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Swarthmore vs Washington University in St. Louis

By Eric Eng

By Eric Eng

Young woman looking like she is thinking while sitting on a yellow floor.

Swarthmore vs Washington University in St. Louis

When it comes to choosing the right university for your undergraduate education, it can be overwhelming, especially with so many options available to choose from. Among the top liberal arts colleges and research universities in the United States are Swarthmore and Washington University in St. Louis. While both institutions offer top-quality education, it’s important to analyze the differences and similarities between the two before making a final decision. In this article, we’ll compare Swarthmore vs Washington University in St. Louis based on academics, student life, admission requirements, cost, faculty, career opportunities, alumni network, sports programs, campus housing, diversity, study abroad programs, majors offered, graduate schools acceptance rate, and global rankings.

Washington University in St. Louis

Washington University in St. Louis, also known as WashU, is a private research university located in the heart of St. Louis, Missouri. It was founded in 1853 and has been consistently ranked in the top 20 universities in the country by U.S. News & World Report. WashU is known for its interdisciplinary approach to teaching and research, and for its strong focus on social activism and community engagement.

View of Washington University.

WashU offers over 90 undergraduate majors and more than 19 graduate and professional programs across seven schools. The university is particularly renowned for its programs in medicine, law, and business. WashU is also home to several research centers and institutes, including the McDonnell International Scholars Academy, which brings together scholars from around the world to collaborate on global issues.

WashU has a diverse student body, with students from all 50 states and over 100 countries. The university is committed to providing a supportive and inclusive environment for all students and offers a range of resources and services to help students succeed academically and personally. WashU also has a strong athletic program, with 19 varsity sports teams competing in the NCAA Division III.

Academics and Curriculum Comparison: Swarthmore vs. Washington University in St. Louis

Both Swarthmore and WashU are renowned for their academic excellence and rigorous curriculum. Swarthmore is a liberal arts college that focuses on the humanities, natural sciences, and social sciences. WashU, on the other hand, offers a wider range of academic programs, including business, engineering, and architecture, in addition to the liberal arts. WashU also offers an interdisciplinary program called the “University College” which allows students to combine different fields of study in a single major.

While both institutions have a similar student-to-faculty ratio (8:1 for Swarthmore and 7:1 for WashU), the average class size is slightly larger at WashU, with an average class size of 22 compared to Swarthmore’s 12. Swarthmore has a more structured curriculum that focuses on a core set of courses, whereas WashU gives its students more freedom to explore different fields of study.

A professor talking to a group of students.

 

Another difference between Swarthmore and WashU is their approach to research. Swarthmore emphasizes undergraduate research and provides ample opportunities for students to engage in research projects with faculty members. WashU, on the other hand, is a research-intensive university with a strong focus on graduate-level research. However, WashU also offers research opportunities for undergraduate students through its various research centers and institutes.

Furthermore, Swarthmore and WashU have different approaches to study abroad programs. Swarthmore has a strong emphasis on global education and offers a wide range of study-abroad programs in over 50 countries. WashU also offers study abroad programs, but they are more limited in scope and primarily focused on specific academic disciplines. However, WashU has a unique program called the “Global Bachelor’s Program” which allows students to earn two bachelor’s degrees from two different universities in different countries.

Student Life and Culture Comparison: Swarthmore vs. Washington University in St. Louis

The student life and culture at Swarthmore and WashU are quite different from one another. Swarthmore is a small college with a tight-knit community and a strong emphasis on social activism and environmental sustainability. WashU, on the other hand, is a larger university that offers a vibrant and diverse student life, with over 500 student organizations, including Greek life, clubs, and sports teams.

View of sports equipments placed on the floor.

While WashU is located in the bustling city of St. Louis, Swarthmore is situated in a small town in the suburbs of Philadelphia. Swarthmore has a strong Quaker heritage and a focus on progressive values, whereas WashU is known for its highly social and party culture.

