When I saw “Behavioral Decision-Making I: Choice,” a course on the psychology of decision-making, on Yale’s course search website, I immediately knew I wanted to take it.
Yale Course Search, showing the graduate-level course I asked to take.
There was a problem, though. It was a School of Management course, and (last I checked) I was not enrolled Yale’s School of Management. So I emailed the professors. After some back and forth, they told me that I would be able to take the course. I rejoiced, showed up, and am now a good chunk of the way through my first graduate/professional school course at Yale.
The entryway to the School of Management.
This isn’t too unusual at Yale. Some courses are cross-listed and available for both graduate and undergraduate students to take. I have a few friends pursuing joint B.A./M.A. degrees who take graduate school courses as part of their program or who are doing research in a field and are drawn to a niche graduate school course as a result. Or, like me, undergraduates might just be so fascinated by a topic that they just have to take a course.
Still, making the leap can be intimidating. But if you’re passionate about something, it’s worth looking into advanced offerings – a professor will be happy to tell you if you’re a good fit for their course.
As for me, “Behavior Decision Making 1: Choice” was less intimidating than I expected. The work is reasonable and interesting. We meet weekly for three hours to discuss foundational papers in choice psychology, on topics spanning from Prospect Theory and Choice Bracketing to Self-Signalling and Context Effects. Students take turns presenting written summaries of these papers and leading class discussions on future research directions and applications of the work we read. At the end of the semester, we have to develop a research proposal. (Mine will be about goal-setting behaviors!)
There are three other undergraduate students taking the course, and we’ve gotten pretty friendly with each other. During our mid-class breaks, we’ll walk together to fill up our water and do stretches outside of our classroom. We’re even planning to get a meal soon. The six or seven graduate students in the course are kind too, and one even showed me where the School of Management keeps their sparkling water dispenser!
The School of Management’s sparkling (and normal) water dispenser!
And our professors are experts in the field (many of the papers we read list them as co-authors) and astoundingly accessible. Everyone in the class fits around a table not much bigger than you would find in a dining room, and the seminar is built on the back-and-forth between our ideas and our professors’ expertise.
As a result, I’ve loved learning all about the wacky world of decision-making in what might just be my favorite class this semester. I encourage others to be brave and look beyond Yale’s (already robust and diverse!) undergraduate offerings, if they feel so inclined.