of expected return; students need only notify the Dean of their return if their return date changes from that originally indicated on the completed form. Please note that some leaves might affect the student’s health insurance coverage.

Credit for work done on leaves of absence: U.S. study away follows the same rules as summer school, etc., and credit may be possible.

Note that taking a personal leave of absence to study abroad without going through the Off-Campus Study Office and its payment plan means credit earned elsewhere cannot be transferred to the Swarthmore degree.

Swarthmore's limited Domestic Exchange Programs

Swarthmore's limited domestic exchange programs permit Swarthmore students to continue to receive Swarthmore financial aid (and actually pay Swarthmore), but the exchanges are very limited. Importantly, these exchange programs require an exchange of actual students, so they are by no means automatic. If one of their students does not want to come here at the same time you want to go, it may not be possible for you to go.

Many Swarthmore students find Off-Campus Study a more attractive alternative. Approved Off-Campus Study normally includes the application of Swarthmore financial aid to the expenses. Students are encouraged to explore the many options available for off-campus study.

We have formal Domestic Exchange agreements in principle set up with Middlebury College, Mills College, Pomona College and Tufts University. Selection involves application to the Swarthmore registrar and, through the registrar, to the other school. Exchanges are almost always for only one semester.

To be eligible, students must be second semester sophomores, or juniors, be in good standing during the semester of exchange. Students must entirely complete the domestic exchange application process by October 15 for the following spring semester, or March 15 for the following fall semester (except for Tufts, which has a February 1 deadline). Approval is contingent on many factors, some here, some at the other school, including availability of college housing at the other school.

Swarthmore students settle financially with Swarthmore, paying our tuition, room, board, and student activity fee, thus retaining during the exchange any Swarthmore financial aid for which they are eligible. Exchange students must reside in college housing at the other school, and must enroll for and carry a full academic load there. Swarthmore students going on exchange must be willing to commit by October 15/March 15 to give up their Swarthmore room for the anticipated next semester away, even if they change their mind and decide not go on exchange. All travel expenses are the responsibility of the student.

Credit for domestic exchange is not automatic, but follows the same procedure for credit for work done elsewhere listed in the catalog and on the registrar’s web site; students must obtain preliminary approval of courses and after-the-fact validation of credit by the relevant Swarthmore department chairs. Exchange agreements do not permit transfer of participants to the institution with which the exchange takes place.

To apply, students must submit the following by October 15 for the following spring semester, or March 15 for the following fall semester. The application deadlines are firm -- sorry, no extensions.

  1. an application [pdf],
  2. exchange college report
  3. a list of proposed courses,
  4. a grade report,
  5. at least one brief email faculty reference addressed to me which will be shared with the other school,
  6. the permission of the student’s faculty advisor or major advisor, and, if you are an international student, the approval of the international student advisor
  7. a signed letter indicating that if approved for exchange by the other school, you are giving up your Swarthmore College housing for the planned semester(s) away, even if you change their minds and decide not to go on exchange
  8. Note that you must provide required health forms to the other school
  9. Note that you must get preliminary approval of credit (see below).

The application essay should be about one page, discussing academic interests either at Swarthmore or for the other school, specific programs of interest, how the exchange program may augment your Swarthmore program, and in general why you want to do the exchange. All the materials submitted including the grade report will become part of your application and will be shared with the other school. Applications are considered on a first come, first served basis. Applications are due October 15 for the following spring semester, or March 15 for the following fall semester. Early application must be followed up with recommitment in writing within two weeks of the October 15/March 15 application deadline; failure to recommit in writing cancels the application.

Lastly, before you are permitted to go, you will have to do two things and be sure the Registrar is notified they are done:

  1. have your medical immunization records sent from the Worth Health Center to the host school, and
  2. you must complete the pre-approval process for a full normal semester load of courses taken there to count for credit here - note that all credit must be both pre-approved and finally validated for credit, according to the Swarthmore rules governing credit for work done elsewhere.

If you have any further questions about domestic exchange, or how to manage being a visiting student elsewhere, please write or come see Martin Warner. Students from other exchange schools should please not call Martin Warner but rather please work through your school's domestic exchange program contact person.