Residential Colleges

Twelve Colleges.

One Yale.

Endless Possibilities.

Diversity and Community.

Big and Small. 

living at yale

The Residential College housing system is at the heart of the Yale experience. Before arriving as a freshman each student is randomly assigned to one of twelve residential colleges, giving Yalies a built-in community from the moment they arrive. Most Yale students quickly become convinced that their residential college is the best. Each close-knit community, housed in stunning buildings centered on a green courtyard, serves as a microcosm of Yale’s diverse student population, while preserving the intimacy of a smaller college experience.

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Residential Colleges Defined

Far more than dormitories, Yale’s residential colleges serve as a home away from home for students. Each college has its own distinctive architecture, courtyard, dining hall, library, and activity spaces such as a movie theater, music room, recording studio, dance studio, and gym. 

The term “college” can be misleading. Yale’s residential colleges have nothing to do with majors or academic interests. Before arriving as a freshman each student is randomly assigned to a college, where they will spend all four years. Each college creates a microcosm of the undergraduate student body as a whole, allowing students to have the cohesiveness and intimacy of a small school while still enjoying the vibrancy and resources of a world-class university. The residential colleges are among the most diverse communities at Yale; they also the most significant in the everyday lives of Yale students.

The colleges provide an exceptional opportunity to meet and learn from students with different interests – people students might not otherwise encounter in their courses or extracurricular activities. While many students form their closest and most enduring friendships through their college, students can choose to engage in residential college life as much as they like.

The colleges also bring together faculty and students to form an integrated support system. Each College hosts guest speakers, fellowships, and cultural events. With programs of formal advising, seminars, and activities that encourage students’ extracurricular interests, the colleges create a dynamic bridge between academic and social life.

Now more than 75 years old, Yale’s residential college system is perhaps the most distinctive feature of undergraduate life at Yale.

master and dean n. The Master and Dean are professors who live in the college, eat meals with students in the dining hall, and serve as the college’s leaders. The Master plans college social events like subsidized trips to Broadway shows, and the Dean is the college’s academic adviser.

buttery n. In the basement of each college is a buttery that sells cheap food late at night. It often serves as a gathering place for students in the college to take a break from working.

master’s tea n. Each college Master hosts afternoon teas throughout the year at which students can gather in small groups to interact with a guest speaker. Some recent guests include actor Denzel Washington, journalist Brian Williams, author R.L. Stein, rapper Chris “Ludacris” Bridges, and talk show host Whoopi Goldberg.

study break n. College Masters and Deans make sure students take plenty of breaks from studying, so during finals time they host nightly study breaks in their homes with plenty of food.

dining hall n. Each college has its own dining hall where students eat. In addition, each college has its own library, gym, TV room, music practice room, and other facilities like theaters.

“say what? saybrook!” The cheer of Saybrook College, the best residential college. (Note: this glossary was written by a Saybrook student.) Each college has a cheer to show its spirit. Most students think their college is the best college.

tyng cup n. Each college competes against all others in over thirty sports, ranging from soccer to ping pong. The college that performs the best gets the coveted Tyng Cup.