1. What is Yale-NUS College?

Yale-NUS is Asia’s leading liberal arts college that seeks to integrate Asian and other global intellectual traditions, with the goal of educating young people for leadership in a complex, interconnected world.

A Yale-NUS College education emphasises broad-based multidisciplinary learning in the full range of arts, humanities, and social and natural sciences. It encompasses a four-year, fully residential undergraduate experience in which students are immersed in a stimulating intellectual setting characterised by small classes and close interaction among students and faculty. A strong co-curricular programme complements the core liberal arts experience to develop critical inquiry as well as effective communication and leadership skills. It is designed to prepare students to flourish in virtually any field.

Yale-NUS College has its own Governing Board which provides strategic direction for the College. The Board also has oversight of the College’s development and management, administration and operations, and establishes policies for the College. The Board comprises 12 members, six from Singapore and six nominated by Yale. It is chaired by Mdm Kay Kuok, Executive Chairman of Shangri-La Hotel Limited, Singapore.

2. What is the relationship between Yale-NUS and the National University of Singapore?

The National University of Singapore (NUS) and Yale University established Yale-NUS College as an autonomous college within NUS. This allows the College the autonomy to innovate and adopt policies, curriculum, systems and practices which may vary from NUS, while allowing it to tap on the facilities and resources of NUS for the benefit of its students and faculty.

3. What is the relationship between Yale-NUS and Yale University?

Yale-NUS College is independent of Yale University, but the relationship between the two institutions is collaborative, supportive and mutually enriching. Yale faculty and administrative leaders have been active in helping to conceptualise the unique emphasis of the College on reframing the liberal arts for a more global context. They have also participated directly in the recruitment of faculty and senior administrators and been openly enthusiastic about opportunities to bring back to Yale some of the curricular and extracurricular innovations in development at the College. In addition, many Yale faculty visit the College to teach courses and give guest lectures in disciplines that cut across the arts, humanities and social and natural sciences. Yale-NUS students will have opportunities to study at Yale University in New Haven and participate in a variety of creative collaborative degree programmes. Consulting Yale faculty continue to be involved in the further development of the Yale-NUS curriculum. A separate Faculty Advisory Committee at Yale-NUS College, composed of Yale professors, advises the President of Yale on the progress of Yale-NUS College.

4. What is liberal arts education?

Liberal arts education emphasises broad-based, multidisciplinary learning as well as depth of study. It builds a common foundation among all students in the arts, humanities, social sciences, natural and physical sciences, and mathematics, while developing expertise in a student’s chosen major.

5. Is liberal arts education for me?

If you are looking for an undergraduate education that offers you breadth of knowledge and depth of understanding, encompasses a sense of community among students and faculty, builds leadership and communication skills, and promotes creativity and critical thinking, then the liberal arts are for you. You will grow personally and intellectually in a stimulating environment that will challenge your thinking and ignite new personal and professional passions. You will develop the habits of mind necessary to identify and solve complex problems, thrive in diverse environments, and use your experiences and perspectives for leadership in your professional and personal life. If you seek an education that will prepare you to meet the global challenges of the 21st century, then a liberal arts education is for you.

6. What are the career opportunities for liberal arts graduates?

Liberal arts students are exposed to multidisciplinary perspectives, a very important factor in the workplace today, where complex issues require a broad understanding of the field, the ability to be critically analytic and the capacity to make sound decisions. Liberal arts graduates go on to successful careers in every profession and industry. Leaders who have had the benefit of a liberal arts education include:

  • The founders of Apple, FedEx, and IBM;
  • The last four Presidents of the United States and scores of their cabinet members;
  • The President of the World Bank and the CEO of Goldman Sachs;
  • Hundreds of Nobel Laureates and Pulitzer Prize winners,
  • Leading performers, artists and media personalities including Natalie Portman, Anderson Cooper, Yo-Yo Ma and many others.

