Some students find that they have specific (often interdisciplinary) interests that can’t be satisfied by Yale College courses, and that there would be a significant benefit from regular professorial guidance as they explore these interests. In certain cases, it may be appropriate to seek out a Directed Reading course to complement their more formal courses. (Some students try to do these with a few other students, to make the experience more interactive.) The procedure for doing this is the same as in most majors. First, you’ll need to find a specific faculty member who is willing to sponsor your individualized reading course. The DUS can often help by suggesting faculty members whose expertise might be especially well-suited to your intended topic, but finding a sponsor will take some initiative on your part. Remember that Yale faculty have a wide range of professional duties, both inside and outside of the classroom, and that if you are asking them to meet regularly with you, you need to have a compelling reason to take up their time in this way. Directed Reading courses should not be set up unless there is no other option. That said, the earlier you ask a potential sponsor about this possibility, the more likely they will be be to agree – though some faculty may simply have too many other obligations to take on this sort of commitment. (Once the start of a new semester is near, many faculty have already ‘maxed out’ their available opportunities along these lines.) Next, you and the sponsor will have to draft up a syllabus for the semester – including specific readings, requirements (often just one or two papers), details about how often you will meet with the sponsor, and a specific schedule for the semester.
More information can be found on the Directed Reading Form, which must submitted (with signatures from your Directed Reading advisor and from the DUS) before you will be able to register for these courses.
Bring these completed materials to the DUS for review, and if your plan is approved then you’re all set!