Schirin Rangnick, Staff Photographer

While the pandemic shut down nearly all undergraduate activities on campus last summer, the University plans to welcome students back for summer 2021 — with some changes that promote flexibility. 

On Jan. 29, Dean of Yale College Marvin Chun announced in an email to undergraduates that all Yale College students would be able to participate in in-person research or work this upcoming summer, regardless of their class year or enrollment status, so long as they fulfilled all public health guidelines and safety trainings required by their activities. Following this announcement, changes to summer policies — in regards to COVID-19 tuition credits and research fellowships — have been made to allow students to take advantage of as many opportunities as possible. 

“We are not constraining who can work on campus this summer,” Chun told the News. “To make it a viable option for as many students as possible, we’ve adjusted the science fellowship terms for the money that my office gives out.”

As Chun explained, in addition to inviting students back to campus for the summer to engage in work or research, another major change is that the Yale College Dean’s Office is giving out research fellowships for shorter terms.

In past years, the YCDO gave out research fellowships for 10-week terms. But upon hearing that many students wanted the ability to both engage in research and utilize the two free COVID-19 tuition credits for classes in Yale Summer Session New Haven, Online or Abroad — which are awarded to all students in the first-year and sophomore class who enrolled in both fall 2020 and spring 2021 and took one of the terms remotely — Chun decided to shorten the fellowships. 

Now, students have the flexibility to engage in research and enroll in one YSS term, depending on the specifics of their research program. 

In a document entitled Guidance for Yale Summer 2021 STEM Research Fellowships funded through the Office of Science & QR, Associate Dean for Science and Quantitative Reasoning Education Sandy Chang ’88 provides students who are awarded the Yale College First-Year Summer Research Fellowship or the Yale College Dean’s Research Fellowship with a variety of options that allow them to engage in research, enroll in YSS courses if they so desire and optimize their COVID-19 tuition credits if they are eligible for them.

Combinations range from 10 weeks of in-person research with no availability for summer classes to eight weeks of part-time, remote research that permits students to simultaneously enroll in one YSS course. 

Chun said that students should be aware that Independent Research in the Summer — which is a five-week course that allows students to engage in full-time research on a particular interest with the help of a faculty advisor for credit — is a course to which the COVID-19 tuition credit can be applied.

“With so many things having closed down last summer, having the opportunities to do the research and take courses was important,” Dean of Yale Summer Session and Associate Dean of Yale College Jeanne Follansbee said. “[Dean Chun] was looking to reshape the fellowships to make it possible for students to do both. In the past, students had not been able to do both.”

Follansbee explained that a student’s ability to engage in research and enroll in YSS courses depends on the particular requirements of specific research programs. For example, some research programs are full time and would not permit students to be enrolled in YSS courses simultaneously, while others may permit it. 

However, with the flexibility of shorter research fellowships providing students with the possibility to engage in research and enroll in one session of YSS courses in different combinations, students should be able to craft a summer that works for them. Follansbee guided students to a FAQ page that addresses how COVID-19 credits can be used.

First-year students and sophomores who are eligible for the COVID-19 tuition credits and receive financial aid through Yale College are also eligible for a YSS housing subsidy — which provides additional financial support to subsidize on-campus room and board if they choose to study in residence. However, to use that subsidy, students must enroll in two YSS courses during the same five-week session. 

“There are lots of permutations for students to consider as they think about structuring their summer,” Follansbee told the News. “What’s nice about the [COVID-19] credits are that they are flexible and allow for students to take classes, engage in research and more.”

Session A of YSS runs from June 7 to July 9, and Session B runs from July 12 to Aug. 13. 

Julia Bialek |

Julia Bialek currently serves as a public editor for the Yale Daily News. Previously, she covered the student policy & affairs beat as a reporter on the university desk. Originally from Chappaqua, New York, Julia is a junior in Saybrook College studying political science and history.