Course Selection

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Photo by Luis Zúñiga, Tecnológico de Monterrey Liaison Officer at Yale University

Interpreting Course Numbers

Fall‐term courses are indicated by the letter “a” (e.g., ENGL 201a), while spring‐term courses are denoted by the letter “b” (e.g., ENGL 450b). Departments number their courses according to different schemes, and course numbers do not necessarily have anything to do with whether courses are more advanced or more difficult. In some departments courses are numbered in an ascending order, going from introductory to intermediate and advanced. In others, courses are grouped primarily by subject matter, with the result that the number of a course (usually with the exception of the 400 range) bears no particular relation to its level of difficulty. More precise indications about the level of a course may be found in the introduction to each department’s entry in the Yale College Programs of Study  and sometimes in subheads (“Introductory,” “Intermediate,” “Advanced”, etc.) in the course listings.

Course Selection Period

Yale’s course selection period (also known as “shopping period”) during the first two weeks of class allows students check out interesting courses and then register for the classes they most want to take. During orientation, we'll go over strategies for shopping period. Students will enroll in a total of four or five courses. Students should be aware that classes conducted during the first two weeks of the term are regular classes with readings and homework and should be prepared to keep up with assignments and participate fully in each class they visit. It can be a lot, but it's temporary!

Course Information and Enrollment

Before arriving in New Haven students may want to browse through the course offerings listed in the Yale College Programs of Study. During the final few weeks of the summer, students can view updated course information on Yale Course Search and many course syllabi through Canvas. During their first weeks on campus, the student's Y‐VISP adviser and residential college dean will explain how to select courses online and complete a course schedule. 

Reading Period

Reading period lasts about a week and comes between the end of classes and the beginning of final examinations.
During this time, students review or augment their course work and prepare for final examinations. Most courses do not meet during reading period. A course that does not observe the reading period is identified in the course listings by the abbreviation “RP” at the end of the course description or by a phrase such as “Meets RP” or “Meets during reading period." Even if “RP” does not appear in the Yale College Programs of Study listing, the course instructor may still set review sessions or schedule extra classes during reading period.

Final Exams and Term Papers

Courses typically end with a final examination or its equivalent, often a term paper. Some instructors elect a final test, a take‐home examination, or some other substitute for the final examination. Individual course records in Course Search indicate whether the instructor plans to schedule a final examination.