A. Requirements for the B.A. or B.S. Degree

To qualify for the bachelor’s degree, B.A. or B.S., a student must successfully complete thirty-six term courses in Yale College or their equivalent. In doing so, the student must fulfill the distributional requirements of Yale College and the requirements of a major program. A student may normally complete no more than eight terms of enrollment in order to fulfill these requirements.

During the terms that students are enrolled and in residence in Yale College, they cannot be simultaneously enrolled, neither full-time nor part-time, in any other school or college at any other institution, with the exception of other Yale University schools that permit currently enrolled undergraduates to be admitted to programs that have been established within Yale College. Examples of such programs include the simultaneous award of the bachelor's and master's degree and the five-year B.A.-B.S/M.P.H. degree program in Public Health. Exceptions will also be made for Yale College students whose participation in the Reserve Officer Training Corps program requires enrollment in courses offered outside of Yale.

Students enrolled in the Eli Whitney Students program should consult section M, Eli Whitney Students Program.

Students who have already earned a bachelor’s degree, at Yale or at another institution, are not eligible for degree enrollment in Yale College.

Distributional Requirements

All students in Yale College must fulfill distributional requirements in order to qualify for the bachelor’s degree. For a general introduction to the distributional requirements and a definition of the disciplinary areas and skills categories, refer to the Undergraduate Curriculum section.

