Credit Value of Courses
Most courses in Yale College are term courses that carry one course credit if completed with a passing grade. There are, however, some variations:
- Double-credit coursesA couple courses in Yale College, including intensive language or research courses, award two course credits for a single term’s work.
- Yearlong course sequencesThere are a couple yearlong course sequences in which two course credits are awarded upon the satisfactory completion of both terms of the sequence; other course sequences, including some research and laboratory courses, give one or four course credits for the successful completion of the full year’s work. A student who fails the first term of a yearlong course sequence may continue the sequence only with the instructor’s written permission, and will receive course credit only for the successful completion of the second term’s work. A student who satisfactorily completes the first term of a yearlong course sequence may receive course credit routinely for that term’s work, except where noted otherwise in the course listing.
Note that completion of a modern foreign language course numbered 110 does not award credit unless and until the subsequent term, numbered 120, is also successfully completed. Except in intensive, double-credit courses in which the equivalent of one year of language study is covered in one term, credit may not be given in any circumstance for the first term only of an introductory modern foreign language; neither instructors nor departments have the authority to make an exception to this rule. With some exceptions, credit will be given for successful completion of the second term only of an introductory modern foreign language, or for the first term only or the second term only of an intermediate modern foreign language.
- Laboratory coursesSome laboratory courses carry no separate credit toward the degree; others carry a full course credit for a term’s work; and still others carry one-half course credit.
- Half-credit coursesAll courses that carry 0.5 or 1.5 course credits and that are not bound by the credit/year restriction count toward the 36-course-credit requirement for the bachelor’s degree.
Normal Program of Study
A student in Yale College normally takes four or five term courses, or their equivalent, for each of eight terms.
- Minimum course loadA student may not enroll in a program of study worth fewer than three course credits in one term. A student enrolled for three course credits may withdraw from one course credit between midterm and the first day of the reading period, receiving the neutral designation W (Withdrew) in that course. Similarly, a student enrolled for four or more course credits may withdraw from one or more courses as described above, but at no time may any student carry a schedule of courses that will earn fewer than two course credits in a term.
- Course loads requiring permissionA three-course-credit program of study or a six-course-credit program of study requires the permission of the residential college dean. It is assumed that any student who requests permission to carry more than five course credits does not intend to drop any of them. Permission for a program of six course credits will normally not be given to a student who is not in academic good standing.
- Seven course credits in a termA student must petition the Yale College Committee on Honors and Academic Standing for permission to take a program worth seven credits in a term. In the petition the student must explicitly state an intention to complete all the courses proposed.
- Independent studyOpportunities for independent study exist in many programs and departments under various designations: directed reading or research, individual reading or research, independent research or study, independent or special projects, individual instruction in music performance, independent, individual, or special tutorials, and the senior essay or project, among others. Note that course credit earned in such study may not be used toward fulfillment of the distributional requirements. Approval for any such particular course is given by the department or program; however, approval for an independent study course is also required from the Yale College Committee on Honors and Academic Standing if certain limits are exceeded. A student must petition the committee for permission to enroll in more than one such course credit in any one term before the senior year or in more than two such course credits in any one term during the senior year. Permission is also required for a student to enroll in more than three such course credits in the first six terms of enrollment; included in this total are any independent study courses completed in Yale Summer Session that are applied to the Yale College transcript. In the petition the student must give sound academic reasons for exceeding these limits and provide evidence that the additional work in independent study will not be done at the expense of the breadth and depth of study being pursued in regular Yale College courses.
This page provides explanations about some of Yale’s academic practices. For more detail on the items below, consult Yale College Programs of Study (YCPS).
Interpreting Course Numbers
Fall-term courses are indicated by the letter “a” (e.g., ENGL 201a), and spring-term courses by the letter “b” (e.g., ENGL 450b). In all departments, courses numbered 001–099 are seminars open only to freshmen. For more information on these seminars, visit the Freshman Seminar Program Website.
Departments number their courses according to different schemes, and course numbers do not necessarily correlate to whether or not courses are more advanced or more difficult. In some departments, courses are numbered in an ascending order, going from introductory to intermediate and advanced. In others, courses are grouped primarily by subject matter or language of instruction, with the result that the number of a course (usually with the exception of the 400 range) bears no particular relation to its level of difficulty. More precise indications about the level of a course may be found in the introduction to each department’s entry in the YCPS and in prerequisite information in the course listings.
Course Selection Period
Yale’s course selection period (also known as “shopping period”) takes place during the first two weeks of classes and allows you to participate in courses that interest you without enrolling in them right away. After you arrive on campus, you choose courses to visit during the course selection period. From those you visit, you will enroll in four or five. Please be aware that classes conducted during the first two weeks of the term are regular, full-fledged classes with readings, homework and, occasionally, graded assignments. Be prepared to keep up with assignments and participate fully in each class in which you may wish to enroll.
Course Information and Enrollment
Before arriving in New Haven, you may want to browse through the course offerings listed in the YCPS. During the final few weeks of the summer, you can view many course syllabi through the Online Course Information (OCI) system. During First-year Orientation, your residential college dean and your freshman counselor will explain how to select courses online and complete your course schedule. You will also be able to view course evaluations for some of the classes you are considering.
Dates and Deadlines
In the Academic Regulations section of the YCPS, you can find most of the rules governing the requirements and options in the curriculum, including a number of important dates and deadlines. Many of these dates and deadlines are summarized in a calendar at the beginning of the YCPS. There are deadlines, for example, for withdrawing from a course, converting from the Credit/D/Fail option to a letter grade, and applying for a leave of absence. These deadlines are strictly enforced.
Any course in Yale College may be taken Credit/D/Fail, rather than for a letter grade. When a course is selected under this option, a grade of C– or above will be converted on the transcript to “CR” (for "credit"). Grades of D+, D, D–, or F will appear on the transcript as reported by the instructor. You may count up to four courses taken Credit/D/Fail toward the bachelor’s degree, and you may take as many as two courses Credit/D/Fail in a single term as long as you elect at least two courses, representing at least two course credits, in the same term for letter grades.
There are some further restrictions on the use of the Credit/D/Fail option. You may not apply any Credit/D/Fail course toward fulfillment of the distributional requirements, and some departments will not accept courses taken Credit/D/Fail toward the requirements of the major. If you want to exercise the Credit/D/Fail option, you must declare your intention by the date your course schedule is due. You may change your mind and convert from Credit/D/Fail to a letter grade until shortly after midterm (see the YCPS for the deadline), but you may not change from a letter grade to the Credit/D/Fail option. If you want to earn acceleration credits through work in advanced courses, you may not use the Credit/D/Fail option in those courses, because acceleration credit is awarded only for grades of A, A-, B+, or B.
Reading period lasts about five days and comes between the end of classes and the beginning of the final examination period. During this time, students review or augment their course work and prepare for final examinations. Most courses do not meet during reading period. A course that does meet includes the phrase “meets during reading period” in its online course listing. Even if this phrase does not appear in the listing, the course instructor may still set review sessions or schedule extra classes during reading period.
Final Exams and Term Papers
Courses typically end with a final examination or its equivalent, often a term paper. Some instructors elect a final test, a take-home examination, or some other substitute for the final examination. Individual course listings in Online Course Information indicate whether the instructor plans to schedule a final examination.
Online Academic Resources
Many academic resources are available online. The Yale Web portal, YaleInfo, serves as a good starting place for general information and provides access to many online resources at Yale. Note in particular that you can browse program and course information in Yale College Programs of Study, course details such as scheduled times in the OCI database, and online course syllabi via OCI and Canvas.