Policies and Regulations
Application for admission to any of the Graduate School’s programs should begin in the summer or fall of the academic year prior to the one in which the applicant proposes to matriculate. Application can be made to only one department, program, or combined program. The Graduate School utilizes an online application. Access to this application as well as application procedures, guidelines, requirements, fees, deadline dates, and all other information that an applicant will need are available at the website listed above.
Holders of American Ph.D. or Sc.D. degrees, or their international equivalents, are not eligible for admission to the Graduate School in the field in which they have already earned a degree. They may, however, apply in other fields and are also eligible to apply for admission to the Division of Special Registration as Visiting Students for nondegree study (see Nondegree Study below for more information or visit the website listed above). With the approval of the appropriate associate dean, holders of master’s degrees are eligible for admission to a terminal master’s degree program in the same field at the Graduate School provided that there is significant curricular distinction between the previous and proposed programs of study.
Individual program descriptions, prerequisites, special admissions requirements, and links to these programs are available via the Graduate School’s website at http://gsas.yale.edu/academics/departments. Although programs may have varying prerequisites and special requirements for admission, all programs will require, in addition to an application and the application fee, three letters of recommendation, transcripts from each academic institution previously attended, and the results of the Graduate Record Examinations (GRE) General Test, which is administered in the United States and abroad by the Educational Testing Service (ETS). This examination, in addition to any GRE Subject Tests that may be required by the student’s program of study, should be taken as early as possible to ensure that official scores are released and received no later than the stated deadline of the program for which the student is applying.
Applicants whose native language is not English must present evidence of proficiency in English by satisfactorily completing the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL), which is administered by ETS, or the International English Language Testing System (IELTS). This requirement is waived only for applicants who, prior to matriculation at Yale, will have received a baccalaureate degree or its international equivalent from a college or university where English is the primary language of instruction. The applicant must have studied in residence at the baccalaureate institution for at least three years to receive a waiver. The TOEFL or IELTS, if required, should be taken as early as possible to ensure that official scores are released and received no later than the stated deadline of the program for which the student is applying.
Students who do not demonstrate sufficient proficiency in English may be retested or asked to take courses in English for speakers of other languages. A higher level of proficiency will be required in order for students to serve as teaching fellows.
International applicants who accept offers of admission will be required to give appropriate evidence of necessary financial support before the University will be able to issue visa documents.
The application contains questions regarding prior or pending criminal convictions and disciplinary actions. When an applicant answers affirmatively to either of these questions, the Graduate School will evaluate the circumstances outlined by the applicant to determine if they are potentially relevant to the applicant’s participation in the Yale community as a graduate student. In cases where such charges are pending, the Graduate School may decide to admit the applicant contingent upon the charges being resolved or to defer the decision on admission until the charges are resolved. If new criminal or disciplinary charges are filed against an applicant after submission of the application but prior to matriculation, applicants are required to notify the Graduate School Admissions Office of this fact in writing. Failure to do so may result in rejection of an application or rescission of an offer of admission.
It is the policy of the Graduate School to verify all credentials in support of an application. All transcripts, recommendations, publications, standardized test scores, and supplemental materials may be traced to their sources in order to confirm their authenticity. Written materials submitted by an applicant may be subject to review for the purpose of identifying plagiarism.
Applicants are typically notified of decisions regarding their applications during the months of February and March. Official notification is sent from the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences only.
All entering students must have obtained the bachelor’s degree or its international equivalent. Offers of admission are contingent on a student providing an official transcript indicating that the student has been awarded a baccalaureate degree (or its international equivalent) prior to matriculation. Students who are not able to provide such evidence will not be permitted to register. Those who have been engaged in graduate work at Yale or another university must also present an official transcript giving evidence of degree(s) awarded and/or satisfactory completion of the previous year’s work.
Applicants who have been previously denied admission to the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences three times may not apply again.
The Office of Graduate Admissions will not release application materials, including standardized test scores, letters of recommendation, or transcripts, to the applicant or other institutions or agencies for any purpose. Students will need to contact ETS, recommenders, or educational institutions they have previously attended in order to furnish such materials to a third party.
Programs of Study
Full-Time Degree Candidacy
Most students enrolled in the Graduate School are registered for full-time study as they pursue a Ph.D. or master’s degree program. These students devote their full effort to course work, preparation for qualifying examinations, gaining teaching experience, and the research and writing leading to the completion of the dissertation.
In rare circumstances, qualified individuals who are unable to devote their full time to graduate study may apply and be admitted as part-time students in either doctoral or terminal master’s programs. For more complete information, see Part-Time Study under Degree Requirements, below.
Qualified individuals who wish to study at the graduate level as nondegree candidates may be admitted to the Division of Special Registration (DSR). Admission to the DSR is for one term or for one year only and carries with it no commitment by the Graduate School for further study. Students admitted for the academic year must demonstrate satisfactory academic performance in the first term in order to register for the second term. Students in the DSR may obtain transcripts indicating the appropriate credit for work completed.
DSR students engaged in course work or a combination of course work and research are identified as Visiting Students. Although normally admitted for full-time study, Visiting Students who are U.S. citizens or permanent residents may be admitted for part-time study and are charged tuition on a per-course basis, whether for credit or audit. Please refer to Financing Graduate School for a schedule of tuition and fee charges. Students admitted to the DSR as Visiting Students are not eligible for financial aid, including federal and most nonfederal student loans.
Advanced graduate students who are degree candidates (at the master’s or Ph.D. level) at another university and who have made arrangements with a specific Graduate School faculty member for a research project under that faculty member’s direct supervision may be admitted to the DSR as Visiting Assistants in Research. Undergraduate students in combined or simultaneous B.S./M.S., B.A./M.A., or similar programs are not considered advanced graduate students. Student research conducted at Yale must be part of the visiting student’s thesis or dissertation. The extent and location of the research completed at Yale must be cited in the completed thesis or dissertation. The Graduate School does not provide financial support to Visiting Assistants in Research. Such students either hold standard graduate student Assistantship in Research appointments that are funded by the faculty adviser, or provide their own funding through external awards or personal resources. Please refer to Financing Graduate School for a schedule of tuition and fee charges.
Detailed information, requirements, and access to the online DSR application are available at http://gsas.yale.edu/admissions/application-process/non-degree-programs-division-special-registration. DSR applicants must provide evidence of health care for the duration of their studies at Yale at the time of application.
Some departments at Yale have formal exchange agreements with universities in other countries that have been approved by the Graduate School. Graduate students who are admitted to Yale under such approved exchange agreements may be registered as Exchange Scholars. Exchange Scholars normally are not charged tuition.
In rare circumstances, students may apply for a second year of registration in the DSR; however, cumulative enrollment is limited to two years. Students enrolled in the DSR who are subsequently admitted to degree programs in the Graduate School may receive academic and tuition credit for no more than four courses completed while enrolled in the DSR, provided that the department recommends such credit and the appropriate associate dean approves.
All graduate students are formally associated with one department or program, and in the case of students in combined-degree programs, with two. Students may, however, be encouraged to take one or more courses in related departments. Students are often advised by faculty members from more than one department during their dissertation research. Students in the Graduate School, with permission of the director of graduate studies and the relevant school, may take advantage of particular course or research opportunities in Yale College and in Yale’s professional schools.
Combined- and Joint-Degree Programs
Students interested in African American Studies, Film and Media Studies, and Renaissance Studies pursue a combined Ph.D. with departments in related fields. In addition to these academic programs, there are several formal interdisciplinary Ph.D. programs in the Graduate School listed under the appropriate departmental entries of this bulletin. Ad hoc programs may also be approved. A student who is interested in an ad hoc program should prepare a written proposal for review and approval by the relevant departments and associate deans before the student has advanced to candidacy.
Students are encouraged to contact the appropriate directors of graduate studies about specific opportunities for interdisciplinary study throughout the Graduate School and the University.
The Graduate School also participates in formal joint-degree programs with the professional schools, including the J.D./M.A. and J.D./Ph.D. programs in cooperation with the Law School; the M.D./Ph.D. program in cooperation with the School of Medicine; and the Ph.D./M.B.A. program in cooperation with the School of Management. In addition, joint-degree programs with professional schools have been approved for master’s students in European and Russian Studies, Global Affairs, and International and Development Economics, and for doctoral students in Nursing. These programs are described in the individual departmental listings.
For all joint-degree programs except the M.D./Ph.D., students are required to submit formal applications to both the professional school and the Graduate School indicating their interest in enrolling in the joint program. Individuals interested in the M.D./Ph.D. program apply directly to the School of Medicine (see Requirements for Joint-Degree Programs, below).
Exchange Scholar Program
Graduate students in Yale Ph.D. programs may petition to enroll full- or part-time for a term or for an academic year as exchange scholars at the University of California at Berkeley, Brown, University of Chicago, Columbia, Cornell, Harvard, MIT, University of Pennsylvania, Princeton, and Stanford. The Exchange Scholars Program enables students to take advantage of special educational opportunities not available at their home institutions. Applications are available at the website listed above. Please direct questions to Assistant Dean Jasmina Besirevic Regan (email@example.com). Applications must be received at least six weeks prior to the beginning of the term for which the student is applying.
International Graduate Student Exchange Agreements
All international exchange agreements must be approved in advance by the Graduate School to ensure that they meet University policy and Graduate School guidelines. Departments interested in establishing an exchange program must prepare a statement that demonstrates that there is a clear academic and reciprocal need for such a program, and that the program will conform to the established guidelines for all such exchange agreements. Students and faculty interested in pursuing these exchanges should contact Assistant Dean Jasmina Besirevic Regan (firstname.lastname@example.org).
