Course Planning

Shopping Period

At the beginning of each semester, Yale College has a roughly two-week period called “Shopping Period.” During this time, students are allowed to attend whichever and as many classes as they wish without committing to enrollment in the class. Students are required to keep up with the work assigned for every class in which they may actually enroll. Every Yale student has a different approach to shopping courses, but many of them use this time to explore areas in which they have no experience or to compare different variations of similar courses.

Distributional Requirements

Every Yale College graduate is required to take a certain number of courses to provide breadth to their education. These courses are called “Distributional Requirements” and they are broken up into five types, plus a language. Three of these type are called area requirements, which are science, social science, and humanities, and the others are the skills of writing, quantitative reasoning and foreign language. Courses which fulfill these areas will be marked as such in the Bluebook and in the online Bluebook course planner. In order to complete the Freshman year, students must have at least one credit in two different skills categories. Subsequent years have additional requirements until students will have accumulated two credits in each area and completed the language requirement.


A complete list of majors and their requirements is published in the Bluebook as well as online. Some majors require an additional application or particular requirements which make planning ahead essential. Despite the fact that students do not have to declare their major until the end of their fourth semester, most students have some general notion of their field of study which they use to guide their course selection. It is extremely common to change majors, and not impossible to do so even as late as after six semesters. Double majors are possible, and there are some special programs for completing a Master’s Degree in four or five years which are also in the Bluebook.


Yale College does not currently offer minors in any field. This has been a subject of debate recently. Certain majors allow or require concentration in sub- or related fields.

Special Programs for Freshmen

Yale has a number of special freshman programs, including Directed Studies (DS) and a series of special seminar courses which are only available to Freshmen. DS in particular has a reputation for being foundational in the academic careers of many Yale students. Additional special programs information may be found at the following link.

Helpful Links

A recap of the links on this page.

Yale Bluebook:

Course Registration:

Requirements Chart:

Major Programs:

Special Programs:

Directed Studies:

Advising Help: