July 24, 2020

Dear sophomores, juniors, and seniors,

We are very much looking forward to the fall semester, whether you will be enrolling in residence or remotely. We know that many of you who are planning to come to campus are waiting for guidance about moving in, quarantine requirements, and testing protocols. That information will be available as soon as the public health officials provide it, and you will able to find it on Yale College's FAQ page.

As you start thinking about classes, we would like to provide you with an update to our message on June 22 about course registration and pre-term advising for the fall term. As we explained in that message, Yale College is asking students who plan to enroll for the fall term, whether remotely or in residence, to pre-register for courses before the term begins. We provide additional information below and refer you to the Yale College FAQ page for more, but we first call your attention to the following important dates:

  • August 7: Expanded course descriptions available in Canvas for fall 2020 courses
  • August 7-12: Students submit preferences for limited-enrollment courses
  • August 17: Students informed of admission to limited-enrollment courses 
  • August 21: Deadline for students to submit a preliminary course schedule
  • August 25: Course schedule adjustment period (“add/drop”) begins
  • August 31: Classes begin
  • September 4: Final schedules due

Although this process is a significant change from how you have selected courses in the past, it still enables you to shop courses, and to drop and add them, during the first week of classes and before you submit your final schedule, on September 4. In addition, we are pleased to announce two initiatives, inspired by the Yale College Council’s report on shopping period reform, that we hope will make your course selection process easier: 

  • We have asked all instructors to provide an expanded course description in Canvas by August 7 to include: a brief description of their courses' content, goals, and format; adjustments for online teaching, such as recording policies; prerequisites (if any); enrollment cap (if any); required course materials; major assignments; and the components of a student’s final grade. Instructors will also have the ability to upload a brief (2-3 minute) video introduction to the course, if desired, and upload a full syllabus, if available.
  • We have also asked departments and instructors to run a selection process for all limited-enrollment courses so that you will know, before your initial schedule is due, the seminars to which you have been admitted. This process will take different forms in different departments, but we have asked all departments to follow the same timeline. Students will have from August 7 to August 12 to submit their preferences (all applications submitted by the deadline will be treated equally), and departments or individual instructors will inform students of their admission by no later than August 17. Students will be guaranteed a spot in the courses to which they have been admitted, but they will not be obligated to enroll in them. Most lecture courses will remain without enrollment caps and, beginning on August 17, students will be permitted to enroll in such lectures in the same manner as in the past.

We conclude with some information about advising. We hope you will take advantage of your college adviser or departmental adviser when selecting courses and thinking through your larger academic goals. You will be required to meet with your adviser at least once by video before your final schedule is due, on September 4 [corrected from September 7], and we encourage you to arrange to meet with your adviser before your preliminary schedule is due, on August 21. 

We are grateful to you for your patience and flexibility, and we are also grateful to the many Yale faculty and staff members across campus who have been working hard this summer to prepare for your arrival. The fall semester will have the highest faculty-to-student ratio for undergraduates in modern history, and many senior faculty members are team-teaching innovative courses at both the introductory and upper levels. Other faculty are arranging for authors, artists, and composers of works they are teaching to join classes (virtually) for the sessions when their works are discussed. And we are encouraging all instructors to imagine new ways to increase opportunities to interact with students, individually and in groups, in keeping with Yale’s commitment to be the research university most committed to teaching and learning. We are excited about the semester ahead, and we hope you are, too.


Marvin Chun, Lynn Cooley, and Tamar Gendler
Dean of Yale College, Dean of the Graduate School, and Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences