Handbook for Directors of Undergraduate Studies in Yale College 2023–2024

Eli Whitney Students

Since 2008, the Eli Whitney Students Program has offered non-traditional students the opportunity to enroll in Yale College for the completion of the B.A. or B.S. degree. Yale seeks applicants whose academic background, work experience, and community involvement are particularly suited to study at Yale. All candidates must present evidence of high academic potential, maturity, and clear motivation for their proposed course of study. Admissions rates to the Eli Whitney Students Program closely parallel those of traditional undergraduates.

The program was designed in part to meet the needs of students unable to attend college full-time by offering the opportunity to enroll part-time and take a minimum of three courses per calendar year. Eli Whitney students are undergraduates to all effects and purposes, and are included on the class lists routinely sent to instructors. They have the option of designating a class year (based on the number of graduation credits accumulated), thus allowing instructors and DUSs easily to determine whether or not they qualify for seminars restricted to sophomores, juniors, or seniors.

There are approximately eighty students in the program in any given year, and current students range in age from their early twenties to their mid-seventies. Many have spouses or partners, or children. They come from a wide variety of backgrounds, life experiences, jobs and careers, and college experiences. Moreover, the Eli Whitney Students Program (EWSP) is the most common pathway for veterans to enroll in Yale College; approximately half of the students enrolled in the EWSP are veterans (both men and women). What unites the Eli Whitney students is a strong understanding of their purpose for seeking a Yale education and a sense of gratitude for the opportunity to attend our university. 

Eli Whitney students are allowed up to seven years to complete the B.A. or B.S. degree, though most graduate in three to four years. Students in the program tend to choose both options—full- or part-time enrollment—and many benefit from the program’s flexibility by taking varying numbers of courses each term. Current students tend to elect approximately 3.5 course credits per term, or 7 course credits per year, on average, as compared to the traditional undergraduate's schedule of 4.5 credits per term and 9 course credits per year.

The DUS determines which specific courses of the student’s previous coursework may or may not be counted toward the requirements of the major. You may decline to give major credit for courses that have been included in the credit awarded by the Dean’s Office, but clearly it is important to be as accommodating as possible to Eli Whitney students. Particularly for students taking science courses, the DUSs in relevant departments should attempt to match Yale’s courses with those of the previous school so as to minimize wasted or duplicated effort.

It should also be noted that many Eli Whitney students transfer to Yale from a community college and that community college courses are allowed on the Yale College transcript within the Eli Whitney Students Program context. DUSs are encouraged to evaluate community college courses generously for major credit.

Eli Whitney advising is provided by a faculty adviser (for incoming students), a peer liaison, the dean of the residential college, and the director of the EWSP. If an Eli Whitney student seems to be having difficulties in a course, they should be referred to the dean of the residential college with which they are affiliated. Other inquiries may be addressed to the EWSP director, Risa Sodi, assistant dean of Yale College.

Eli Whitney students do not live in the colleges, though they are each affiliated with one of the fourteen residential colleges. 

Information about the Eli Whitney Students Program is contained in the Academic Regulations in the YCPS.