  1. Distributional requirements for the freshman, sophomore, and junior years Students must partially fulfill the distributional requirements during the freshman, sophomore, and junior years in order to be eligible for promotion.
    Distributional requirements for the freshman year Students must have enrolled for at least one course credit in two skills categories by the end of the second term of enrollment in order to be eligible for promotion to sophomore standing. They may elect no more than four course credits in a single department, and no more than six course credits in a single disciplinary area, except that a student taking a laboratory course may elect as many as seven course credits in the sciences.
    Note that credit from outside Yale may not be applied toward the distributional requirements for the freshman year; accordingly, students who are permitted by the Committee on Honors and Academic Standing to repair a deficiency in these requirements over the summer following freshman year must do so by means of enrollment in Yale Summer Session.
    Distributional requirements for the sophomore year Students must have enrolled for at least one course credit in each of the three disciplinary areas and for at least one course credit in each of the three skills categories by the end of the fourth term of enrollment in order to be eligible for promotion to junior standing.
    Distributional requirements for the junior year Students must have completed all of their skills requirements by the end of the sixth term of enrollment in order to be eligible for promotion to senior standing.
  2. Multiple distributional designations Although some courses may carry more than one distributional designation, a single course may be applied to only one distributional requirement. For example, if a course is designated both HU and SO it may be applied toward either the humanities and arts requirement or the social science requirement, but not both. Similarly, if a course is designated QR and SC, it may be applied toward either the quantitative reasoning requirement or the science requirement, but not both.
    A course with multiple distributional designations, once applied toward one distributional requirement, may subsequently be applied toward a different distributional requirement. During the summer after each academic year, the University Registrar’s Office optimizes the use of each student’s completed courses toward fulfillment of the distributional requirements.
  3. Foreign language distributional requirement All students are required to engage in the study of a foreign language while enrolled in Yale College. The most common paths to fulfillment of the foreign language distributional requirement are illustrated in the chart at the end of this section.
    Students who matriculate at Yale with no previous foreign language training must complete three terms of instruction in a single foreign language. This requirement is fulfilled by the completion of courses designated L1, L2, and L3. Students who have taken the Advanced Placement examination in French, German, or Spanish and who present scores of 5, or who have taken the Advanced Placement examination in Latin and who present scores of 4 or 5, are recognized as having completed the intermediate level of study. Scores of 6 or 7 on the International Baccalaureate Advanced-Level examination are also accepted as evidence of intermediate-level accomplishment. Students at this level fulfill the language distributional requirement by completing one course designated L5. Alternatively, they may successfully complete one or more courses in a different foreign language at least through the level designated L2.
    Students who have studied a foreign language before matriculating at Yale but who have not achieved a score of 5 on the Advanced Placement test in French, German, or Spanish, or a score of 4 or 5 on the Advanced Placement test in Latin, must take a placement test offered by the appropriate language department or, for languages in which no departmental placement test is offered, consult the appropriate director of undergraduate studies. Dates and times of placement tests are given in the Calendar for the Opening Days of College and on the Web site of the Center for Language Study. The departmental test determines whether students place into the first, second, third, or fourth term of language study (courses designated L1, L2, L3, or L4), or whether they qualify for language courses beyond the fourth term of study (L5).
    Students who place into the first term of a foreign language must successfully complete three courses in that language, designated L1, L2, and L3.
    Students who matriculate at Yale able to place into the second term of a foreign language must successfully complete three courses in that language, designated L2, L3, and L4. Alternatively, they may successfully complete three courses in a different foreign language at least through the level designated L3.
    Students who matriculate at Yale able to place into the third term of a foreign language must successfully complete two courses in that language, designated L3 and L4. Alternatively, they may successfully complete two or more courses in a different foreign language at least through the level designated L3.
    Students who matriculate at Yale able to place into the fourth term of a foreign language must successfully complete one course in that language, designated L4. Alternatively, they may successfully complete one or more courses in a different foreign language at least through the level designated L3.
    Students who matriculate at Yale able to place into the fifth term of a foreign language must successfully complete one course in that language, designated L5. Alternatively, they may successfully complete one or more courses in a different foreign language at least through the level designated L2.
    Students whose secondary school transcript shows that the language of instruction was other than English may fulfill the foreign language requirement by successfully completing ENGL 114, 120, or 450. Alternatively, students in this category may fulfill the requirement by successfully completing one or more courses in a third language, neither English nor the language of their secondary school instruction, at least through the level designated L2.
    In order to promote firsthand experience in foreign cultures and the learning of language in real-world settings, students are permitted to apply toward the satisfaction of the foreign language requirement the completion of an approved study abroad program in a foreign-language-speaking setting if they have first completed or placed out of a language course designated L2. Students seeking to undertake study at another institution or program for this purpose must consult the relevant director of undergraduate studies in advance of their proposed study for advice about appropriate programs and courses, and for information about the approval process. See section O, Credit from Other Universities. Study abroad may be used in place of L1 and L2 courses only if it is part of a Yale College program, such as Yale Summer Session. Study abroad opportunities are described in the Yale Curriculum section under the heading International Experience.
    Intensive language courses provide the equivalent of a full year of instruction in a single term. A course designated L1–L2 fulfills both the L1 and the L2 levels of the foreign language distributional requirement. Similarly, a course designated L3–L4 satisfies both the L3 and the L4 levels.
    Not all of the languages offered in Yale College are offered at all levels, and it may not be possible to fulfill the language requirement in some of them. Languages currently offered in Yale College are Akkadian, Arabic, Bengali, Bosnian-Croatian-Serbian, Chinese, Czech, Dutch, hieroglyphic Egyptian, French, German, ancient Greek, modern Greek, biblical Hebrew, modern Hebrew, Hindi, Indonesian, isiZulu, Italian, Japanese, Khmer, Kiswahili, Korean, Latin, Persian, Polish, Portuguese, Romanian, Russian, Sanskrit, Sinhala, Spanish, Tamil, Tibetan, Turkish, Ukrainian, Vietnamese, and Yorùbá. Students wishing to fulfill the foreign language requirement in a less commonly taught language should consult the director of undergraduate studies in the relevant department to verify that the appropriate level of study will be offered. Students who have intermediate- or higher-level proficiency in a language other than those listed here (including American Sign Language) should consult the appropriate director of undergraduate studies or the director of the Center for Language Study to arrange for a placement examination.
    Students who, for medical reasons, are not able to complete the language requirement may petition the Committee on Honors and Academic Standing for a partial waiver of the requirement. In granting such a waiver, the committee will normally require that a student complete four course credits in the study of a specific non-English-speaking culture.
  4. Courses taken on the Credit/D/Fail basis A student may not apply any course credit earned on the Credit/D/Fail basis toward satisfaction of the distributional requirements for the junior year nor for the distributional requirements for the bachelor’s degree.
  5. Independent study courses A student may not apply any course credit earned through independent study courses toward satisfaction of any of the distributional requirements.
  6. Acceleration credits Acceleration credits may not be employed to satisfy the distributional requirements for the bachelor’s degree, nor may they be employed to meet the distributional requirements for the freshman, sophomore, or junior years.
  7. Course credit earned at Yale before matriculation Course credit earned at Yale before a student’s matriculation, either at Yale Summer Session or in the Nondegree Students program while the student was enrolled as a secondary school student in the New Haven area, may be applied to the distributional requirements for the bachelor’s degree and to those for the sophomore and junior years, but it may not be applied to the distributional requirements for the freshman year.
  8. Courses in the graduate and professional schools It is the expectation that Yale College students, including candidates for the simultaneous award of the bachelor’s and master’s degrees, will fulfill their distributional requirements in courses taken in Yale College. Credit earned in a course offered in the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences or in one of the professional schools of the University may be applied toward the distributional requirements only if the course instructor has secured, in advance of the term in which the course will be given, approval from Yale College. Instructors interested in making such an advance arrangement can contact the Dean of Academic Affairs to be directed to the appropriate authority for such approval.
  9. Course credit from outside Yale Course credit earned at another university may be applied toward the distributional requirements for the bachelor’s degree and to those for the sophomore and junior years whether or not it is counted toward the 36-course-credit requirement for graduation. Credit from outside Yale may not be applied toward the distributional requirements for the freshman year. See section O, Credit from Other Universities. Note particularly that Yale does not award course credit or distributional credit for courses completed at another college or university before the student graduated from secondary school.
  10. Major programs Courses taken in fulfillment of a student’s major requirements may be applied toward satisfaction of the distributional requirements for the freshman, sophomore, and junior years and toward the distributional requirements for the bachelor’s degree.
  11. Permission for a partial waiver of the distributional requirements for the freshman year If, with the permission of the residential college dean, a freshman enrolls in a program of study for the first two terms of enrollment worth more than nine course credits, the dean may waive the year limit on the number of course credits that a student may elect in a single department or disciplinary area. Under no circumstances may a student be promoted to sophomore standing without having enrolled for at least one course credit in two skills categories (foreign language, quantitative reasoning, writing).
  12. Permission to postpone fulfillment of the distributional requirements for the sophomore year A student may petition the Committee on Honors and Academic Standing for permission to fulfill the distributional requirements for the sophomore year in the fifth term of enrollment. Such a petition must be filed no later than the date of midterm of the fourth term of enrollment; it should explain the sound academic reasons why these requirements cannot be satisfied within four terms of enrollment and give an exact description of how they shall be fulfilled in the fifth term. Students who have not fulfilled the distributional requirements for the sophomore year by the end of the fourth term of enrollment and who have not been granted permission by the Committee on Honors and Academic Standing to postpone their fulfillment will normally not be promoted to junior standing.
  13. Permission to postpone fulfillment of the distributional requirements for the junior year In exceptional circumstances, a student may petition the Committee on Honors and Academic Standing for permission to fulfill the distributional requirements for the junior year in the seventh term of enrollment. Such a petition, which must include the written support of the residential college dean and, where applicable, that of the director of undergraduate studies in the student’s major, should be filed no later than the date on which the student’s course schedule is due in the sixth term of enrollment; in no case will a petition be accepted later than the date of midterm in the sixth term of enrollment. It should explain the sound academic reasons why these requirements cannot be satisfied within six terms of enrollment and give an exact description of how they shall be fulfilled in the seventh term. Students who have not fulfilled the distributional requirements for the junior year by the end of the sixth term of enrollment and who have not been granted permission by the Committee on Honors and Academic Standing to postpone their fulfillment will normally not be promoted to senior standing.