International Exchange Programs
Masarykova Univerzita, Brno, Czech Republic; Peking University, Beijing, China; Université de Toliara, Madagascar
Peking University, Beijing, China
Council on East Asian Studies
Peking University, Beijing, China; Sophia University, Tokyo, Japan; University of Tokyo, Japan
Economic Growth Center
Research Institute for Economics and Business Administration, Kobe University, Japan
Aalto University, Helsinki, Finland; Institut d’Études Politiques de Paris, France; Università Bocconi, Milan, Italy; Universität Bonn, Germany; Universität Mannheim, Germany
École Normale Supérieure, Paris, France; Institut d’Études Politiques de Paris, France
Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, Germany
Connecticut Department of Education and the State of Baden-Württemberg Exchange, Germany; Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies, Geneva, Switzerland; Peking University, Beijing, China; Royal Holloway College, University of London, England; Secretariat of Higher Education, Science, Technology and Innovation, Ecuador; Universität Konstanz, Germany; University College London, England
Institut d’Études Politiques de Paris, France; Peking University, Beijing, China
History of Art
Peking University, Beijing, China
Institut d’Études Politiques de Paris, France; Nuffield College, University of Oxford, England; Peking University, Beijing, China
Aarhus University, Denmark; Peking University, Beijing, China
Institut d’Études Politiques de Paris, France; Peking University, Beijing, China; University of Copenhagen, Denmark
Doctoral students are funded year-round and are expected to make progress toward the completion of their degrees during the summer months (see Summer Registration under Registration Status and Leaves of Absence, below). See individual departmental policies in this bulletin regarding specific expectations for degree programs during the summer. Although the Graduate School does not offer courses in the summer, intensive language instruction is available through the Yale Summer Session, and graduate students may wish to take advantage of those programs while in New Haven. For further details on summer offerings at Yale, please consult the Yale Summer Session website at http://summer.yale.edu and a relevant dean in the Graduate School.
The requirements set forth in the pages that follow are the minimum Graduate School degree requirements and apply to all degree candidates. Students should consult the listings of individual departments and programs for additional specific departmental requirements.
Requirements for the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy
Length of Study
In most fields of study, six years should normally be sufficient for the completion of the Ph.D. Departments and programs make every effort to design a course of study and to provide advice and guidance to make it possible for students to complete their work within six years. Normally three, or at most three and one-half, years are devoted to the completion of predissertation requirements (courses, examinations, selection of a dissertation topic). The remaining time, typically two to three years, is devoted to conducting research and writing the dissertation.
Students seeking the Ph.D. degree are required to be in residence in the New Haven area during at least three academic years. This is an academic requirement, distinct from and independent of the tuition requirement described below. The residence requirement must normally be met within the first four years of study. Any exception to the residence requirement must be approved by the department and by the appropriate associate dean.
Tuition Requirement and the Continuous Registration Fee
All Ph.D. candidates are charged four years (eight terms) of full tuition, or proportionately less if all degree requirements, including submission of the dissertation, are completed in less than four continuous years of full-time study from the date of matriculation in the Ph.D. program.
Once the full-tuition obligation has been completed, registered students are charged the Continuous Registration Fee (CRF).
Transfer Credit/Course Waivers
The Graduate School does not award transfer credit for graduate work completed before matriculation at Yale.
Non-Yale courses A department may, with the approval of the Graduate School, waive a portion of the Ph.D. course requirement (normally a maximum of three courses) in recognition of previous non-Yale graduate-level work completed after receipt of the bachelor’s or bachelor’s-equivalent degree. Such a waiver does not affect the tuition requirement. Courses taken prior to matriculation at Yale will not appear on the student’s Graduate School transcript. The Yale courses waived will be recorded on the student’s transcript as waived.
Yale courses With the approval of the department, a doctoral student who is currently enrolled may petition to count up to one year of relevant course work completed in a Yale master’s or professional doctoral program as partial fulfillment of the Ph.D. course requirements. This petition must be received by the appropriate associate dean in the Graduate School before the end of the student’s first year of study in the Ph.D. program. The dean may reduce the four-year tuition requirement by either one or two terms, based on the number of courses accepted. The courses accepted will be listed on the student’s transcript.
Waived courses are not counted in determining a student’s eligibility for either terminal or en route master's degrees.
Foreign Language Requirement
Language requirements are set by individual departments and programs. Specific language requirements are explained in the individual department listings. All departmental requirements are subject to initial approval by the Executive Committee of the Graduate School and are monitored by the Degree Committee. A department cannot make exceptions to its own requirements without authorization by the Degree Committee.
Graduate students taking undergraduate language courses will be graded according to the Yale College grading scale. Where applicable, language courses may count toward graduate degree requirements in some programs (see program descriptions). Undergraduate language courses may not count toward the Honors requirement.
The required level of proficiency in foreign languages, and the method for demonstrating it, are determined by the individual departments. Students are urged to be prepared to meet language requirements at the beginning of their first year of study.
Course and Honors Requirements
The course requirements for the Ph.D. degree are set individually by each department or program. Each course offered in the Graduate School counts for a single credit or, in rare cases, one-half credit. Only courses offered by the Graduate School and officially numbered on the graduate level (i.e., 500 or higher), and receiving a qualitative grade of Honors, High Pass, or Pass, can fulfill requirements for the doctoral degree, with the exception of certain undergraduate language courses or where specified in advance by the department or program. Although departments may set more stringent requirements, to meet the minimum Graduate School quality requirement for the Ph.D., students must achieve the grade of Honors in at least one full-year or two full-term graduate courses taken after matriculation in the Graduate School and during the nine-month academic year. The Honors requirement must be met in courses other than those concerned exclusively with dissertation research and preparation.
A student who has not met the Honors requirement at the end of the fourth term of full-time study will not be permitted to register for the fifth term. A student who is not in academic good standing with regard to course work or research, as defined by the minimum standards established by the Graduate School and the expectations outlined by the student’s department or program, may be dismissed from the Graduate School. Such dismissal will be recorded on the student’s transcript.
Each Ph.D. student must pass a general examination, separate from course examinations, in the major subject offered and in such subordinate subjects as may be required by the department. Such examinations are described in the individual department listings. Students should consult with their director of graduate studies for further information about this requirement.
Committee Constitution Requirement
Each Ph.D. student must have a dissertation committee, satisfactory to the student’s department and in accordance with Graduate School requirements, in order to register for the fourth year of study. Students without an approved committee will normally be withdrawn from their program.
The dissertation topic, in the form of a prospectus, must be approved by the department. Certification of this approval, together with a copy of the prospectus, must be filed with the Graduate School registrar at least six months prior to the submission of the dissertation. By the time a prospectus is submitted, the department must approve a member of the graduate faculty to serve as the primary adviser for the dissertation. Students who plan to submit the dissertation before the end of the fourth year of study should be sure to reserve time to satisfy this requirement.
The prospectus should be viewed as a preliminary statement of what the student proposes to do in the dissertation and not as an unalterable commitment. However, substantive deviation from the dissertation project outlined in a prospectus (as determined by the director of graduate studies and associate dean) will require that the student draft a new prospectus to be approved by the dissertation committee at least six months prior to the submission of the dissertation.
In consultation with their faculty advisers and directors of graduate studies, students should give serious thought to the scale of proposed dissertation topics. There should be a reasonable expectation that the project can be completed during the stipulated duration of the degree program.
The appropriate form and typical content of a prospectus inevitably vary from field to field. In most cases, however, a prospectus should contain the following information:
- The name of the dissertation adviser.
- A statement of the topic of the dissertation and an explanation of its importance. What in general might one expect to learn from the dissertation that is not now known, understood, or appreciated?
- A concise review of what has been done on the topic in the past. Specifically, how will the proposed dissertation differ from or expand upon previous work? A basic bibliography should normally be appended to this section.
- A statement of where most of the work will be carried out—for example, in the Yale library or another library or archive, in the laboratory of a particular faculty member, or as part of a program of fieldwork at specific sites in the United States or abroad.
- If the subject matter permits, a tentative proposal for the internal organization of the dissertation—for example, major sections, subsections, sequence of chapters.
- A provisional timetable for completion of the dissertation.
Admission to Candidacy
Admission to candidacy indicates that the department and the Graduate School consider the student prepared to do original and independent research. Students will be admitted to candidacy when they have completed all predissertation requirements, including the dissertation prospectus and excluding any required teaching. Admission to candidacy will normally take place by the end of the third year of study. Any programmatic variations from this pattern that have been approved by the Executive Committee of the Graduate School are described in the individual department statements. Training in teaching can occur both before and after a student is admitted to candidacy. A student who has not been admitted to candidacy at the expected time will not be permitted to register for the following term. At the time of advancement to candidacy, students who have not petitioned for or received en route degrees (e.g., M.A., M.S., M.Phil.) will automatically be considered for such degrees. If a student advances to candidacy after the deadline to submit a petition for the degree in that term, the student will be considered for a degree in the following term.
Training in Teaching
The Teaching Fellow Program (TFP) is the principal framework at Yale in which graduate students learn to become effective teachers. Learning to teach and to evaluate student work is fundamental to the education of graduate students. Teaching is required in many departments and is an expectation for all doctoral students. All graduate students teaching for the first time at Yale are required to attend a “Teaching @ Yale Day” (T@YD) orientation. The TFP provides opportunities for graduate students to develop teaching skills, under faculty guidance, through active participation in the teaching of Yale undergraduates. Teaching fellows who encounter problems or difficulties related to their teaching appointments are encouraged to meet with their associate dean. A student must be registered in the Graduate School, at least half-time, to be appointed as a teaching fellow (TF) or as a part-time acting instructor (PTAI). TFs assist faculty in teaching relatively large undergraduate courses. PTAIs are responsible for small undergraduate courses, subject to guidance and advice by department faculty. For a more detailed description of these types of appointments, see Teaching Fellow Levels under Financing Graduate School.
Faculty should clearly communicate to students and teaching fellows their expectations about evaluation of work, feedback to students, and grading policies. Faculty are expected to prepare course syllabi, assignments, and examinations. Typically, they should not ask teaching fellows to give lectures when they are unable to attend class, although they are encouraged to offer occasional opportunities for student lectures when they can attend and advise. While on rare occasions teaching fellows may be asked to assist with administrative activities (such as placing course material on library reserve or online, making photocopies for class, ensuring that audiovisual resources are available and working, and the like), in general such activities should not be done by students.
