Choosing Courses

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Fall 2020 Step-by-Step Guide for Students to the Registration Process

The Registrar’s Office has created a step-by-step guide for students to the registration process for Fall 2020, available as a pdf or a link to the YURO website.

Choosing courses (Fall 2020)

Some rules of thumb:

  • Aim for 4 or 4.5 credits in your first term; adjusting to Yale will be your “fifth credit”
  • Look for balance in:
    • subjects of instruction (no more than 2 in any one department)
    • meeting times (a.m./p.m. and days of the week)
    • course enrollment (small/large)
    • graded work (papers/exams/problem sets
  • Don’t load up on any one of the four elements above
  • Branch out and explore
    • don’t replicate the typical high school schedule of math + English + science + language + history
    • do take at least one course in a subject you know nothing about or that you’ve always wanted to study. Now’s your chance!
    • do use one or both of the “expiring” Credit/D/Fail options in your first year (to help with your exploring)
  • Consider fulfilling one or two of your distributional requirements, but leave room to explore (see above)
  • Consult with your residential college dean, college adviser, and first-year counselor (FroCo) about your course selections: keep and open mind, and listen to good advice
  • Premed? Seek specialized advice about the health professions.  Prospective engineering major?  Seek specialized advice from the director of undergraduate studies (DUS) in your particular branch of engineering
  • Need more advice? See the Registration & Course Selection section of the Yale College Website
preregistration and course selection

Some important fall 2020 dates

  • August 3, 9:00 a.m. (Monday) – Preference Selection opens for First-Year Seminar selection. 
  • August 7, 12:00 p.m. (Friday) – Preference Selection opens for all other multi-section and limited enrollment courses. 
  • August 17, 5:00 p.m. (Monday) – Online Course Selection (OCS) opens. 
  • August 21, 5:00 p.m. (Friday) – Deadline for all Yale College students to submit their preliminary OCS schedule worksheets.
  • August 25, 9:00 a.m. (Tuesday) – OCS reopens for Yale College students to shop courses and make changes to their schedule.
  • August 31 (Monday) – Classes begin.
  • September 4, 5:00 p.m. (Friday) – Deadline for all Yale College students to resubmit their final OCS schedule worksheet.

Reminder: Classes conducted during the drop/add period are regular classes with readings and homework. Be prepared to complete assignments and to participate in each class that you “shop” in order to add to your course schedule.

Where to find academic year Dates

The single most useful tool for finding essential dates for the academic year is the Yale College Calendar with Pertinent Deadlines.  

Another useful sourcesof dates for the academic year is the Yale College Academic Calendar (for registration, vacation, and final examination dates throughout the academic year).

Please pay careful attention to

  • the first day of classes in the fall and spring terms
  • the date and time your preliminary and final course schedules are due 
where to find Course information 

In addition to the information in Yale College Programs of Study, updated course information and many course syllabi are accessible through Yale Course Search.

Yale Course Search contains many helpful features, such as Course Demand Statistics (the number of students who listed any given course on their worksheets on any given day) or Yale College Attributes (a feature that lets you search, say, all WR courses or all L5 courses). For a full view of all of Yale Course Search’s features, scroll down the left-hand column.

Once you begin choosing courses, you will be able to look at course evaluations for some of the classes you are considering.

(Please note that CourseTable is not an official Yale website. Rather, it is entirely student-built and student-supported. As the .com domain name indicates, it is neither hosted on the Yale network nor part of the domain. Unofficial sources of course information may contain inaccuracies.)

Specific Subject Area Information
Economics, Politics, and Ethics (EP&E)

The Ethics, Politics and Economics major will become an open major beginning for the class of 2024, while remaining a highly rigorous, largely seminar-based interdisciplinary major combining the three disciplines of philosophy, political science, and economics.  Additional information is available on the EP&E website.


 Introductory English courses (ENGL 114 through 130) are offered in two categories:

  1. English for First-years
  2. English for First-years and Sophomores

English for First-years — ENGL 114 and 115— is designed for the majority of first-year students to help them develop their skills as writers of college-level prose or as insightful readers.

English for First-years and Sophomores — ENGL 120 - ENGL 130 — is designed for sophomores who have taken English for First-years and for first-year students who already feel confident doing intensive, college-level course work in literature and writing.

English introductory course section availability

Updated daily during course selection period.

Environmental Humanities

Yale offers dozens of courses each year approaching environmental issues from diverse humanities perspectives, including history, literature, religious studies, film and media studies, anthropology, and other programs. Some courses are entirely focused on the environment and the humanities; others approach the environmental humanities as one of several integrated themes.

The Yale Environmental Humanities Newsletter also circulates every Monday to help students and faculty learn about public events happening across the campus. Undergraduates interested in finding out about Yale events in environmental history, politics, ethics, culture and the arts can sign up for the weekly newsletter here.


First-Year Seminars

Updated daily during course selection period.


 The Math Department website features an FAQ page that includes (1) FAQs for calculus advising and pre-registration, and (2) FAQs for placement  and lottery information.

science (sc) and qr courses without prerequisites
  1. Science (Sc) courses without prerequisites
  2. QR courses without prerequisites
  • Air Force ROTC (AFROTC)
    • Scholarships are open to both first-years and sophomores who excel in academics and display leadership potential.

  • Naval ROTC (NROTC)
    • First-year students may apply for enrollment in the non-scholarship College Program and then compete for scholarships at the completion of their first year.  If selected for the Scholarship Program students receive full tuition, academic fees, a stipend for textbooks, and a monthly subsistence allowance that increases annually.

Thoughts on Sophomore Year and Beyond
  • “Sophomore year is the last time to really explore. As a sophomore you can just enjoy your classes and at the same time think about which direction you might want to go in life.”
  • “It’s OK if you don’t have your entire life planned by now. Most will change their minds anyway.”
  • “Look ahead to junior and senior years because there are some provisions like studying abroad and class load in senior year that should be taken into account.”
  • “Every year plot out a schedule for the next year.”