Effective with its class of 2026, an aquatic-related graduation requirement has been eliminated at Dartmouth College.
Instituted over a century ago, Dartmouth required that students complete a 50-yard swim test in order to graduate. The test was not timed and could be completed at any point during a student’s four years at the New Hampshire-based school.
This requirement was already temporarily suspended for previous classes due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but, after multiple faculty committee votes and a final vote by Dartmouth‘s entire faculty, the test is now replaced by the need for three physical education or wellness credits.
Patrick Dolph, a Dartmouth biology professor and chair of the Committee on Instruction, explains that the swim test was originally instituted to ensure that students – all males at the time – were prepared for military service. Dolph also says that the swim test requirement ‘disproportionately impacted students of color.’ (Dartmouth.com)
“It did not test swimming competency or provide increased water safety for students while at Dartmouth or after graduation.
“In past years, a small number of students with limited swimming skills were required to take beginning swimming to pass the swim test. These were overwhelmingly students of color, and this essentially added an additional graduation requirement for these individuals.” (Dartmouth.com)
Schools that still have the swim test requirement include Cornell University, Columbia University, and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.