Graduate students may occasionally serve as graders for graduate-level courses, but only in highly quantitative courses with grading demands for frequent assignments. To avoid conflicts of interest, teaching fellows should not normally be assigned to evaluate the work of graduate student peers. However, in courses requiring extensive quantitative work, teaching fellows may score quantitative homework and exams submitted by graduate students, using nondiscretionary scoring keys approved by the faculty instructor. In these instances, the faculty member should review the teaching fellow’s scoring and must assign the final grade. In courses that are double-titled with both graduate and undergraduate numbers, the same guidelines hold for the grading of assignments; all other grading of graduate students should be done by the faculty member.
The Graduate School requires that all students who teach be in academic good standing. In addition, they must be fluent in English. Graduate students whose native language is not English are required to meet the oral English proficiency standard before they may begin teaching. This includes teaching in foreign language courses. The standard may be met by (1) passing the SPEAK test, (2) passing the Center for Language Study oral exam, (3) passing the speaking section of the iBT TOEFL, (4) passing the speaking portion of the IELTS exam, or (5) having received an undergraduate baccalaureate degree or its equivalent from an institution where the principal language of instruction is English and the student was in residence for at least three years. In some instances, a student’s academic dean or director of graduate studies may require that students with an undergraduate degree from English-speaking institutions also pass an oral English exam to satisfy the language requirement. Doctoral students who have not met the oral English proficiency standard must enroll in at least one course offered by the Center for Language Study’s English Language Program each term.
Deferral of Teaching Year
In the humanities and social sciences, students in a teaching year, normally years three and four, may defer a teaching year or term into the fifth or sixth year.
The dissertation should demonstrate the student’s mastery of relevant resources and methods and should make an original contribution to knowledge in the field. Normally, it is expected that a dissertation will have a single topic, however broadly defined, and that all parts of the dissertation will be interrelated, but can constitute essentially discrete units. Beyond this principle, the faculty will apply the prevailing intellectual standards and scholarly practices within their fields in advising students with regard to the suitable scope, length, and structure of the dissertation, including what constitutes an original contribution to that field.
In accord with the traditional scholarly ideal that the candidate for a doctorate must make a contribution to knowledge, all dissertations that have been accepted by the Graduate School are published on microfilm by University Microfilms International and then deposited in the Manuscripts and Archives section of the Sterling Memorial Library. As such, classified or restricted research is not acceptable as part of the dissertation. Exceptions must be approved in advance by the Degree Committee.
Dissertations must be written in and submitted in English except in some disciplines in which there are strong academic reasons for the submission of a dissertation in a foreign language. At the time of the submission of their prospectus, students must petition for permission to submit all or a portion of their dissertations in a foreign language. The petition should be submitted in the form of a letter explaining the academic reasons for using a foreign language and will be evaluated by the director of graduate studies and the appropriate associate dean. Petitions for writing and submitting a dissertation in a foreign language will not be accepted after students have advanced to candidacy. A dissertation may not be translated into English by someone other than the student.
Dissertations must be submitted to the Graduate School by the respective deadlines in the academic calendar to be considered for December or May degrees. No exceptions are made to these deadlines, which have been established to allow sufficient time for departments to receive evaluations from readers and recommend students to the Degree Committee. Once the adviser and committee have approved a dissertation for submission and the director of graduate studies has been notified, the student submits one unbound copy of the dissertation, softbound copies that will be distributed to each reader, a completed set of required forms (http://gsas.yale.edu/sites/default/files/dissertation_checklist_and_phd_petition_02.16.16_secured_for_web.pdf), and any requisite fees to the Graduate School. The department must submit to the Graduate School a fully completed Notification of Readers form that has been approved by the director of graduate studies.
Registered doctoral candidates must have a principal adviser with an appointment on the Graduate School faculty. The Graduate School requires that each dissertation be read by at least three people but not more than five, at least two of whom hold faculty appointments in the Graduate School. All readers must hold the Ph.D. degree as well as a faculty position or be considered otherwise qualified to evaluate the dissertation. The process for assigning readers is determined by the department, which is responsible for confirming the qualifications, contact information, and willingness of all readers before notifying the Graduate School of these appointments. All appointments of readers are subject to review by the associate dean. The department is responsible for reassigning readers as necessary, and this process will not extend the deadline for readers’ reports to be returned to the Graduate School. The Graduate School will send each student a copy of the readers’ reports and place a copy in the student’s permanent academic record.
Award of the Ph.D. will be considered by the Degree Committee only if all readers’ evaluations have been received by the Graduate School and are positive, all other degree requirements have been met, and the department has recommended the awarding of the degree. Should a reader indicate that a dissertation contains significant errors in typing, grammar, spelling, reference citations, or other textual matters, the student will be required to revise the dissertation by a date provided by the registrar. Corrected pages or a new unbound copy of the dissertation must be submitted to the Graduate School, as well as a letter from the director of graduate studies indicating that the student has addressed the readers’ concerns, before the dissertation can be recommended for a degree. In the event that a dissertation is evaluated as failing, departmental practice determines the number of reevaluations normally permitted.
The Graduate School does not require departments to evaluate the dissertations of degree candidates who are no longer registered. The decision to review such dissertations rests with the department.
Requirements for the Degree of Master of Philosophy
The Master of Philosophy is awarded en route to the Ph.D. in many departments. The minimum general requirements for this degree are that a student shall have completed all requirements for the Ph.D. except required teaching, the prospectus, and dissertation. Students will not generally have satisfied the requirements for the Master of Philosophy until after two years of study, except where graduate work done before admission to Yale has reduced the student’s graduate course work at Yale. In no case will the degree be awarded for less than one year of residence in the Yale Graduate School.
Not all departments offer the M.Phil. degree. Information regarding special departmental requirements for the degree, if any, are stated in the individual department listings.
Requirements for the Degree of Master of Arts or Master of Science
Except in the case of programs listed below under Terminal M.A.S./M.A./M.S. Degrees, students are not admitted as candidates for the Master of Arts or Master of Science degree. However, students in most doctoral departments may be awarded the M.A. or M.S. en route to the Ph.D. degree.
Although departments may set more stringent requirements, the minimum general requirements must comply with the credit hour standards set by the U.S. Department of Education and include the (1) completion of a minimum of seven courses leading to the Ph.D. or the equivalent of such courses, with grades that satisfy the departmental requirements; (2) completion of one academic year in full-time residence, or the equivalent, at Yale; (3) recommendation by the department for award of the degree, subject to final review and approval by the Degree Committee. In no case may courses taken prior to matriculation in the Graduate School, or in Yale College or other summer programs, be applied toward the requirements for the Master of Arts or Master of Science degree.
Some departments do not offer the M.A. or M.S. en route to the Ph.D., or award it only to students who are withdrawing from the Ph.D. program. For information about this or any special departmental requirements additional to the general requirements stated above, see the department listings.
Students enrolled in a Ph.D. program may receive a master’s degree from another department provided that it is in a related field of study and deemed necessary for the completion of the proposed dissertation research. The student’s proposed program of study must receive formal approval in writing from the director of graduate studies in both departments and the appropriate associate dean prior to enrollment in courses that will fulfill master’s degree requirements in another department. Courses taken toward a master’s degree in another department must be part of the student’s course requirement for the Ph.D., as approved by the director of graduate studies in both departments. However, such course work cannot also be counted toward a master’s degree in the department to which the student was admitted. A student may not advance to candidacy until all requirements have been completed for both the en route master’s degree in the program to which the student was admitted and the proposed master’s degree in a related field. Students who wish to obtain a master’s degree in a field that is not directly related to the doctoral degree must apply for a personal leave from the Ph.D. program and submit an application for admission to the master’s program. Any financial aid offered to the student for a Ph.D. program may not be transferred to a master’s degree course of study. Students enrolled in combined programs normally receive combined en route degrees as well.
Terminal M.A.S./M.A./M.S. Degrees
The M.A.S./M.A./M.S. degrees are offered as terminal degrees in seventeen departments and programs: African Studies, American Studies, Applied Physics, Archaeological Studies, Computational Biology and Bioinformatics, Computer Science, East Asian Studies, Engineering and Applied Science, English, European and Russian Studies, Global Affairs, History, International and Development Economics (IDE), Music, Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations, Public Health, and Statistics.
The residence and tuition requirements for a terminal M.A.S./M.A./M.S. degree are a minimum of one year of full tuition and course work in residence in one-year programs, or a minimum of two years of full tuition and course work in residence in two-year programs. For information about which departments offer one-year programs and which offer two-year programs, see the department listings.
With the approval of the department and the appropriate associate dean, a student may be admitted for part-time study toward the master’s degree. In that case, tuition will be charged on a per-course basis. Part-time study does not change the one- or two-year full-tuition obligation described above. Part-time students must complete all degree requirements within five years of matriculation.
Individual departments establish the specific course and language requirements for these degrees. Although departments may set more stringent requirements, the minimum Graduate School requirement for students admitted for M.A.S./M.A./M.S. degrees is an overall grade average of High Pass, including a grade of Honors in at least one full-term graduate course (for students enrolled in one-year programs), or in at least two full-term graduate courses (for students enrolled in two-year programs). In order to maintain the minimum average of High Pass, each grade of Pass on the student’s transcript must be balanced by one grade of Honors. Each grade of Fail must be balanced by two grades of Honors. If a student retakes a course in which the student has received a failing grade, only the newer grade will be considered in calculating this average. The initial grade of Fail, however, will remain on the student’s transcript. A grade awarded at the conclusion of a full-year course in which no grade is awarded at the end of the first term would be counted twice in calculating this average.
Each course offered in the Graduate School counts for one or one-half credit. Only courses offered by the Graduate School and officially numbered on the graduate level can fulfill requirements for the master’s degree, with the exception of certain language courses or when specified in advance by the department or program. A student who has not fulfilled the course requirements for the degree at the conclusion of the standard duration of the program can, at the discretion of the department and associate dean, be granted one additional term to fulfill degree requirements. If the student has not taken the requisite number of courses but has fulfilled the tuition requirement, the student will be charged the Continuous Registration Fee. If the student must take additional courses beyond the number required, the student will be charged tuition on a per-course basis.
