Eli Whitney Students Program - Details

The Eli Whitney Students Program (EWSP) enrolls a small number of nontraditional students who demonstrate strong recent academic performance and who have the potential to make a positive impact on the Yale community. Eli Whitney students often enrich Yale College through their life experiences, sense of purpose and character. They take the same classes, fulfill the same academic requirements, and earn the same bachelor of arts or bachelor of science degrees as other Yale undergraduates. Eli Whitney students have the flexibility of taking classes on a part-time or full-time basis, and need-based financial aid is available to those who qualify. Students are eligible to apply to the EWSP if they have taken at least a five-year break from their education, at some point in their careers, and have not yet received bachelor’s degrees.

Program Details:

Yale University

Located in New Haven, Connecticut, Yale is a member of the Ivy League and is renowned for its centuries-old commitment to the liberal arts and sciences. Yale College enrolls 5,800 undergraduates and is surrounded by 13 graduate and professional schools. The University offers nearly 2,000 undergraduate courses each year across 80 different majors, from Biomedical Engineering to Film and Media Studies, Political Science to Chemistry, Environmental Studies to East Asian Languages and Literatures. This academic breadth draws many of the world’s brightest and most curious scholars to campus. In all areas of study, Yale maintains a singular dedication to teaching. Students interested in sampling Yale courses may wish to view videos of classes through Open Yale Courses. The student faculty ratio is 6:1 and nearly 80% of Yale College courses enroll fewer than twenty students. Yale is home to the second largest university library system in the United States and more than 800 laboratories. Professors and students engage in scholarship, research, service, and field work all over the world, extending Yale’s reach well beyond the United States. More than $6.0 million is given out each year to undergraduates taking advantage of international activities.


The Eli Whitney Students Program (EWSP) presents the nontraditional student with a flexible path to fulfill the standard requirements of a Yale undergraduate degree.

To earn a bachelor’s degree from Yale College, all students must successfully complete a total of thirty-six course credits. Most courses in Yale college are semester courses that carry one course-credit. Eli Whitney students may work toward this requirement by attending Yale either full or part time, and may take up to 7 years to complete their Yale degrees. They may take up to nine course credits each year. As long as Eli Whitney students take at least three course credits per year, they will remain in good standing. The Yale College Programs of Study contains a detailed description of the courses offered in Yale College as well as the Academic Regulations of Yale College. The YCPS also contains a chapter on the Eli Whitney Students Program that all interested candidates should read.

Students accepted into the EWSP do not need to earn all thirty-six credits required to graduate at Yale. Eli Whitney students may transfer as many as eighteen course credits earned at another college or university. At least eighteen credits must come from Yale courses.

Students must fulfill distributional requirements by taking no fewer than two course credits in the humanities and arts, two in the sciences, and two in the social sciences, as well as by taking at least two course credits in quantitative reasoning, two in writing, and courses to further their foreign language skills. Depending on their level of accomplishment in foreign languages at matriculation, students may fulfill this last requirement with one, two, or three courses, or by certain combinations of course work and approved study abroad. Additional details regarding Yale’s Distributional Requirements are available on the Yale College website.

Like all Yale undergraduates, Eli Whitney students normally take between eleven and fourteen courses in their major and must meet Yale’s distributional requirements. Eli Whitney students are not eligible to participate in programs offering simultaneous awards of the bachelor’s and master’s degrees. The Academic Regulations of Yale College and the rules contained in the Undergraduate Regulations publication govern all students, including those in the EWSP.

Special Note to Eli-Whitney Applicants Considering an Engineering Major

Yale offers undergraduates the opportunity to major in one of five engineering disciplines - Biomedical, Chemical, Environmental, Electrical, and Mechanical Engineering and Materials Science. Yale also offers three degrees within these disciplines for undergraduates - the ABET-Accredited Bachelor of Science, the Bachelor of Science in Engineering Sciences, and the Bachelor of Arts in Engineering Sciences. More information about these disciplines and degrees is available from the School of Engineering and Applied Science.

