Eli Whitney: Application and Instructions

We’re here to guide you through the process of applying to the Eli Whitney Students Program (EWSP). You will find everything you need to know to apply in the sections below.

Admissions Overview

Academic strength is an important factor in evaluating candidates to Yale. While some individuals considering the EWSP may have been out of the classroom for many years and may not have had the best high school records, we do expect candidates to present strong recent academic performance in demanding liberal arts and science courses. Most successful applicants have recent college GPAs of 3.8 or above. While neither the SAT nor the ACT is required of Eli Whitney candidates, the Admissions Committee strongly encourages applicants to submit SAT or ACT results. Additionally, Yale looks for nontraditional students who demonstrate intellectual depth and curiosity, strong motivation, energy, leadership, community involvement and/or professional achievement. The Yale Admissions Committee takes many factors into consideration when reviewing EWSP applications and uses a holistic approach in the evaluation process. Admission to the EWSP is highly competitive as there are only 25 to 30 Eli Whitney students among 5,800 Yale undergraduates. In recent years, the acceptance rate to Yale, including to the EWSP, has been below 10%.


To be eligible to apply to the EWSP, candidates must hold a high school or GED diploma and have had their education interrupted for five or more years at some point during their educational career. Individuals who have earned a previous bachelor’s degree are not eligible for the program. There are no typical paths for Eli Whitney students, but many take breaks in their education immediately after high school or in the middle of their college careers, and then return to college on a part- or full-time basis before transferring to the EWSP.

Academic Preparation

Individuals who cannot present recent academic credentials are encouraged to take classes elsewhere before submitting their applications to the EWSP. Candidates considering engineering majors should be sure to read the information regarding what courses to take prior to applying to Yale. Prospective applicants should take courses that are similar to classes offered at Yale, such as courses in the humanities, social sciences, natural or physical sciences and foreign languages. We especially encourage candidates to take courses in math (preferably through at least Pre-Calculus) and classes that enhance writing skills because these will prepare students for the rigor of Yale’s curriculum. Candidates should take higher-level courses when possible. Online classes are not advised as they are not transferable to Yale. Courses must be taken at fully accredited institutions, either four-year or two-year, public or private. The majority of Eli Whitney students previously attended community colleges.

Admissions Timeline

November: Online application becomes available
March 15: Admissions application deadline
Late April to Early May: Interviews for select candidates
May 1: Financial aid application deadline
Mid to Late May: Decision notification
Early June: Candidates' reply date

Application Instructions

The deadline to submit all EWSP application materials is March 15. Please note that all incoming students enter Yale in the fall term as Yale does not offer spring entrance.

To apply for admission to Yale as an Eli Whitney student, a candidate must complete and submit the application electronically. We suggest that students start the application at least two weeks before the March 15 deadline so as to be thoughtful in answering the questions and to give recommenders ample time to write letters of recommendations.

The Eli Whitney Students Program Application for Fall 2020 entrance is now available.

The online application will prompt for the following information:

  • $80 nonrefundable application fee: Applicants who feel that the fee presents severe financial hardship may request, in the financial aid section of the application, that the fee be waived. Veterans of the U.S. military who request a fee waiver will be granted one.
  • Personal and biographical information
  • Education history: Official high school transcripts, GED diplomas (if applicable) and official college transcripts are required. Official transcripts should be sent electronically to eliwhitney.students@yale.edu.
  • Employment history: A resume with complete educational and employment history is required and can be uploaded electronically.
  • Two essays/personal statements
  • Short answers to three additional questions
  • Three letters of recommendation: At least two of the three recommendations should come from teachers or professors who have recently taught the student in academic subjects and who can shed light on the candidate’s academic performance, intellectual capacity, engagement in the classroom, and interactions with other students. For those individuals who have not attended school for a number of years, they may ask employers, colleagues, or other individuals who know them well to write recommendations.
  • Standardized test results: Although not required for admission to the EWSP, it is strongly recommended that you take the SAT or the ACT. Non-native English-speakers who have not been taught in the medium of English in the last two years should also submit results from English proficiency exams such as the TOEFL. You may self-report testing on the application. In June, applicants who are admitted and choose to enroll at Yale will be required to submit official score reports that match their self-reported testing.


After a preliminary review of completed applications, the Admissions Office offers interviews to a small number of Eli Whitney candidates. For admission to the EWSP, an interview is mandatory. While on-campus interviews are preferable, candidates who cannot come to New Haven may request Skype interviews. EWSP interviews generally take place at the end of April and early May.

Application Status

Current applicants to the EWSP can check for receipt of application materials on the Yale Admissions Status Portal using their email address and personal password.

Financial Aid

The Eli Whitney Students Program offers generous need-based financial aid. To apply for financial aid, please visit the EWSP section of the Student Financial Services website. The financial aid application deadline for candidates to the EWSP is May 1.

Yale University’s Nondiscrimination/Title IX Statements

The University is committed to basing judgments concerning the admission, education, and employment of individuals upon their qualifications and abilities and affirmatively seeks to attract to its faculty, staff, and student body qualified persons of diverse backgrounds. In accordance with this policy and as delineated by federal and Connecticut law, Yale does not discriminate in admissions, educational programs, or employment against any individual on account of that individual’s sex, race, color, religion, age, disability, status as a protected veteran, or national or ethnic origin; nor does Yale discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity or expression.

University policy is committed to affirmative action under law in employment of women, minority group members, individuals with disabilities, and protected veterans.

Inquiries concerning these policies may be referred to Valarie Stanley, Director of the Office for Equal Opportunity Programs, 221 Whitney Avenue, 3rd Floor, New Haven, CT 203.432.0849. For additional information, see yale.edu/equalopportunity.

Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 protects people from sex discrimination in educational programs and activities at institutions that receive federal financial assistance. Questions regarding Title IX may be referred to the University’s Title IX Coordinator, Stephanie Spangler, at 203.432.4446 or at titleix@yale.edu, or to the U.S. Department of Education, Office for Civil Rights, 8th Floor, Five Post Office Square, Boston MA 02109-3921. Telephone: 617.289.0111, Fax: 617.289.0150, TDD: 800.877.8339, or Email: ocr.boston@ed.gov.