No credit will be awarded toward the M.A.S./M.A./M.S. degree for courses taken prior to matriculation in the Graduate School, or taken in Yale or other summer programs. Students in one of Yale’s professional schools who matriculate in the Graduate School to complete a joint master’s degree may, however, with the permission of their director of graduate studies, count courses already completed in their professional school program toward the joint degree. See the individual program or department listings.
The master’s degree may also be earned jointly with the B.A./B.S. in certain departments by students enrolled in Yale College. For further information, see Yale College Programs of Study, available from the Office of the Dean of Yale College.
Requirements for Joint-Degree Programs
Students who are candidates for degrees in any of the joint programs sponsored by the Graduate School and Yale’s professional schools must meet the requirements established by each school for the degree they are seeking. Degree requirements in the Graduate School include both the Graduate School’s general requirements and any special requirements set by the relevant department or program. In all cases the Honors requirement must be fulfilled in non-research courses offered primarily for Graduate School students, taken after matriculation in the Graduate School.
In addition to the J.D./Ph.D., J.D./M.A., M.D./Ph.D., and Ph.D./M.B.A. programs described below, joint-degree programs with other professional schools have been approved for students in European and Russian Studies, Global Affairs, International and Development Economics, and Nursing. These programs are described in the individual department listings.
J.D./Ph.D. and J.D./M.A. Programs
Admission to the Graduate School joint-degree programs with the Law School, described below, requires separate admission to both schools as well as approval by the appropriate associate dean in each school, and by the director of graduate studies in the student’s Graduate School department. Students must apply for admission to a joint program no later than their first year of study in a J.D., Ph.D., or two-year M.A. program, and must matriculate in the joint program no later than the beginning of their second year. Students wishing to pursue a J.D./M.A. in a one-year M.A. program must apply for admission no later than their first year of study in the J.D. program and must matriculate in the M.A. program as a joint-degree candidate.
In the J.D./Ph.D. program, the first year of study is spent principally in the Law School. The second and third years are combined according to the interest of the student. As many as six term courses, designated by the student at the beginning of the term, may be counted toward both degrees. During this time all course work and language requirements for the Ph.D. program are normally completed. The J.D. should be completed by the end of the fourth year. During the fifth year the student is expected to complete all remaining predissertation requirements and be admitted to candidacy. The teaching requirement for the Ph.D. will normally be completed by this time. Any exception to this pattern of study must be approved by the appropriate associate dean.
The minimum residence requirement in the J.D./Ph.D. program is four years. The tuition requirement is two and one-half years in the Law School and three and one-half years in the Graduate School. Financial aid is provided by each school according to its own criteria, typically for two and one-half years in the Law School and three and one-half years in the Graduate School, and is awarded by each school during the terms in which the student pays tuition in that school. Students are not eligible for financial aid from the Graduate School during terms in which they are registered at another school.
In the J.D./M.A. program, the J.D. and M.A. degrees are awarded simultaneously at the end of the fourth year of study in one-year M.A. programs and at the end of four and one-half years of study in two-year M.A. programs. The Graduate School tuition requirement for J.D./M.A. students in one-year M.A. programs is one year of tuition; students in two-year M.A. programs have a one and one-half year tuition requirement in the Graduate School. In all cases students pay three years of tuition in the Law School. Students in J.D./M.A. programs, like other students in M.A. programs, are not ordinarily eligible for University Fellowship aid through the Graduate School. Students usually enroll in the Law School during the first year of study. The pattern of enrollment in subsequent years depends on whether the M.A. program is a one-year or a two-year program.
This program is sponsored jointly by the Graduate School and the School of Medicine. Applications for admission to the joint program are reviewed by a committee composed of faculty members and deans from both schools. Normally, admission to the program includes simultaneous admission to both schools. However, students may apply to the joint program by October 15 of their second year of study in either the M.D. or Ph.D. program, and they must matriculate in the joint program no later than the beginning of the following year.
Students request affiliation with a particular department or program in the Graduate School by the middle of their third year of study in the joint program, after their course and research interests have been defined. Although students usually pursue their research in one of the biological sciences, those interested in earning the Ph.D. through work in another department may do so under certain circumstances, with the approval of the M.D./Ph.D. committee.
The residence requirement in this program is seven years. The full-tuition requirement is three and one-half years in the School of Medicine and two and one-half years in the Graduate School. To qualify for the M.D. and Ph.D. degrees, students must satisfy all degree requirements of both schools. Normally, a student admitted to this joint program must satisfy the Graduate School Honors requirement by the end of the second year of study and must complete all remaining predissertation requirements within four terms of affiliation with the Ph.D. department. This schedule may be adjusted for students who have been enrolled in either the School of Medicine or the Graduate School before admission to the M.D./Ph.D. program.
The joint degree combines the two-year M.B.A. degree from the School of Management (SOM) with the six-year Ph.D. It would allow its students to complete requirements for both degrees in roughly seven years rather than the eight or more years that would be required if the degrees were pursued separately. Both degrees will be awarded simultaneously once the student has fulfilled the degree requirements of both programs. Like all graduate students, joint-degree students will receive a full financial aid package from the Graduate School during the terms registered there. For students in the humanities and social sciences, this includes four years of tuition, five years of stipend, and health insurance for each term registered. Funding for students in the sciences will mirror standard, departmental packages. Students will pay one and one-half years of tuition for the three terms registered at SOM.
The School of Management and the Graduate School will use independent admissions processes and make independent admissions decisions. Applicants must take both the GRE tests and the GMAT. Prospective students who are currently enrolled neither in the Graduate School nor in SOM may apply to both schools simultaneously. Students already enrolled in the Graduate School normally apply to SOM after taking one course at SOM for matriculation any time after they have passed their Ph.D. qualifying examinations at the Graduate School but prior to beginning the fifth year of study. This pattern, however, is flexible, and students interested in the joint degree should consult the websites of their departments or programs for further information. Students registered in SOM may apply to the Graduate School during the first year of study at SOM. Following admission to both programs, each student must complete a form requesting joint-degree status. The form must be signed by the appropriate associate dean at the Graduate School and at SOM and the student’s director of graduate studies.
A student in the Graduate School who wishes to pursue the joint degree will normally be required to take one course in SOM before applying there. The student will need to obtain the permission of the SOM instructor and state the intention to apply to the joint-degree program. The Graduate School will waive one course during the term in which the student takes this preliminary course at SOM. For students in some disciplines, this prerequisite to admission will be waived. The student is expected to complete the qualifying exams and prospectus according to the standard schedule set by the Graduate School. The student will normally begin study at SOM after completing the departmental Ph.D. qualifying examinations at the Graduate School, but there are exceptions to this pattern described on the departmental websites. Upon admission to SOM, the joint-degree student will register at SOM for the first-year core of courses. Students may not fulfill any Graduate School requirements during this time, nor may they serve as teaching fellows in the Graduate School in any capacity. The student must register for a third term at SOM and complete four additional courses, normally prior to the beginning of the sixth year of study at the Graduate School. Depending on the schedule of individual students, they may or may not complete all four of these remaining courses within a single term at SOM. If they do not, they may complete outstanding courses while registered at the Graduate School, but in all circumstances, students are required to pay a third term of tuition to SOM.
A student who has been admitted to the Graduate School while completing the first-year core at SOM may begin course work in the Graduate School the following year. Once a joint-degree student has matriculated at the Graduate School, it is expected that the student remain registered continuously until completing the qualifying exams. During this time, the student may undertake limited course work at SOM, but may not register there for the third and final term until the student has passed the departmental exams at the Graduate School. Prospective students who apply simultaneously may start the joint degree at either school and follow the schedules outlined above.
All joint-degree students are subject to the codes of conduct published in the bulletins of their respective programs. Joint-degree students will receive separate transcripts from SOM and the Graduate School. Each transcript will list the courses required for the respective school’s portion of the joint degree. Each course taken may be counted toward one degree only. The transcripts will reflect the joint-degree status. A joint-degree student who decides not to complete both degrees may petition both schools to receive a single degree if the requirements for the single degree, including the two-year tuition requirement at SOM, are met.
Professional Ethics and Responsible Conduct in Research
Professional Ethics and Responsible Conduct in Research (RCR) training is intended to establish a basis of understanding among graduate students concerning their rights and obligations as scholars and researchers, as noted below.
Master’s and Ph.D. Students
At the start of their first year of study, all master’s and Ph.D. students are required to attend a small-group discussion of professional ethics, including academic integrity, prevention of sexual misconduct, and discrimination and harassment reporting. Students must also complete an approved online training module in professional ethics before they can register for the spring term of their first year.
Additional requirements: (1) Students in the natural sciences must complete a department-based RCR course by the end of their first year of study. Master’s students in the natural sciences will not be charged tuition for this course; (2) Students in the humanities and social sciences who receive funding from a U.S. government grant or fellowship are required to complete an online RCR course offered by CITI within one month of the start of the funding.
Students in the Division of Special Registration (DSR)
All DSR students in the natural sciences, and DSR students in the humanities and social sciences who receive funding from a U.S. government grant or fellowship, are required to complete an online RCR course offered by CITI. This requirement must be fulfilled within one month of receiving a Yale NetID and even if RCR training was completed at another university.
Additional requirements: (1) All DSR students registered in the fall term must complete an approved online training module in professional ethics before they can register for the spring term; (2) DSR students in the natural sciences who intend to study at Yale for one year or more are required to complete, at no charge, the department-based RCR course taken by degree-seeking students.
Petitioning for Degrees
Graduate School degrees are awarded twice each year, at Commencement in May and in the fall (normally in December, depending on the schedule of the Yale Corporation). Degrees are not granted automatically. Students must file a petition for each degree by the appropriate date (see Schedule of Academic Dates and Deadlines). Petitions that have received favorable recommendations from the student’s department are reviewed by the Degree Committee. When the degree committee has given its approval, the petition is forwarded to the faculty of the Graduate School and then to the Yale Corporation. If the petition is successful, the student will be notified in writing by the dean of the Graduate School.