Given the sequential nature of an engineering curriculum, we recommend that prospective Eli Whitney students looking to major in engineering take full advantage of their institution’s course offerings in mathematics and physics. This includes completion of a full sequence of college-level single-variable calculus (or higher) and the completion of a full sequence of college-level introductory physics, especially if you are looking to transition successfully into an ABET-Accredited Bachelor of Science discipline in engineering. We also highly recommend that students take advantage of introductory coursework in biology, chemistry, and computer science, as appropriate to their engineering discipline of interest. The Yale Admissions Committee will pay special attention to applicants’ college-level coursework and performance in these areas.

As with every undergraduate department, engineering majors are a part of Yale College. All students, including those in engineering, are expected to fulfill the full range of distributional requirements.

Transfer of Credit

For a non-Yale course to count toward graduation requirements, it must meet certain standards. The course must be taken at an accredited post-secondary institution. The course must be similar to Yale College courses in content. The student must achieve a grade of A or B in at least three-quarters of their non-Yale courses, and no lower than a grade of C in the remainder. Credit is not granted for online courses; Advanced Placement (AP) results; International Baccalaureate (IB) results; College Level Placement Exams (CLEP); or college credits earned while in high school.

Students may be eligible to transfer some or all prior college credits, up to a maximum of eighteen course credits. Please note that most courses in Yale College are term courses that carry one course credit. If college courses successfully completed at a prior institution are similar to those available to Yale undergraduates, those course credits will usually be transferable. Students must have taken the coursework at a fully accredited post-secondary institution, such as a public or private college/university that grants bachelor’s degrees or a community college that grants associate’s degrees. The Admissions Office does not conduct a review of transfer credits prior to a student’s admission, but a transfer credit report will be provided at time of admission.

Advising and Academic Support

As with all Yale undergraduates, an Eli Whitney student’s primary academic advisor is the Dean of his or her residential college (see Housing and Residential College Affiliation section below). We understand that nontraditional students in the EWSP often face issues very different from those faced by more traditional undergraduates. Yale is sensitive to this reality, and the Director of the EWSP – a member of the Yale College Dean’s Office – provides special academic counseling and course selection advising to Eli Whitney students. Yale offers many academic resources to undergraduates, including tutoring services; guidance on study abroad opportunities; advice on career development and graduate/professional school admissions. Also supporting Eli Whitney students is the Eli Whitney Students Society, a student-run organization whose mission is “to help all Eli Whitney students acclimate to the Yale College experience.”

Tuition and Financial Aid

Tuition for Eli Whitney students is charged per course credit. Most semester courses at Yale are worth one credit.

Yale offers generous need-based financial aid to eligible EWSP students. As a Yellow Ribbon participant, Yale is very affordable for U.S. military veterans. 

Housing and Meals

On-campus housing is not available to Eli Whitney students. Many rent their own apartments in New Haven or share off-campus apartments with other Yale students. Though Eli Whitney students do not live in residential colleges with other undergraduates, each Eli Whitney student is assigned to one of fourteen residential colleges, giving them access to residential college facilities, resources and activities. Faculty and advisors affiliated with each residential college offer a ready support system, and each residential college funds various trips, guest speakers, fellowships, and events open to all members of the residential college.

Eli Whitney students are provided weekday lunches free of charge during the academic year in any residential college dining hall.

Applying through the Eli Whitney Program or the Transfer Program

Some students who are eligible to apply to the Eli Whitney Students Program are also eligible to apply to Yale through the Transfer Admissions Program. The chart below details some of the key differences between the two programs. Candidates may apply to either the Transfer Program or the Eli Whitney Students Program. They may not apply to both simultaneously.

Transfer Program

Eli Whitney Students Program

Education Interruption

None or minimal interruption

Typical interruption of five or more years

Required Testing


Optional, but encouraged

Credit Transfer

1-2 years transferable college credit

No credit floor or ceiling


Full-time only

Full-time or part-time


On-campus housing available for single students

Off-campus housing only

Financial Aid Eligibility

Need-based financial aid

Need-based financial aid

Financial Aid Coverage

Meet 100% of financial need; awards based on full cost of attendance

Maximum scholarship capped at cost of tuition and cost of a standard Yale room. Students receive free weekday lunches.