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Majors, Minors & Honors


All Swarthmore academic departments offer course and honors majors, which are described in detail on their websites and in the catalog.


Most, but not all, departments and programs also offer honors minors and/or course minors. See the departmental websites and catalog for more information about minors.


Students apply for a major, minor or honors in the spring of their sophomore year as part of the Sophomore Plan of Study. Changes can be made after that as well. Students use the Major Minor Portal available from mySwarthmore to apply for any major, minor, or honors, or make any further changes after sophomore year.


Drop majors and minors using the Major Minor Portal in mySwarthmore.


Follow the link to learn more about special majors at Swarthmore.


A Major is Required. Students are required to have one major to graduate. (All majors, minors & concentrations must be approved by the departments or programs.) A second major, minors, and Honors are optional.

Optional Second Major. Students may have up to two majors; a student with two majors may not have a minor (as approved).

Exception: A student who chooses an honors major plus minor may have a second major outside of honors if that second major is the same as the honors minor or is a course special major which integrates the honors minor into the course special major.

Optional Minors. Students may have one or two minors (as approved), if they have only one major.

A minor (or the first minor) may be completed in course, or as part of an Honors program. If wanted, a second minor can be completed in course (even if the first one is in honors).

Virtually all departments and programs offer honors minors, and most departments and programs, though not all, offer course minors. The departments or programs which do not offer course minors are: Comparative Literature, Economics, Political Science, Sociology & Anthropology, and Studio Art. (These departments or programs will continue to offer Honors minors.)

A student who chooses an Honors major plus minor may have an additional course minor outside the Honors Program (so long as the student does not have a course second major).


Minors will include at least five credits, four of which may not overlap with the student's major or other minor. The overlap rule applies to any two entities taken at one time but not collectively to three entities taken together (it is a pair-wise not a global overlap rule). This means that a student who has a major in Medieval Studies, for example, and minors in English and Gender and Sexuality Studies, must meet the overlap rule in each possible pairing but not in the three taken together. So a course might overlap between Medieval Studies and English and a different course might overlap between Medieval Studies and Gender and Sexuality Studies. There is an optional Overlap Checksheet [pdf] to help in planning non-overlap

Exceptions to the overlap rule:

  • The overlap constraint is not applicable to courses that departmental majors or minors MUST take in other departments; e.g. Mathematics courses required for an Engineering major are not automatically excluded from a minor defined by the Department of Mathematics and Statistics.
  • For an Honors major who is also a double major, the overlap constraint does not apply to the relationship between the Honors minor and the second major since these will always have overlapping fields. Thus an English Honors major who is a History Honors minor and also a History course major as part of a double major is not violating the constraint.

Overlap between two majors: If a student has two majors and one is an interdisciplinary major, no more than 2 credits may be double counted with the student’s other major. However, the double-counting limit is not applicable to courses that students are required by their departmental major to take in other departments (overlap exception 1, above).

Sample Programs

Major: Biology
Minor: Philosophy

Majors: History, Chemistry

Major: Art History
Minors: French, Environmental Studies

Honors Major: Political Science
Honors Minor: Black Studies

Honors Major: Linguistics
Honors Minor: Sociology and Anthropology
Course Minor: Music

Honors Major: English
Honors Minor: History
Course Major: History

Honors Special Major: Spec Maj in Biochemistry
Course Minor: English
Course Minor: History

Historical note: In Fall 2001, Swarthmore started offering course minors (phasing out "interdisciplinary concentrations"). The first graduating class to be able to graduate with course minors was the class of 2003, which could choose either the old or new curriculum. The class of 2004 and beyond use the rules of the new curriculum including course minors.