Requirements & Swim Test

Each student must complete four physical education credits as a requirement for graduation from Williams College.

Students must complete at least two physical education credits during the first year at Williams College.

All four physical education credits must be completed by the end of a student’s sophomore year. Please note that students will not be permitted to study abroad should the PE requirement not be fulfilled.

Components of the PE Requirement

The Requirement may be met through successful participation in the following:

  • Successful completion of a physical education or dance department activity course
  • Participation on a varsity, junior varsity or club team
  • Participation in a regularly scheduled Williams Outing Club activity (requires WOC membership)
  • Independent class- must be approved by the coordinator of PE only after 3 PE credits have been earned

Additionally, students must enroll in at least two different activities to fulfill the requirement.

  • Completion of a physical education activity class earns 1 PE credit per quarter
  • Participation on a varsity, junior varsity or club sports team earns 2 PE credits per year
  • Students involved in dance ensembles earn 2 PE credits per year
  • A student may earn a maximum of 3 PE credits in one discipline

Swim Test

July 2020 Update: The swim test will be postponed until further notice.
Once we are able to reschedule the date(s) we will let everyone know what the new swim test schedule will be.

During ‘First Days’ our freshman will be scheduled to complete the swim test. Students are required to swim 25 yards front crawl and 25 yards backstroke.

Non-swimmers should also report to the pool. You are not required to take the swim test but must sign up for a beginning swim class.

While the swim test is a requirement of all Williams students, it is designed to be a safe and comfortable experience for everyone.  Williams has always felt (since 1793) that it is vitally important that all graduates leave here with the ability to swim.  If, for reason of religious observance or gender identity/expression, you would prefer to take the swim test in a private setting we will happily accommodate your needs.  Please contact Dean Chris Sewell at [email protected] with any questions or concerns.


The Department of Physical Education at Williams College will make reasonable accommodations to assist qualified persons in achieving access to its programs in accordance with Section 504 of the Federal Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and Title III of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990.

The process for receiving accommodations begins with the student self-disclosing a disability to the Coordinator of Physical Education and providing the necessary supporting documentation to verify eligibility. Documentation is considered confidential information and is not shared with other campus offices or persons without the student’s written consent.  Accommodations are determined on an individual, case-by-case basis.

Students who would like to accommodate a disability are encouraged to contact Carolyn Miles, Coordinator of Physical Education, at [email protected]. To make the accommodations in a timely manner, it is important, when possible, to self-disclose and document the disability prior to the semester of enrollment.