The Eli Whitney Students Program (EWSP) is a small undergraduate program designed specifically for individuals who have taken a significant break from their formal education. This program offers a more flexible route to pursue a Yale liberal arts and science education full- or part-time. Eli Whitney students receive the same Bachelor of Arts or Bachelor of Science degrees as other Yale undergraduates, have access to the same classes and majors, and participate in the full range of campus extracurricular activities. Eli Whitney students come from all walks of life. They are military veterans, entrepreneurs, community and social activists, and artists. Others have devoted themselves to raising families. Yale’s generous need-based financial aid makes the EWSP affordable for everyone.
Students are eligible to apply to the EWSP if they do not already hold bachelor’s degrees and:
- they have taken at least a five-year break from their education at some point in their educational careers
- OR they will have been out of high school for five or more years by the time of their proposed matriculation at Yale
About Yale College
All Eli Whitey students enroll in Yale College, the single undergraduate liberal arts college that sits at the heart of Yale University. Yale College enrolls approximately 6,200 undergraduates and is surrounded by Yale’s 13 graduate and professional schools. Eli Whitney students have access to Yale College’s nearly 2,000 undergraduate courses and 80 majors. Nearly 75% of courses enroll fewer than twenty students and the student to faculty ratio is 6:1. Yale is home to the second largest university library system in the United States and more than 1,200 laboratories. Yale students graduate prepared for positions of leadership in every imaginable field.
The Eli Whitney Students Program offers a flexible path to fulfill the standard requirements of a Yale College bachelor’s degree. All students complete 36 course credits; most semester courses at Yale carry one credit. Eli Whitney students may earn these credits through full- or part-time enrollment, and may take up to seven years to complete a degree. Eli Whitney students complete the same distributional requirements, as all undergraduates, which include courses in humanities and arts, sciences, social sciences, quantitative reasoning, writing, and foreign language. Courses that fulfill these requirements will amount to about one-third of a student’s undergraduate coursework. Another third of the total coursework – typically between eleven and fourteen courses – will be within a student’s declared major.
Transfer of Credit
Incoming Eli Whitney students may transfer up to 18 course credits earned at another college or university and must complete a minimum of 18 course credits at Yale. For a non-Yale course to count toward the Yale degree, it must be completed at an accredited post-secondary institution and its content must be be similar to a Yale College course. The student must earn 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. Yale does not award transferable credit for Advanced Placement (AP) results, International Baccalaureate (IB) results, College Level Placement Exams (CLEP), or college credits earned while enrolled in high school.
Most online courses are not transferable, unless:
- they are similar to those offered at Yale and include regular, synchronous interaction with the instructor as well as regular feedback.
- they were similar to those offered at Yale; were taken in the spring 2020 term; and were started as in-person classes but moved online because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Yale College Dean’s Office evaluates transcripts for all admitted Eli Whitney students to determine course transferability. Admitted students will receive an estimate of their transferable credits before replying to Yale’s offer of admission.
Given the sequential nature of the several engineering curricula, prospective students with transferable credit looking to major in engineering are advised to complete a full sequence of college-level single-variable calculus (or higher) and a full sequence of college-level introductory physics.
Tuition and Financial Aid
Tuition for Eli Whitney students is charged per course credit. Most semester courses are worth one credit.
Yale offers generous need-based financial aid to eligible EWSP students. As a Yellow Ribbon participant, Yale is especially affordable for U.S. military veterans.
Housing and Meals
On-campus undergraduate housing is not available to Eli Whitney students, and most choose to rent apartments in New Haven. Incoming Eli Whitney students may apply for a limited number of graduate housing units. Although Eli Whitney students do not live in the 14 undergraduate residential colleges, each is assigned to a college and receives access to its facilities, resources, and activities. Eli Whitney students who qualify for need-based financial aid and are enrolled in at least two Yale credits per semester will receive scholarship in the amount equal to the cost of a standard Yale College room.
Eli Whitney students receive free weekday lunches in all residential college dining halls during the academic year.
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.
Eli Whitney Students Program
None or minimal interruption
Typical interruption of five or more years
SAT or ACT (optional for fall 2022 applicants)
1-2 years transferable college credit
No transferable credit floor or ceiling
Full-time or part-time
On-campus housing available for single students
Limited number of graduate housing units available; most live off-campus
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 College room. Students receive free weekday lunches.