Eli Whitney Students Program - Details

The Eli Whitney Students Program (EWSP) is a small undergraduate program designed specifically for adult students. The program offers a more flexible route to pursue a traditional Yale undergraduate education full or part time. Eli Whitney students receive the same Bachelor of Arts or Bachelor of Science degrees as other Yale undergraduates, attend in-person classes, 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.

Academic Program

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.

Review the Yale College Programs of Study for detailed descriptions of courses, majors, academic regulations, and more details about the Eli Whitney Students Program.

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.

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.

Transfer Program

Eli Whitney Students Program

Education Interruption

None or minimal interruption

Typical interruption of five or more years

Required Testing

SAT or ACT (optional for fall 2022 applicants)


Credit Transfer

1-2 years transferable college credit

No transferable credit floor or ceiling


Full-time only

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.