7. What are the distinctive features of the Yale-NUS curriculum?

A Yale-NUS College education emphasises broad-based multidisciplinary learning in the full range of arts, humanities and social and natural sciences. Our curriculum and pedagogy, built from scratch by the inaugural faculty, draws on the strengths of established liberal arts traditions, while introducing our students to the diverse intellectual traditions and cultures of Asia and the world.

8. What majors will be offered?

Students select their majors at the end of their second year, after going through two years of the Common Curriculum. The list of majors includes:

  • Anthropology
  • Arts & Humanities
  • Economics
  • Environmental Studies
  • Global Affairs
  • History
  • Life Sciences
  • Literature
  • Mathematical, Computational and Statistical Sciences (MCS)
  • Philosophy
  • Philosophy, Politics and Economics (PPE)
  • Physical Sciences
  • Psychology
  • Urban Studies

Some majors, such as Urban Studies, Global Affairs and Philosophy, Politics, and Economics, combine ideas and methods from a range of disciplines to create an interdisciplinary course of study. Disciplinary majors such as History, Literature, Psychology, and Economics will offer students an opportunity to study some of these fundamental disciplines.

9. Will I be able to focus on an area within my intended major – for example, Chemistry – within the Physical Sciences?

Yes. A Yale-NUS education integrates the sciences, humanities, social sciences, and your major. During the four years with the College, 34% of a typical Yale-NUS student’s classes will comprise courses leading to your major and another 35% on electives and prerequisites for your major. Each major is broadly conceived and students will be able to choose to focus in an area of their interest. For example, International Relations, under the Global Affairs major.

10. What if the major that I intend to study is under-subscribed/oversubscribed, will I be prevented from taking it?

No. Yale-NUS guarantees to offer classes in all the majors listed. The classes are not contingent on the number of students who have opted for the major.

11. What kinds of degrees will be conferred at graduation?

Every student will graduate with a Bachelor of Arts degree with Honours or a Bachelor of Science degree with Honours from Yale-NUS College, awarded by NUS.

12. What are the levels of Honours at Yale-NUS College?

The levels of Honours, including Latin Honours, are below:

Honours – summa cum laude To not more than the top 5 per cent of the graduating class.
Honours – magna cum laude To not more than the next 10 per cent of the graduating class.
Honours – cum laude To not more than the next 20 per cent of the graduating class.
Honours The rest of the graduating class.
  • Latin Honours will go to no more than 35 per cent of a graduating class.
  • The graduating class is defined as graduates who entered the College at the same time unless the student has been tagged by the College to graduate with a later cohort due to promotion rules or other official reasons.

13. Why did the College introduce an Honours system?

Yale-NUS College, similar to other institutions of higher education in Singapore and around the world, is committed to recognising the academic achievement and excellence of our students.

A system of Honours with distinct levels enables the College to offer this recognition.

Latin Honours provides recognition for a specific kind of achievement, which is academic achievement in coursework across all four years, including the common curriculum, electives and majors. The College will implement other modes of recognition, such as prizes and awards, to highlight other academic and non-academic accomplishments by students.

14. How will the College determine the levels of Latin Honours for recipients?

The Latin Honours are based on the Cumulative Average Point (CAP), which is the weighted average of individual course grades (or the sum of course grade points multiplied by the number of Modular Credits (MCs) for the corresponding course, divided by the total number of MCs).

The percentiles that Yale-NUS uses for the three levels of Latin Honours (summa cum laude, magna cum laude and cum laude) are similar to those used by liberal arts and sciences colleges/universities in North America and other countries.

No more than 60 percent or 6 of the students (whichever is larger) in any one major will receive honours at the cum laude level or above, and no more than 40 percent or 4 of the students (whichever is larger) will receive honours at the magna cum laude level or above. In cases where the number of students might exceed these limits, only the top students down to the designated limits will receive the relevant honour.

For example, a student whose CAP is within the top 5 percent of his/her graduating class and is among the top 40 percent or 4 students (whichever is larger) in his/her major will be awarded Bachelor of Arts or Science (Honours) degree with summa cum laude.