Students enrolled in Ph.D. programs should not petition for M.A./M.S. and M.Phil. degrees until the end of the term in which requirements for the degree are completed (e.g., students completing degree requirements during the spring term should petition for award of the degree the following fall). Students who have not petitioned for or received en route degrees (e.g., M.A., M.S., M.Phil.) will automatically be considered for such degrees in the term following advancement to candidacy. Students in terminal M.A.S./M.A./M.S. programs may petition for their degrees in the term in which they expect to complete them.
There is only one University Commencement ceremony each year, in May. All degrees awarded for both December and May of each academic year are presented at the May ceremony. Graduating students must complete the Commencement form found at the site listed above by mid-April each year in order to attend the GSAS diploma ceremony in person, or, alternatively, to receive the diploma by mail.
Only registered students may attend classes, receive financial aid, or use the facilities of the University. Students must register every term for the duration of their degree program (normally six years or less for Ph.D. programs and one or two years for students in M.A.S./M.A./M.S. programs). This regulation applies to all students, whether engaged in course work, preparation for qualifying examinations, or dissertation research, and, in the case of students in Ph.D. programs, whether study is in residence or in absentia. Students who do not register for any term for which they have not been granted a leave of absence (see Leaves of Absence, under Registration Status and Leaves of Absence, below) will be considered to have withdrawn from the Graduate School. Privileges associated with registered status (i.e., library privileges, health care coverage, and e-mail accounts) will likewise be withdrawn.
Unless otherwise noted in the letter of admission, students are expected to register on a full-time basis. Part-time employment at the University or elsewhere should not conflict with the obligations of the degree program or interfere with academic progress. Part-time employment beyond an average of ten hours per week requires permission of the director of graduate studies in consultation with the appropriate associate dean. Part-time employment includes teaching outside of the Graduate School’s Teaching Fellow Program. International students must consult the Office of International Students and Scholars (OISS) regarding their eligibility for employment while in the United States.
No student may register for any term unless the student is making satisfactory progress toward the degree and has been cleared by the Office of Student Financial Services to register. In compliance with Connecticut state law, no student will be allowed to register unless satisfactory evidence of immunity to measles and rubella has been presented to Yale Health (see Health Services under Yale University Resources and Services for more information).
Satisfactory progress means that the student has met all Graduate School and departmental requirements normally expected for each stage of the student’s program. For Ph.D. students before admission to candidacy and for M.A.S./M.A./M.S. students, this includes satisfactory completion of courses from the preceding term(s). As indicated in the sections on Course and Honors Requirements and Admission to Candidacy, students in Ph.D. programs must satisfy the Honors requirement before beginning the fifth term of study and must be admitted to candidacy by the appropriate time. In addition to satisfying these general Graduate School requirements, students must meet any additional requirements specified by their departments. Students who fail to make satisfactory progress may be placed on a probationary status pending satisfactory completion of requirements. Ph.D. students who have been admitted to candidacy must continue to demonstrate satisfactory progress toward the degree in the annual Dissertation Progress Report (DPR). Students who fail to meet departmental or Graduate School requirements by the designated deadlines, and students who have been admitted to candidacy who fail to submit the annual DPR, will be administratively withdrawn.
Students must register each term until the dissertation is submitted or until six years (twelve terms) of study have been completed. Registered students who submit dissertations will remain registered until the end of the term (i.e., through December for those submitting during the fall term, through May for those submitting before the spring degree deadline, and through August for those submitting after the spring degree deadline) and will retain all privileges of registration (e.g., library privileges, health care coverage, and e-mail accounts). Students who complete all Ph.D. requirements within four continuous years of full-time study in the Ph.D. program will be registered and charged full tuition only through the term in which the dissertation is submitted. Students who have registered part-time or taken a leave of absence must complete the four-year, full-tuition obligation, regardless of when they submit the dissertation.
Students are expected to complete the dissertation within six years of study or less. Students who have not submitted the dissertation by the end of the sixth year of study may do so subsequently, at the discretion of the department, without registering or may request a period of extended registration by submitting the petition for extended registration, which includes the standard DPR that is required annually by May 1 of all students admitted to candidacy. Before a seventh year of registration is approved, the student and the student’s adviser, as well as the director of graduate studies, must complete a report that specifies the progress the student has already made in writing the dissertation and that also includes a detailed plan for completing the dissertation in the seventh year. Very rarely, students may request an eighth year of registration due to serious circumstances beyond their control that have prevented them from completing the dissertation by the end of the seventh year of study. Students who receive extended registration must register online each term and are normally expected to be in residence.
Alternatively, a doctoral student who is not eligible for full-time registration may request to enroll with the status “Dissertation Completion.” This part-time status enables advanced students to maintain an active NetID in order to access electronic library resources and their Yale e-mail accounts while completing their dissertations under the supervision of a member of the Graduate School faculty. A student may hold this status for a maximum of four consecutive terms and will be charged the Continuous Registration Fee in each term for which it is approved. Students on this status are not eligible to teach in the Teaching Fellow Program or to purchase health coverage as Yale affiliates. Once a student enters this status, the student may not petition to register as a full-time student in a subsequent term.
Noncumulative registration In certain areas of study it may be necessary for a registered student to acquire an academic or methodological skill, such as knowledge of a foreign language, that is essential for a degree requirement or for research in a particular field and for the overall progress of the dissertation, but is not an inherent part of the dissertation itself. A student may request up to one year of “noncumulative registration.” General study in a field related to or parallel with the topic of the dissertation is not appropriate for noncumulative registration.
A student who wishes to have a specific period of study designated as “noncumulative” must discuss the reasons for such a period of study with and secure prior approval from the associate dean for graduate student advising and academic support. If prior authorization has been given by the Graduate School, the period of time spent in acquiring the necessary academic skill will not be counted as part of the student’s six-year period of registration. Noncumulative registration does not affect the four-year full-tuition obligation. The tuition charge and any University stipend will be postponed if a student registers noncumulatively before the four-year full-tuition obligation has been satisfied. While registered noncumulatively, students pay the Continuous Registration Fee and doctoral students continue to receive the Health Award from the Graduate School.
Part-time study Students in Ph.D. programs are expected to register for full-time study. In extraordinary circumstances a student may petition the Graduate School for permission to register as a half-time student for a limited period. Students may not register for half-time study for more than three of the first four academic years they are enrolled. Thereafter they must register full-time until the four-year tuition obligation has been satisfied. Any Ph.D. student who registers half-time at any point in the graduate program must fulfill the four-year tuition obligation to receive the Ph.D. (see below). Ph.D. students may not register less than half-time.
Students who wish to study part-time should consult with their director of graduate studies and the appropriate associate dean to develop a proposed plan of study, so that both the student and the Graduate School have a common understanding about the time by which the requirements leading to admission to candidacy must be completed. Such a plan of study may be modified with the consent of the director of graduate studies and the associate dean.
Any student who wishes to enroll in courses during a term must register through the Online Course Selection (OCS) process. The deadlines for registration each term are listed in the Schedule of Academic Dates and Deadlines. Students who submit course enrollment forms after the appropriate deadline will be assessed a fee.
No student may attend any class unless officially registered in the course. No credit will be given for work done in any course for which a student is not officially registered, even if the student entered the course with the approval of the instructor and the director of graduate studies. Graduate students who wish to register for courses that are offered on both the graduate and undergraduate levels must register with the graduate-level course number (i.e., 500 or higher) in order to receive credit toward their degrees. In rare instances, a graduate student may be granted permission to register for an undergraduate course that will count toward the fulfillment of course requirements for the student’s graduate degree. In such cases, the student must file an approved Graduate Credit Request form (http://gsas.yale.edu/sites/default/files/files-forms/credit_request_form.pdf) with the Registrar’s Office by the end of the registration period. Graduate students may not utilize the “Credit/D/Fail” option within the Yale College grading scale. Students enrolling in courses offered by a Yale professional school are subject to all policies and deadlines of both the professional school and the Graduate School. Graduate students taking a course through the School of Management and the Law School must also obtain written permission from the respective schools’ registrars to be officially enrolled. Permission must be obtained within two weeks of the close of registration at the Graduate School.
A student who wishes to audit a course must receive permission from the instructor (as not all faculty permit auditors in their classes) and register for the course as an auditor. The minimum general requirement for auditing is attendance in two-thirds of the class sessions; instructors may set additional requirements for auditing their classes. Audited courses appear on the student’s transcript.
Once the Online Course Selection (OCS) process has closed for a given term, all subsequent changes must be made using the Course Schedule Change Notification Form, approved by the student’s director of graduate studies and then filed with the registrar. If a student is enrolled in a professional school course, all changes in enrollment status must be reported to the registrar of that school as well as to the Graduate School. Forms for reporting changes to the Graduate School are available at the Graduate School Student Information Office (Warner House, 1 Hillhouse Ave.), through the student’s department, or online at http://gsas.yale.edu/forms.
The dates for changing enrollment in a course from Credit to Audit or Audit to Credit and for withdrawing from a course are listed in the Schedule of Academic Dates and Deadlines. If a student officially withdraws from a course by the stated deadline, the course will be removed from the student’s transcript. If a student ceases to participate in a course without officially withdrawing from that course by the stated deadline, it is at the instructor’s discretion to assign an appropriate qualitative grade or a grade of “Incomplete.”
The grades assigned in the Graduate School are:
A mark of “Y” is assigned as the grade for the first term of a full-year course and will be converted to a standard grade once both terms are completed, depending on the number of credits the course fulfills.
Marks of Satisfactory/Unsatisfactory may be assigned only when the department sponsoring the course has designated such marks. In such cases, the grading mode is the same for all students enrolled in the course.
