Yale’s residential college system, now over eighty years old, is the cornerstone of Yale College’s mission to bring together and educate exceptionally promising students of all backgrounds. Each community contained within the fourteen residential colleges represents Yale in microcosm, offering students a sense of intimate social and intellectual connection, as well as a space of civic and moral responsibility.

The very texture of daily life in the undergraduate community is fundamental to the university’s educational mission. The free-flowing interaction among contemporaries similar in talent and energy but different in background and outlook has a powerful capacity to open, enliven and stretch the mind.

The colleges are also dynamic spaces that enable students to develop creative, intellectual, group and personal leadership. They feature a wide range of activities and opportunities, from the college student councils to special academic and cultural programs such as Senior Mellon Forum presentations; College Teas; Creative and Performing Arts events, intramural athletic competitions, and beyond.

The heads of college, typically members of the senior faculty drawn from across the university, preside over the colleges and shape their social and intellectual life.

The residential college deans serve as chief academic officers overseeing students’ academic progress. Heads and deans both live in the college and advise students.

Together with the associate heads, college staff, fellows, graduate affiliates, and alumni, they work to make the residential colleges warm and supportive communities where students can explore and experience all that Yale University and the city of New Haven have to offer.

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.