Fields of Study
Fields include ancient, medieval, early modern, and modern Europe (including Britain, Russia, and Eastern Europe), United States, Latin America, East Asia, Southeast Asia, Middle East, Africa, Jewish history; and diplomatic, environmental, ethnic, intellectual, labor, military, political, religious, social, and women’s history, as well as the history of science and medicine (see the section in this bulletin on the History of Science and Medicine).
Special Admissions Requirements
The deadline for submission of the application for the History graduate program is December 15.
The department requires a short book review (maximum two pages) to accompany the application. It should cover the book that has most shaped the applicant’s understanding of the kind of work he or she would like to do as a historian.
In addition, the department requires submission of an academic writing sample of not more than 25 pages, double spaced. Normally, the writing sample should be based on research in primary source materials.
Special Requirements for the Ph.D. Degree
All students must pass examinations in at least two foreign languages, one by the end of the first year. Students are urged to do everything in their power to acquire adequate linguistic training before they enter Yale and should at a minimum be prepared to be examined in at least one language upon arrival. Typical language requirements for major subfields are as follows:
African Either (1) French and German or Portuguese or Dutch-Afrikaans; or (2) French or German or Portuguese and Arabic; or (3) French or German or Portuguese or Dutch-Afrikaans and an African language approved by the director of graduate studies (DGS) and the faculty adviser.
American Two languages relevant to the student’s research interests, or a high level of proficiency in one language; competence in statistics or other mathematical skill may substitute for a natural language under appropriate circumstances.
Ancient French, German, Greek, and Latin.
Byzantine Greek, Latin, French, German, and any additional language, e.g., Russian, required for dissertation research.
Chinese Chinese and Japanese; additional languages like French, Russian, or German may be necessary for certain dissertation topics.
East European The language of the country of the student’s concentration plus two of the following: French, German, Russian, or an approved substitution.
Japanese Japanese and French or German; Chinese may be necessary for certain fields of Japanese history.
Jewish Modern Hebrew and German, and additional languages such as Latin, Arabic, Yiddish, Russian, or Polish, as required by the student’s areas of specialization.
Latin American Spanish, Portuguese, and French.
Medieval French, German, and Latin.
Middle East Arabic, Persian, or Turkish (or modern Hebrew, depending on area of research) and a major European research language (French, German, Russian, or an approved substitute).
Modern Western European (including British) French and German; substitutions are permitted with the approval of the DGS.
Russian Russian plus French or German with other languages as required.
Southeast Asian Choice of Dutch, French, Spanish, Portuguese, Chinese, Sanskrit, or Arabic, plus one or more Southeast Asian languages (e.g., Bahasa Indonesian, Burmese, Khmer, Lao, Malay, Tagalog, Thai, Tetum, or Vietnamese). In certain cases, Ph.D. dissertation research on Southeast Asia may also require knowledge of a regional or local language, e.g., Balinese or Cham.
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.
During the first two years of study, students normally take twelve term courses, at least eight of which shall be chosen from those offered by the department, and 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 year. Courses graded in the Satisfactory/Unsatisfactory mode count toward the course work requirement but do not count toward the Honors requirement.
Three of the twelve courses must be research seminars in which the student produces an original research paper from primary sources. All graduate students, regardless of field, will be required to take two seminar courses in a time period other than their period of specialty.
In the second year, there are two special seminar requirements.
1. Prospectus Tutorial
This course, normally taken in the second year, must result in a draft prospectus for the dissertation. Its purpose is to familiarize the student with debates in the relevant field and to prepare the student for fieldwork. The prospectus tutorial (HIST 995) counts as one of the three research seminars.
2. Orals Tutorial
Another of the twelve courses, normally taken in the second year, must be a tutorial in any one of the selected orals fields (see below). The orals tutorial (HIST 994) provides an opportunity for students to read for an orals field with one of the future orals committee members and can take the form of one-on-one meetings, small group meetings, or a normally scheduled reading seminar on the topic of the orals field. In some cases, orals tutorial credit will be retroactively granted to students who have taken a course in a reading seminar subject provided that they submit an orals reading list to the DGS for approval. Students seeking retroactive credit for an orals tutorial will still need to complete twelve term courses. The completion of these tutorials is a precondition for enrollment in the third year.