The Graduate School does not calculate grade-point averages, nor does it assign numerical or letter equivalents to Graduate School grades. Grades assigned according to grading scales other than those described above will be returned to the instructor for conversion. If a student retakes a course, both grades remain on the transcript, but only the higher grade is counted toward the program requirements.
The Schedule of Academic Dates and Deadlines indicates the dates on which grades are due for the current year. Instructors have the responsibility for assigning dates for submission of course work to meet these grade deadlines. If a student and instructor have agreed that an extension is appropriate, the student must submit to the Registrar’s Office a request for the Temporary Incomplete (TI) (available on the Graduate School website at http://gsas.yale.edu/forms) with the intended completion date, signed by the instructor and the director of graduate studies. Only one TI in a single term is permitted. Temporary Incompletes received in an academic year must be converted to final grades by October 1 of the following academic year. If a grade is not received by the registrar by this date, the TI will be converted to a permanent Incomplete (I) on the student’s record.
In certain extraordinary circumstances, such as serious illness or a family emergency, and on the recommendation of the student’s department, the associate dean may grant an additional extension. A written request for such an extension must be made by the director of graduate studies on the student’s behalf within two weeks of the grade submission deadline. The request should indicate the special circumstances and suggest a date by which the student will complete the work. If the request is approved, the associate dean will inform the student and instructor. If the grade is submitted to the registrar by the new deadline approved by the associate dean, it will replace the Temporary Incomplete. If a grade is not received by the registrar by this date, a Temporary Incomplete (TI) will be converted to a permanent Incomplete (I) on the student’s record.
“Provisional” or “temporary” grades (as opposed to Incompletes) are not permitted. Once submitted to the Registrar’s Office, a grade may be changed only in cases of arithmetical or clerical error on the part of the instructor and only with the approval of the appropriate associate dean. If the registrar has not received a given grade from an instructor within two weeks of the stated deadline for the submission of grades, the student will be assigned a grade of “Incomplete” for that course.
Students are reminded that the policies stated above are the Graduate School minimum general requirements. Departments or individual instructors may have more stringent policies, and students should consult their departmental handbooks or directors of graduate studies about such requirements.
Registration Status and Leaves of Absence
Registration in Residence
Students who are studying on campus, attending classes, and using University facilities are considered to be in residence. All M.A.S./M.A./M.S. and nondegree (DSR) students must register in residence each term, as do most students in Ph.D. programs (see also Registration in Absentia and Continuous Registration Fee, below). Students who will be in residence during any term are required to register through the Online Course Selection process during the normal registration period at the beginning of that term (see the Schedule of Academic Dates and Deadlines).
A fee will be charged to students who register in residence after the close of the registration period. Late fees may be waived only if the registrar receives written notification from the student or director of graduate studies before the start of the registration period that the student will register late because of participation in an academic program, such as a summer language course or professional meeting, that coincides with the registration period. A student who cannot register during the registration period because of a sudden serious illness or family emergency should contact the deputy registrar (246 Church St.) as soon as possible.
Registration in Absentia
Ph.D. students whose program of study requires full-time dissertation research, full-time fieldwork, or full-time study at another academic institution outside the New Haven area may request to be registered in absentia. Such registration requires the recommendation of the director of graduate studies. Forms for requesting registration in absentia may be obtained online at http://gsas.yale.edu/forms and should be filed at least one month before the beginning of the term during which the student expects to be studying away from New Haven. A student who has not completed the three-year residence requirement will be permitted to register in absentia for compelling academic reasons only, and normally only if the student has completed all other predissertation requirements. Registration in absentia does not reduce the four-year full-tuition or three-year residence requirements. For additional information, see Eligibility for Fellowships under Financing Graduate School.
Students who are enrolled in Yale Health and are registering in absentia should consult the staff of the Member Services Department at Yale Health about the policies governing coverage while they are away from New Haven. The Graduate School funds travel insurance for students who have been approved to pursue degree-related activities outside the United States. Such students should register their locations at http://world.yale.edu/travel to facilitate communication with the University in case of an emergency.
Continuous Registration Fee
Ph.D. students who have completed the tuition and residence requirements described above must continue to register each term through the sixth year whether in residence or in absentia, or until they submit the dissertation, whichever occurs first. Students who have met the tuition requirement are charged a Continuous Registration Fee (CRF) for each term in which they remain registered. Students who are granted permission to register beyond the sixth year are also charged the CRF. The Graduate School will cover the cost of the CRF for Ph.D. students registered full-time in year seven and beyond for any term in which they serve as Teaching Fellows.
Ph.D. students receive funding and are expected to continue full-time independent study or research during the summer. Continuing students who were registered during the preceding spring term remain registered through August 31. Ph.D. students who wish to interrupt their studies during the summer (e.g., to accept an internship) must notify their associate dean prior to May 15.
Many M.A./M.S. students continue full- or half-time independent study or research during the summer. Continuing students who were registered during the preceding spring term remain registered through August 31.
Students can obtain verification of summer registration from the Registrar’s Office.
Normally, students who take time off from their studies to work full-time must take a leave of absence for the term or terms in which they are employed. However, certain summer internship opportunities may be beneficial to a student’s academic development and career prospects. Therefore, under certain circumstances students may be permitted to remain registered at Yale while engaged in summer internships. To be eligible, the internship must meet several requirements:
- Continuous registration while participating in an internship requires the permission of the director of graduate studies.
- The internship should serve one of two functions: either the student is learning and developing techniques or acquiring data that will be used in the dissertation, or the internship is exposing the student to a potential field of employment following completion of the Ph.D.
- The internship must start after the end of the spring term, and be completed before the start of the fall term. If an internship opportunity overlaps with the fall or spring term, students must request a leave of absence.
- Students participating in a summer internship normally forgo their summer funding from Yale. The sole exception is if the internship is unpaid and the student is generating data that will be used in the dissertation, or obtaining technical or methodological skills necessary for the dissertation. In this case, the student may request to receive summer support from Yale. In most cases, funding will terminate at the end of May and resume on September 1.
- Students will be limited to two summer internship opportunities. If a student wishes to pursue additional internships, the student must apply for a leave of absence.
- Students will remain registered full-time and will continue to receive the Health Award and other benefits of registration. Internships do not stop a student’s “academic clock.”
- Students wishing to pursue internships undertaken primarily for exposure to potential fields of employment are eligible to do so only after they have advanced to candidacy.
To apply for a summer internship:
- Complete the Request for Summer Internship form. Submit this form with a letter to the director of graduate studies describing the nature of the internship and work to be done. Include the name of the employer, location and dates of employment, contact information, and salary or benefits provided by the internship. If the internship restricts the student’s rights to use and publish information produced during the experience, a copy of the employer’s intellectual property rights agreement or proprietary data agreement should also be submitted. Explain the goals of the internship and how this experience will advance the dissertation research or promote career goals.
- With the form and letter, students should submit a research plan for the coming year that describes their goals, steps for achieving those goals, and the role of the internship in their plans. Students who have been admitted to candidacy and who have included the internship in their annual Dissertation Progress Report (DPR) may refer to the DPR instead of submitting a new research plan.
- The student’s adviser must include a letter of support explaining how the student will benefit from this internship.
- The director of graduate studies should recommend or disapprove the plan. Recommended plans should be forwarded to the associate dean for final review. The director of graduate studies should certify that the type of experience gained is consistent with the educational goals of the department.
- International students wishing to pursue internships should contact OISS eight to ten weeks prior to the start of the proposed internship, as they will require permission for “practical training” from the U.S. government.
Leaves of Absence
Students who wish or need to interrupt their study temporarily may request a leave of absence. There are three types of leave—personal, medical, and parental—all of which are described below. The general policies that apply to all types of leave are:
- All leaves of absence must be approved by the appropriate associate dean on the recommendation of the department. Medical leaves also require the written recommendation of a Yale Health chief physician or their designee, as described below.
- Students in Ph.D. programs may be granted a leave for one term or one academic year. A leave extends the eligibility for fellowship aid by a time equal to the duration of the leave, but not for partial terms. The expected last date of registration will be adjusted by one term for each term of the leave.
Students in one-year M.A.S./M.A./M.S. programs may be on leave for a maximum of one term. Students in two-year M.A./M.S. programs may be on leave for a maximum total of one year.
In exceptional circumstances renewal of a one-term or one-year leave, to a cumulative maximum total of two years of personal and medical leave, may be granted for students in Ph.D. programs. Leaves of absence for students in M.A.S./M.A./M.S. programs are not renewable. The duration of a parental leave is one term or one year, renewable for each birth or adoption event.
- International students who apply for a leave of absence must consult with OISS regarding their visa status.
- Students on leave may complete outstanding work in courses for which they have been granted approved Incompletes. They may not, however, fulfill any other degree requirements during the time on leave. (Students who intend to work toward the degree while away from the University must request registration in absentia.) Students who in fact make progress toward the degree while on leave will have their registration changed retroactively to in absentia for the period of the leave.
- A leave of absence does not exempt the student from meeting the tuition requirement (payment of eight terms of full tuition in Ph.D. programs, or the appropriate established tuition charge in M.A.S./M.A./M.S. programs) or from paying the Continuous Registration Fee (if appropriate), but merely postpones the required charges.
- A student on leave of absence is not eligible for financial aid, including loans; and in most cases, student loans are not deferred during periods of nonenrollment.
- A student on leave of absence is not eligible for the use of any University facilities normally available to enrolled students.
- A student on leave of absence may continue to be enrolled in Yale Health by purchasing coverage through the Student Affiliate Coverage plan. In order to secure continuous coverage from Yale Health, enrollment in this plan must be requested prior to the beginning of the term in which the student will be on leave or, if the leave commences during the term, within thirty days of the date the registrar was notified of the leave. Coverage is not automatic; enrollment forms are available from the Member Services Department of Yale Health, 203.432.0246.
- Students living in University housing units are encouraged to review their housing contract and the related policies of the Graduate Housing Office before applying to the Graduate School for a leave of absence.
