Title and Data Lines

In addition to the description, the basic information for each course includes a combination of some or all of the elements explained below.

Course Numbers

Each course in the YCPS is identified by the course number (e.g., ENGL 114), which is assigned by the department and represents the place in the department’s scheme, whether by topic or by level, into which the course fits.

Each course is assigned its own separate number, whatever the term in which it is given. If the course moves from one term to another, it keeps the same number. Further, if a course is no longer offered and its number seems to fall open, the department should not use it for another course for a period of four years. The purpose of this delay is to avoid the duplication of the same course number on student transcripts.

First-year seminars carry numbers from 001 to 099. Other courses in Yale College are numbered 100 to 499.

Term and Year Courses

The letters “a” and “b” denote fall-term and spring-term courses respectively; a course designated “a or b” (e.g., ECON 115a or b) is the same course given in both fall and spring terms. Some departments also offer two-term course sequences that function as yearlong courses (e.g., PHYS 180a and 181b). Unless marked otherwise in the YCPS, such sequences yield credit for the successful completion of either term independent of the other. If a department feels strongly that credit should not be granted for one term only of a yearlong course sequence, the course description stipulates that both terms are required for credit (e.g., MUSI 220a and 221b). Instructors may not make exceptions for individual students.

Introductory language courses are typically listed in the YCPS as single-term courses, however yearlong specification for Introductory Spanish, for example, is indicated as SPAN 110a and SPAN 120b. The completion of the first term only of an introductory modern foreign language earns credit whether or not a subsequent term of that language is completed. Neither instructors nor departments have the authority to make an exception to this rule.

Multiple-Titled Courses

Sometimes courses are sponsored by two or more departments and carry the names of each department—i.e., are multiple-titled (for example, AFAM 162/AMST 162/HIST 187). The YCPS includes such courses in the listings of each sponsoring department. Adding a multiple title to a course requires permission from the Chair and the DUS of the multiple-titling department.

Related Courses

A course may be suitable for credit toward the major in a department other than the one sponsoring it without its being eligible for multiple-titling. Such courses from other departments may be included in a department’s listings as “Related Courses.” For example, CPSC 365 is included in the listings under Mathematics. It appears simply as a Computer Science course, not one double-titled Mathematics/Computer Science. When a course from another department is listed at the end of a program under a separate heading, that course may or may not count toward the major of the listing program. But if a course from another department is interspersed among the program’s offerings, it counts toward the major of the listing program.

Time Patterns

Setting the times at which courses meet is the department’s responsibility, but meeting times must fall within the standard patterns established by Yale College. Time patterns have been regularized in order to utilize the limited number of classrooms to the greatest extent while balancing the pressure for rooms of varying sizes at various hours. Exceptions to the standard time patterns are rare and must be approved by the Course of Study Committee.

Equalizing Meeting Times

The standard time patterns were created to help use limited classroom space efficiently, to encourage departments to coordinate their offerings with one another, and to give students the broadest possible choice of courses as they try to fill out their schedules each term. Unfortunately, among both faculty and students some teaching hours are more popular than others, with the result that more courses are offered on certain days and hours than others, and faculty and students continue to be frustrated by their classroom assignments and scheduling difficulties. Please make every effort to spread your department’s course offerings across all of the standard times available to you, both early and late in the day, and as many on Mondays and Fridays as in the middle of the week.

Format of Courses

Lecture courses typically meet three hours a week, either in three 50-minute periods or in two 75-minute periods; blocks of two- or three-hour periods do not constitute an acceptable lecture pattern.

Seminars usually meet at least two continuous hours a week, though they may also meet in two 75-minute periods. All first-year seminars (numbered 001–099) must meet in two 75-minute periods. By definition, seminars are restricted in size, and are starred to allow the instructor control of the enrollment.

