Year One: Tips and Considerations
When deciding what courses to take, students should consider classes that:
Help provide them with foundational knowledge in their chosen field;
Introduce them to faculty members with whom they might want to work;
Allow them to do original research in primary sources to hone their research and writing skills and explore potential topics and future directions;
Stretch their thinking and expose them to new approaches to history and scholarship.
There is no single formula for coursework, but every student should strive for a mixture of courses that accomplish these goals.
Students who completed an M.A. thesis prior to coming to Yale, or who completed an exceptionally well-researched undergraduate thesis, may wish to consider revising these projects for possible publication during their first or second year. They should consult with their academic advisors on whether this seems feasible.
Year Two: Tips and Considerations
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. The Prospectus Tutorial is required for students in European history. The tutorial should result in a full draft of the dissertation prospectus. The Prospectus Tutorial does not count as a research seminar.
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. Other fields encourage students to sign up for examination tutorials (HIST 994) with one of their examiners.
You will want to ask professors early in your second year whether they will supervise an examination field with you and discuss with them what you’ll need to do to prepare. You also may want to begin to line up the members of your dissertation committee. Members of your examination and dissertation committees do not need to be the same, though they often overlap significantly.
During the summer after your second year, you should begin to organize materials for possible grant applications in the fall. You’ll probably also want to finalize your orals lists and start reading for your examinations.
Year Three: Tips and Considerations
Your third year can be overwhelming since you no longer have the structure of coursework and you have to accomplish several things– comprehensive examinations, a prospectus, and applying for grants– while also teaching. Imposing a structure on your time will help significantly. Collaborating with fellow students to read each other’s materials, and support each other, is also a good idea.
To look for external grant support for your research, consult with your advisor and with students who are a year or two ahead of you. Ask: what are the kinds of grants that people apply for in my field?
Outside funding may include MacMillan International Dissertation Research Fellowships and other internal Yale awards, as well as external research grants. A list of some internal and external grants is available here.
Year Four: Tips and Considerations
Your activities during year four will vary greatly depending on whether you are in residence in New Haven and teaching/researching, or away doing research with fellowship support.
Balancing research and writing will be important. Completing at least one chapter by the end of Year Four will help you process your research materials, recalibrate your plans, and get early feedback from your dissertation committee.
If you are trying to publish any journal articles prior to going on the job market, you’ll want to get those in the review pipeline.
Year Five: Tips and Considerations
You should plan to have completed a chapter conference no later than the first semester of your fifth year. Share subsequent chapters with members of your dissertation committee and arrange times to discuss them.
If you are applying for academic jobs this fall, you will want to have completed a few dissertation chapters by October that you can share with search committees. You’ll also need to have your job market materials ready by mid-September. These materials include your CV, cover letter, letters of recommendation, and teaching/research statements (where necessary). Applying for jobs and postdoctoral fellowships is time-consuming, but you also can gain valuable experience even if you do not obtain a position in your fifth year.
Year Six and Beyond: Tips and Considerations
If you are applying for academic jobs this fall, you will want to have completed a few dissertation chapters by October that you can share with search committees. You’ll also need to have your job market materials ready by mid-September. These materials include your CV, cover letter, letters of recommendation, and teaching/research statements (where necessary).
You should expect that applying for jobs and postdoctoral fellowships will be time-consuming and distracting. Maintaining a regular writing schedule will be particularly important.