Despite their differences, both Swarthmore and WashU offer unique opportunities for students to engage in research and academic pursuits. Swarthmore’s small size allows for close relationships with professors and a personalized academic experience, while WashU’s extensive resources and research opportunities provide students with a wealth of knowledge and experience in their chosen fields.

Additionally, both schools have a strong commitment to community service and civic engagement. Swarthmore’s social activism and environmental sustainability initiatives are reflected in its campus culture, while WashU’s Center for Social Justice and Community Engagement offers students opportunities to engage with the St. Louis community and make a positive impact.

Social Scene and Extracurricular Activities Comparison: Swarthmore vs. Washington University in St. Louis

As mentioned, WashU has a more vibrant and lively social scene with a larger number of student organizations and activities available to students. Greek life is also a significant part of WashU’s social scene, with 24% of undergraduate students participating in fraternities or sororities.

At Swarthmore, extracurricular activities are more focused on social justice and community engagement. The college has a strong activist culture, and students are encouraged to get involved in various political and social justice movements.

Additionally, Swarthmore offers a unique opportunity for students to participate in the Chester Community Fellowship Program. This program allows students to work with community organizations in Chester, Pennsylvania, to address issues such as poverty, education, and healthcare. Through this program, students gain valuable experience in community organizing and social justice work, while also making a positive impact on the local community.

Admission Requirements and Acceptance Rates Comparison: Swarthmore vs. Washington University in St. Louis

Swarthmore and WashU both have highly selective admission processes with low acceptance rates. Swarthmore had an acceptance rate of 8%, while WashU had an acceptance rate of 13%. Both institutions take a holistic approach to admissions and consider factors such as academic achievement, extracurricular involvement, and personal character when making decisions on admissions. Both institutions also require essays and letters of recommendation as part of the application process.

A letter of recommendation with a pen.

Despite their similarities, there are some differences in the admission requirements between Swarthmore and WashU. Swarthmore places a strong emphasis on academic achievement and requires applicants to have taken a rigorous high school curriculum, including advanced courses in math, science, and foreign language. WashU, on the other hand, does not have specific course requirements but encourages applicants to challenge themselves academically.

Another difference between the two institutions is their approach to standardized testing. This means that applicants can choose whether or not to submit their test scores, and the admissions committee will not penalize those who choose not to submit them.

Cost of Education and Financial Aid Comparison: Swarthmore vs. Washington University in St. Louis

Attending Swarthmore or WashU comes with a hefty price tag, with both institutions charging over $50,000 per year for tuition and fees. However, both offer generous financial aid packages to help offset the costs of attending.

Swarthmore guarantees to meet 100% of a student’s demonstrated financial need, while WashU has a need-blind admission policy for U.S. citizens and permanent residents. WashU also offers generous merit-based scholarships to high-achieving students.

It’s important to note that the cost of attendance goes beyond just tuition and fees. Students also need to consider the cost of room and board, textbooks, and other expenses. Swarthmore and WashU both offer on-campus housing options, but the cost of living in the surrounding areas may vary. Additionally, students should research and compare the availability and cost of part-time jobs and internships in the area to help cover expenses.

Faculty and Research Opportunities Comparison: Swarthmore vs. Washington University in St. Louis

The faculty at Swarthmore and WashU are both highly respected in their fields and have a strong commitment to teaching and research. Swarthmore faculty is known for its dedication to undergraduate education, while WashU’s faculty is known for its groundbreaking research and innovative teaching methods.

Students attending a class in school.

Both institutions offer undergraduate research opportunities to students, with Swarthmore offering a research assistant program, and WashU offering research opportunities through its various research centers and institutes.

However, there is a notable difference in the size of the faculty at each institution. Swarthmore has a smaller faculty-to-student ratio, allowing for more personalized attention and mentorship opportunities for students. On the other hand, WashU’s larger faculty size allows for a wider range of research areas and expertise, providing students with a diverse array of research opportunities.

