What is Yale Known For?

Older than even the United States itself, Yale University is one of the most respected institutions in the country. 

Like its fellow members of the Ivy League, Yale has a reputation for academic excellence and first-class research. 

Members of the faculty and graduates include winners of every known honor, including 65 Nobel laureates and five Fields Medalists.

Many of the best-known names in various fields have graduated from Yale. Sitting Supreme Court Justices Sonia Sotomayor, Samuel Alito, Clarence Thomas, and Brett Kavanaugh all graduated from Yale, as have Presidents George H. Bush, Bill Clinton, and William Howard Taft. 

Pulitzer Prize-winning writers Thornton Wilder and Doug Wright went to Yale, just like Oscar-winners Jodie Foster and Lupita Nyong’o.

From its founding as the Collegiate School in 1701, Yale has become a home for innovation and forward-thinking. 

One of the most important developments is the medical school’s method, dubbed the “Yale System.” The Yale System deems that med students do ungraded work in their first- and second years, which encourages free-thinking exploration instead of pleasing instructors.

Away from STEM fields, Yale has established groundbreaking English and comparative literature programs. 

Thanks to faculty such as postmodern thinkers such as Jacques Derrida, Paul de Man, and J. Hillis Miller, “The Yale School” continues to influence the way we approach storytelling.

While these attributes have their value, they are just a few of the things for which Yale is best known.

What Majors & Academics Are Yale Known For?

Yale University
Ragesoss, Berkeley College (South) at Yale, CC BY-SA 4.0

Earning the rankings described above requires first-class academics, which Yale has in spades. Every single program offered by the school features the best in faculty and research, ensuring complete preparation for the students who graduate. 

But certain programs stand out, even among this proud company.

Offered in collaboration with Yale’s Schools of Law and Management, the MBA-JD program prepares students for a career in global commerce and law. Graduates leave prepared to face the challenges of economic systems around the world.

Yale’s psychology program is regularly recognized as among the best in the world. It earns this designation thanks to outstanding faculty, including Associate Professor of Psychology and Neuroscience Steve Chang, who has published his findings in top journals, including The American Journal of Primatology and National Neuroscience

Professor Jutta Joorman’s work on attention and cognitive control has been published in equally reputable outlets, such as The International Journal of Psychophysiology and The Journal of Abnormal Psychology.

Like its Ivy sisters, Yale began as a seminary. It keeps that tradition alive at the Yale School of Divinity, one of the best in the country.

In addition to its top-flight faculty and research commitments, the School of Divinity operates several research centers and think tanks

These include the Forum on Religion and Ecology at Yale. A research network designed to support a bourgeoning academic discipline devoted to the relationship between religious belief and ecological concerns.

Is Yale a Good School?

One of the most respected members of the vaunted Ivy League, Yale is unquestionably a good school. But it’s more than a matter of reputation; Yale is a good school because its faculty and students consistently do excellent work.

Evidence of Yale’s quality can be found in the ranking awarded by the trusted outlet U.S. News & World Report

According to U.S. News, only four schools in the United States are better than Yale. All others fall below, including such revered institutions as Stanford, the University of Chicago, and the University of Pennsylvania.

Yale stands out even more on the site’s specialized lists. The university falls among the top five in subjects such as writing in the disciplines, undergraduate research, and first-year experiences. Most importantly, U.S. News ranks Yale as the best value in higher education.

Another ranking site, Niche.com gives equally high marks. Thanks to the university’s excellent academic rigor, highly diverse student body, and overall value, the school earns an A+ grade. 

Likewise, Niche’s unique lists give Yale top marks in a variety of categories, putting it as the number one school in the country for studying history and the college with the best professors in the United States. 

Yet, with such a stellar reputation comes great competition. An elite school, Yale has a very low acceptance rate. Of the 32,900 who applied to join the school in 2021, only 2,272 were accepted for a rate of 6.9%.

