Special Programs

Directed Studies

Directed Studies (DS), a selective program for first-year students, is an interdisciplinary introduction to influential texts that have shaped many Western traditions, spanning from ancient cultures in Greece and the Near East to the present. Consisting of three integrated full-year courses in literature, philosophy, and historical and political thought, Directed Studies provides a coherent program of study that encourages students to put rich and complex texts into conversation with one another across time and disciplinary boundaries. From day one to the end of their first year, students in Directed Studies engage in critical thinking through learning to analyze challenging and urgent texts, participate meaningfully in seminar discussions, and write clear and persuasive analytic essays. Directed Studies has no prerequisites and provides a strong foundation for any major. Approximately ten percent of the first-year class is admitted each year to the program, which also satisfies Yale College distribution requirements in Humanities and Arts (HU), Social Sciences (SO), and Writing (WR). Students entering the program must enroll in all three courses and are expected to enroll for both semesters. Students participating in DS become members of a close-knit and supportive intellectual cohort that endures well beyond the end of the first year. Additional information is available on the program website.

The DeVane Lectures

The DeVane Lectures are a special series of lectures that are open to the general public as well as to students and to other members of the Yale community. They were established in 1969 in honor of William Clyde DeVane, Dean of Yale College from 1939 to 1963. Details of the course are listed under DeVane Lecture Course in Subjects of Instruction. Supplementary meetings will be held for those students taking the lectures for credit.

First-year Seminar Program

The First-Year Seminar program offers a diverse array of courses open only to first-year students and designed with first-year students in mind. Enrollment in seminars is limited to fifteen or eighteen students, depending on the nature of the course. Most seminars meet twice each week and do not, unless otherwise noted, presume any prior experience in the field. Roughly eighty first-year seminars across a wide range of subjects are offered every year, in both fall and spring terms. Students must apply for these seminars before the beginning of each term. A description of the program and application procedures can be viewed on the program website.

Francis Writer-in-Residence

The Francis Writer-in-Residence in Yale College is a distinguished writer of nonfiction who teaches either one or two courses each academic year. He or she is actively engaged with undergraduate life and serves as an academic mentor through seminars, readings, meetings with students, and other activities. The Francis Writer-in-Residence for 2023–2024 is Anne Fadiman.

Iseman Seminar in Poetry

The Frederick Iseman Professor of Poetry is a distinguished poet or a scholar who teaches poetry or dramatic poetry of any era. The Iseman Professor teaches the Iseman Seminar in Poetry and is actively engaged with undergraduate life, serving as an academic and literary mentor through readings, meetings, and other extracurricular activities. The Iseman Professor for 2023–2024 is Louise Glück.

Reserve Officers Training Corps (ROTC)

Yale hosts Naval and Air Force ROTC programs, which offer qualified Yale College students an opportunity to pursue their regular Yale degrees while also preparing for leadership positions in the United States Air Force, Space Force, Navy, or Marine Corps. Regardless of financial need, participating students may receive significant help in meeting the costs of a Yale education through national scholarships offered by each branch of ROTC. While most ROTC students in Yale College earned a scholarship while in high school, any student may enroll in ROTC courses and apply to join ROTC during their first year or sophomore year. Further information about the Air Force ROTC program can be found on the Yale AFROTC website or under Aerospace Studies in Subjects of Instruction. Further information about the Naval ROTC program (including the Marine Corps program) can be found on the Yale NROTC website or under Naval Science in Subjects of Instruction. Yale College students can participate in Army ROTC through a crosstown arrangement at the University of New Haven. Students not matriculated at Yale who are participating in the Air Force ROTC program as part of a crosstown arrangement are subject to Yale College’s Undergraduate Regulations.

Residential College Seminars

The Residential College Seminar program, instituted in 1968, is devoted to the development of innovative courses that fall outside traditional departmental structures. The instructors for the seminar program are drawn from the University community and from the region, including writers, journalists, artists, legal scholars, public health experts, and participants in government and the public sector. The Residential College Seminar program encourages innovative courses, and student committees in the residential colleges play a significant role in selecting seminars, but all courses in the program must satisfy standard requirements for academic credit in Yale College and must be approved by the relevant faculty committees that oversee the curriculum. Each residential college sponsors at least one seminar each term. Additional seminars are occasionally sponsored directly by the program and are equally open to students from all residential colleges. Descriptions of the seminars are found on the program website.

rosenkranz writer-in-residence

The Rosenkranz Writer-in-Residence in Yale College is a distinguished professional writer, chosen from fiction writers, playwrights, critics, journalists, screenwriters, essayists, poets, and social commentators. Both as a fellow of a residential college and as an instructor of one or two courses in each academic year, the Rosenkranz Writer-in-Residence meets formally and informally with students through classes and through readings and extracurricular activities. The Rosenkranz Writer-in-Residence for 2023–2024 is Natalie Diaz.

Studies in Grand Strategy

Studies in Grand Strategy is a two-semester, calendar-year interdisciplinary seminar. The class investigates methods and materials for teaching and understanding grand strategy as a historical concept and as an active approach to geopolitics, statecraft, and social change. Each course, worth one credit, emphasizes connections between history and strategy, scholarship and real-world practice, leadership, and citizenship. The two-term seminar aims to educate students intending to pursue careers in a wide variety of fields and is part of the Brady-Johnson Program in Grand Strategy. Additional information can be found on the program website.

Yale Journalism Initiative

The Yale Journalism Initiative brings a distinguished writer to campus each semester to teach an advanced journalism seminar, ENGL 467. The seminar is open to undergraduates and select graduate and professional students; application is required through the English department’s selection process for creative writing classes. Students who complete the seminar may apply to become a Yale Journalism Scholar, a distinction that provides access to summer support for internships, career counseling with a journalism specialist, and invitations to meet professional journalists at events both on and off campus. For more information on the initiative or on becoming a Journalism Scholar, see the Journalism Initiative website.