As students scramble to finalize their schedules before the end of shopping period, the Yale College Dean’s Office is creating virtual roadmaps in order to make it easier for students to navigate their majors.

“I will appreciate having an additional tool to illustrate the various paths to meeting major requirements, particularly since this is a large department and I’m not able to meet with every single declared major every term,” said Director of Undergraduate Studies for Political Science David Simon. “I imagine it will be similar for students — not an earthshaking change in anything but a useful tool to help make sure they are on track within the major.”

The new resource, which was piloted in spring 2017 with three initial roadmaps, is intended to provide a visual representation of how students progress through a given major. Some roadmaps also include the typical course sequences for each of a student’s eight semesters at Yale. According to Dean of Undergraduate Education Pamela Schirmeister, who launched the roadmaps, the visual consistency among various maps will allow students to easily compare different majors, as well as multiple paths within a particular major.

Schirmeister told the News that the YCDO is launching a total of 17 roadmaps for the most popular majors, with 10 already posted on the Yale College Programs of Study website. According to Schirmeister, roadmaps for the remaining seven majors — ecology and evolutionary biology, molecular biochemistry and biophysics, and English, among others — are “very close to completion.” Because the production of these roadmaps involves three different offices, the implementation of the project has been challenging, Schirmeister said. But she added that Yale’s directors of undergraduate studies are in general “very enthusiastic” about the new resource.

William Rankin, the DUS for the History of Science, Medicine and Public Health Department, said he sees the primary goal of the roadmaps as helping students in the initial stages of picking a major.

“Since every major has its own idiosyncrasies and special vocabulary, the roadmaps could help to create a common visual language across majors,” Rankin said.

Still, Rankin said he was concerned about creating a history of science, medicine and public health roadmap that was “overly prescriptive.” Accordingly, he said, he chose to create several different paths that students might take, depending on when they started the major, if they studied abroad or if they are pursuing a double major, among other potential scenarios.

Rankin submitted initial ideas last summer after receiving a formal invitation to workshop a roadmap in May 2017. He then gave feedback on a few drafts of the map before it was released in December.

Schirmeister said that once the 17 initial roadmaps are completed and posted, the College Dean’s Office will continue to develop roadmaps for additional majors where desired.

Yale College offers over 75 majors.

Adelaide Feibel |