NUS and Yale to establish Singapore’s first liberal arts college

31 March 2011

The National University of Singapore (NUS) and Yale University announced today that they will establish Yale-NUS College, an autonomous college of NUS. The College will provide a new model of liberal arts education for Asia that will prepare high potential students – from Singapore, the rest of Asia and beyond – for leadership and engaged citizenship in today’s complex and rapidly changing world.

The Yale-NUS College is Singapore’s first liberal arts college, and the first with a full residential college model, integrating living and learning. It is also the first campus outside New Haven, Connecticut, that Yale University has developed.

The College will develop a new curriculum and integrated residential education model that is new to Singapore and Asia, and which can serve as a catalyst for innovation in liberal arts education in Asia and globally.

Building upon the best traditions of liberal arts education, which has broad-based critical inquiry and problem-solving at its heart, the College will have four distinctive features:

  • The new curriculum will synthesise Western and Asian perspectives with an integrated general education spanning the first two years of study before concentration on a major. A substantial period devoted to general education is unusual in many universities, where students ordinarily undergo specialised education in a field of study chosen before they matriculate.
  • Pedagogy will emphasise critical thinking and classroom interaction. Most classes will be taught in seminar-style with 18 or fewer students.
  • There will be three residential colleges, with about 330 students each, devoted to creating a sense of community where living and learning are intentionally integrated. Far more than dormitories, these are full residential colleges, adapted from those at Yale.
  • A rich array of extracurricular activities will focus particularly on developing leadership skills and teamwork and also encouraging community service.

At the end of their four-year program, students will graduate with a Bachelor of Arts or Science (Honours) from the Yale-NUS College, awarded by NUS.

Singapore Minister for Education Dr Ng Eng Hen, who visited Yale in September 2010 as part of an official trip to the US and Canada, witnessed the signing of the initial Memorandum of Understanding on this landmark collaboration by the two University presidents, NUS President Professor Tan Chorh Chuan, and Yale President Professor Richard C. Levin.

Said Dr Ng, “Our education system strives to offer a wide array of programmes catered to students with different interests, academic inclinations and aptitudes. The Yale-NUS College will be a strategic addition to our university sector. It will offer another distinctive educational experience for top students, with its model of liberal arts education that is contextualised to Singapore and Asia.”

Said Professor Tan Chorh Chuan, NUS President, “The most distinctive feature of NUS’ education is that it is global, while at the same time, addressing the contexts of Asia. NUS’ landmark partnership with Yale will give students at the Yale-NUS College the benefit of the unique strengths of both universities, brought together to create an enriching liberal arts educational experience that is both global and Asian. The Yale-NUS College is a bold and exciting initiative which provides an extraordinary opportunity to nurture talented young minds with the intellectual breadth and depth needed to address the complex issues of the future.”

Said Professor Richard C. Levin, Yale President, “Yale is delighted to be a partner with NUS in developing a new liberal arts college curriculum and designing an entirely new campus. Just as Yale shaped liberal arts education in the U.S. in the 19th century, we believe the new Yale-NUS College can play a pivotal role in shaping the many liberal arts colleges likely to be built in Asia in the coming decades.”

An Exciting New Opportunity

Located in Singapore in the heart of Asia, the Yale-NUS College will bring together two universities with extraordinary strengths and a strong shared vision. The College will welcome an inaugural class of about 150 in 2013 and grow to reach a steady state of 250 new students per year, for a total student population of about 1000.

The College will be headed by a College President who will be assisted by a team of Vice-Presidents. An international search for the President will begin immediately. The College will also appoint a number of Deans with responsibilities for faculty recruitment, student life, curriculum development, international and professional experience, and the development of educational resources and technology. Charles Bailyn, the A. Bartlett Giamatti Professor at Yale, has agreed to be the inaugural Dean of the Faculty, with responsibility for faculty recruitment.

The Yale-NUS College will be located to the north of the NUS main campus at Kent Ridge.

About National University of Singapore (NUS)

About Yale University