Yale’s Graduation Requirements

January 9, 2023
By AdmissionSight

Yale’s Graduation Requirements

What are the graduation requirements for Yale?

What are the prerequisites needed to graduate from Yale? Part of Yale’s graduation requirements is that students must earn a passing grade in 36 different term courses or the courses’ equivalents in order to be eligible for the awarding of the bachelor’s degree.

Credit at Yale is measured not in terms of credit hours but rather by course credits; typically, one credit is awarded for each term course.

An undergraduate student at Yale is expected to carry a course load that is somewhat greater than that of students attending other schools or universities, many of which require a total of only 32-course credits for graduation.

A female student listening to the class lecture while holding a pen. The requirement of 36-course credits is reflective of the educational policy of Yale, which strongly advocates the principle of distribution in studies to the same degree that it endorses the principle of concentration.

In order for a student to graduate from Yale with 36 credits, they must not only satisfy the distributional requirements of the college and the requirements of a certain major.

The distributional requirements are designed to guarantee that all students who graduate from Yale are familiar with a wide range of subfields of study and methods of approaching the pursuit of knowledge.

These prerequisites are the only concrete restrictions that serve to restrict a student’s choice of classes that are not part of their major program.

The distributional requirements, taken on their own, amount to a rudimentary education at best, and not a comprehensive one. They are not to be pursued as objectives but rather as beginning points.

The academic standards set forth by Yale, in conjunction with the criteria outlined by the student’s chosen major, serve as the cornerstone of a Yale undergraduate education. Students are expected to engage in critical thinking across a wide range of subject areas as they work toward satisfying the area and skills distributional standards.

Area requirements include:

  • 2 course credits in the humanities and arts
  • 2 course credits in the sciences
  • 2 course credits in the social sciences

Meanwhile, skills requirements include:

  • 2 course credits in quantitative reasoning
  • 2 course credits in writing
  • course(s) to further their foreign language proficiency

Students can satisfy the requirement for a foreign language by taking one, two, or three courses in the language, or they can combine their classroom work with an approved study abroad program.

The number of courses needed depends on the student’s level of language proficiency when they enter the program. The Language Chart provides an outline of the language requirements that are expected of the majority of students.

Students from countries where English is not the original language and can demonstrate native competency in a language other than English are encouraged to speak with their residential college dean.

What GPA do you need to graduate from Yale?

What is the minimum grade point average required to graduate from Yale?

The following is the breakdown of Yale’s letter grades:

A  Excellent



B  Good



C  Satisfactory



D  Passing


F  Fail

Although Yale does not publicly disclose its average GPA, all grades, regardless of whether they were passed or failed, are included on the transcript and are factored into the overall grade point average (GPA).

To fulfill Yale’s graduation requirements of 36-course credits for graduation, each passing grade contributes the same amount to the degree that it is worth the course credit it represents.

Students may, at any time, be excluded from a course without credit if the instructor or department concerned makes a recommendation to the residential college dean and the Committee on Honors and Academic Standing on the basis of excessive absences or unsatisfactory work.

If the student is excluded from the class after the midterm but before the first day of the reading period, the exclusion will be recorded as a “W” on the student’s transcript for the class.

In most cases, a student will be expelled from Yale if they have a record that demonstrates they had three grades of “F” during the same term or over the course of two or three successive terms.

A woman looking at a paper using both of her hands.

“Successive terms” refers to consecutive academic terms in which the student is enrolled, regardless of whether or not there has been a break in attendance caused by a withdrawal or a leave of absence.

Even though grades from Yale Summer Session are included on a student’s Yale transcript, those marks do not contribute to the overall grade point average.

How does Yale’s graduation work?

How exactly does one graduate from Yale? After one has fulfilled all of Yale’s graduation requirements, a commencement celebration follows.

During the Commencement ceremony that takes place on Old Campus, all degrees earned at the university are formally awarded to their recipients.

Earlier, the names of all degree applicants were presented to the Yale Corporation for approval.

Now, during the ceremony on Old Campus, the deans of Yale College, Graduate School, and Professional School publicly deliver their approved candidates to the President of Yale.

Group of students in a library with one student explaining while the others listen.

The president, in turn, is the one who hands out degrees and welcomes new graduates into the “rights and obligations” associated with each degree.

On behalf of their fellow students, the student marshals of each residential college and school get symbolic diplomas from the president of the university.

The provost makes recommendations for honorary degree recipients to the university’s president.

The identities of the Yale honorands are not revealed until the day of Commencement, as this is the tradition at the university.

The commencement ceremony for Yale University is always held on the Monday before Memorial Day.

On Yale’s historic Old Campus, the Commencement ceremony always takes place outside, regardless of the weather. Visitors can access Old Campus via gates located on College Street, High Street, Chapel Street, and Elm Street.

The streets immediately surrounding Old Campus will be blocked to traffic at 9:45 in the morning in preparation for the Commencement procession, which will begin at Cross Campus at the exact hour of 10:00.

The area in front of Sterling Memorial Library known as “Cross Campus” is bounded by Wall Street, College Street, Elm Street, and High Street.

The graduation ceremony begins with a parade that includes all of the students and faculty who have earned their degrees. The procession of seniors takes place on New Haven Green and then continues onto Old Campus through the Phelps Gate located on College Street.

Candidates seeking degrees from graduate and professional schools enter Old Campus through gates located on Elm Street and High Street.

The event begins at 10:30 in the morning on Old Campus and continues until approximately noon.

Immediately afterward, diploma ceremonies take place in the residential colleges, as well as at the graduate and professional schools, and they continue until roughly 1:30 in the afternoon.

Each graduating student from Yale will get four (4) tickets that will allow their guests to enter Old Campus for the University Commencement Ceremony.

Guests who are not in possession of tickets for the Old Campus ceremony can view the event’s live stream on screens and in viewing rooms located throughout the Yale campus, as well as on the Yale channel on YouTube.

There will be no need to purchase tickets for the Baccalaureate, Class Day, or Diploma ceremonies.

It is tough to complete all of Yale’s graduation requirements. It will take a significant amount of time and effort, but the end result is always worthwhile.

AdmissionSight hopes that you will be able to overcome any academic challenges you may face in order to graduate from Yale in the future. However, admission to the school is currently the foremost priority.

For more than a decade, AdmissionSight has been a valuable resource for students attempting to navigate the rigorous admissions process. Contact us right away to schedule a consultation.


Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Sign up now to receive insights on
how to navigate the college admissions process.