8.1 Attendance at Classes
Regular attendance is expected. Faculty members will report to the dean the name of any student whose repeated absence is in their opinion impairing the student’s work. The number of absences allowed in a given course is not specified, a fact that places a heavy responsibility on all students to make sure that their work is not suffering as a result of absences. First-year students should exercise particular care in this respect.
When illness necessitates absence from classes, the student should report at once to the Health Center.
A student may obtain credit for a course without attending class meetings by reading the material prescribed by a syllabus and taking a final examination, under the following conditions:
- The student must signify intent to do so at the time of registration, having obtained the instructor’s approval in advance.
- If, after such registration, the student wishes to resume normal class attendance, the instructor’s approval must be obtained.
- The student may be required to perform such work, in addition to the final examination, as the instructor deems necessary for adequate evaluation of his or her performance.
- The registrar will record the final grade exactly as if the student had attended classes normally.
During the year, instructors periodically report on the students’ coursework to the Dean’s and Registrar’s offices. Informal reports during the semester take the form of comments on unsatisfactory work. At the end of each semester, formal grades are given in each course either under the credit/no credit (CR/NC) system, or under the letter system, by which A means excellent work; B, good work; C, satisfactory work; D, passing but below the average required for graduation; and NC (no credit), uncompleted or unsatisfactory work. Letter grades may be qualified by pluses and minuses. S signifies a requirement satisfactorily fulfilled. W signifies that the student has been permitted to withdraw from the course. X designates a condition that means a student has done unsatisfactory work in the first half of a yearlong course but by creditable work during the second half may earn a passing grade for the full course and thereby remove the condition. R is used to designate an auditor or to indicate cases in which the work of a foreign student cannot be evaluated because of deficiencies in English.
8.2.1 In Progress
IP (in progress) is the grade used when normally everyone in a class continues working on a project into the next semester. IP is given at the end of the first semester. Final grades are normally due at the end of the succeeding semester.
Incomplete (INC) means that a student’s work is incomplete with respect to specific assignments or examinations. The faculty has voted that a student’s final grade in a course should incorporate a zero for any part of the course not completed by the date of the final examination or the end of the examination period. However, if circumstances beyond the student’s control (e.g., illness, family emergency) preclude the completion of the work by this date, a grade of INC may be assigned with the permission of the faculty instructor and the registrar. Note that “having too much work to do” is not, in fairness to other students, considered a circumstance beyond the student’s control. A form for the purpose of requesting an incomplete is available from the Registrar’s Office and must be filled out by the student and signed by the faculty instructor and the registrar and returned to the registrar no later than the last day of final examinations. In such cases, incomplete work must normally be made up and graded, and the final grade recorded within 5 weeks after the start of the following semester. Except by special permission of the registrar and the faculty instructor, all grades of INC still outstanding after that date will be replaced on the student’s permanent record by NC (no credit). Waiver of this provision by special permission shall in no case extend beyond 1 year from the time the INC grade was incurred. Finally, any remaining INC grades must be resolved with a final grade or NC by the Tuesday prior to a student’s graduation.
8.2.3 Credit/No Credit
The Credit No Credit policy was revised effective 2018-2019 academic year. The policy has the following important components.
The first semester of the first year: The only grades recorded on a Swarthmore student’s official transcript for courses taken during the first semester of the first year are CR (credit) or NC (no credit). For first-year students in their first semester, CR will be recorded for work that would earn a grade of D- (D minus) or higher. Credit No Credit for the first semester of the first year is mandatory. By policy, first semester, first-year Swarthmore student CR grades are never uncovered to reveal the shadow letter grades on the official transcript.
Four more Credit No Credit courses: After the first semester, students may exercise the option to take up to four more courses Credit No Credit by informing the Registrar’s Office within the first 9 weeks of the term in which the course is taken, or the 5th week of the course if it meets for only half the semester, using the form provided for this purpose. After the Fall semester of the first year, a student electing the Credit No Credit option and earning a C- (C minus) or better will receive a CR on the transcript.
