History courses generally take one of three forms. The first is the lecture course—sometimes a large auditorium-style course, sometimes a more intimate lecture/discussion hybrid. These courses are open to all students regardless of year or major. They usually consist of two lectures per week, along with one hour of discussion section. In general, students may be admitted to the course by simply showing up and registering during shopping period.
The second format is the freshman seminar, indicated by a course number beginning with 0 (for instance, HIST 028). First-year students may enroll in History freshman seminars through the pre-registration lottery administered by the Yale College Dean’s Office. For more information, see http://yalecollege.yale.edu/academics/special-academic-programs/freshman-seminar-program. Freshman seminars are generally capped at 18 students.
The final format is the History departmental seminar—indicated by a “J” after the course number (for instance, HIST 136J). These are intensive upper-level courses intended for sophomores, juniors, and seniors. While history majors receive pre-registration opportunities and preference for enrollment, these courses are open to students from any major, with final admission to be determined at the instructor’s discretion. Departmental seminars are generally capped at 15 students.