Requirements of the Ph.D.

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.  

 
*If you’re looking for program requirements prior to 2013 please contact the Graduate Registrar at marcy.kaufman@yale.edu.

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 iavailable 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.

Written component:

  • 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. 
  • 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.
Oral component:
  • 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.
Students are expected to submit a Comprehensive Exam Statement of Intention Form to the Graduate Registrar in the term prior to that in which they will be examined.  The form can be found on the History website or in the office of the Graduate Registrar.  It is the student’s responsibility to submit the completed form before the end of the term prior to that in which the student will take exams.
 
To book a room for your oral examination, please set the date and time with your examiners and notify the Graduate Registrar.  If she is unable to find a room for you, you may book a room using 25Live at http://classrooms.yale.edu or use one of the library study rooms available at https://schedule.yale.edu/booking/bass_study.
 
It is strongly recommended that all examiners be physically present when you take your oral exams. However, if that is not possible, one or more examiners may participate by video conference. However, it is required that there be two faculty members present in the room during any exam.
 
The form to certify the exams is available on the History website or in the office of the Graduate Registrar.  It is the student’s responsibility to submit the completed form, signed by the examiners to the Graduate Registrar after completion of the exams.
 
Once you have completed your exams, you are encouraged to share your reading lists with the Graduate Registrar for the reference of other students.

Prospectus Colloquium (Year 3)

The prospectus colloquium is to be completed by the end of the student’s sixth semester in the program.  (Some faculty prefer students to complete the prospectus in the fifth semester and take their comprehensive exams in the sixth semester).

The prospectus colloquium is scheduled for 90 minutes.  To book a room, please set a date and time with your committee members and notify the Graduate Registrar.  If she is unable to find a room for you, you may book a room using 25Live at http://classrooms.yale.edu.

It is strongly recommended that all readers be physically present when you take hold your prospectus colloquium.  However, if that is not possible, one or more readers may participate by video conference. However, it is required that there be two faculty members present in the room during any prospectus colloquium. 

The form to certify the prospectus colloquium is available on the History website or in the office of the Graduate Registrar.  It is the student’s responsibility to submit the completed form once the colloquium is held.  The student must also e-mail an electronic copy of the prospectus to the Graduate Registrar for the file.

Advancing to Candidacy (Year 3)

Once you have successfully completed coursework, demonstrated your language proficiencies, passed your comprehensive exams, and had your prospectus approved by your committee, you will advance to candidacy (become ABD). 
 
The Graduate School requires that all Ph.D. students advance to candidacy by the end of the third year in the program.  In unusual circumstances, the DGS may approve delay of one of the required milestones to the summer following Year 3 or early into the fall of Year 4.  However, the Graduate School will issue a Registration Hold for those students who have not advanced by the start of the fall term, and a plan to achieve the milestone must be submitted in writing to the Graduate Registrar and the DGS; the DGS will then recommend to the Dean that the registration hold be waived.  If you find yourself in these circumstances, please make an appointment with the DGS.
 

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)

Dissertation Defense
Students must meet with their dissertation committee for a dissertation defense no less than one month before students plan to submit their completed dissertations. Prior to the dissertation defense, students must provide their committee with a relatively polished full draft of their dissertation. The dissertation defense is intended to give students advice on the overall arguments and the final shape of the dissertation or future book, and to leave time for adjustments coming out of the discussion.
 

Submitting the Dissertation

Graduate school dissertation submission deadlines are in mid-March (for May degrees) and early October (for December degrees). 
 
No later than the beginning of the semester in which you plan to submit your dissertation, carefully review the detailed process for dissertation submission on the Graduate School’s website: https://gsas.yale.edu/academics/dissertations/submission-process.

Overview of History PhD Requirements