- Students on leave of absence do not have to file a formal application for readmission. However, they must notify the registrar in writing of their intention to return. Such notification should be given at least eight weeks prior to the end of the approved leave.
- Students who fail to register for the term following the end of the approved leave will be administratively withdrawn from the Graduate School.
Personal leave of absence A student who wishes or needs to interrupt study temporarily because of personal exigencies may request a personal leave of absence. The general policies governing all leaves of absence are described above. A student who is current with degree requirements is eligible for a personal leave after satisfactory completion of at least one term of study. Normally, students in Ph.D. programs are not eligible for personal leaves after the fourth year of study. In certain exceptional cases, however, personal leaves may be granted to students beyond the fourth year of study. Personal leaves cannot be granted retroactively and normally will not be approved after the tenth day of a term.
To request a personal leave of absence, the student must complete the appropriate form (available online at http://gsas.yale.edu/forms) before the beginning of the term for which the leave is requested, explaining the reasons for the proposed leave and stating both the proposed start and end dates of the leave and the address at which the student can be reached during the period of the leave. If the dean finds the student to be eligible and the department approves, the leave will be granted. In any case, the student will be informed in writing of the action taken. Students who do not apply for a personal leave of absence, or whose application for a personal leave is denied, and who do not register for any term, will be administratively withdrawn from the Graduate School.
Medical leave of absence A student who must interrupt study temporarily because of illness or injury may be granted a medical leave of absence with the approval of the appropriate associate dean, on the written recommendation of a Yale Health chief physician or their designee. A student who wishes to take a medical leave of absence may request it from a physician at Yale Health or from the student’s associate dean. The general policies governing all leaves of absence are described above. A student who is making satisfactory progress toward degree requirements is eligible for a medical leave any time after matriculation. The final decision concerning a request for a medical leave of absence will be communicated in writing by the appropriate associate dean.
The Graduate School reserves the right to require a student to take a leave for medical reasons when, on recommendation of the director of Yale Health or the chief of the Mental Health and Counseling department, an associate dean of the Graduate School determines that the student is a danger to self or others because of a serious medical problem, or that the student has refused to cooperate with efforts deemed necessary by Yale Health to determine if the student is such a danger. An appeal of such a leave must be made in writing to the dean of the Graduate School no later than seven days from the effective date of the leave.
A student who is placed on medical leave during any term will have tuition adjusted according to the same schedule used for withdrawals (see Schedule of Academic Dates and Deadlines). Before re-registering, a student on medical leave must secure written permission to return from a Yale Health chief physician or their designee.
Eligible Ph.D. students will receive a Health Award from the Graduate School to cover the cost of the Student Affiliate Coverage plan for the remainder of the coverage period in which the medical leave is started, if they apply for this coverage through Yale Health within thirty days of the start of their leave.
Leave of absence for parental responsibilities A student who wishes or needs to interrupt study temporarily for reasons of pregnancy, maternity care, or paternity care may be granted a leave of absence for parental responsibilities. The general policies governing all leaves of absence are described above. A student who is making satisfactory progress toward degree requirements is eligible for parental leave any time after matriculation.
Eligible Ph.D. students will receive a Health Award from the Graduate School to cover the cost of the Student Affiliate Coverage plan for the remainder of the coverage period in which the parental leave is started, if they apply for this coverage through Yale Health within thirty days of the start of their leave.
Students granted a parental leave may continue to reside in University housing to the end of the academic term for which the leave was first granted, but no longer.
Parental Support and Relief
Registered Ph.D. students who wish to modify their academic responsibilities because of the birth or adoption of a child may request parental support and relief during or following the term in which the birth or adoption occurs. For the whole of the term in which the support and relief are granted, the student’s academic clock stops, effectively adding an additional term to the total time to degree. During this period, students remain registered full-time, receive a standard financial aid stipend and Health Award, and receive modified departmental academic expectations that best suit the specific situation. The precise nature of the academic responsibilities undertaken or suspended during this period should be a matter of consultation between the adviser and the student, with the understanding that students are entitled to full relief from responsibilities for at least an eight-week period. Most students take an entire term of parental relief, but the relief may be split in two, with a student taking only eight weeks of relief during the term in which, or just after, a birth or adoption occurs and then receiving an additional eight weeks of stipend funded by the Graduate School postponed to a later term. Parental relief may not be combined with other funding. To arrange for parental relief, a student should contact the associate dean for student progress four months prior to a birth or adoption. This benefit is limited to two birth or adoption events. If both parents are graduate students at Yale, only one student may receive this benefit per birth or adoption event, though the second student may consult with the associate dean for graduate student advising and academic support regarding a modification of academic responsibilities.
Graduate students in terminal M.A.S./M.A./M.S. programs may modify their academic responsibilities because of the birth or adoption of a child. They should contact the associate dean the term before the planned modifications would occur.
Withdrawal and Readmission
A student may withdraw from a program of study voluntarily or may be withdrawn for cause. A student who wishes to terminate a program of study should confer with the director of graduate studies and the appropriate associate dean regarding withdrawal; their signatures on an official withdrawal form (available on the Graduate School website at http://gsas.yale.edu/forms) are required. The associate dean will determine the effective date of the withdrawal, upon consultation with the department. The University identification card must be submitted with the approved withdrawal form in order for withdrawal to be recorded.
Students who are not in academic good standing will be withdrawn for cause, unless an extension or exception has been granted by the appropriate dean or the Degree Committee. Such withdrawals will be noted on the student’s transcript.
Students who do not register for any fall or spring term, and for whom a leave of absence has not been approved by the appropriate associate dean, will be administratively withdrawn from the Graduate School.
A student who discontinues a program of study during the academic year without submitting an approved withdrawal form and the University identification card will be liable for the tuition charge (or Continuous Registration Fee) for the term in which the withdrawal occurs. Tuition charges for students who withdraw will be adjusted as described in the Schedule of Academic Dates and Deadlines. The Continuous Registration Fee for the term is not canceled if a student withdraws after the fourteenth day of the term. Health service policies related to withdrawal and readmission are described under Health Services, below.
Only students who have withdrawn from the Graduate School in good standing may apply for readmission. Normally, students seeking readmission must do so within three years of the original withdrawal. Neither readmission nor financial aid is guaranteed to students who withdraw. The deadline for making application for readmission is January 2 of the year in which the student wishes to return to the Graduate School. The student’s application will be considered by the department, which will make a recommendation for review by the appropriate associate dean. The student’s remaining tuition obligation will be determined at the time of readmission. Students may seek readmission only once. If subsequent to a readmission they must again withdraw, they are ineligible for readmission.
U.S. Military Leave Readmissions Policy
Students who wish or need to interrupt their studies to perform U.S. military service are subject to a separate U.S. military leave readmissions policy. In the event a student withdraws or takes a leave of absence from the Graduate School to serve in the U.S. military, the student will be entitled to guaranteed readmission under the following conditions:
- The student must have served in the U.S. Armed Forces for a period of more than thirty consecutive days.
- The student must give advance written or oral notice of such service to the appropriate dean. In providing the advance notice the student does not need to indicate an intent to return. This advance notice need not come directly from the student, but rather, can be made by an appropriate officer of the U.S. Armed Forces or official of the U.S. Department of Defense. Notice is not required if precluded by military necessity. In all cases, this notice requirement can be fulfilled at the time the student seeks readmission, by submitting an attestation that the student performed the service.
- The student must not be away from the Graduate School to perform U.S. military service for a period exceeding five years (this includes all previous absences to perform U.S. military service but does not include any initial period of obligated service). If a student’s time away from the Graduate School to perform U.S. military service exceeds five years because the student is unable to obtain release orders through no fault of the student or the student was ordered to or retained on active duty, the student should contact the appropriate dean to determine if the student remains eligible for guaranteed readmission.
- The student must notify the Graduate School within three years of the end of the U.S. military service of the intention to return. However, a student who is hospitalized or recovering from an illness or injury incurred in or aggravated during the U.S. military service has up until two years after recovering from the illness or injury to notify the Graduate School of the intent to return.
- The student cannot have received a dishonorable or bad conduct discharge or have been sentenced in a court-martial.
A student who meets all of these conditions will be readmitted for the next term, unless the student requests a later date of readmission. Any student who fails to meet one of these requirements may still be readmitted under the general readmission policy but is not guaranteed readmission.
Upon returning to the Graduate School, the student will resume education without repeating completed course work for courses interrupted by U.S. military service. The student will have the same enrolled status last held and with the same academic standing. For the first academic year in which the student returns, the student will be charged the tuition and fees that would have been assessed for the academic year in which the student left the institution. Yale may charge up to the amount of tuition and fees other students are assessed, however, if veteran’s education benefits will cover the difference between the amounts currently charged other students and the amount charged for the academic year in which the student left.
In the case of a student who is not prepared to resume studies with the same academic status at the same point at which the student left or who will not be able to complete the program of study, the Graduate School will undertake reasonable efforts to help the student become prepared. If after reasonable efforts, the Graduate School determines that the student remains unprepared or will be unable to complete the program, or after the Graduate School determines that there are no reasonable efforts it can take, the Graduate School may deny the student readmission.
Yale University is an academic community dedicated to the advancement of learning. Its members freely associate themselves with the University and in doing so affirm their commitment to a philosophy of tolerance and respect for all members of the community. They pledge to help sustain the intellectual integrity of the University and to uphold its standards of honesty, free expression, and inquiry. They are expected to abide by the regulations of the University. They are also expected to obey local, state, and federal laws, and violations of these may be cause for discipline by the Graduate School. Students are required to report misdemeanor and felony charges to their associate dean.
The Graduate School specifically prohibits the following forms of behavior by graduate students:
- Cheating on examinations, problem sets, and any other form of test; also, falsification and/or fabrication of data.
- Plagiarism, that is, the failure in a dissertation, essay, or other written exercise to acknowledge ideas, research, or language taken from others.
- Multiple submission of the same work without obtaining explicit written permission from both instructors before the material is submitted.
- Misuse of the materials or facilities of the University library.
- Unauthorized use of University services, equipment, or facilities, such as telephones and photocopying equipment.
