Program in History
Doctoral students in History are required to take ten courses during their first two years. 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. Two of the ten courses must be research seminars in which the student produces an original research paper from primary sources. All graduate students, regardless of field, also must take two seminar courses in a time period other than their period of specialty.
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 their oral examination. The language requirements by fields are specified here.
The coursework requirements are detailed here [link to COURSEWORK (Years 1 and 2)]
Comprehensive Examinations and Prospectus
By the end of their sixth semester, students must have completed their comprehensive examinations and their prospectus.
Comprehensive Examinations: The comprehensive exams include a written and an oral component. Students may select either 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 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.
The examination’s written component must 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.
Prospectus: By the end of their sixth semester, at the latest, students are expected to hold a colloquium to discuss their 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 is not a public or published document; its purpose is to articulate your research plan and argument, explain how it fits into the historiographical literature, and sketch the likely dissertation structure and contents.
Advancing to Candidacy
Completion of ten term courses (including HIST 500), the language requirements of the relevant field, the comprehensive examinations, and the prospectus colloquium 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) after successful completion of their first year.
Doctoral students normally serve as teaching fellows for four semesters as part of their professional training. Ordinarily students are 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. Students who have received an outside fellowship also may adjust their teaching schedule. During their first term of teaching, students must attend training sessions run by the Center for Teaching and Learning. In addition to serving as a teaching fellow in a lecture course, advanced doctoral students may apply for the opportunity to co-teach an undergraduate course as an Associate in Teaching, or to teach their own course as a Part-Time Acting Instructor.
Completing the Dissertation
Students are normally expected to complete their dissertation by the end of their sixth year. Financial support from the Yale Graduate School is organized around a six-year timeline.
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.
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.