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In addition to the area requirements, Yale’s distributional requirements stipulate course credits in each of three skills categories: writing, quantitative reasoning, and foreign language. Following is a brief description of each of these categories.
Writing well is the hallmark of an educated person, and is indispensable to advanced research in most disciplines. In leading students beyond merely recording other people’s knowledge to making their own critical contributions, writing fosters and supports the intellectual practices that distinguish active from passive learners. All students are required to take two courses that focus on writing clearly and cogently. Courses that fulfill this requirement are designated WR in the YCPS. Over 150 courses, spanning more than 25 different academic departments, may be applied toward the WR requirement. The English department in particular offers many courses that provide special attention to writing skills.
The mental rigor resulting from quantitative study has been celebrated for as long as formal education has existed, and applications of quantitative methods have proven critical to a wide range of disciplines. Mathematics and statistics are the basic languages of the natural and the social sciences, and they have become useful tools in many of the humanities. Algorithms and formal logical constructs are the foundation of contemporary information technology, of mathematics itself, and of the rigorous dissection of logical arguments in any discipline. An educated person must be able to make, understand, and evaluate arguments on the basis of quantitative information.
To ensure that they have an opportunity to improve their quantitative reasoning skills, all students must take two courses designated QR in the YCPS. Many such courses are taught through the departments of Mathematics, Statistics, and Computer Science, but appropriate courses may also be found in Astronomy, Biology, Chemistry, Economics, Engineering, Geology and Geophysics, Philosophy, Physics, and Psychology.
A helpful resource for students wishing to fulfill the quantitative reasoning requirement is a list of courses designated QR that do not have prerequisites. The list may be viewed at www.yale.edu/yalecollege/sqr/qr/courses.html.
The study of languages has long been understood to be one of the distinctive and defining features of a liberal arts education, and in the world of the twenty-first century, knowledge of more than one language has become increasingly important. The benefits of language study include enhanced understanding of how languages work, often resulting in heightened sophistication in the use of one’s own language; unmediated access to texts otherwise available only in translation or not at all; and the ability to recognize and cross cultural barriers.
All Yale College students are required to engage in study of a foreign language, regardless of the level of study achieved at the time of matriculation. The most common paths to fulfillment of the foreign language distributional requirement are illustrated in the Foreign Language Requirement chart.
Students who matriculate at Yale with no previous foreign language training must complete three terms of instruction in a single foreign language. This requirement is fulfilled by the completion of courses designated L1, L2, and L3 in the YCPS.
Students who have taken the Advanced Placement examination in French, German, or Spanish and who present scores of 5, or who have taken the Advanced Placement examination in Latin and who present scores of 4 or 5, are recognized as having completed the intermediate level of study. Scores of 6 or 7 on the International Baccalaureate Advanced-Level examination are also accepted as evidence of intermediate-level accomplishment. Students at this level fulfill the language distributional requirement by completing one course designated L5 in the YCPS. Alternatively, they may successfully complete instruction in a different foreign language through the level designated L2.
Students who have studied a foreign language before matriculating at Yale but who have not achieved a score of 5 on the ap test in French, German, or Spanish, or a score of 4 or 5 on the Advanced Placement Test in Latin must take a placement test offered by the appropriate language department. Dates and times of placement tests are given in the Calendar for the Opening Days of College and in the departmental program descriptions in the YCPS. The departmental test determines whether students place into the first, second, third, or fourth term of language study (courses designated L1, L2, L3, or L4 in the YCPS), or whether they qualify for language courses beyond the fourth term of study (L5).
Students who place into the first term of a foreign language must complete three terms of instruction in that language, designated L1, L2, and L3 in the YCPS.
Students who matriculate at Yale able to place into the second term of a foreign language must successfully complete three terms of instruction in that language, designated L2, L3, and L4 in the YCPS. Alternatively, they may successfully complete instruction in a different foreign language through the level designated L3.
Students who matriculate at Yale able to place into the third term of a foreign language must successfully complete two terms of instruction in that language, designated L3 and L4 in the YCPS. Alternatively, they may successfully complete instruction in a different foreign language through the level designated L3.
Students who matriculate at Yale able to place into the fourth term of a foreign language must successfully complete one term of instruction in that language, designated L4 in the YCPS. Alternatively, they may successfully complete instruction in a different foreign language through the level designated L3.
Students who matriculate at Yale able to place into the fifth term of a foreign language must successfully complete one term of instruction in that language, designated L5 in the YCPS. Alternatively, they may successfully complete instruction in a different foreign language through the level designated L2.
Intensive language courses provide the equivalent of a full year of instruction in a single term. A course designated L1–L2 in the YCPS fulfills both the L1 and the L2 levels of the foreign language distributional requirement. Similarly, a course designated L3–L4 satisfies both the L3 and the L4 levels.
In order to promote firsthand experience in foreign cultures and the learning of language in real-world settings, students are permitted to satisfy the foreign language requirement by either completing or placing out of a language course designated L2 in the YCPS and then completing an approved study abroad program in a foreign-language-speaking setting. A student may seek permission from the appropriate director of undergraduate studies or the director of the Center for Language Study to substitute a term or a summer abroad in an approved program for intermediate or advanced language study at Yale. Study abroad may be used in place of L1 and L2 courses only if it is part of a Yale College program. Study abroad opportunities are described below and in chapter i of the YCPS under the heading “International Experience.”
Students who demonstrate by examination at Yale that they are native speakers of a language other than English must successfully complete instruction in a third language, neither English nor the native language, through the level designated L2. Students who present a secondary school transcript showing that the language of instruction was other than English may fulfill the foreign language requirement either by taking engl 114a or b, 120a or b, or 450b, or by successfully completing instruction in a third language, neither English nor the language of instruction in the secondary school, through the level designated L2.
Not all of the languages offered in Yale College are offered at all levels, and it may not be possible to fulfill the language requirement in some of them. Languages currently offered in Yale College are: Akkadian, Arabic, Chinese, Coptic, Czech, hieroglyphic Egyptian, French, German, ancient Greek, modern Greek, biblical Hebrew, modern Hebrew, Hindi, Indonesian, isiZulu, Italian, Japanese, Kiswahili, Korean, Latin, Persian, Polish, Portuguese, Russian, Sanskrit, Spanish, Syriac, Tamil, Turkish, Vietnamese, and Yorùbá. Students wishing to fulfill the foreign language requirement in a less commonly taught language should consult the director of undergraduate studies in the relevant department to verify that the appropriate level of study will be offered. Students who have intermediate or higher-level proficiency in a language other than those listed here (including American Sign Language) should consult the appropriate director of undergraduate studies or the director of the Center for Language Study to arrange for a placement examination.
Students who, for medical reasons, are not able to complete the language requirement may petition the Committee on Honors and Academic Standing for a waiver of the requirement. In granting such a waiver, the committee will normally require that a student complete four course credits in the study of a specific non-English-speaking culture.