Yale Traditions

Yale may be among the world’s most hoary and respected schools, and with that age comes a collection of time-honored traditions.

One of the oldest Yale traditions is called “The Game.” Every year since 1875, Yale has battled it out with Ivy League rival Harvard on the football field. With an overall record of 68-61-8, Yale leads the contest, but only fuels the animosity between the schools.

For those new to Yale, there is the Day of Service, which starts out students’ tenure with an eye toward helping others. 

Organized by Dwight Hall, the Day of Service sends freshmen out into the community of New Haven to work where needed. The program builds bonds between the school and the city, reminding students that their studies never separate them from the rest of the world.

Since the 19th century, Yale students have celebrated Class Day as a way to commemorate their time at the school. 

Each year, the graduating class meets to reflect on their experiences and look forward to the future, giving speeches and presenting awards. 

In the 21st century, Class Day occurs on the Sunday commencement, and while participants still sing “Bright College Years,” speakers are notable guests such as Hilary Rodham Clinton and author Chimamanda Adichie.

Prominent Clubs & Extracurricular Activities at Yale

Yale University
Helpfullguy99, Benjamin Franklin College Yale, CC BY-SA 4.0

Given the rigorous demands of study at Yale, students can expect to spend a lot of time hitting the books. 

In order to survive those expectations, the wise students will find ways to blow off steam and make friendships with others. Fortunately, Yale provides numerous opportunities to do just that.

Some of the more relaxing offerings involve the various knitting clubs, in which members sit and a circle and knit together. 

These clubs allow members to share their creations with one another (especially when the knitting occurs during lectures), or simply enjoy time with one another. 

With several such clubs operating on campus, students have many chances to take part in this comforting new hobby.

For the more writing-oriented, there’s the university’s long-running literary magazine Kalliope. While working at Kalliope, students can read the latest in cutting-edge fiction and poetry, getting to read and publish some of the works that will be studied in literary classes of the future.

In short, there is a club for every interest, a group for every hobby. 

What Sports Are Yale Known For?

As the school’s participation in “The Game” indicates, Yale has a proud tradition of athletics. In fact, the world-famous Ivy League to which Yale belongs is not an academic association, but an athletic conference. 

In other words, it’s sports that bind Yale to sister schools such as Princeton and Cornell.

As part of the NCAA’s top division, the Yale Bulldogs participate in 35 Varsity sports. Over the years, Bulldogs have brought numerous national championships home to New Haven.

Of these teams, Yale has been the most successful in playing golf. The men’s golf team won its first national championship in 1897, and twenty more since, most recently in 1943. 

More recently, the team won ten Ivy League championships, beating out its sisters in 2011 and 2018.

The Bulldogs men’s ice hockey team is one of the oldest in the country, having played its first game against Johns Hopkins in 1895. Since ending that game in a 2-2 tie, the Bulldogs have gone on to secure a national championship in 2013 and numerous Ivy League championships, including back-to-back wins in 2015 and 2016.

Why Yale?

For some, the reasons to study at Yale are so numerous that they can’t even be listed. Not only is Yale one of the oldest and most respected schools in the nation, part of the world-famous Ivy League, but it’s a regular fixture in popular culture

It’s not hard to find a movie or tv show in which a smart character proves their intelligence by going to Yale.

Don’t let these pop culture examples fool you. Yale’s excellence is more than fancy Hollywood storytelling. 

As we’ve seen throughout this article, the school backs up its reputation with its storied alumni, its numerous research breakthroughs, and its continued commitment to the best in academics.

That description might bring to mind stuffy classrooms with erudite professors, but Yale is so much more than just a place for the greatest minds to come together. 

In fact, the school’s numerous traditions and active club life point to a lively campus, a place where students get to have fun. 

And with a championship athletic program, there are plenty of ways for Yale students to have fun while they learn.

Of course, with such impressive qualities also comes a microscopic 6.9% acceptance rate. But for those who do make it in, Yale offers everything one could want from a great institution.