Yale Graduate School of Arts and Sciences

Student Life

Student Organizations

The Office of Graduate Student Life advises and supports graduate student organizations which are intellectual, cultural, multicultural, social, special-interest, interdepartmental or cross-school and which attempt to appeal as broadly as possible across the graduate and professional student body.

All non-undergraduate student organizations must register annually with the Office of the Secretary. This registration process provides University oversight of the use of the Yale name, but does not provide access to resources or funding.

Graduate student groups must register with the Office of Graduate Student Life at the McDougal Center (GSL Office) annually by October 31. Registered groups may request funds, meeting space and consult with the Student Life staff of the Center. In certain instances, McDougal Student Life Fellows are available to collaborate with an organization or help establish connections among organizations to co-sponsor events. Organizations should contact the McDougal Center at (203) 432-BLUE.

Groups who do not meet the criteria for registration may be afforded limited privileges by the GSL office. The office may rescind the registration of a group if its activities fail to conform to its policy guidelines or of the rules and regulations of the University. Registration with GSL does not confer any other official status with the University and implies no endorsement of the group, its members, or its activities. As part of Yale University, the GSL office abides by University policies regarding the recognition of and interactions with student groups.

Registration Guidelines

The Office of Graduate Student Life at the McDougal Center (GSL Office) will accept registration applications from interdepartmental groups; inter-school groups that focus on the needs and interests of students in the Graduate School; cultural or national groups; multicultural groups (especially those comprised of students of diverse ethnic heritage, women or GLBTQ students); and personal interest clubs (e.g., performing arts, music, hobbies, sports, intellectual activities, or careers and professional development). Community service, charitable, or volunteer groups are eligible to register with the Center, but may also wish to pursue registration and support through Dwight Hall. Religious, spiritual or ethical study groups providing discussion and fellowship activities especially for graduate students are eligible, but must formally affiliate with the Office of the University Chaplain and follow its guidelines for participating members of Yale Religious Ministries. The GSL Office does not provide financial support for the actual conduct of worship services, but it may provide occasional space in the Center for such activities and related fellowship events.

The GSL Office does not accept applications from groups that have other primary sources of recognition, and sources of administrative and funding support. Department-specific groups should affiliate with and seek funding from their academic department or program. Research discussion groups can seek support from the Dean’s Fund for Graduate Student Colloquia, and those organizing research conferences can seek support from the Dean’s Fund for Graduate Student Symposia. Student governance groups, such as GSA or GPSS, maintain formal charters with the University that define their presence on campus.

The GSL Office does not accept registrations from groups which exist to promote a one-time event, such as a concert, speaker or film, nor does it register political groups that endorse or engage in campaign activities for a particular political or party or that focus on a single-issue item or agenda. Non-partisan civic groups may be eligible to register with the GSL Office if their efforts are not duplicated by other groups locally. Otherwise, graduate students wishing to pursue such interests are encouraged to become involved in existing groups in the New Haven community.


In general, groups should be open to all Yale graduate and professional students, postdoctoral fellows and affiliates who meet the membership criteria or who express an interest. A majority of the members (or potential members) and officers of the group should be students in the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences. If there is no clear majority of membership, Graduate School students must constitute the largest percentage of members (a plurality of approximately 35-45%). Students in other Yale graduate and professional schools, post-doctoral fellows, faculty and spouses or partners may also be members of the group. If undergraduates are eligible to be members of the group, they may not comprise a majority of the members or potential members, nor can they hold the majority of leadership positions within the group. Undergraduate-focused groups should seek recognition and support from the Yale College Dean’s Office.

While there is no preferred size for student groups seeking registration, the Office of Graduate Student Life at the McDougal Center (GSL Office) seeks to develop and maintain groups serving the broadest possible graduate student population. The GSL Office also gives preference to groups whose long-term existence is sustainable and thus extends beyond the career of a single student or small group of students in the Graduate School and the graduate and professional community.

