What does a Yale classroom look like?

If you’re applying to college right now, you’ve probably given some thought to what you might like to major in or what skills you’d like to learn. But have you ever thought about where your classes would take place?

I certainly didn’t. I was mildly surprised to learn that, unlike in high school, college professors don’t have designated classrooms in which they teach all their classes. Professors usually have smaller offices, which they often use for office hours or one-on-one meetings. Classrooms are assigned to various classes throughout the day based on how many students the room can accommodate and what style of class it is. Classrooms can be divided into roughly three purpose categories: lecture halls, seminar rooms, and labs or other hands-on spaces.

Before we get more into what these spaces are like, a few definitions: A lecture is a class in which the professor is speaking for the majority of the class, often accompanied by either slides or a chalkboard to write on. Professors usually stop to answer student questions while lecturing. A seminar usually requires more direct student participation–think round table discussions or student presentations. Labs or performance-based classes involve hands-on activities that are usually guided by a professor.

While Yale professors might not decorate their rooms with fun posters like your high school teachers do, that doesn’t mean our classrooms aren’t beautiful. I’ve compiled a categorized list of my favorite classrooms for you to envision yourself in below :)

Lecture Halls: Linsly-Chittenden Hall 102

Hands down, this is my favorite classroom space at Yale. Its stained glass windows and reliefs of literary greats that line the walls make me feel more like I’m in a museum than a classroom. Any lecture you take in this room will be a pleasure.

Lecture Halls: Sheffield-Sterling-Strathcona Lecture Hall

This cavernous space is used for a variety of lectures, especially Psychology and related subjects. I took “The Human Brain” in this room and found the cavernous ceilings particularly lovely.

Seminar Rooms: LC/WLH seminar rooms

Linsly Chittenden Hall and William L. Harkness Hall (LC and WLH for short) have no shortage of seminar rooms. Their tall windows allow light to stream in, literally illuminating the conversation. I love gathering around those broad wooden tables for a great discussion.

Labs and hands-on spaces: Sterling Chemistry Laboratories

If you ever take a chemistry or biology class, you’ll definitely find yourself in one of these pristine labs.

Labs and hands-on spaces: Beinecke classrooms

Beinecke classrooms are located in the Beinecke Rare Books and Manuscripts Library. They are amazing spaces where classes will gather to analyze pieces from the library collection. In one of my favorite Yale classes, “History of Russian and Soviet Art,” we frequently visited the Beinecke to analyze original Russian artistic manuscripts from the early 1900s. It was the coolest experience.

Labs and hands-on spaces: Marsh Botanical Gardens

The Marsh greenhouses are amazing teaching spaces for Ecology and Evolutionary Biology classes. I love this place so much that I dedicated a whole blog post to it–check it out here!