In the third year, students are expected to hold a prospectus colloquium and sit an oral examination.
1. The prospectus colloquium offers the student an opportunity to discuss the dissertation prospectus with the faculty 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 for doing research away from Yale in the fourth year. The prospectus colloquium and any further language requirements normally will be completed before the student takes his/her oral examination.
2. The oral examination for all graduate students 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. Students will have a choice of selecting three or four fields of concentration: a major field and either two or three minor fields. If the student selects the four-field option, the major field will be examined for 30 minutes. In that case, the student’s orals tutorial must be in the major field. If the student selects the three-field option, the major field will be examined for 60 minutes and each minor field for 30 minutes. Completion of these requirements 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.
During the third year of study, almost all students serve as teaching fellows in order to acquire crucial professional training. During their first term of teaching, students must attend several training sessions run by the department in conjunction with the Graduate Teaching Center.
Students usually complete the requirements for admission to candidacy in the sixth term, but it is also possible for students who have completed extensive graduate work prior to entering the Ph.D. program to petition for candidacy sooner. Students may petition for credit for previous graduate work only after successful completion of the first year.
In the fourth year, once students have advanced to candidacy, they may continue their studies while serving as teaching fellows or they may decide to pursue their research, either at Yale or elsewhere, using external funding.
In the fifth year, strongly preferably in the fall term, 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 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.
The dissertation is expected to demonstrate ability to use sources in a discriminating and original way.
Students are eligible to receive the University Dissertation Fellowship (UDF) provided that they have advanced to candidacy. Students may take the UDF in the fifth year, but they must take the fellowship no later than the sixth year. They should apply for the fellowship in the term prior to which they wish to receive it. Students may serve as teaching fellows when they are not on the UDF.
The department strongly recommends that the student apply for a UDF only after completing the first chapter conference, and that students on a UDF should have completed at least two dissertation chapters before starting the fellowship. Many students apply for jobs in the year in which they receive the UDF, and the department urges that students apply for academic positions only when they have two chapters ready to send out to potential employers.
In short, a student making timely progress should expect to finish at least one chapter by December of the fifth year, and to complete the dissertation in the sixth year, when the submission deadline for May graduation is March 15.
Registration in the seventh year is not required for students submitting their dissertations by the October deadline (which the majority of students do). If students are unable to make the October deadline, they can petition the Graduate School for extended registration. The petition, delivered first to the History DGS, will explain the particular circumstances that have prevented completion of the dissertation within the normal timetable and offer a specific plan that describes how the dissertation will be completed in the seventh year. Only students who have completed the first chapter conference will be considered for extended registration.
Combined Ph.D. Programs
History and African American Studies
The Department of History also offers, in conjunction with the Department of African American Studies, a combined Ph.D. in History and African American Studies. For further details, see African American Studies.
History and Renaissance Studies
The Department of History also offers, in conjunction with the Renaissance Studies Program, a combined Ph.D. in History and Renaissance Studies. For further details, see Renaissance Studies.
M.Phil. Students who have completed all requirements for admission to candidacy for the Ph.D. may receive the M.Phil. degree. Additionally, students in History are eligible to pursue a supplemental M.Phil. degree in Medieval Studies. For further details, see Medieval Studies.
M.A. (en route to the Ph.D.) Students enrolled in the Ph.D. program may qualify for the M.A. degree upon completion of a minimum of six graduate term courses at Yale, of which two must have earned Honors grades and the other four courses must average High Pass overall. Students must also pass an examination in one foreign language. A student in the American Studies program who wishes to obtain an M.A. in History, rather than an M.A. in American Studies, must include in the courses completed at least two research seminars in the History department.
Master’s Degree Program For this terminal master’s degree, students must pass six term courses, four of which must be in History; substantial written work must be submitted in conjunction with at least two of these courses, and Honors grades are expected in two courses, with a High Pass average overall. All students in this program must pass an examination in one foreign language. Financial aid is not available for this program.
Program materials are available upon request from the Director of Graduate Studies, Department of History, Yale University, PO Box 208324, New Haven CT 06520-8324.