For Prospective Transfer Students
Preparing for Swarthmore
- Study liberal arts courses
- Take courses from many subjects
Credit is based on your progress toward completing a BA degree
- if you are a rising sophomore there, you will be one here
- if you are a rising junior there, you will be one here
- if you have more credit than a rising junior, you will be a rising junior here -- we cap the transferable credit at 16 semester course credits, which is the equivalent of the first two years of a Swarthmore degree. You would have to do the last four semesters at Swarthmore.
- expect credit for all college years work done prior to transfer (with some limitations)
- but we do not give credit for work done during the high school years
Credit awards are somewhat flexible
- open to some revision to facilitate majoring and minoring here
- while retaining your progress toward completing the BA
Credit evaluations: The Registrar provides credit evaluations only for admitted transfer students.
Here is how it works: First, apply for admission. If our admissions office chooses to offer you admission, they ask me to evaluate your transcripts, and my evaluation goes to you along with the offer of admission. My evaluation has a "holistic" component -- where you stand toward the BA degree overall, and a "course by course" component, which is how each course would transfer (or not).
Transfer students should normally expect Swarthmore credit for all college years work done prior to transfer. The criteria the Registrar uses to award course credit depends on whether the courses come from a liberal arts curriculum, and whether courses might generally fit within or reasonably supplement Swarthmore's curriculum. Most pre-professional courses like Nursing and Business (or Accounting or Management or Marketing) courses probably will not transfer, but liberal arts courses generally transfer, particularly if they come from subjects and fields Swarthmore teaches. Most credit awards are departmental without carrying specific Swarthmore course numbers. Exact course articulation is not required. Furthermore, Swarthmore normally does not award credit for work done during the high school years (see high school years policy).
About majoring: All transfer students are expected to meet with and carefully plan their academic program with their academic advisors upon arrival at Swarthmore, normally during Orientation (in the week before fall semester classes start). Swarthmore departments expect most of the major courses to be done here at Swarthmore. Sophomores apply for a major in the spring semester of the sophomore year.
A caution about majors for junior transfers: Some of our most popular and some of our science majors, such as Computer Science, and Engineering, may not be possible for junior transfer students to complete in four semesters here unless the student is advanced in the field already. Most of our majors are possible to complete in four semesters if the junior transfer student upon arrival at Swarthmore carefully plans the path to graduation with the major department.
Credit is awarded by the Swarthmore Registrar according to guidelines approved by the faculty. To be considered for credit at Swarthmore, courses elsewhere must have been graded straight C (not C minus) or better (except for the Spring 2020 semester, in which any passing grade can be considered for credit). Swarthmore technically does not transfer credit -- Swarthmore awards credit for work done elsewhere.
A Swarthmore degree requirement is that four semesters of full-time study are required to be done at Swarthmore, two of which must be done in the senior year. A significant consequence of the four semester rule is that semester study abroad is not possible for junior transfer students.
A word on AP credit: AP is handled completely differently than college credit from the previous school. AP credit will be awarded in addition to transfer credit, but AP credit is not a part of the transfer credit evaluation. Credit comes directly from the department based on AP scores, which transfer students need to have sent from the College Board. The complete rules for AP credit are the same for all students and are available from the Swarthmore Registrar web site. AP credit is normally recorded after the student arrives at Swarthmore.
Course articulation is not needed. Swarthmore does not establish articulation agreements (automatic transfer credit agreements) with any school. Credit for work done elsewhere is done on a course by course basis. Exact course articulation with your previous school is not needed because credit awards aim to maintain your progress toward the BA degree upon transfer to Swarthmore.
Credit awards remain somewhat flexible: Once you get to Swarthmore, expect to be in regular consultation with departmental advisors and the registrar to ensure your successful progress and as needed explore what flexibility is available in the transfer credit awards that might facilitate your successful completion.
A word on work done during the High School years: Swarthmore normally does not grant Swarthmore degree credit for college work done prior to starting a degree program (including the summer before starting the degree program). See the catalog policy.
A word on work done online or distance education courses: Prior to Spring 2020, Swarthmore did not normally award credit for online or distance education courses. Starting Spring 2020, credit for online courses was possible.
About Financial Aid for transfer students
From the Financial Aid Office: Student eligibility for financial aid is limited to the equivalent of eight (8) semesters. Transfer students are placed into those eight (8) semesters according to the number of Swarthmore accounted credits with which they enroll. For example: Sophomoresbeginning Swarthmore with approximately eight (8) Swarthmore credits have completed the equivalent of two (2) semesters and should expect to be eligible for up to six (6) semesters of financial aid at Swarthmore. Juniors beginning Swarthmore with approximately sixteen (16) Swarthmore credits have completed the equivalent of four (4) semesters and should expect to be eligible for up to four (4) semesters of financial aid at Swarthmore. A transfer student's decision to add a second major at a later point would not change their level of financial aid eligibility. Junior transfer students, at the beginning of their first semester at Swarthmore, are encouraged to plan carefully their major(s) and minor(s) in accordance with their expected, remaining financial aid eligibility. Please confer with your assigned financial aid director (listed on the Financial Aid Office website) regarding your financial aid eligibility.
Related Link for admitted transfer students