Yale’s residential college system, now more than 75 years old, is perhaps the most distinctive feature of the College. It offers students a familiar, comfortable living environment, personal interaction with faculty members and administrators, and exciting opportunities for academic and extracurricular exploration. The residential colleges do much to foster spirit, allegiance, and a sense of community at Yale.

College Affiliation

All incoming undergraduates are assigned to one of Yale’s fourteen residential colleges. Students remain affiliated with their residential college for all four years (and beyond). Yale makes every effort to represent the diversity of the entire undergraduate community within every residential college. In this sense, each college is a microcosm of the larger student population.

Most first-years reside on Old Campus in dormitories designated to specific colleges. Students live in their colleges starting sophomore year. (The exceptions are Silliman, Timothy Dwight, Benjamin Franklin, and Pauli Murray Colleges, where students live in the college proper from their first year.)


Each college has its own dining hall, library, computer cluster, buttery, fitness center, and music practice rooms. Some colleges have unique facilities, such as the Fabric Arts Studio in Morse College or the Woodshop in Berkeley College. Students have access to all the facilities in their college throughout their time at Yale (even if they live on Old Campus or off campus).

Heads and Deans

Every residential college has its own head and dean, both of whom are Yale faculty members. The head and dean live in the college with their families and eat their meals with students in the dining hall. Getting to know all residential college students as individuals helps the head and dean to address student concerns as personally and effectively as possible.

  • The head of college (HOC) is the chief administrative officer and the presiding faculty presence in each residential college. He or she is responsible for the physical well-being and safety of students in the college as well as for fostering and shaping the social, cultural, and educational life and character of the college. During the year, he or she hosts special meals, study breaks, and College Teas—intimate gatherings where students have the opportunity to engage with renowned guests from the academy, government, or popular culture.
  • The dean serves as the chief academic and personal adviser to students in his or her residential college. Students submit course schedules, drop courses, or convert a course from the Credit/D/Fail option to a letter grade through the residential college dean’s office. If a student is experiencing academic difficulties, the college dean can help by offering strategies for effective studying and time management or by connecting the student with on-campus tutors and other academic support resources.


Each residential college has a seminar room where a unique, one-time class is taught every semester. Students in the college help to select the course being offered. For information, see Residential College Seminar Program.


Residential colleges compete against each other each year in quest of the Tyng Cup, the intramural championship trophy. Students and other residential college affiliates participate in a variety of sports including soccer, basketball, badminton, water polo, table tennis, pickleball, cross country, and spikeball. For more information, see the Yale Intramurals website.