By now, almost every member of Yale-NUS’s inaugural class has declared their major — and among four fields to choose from, the social sciences have been most favored.
According to data published by The Octant, Yale-NUS’s student newspaper, 52 percent of sophomore majors will specialize in the social sciences. The humanities, meanwhile, attracted 26 percent of declared majors. Fourteen percent of sophomores chose the sciences, while 8 percent are majoring in environmental studies. Yale-NUS will also offer academic minors, which students will be able to declare at a later date.
Because this is the first year of major selection at Yale-NUS and it is difficult to discern trends from one data set, Executive Vice President of Academic Affairs Tan Tai Yong said curricular changes will not be made on the basis of the results.
“It is unlikely that we will be making alterations to our existing curriculum based on this first year of data, but we will keep an eye on the statistics to see how we can best meet student needs as our curriculum matures,” Yong said.
Yong said 147 sophomores had declared their majors, out of 148 total students in the class. There are 14 majors available to Yale-NUS students, including anthropology, economics, global affairs, politics, philosophy and economics, psychology and urban studies in the social sciences; and arts and humanities, history, literature and philosophy under the humanities classification. The science division also has three majors: life sciences, mathematical, computational and statistical sciences and physical sciences.
In reflecting on their decisions, students interviewed generally expressed satisfaction with the resources Yale-NUS provides for their respective departments. However, they also expressed a desire to see these departments continue to grow and add resources for students.
Zhiwen Yap YNUS ’17, who is majoring in arts and humanities, said that although the support for visual arts is substantial at Yale-NUS, she thinks the number of faculty in the arts needs to increase.
“As a young college, the Art Department currently still needs to hire more professors in the various art disciplines, especially the performance and studio art aspect,” Yap said. “Hiring in these areas is in the works, and I hope these efforts will come to fruition soon so more practical courses can be offered.”
Randy Yeo YNUS ’17, a philosophy major, decided on his major after taking philosophy classes as part of Yale-NUS’s liberal arts core curriculum. Yeo said that while he believes the department’s resources to be relatively strong, the college would do well to add more faculty members.
“[The] bulk of the team is required to teach the introductory philosophy modules for the incoming freshmen, so that means [fewer] resources for the upperclassmen,” Yeo said.
Yeo said Yale-NUS will only offer two philosophy courses next semester. Although students interested in philosophy will be able to take an expanded range of classes at the National University of Singapore, Yeo said that increasing these opportunities at Yale-NUS would be beneficial for students.
Michael Anthony YNUS ’17, who will be majoring in math, said Yale-NUS has good resources for students interested in pursuing the field, including quality professors and a large amount of literature on mathematical topics. However, he said it would be helpful if the college purchased mathematical computer programs — such as Maple, a computer algebra system — to help students explore the discipline in more depth. Anthony also added that even though undergraduate research in math is less common than in the sciences, Yale-NUS could do more to expose students to what mathematical research is like, perhaps through offering the opportunity to pursue independent research.
In the 2013–14 academic year, 41 percent of Yale juniors and seniors majored in the social sciences.