Yale Graduate School of Arts and Sciences

Prospective Students

About the Graduate School

Known for its academic excellence, extraordinary faculty, outstanding facilities, and gifted students, the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences offers programs leading to the M.A., M.S., M.Phil., and Ph.D. degrees in 73 departments and programs. The Graduate School also offers joint-degree programs with several of Yale’s professional schools, as well as opportunities for advanced non-degree study.

The Graduate School’s purpose is to educate students in research, scholarship, and teaching in the arts and sciences. Under the guidance of the faculty, graduate students engage in advanced study of a discipline and then proceed to generate new knowledge and ideas through research. They learn to disseminate this knowledge in scholarly publications and teaching. Yale’s graduate students have built careers in colleges and universities, research laboratories, government, the nonprofit sector, and private industry. Their education equips them for leadership roles in all these callings.

The Graduate School enrolls approximately 2,300 students, with about 550 new students from around the globe entering each year.

Approximately 900 distinguished scholars and researchers teach, advise, and mentor graduate students.In addition to its academic resources, the Graduate School offers a variety of services to students. These include financial aid, career guidance, dossier service, teacher training, a social and cultural center, housing, health care, programs for international students, and more.

The Hall of Graduate Studies (HGS), located at 320 York Street, contains the offices of the Graduate School administration, several academic departments, the McDougal Student Center, a dining hall, and a residential tower for graduate students.

History of the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences

Early History           click topics to open and close panels

Established by an act of the Yale Corporation in August 1847, the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences was originally called the "Department of Philosophy and the Arts" and enrolled eleven students who had completed four-year undergraduate degrees. The program offered seminars in chemistry and metallurgy, agricultural science, Greek and Latin literature, mathematics, philology, and Arabic. The faculty consisted of two full-time science professors, Benjamin Silliman Jr. and John P. Norton, and five Yale College faculty members who offered advanced courses in their subject areas.

This was the first program at Yale to focus on research and scholarship. Professional training was already being offered in medicine (1810), theology (1822), and law (1824).

At Commencement in 1861, Yale University awarded the first three Ph.D. degrees, not only at Yale, but in the United States. The University of Pennsylvania followed in 1870; Harvard, in 1872; and Princeton, in 1879.

Moving toward diversity In 1876 Edward Alexander Bouchet (Yale College Class of 1874) was the first African American to earn a Ph.D. in the United States. His degree was the sixth doctorate in physics ever awarded in that field.

Women were admitted into the Graduate School that same year, and in 1894, Elizabeth Deering Hanscom earned the first Ph.D. among American women. She went on to establish a long and distinguished career as professor of English and American literature at Smith College.

Middle Years

In 1892, the Department of Philosophy was officially renamed the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, and Arthur Twining Hadley was appointed dean. Hadley later became Yale's 13th president. In 1920, the Graduate School was assigned its own governing board, and under Dean Wilbur Lucius Cross (1916-1930), it attracted a large and distinguished scholarly faculty. The Hall of Graduate Studies was built between 1930 and 1932. Designed by James Gamble Rogers, the building is in the scholastic gothic style, with whimsical and emblematic decorative details, stained glass windows, and ornamented ceilings.

Recent History

In 1996, the McDougal Graduate Student Center was established in the Hall of Graduate Studies, thanks to the generosity of Alfred McDougal and his wife Nancy Lauter. The Graduate School enhanced its student services, adding professional staff to head offices of Teaching Fellow Preparation and Development, Graduate Career Services, and Student Affairs. The Graduate Student Assembly was established in 1997.