First-year students do not receive letter grades on their transcripts for their fall semester courses. Instead, their professors provide them with meaningful feedback on their work, and students receive “credit” or “no credit” marks on their transcript (Swarthmore's version of pass/fail). Class ranks or GPAs are not published. This allows students to take intellectual risks, adjust to college-level coursework, collaborate with peers, and focus on learning for learning’s sake.
Students have the opportunity to pursue undergraduate summer research, and many apply for a $5,200 stipend so that they can devote a substantial amount of time to their project. Two-thirds of Swarthmore students participate in undergraduate research or independent creative projects.
The Swarthmore Honors Program is celebrating its 100th year and features faculty working with small groups of committed students. An emphasis is placed on independent research and special projects. Students frequently enter into dialogue with peers, teachers, and external experts. The Swarhtmore Honors Program is a challenging program of study in major and minor or cross-disciplinary fields. Written and spoken examinations are given by visiting practitioners at the end of the students’ senior year.