Eli Whitney Students Program – A Program for Non-Traditional Students

Yale welcomes applications from non-traditional students with exceptional backgrounds and aspirations.  Eli Whitney, a distinguished inventor and the son of a New England farmer, came to Yale College in 1789 at the age of twenty-three. In the spirit of perhaps the University’s most distinguished non-traditional undergraduate, Yale University created the Eli Whitney Students Program for people who have had their education interrupted, at some point during their educational career, for five or more years.


The EWSP was conceived with the same mission as that for Yale College as a whole: the education of leaders who will make contributions to society and the world. Whitney students have many of the same opportunities as other students in Yale College. They take classes with other undergraduates, and earn either a Bachelor of Arts or Bachelor of Science degree from Yale. As full participants in Yale College academics, Whitney students may take advantage of the tremendous resources that Yale offers. They are taught by world-renowned faculty; conduct science research; participate in international experiences; and join the hundreds of extracurricular organizations available to undergraduates. They have access to virtually all Yale College programs and facilities except for undergraduate on-campus housing. But unlike other students in Yale College, Whitney students may choose to attend as either full-time or part-time students, giving them great flexibility.

Whitney Students

Admission to the EWSP is highly competitive, and there are only 20 to 30 Whitney students among the 5,200 Yale undergraduates. Whitney students come from all walks of life – veterans, entrepreneurs, community or social activists, journalists, and business professionals. While there is no “typical” student in the EWSP, they do share similar qualities:  deep intellectual engagement, energy, strong motivation and leadership. Together, and as individuals, Whitney students bring a plethora of life experiences to campus, and add immeasurably to the intellectual discussions inside and outside of the classroom.

Voices of Whitney Students

This video is independently produced and directed by Eli Whitney students.

Contact Information

Please send inquiries regarding the Eli Whitney Students Program to:


Office of Undergraduate Admissions

Eli Whitney Students Program
P. O. Box 208234
New Haven, CT 06520-8234

Telephone:  203.432.9301
Fax:            203.436.9777


Voices of Eli Whitney quote

If someone would've told me, when I was younger, that I would be graduating from Yale at the age of 52, I would've told them they're crazy. I would not  have had an inkling of an idea that that would happen to individual like myself from the South Bronx. But it has.

Dwight Dickerson, Eli Whitney graduate