What You Need To Know About Swarthmore College

Swarthmore College is a private liberal arts college in Swarthmore, Pennsylvania. It was founded in 1864 by a group of Quakers and is the oldest of the “Quaker Five” colleges. The college is known for its rigorous academic programs, intellectual curiosity, and commitment to social responsibility. The college follows a liberal arts curriculum that encourages students to explore various fields of study and develop a well-rounded education. Swarthmore is recognized for its emphasis on critical thinking, analytical skills, and interdisciplinary approaches to problem-solving. The college encourages students to engage in independent research, collaborative projects, and experiential learning opportunities to deepen their understanding and apply their knowledge beyond the classroom. Faculty members at Swarthmore College are renowned scholars. They provide students with an intellectually stimulating and supportive learning environment.

The college’s commitment to social responsibility and civic engagement is a defining characteristic of the Swarthmore experience. Swarthmore fosters a close-knit and collaborative community that values both academic excellence and personal growth. Swarthmore College has earned a stellar reputation as a leading institution of higher education. Its graduates are highly sought after by prestigious graduate programs, employers, and organizations worldwide. This reflects the college’s reputation for producing intellectually curious, socially conscious, and well-rounded individuals.


The Swarthmore College campus is an idyllic 425-acre comprising the Scott Arboretum which is often named one of the most beautiful in the country. The campus features a blend of historic and modern buildings, including a state-of-the-art science center, a renowned library, and a variety of academic and residential spaces. Located just 11 miles from Philadelphia, the campus features rolling hills, flowering trees, and hiking trails. It is a great place to escape the hustle and bustle of the city and enjoy the beauty of nature.

The Crum Woods is a 220-acre forested area in Swarthmore, PA, that straddles the Crum Creek. The woods are adjacent to the Swarthmore College campus and offer walking trails for students, faculty, and visitors. The woods are also an integral part of 35 courses in 12 academic departments. The Crum Woods and the Swarthmore College campus are a wonderful resource for the community. They offer a variety of recreational opportunities, educational experiences, and a peaceful respite from the stresses of everyday life.

Student Cohort Size

Swarthmore College’s student population is 1,689. Most of the students represent the Middle Atlantic region of the United States. 15% of the admitted students are international students.

Four-Year Completion Rate

The graduation rate is among the most important factors when selecting a college.  Swarthmore College’s first-year retention rate is 86%. This means that 86% of first-year students continue their education for their sophomore year and beyond. The 4-year graduation rate is 89%. This implies that 89% of students were able to graduate after 4 years. The 6-year graduation rate is 94%. This implies that 94% of students were able to graduate after 6 years.

Student-to-Faculty Ratio

The student-to-faculty ratio is 8:1. The average class size at Swarthmore College is 14 students.


Acceptance Rate

Swarthmore’s Class of 2027 received 14,287 applicants and admitted 969 students with an acceptance rate of 6.78%. The admitted students represent six continents, 86 nations, and 50 U.S. states as well as American Samoa, the District of Columbia, Guam, the Northern Mariana Islands, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands. California is the most highly represented home state of members in the newly admitted class.

Acceptance GPA

The average unweighted GPA at Swarthmore College is more than 3.9. 94% of the admitted students rank in the top 10 percent of their graduating high school class.

Types of Admission

The students can apply through the Early Decision and Regular Decision programs. Early Decision I and Early Decision II is an opportunity for students to show that Swarthmore College is their number one choice. Early Decision is a binding process and it implies that the students should attend Swarthmore College if accepted. The students also have the option to apply through the Regular Decision process. Regular Decision may be right for you if you need more time to get your application ready. Many more students apply for Regular Decision than Early Decision.

Application Components

Complete the online Common Application, Coalition on Scoir Application, or QuestBridge Application
School report
School counselor recommendation
High school transcript
Midyear grades:
If your school does not have midyear grades, please provide a midyear progress report from your teachers.
Two academic-subject teacher recommendations/evaluations
Self-reported or official standardized test scores:
Test scores are optional.
Swarthmore offers optional interviews
Swarthmore College Short Answer:
As part of the Common Application and Coalition Application, you will be asked to submit no more than 250 words in response to a short answer question. For the 2022-2023 admissions cycle, students were asked to choose one of the following three questions:
Swarthmore students’ worldviews are often forged by their prior experiences and exposure to ideas and values. Our students are often mentored, supported, and developed by their immediate context—in their neighborhoods, communities of faith, families, and classrooms. Reflect on what elements of your home, school, or community have shaped you or positively impacted you. How have you grown or changed because of the influence of your community?
We are inspired by students who are flexible in their approach to learning, who are comfortable with experimentation, and who are willing to take intellectual risks that move them out of their comfort zone. Reflect on a time that you were intellectually challenged, inspired, or took an intellectual risk—inside or outside of the classroom. How has that experience shaped you, and what questions still linger?
Why are you interested in applying to and attending Swarthmore?


Swarthmore College offers a wide range of disciplines across the humanities, social sciences, natural sciences, and engineering.

Swarthmore’s Honors Program: Swarthmore’s Honors Program is unique and it focuses on collaboration between students, faculty, and its exams given by outside experts. Honors students work closely with faculty to explore ideas in seminars, and they pursue a wide range of special projects. At the end of their senior year, honors students take written and oral exams with outside experts who independently evaluate their work. Honors students are among the most actively engaged students on campus, and their programs often combine courses, seminars, and research. The program attracts students from all fields, creating a vibrant and intellectually stimulating community.

Tri-College Consortium: Swarthmore belongs to the Tri-College Consortium with Bryn Mawr and Haverford Colleges and offers cross-registration with the University of Pennsylvania. The Swarthmore Tri-College and Penn exchanges are available to enroll full-time undergraduate degree candidates at Swarthmore for undergraduate courses only. Opportunities for the enrichment and collaboration overflow, from the Early Novels Database project with UPenn and Bryn Mawr to the Philadelphia Behavioral Science Initiative held with UPenn, the Harvard Kennedy School, and city officials, to the Field Linguistics School that sent Tri-Co students to Mexico and Micronesia to help revive endangered languages.

Cost of Attendance

Total charges for the 2024–2025 academic year are as follows:

Tuition $65,058
Housing $10,478
Food $9,830
Student activities fee $436
Total $85,802

Student Life

Swarthmore provides a rich array of extracurricular activities, including over 100 student-led clubs and organizations that cater to a diverse range of interests and passions. Students participate in a vibrant arts scene, athletic teams, community service initiatives, and cultural and social events, fostering a sense of community and personal development outside of the classroom.

Students are encouraged to be active participants in their communities and to address societal challenges through community service, advocacy, and social justice initiatives. Swarthmore College is known for its vibrant campus activism and its longstanding tradition of student activism, which has played a significant role in shaping the college’s culture.

Overall, Swarthmore College offers a transformative educational experience that combines academic rigor, intellectual curiosity, social responsibility, and a vibrant community. It is a place where students are challenged to think critically, explore their passions, and make a positive impact on the world around them.

We can help you with your college application process. Working with study abroad consultants, overseas education consultants, or, as more commonly known, college counselors, can help you plan ahead and make those high school years count. Ivy Central offers exceptional focus to help you prepare for college admissions throughout the high school years. Start today!

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