The above is intended to recognise academic achievement not only with respect to the overall CAP, but also academic excellence within the major. This mechanism is also applied to help control for potential differences in grading across majors, and shifts in the average CAP from one graduating class to another.

The same cut-offs will apply to students in any given Class who graduates later because of participation in the double degree programme or other programmes (see FAQ 15), or due to delays because of Leave of Absence.

15. How will the Latin Honours be applied to students in the double degree programme (DDP) in Law and Liberal Arts?

Students in the double degree programme (DDP) in Law and Liberal Arts will be considered for Latin Honours along with the other Yale-NUS students, and their CAP and placing in their intake Class will be computed in the same way.

The Bachelor of Arts (Hons) degree completed by DDP Law students will be considered as a ‘major’ for the purpose of the Latin Honours system, and follows the same cut-offs.

16. Where will faculty come from?

The College has a full faculty team of about 100 faculty members who were recruited internationally. Besides the United States and Singapore, they hail from Australia, Malaysia, Canada, India, Kenya, Hong Kong, Poland, Russia, Spain and Taiwan. Each of these faculty members is highly qualified in his or her area of expertise, and bring with them years of experience in undergraduate teaching. Instead of traditional academic departments, faculty members teach in three interdisciplinary divisions, namely Science, Social Sciences and Humanities. Complementing the permanent faculty, top Yale and NUS professors will serve as visiting professors. The student-to-faculty ratio is approximately 8:1.

17. How many students will attend Yale-NUS College?

With four intakes, the total student population in 2016 is more than 700 students, who have come from over 50 countries across six continents. Over several years, the number will grow to 250 per year. The total expected student population at full capacity will be 1,000 students.

18. Will all Yale-NUS students live on campus?

Yale-NUS College is Singapore’s first liberal arts college, and the first with a full residential college model that integrates living and learning. The College comprises three residential colleges, Saga, Elm and Cendana Colleges. All students, including Singaporeans, will live in and become active members of one of the three residential colleges throughout their four years of study at the College, except for time spent abroad.

19. What extracurricular activities will be available?

Extracurricular activity is central to the Yale-NUS College experience. Unlike Yale and NUS, where many decades of activity have built a vast array of student clubs and organisations, Yale-NUS College started with a clean extracurricular slate. Students can initiate and develop their own organisations on campus and the list of extracurricular activities continues to grow. We work with our students to develop a lively and robust extracurricular life on campus, where students gather freely to debate and exchange opinions on various issues.

20. Will all students be able to have international experiences in Yale-NUS College?

Yale-NUS College has a Centre for International & Professional Experience (CIPE), which is committed to helping students have an international experience by providing opportunities, and working with them on individual basis, to guide, advise, support and help them determine which portfolio of international and professional experiences will maximise their learning and broaden their perspectives. There is a wide range of opportunities for study abroad and summer programmes that students can participate in. You can learn more about Yale-NUS College’s opportunities for international and professional experiences here.

21. How different is Yale-NUS College from the NUS University Scholars’ Programme (USP)?

Yale-NUS College is an autonomous liberal arts college within NUS, while the NUS University Scholars’ Programme is an academic programme for undergraduates enrolled in NUS.

All Yale-NUS students study the Common Curriculum for the first two years of college. After that, students will pursue a major, which comprises about a third of the whole curriculum. In comparison, the four-year NUS University Scholars’ Programme has a different emphasis, with the major comprising two-thirds or more of the course of study.

Yale-NUS College is Singapore’s first liberal arts college, and the first with a full residential college model, integrating living and learning. The College has three residential colleges. All students, including Singaporeans, will live in and become active members of one of the three residential colleges throughout their four years of study at the College. In contrast, USP is a partially residential programme, where the residential commitment for students is two years.

