Degree of Doctor of Philosophy

Program in History

Jump to: The Program in History of Science & Medicine

During the first year of study, students normally take six term courses, including Approaching History (HIST 500). During the second year of study, they may opt to take four to six term courses, with the approval of their advisor and the DGS. Students who plan to apply for outside grants at the beginning of their third year are recommended to take the Prospectus Tutorial (HIST 995) during their second year, and it is required for students in European history. The tutorial should result in a full draft of the dissertation prospectus. The ten courses taken during the first two years should normally include at least six chosen from those offered by the department. Students must achieve Honors in at least two courses in the first year, and Honors in at least four courses by the end of the second year, with a High Pass average overall. Courses graded in the Satisfactory/Unsatisfactory mode count toward the course work requirement but do not count toward the Honors requirement.

Two of the ten courses must be research seminars in which the student produces an original research paper from primary sources. The Prospectus Tutorial does not count as a research seminar.  All graduate students, regardless of field, will be required to take two seminar courses in a time period other than their period of specialty.

Foreign students whose native language is not English may receive permission during their first year to hand in some written work in their own language. Since, however, the dissertation must be in English, they should be advised to bring their writing skills up to the necessary level at the earliest opportunity.

All students in History must demonstrate competence in one foreign language before or during the first year of study, and must fulfill additional requirements for particular fields before taking the oral examination.  The requirements by fields are specified here.

Students in their second year should choose their courses so that at least one course will prepare them for a comprehensive examination field in their third year. Some fields offer reading seminars specifically designed to help prepare students for examination; others encourage students to sign up for examination tutorials (HIST 994) with one of their examiners.

By the end of their fifth semester, at the latest, students are expected to take comprehensive examinations. Students will have a choice of selecting three or four fields of concentration: a major field and either two or three minor fields. The examination must contain one minor field that deals 50 percent or more with the historiography of a region of the world other than the area of the student’s major field. The examination will have a written component that will be completed before the oral component. For their major field, students will write a historiographical essay of maximum 8,000 words. For each of the minor fields, the student will prepare a syllabus for an undergraduate lecture class in the field. All of these are to be written over the course of the examination preparation process and will be due on a definite, uniform date towards the end of the students’ fifth semester, typically on the Friday before Thanksgiving break (or on a corresponding date in the spring semester). The oral examination examines the students on their fields and will, additionally, include discussion of the materials produced for the written component of the examination.  If the student selects the four-field option, the major field will be examined for 30 minutes. If the student selects the three-field option, the major field will be examined for 60 minutes and each minor field for 30 minutes.

By the end of their sixth semester, at the latest, students are expected to hold a prospectus colloquium, but those who took the Prospectus tutorial (HIST 995) during their second year are encouraged to hold the colloquium at the beginning of their third year. The prospectus colloquium offers students an opportunity to discuss the dissertation prospectus with their dissertation committee in order to gain the committee’s advice on the research and writing of the dissertation and its approval for the project. The dissertation prospectus provides the basis of grant proposals.

Completion of ten term courses (including HIST 500), the language requirements of the relevant field, the comprehensive examinations, and the prospectus colloquium will qualify a student for admission to candidacy for the Ph.D., which must take place by the end of the third year of study.

It is also possible for students who have completed extensive graduate work prior to entering the Yale Ph.D. program to complete course work sooner. Students may petition for course waivers based on previous graduate work (up to three term courses) only after successful completion of the first year.

Students normally serve as teaching fellows during four semesters to acquire professional training. Ordinarily students would be expected to teach in their third and fourth years, but with the approval of the DGS and their advisor students may teach in the second year in areas of particular value to their professional development, or if they have received course waivers and completed coursework early . During their first term of teaching, students must attend training sessions run by the Graduate Teaching Center. Students may teach, normally in their fourth semester of teaching, as seminar fellows, teaching an undergraduate seminar in conjunction with a faculty member, if such positions are available.

By the end of their ninth semester, students are required to submit a chapter of their dissertation to the dissertation committee. This chapter will then be discussed with the student by the committee, in a chapter conference, to give the student additional advice and counsel on the progress of the dissertation. This conference is designed to be an extension of the conversation begun in the prospectus colloquium and is not intended as a defense: its aim is to give students early feedback on the research, argument, and style of the first writing accomplished on the dissertation.

No less than one month before students plan to submit their dissertations, a relatively polished full draft of the dissertation should be discussed with the student by the dissertation committee, in a dissertation defense of 1-2 hours, to give the students additional advice and counsel on completing the dissertation or on turning it into a book, as appropriate. Students are required to submit the draft to their committee in sufficient time for the committee to be able to read it. This defense is designed to give students advice on the overall arguments and the final shape of the dissertation or book, and to leave time for adjustments coming out of the discussion.

