Yale Now Offering a Certificate in Programming for Non-CS Majors

September 1, 2020

As the demand for computer programming skills continues to increase, and computing is used in ever broader academic and professional fields, Yale is offering this semester its first Certificate in Programming.  

The new program was a year and a half in the making. Prof. Stanley Eisenstat, professor of computer science, said the idea came up during a discussion of a proposal from the Department of Statistics and Data Science for a certificate in data science.  Noting that “there’s a good deal of interest in people knowing how to program,” Eisenstat and several other Computer Science faculty members put together their own proposal for a certificate program. 

While completing the program doesn’t provide the same grounding in theory and systems as a Computer Science (CS) major (one of the most popular majors at Yale), it does provide a short path to programming literacy. The Certificate in Programming is designed to prepare undergraduate students to program computers in support of work in any area of study.   

Zhong Shao, the Thomas L. Kempner Professor of Computer Science and department chair, said the department is “really excited about offering this new Certificate in Programming to all Yale students. 

“CS has now become the most transformative and intellectually rich discipline of our time,” Shao said. “We know that many Yale students want to learn a wide range of CS-related subjects. We plan to significantly improve the CS course offerings for non-majors and hope that all Yale students will get an adequate amount of CS training regardless of what future careers they plan to pursue.” 

Depending on a student’s programming background, the certificate requires that students take five or six courses. 

“You can do it over as many terms as you like, but it’s intended to be doable over four terms,” Eisenstat said. ”You can complete it in three terms if you have the prerequisites.”

Eisenstat said there will likely be adjustments as the program moves forward. For instance, a student asked whether courses taken outside of Yale could count toward the certificate.  Answer: For now, no, but that could change in the future.  

“We first want to get experience with how things are running, and how much interest there is in it,” he said.  ”And as the demand rises and as questions arise, we’ll try to come up with answers that are consistent with the principles under which the program was put together. It’s going to evolve in time as different student needs arise.” 

Visit the Certificate in Programming webpage for more information and an FAQ.