Major Requirements

The requirements of the various major programs are given under the heading for each department or program. Every major program includes a senior requirement, which may take the form of a senior essay, a senior project, or a senior departmental examination.

Eight Terms of Enrollment

A student must complete the requirements for the bachelor’s degree in no more than eight terms of enrollment. Terms spent on a Year or Term Abroad, or in the Yale College program at the Paul Mellon Centre in London during a spring term, are considered the equivalent of terms of enrollment in Yale College. Note, however, that course credits earned in terms spent on a Year or Term Abroad may not be applied to acceleration by the early accumulation of thirty-six course credits all earned at Yale. See section P, Acceleration Policies. (Attendance at the summer program at the Paul Mellon Centre in London or Yale Summer Session does not constitute a term of enrollment in Yale College.)

In exceptional circumstances, a student may petition the Yale College Committee on Honors and Academic Standing for permission to enroll for an additional term. Such a petition should be made no later than the beginning of a student’s seventh term of enrollment; it should describe precisely, giving detailed information on specific courses, why it is impossible for the student to complete the requirements for a bachelor’s degree within eight terms; and it should be accompanied by detailed, informative letters of endorsement from the student’s director of undergraduate studies and residential college dean. The Committee on Honors and Academic Standing cannot grant permission for a ninth term in order for a student to undertake an optional arrangement not necessary for the acquisition of a bachelor’s degree, such as, for example, the completion of two majors, or enrollment in the Program for the Simultaneous Award of the Bachelor’s and Master’s Degrees, or completion of the entrance requirements for graduate or professional school. A student given permission to enroll for a ninth term is not eligible for scholarship assistance from Yale, although other forms of financial aid may be available. See “Financial Aid Regulations” in the Yale College online publication Undergraduate Regulations.

Graduation in fewer than eight terms of enrollment is possible: see section P, Acceleration Policies. Under no circumstances may a student graduate in fewer than six terms of enrollment, unless the student was admitted by transfer from another college or university. Transfer students should consult section L, Transfer Students.