Sophomore Academics

Requirements for Academic Good Standing in the Sophomore Year

Term Credits
at the end of the third term a student must have earned at least twelve credits
at the end of the fourth term a student must have earned at least sixteen credits

Distributional Requirements for the Sophomore Year

At the end of sophomore year (after four terms of enrollment), students must have enrolled in

  • at least one course credit in each disciplinary area (Hu, Sc, and So)
  • at least one course credit in each skills category (QR, WR, and foreign language).

Credit/D/Fail Option

The Credit/D/Fail option was established to encourage experimentation and to promote diversity in students’ programs of study. Complete information about this option is contained in the Yale College Programs of Study. Some of the pertinent restrictions are the following:

  • Up to four of the thirty-six credits required for the bachelor’s degree may be earned under the Credit/D/Fail option
    • However, no course credit earned on a Credit/D/Fail basis may be applied toward satisfaction of the distributional requirements.
    • Beginning with the class of 2024, up to six of the thirty-six credits required for the bachelor’s degree may be earned under the Credit/D/Fail option, with two of those options expiring at the end of the first year of enrollment
  • No more than two credits per term may be taken under the Credit/D/Fail option, and at least two credits must be taken for letter grades each term.

See Credit/D/Fail Option for additional information and a link to the Yale College Programs of Study.

Deadlines and Academic Options to Keep in Mind

Sophomores must obtain their college adviser’s e-signatures on their schedules before submitting them. This signature indicates the adviser’s acknowledgment that an advising meeting took place.

• Students may withdraw from a course or opt for a grade of Credit/D/Fail at any time before the first day of reading period. If the withdrawal takes place by midterm, the student’s transcript will not show that the student was enrolled in the course. Withdrawal after midterm results in the notation of a “W” (Withdraw) on the transcript.

• If students have questions about acceleration, refer them to the residential college dean.

Majors, and Majors That Require an Application or Have Special Requirements

A handful of Yale majors or concentrations require an application, often in the fall term. Some are listed below.

  • Architecture
  • Cognitive Science
  • Environmental Studies
  • Ethics, Politics, and Economics [no application is required for the Class of 2024 and beyond]
  • Ethnicity, Race, and Migration
  • Global Affairs
  • Multidisciplinary Academic Programs in:
    • Education Studies
    • Energy Studies
    • Global Health Studies
    • Human Rights Studies
  • Special Divisional Major

Other majors have have special requirements: 

  • Art
  • English (the Journalism Initiative, and the Writing Concentration)
  • Theater Studies

What Makes a Good Course Schedule?

  • varied formats (lectures and seminars)
  • continued exploration and “electives”
  • fulfillment, by the end of the fourth term, of the sophomore year distributional requirements
  • varied course assignments (short and long papers; weekly quizzes; weekly essays; midterm and final exams; lab reports; problem sets, etc.), to avoid intense concentration of types and due dates for assignments at certain periods in the term

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 (Hu) or the social science requirement (So), but not both. Similarly, if a course is designated QR and Sc, it may be applied toward either the quantitative reasoning (QR) requirement or the science requirement (Sc), 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.

WR and QR Courses. Does your sophomore still need to find a WR or QR course to fulfill his or her distribution requirements for the sophomore year?  Yale Course Search allows a search by “attributes,” including any of the distributional requirements, but opening the pull-down “Yale College Attributes” menu on the left-hand side of the homepage.

International Experience Options

Yale actively encourages students to gain international experience in the course of their undergraduate careers and has many avenues for pursuing this option. From a term abroad, to a summer of language study or internship abroad, Yale has advising and financial resources to help students gain exposure to the broader world. The advisers in the Study Abroad and Fellowships and Funding offices can help students define their interests and find programs or funding that will benefit them.

As an adviser to sophomores, you can assist in this process by reminding sophomores that they should continue their language study if at all possible to maximize the likelihood that such opportunities will be available to them. You might also remind them that courses taken abroad may be used to fulfill distributional and major requirements, so studying abroad need not mean a break in progress toward the degree.

In Addition

Sources of Information

There are various sources of information about majors and major requirements.

  • Primarily geared towards freshmen but also open to sophomores, the Academic Fair takes place in the opening days of the fall semester. Nearly all undergraduate majors and programs are represented by the DUS or other knowledgeable representatives who are available to answer questions about courses, prerequisites, and major requirements. Information is posted online and is distributed to first-year students with orientation materials.
  • Directors of Undergraduate Studies (DUSes) or their designated representatives regularly advise sophomores about the programs and majors in their departments. 
  • Yale College Programs of Study itself has information about all majors, their prerequisites, and their requirements.
  • Departmental publications. Most departments maintain websites, and some publish brochures with information about their majors. Departmental websites often have photos and short biographies of their faculty, with current research interests.
  • Departmental info sessions. A number of departmental meetings take place during the days leading up to the beginning of fall-term classes. Meetings for prospective majors and interested students continue throughout the year and are posted on this website’s Calendar.
  • Residential college deans and heads of college can give offer students advice from their experience with Yale College and with previous students, as can instructors.