Despite their reputations for drawing similar groups of students, the Global Affairs and Ethics, Politics & Economics majors have not had to accommodate each other’s existence in order to maintain enrollment numbers.
Steve Wilkinson, director of undergraduate studies for Ethics, Politics & Economics, said he has not seen a change in student interest in his major since Global Affairs began accepting applications in 2011. Though Wilkinson and Sean Smith, DUS of Global Affairs, declined to provide specific application and admission numbers, both said the two majors compete for students with different career interests despite overlaps in subject matter. Seven sophomores admitted to either major said they think it would be difficult for students to be competitive applicants to both majors because the number of prerequisites for each is difficult to squeeze into just three semesters.
Smith said Global Affairs sees increases in applications each year and admits roughly 50 students each round, and Wilkinson said EP&E normally receives 75 to 85 applications each year and admits just under half. While yield rates for both majors this year are not yet available, Wilkinson said only one student so far has refused the EP&E offer.
“I see Global Affairs kids as very careerist, they know what they want to do after college … be it working for the foreign service or in a global agency,” said Rachel O’Connell ’15, who was admitted to both majors, adding that EP&E students tend to be the “more academic type who want to discuss issues on a theoretical or philosophical level.”
Wilkinson said EP&E makes a sustained effort to link its students with graduate schools, as many EP&E majors often contemplate advanced academic degrees. Smith said the Global Affairs major reacts to contemporary problems and has a faculty largely composed of visiting bureaucrats and policymakers.
Of seven sophomores interviewed who were admitted to either major, only one applied to both.
Hadia Shah ’15, who was admitted to Global Affairs, said the informal prerequisites for the two majors made it difficult for students to submit strong applications to both.
“It’s tough for students to combine a language, economics, philosophy and political science in their first three terms at Yale unless they’re consciously aiming for both majors,” she said.
Justin Schuster ’15, also a new Global Affairs major, said he thinks the major is becoming more established among younger classes at Yale. He added that students are increasingly comfortable studying Global Affairs as a stand-alone major given that the program will soon graduate its first class.
Frankie Costa ’14, a double major in EP&E and Global Affairs, said students in his year matriculated before Yale offered Global Affairs, adding that he thinks “aggressive and effective marketing of [the Jackson Institute’s] brand and the Global Affairs brand” has driven interest in the major among younger students.
Schuster added that he thinks students will perceive a smaller overlap between the two majors as Global Affairs further cements its policy-oriented identity.
“People will realize the serious distinctions between the two and preselect which one suits them best,” he said, adding that he already knows few students who applied to both majors.
Students applied to Global Affairs on Nov. 16, 2012 and EP&E on Dec. 3, 2012. They heard back from the two majors on the Dec. 19 and 21, respectively.