Career Opportunities and Post-Graduation Outcomes Comparison: Swarthmore vs. Washington University in St. Louis

Both Swarthmore and WashU have excellent career services departments and alumni networks that provide students with networking opportunities and job placement services. Swarthmore graduates have gone on to highly successful careers in a variety of fields, including academia, law, medicine, and finance. Similarly, WashU graduates have found success in fields such as consulting, finance, technology, and health care.

However, there are some differences in the post-graduation outcomes between the two institutions. According to recent data, Swarthmore graduates tend to pursue more advanced degrees, with a higher percentage of alumni attending graduate school within five years of graduation compared to WashU graduates. On the other hand, WashU graduates tend to have higher starting salaries, with an average starting salary of $65,000 compared to Swarthmore’s average starting salary of $60,000.

Alumni Network and Reputation Comparison: Swarthmore vs. Washington University in St. Louis

Both Swarthmore and WashU have alumni networks that are highly regarded and respected in their fields. Swarthmore is known for its strong tradition of alumni giving, with over 60% of its graduates making some form of contribution to the college. WashU’s alumni network is similarly impressive, with the university boasting over 150,000 alumni around the world.

In terms of reputation, both institutions are highly respected and ranked among the top universities in the country. Swarthmore is consistently ranked in the top 3 liberal arts colleges by U.S. News & World Report, while WashU is ranked in the top 20 national universities.

One notable difference between the two institutions is their location. Swarthmore is located in a small town in Pennsylvania, while WashU is located in the bustling city of St. Louis, Missouri. This difference in location can impact the types of opportunities available to students and the overall campus culture.

Another difference is the size of the student body. Swarthmore has a smaller student body of around 1,600 students, while WashU has a larger student body of around 15,000 students. This difference in size can impact the sense of community on campus and the types of extracurricular activities available to students.

Athletics Programs and Facilities Comparison: Swarthmore vs. Washington University in St. Louis

Both institutions offer competitive athletics programs and top-notch athletic facilities. Swarthmore has a strong tradition of athletics, with over 20 varsity teams competing in the Division III Centennial Conference. WashU has a similarly impressive athletic program, with over 20 varsity teams competing in the Division III University Athletic Association.

However, Swarthmore has a unique focus on individual sports, such as fencing and squash, with nationally ranked-teams in both. WashU, on the other hand, has a strong emphasis on team sports, with highly competitive basketball and soccer programs.

In terms of facilities, Swarthmore boasts a state-of-the-art indoor track and field facility, as well as a newly renovated fitness center. WashU’s athletic facilities include a recently expanded football stadium and a brand-new tennis center.

Campus Housing Comparison: Swarthmore vs. Washington University in St. Louis

Both Swarthmore and WashU offer on-campus housing options for their students. Swarthmore takes pride in its “residential college” system, which emphasizes a sense of community and close bonds between students and faculty. WashU also offers a variety of on-campus housing options, including traditional dorms and apartment-style living arrangements.

A person moves to a dorm.

However, there are some differences in the housing options offered by the two universities. Swarthmore’s residential college system requires all students to live on campus for their first three years, while WashU allows students to live off-campus after their first year. Additionally, Swarthmore’s housing options are limited, with most students living in traditional dorms, while WashU offers a wider range of options, including themed housing communities and special interest housing for students with specific hobbies or interests.

Diversity on Campus Comparison: Swarthmore vs. Washington University in St. Louis

Both Swarthmore and WashU are committed to promoting diversity and inclusion on their campuses. Swarthmore has a diverse student body, with over 50% of students identifying as students of color and international students. WashU similarly has a diverse student body, with over 10% of students being international and a large population of students from underrepresented minority groups.

In addition to their diverse student bodies, both Swarthmore and WashU have implemented various initiatives to promote diversity and inclusion on their campuses. Swarthmore has a Multicultural Center that provides resources and support for students of color, LGBTQ+ students, and first-generation college students. WashU has a Diversity and Inclusion Task Force that works to create a more inclusive campus environment and offers programs such as the Diversity Peer Educator program.

