Yale Center for Teaching and Learning

Yale Teaching Policies, Practices, and Culture

Course Policies and Practices

New instructors are encouraged to consult the handbooks or guides for their respective schools for the most relevant course policy guidance. The Handbook for Instructors of Undergraduates in Yale College describes the established procedures and rules for Yale College. The Yale College Programs of Study, also known as the “blue book,” provides an overview of the Yale undergraduate curriculum. Instructors in Yale graduate and professional schools are encouraged to consult the guides for their respective school. A full listing of courses can be found on Yale Course Search. Faculty should review the Yale Faculty Handbook to learn about faculty rank, policies on research, absence and compensation. 


New Courses

New courses for Yale College are submitted to the Course of Study Committee, which meets regularly to approve courses for the fall and spring semesters. Contact your Director of Undergraduate Studies (DUS) or Chair for questions regarding course assignments and development of new courses. The Yale Registrar’s Office provides a brief, tutorial video on how to submit a new course proposal to Yale College, including cross-listing in the graduate school or other professional schools. They also provide this flow chart of the process from course concept to student enrollment. If you are an instructor with a primary appointment in a professional school, consult with your school’s registrar for the new course process. If you teach in a professional school and want to have a new course cross-listed in Yale College, then you will need to follow the above procedures

Classroom Assignments

The Registrar’s Office and some departments assign classrooms, and assignments are visible the week before classes begin on Yale Course Search. With pedagogical reasons, you may apply to teach in innovative and flexible teaching spaces available across campus, including the Poorvu Center’s classroom spaces, in the TEAL classroom (located at 17 Hillhouse), and the Watson Center. The Room Assignment Change Request Form can be used to apply for a change of classroom following add/drop period during the course enrollment process.


Limited Enrollment Courses

All seminar courses at Yale have limited student enrollment (typically 12 to 18 and most instructors determine the exact number unless departmental guidelines exist), and some lecture courses have limited enrollment by request of the instructor or based on availability of Teaching Fellows (TFs). The most recent changes to Yale’s registration process provide an opportunity for instructors to indicate their maximum enrollment and indicate “Instructor Permission Required” in WEN. Instructors may elect to decide who will be admitted via use of a Qualtrics survey or other type of application form. Course applications can be used to gather information about students’ interest in the course and whether students will prioritize their enrollment based on meeting disciplinary or distribution requirements. 


Courses with an Automated Waitlist

An alternative to “Instructor Permission Required” is an automated waitlist for your course. This option is typically used for lecture courses with a maximum enrollment that you or your department determines. Students enroll on a first come, first serve basis, and a waitlist opens for the course once the maximum enrollment is met. Because the waitlist system is automated, instructors have no way of changing the order of students on the waitlist. Note: courses with discussion sections are not able to have a waitlist for the lecture or seminar.  This is to ensure a discussion section is available for every student enrolled.


Course Structure & Syllabus Design

The Poorvu Center provides suggestions for how to organize your course utilizing Yale resources and policies as well as recommendations for writing a syllabus to align with Yale’s teaching culture. You will likely find it helpful to consult the relevant school calendar while planning your course, such as the Yale College calendar or Graduate School of Arts and Sciences calendar, the FAS standard class meeting times, and calendar of cultural and religious observances. Specific guidance for instructors of Yale College courses with writing (WR) designations can be found here


Instructors should post and publish their syllabus on Yale’s Learning Management System (LMS), Canvas, approximately one week prior to registration for courses; otherwise students will not be able to view the syllabus, which may lead to low enrollment. After publishing on Canvas, a link to your syllabus will appear automatically on Yale Course Search within two hours for students to view. The University Registrar’s Office and deans’ offices send out timely reminders regarding this process each semester. The Poorvu Center provides help guides for setting up your Canvas site for each of your courses.


Course Materials & Logistics

As a new faculty member, you may be wondering where to begin when it comes to course materials and related logistics. Below are a few frequently requested links to get you started: 

Student Course Support Roles

Depending on your course size and type, you may have Yale students on your teaching team in roles such as Teaching Fellow (TF), undergraduate learning assistant (ULA), course-based peer tutors, and graders. The university provides guidelines for working with Undergraduate Learning Assistants, Course-Based Peer Tutors, and Graders. The differences among the student course support roles are summarized in this helpful table


Experience as a Teaching Fellow (TF) can be a critical component of graduate education and employment, since it provides direct advising from a faculty member and an opportunity to teach in a collaborative environment. It also serves as professional development, whether the graduate student goes on to teach in higher education or to leverage transferable skills like communication and transparency in an industry setting. Yale provides the following guidelines for faculty in working with graduate students serving as TFs in their courses. 



Yale College Organization & Teaching Culture

Yale College has a unique and vibrant teaching culture. Many instructors come to us asking about Yale grading practices, as well as the residential college system, curriculum and resources for undergraduates shared below. 

Residential Colleges

Instructors who are teaching undergraduates in Yale College should know that each of their students is affiliated with one of 14 residential colleges during their time at Yale. Each residential college includes a Head of College who is a faculty member; there is also a Residential College Dean in residence for each college who serves as the academic officers for students, reviewing their course calendars and providing Dean’s Extensions when necessary. A Dean’s Extensions authorizes postponement of written work or exams in specific circumstances for an individual student; faculty are required to adhere to the Dean’s Extension and can review the process on each residential college webpage (sample Dean’s Extension from Branford College).


Undergraduate Curriculum and Majors

Yale offers over 80 different majors to undergraduates. Although Yale offers no minors, students can pursue multidisciplinary academic programs, advanced language certificates, interdisciplinary certificates and skill-based certificates. There are no specific classes students must take at Yale, but they are required to learn broadly and deeply as part of their liberal arts education. Depth is covered in each student’s major. Breadth is covered in three study areas (the humanities and arts, the sciences, and the social sciences) and three skill areas (writing, quantitative reasoning, and foreign language).

Student Resources

For information on support resources available to students at Yale, including academic, mental health and wellness resources, visit our Sharing Student Resources page.