The handling of D grades and NC grades: After the first semester of the first year, a student taking a course optionally elected as Credit No Credit and earning any D level grade (D+, D, or D-) will receive that letter grade on the transcript and earn degree credit, and the course will count against the four optional Credit No Credit elections. A course optionally taken Credit No Credit and earning NC (No credit) will receive NC on the transcript, not receive degree credit, and the course will count against the four optional Credit No Credit elections.
Uncovering the letter grade: In any course optionally elected Credit No Credit and graded CR on the transcript, students (except spring semester graduating seniors) will have until the end of the second week of the following semester the option of removing the CR notation and permanently uncovering the underlying shadow letter grade in order that it appear as the grade on the transcript. Students who want this must use the Registrar’s form provided for this purpose. Courses where the CR is uncovered continue to count against the four optional Credit No Credit elections. In the case of spring semester graduating seniors, the deadline to uncover the underlying shadow letter grade is the Tuesday prior to commencement.
Repeated courses normally may not be taken Credit No Credit. Courses only offered as Credit No Credit do not count in the four optional elections; these courses normally do not have shadow letter grades, and if they do, those shadow grades are not eligible for uncovering.
Instructors provide the registrar letter grades for all first-year students in the first semester and for all optionally Credit No Credit courses, except for the few courses that are only graded CR NC. The final transcript notation is determined by the rules of the policy articulated herein. The letter grades earned in CR NC courses are available to students in mySwarthmore. For first-year students in the first semester, instructors are also asked to provide the student with a written evaluation of the student’s work.
If available, letter grades for Credit No Credit courses may be provided to other institutions only if requested by the student and absolutely required by the other institution. For students who have transferred their undergraduate degree candidacy to another school, if requested by the student and if available, letter grades earned in Credit No Credit courses will be recorded on the Swarthmore transcript.
8.2.4 Repeated Courses
Some courses can be repeated for credit; these are indicated in departmental course descriptions. For other courses, the following rules apply: (1) Permission to repeat a course must be obtained from the Swarthmore instructor teaching the repeated class. (2) These repeated courses may not be taken CR/NC. (3) To take a course at another school that will repeat a course previously taken at Swarthmore, the student must obtain permission from the chair of the Swarthmore department in which the original course was taken, both as a part of the preapproval process to repeat it elsewhere and, in writing, as part of the credit validation after the course is taken elsewhere.
For repeated courses in which the student withdraws with the grade notation W, the grade and credit for the previous attempt will stand. For other repeated courses, the registration and grade for the previous attempt will be preserved on the permanent record but marked as excluded, and any credit for the previous attempt will be permanently lost. The final grade and any credit earned in the repeated course are the grade and credit that will be applied to the student’s Swarthmore degree.
8.2.5 Grade Reports
Grades are available to students on a secure website. Grade reports are not routinely sent to parents or guardians, but such information may be released when students request it. The only exception to this is that parents or guardians of students are normally informed of grades when students have critical changes in status, such as probation or requirement to withdraw.
8.2.6 Grade Average
An average of C (2.0) is required in the courses counted for graduation. An average of C is interpreted for this purpose as being a numerical average of at least 2.0 (A+, A = 4.0, A- = 3.67, B+ = 3.33, B = 3.0, B- = 2.67, C+ = 2.33, C = 2.0, C- = 1.67, D+ = 1.33, D = 1.0, and D- = 0.67). Grades of CR/NC and grades on the record for courses not taken at Swarthmore College are not included in computing this average. Swarthmore College does not release GPA or rank in class outside the college.
All students are required to register and enroll at the times specified in official announcements and to file programs approved by their faculty advisers.
A regular student is expected to take the prescribed number of courses in each semester to progress toward the degree in the normal eight-semester enrollment. If more than 5 or fewer than 4 credits seem desirable, the faculty adviser should be consulted and a petition filed with the registrar (programs of fewer than 3 credits are not allowed in the normal eight-semester enrollment). Students are expected to select classes that do not pose scheduling conflicts.
Course registration adds and drops must be finalized within the first 2 weeks of the semester. To add a course, the instructor’s permission is required. Withdrawal from a course after the first two weeks of the semester is indicated with the permanent grade notation W. To withdraw from a course, students must file an application to withdraw, and it must be received by the Registrar no later than the end of the 9th week of classes or the 5th week of the course if it meets for only half the semester. After that time, late withdrawals are recorded on the student’s record with the notation NC unless the student withdraws from the College.