If a DUS wishes to convert a course that had originally been approved as a lecture to a seminar format, the course must be reviewed again by the Course of Study Committee. Conversely, a seminar course with an uncharacteristically large enrollment should be recast as a lecture course and resubmitted to the CSC. A course change form must be submitted in CourseLeaf CIM, with the format changed in the “Type of Instruction” field. Information regarding changes to the course work should also be included on the change form.

Information about studio and laboratory course formats, as well as time slots for discussion sections and film screenings, is available on the Yale College Standard Time Patterns page.

Sections of Multi-section Courses and Discussion Sections

Some courses are divided into sections meeting at different times with different instructors (e.g., ENGL 125, 126). Information about the number of sections planned and their instructors and times of meeting should be entered into CourseLeaf WEN.

Lecture courses that have discussion sections should indicate this within the course’s time pattern (e.g., MW 9:25-10:15, 1 HTBA). Most departments have a contact person who works with the Graduate Teaching Fellows Program to makes arrangements for discussion sections. Because of the limited availability of classrooms, instructors should be advised to schedule discussion sections in the early mornings, late afternoons, and evenings. Since it is particularly difficult to find small rooms for discussion sections that meet on Friday mornings from 9:25 to 12:25, instructors should be discouraged from choosing those hours.

Distributional Designations

The distributional designations (L1–L5, QR, WR, HU, SC, and SO) are described in detail under The Distributional Requirements.

Credit/D/Fail Option

All courses offered in Yale College during the fall and spring terms are available for election under the Credit/D/Fail option. Program descriptions under Subjects of Instruction in the YCPS specify whether or not courses taken on the Credit/D/Fail basis count toward the requirements of particular majors. A student may not apply any course credit earned on the Credit/D/Fail basis toward satisfaction of the distributional requirements for the bachelor’s degree.

Final Examination Number

Every course has a standard final examination group number, either a zero for courses that do not have a regular final examination, or a two-digit number calculated according to the Final Examination Schedule in the YCPS. The exam group number is based on the meeting time of the course; if the course changes meeting times, the exam group number also changes. The date and time of the final examination, calculated from the exam group number, appear in the course listings in Yale Course Search (YCS). The schedule of examination times is worked out each year to ensure that there will be no conflicts in students’ final examinations. See Reading Period and Final Examination Period in the Academic Regulations in the YCPS.

Although it is not binding, the determination of whether to hold a final examination gives students important information about what to expect.

Classes during Reading Period

Instructors’ decisions about holding classes during reading period should be recorded in CourseLeaf CIM. See Reading Period and Final Examination Period in the Academic Regulations in the YCPS for more information.

Permission and Course Limitation

Limitation of enrollment in a course is indicated by a star in the YCPS, which means that a student must secure permission of the instructor. In some cases, particularly for limited-enrollment lecture courses, a concluding sentence may also be added to the course description indicating a blanket limitation, e.g., “Enrollment limited to 25.” In neither case does the Registrar’s Office enforce the limitation indicated in the YCPS. In all starred courses, the instructor is expected to control the enrollment. In courses that specify a specific enrollment limit in the description, the statement in the YCPS is intended as a condition that the instructor enforces in whatever way he or she chooses. All seminars, which by definition are courses with limited enrollment, must be starred.


Prerequisites can be informative or prescriptive or both. If instructors expect them to be prescriptive, they must enforce them themselves. The best way of doing so is to require permission for the course (i.e., to star the course) so that the instructor or course director can check students’ qualifications as they apply for permission.

Bracketed Courses

Brackets around a course not currently being offered indicate the expectation of its appearance in the curriculum during the following year. In order to ensure that this use of brackets retains its credibility for students attempting to plan ahead, it is important that brackets be used uniformly, with the same degree of reliability, and that courses return to the curriculum as announced. Therefore, courses should be bracketed only if you are quite certain (90 percent certain is the rule of thumb) that they will be given in the next year. If it is not possible to predict with relative confidence the reappearance of a course, it should not be bracketed. Bracketed courses are usually listed only in the originating department. Courses absent from the YCPS for up to seven years do not have to be submitted to the Course of Study Committee when they return if they have not materially changed in the interim.