Courses Taken Outside of Yale

Transferring an Economics Credit to Yale

If you are intending to spend a semester at another institution and wish to transfer economics credits to Yale, you must discuss the relevant course syllabus with the Economics DUS in person or by Email before the end of the semester prior to taking the course. You are responsible for finding materials about the course.

The DUS may reject the course right away, saving you considerable time. The DUS may also be able to help you look for a better alternative, and guide you through some of the options at the place you want to visit.

Note that the DUS can’t guarantee you’ll get credit for a course before you take the course because it is impossible to determine whether a course is equivalent to Yale economics course until the course materials are reviewed. Nevertheless the DUS can help you avoid courses that are unlikely to get Yale credit.

Students who do not discuss courses beforehand with the DUS should not expect those courses to be given Yale credit.

If you are entering Yale as a transfer student, contact Qazi Azam for the proper forms to apply for transfer credit towards the economics major.  The criteria are the same as discussed above.

There are strict guidelines for transferring course credits to Yale. These divide into general Yale College rules for transfer credit; and specific guidelines relevant for Economics courses.

Yale College Rules on Transfer Credit

For the complete Yale College rules please see “Credit from other Universities” section in the Yale College Program of Study’s “Academic Regulations.”

Here are some highlights of those rules:

  1. There are limits on the number of outside credits that you can transfer. The usual limit is two but there are exceptions, for example, separate rules apply for the junior semester abroad program and for transfer students.
  2. Study undertaken in the US must be at a four-year accredited institution that grants a bachelor’s degree in the arts and sciences.
  3. A grade of A or B is expected. Credit cannot be given for a grade of D, or for any form of Pass/Fail option if the student had the option of taking the course for a grade.
  4. The contact hours in the class must equal or exceed those in the equivalent Yale class.

There are other detailed rules. All students intending to transfer credit should read them carefully.

Economics Guidelines: Two “Problem” Types of Course

If you intend to get Yale credit for a course from outside Yale, you should avoid “core” economics courses and be very wary of pre-business courses.

Core Courses. The following courses from outside Yale tend to be a problem:

  • introductory microeconomics
  • introductory macroeconomics
  • intermediate microeconomics
  • intermediate macroeconomics
  • introductory econometrics, and
  • so-called “principles of economics” courses

The levels of the material in these courses — especially the introductory courses — vary widely across institutions, and the level required at Yale is relatively high. The DUS will not give Yale credit for core courses that have a lower level than the equivalent Yale course. This makes it unwise to take such a course outside of Yale if you want to be sure of getting Yale credit. Notice that this applies equally to majors and non-majors.

If you have an absolute need to take a core economics course outside of Yale, you must discuss it with the DUS before the end of the semester prior to the course. When assessing a core course from outside of Yale, the main concern will be the levels of economics and of mathematics used in the course. This is hard to assess beforehand but indications are: the problem sets and exams assigned in the class; the text book that is used; and pre-requisites. Try to collect information on these beforehand.

In Introductory Microeconomics (and Principles), Yale courses currently use the following books:

  • R.H. Frank, Microeconomics and Behavior, 6th ed. McGraw Hill, 2006.
  • R. Pyndyck and D. Rubinfeld, Microeconomics, 6th ed. Prentice Hall, 2005.
  • B.D. Bernheim and M.D. Whinston, Microeconomics, McGraw Hill, 2007.

You should not take an introductory microeconomics course that uses a lower level book. If in doubt, bring the book to the DUS when you discuss the course beforehand.

In Introductory Macroeconomics, Yale courses currently use:

  • N. Gregory Mankiw, Macroeconomics, 6th ed. Worth Publishers, 2007.
  • K. Case and R. Fair, Principles of Macroeconomics, 8th ed. Prentice Hall, 2007.

You should not take an introductory macroeconomics course that uses a lower level book. If in doubt, bring the book to the DUS when you discuss the course beforehand.

In Intermediate Microeconomics, Yale courses have a calculus pre-requisite. You should not take a course that does not require calculus. Yale courses currently use:

  • H.R Varian, Intermediate Microeconomics: A Modern Approach, 6th ed. Norton, 2002.