Admissions FAQsView Here

Centre for International & Professional Experience FAQs

1. What is Yale-NUS’ Centre for International & Professional Experience (CIPE) and what function does it serve?

The Centre for International & Professional Experience (CIPE) was established to create a portfolio of global opportunities that will enhance students’ academic learning, broaden their perspectives and hone the skills and character they need to succeed as a student today and a leader tomorrow. CIPE integrates traditionally separate (and often siloed or competitive) components of experience-based learning (such as study abroad, summer sessions, internships, career services, leadership and service programming, research attachments) under one roof. This allows for a student-centred and holistic approach to your personal, professional and intellectual development.

CIPE was a product of the College’s firm belief that the experiences students have outside of the classroom can be just as formative and important in their career and life path as what is taught inside the classroom. Co-curricular and extracurricular experiences are foundational pillars of the College’s pedagogy. CIPE is therefore committed to supporting every Yale-NUS student in having an international and/or an internship experience.

CIPE has a team of dedicated counsellors who work with every Yale-NUS student to craft an individualised portfolio of learning opportunities. CIPE counsellors provide support for navigating the available opportunities, help students identify areas for improvement, and connect them with the best matches for maximising their growth.

2. What kinds of internships are available?

CIPE offers internships across ASEAN, the United States and Europe in both the private and public sector as well as with non-governmental organisations (NGOs). Blue-chip companies like Coca-Cola, Federal Express, Chanel and Singapore Airlines are among the 40 companies who have already signed up to take our students. These brand names have signed up to work with Yale-NUS students because they value the breadth and rigour of analytical thinking that a liberal arts education provides, and they consider it essential for leadership in today’s world, where the ambiguity and complexity of problems demand interdisciplinary and innovative approaches.

3. What are the benefits of an international experience?

International experiences are essential in teaching adaptability, flexibility, and the ability to see things from another person’s or culture’s perspective. International immersion experiences, in particular, often take one out of their comfort zones and requires one to cast aside traditional assumptions of how to do things, and hone our ability to adapt to different norms. Not only do we learn self-awareness from these kinds of experiences, but also we become more adept at thinking outside of the box. In addition to making us better people, these kinds of skills make us better, more valuable employees. An article, from the Harvard Business Review, found that international experiences (like the kind Yale-NUS students will go through) will distinguish you, make you more marketable, and lead to important workplace skills. This article cited research that found that people who have lived abroad for a meaningful period of time are able to solve problems that require out-of-the-box thinking at a much hire rate than those who haven’t (60% vs 42%). As a result, they are often sought-after by leading consulting firms.

4. How does a liberal arts degree help me get a job?

In today’s competitive and dynamic world, employers look to more than one’s degree when hiring graduates. There are lots of graduating lawyers and MBA graduates who are struggling to get work. What makes one marketable in today’s world is not a particular degree from a particular place – there are plenty of unemployed Ivy League graduates in the US and thousands of talented graduates from top technical schools throughout Asia – but how one distinguishes themselves among the plethora of graduates out there, the experiences that make one different, and how well they are able to communicate these to potential employers. One of the leading weaknesses CEOs and business leaders cite in today’s graduating seniors is in the area of so-called ‘soft-skills’: the ability to manage a diverse workforce, to think across disciplines, to make connections that aren’t intuitive, to work on cross-cultural teams.

A liberal arts degree has the potential to help students do that in a way no one else can. First of all, the experiences that a Yale-NUS education provides, where every student has an international and/or an internship experience, will be key competitive advantages for any graduate seeking to distinguish him/herself in a crowded marketplace. CIPE’s emphasis on communication and presentation skills and programmes to prepare our students for the world beyond Yale-NUS will help hone our students’ abilities to communicate these and show potential employers and graduate or professional schools what they are passionate about and excel in.

5. My parents are not familiar with liberal arts. What can I tell them?

Research has shown that liberal arts graduates disproportionately represent scientists, presidents and Pulitzer Prize winners. In fact, “small liberal arts colleges account for about 3% of graduates in the U.S., but contribute 20% of Pulitzer Prize winners, 8% – 10% of scientists and 20% of US presidents.” Watch a video of Pulitzer Prize winner, Jon Meacham, on the benefits of a liberal arts education.