The fellowship package offered to PhD students normally includes two semesters of the University Dissertation Fellowship (UDF), which finances a full year of research and writing without any teaching duties. Students may choose to take the UDF at any point after they have advanced to candidacy and before the end of their sixth year. They may choose to take the UDF in consecutive semesters or in two separate semesters. They should apply for the fellowship in the term prior to that in which they wish to receive it. Students may not serve as teaching fellows when they are on the UDF. The department strongly recommends that students apply for a UDF only after completing the first chapter conference, and that they have drafted at least two chapters before starting the fellowship.

Students who have not submitted the dissertation by the end of the sixth year need not register in order to submit.  If, however, students wish to register for a seventh year for good academic reason,  they may petition the Graduate School for extended registration. The petition, delivered through the History DGS, will explain the academic reasons for the request. Only students who have completed the first chapter conference will be considered for extended registration.

These new regulations will be observed by students admitted in 2013 and following years. Students admitted earlier may opt to observe either the new or the old regulations.

Program in History of Science & Medicine

Students will ordinarily take twelve courses during the first two years. All students will normally take the three core “Problems” seminars: Problems in History of Science, Problems in History of Medicine, and Problems in Science Studies. In addition, students will take four graduate seminars in history of science or medicine and at least one graduate course in a field of history outside of science or medicine. The remaining courses can be taken in history of medicine or science, history, science, or any other field of demonstrated special relevance to the student’s scholarly objectives. Two of the twelve courses must be graduate research seminars in the History of Science and Medicine. During the first two years of study, students must achieve Honors in at least two courses in the first year and Honors in at least four courses by the end of the second year, with a High Pass average overall. If a student does not meet this standard by the end of the first or second year, the relevant members of the department will consult and promptly advise the student whether the student will be allowed to register for the fall of the following academic
Students who enter having previously completed graduate work may obtain up to three course credits toward the completion of the total course requirement, the amount being contingent on the extent and nature of the previous work and its fit with their intended course of study at Yale.
Qualifying Examination
Prior to entering on their dissertation work, all students are expected to develop a broad general knowledge of the discipline. This knowledge will be acquired through a combination of course work, regular participation in the Program colloquia and workshops, and dedicated preparation for the qualifying oral examination. Students will normally spend the summer following their second year preparing for the oral Qualifying Examination, which will be taken in the third year, preferably during the first half of it. The Qualifying Examination will normally consist of four fields, each of which will be examined by a separate faculty member:
  • Two fields in the history of science and/or history of medicine.
  • One field in an area of history outside of medicine and/or science.
  • One field of special interest, the content and boundaries of which will be established in consultation with the student’s advisor.
Possibilities for the field of special interest include a second field in history outside of history of science or medicine, a field with a scientific or medical focus (such as bioethics, health policy, public health, medical anthropology, or medical sociology), or a field at the intersection of science, medicine, and other subjects (such as law, national security, religion, culture, biotechnology, gender, race, literature, the environment, and so on).
During their first term in the Program, all students will be advised by the DGS. During the second term and thereafter, each student will be advised by a faculty member of his or her choosing. The advisor will provide guidance in selecting courses and preparing for the qualifying examination. The advisor may also offer help with the development of ideas for the dissertation, but students are free to choose someone else as the dissertation supervisor when the time comes to do so. Students are encouraged to discuss their interests and program of study with other members of the faculty.
Dissertation Prospectus
Students are encouraged to begin thinking about their dissertation topics during the second year. They are required to prepare a Dissertation Prospectus as soon as possible following the Qualifying Examination and to defend the Prospectus orally before being admitted to full candidacy for the doctoral degree. Ordinarily the prospectus defense is held in the second term of the third year, with advancement to candidacy before the start of the fourth year.
Teaching is an important part of the professional preparation of graduate students in History of Medicine and Science. Students will teach, usually in the third and fourth years of study. They may, however, teach in the second semester of the second year, deferring the completion of their required course work to the first semester of the third year. Students are also encouraged to participate in the programs to develop teaching skills offered by the Graduate School. At least two terms of teaching are required of all students; four terms are required of students on Yale-supported fellowships.
Finishing the Dissertation
In the fourth or fifth year, and preferably no later than the fall term for the fifth year, students are required to submit a chapter of the dissertation (not necessarily the first chapter) to the dissertation committee. This chapter will then be discussed with the student by members of the committee, preferably in a colloquium, to give the student additional advice and counsel on the progress of the dissertation. This conference is designed to be an extension of the conversation begun in the prospectus defense and is not intended as another defense; its aim is to give students early feedback on the research, argument, and style of the first writing accomplished on the dissertation.