Graduate Program Overview


Graduate students enter either the Ph.D. program or the one year M.A. program. Students in the Ph.D. program earn the M.A. en route to the doctorate. The MA concentration in Public Humanities is open only to our Ph.D. students.

Doctoral Program

Students accepted into the doctoral program are fully funded for five years through a combination of tuition, teaching, and fellowships. Health insurance and a stipend are also provided to all matriculating doctoral students. Please visit the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences for further information on financial aid and funding opportunities.

Doctoral students spend their first two years in coursework, completing a total of twelve courses. In the third year, students begin to teach, take their oral examinations, and write their dissertation prospectuses. The fourth year is typically spent teaching, researching, and writing the dissertation. The University Dissertation Fellowship (UDF), awarded to all students, is usually taken in years five or six and allows candidates to dedicate themselves exclusively to the completion of the dissertation. Many of our students apply for and win external fellowships, allowing them to defer their UDF until the sixth year and thus secure additional time in which to research and write the dissertation.

Masters Program

Students in the M.A. program take 7 term courses, including a special writing project, and complete the language requirement. They take the same courses as doctoral students. There is no financial support for this degree.

Teaching Fellow Program

“The Teaching Fellow Program (TFP) provides the principal framework at Yale in which graduate students learn, under faculty guidance, to become effective teachers and to evaluate student work. Such learning is integral to the preparation of graduate students for professional lives of teaching and scholarship.”

The American Studies program has three types of teaching opportunities for graduate teachers; most graduate students teach six semesters (two semesters each during their third and fourth year, and two semesters in their sixth year, following the University Dissertation Fellowship [UDF], if they remain in good standing).

1) The bulk of our teaching positions are to teach sections in gateway lecture courses. Graduate teachers attend all lectures, and independently lead discussion sections based on the lectures and the course readings, and evaluate student work. Faculty members are expected to meet weekly with the teaching fellows to guide them through the course, and to visit at least one session of each section.

For graduate teachers in their first year of teaching, we will try to allocate a position in an upper-level seminar taught by our ladder faculty. In these seminars, faculty members teach a seminar of their own design, while simultaneously modeling teaching practices for the teaching fellow. The work of the teaching fellow would vary, but may include: a) regular meetings to discuss strategies in designing and executing seminar sessions and to chart the progress of the course, the students, and the teaching fellow; b) specific sessions or segments of sessions led by the graduate teacher; c) forms of co-evaluation of student work (for example, joint or alternating grading); and d) supplementary office hours held by the graduate teacher to advise on specific assignments.

2) For advanced graduate teachers, each year we solicit applications to teach: a) a seminar of one’s own design; b) the endowed seminar on “Wilderness in the American Imagination”; and c) the program’s senior project colloquium, which offers supplemental guidance to undergraduate seniors working on independent senior projects with members of the ladder faculty. All of these give experienced and successful graduate teachers the opportunity to develop more advanced teaching experience, under the overall guidance of the Director of Undergraduate Studies. Advanced graduate teachers should also be aware of the Associates in Teaching program, which offers opportunities to develop courses jointly with faculty members:

For further information and guidance on issues regarding teaching, graduate teachers may consult with the Director of Graduate Studies and the Director of Undergraduate Studies in American Studies, with the Graduate School’s general policies at, with the Yale Center for Teaching and Learning (