Yale's Happiness Class

When Yale University offered a new course, "Psychology and the Good Life," it was wildly popular: 1,200 students signed up, which is 25% of Yale's study body and the largest number of students to enroll in any Yale course.


Laurie Santos, the psychology professor who developed the course, faced criticism. Some claimed that the course was too easy. Students can take it pass/fail, and homework isn't collected, but Santos says, "With one in four students at Yale taking it, if we see good habits--things like students showing more gratitude, procrastinating less, increasing social connections--we're actually seeding change in the school's culture." Another criticism is that the high enrollment left other Yale classes empty. In addition, because of the size, hiring adequate staff was challenging.

So, the university will not offer the course again. Too bad. Santos said she wanted to offer the course to address the high incidence of mental health concerns at the school.

Students are obviously stressed. Santos joked in class that she was going to give everyone a D to see whether the grade would make them unhappy. Instead, she got concerned calls from parents and deans.


  • What is the latest research about happiness? Find a few recent studies as evidence.
  • What's your view of Yale's decision to end the course?
  • Other than a course, how can students learn about the science of happiness?