Enrolled students may audit an additional class or classes depending on the permission of the instructor(s). Successfully completed audits are recorded with the grade notation R at the end of the semester (except in cases where a registered student has withdrawn after the first 2 weeks of the semester, in which case the appropriate withdrawal notation stands). Students on leaves of absence are normally not allowed to audit courses.
Any student who is absent from an examination that is announced in advance must understand that the exam may be rescheduled only by special arrangement with the course instructor. Examinations are not normally rescheduled to accommodate travel plans. Examinations are restricted to students who are registered for the course or otherwise have the explicit permission of the faculty member to take the exam.
8.4.1 Final Examinations
The final examination schedule specified in official announcements directs the place and time of all finals unless the instructor has made other special arrangements. However, College policy holds that students with three final examinations within 24 hours are allowed to reschedule one of these examinations in consultation with the instructor, as long as the consultation occurs in a timely manner.
By College policy, a student who is not in the Honors Program but who is taking an honors written examination as a course final and has an examination conflict should take the course final examination and postpone the honors written examination until the student’s next free examination period. Conversely, a student in the Honors Program who has a conflict with a course final examination should take the honors examination and postpone the course examination in consultation with the professor. In no case may a student take an honors examination before the honors written examination period for that examination.
8.5 Student Leaves of Absence, Withdrawal, and Readmission
8.5.1 Leaves of Absence
Student leaves of absence are freely permitted provided the request for leave is received by the date of enrollment and the student is in good standing. Students planning a leave of absence or planning to return following a leave of absence should consult with a dean and complete the necessary form before the deadline published each semester (usually Nov. 15 and April 1). The form asks students to specify the date of expected return.
Withdrawal from the College may occur for academic, disciplinary, health, or personal reasons and may be voluntary or required by the College.
For health-related withdrawals, in no case will a student’s mental or physical condition itself be a basis for a required withdrawal. However, when health problems of a physical or psychological nature result in behavior that substantially interferes with a student’s academic performance or the educational endeavors of other students or poses a significant threat to the safety of others, the College may require the student to withdraw. The Evaluation Committee- comprising two deans-makes the decision to require withdrawal for health-related reasons. The Evaluation Committee will review the problematic behavior and may consult with the director of Worth Health Center, the director of Counseling and Psychological Services, or any other appropriate college official when making its decision. Decisions of the Evaluation Committee may be appealed to the dean of students.
Students withdrawing from the College before the end of the semester normally receive the grade notation “W” (withdrawal) on their permanent record for all in-progress courses.
A student who has withdrawn from the College for any reason, voluntarily or involuntarily, may apply for readmission by writing to the assistant dean for academic affairs. Normally, the College will not accept applications for readmission until a full semester, in addition to the semester in which the student has withdrawn, has passed.
A student applying to the College for readmission after withdrawal is required to provide appropriate documentation of increased ability to function academically and in a residential environment and/or of a decreased hazard to health and safety of others. In the case of withdrawal for medical reasons, this documentation must include an evaluation from the student’s personal health care provider. In addition, the student will generally be required to show evidence of successful social, occupational, and/or academic functioning during the time away from the College. This evidence must include the completion of any outstanding incompletes on record.
After such evidence has been provided, the materials will be forwarded to the Evaluation Committee. In the case of health-related withdrawals, the materials will be reviewed by the director of Worth Health Center and/or the director of Counseling and Psychological Services, and the student will be required to be evaluated in person by the appropriate health care professional at the College. At the discretion of the Evaluation Committee, such evaluations may be required for other types of withdrawals as appropriate. These evaluations will provide adjunctive information to the committee’s decision-making process. The Evaluation Committee will normally meet with the student and will make a determination regarding the student’s readiness to resume study at Swarthmore.
