NUS and Yale to create Singapore’s first liberal arts college

The National University of Singapore (NUS) and Yale University announced today that they will establish Yale-NUS College, an autonomous college of NUS. The College will provide a new model of liberal arts education for Asia that will prepare high potential students — from Singapore, the rest of Asia and beyond — for leadership and engaged citizenship in today's complex and rapidly changing world.

The National University of Singapore (NUS) and Yale University announced today that they will establish Yale-NUS College, an autonomous college of NUS. The College will provide a new model of liberal arts education for Asia that will prepare high potential students — from Singapore, the rest of Asia and beyond — for leadership and engaged citizenship in today’s complex and rapidly changing world.

The Yale-NUS College is Singapore’s first liberal arts college, and the first with a full residential college model, integrating living and learning. It is also the first campus outside New Haven, Connecticut, that Yale University has developed.

The College will develop a new curriculum and integrated residential education model that is new to Singapore and Asia, and which can serve as a catalyst for innovation in liberal arts education in Asia and globally.

Building upon the best traditions of liberal arts education, which has broad-based critical inquiry and problem-solving at its heart, the College will have four distinctive features:

  • The new curriculum will synthesize Western and Asian perspectives with an integrated general education spanning the first two years of study before concentration on a major. A substantial period devoted to general education is unusual in many universities, where students ordinarily undergo specialized education in a field of study chosen before they matriculate.
  • Pedagogy will emphasize critical thinking and classroom interaction. Most classes will be taught in seminar-style with 18 or fewer students.
  • There will be three residential colleges, with about 330 students each, devoted to creating a sense of community where living and learning are intentionally integrated. Far more than dormitories, these are full residential colleges, adapted from those at Yale.
  • A rich array of extracurricular activities will focus particularly on developing leadership skills and teamwork and also encouraging community service.

At the end of their four-year program, students will graduate with a Bachelor of Arts or Science (Honours) from the Yale-NUS College, awarded by NUS.

Singapore Minister for Education Dr. Ng Eng Hen, who visited Yale in September 2010 as part of an official trip to the U.S. and Canada, witnessed the signing of the initial Memorandum of Understanding on this landmark collaboration by the two University presidents, NUS President Professor Tan Chorh Chuan, and Yale President Professor Richard C. Levin.

Said Dr. Ng, “Our education system strives to offer a wide array of programmes catered to students with different interests, academic inclinations and aptitudes. The Yale-NUS College will be a strategic addition to our university sector. It will offer another distinctive educational experience for top students, with its model of liberal arts education that is contextualised to Singapore and Asia.”

Said Professor Tan Chorh Chuan, NUS President, “The most distinctive feature of NUS’ education is that it is global, while at the same time, addressing the contexts of Asia. NUS’ landmark partnership with Yale will give students at the Yale-NUS College the benefit of the unique strengths of both universities, brought together to create an enriching liberal arts educational experience that is both global and Asian. The Yale-NUS College is a bold and exciting initiative which provides an extraordinary opportunity to nurture talented young minds with the intellectual breadth and depth needed to address the complex issues of the future.”

Said Professor Richard C. Levin, Yale President, “Yale is delighted to be a partner with NUS in developing a new liberal arts college curriculum and designing an entirely new campus. Just as Yale shaped liberal arts education in the U.S. in the 19th century, we believe the new Yale-NUS College can play a pivotal role in shaping the many liberal arts colleges likely to be built in Asia in the coming decades.”

An Exciting New Opportunity

Located in Singapore in the heart of Asia, the Yale-NUS College will bring together two universities with extraordinary strengths and a strong shared vision. The College will welcome an inaugural class of about 150 in 2013 and grow to reach a steady state of 250 new students per year, for a total student population of about 1000.

The College will be headed by a College President who will be assisted by a team of Vice-Presidents. An international search for the President will begin immediately. The College will also appoint a number of Deans with responsibilities for faculty recruitment, student life, curriculum development, international and professional experience, and the development of educational resources and technology. Charles Bailyn, the A. Bartlett Giamatti Professor at Yale, has agreed to be the inaugural Dean of the Faculty, with responsibility for faculty recruitment.

The Yale-NUS College will be located to the north of the NUS main campus at Kent Ridge.

For more information about Yale-NUS College, please see the fact sheet and visit the new Yale-NUS College website, which is being launched today, at

About National University of Singapore (NUS)

 A leading global university centered in Asia, the National University of Singapore (NUS) is Singapore’s flagship university which offers a global approach to education and research, with a focus on Asian perspectives and expertise.

NUS has 14 faculties and schools across three campuses. Its transformative education includes a broad-based curriculum underscored by multi-disciplinary courses and cross-faculty enrichment. Over 36,000 students from 100 countries enrich the community with their diverse social and cultural perspectives.

NUS’ collaboration with Yale University builds on the University’s framework for internationalization where NUS has been undertaking major initiatives with leading institutions around the world. NUS’ current collaborations with overseas universities include a graduate medical school with Duke University, a conservatory of music with Johns Hopkins’ Peabody Institute and concurrent and double degree programs with New York University’s Law School. NUS also has a partnership with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology for over a decade, including dual Masters degree program in several engineering disciplines.

NUS has three Research Centers of Excellence (RCE) and 22 university-level research institutes and centers. It is also a partner in Singapore’s 5th RCE. NUS shares a close affiliation with 16 national-level research institutes and centers. Research activities are strategic and robust, and NUS is well-known for its research strengths in engineering, life sciences and biomedicine, social sciences and natural sciences. It also strives to create a supportive and innovative environment to promote creative enterprise within its community.  

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About Yale University

Since its founding in 1701, Yale University has been committed to undergraduate education. Yale was instrumental in shaping the concept of liberal arts education for the United States in the Nineteenth Century, and its faculty and graduates proceeded to establish or serve as inaugural presidents of over 30 colleges and universities. Yale was also a pioneer in developing the concept of the extracurriculum to supplement classroom learning, and its system of residential colleges is unsurpassed in the United States.

In addition to Yale College for its undergraduates, Yale’s other academic schools include the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, which was the first to award the Ph.D. in the United States, as well as 13 Professional Schools. Its library is one of the three largest in the Western Hemisphere.

With its international activities dating back to the 1810s. Yale has been particularly focused in the last two decades on becoming a more global university.

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“MIT has engaged in several programs with the National University of Singapore for well over a decade, and NUS has been an exceptional partner in exploring new education and research models. Singapore has made education a national priority, and their interest in developing a new undergraduate institution devoted to education in the liberal arts fits their educational ambitions very well. It will be exciting to watch Yale and NUS design a new curriculum along with a new residential college program, and I am certain that educators around the world will learn from this new model.”

— Susan Hockfield, President of MIT, former Provost, Yale University

• Letter to the Yale community from President Richard C. Levin and Provost Peter Salovey, March 30, 2011

• Yale-NUS Prospectus (pdf)

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