C. Course Credits and Course Loads
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 courses Certain courses in Yale College, including intensive language or research courses, award two course credits for a single term’s work.
- Yearlong course sequences There are some 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.
The completion of the first term only of an introductory modern 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.
- Laboratory courses Some 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 courses All 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 load
a. Prior to midterm, a student must be enrolled in a program of study worth at least three course credits.
b. After midterm and before the first day of reading period, a student may drop two course credits by withdrawing from one or more courses and receiving the neutral designation W (Withdrew) in those courses. A student may not carry a schedule of courses that will earn fewer than two course credits and a W in a term.
c. Note: In rare circumstances, urgent medical needs require that students take only two course credits. In such cases, and with the endorsement of Yale Health and Student Accessibility Services, as a reasonable accommodation, returning students (not first term students) may petition the Yale College Committee on Honors and Academic Standing for permission to enroll in two course credits prior to the start of term or drop to two course credits at any point in the term while still remaining in good academic standing. Updated August 2023.
- Course loads requiring permission A 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 six or more 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 term Students must petition the Yale College Committee on Honors and Academic Standing through their dean's office 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 study Opportunities 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, and students may not enroll in independent study courses in the graduate or professional schools. Students may not receive academic course credit for paid research assignments; they may not be paid for any work performed to meet academic requirements or that carries academic course credit.
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.
Students admitted to the Program for the Simultaneous Award of the Bachelor’s and Master’s Degrees are not required to seek permission of the Committee on Honors and Academic Standing to enroll in independent study courses when that enrollment exceeds the limits above and such work is required for the completion of that program.