- Violation of University rules for using information technology services and facilities, including computers, the University network, and electronic mail. (See Information Technology Appropriate Use Policy, online at https://your.yale.edu/policies-procedures/policies/1607-information-technology-appropriate-use-policy.)
- Assault on, or coercion, harassment, or intimidation of, any member of the University community, including harassment on the basis of race, religion, gender, ethnicity, or sexual orientation; sexual harassment; or the use of a teaching position to harass or intimidate another student.
- Engaging in a relationship with a student while serving as the student’s teaching fellow or in any other direct supervisory role over the student (as outlined in the University’s policy prohibiting “Teacher-Student Consensual Relationships”).
- Disruption of a legitimate function or activity of the University community, including disrupting classes and meetings, blocking entrances and exits to University buildings, unauthorized occupation of any space on the Yale campus, or preventing the free expression or dissemination of ideas. (See Freedom of Expression, below.)
- Refusal to comply with the direction of a University police officer or other University official, including a member of the faculty, acting in the performance of their duties.
- Misuse, alteration, or fabrication of University credentials or documents, such as an identification card or transcript, including grade lists submitted by teaching fellows.
- Misrepresentation or lying during a formal inquiry by University officials.
- Misrepresentation in applying for admission or financial aid.
- Theft, misuse of funds, or willful damage of University property. Off-campus misconduct may result in disciplinary action if such conduct imperils the integrity and values of the University community. Off-campus violations committed in the course of a Yale-sponsored program anywhere in the world could also be subject to disciplinary charges.
- Trespassing on University property to which access is prohibited.
- Possession or use of explosives, incendiary devices, or weapons on or about the campus.
- Interference with the proper operation of safety or security devices, including fire alarms, electronic gates, and sprinkler systems.
- Unlawful manufacture, possession, use, or distribution of illicit drugs or alcohol on University property or as part of any University activity.
Violations of any of the above regulations will be referred to the Graduate School Committee on Regulations and Discipline, composed of three graduate students, three faculty members, normally one from each division, and an associate dean. Violations of regulations pertaining to sexual misconduct or the University’s Consensual Relations Policy will be referred to the University-Wide Committee on Sexual Misconduct. Students found guilty of such violations will be subject to one or more of the following disciplinary penalties:
Penalties of suspension or dismissal will be noted on the student’s transcript. Pending disciplinary charges will be noted on a student’s transcript if the student withdraws from the Graduate School after being formally charged but before such charges have been resolved. A student who has petitioned for a degree will not receive the degree while charges are pending or while serving a suspension. A student who has been dismissed for a disciplinary violation may petition for a degree, to be awarded at the discretion of the Degree Committee, based on work completed before the infraction occurred. A student dismissed for academic misconduct will not receive a degree from the Graduate School regardless of requirements fulfilled before the infraction occurred. The Graduate School reserves the right to impose fines as appropriate, in addition to requiring payment for costs resulting from or associated with the offenses. In addition to imposing these penalties for offenses subject to disciplinary action, the University may refer students for prosecution, and students found guilty of unlawful possession, use, or distribution of illicit drugs or alcohol on University property or as part of any University activity may be required to complete an appropriate rehabilitation program.
Copies of the procedures of the Committee on Regulations and Discipline may be obtained from the office of each of the associate deans of the Graduate School or via the Graduate School website (http://gsas.yale.edu/academic-professional-development/professional-ethics-regulations/student-grievances). The deans may be consulted for further information and advice. A copy of the procedures is sent automatically to any student who is charged with a violation of the Graduate School’s regulations.
To address complaints and grievances of various kinds, the Graduate School maintains a set of procedures. Copies of the grievance procedures of the Graduate School may be obtained from the office of each of the associate deans of the Graduate School or via the Graduate School website (http://gsas.yale.edu/academic-professional-development/professional-ethics-regulations/student-grievances). The deans may be consulted for further information and advice.
The Graduate School Procedure for Student Complaints
This procedure governs most student complaints, including, but not limited to, complaints of discrimination on the basis of race, sex, color, religion, national or ethnic origin, disability, or sexual orientation, against a member of the faculty or administration of the Graduate School. Complaints that involve a misapplication of Graduate School policy are also appropriate for consideration by the Dean’s Advisory Committee on Student Grievances. Complaints that require an emendation of policy will be referred to the Graduate School Executive Committee. Complaints of sexual misconduct, which includes sexual harassment and sexual assault, may be brought to a Title IX Coordinator or to the University-Wide Committee on Sexual Misconduct (UWC). For more information on the University’s Title IX Coordinators or the UWC, please see Resources on Sexual Misconduct under Yale University Resources and Services.
The Provost’s Procedure governs most student complaints, including, but not limited to, complaints of discrimination on the basis of race, sex, color, religion, national or ethnic origin, disability, or sexual orientation, against a faculty member who is not a member of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences, or against an employee who is not an administrator in the Graduate School or who is not subject to discipline by the student’s dean. This procedure is available at www.yale.edu/equalopportunity/grievance. Complaints of sexual misconduct, which includes sexual harassment and sexual assault, may be brought to a Title IX Coordinator or to the University-Wide Committee on Sexual Misconduct (UWC). For more information on the University’s Title IX Coordinators or the UWC, please see Resources on Sexual Misconduct under Yale University Resources and Services.
Freedom of Expression
The Yale Graduate School is committed to the protection of free inquiry and expression in the classroom and throughout the school community. In this, the School reflects the University's commitment to and policy on freedom of expression as eloquently stated in the Woodward Report (Report of the Committee on Freedom of Expression at Yale, 1974), which states, in part:
The primary function of a university is to discover and disseminate knowledge by means of research and teaching. To fulfill this function a free interchange of ideas is necessary not only within its walls but with the world beyond as well. It follows that the university must do everything possible to ensure within it the fullest degree of intellectual freedom. The history of intellectual growth and discovery clearly demonstrates the need for unfettered freedom, the right to think the unthinkable, discuss the unmentionable, and challenge the unchallengeable. To curtail free expression strikes twice at intellectual freedom, for whoever deprives another of the right to state unpopular views necessarily also deprives others of the right to listen to those views.
We take a chance, as the First Amendment takes a chance, when we commit ourselves to the idea that the results of free expression are to the general benefit in the long run, however unpleasant they may appear at the time. The validity of such a belief cannot be demonstrated conclusively. It is a belief of recent historical development, even within universities, one embodied in American constitutional doctrine but not widely shared outside the academic world, and denied in theory and in practice by much of the world most of the time.
Because few other institutions in our society have the same central function, few assign such high priority to freedom of expression. Few are expected to. Because no other kind of institution combines the discovery and dissemination of basic knowledge with teaching, none confronts quite the same problems as a university.
For if a university is a place for knowledge, it is also a special kind of small society. Yet it is not primarily a fellowship, a club, a circle of friends, a replica of the civil society outside it. Without sacrificing its central purpose, it cannot make its primary and dominant value the fostering of friendship, solidarity, harmony, civility, or mutual respect. To be sure, these are important values; other institutions may properly assign them the highest, and not merely a subordinate, priority; and a good university will seek and may in some significant measure attain these ends. But it will never let these values, important as they are, override its central purpose. We value freedom of expression precisely because it provides a forum for the new, the provocative, the disturbing, and the unorthodox. Free speech is a barrier to the tyranny of authoritarian or even majority opinion as to the rightness or wrongness of particular doctrines or thoughts.
If the priority assigned to free expression by the nature of a university is to be maintained in practice, clearly the responsibility for maintaining that priority rests with its members. By voluntarily taking up membership in a university and thereby asserting a claim to its rights and privileges, members also acknowledge the existence of certain obligations upon themselves and their fellows. Above all, every member of the university has an obligation to permit free expression in the university. No member has a right to prevent such expression. Every official of the university, moreover, has a special obligation to foster free expression and to ensure that it is not obstructed.
The strength of these obligations, and the willingness to respect and comply with them, probably depend less on the expectation of punishment for violation than they do on the presence of a widely shared belief in the primacy of free expression. Nonetheless, we believe that the positive obligation to protect and respect free expression shared by all members of the university should be enforced by appropriate formal sanctions, because obstruction of such expression threatens the central function of the university. We further believe that such sanctions should be made explicit, so that potential violators will be aware of the consequences of their intended acts.
In addition to the university’s primary obligation to protect free expression there are also ethical responsibilities assumed by each member of the university community, along with the right to enjoy free expression. Though these are much more difficult to state clearly, they are of great importance. If freedom of expression is to serve its purpose and thus the purpose of the university, it should seek to enhance understanding. Shock, hurt, and anger are not consequences to be weighed lightly. No member of the community with a decent respect for others should use, or encourage others to use, slurs and epithets intended to discredit another’s race, ethnic group, religion, or sex. It may sometimes be necessary in a university for civility and mutual respect to be superseded by the need to guarantee free expression. The values superseded are nevertheless important, and every member of the university community should consider them in exercising the fundamental right to free expression.
We have considered the opposing argument that behavior which violates these social and ethical considerations should be made subject to formal sanctions, and the argument that such behavior entitles others to prevent speech they might regard as offensive. Our conviction that the central purpose of the university is to foster the free access of knowledge compels us to reject both of these arguments. They assert a right to prevent free expression. They rest upon the assumption that speech can be suppressed by anyone who deems it false or offensive. They deny what Justice Holmes termed “freedom for the thought that we hate.” They make the majority, or any willful minority, the arbiters of truth for all. If expression may be prevented, censored, or punished, because of its content or because of the motives attributed to those who promote it, then it is no longer free. It will be subordinated to other values that we believe to be of lower priority in a university.
The conclusions we draw, then, are these: even when some members of the university community fail to meet their social and ethical responsibilities, the paramount obligation of the university is to protect their right to free expression. This obligation can and should be enforced by appropriate formal sanctions. If the university’s overriding commitment to free expression is to be sustained, secondary social and ethical responsibilities must be left to the informal processes of suasion, example, and argument.