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What Are the Tri-College and Quaker Consortiums?

High school seniors often struggle to determine which college will best meet their needs. After all, every school comes with a list of positives and negatives. While one college boasts optimal academics and campus life, another might have the student clubs and extracurriculars you’re seeking. That’s where college consortiums come in.


Networks of colleges and universities, college consortiums enable students to attend one school while taking advantage of the academic offerings and resources of another. Additionally, these groups can help students from diverse backgrounds find friends and allies, since they’ll enjoy access to a wider community of peers. Keep reading to learn about two well-known consortiums: the Tri-College Consortium and the Quaker Consortium.


What is the Tri-College Consortium?


Located near Philadelphia, the Tri-College Consortium is a group of three private liberal arts schools that allow students of any one institution to take courses and participate in activities at the other two. While Bryn Mawr is a women’s college, Swarthmore College and Haverford College are co-ed. Find out what each of these institutions has to offer:


Swarthmore College

Enrollment: 1,641 undergraduates

Acceptance Rate: 11% for Fall 2017

Ranking: No. 3 (tie) in National Liberal Arts Colleges


Founded by the Religious Society of Friends, also known as the Quakers, Swarthmore has been educating students since 1864. Along with boasting more than 40 programs of study, this prestigious institution invites students to design their own majors. Additionally, the school offers more than 100 organizations in which students can take part.


Bryn Mawr College

Enrollment: 1,350 undergraduates

Acceptance Rate: 38% for Fall 2017

Ranking: No. 27 (tie) in National Liberal Arts Colleges


Located just outside Philadelphia, Bryn Mawr holds the distinction of being the first women’s college to offer Ph.D. programs. Currently, students can choose from 37 majors and 53 minors and take advantage of more than 100 clubs and organizations. Additionally, the school’s Praxis Program enables students to earn college credit for work and research completed in the community.


Haverford College

Enrollment: 1,353 undergraduates

Acceptance Rate: 20% for Fall 2017

Ranking: No. 11 (tie) in National Liberal Arts Colleges


One of the benefits of attending Haverford is that every student takes courses in three academic majors. The end result is that students have access to a broader range of intellectual concepts and paradigms. Along with exceptional academics and a 9:1 student-faculty ratio, Haverford boasts a financial aid policy dedicated to meeting 100% of accepted students’ demonstrated financial need.


It’s worth noting that the relationship between Haverford College and Bryn Mawr is especially strong. This association, known as the Bi-College Consortium (or Bi-Co), involves the schools sharing both a radio station and a newspaper. Additionally, students from Haverford can pursue majors not available at their home institutions. For example, Bryn Mawr students can enroll in the Music and Fine Arts program at Haverford.


What Is the Quaker Consortium?


Students at Haverford, Bryn Mawr, and Swarthmore don’t just benefit from the Tri-College Consortium. They also have access to a fourth school, the University of Pennsylvania, courtesy of the Quaker Consortium. As a result, Tri-Co students can take Ivy League classes, and UPenn students have the chance to enjoy a more intimate, small-college experience. Additionally, the University of Pennsylvania participates in a 4 + 1 engineering program with Haverford students. In other words, Haverford students can receive a B.S. from their home school and a master’s degree from UPenn in five years.



Enrollment: 10,468 undergraduates

Acceptance Rate:  9% for Fall 2017

Ranking: No. 8 (tie) in National Universities


A top-tier research institution in Philadelphia, UPenn is a highly selective university comprised of four undergraduate and 12 graduate schools. The school has boasted an all-grant financial aid program since 2007. So, students accepted to UPenn will not be offered loans as part of their financial aid package.


What Are the Benefits of the Tri-College and Quaker Consortium?


One of the best reasons for attending a Tri-College or Quaker school is that you’ll have access to courses not offered at your home institution. Some of the academic programs are even designed to feature courses from all three liberal arts schools, with Tri-Co majors including Linguistics, Environmental Studies, and Arabic. Additionally, Bryn Mawr students can take up to two undergraduate courses per semester at UPenn and a total of four classes in the university’s pre-professional programs due to a special relationship between the two institutions.


For students’ convenience, shuttle buses provide transportation to the various Tri-Co campuses, as well as shops, cafes, and community service sites. Currently, students traveling from one of the Tri-Co schools to UPenn and back have to take the train or drive themselves.


Additionally, Tri-College and Quaker Consortium students have access to a wider range of clubs, extracurriculars, and activities. For example, Swarthmore students can take part in Haverford’s Women in Stem organization, while Bryn Mawr students enjoy access to Swarthmore’s Animal Allies club.

For More Information


If you found this post helpful, take a look at our other posts:


What Does it Really Cost to Attend UPenn?

Should You Attend a Women’s College?

What is a Liberal Arts College, and How Are They Different?


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Short Bio
A graduate of the Master of Professional Writing program at USC, April Maguire taught freshman composition while earning her degree. Over the years, she has worked as a writer, editor, tutor, and content manager. Currently, she operates a freelance writing business and lives in Los Angeles with her husband and their three rowdy cats.