8.5.4 Short-Term Health-Related Absences
Students who are hospitalized during the semester are subject to the readmission procedures described above before they may return to campus to resume their studies. In these situations, the Evaluation Committee may also counsel and advise the student about options for how best to approach the remaining academic work in the semester. In all cases, a student returning to campus from the hospital must report to the Worth Health Center and get clearance from the appropriate health care professional before returning to the dormitory to ensure the student’s readiness to resume college life and so that follow-up care can be discussed.
8.6 Summer School Work and Other Work Done Elsewhere
Students who wish to receive Swarthmore College credit for work at another school must obtain preliminary approval and after-the-fact validation by the Swarthmore department or program concerned, or for participants in the Off-Campus Study program, the Swarthmore Off-Campus Study Office. Preliminary approval depends on adequate information about the content and instruction of the work to be undertaken and ensures the likelihood of the work’s applicability toward the Swarthmore degree as well as clarifies the amount of Swarthmore credit likely. Preliminary approval is tentative except when automatic credit is approved as part of the Off-Campus Study Program. Final validation of the work for credit will depend on evaluation of the materials of the course, such as syllabus, transcript, written work, examinations, indication of class hours, and so forth unless the course has been pre-estimated to receive automatic credit as part of the Off-Campus Study Program. In all cases, transfer of credit is subject to successful completion of the course, i.e., receipt of a straight US equivalent grade of “C” or higher. Work in other programs, especially summer school programs, may sometimes be given less credit than work at Swarthmore, but this will depend on the nature of the program and the work involved. Validation may include an examination, written or oral, administered at Swarthmore. All decisions are made on a case-by-case basis. Credit for AP and similar work is discussed in section 3.5 . To receive Swarthmore credit for study abroad during the academic year, students must participate in the Off-Campus Study Program and comply with its payment plan (study abroad is discussed in section 7.15 ). For the 2020-2021 academic year, students who have been approved for a leave of absence from Swarthmore for either or both of Fall or Spring are allowed to submit no more than the equivalent of 2.0 Swarthmore credits for course work completed elsewhere, taken either in-person or remotely, during the academic year.
An official transcript of grades and credits from the other school must be received by the Registrar’s Office before validated work can be recorded for credit. By College policy, in order for work done elsewhere to be granted Swarthmore College credit, the grade for that work must be the equivalent of a straight C or better, but a better than C grade does not in itself qualify for Swarthmore credit.
Students who wish to receive natural sciences and engineering practicum (NSEP) credit for courses taken elsewhere must obtain preliminary approval for the course from the department involved as well as final validation as with other credit. The department can approve NSEP credit if the course is comparable with a Swarthmore NSEP course. Generally, courses taken elsewhere that are not comparable with a Swarthmore NSEP will not receive NSEP credit; however, in exceptional cases, if NSEP criteria are satisfied elsewhere, the department chair may recommend NSEP credit award to the Division of Natural Sciences and Engineering for its final decision.
Requests for credit must be made within the semester following the term in which the work was done. Credit is lost if a student takes a course at Swarthmore that essentially repeats the work covered by the credit. For instructions on how to apply for transfer credit, please see this Transfer Credit page.
The normal deadline for seniors to submit official documentation originating from off-campus sources for credit toward their degree is the end of classes in the spring of the senior year. The absolute deadline for the registrar to receive such documentation is six (6) days before graduation; after that, no new documents from off-campus sources will be applied to graduation in that year. Students needing such documents to graduate will have to defer graduation to the following year.
8.7 Finality of Transcripts
After graduation, the student’s academic record is final and closed to change. The only exception to this is that in the weeks immediately following graduation clerical errors can be corrected.
8.8 Physical Education
In the first and second years, all nonveteran students not excused for medical reasons are required to complete 4 units of physical education by the end of their sophomore year. In addition, all students must pass a survival swimming test or take up to one unit of swimming instruction by the end of their sophomore year. For complete requirements, see Physical Education and Athletics .
8.9 Commencement Procession Rule
Seniors must be completely finished with degree requirements and approved by vote of the faculty in order to graduate in a given year and participate in commencement exercises.
8.10 Exclusion from College
The College reserves the right to exclude, at any time, students whose academic standing it regards as unsatisfactory and without assigning any further reason therefore, and neither the College nor any of its officers shall be under any liability whatsoever for such exclusion.