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Graduation Policies from the Registrar

Graduation Date

After careful consideration and close consultation with public health officials and members of the campus community, we’ve reached the difficult conclusion that we cannot safely and responsibly host a traditional in-person Commencement this spring. Instead, we are looking forward to celebrating the extraordinary accomplishments of the Class of 2021 at a commencement celebration on campus on Sunday, May 30, and during an online ceremony on Sunday, June 6. More detailed information will be shared when it is available. 

Senior Deadlines

  • All PE requirements must be fulfilled by the last day of classes on May 7, 2021.
  • By mid-April, 2021, look for an email from the registrar asking you to verify the correct listing of your name, major(s) and minor(s) for your diploma and the graduation list. See more about names, below.
  • All financial obligations must be met by noon on May 14, 2021
  • Class work due: confirm with professors when end-of-term course work is due, on or before the final exam or the last day of finals, May 20, 2021, depending on the assignment and the professor.
  • All academic work and academic requirements (except honors orals) must be fulfilled by the last day of finals on May 20, 2021
  • All transfer credit must be completed by the last day of finals on May 20, 2021
  • All library course and honors materials must be returned to the library by June 29, 2021.
  • Seniors grades - some won't be available until after noon Tuesday May 25, 2021.  Keep looking hourly after noon.

Graduation Rule

Swarthmore policy holds that in order to graduate in a given year, a senior must be completely finished with degree requirements and approved for graduation by vote of the faculty. (catalog 8.9)

In other words, Swarthmore does not permit seniors to participate in Graduation without being completely finished with degree requirements, nor are seniors allowed to participate without actually graduating if they defer their graduation year. For more information, see the Registrar.

Verify Graduation Name listing and diploma information

In early April the registrar sent each senior an email asking you to verify the correct listing of your name, major(s) and minor(s) for your diploma. If you missed that, you can email the registrar now to make any needed changes, see more about your options below.

Your Name

Your name will appear in the Graduation List as well as on your diploma. The Graduation List name is the name published in a list including traditionally a Commencement program, and the Graduation List name is the name traditionally announced as graduates cross the stage. The Graduation List name should normally be the fullest version of the name you go by, that is, including any middle names and any name suffixes you have. The Graduation List is not a legal document, so your name on it does not have to be your legal name. The Graduation List name list is read in order by last name, and so traditionally seating during commencement and crossing the stage, is alphabetical by last name.

For your diploma, you may also use the full name you go by, or, if you plan to use the diploma as an international document for working abroad or otherwise as a legal document, you should use your legal name.

Accent marks

If your name has accent marks, we can try to put them in the Graduation List and on the diploma. Please send a note to the Registrar's Office with your name and accent markings -- you are welcome to send us a phone photo of your hand-written name if you need.

Majors and Minors

Please confirm your majors and minors on the degree audit in mySwarthmore. Any change of major or minor needs departmental approval. If you have two course majors and want to change the order they appear, please send the registrar an email asking for this -- no further approval is required.

The Graduation and Commencement Program Name Lists

The graduation list displays your name and your major(s).  Bachelor of Arts are listed first, then Bachelor of Science. Minors don't appear in the graduation list. Separate from the lists of graduates, there is a list of Honors participants by last name (not by level earned). The Commencement Program also lists honorary awards to members of the graduating class: Phi Beta Kappa, Sigma Xi, Tau Beta Pi, Fellowships and Prizes and Pennsylvania Teacher Certification.

If you do not want to be included in the Graduation List or the Commencement program, you must notify the registrar in writing before May 10 , 2021.

DEGREE and diploma -- BA or BS?

Diplomas list your name, degree, (level of honors earned), major(s) and minor(s).

Recall Swarthmore awards the Bachelor of Arts degree for all its majors except the Engineering major.  Engineering majors earn the Bachelor of Science degree. All other majors including the scientific fields earn the BA degree. This is more normal than it may sound -- many liberal arts colleges award BA degrees for science majors. Swarthmore students earning majors in Engineering and another field earn two degrees and two diplomas.

Honors is awarded by the college, so on the diploma an honors student's major does not say "honors major", rather the diploma lists the level of honors you earn in one line, followed by another line with your major(s), and another with your minor(s).

Your actual diploma

In 2021, we will mail your diploma to you -- how and when get it to you is still under discussion, but we will get it to you. Seniors traditionally receive their actual diplomas at Commencement as they cross the stage. Please handle your diploma with care. On the other hand, if you ever need a replacement, please contact the registrar's office. Replacements are available.


Participation in the graduation ceremony is encouraged but not required for graduation. After the faculty have approved you for graduation, you will be graduated on graduation day whether you participate in the virtual ceremony or not.  All diplomas will be mailed to you in the weeks following graduation.

Social Senior

If you are a senior not graduating this year, see:

December finisher

If you expect to finish degree requirements in December of 2021:

How to Change your Graduation Year