You should not take an intermediate microeconomics course that uses a lower level book. If in doubt, bring the book to the DUS when you discuss the course beforehand.

In Intermediate Macroeconomics, Yale courses have a calculus pre-requisite. You should not take a course that does not require calculus. Yale courses currently use:

  • “Two terms of introductory economics and completion of the mathematics requirement for the major or its equivalent.”

You should not take an intermediate macroeconomics course that uses a lower level book. If in doubt, bring the book to the DUS when you discuss the course beforehand.

In Introductory Econometrics, Yale courses have a calculus pre-requisite. You should not take a course that does not require calculus. Yale courses currently use:

  • “Two terms of introductory economics and completion of the mathematics requirement for the major.”

You should not take an introductory econometrics course that uses a lower level book. If in doubt, bring the book to the DUS when you discuss the course beforehand.

In general, it is better to avoid taking “core” courses outside of Yale.

Pre-business Courses. Yale does not have a pre-business degree. The only business courses that will be given Yale economics credit are analytical courses suitable for an economics degree as part of a liberal-arts education. That said, there are courses (for example, serious finance courses taught as part of economics programs) that are appropriate for such a degree. In general, business-sounding courses will have to be judged by the DUS on a course-by-course basis. It is therefore essential that you discuss any such course with the DUS before the end of the semester prior to the course if you intend to get Yale credit for the course. Useful indications of the nature of a course are: the problem sets and exams assigned in the class; the text book that is used; and pre-requisites. Try to collect information on these beforehand.

Warning signs to avoid. Courses of which you should be especially wary include, first, those with words like business, marketing, accounting or management in the title. Some of these courses might be eligible for Yale credit but many will not. Second, avoid courses taught as part of business degrees rather than economics degrees. Again, there are exceptions, but many such courses will not be appropriate for Yale credit. Notice that most pre-business courses, even if they did count for general Yale credit, would only get credit toward the Economics major as “related credit” courses. And each major can only get at most one related course credit.

Other Types of Economics Courses

Outside the two “problem” categories of course listed above, the following general guidelines apply.

  • If you are taking courses outside of the US, it is often a good opportunity to take subjects that are special to that region: for example, the economics history or political economy of the region.
  • Courses in topics or sub-fields of economics should require (at least) introductory economics as a pre-requisite. As always, there may be exceptions to the rule but they are rare.
  • Courses should require individual homework such as problem sets or papers. Avoid courses that use “multiple-choice” assignments.
  • Useful indications of the nature of a course are: the problem sets and exams assigned in the class; the text book that is used; and pre-requisites. Try to collect information on these beforehand to bring with you when meet the DUS to discuss alternatives.

Once I Have Taken the Course, What’s Next?

Do not delay on your return to Yale. Get the course submitted for approval during the first half of the first semester back at Yale. Delays tend to make it much harder to collect the materials needed to transfer the course.

After you complete the course (with a grade of B or better), collect the following materials:

  1. Course syllabus.
  2. Course reading packet or text (if not one of the ones mentioned above).
  3. Official transcript showing grades of transfer courses.
  4. Copies of the problem sets and exams assigned in the course (or, if applicable) copies of papers you wrote for the course.
  5. Yale Transfer-Credit Form (available from College Dean’s office).
  6. Economics Department Transfer Credit form.
  7. Checklist, listing all the items above and the Economics Department Transfer Credit form.

When you return to Yale have the transcript sent to your Dean’s office. Bring a copy of this transcript and the transfer credit form along with the other materials above to the Economics Department in 28 Hillhouse. Make sure you have filled in the forms and the check list. Once the file is complete, the economics undergraduate registrar will take these materials and pass them on to the DUS for approval. If the materials are complete and the course meets the criteria for transfer credit, approval will usually be complete within week.

Summary of the Main Points

  1. Consult the DUS about your plans before the end of the semester prior to taking any courses outside Yale. Bring as much supporting material about the course as possible to that meeting.
  2. Check the course meets Yale College Rules.
  3. Avoid taking “core” classes outside Yale.
  4. Be wary of “pre-business” classes.
  5. Make sure you collect all materials before submitting a course for consideration to transfer credit.