Furthermore, both Swarthmore and WashU have made efforts to diversify their faculty and staff. Swarthmore has a Faculty Diversity and Recruitment Committee that works to increase the diversity of the faculty, and WashU has a Diversity and Inclusion Advisory Council that focuses on creating a more diverse and inclusive workforce. These efforts demonstrate the commitment of both institutions to creating a welcoming and inclusive environment for all members of their communities.

Study Abroad Programs Comparison: Swarthmore vs. Washington University in St. Louis

Both institutions offer extensive study abroad programs to their students. Swarthmore has a robust study abroad program that allows students to choose from over 250 programs in over 70 countries. WashU also has an impressive study abroad program, with opportunities in over 50 countries around the world.

However, there are some differences between the two programs. Swarthmore places a strong emphasis on language immersion and cultural immersion, with many of their programs requiring students to take language courses and participate in homestays with local families. WashU, on the other hand, offers more opportunities for internships and research projects abroad, allowing students to gain practical experience in their field of study while also experiencing a new culture.

Majors Offered At Both Universities – A Comparison

While Swarthmore focuses primarily on the liberal arts, it offers an impressive array of majors in various fields, including natural sciences, social sciences, and humanities. WashU, on the other hand, offers a wider range of majors, including business, engineering, and architecture. Both institutions offer majors in a variety of fields, and students are encouraged to explore their interests and combine different fields of study in interdisciplinary majors.

It is worth noting that both Swarthmore and WashU have strong programs in the arts. Swarthmore has a renowned theater program and offers majors in studio art and art history. WashU has a top-ranked art school, the Sam Fox School of Design and Visual Arts, which offers majors in art, architecture, and design. Both universities also have opportunities for students to participate in music and dance performances, as well as other creative endeavors.

Graduate Schools Acceptance Rate Comparison: Swarthmore vs. Washington University in St. Louis

Swarthmore had a graduate school acceptance rate of 87%, while WashU had an acceptance rate of 87%. Both institutions have highly regarded graduate programs in a variety of fields, including law, medicine, and business.

Despite the significant difference in acceptance rates, both Swarthmore and WashU have similar academic standards for their graduate programs. Swarthmore’s graduate programs are known for their rigorous coursework and research opportunities, while WashU’s graduate programs are recognized for their interdisciplinary approach and emphasis on practical experience.

Additionally, Swarthmore and WashU have different approaches to funding graduate education. Swarthmore offers a limited number of fellowships and assistantships to its graduate students, while WashU provides a wide range of funding opportunities, including scholarships, grants, and research assistantships. This difference in funding options may be a factor for prospective graduate students to consider when choosing between the two institutions.

Global Rankings Comparison: Swarthmore vs. Washington University in St. Louis

Both Swarthmore and WashU have impressive global rankings. Swarthmore is consistently ranked among the top liberal arts colleges in the country, while WashU is consistently ranked among the top research universities in the United States. On a global scale, Swarthmore is ranked #11 by Times Higher Education, while WashU is ranked #57.

In conclusion, Swarthmore and WashU are both excellent institutions with their unique strengths and weaknesses. While Swarthmore is a smaller, more focused liberal arts college with a strong emphasis on social justice and sustainability, WashU is a larger, more diverse university that offers a wider range of academic programs and extracurricular activities. Ultimately, the choice between the two institutions will depend on an individual student’s academic and personal preferences. Whatever decision they make, they can be assured that both institutions offer a world-class education that will prepare them for success in their future careers.

It is worth noting that both Swarthmore and WashU have a strong commitment to undergraduate research. Swarthmore has a well-established program that allows students to work closely with faculty members on research projects, while WashU has a number of research centers and institutes that offer opportunities for students to engage in cutting-edge research in a variety of fields. This emphasis on research not only provides students with valuable hands-on experience but also prepares them for graduate studies and careers in research and development.

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