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Teaching and Advising

“I came to Yale for the students. They’re not just smart, but well balanced in a way that makes it special to teach and do research here. Whether I stand before a classroom full of students or I meet with someone one-on-one, I try to teach each student as somebody who is going to do something very meaningful and influential in life.”

Marvin Chun, Professor of Psychology and Master of Berkeley College

Physically and philosophically, Yale College for undergraduates is at the heart of Yale University. An extraordinary commitment to undergraduate education sets Yale apart from other great research universities in the world. Over seventy departments and programs offer approximately 2,000 undergraduate courses each year – many of them taught by Yale’s most distinguished historians, literary critics and writers, scientists and engineers, artists and composers, and social scientists.  Indeed, every tenured professor on our Faculty of Arts and Sciences teaches undergraduate courses.

Most undergraduate classes are small (seventy-five percent enroll fewer than twenty students and only forty classes out of all 2,000 have more than 100 students. Larger courses often include a discussion section of eight to fifteen students.) So from day one, students can expect their professors to be accessible and to take a personal interest in them. In fact, “access, access, access” is the way one senior sums up Yale’s advantage. “We have programs with very low student to faculty ratios, and we also have the funds, and all the resources to pursue anything you want and to start as early as your freshman year. Professors make time for their students whether it’s to discuss classes or career options, to joke around or to write you a recommendation. They are also constantly innovating their classes, bringing subjects to life in new ways. It’s just special here.”

To get a good sense of just how integrated undergraduate teaching and the frontiers of new knowledge are at Yale, you only need to compare the overlap in faculty names between those making research breakthroughs and those listed in the Yale College course catalog. Professors say some of their best research ideas are often sparked in the classroom discussions. Students say they are amazed by the incredible access they have to people who really are changing the world. Those connections make a significant difference in the opportunities and the depth to which students can pursue their own ideas for original research, business start-ups, global study, and creative productions.

Advising Networks

The inherent freedom within a Yale education to take up any course of study imaginable can be exhilarating, but it can also be daunting. That’s why Yale undergraduates have their own networks of advisers who are ready and willing to help them navigate their academic opportunities. The core of that network is a student’s Residential College Dean, Residential College Master, Freshman Faculty Adviser, and Freshman Counselor. As one Residential College Dean says, “Yale students are quite literally the best and the brightest. It’s a wonderful thing to be able to have a little bit of influence on how their incredible assets are applied. What I want them to know is that somebody has got their back.” More

Advising at Yale happens in many different places, including:

Residential Colleges
  • Freshman Counselors
  • Freshman Faculty Advisers
  • Residential College Deans
  • Residential College Masters
Academic Departments
  • Course Instructors & Teaching Fellows
  • Departmental Faculty Advisers
  • Directors of Undergraduate Studies
Yale College Dean’s Office
  • Assoc & Asst Deans of Yale College
  • Center for Language Study
  • Cultural Centers
  • Peer Liaisons
  • Health Professions Advisory Board
  • International Education & Fellowships Programs
  • Science and QR Center
  • Undergraduate Career Services
  • Writing Center

 

Marvin Chun

Professor Chun has received the DeVane Award for Teaching and Scholarship, the oldest undergraduate teaching prize in Yale College, awarded by the undergraduate members of Phi Beta Kappa. The presentation of the award began with the words “Marvin Chun is the man!” praising Professor Chun for the clarity of his teaching, the excellence of his explanations and demonstrations, and his devotion to his students. Recent Courses include Introduction to Psychology and Mind, Brain, & Society.

Photograph by Lisa Kereszi/Yale School of Art