By: Shlomo Friedman and Yechiel Schwab  | 

Rightsizing and Downsizing: Analyzing Trends in the Yeshiva College Course Offerings

It’s no secret that financial and curricula changes abound at our University, specifically in Yeshiva College. In light of the release of the upcoming semester’s schedule, we decided to track the changes in course offerings over the last couple of years, to better understand these turbulent times. We started with 2012 because it was the beginning of the implementation of the Core, so it offers a fair comparison to our current schedule. Additionally, we only compared Fall offerings from these years to try to give a more stable picture.

Method: We checked the My YU and registrar course offerings, and went subject by subject, documenting the number of courses offered each semester, demonstrated in the two tables below.

  • We did not count research offerings or directed studies.
  • Recitations, or course sections which counted as zero credits, (i.e. problem seminars in math) were similarly discounted.
  • No colloquiums in any department were counted.
  • In the Music Department, one-credit courses were discounted.
  • Individual lab sections were all counted as individual courses (except for zero-credit labs, like Computer Science Lab).
  • Since 2012 was the first  year of the Core, the entire Core was not yet offered. EXQM and NAWO had not yet been implemented. Instead, similar one-semester courses were offered for non-majors in the Chemistry and Physics Departments. We counted those as EXQM and NAWO, respectively, to maintain a clearer picture of changes within majors.
  • Additionally, there were no HBSI courses offered in Fall 2012, which affected the Psychology and Sociology Departments’ offerings in 2013.
  • Note also that in 2012, General Chemistry I still had a required lab, with five sections. Those are counted below in 2012, and partially explain the change from 2012 to 2013.
  • All cross-listed courses were counted for both (or, in one scenario, all three) departments, unless otherwise noted.

Overall: To illustrate the broader changes, here is a chart displaying the total course offerings, taken from the sum of these individual subjects. Note, that since we originally counted cross-listed courses twice, in the chart below we have a separate line tracking non-cross-listed courses, displaying the total number of individual courses offered each semester. In addition to an overall decrease in courses, 2015 saw a significant increase in cross-listing (2012=7, 2013=7, 2014=9, 2015=20).

chart overall

Below is a clearer picture of a number of large departments which have all seen significant decreases in these years. Note that cross-listed courses are counted for all departments in the chart below, and again that Chemistry in 2012 had five lab offerings which are no longer required.

The Chart below examines the Humanities specifically, in conjunction with Core offerings.In 2012 no HBSI courses were offered, but there was still a large decrease between 2013 and 2015 within total HBSI/Sociology Courses. In the table below, courses cross-listed for English or Sociology are discounted, and are instead counted within their Core sections. This was done because more spots were open within the Core sections of these classes than their major counterparts. Additionally, these courses have all been previously taught as Core courses, designed for interdisciplinary learning and a large variety of students, not as high-level major courses. Note that while there has been no increase or decrease in the Core sections for next semester, there has been a serious decrease in Sociology and English courses outside of the Core.

Summary: Over the last four years we have seen a drop of almost 50 total courses in the Fall semester, from 244 in 2012 to 197 this Fall, almost a 20% drop. We have seen these reductions spread across a large number of departments. Additionally, cross-listing increased dramatically (from 7 in 2012, to 20 in 2015), masking what have been large reductions in courses offerings in English, Sociology, and others.

Though this year, for obvious reasons, showed a sharp decrease in many areas, the decreases in course offerings is a multiple year trend, and is too large to be explained only by the professors let go this year. Some of this might be explained by Yeshiva’s hiring freeze, in that professors from various departments have left, or retired, on their own volition, and no replacement was hired in their stead. Whatever the cause, though we have seen an intense public outcry from students about this year’s cuts, this issue clearly runs deeper than the University’s most recent actions. It is a multi-year issue of continued decrease in course offerings, raising the question of whether 2015 represents the turning point of this graph, or just one more year in this continued downward trend.