The official requirements for the graduate program in History are detailed in the Graduate School of Arts and Science Programs and Policy Handbook. Important elements of the history program are summarized here, but students should refer to the Programs and Policy guide to check any technical requirements.
Requirements of the Ph.D.
Coursework (Years 1 and 2)
- 10-12 term courses, 6 of which must carry a HIST graduate number
- HIST 500 Approaching History is required for all first-term Ph.D. students
- HIST 995 (the Prospectus Tutorial) is recommended for all second year students and required for second year students studying European history
- Two seminars must be research seminars (requiring an original research paper from primary sources)
- Two seminars must focus on a time period outside the student’s period of specialty
- All second-year students should take a course to prepare for a comprehensive exam field (This course may be HIST 994 Orals Tutorial with one of the student’s examiners or a readings course on an exam field topic)
- Honors requirement – each student must achieve Honors in two term courses during the first year with a High Pass average overall. Students much achieve Honors in a total of four courses with a High Pass average overall by the time they complete the coursework requirements.
Language Proficiencies (Years 1 and 2)
Each subfield of History has different language proficiency requirements. A list of requirements by subfield is available here.
Proficiency can be documented in several ways:
- A student who had an undergraduate minor in the language can be certified upon presentation of a transcript;
- A student who is a native speaker of a language can be certified with confirmation from the student’s academic advisor;
- A student who has researched and submitted scholarly work in the language can be certified with confirmation from the student’s advisor;
- Students who take one of the “for Reading” courses offered in the Graduate School (French, German, Italian, or Spanish) can be certified with a grade of B+ or better. Please note that you must inform the Graduate Registrar when the grade is posted in order to be certified;
- Passing a language translation exam administered at Yale;
- Other circumstances (e.g., translation exam from another institution) with the approval of the DGS
Comprehensive Exams (Years 2 and 3)
Students are strongly encouraged to complete their comprehensive exams by the end of the fifth semester and are required to be completed by the end of the sixth semester. (Some faculty prefer students to complete the prospectus in the fifth semester and take exams in the sixth semester; please consult your advisor.)
The Comprehensive Exams include a written component and an oral portion.
- One major field; an 8,000-word historiographical essay based on the major field is to be submitted to the Graduate Registrar at least two weeks prior to the oral component of the exams. With the approval of the examining faculty member, the student may submit a course syllabus in the major field as a substitute for the historiographical paper.
- Two or three minor fields; a syllabus for a lecture course in each minor field is to be submitted to the Graduate Registrar at least two weeks prior to the oral component of the exams.
The oral portion of the comprehensive exams last for two hours.
For those students who choose two minor fields, the major field will be examined for 60 minutes and the minor fields will be examined for 30 minutes each.
- For those students who choose three minor fields, each field will be examined for 30 minutes.
Prospectus Colloquium (Year 3)
Advancing to Candidacy (Year 3)
Chapter Conference (Year 5)
Students must participate in a chapter conference with their dissertation committee no later than the end of their ninth semester. The dissertation committee and student discuss a dissertation chapter to give early feedback on the research, argument, and style of the first writing accomplished on the dissertation.
Dissertation Defense and Submission (Year 6)
Submitting the Dissertation