Groups submitting their initial application should provide evidence of prospective membership, such as an interest sign-up list or an active e-mail address list. Newly forming groups should provide an estimate of potential membership, such as the Graduate School student nationality statistics from OISS. Groups whose potential or actual membership is very small (i.e., fewer than 20 GSAS students) will not be able to register regularly and receive ongoing support from the GSL Office, but may be registered provisionally for a year as they seek to increase their membership. Groups that have a defined but relatively small size, such as a 16-member four-part harmony chorus or a ten-person bible study fellowship, may be permitted to register if their membership is varied. The GSL Office may encourage the members of very small groups to join with similar groups in an association or to broaden their criteria for membership to be more inclusive.

Funding Requests

Registered groups may request modest financial assistance from the Office of Graduate Student Life. All requests must be submitted on the standard Funding Request form in writing to the Office of Graduate Student Life (not the Dean of the Graduate School), which will review the form and make decision in allocating available funds. All funding decisions are final.

Funding requests must be made at least two to three weeks in advance of an event or ongoing activity and not after the event has already occurred. Organizations that receive funding must clearly acknowledge the support of the Office of Graduate Student Life at the McDougal Center in their publicity and programs. Failure to do so will jeopardize future funding requests.

Restrictions. The Office of Graduate Student Life does not provide funding or reimbursement for alcoholic beverages; travel by Yale students to attend conferences or meetings; travel, lodging or honoraria for speakers or performers (with the exception of modest honoraria for DJs or bands for dances held in New Haven); or fees paid to student members of the group for services rendered (e.g., webmaster, treasurer, etc.).

Post-Event Reimbursement Forms

When awarded, funding is almost always provided to organizations as reimbursement after the event upon the presentation of original receipts or invoices and the completed receipt form in hard copy to a staff member at the McDougal GSL Office in HGS 124. Reimbursements are usually made to a Yale organization or a Yale student (in which case the students UPI number must be included with receipts). If the reimbursement is to be made directly to a vendor outside of Yale, additional information will be required, including the vendor’s name, mailing address, SSN/TIN and phone number. In rare instances, funds may have been allocated for payment of an internal Yale fee (room rental, media services, etc), in which case the reimbursement or payment may be made by an internal Yale funds transfer upon presentation of an invoice or bill.

Financial and Tax Considerations

All graduate organizations are expected to comply with both Yale and School regulations, as well as federal and state tax laws. The information below summarizes some of the laws that may affect your organization. This is not a comprehensive report of all the federal and state tax laws that apply to student organizations, but rather a summary of some of the basic tax laws affecting organizations. Graduate students may also find useful the guide for undergraduate student organizations published by Yale College.

Finances and Bank Accounts. Graduate student organizations and their finances are expected to be administratively independent of the University. Student organizations should establish a local bank account to administer their funds by applying for an Employee Identification Number, the equivalent for an organization of the individual Social Security Number (SSN) or Taxpayer Identification Number (TIN). Both Yale College and the IRS provide general information to student groups regarding EINs, which are required for establishing a bank account. For effective fiscal control, the Office of Graduate Student Life at McDougal Center (GSL Office) encourages groups with bank accounts to use a two-signature rule on checks and expenditures, with the organization’s president or chair and treasurer as the signatories, and to conduct regular financial reports and audits. The GSL Office cannot set up these outside bank accounts, but will verify to banks that a particular group is registered with the GSK Office. An organization may NOT use the Yale name on its bank account.

Note: Graduate Student Life at the McDougal Center (GSL) and the Graduate School as a whole do NOT setup PTAEOs or University accounts for graduate student organizations (some Yale professional schools may do so). To maintain fiscal independence, student organizations finances are not administered by the GSL Office, and student group funds can not be held or “banked” in the office. All GSL funding is through approved post-event reimbursement, preferably to the individual student who expended funds on behalf of the group or directly to the group bank account.

Tax Exemption and Reporting. Student groups are not allowed to use the University’s tax-exempt number for purchasing goods and services tax-free. Groups should investigate whether they can register with the Secretary of the State of Connecticut as a non-profit, with the federal government as a 501(c)(3) group, or as a charitable organization.

Please note that there are IRS 990-N “e-postcard” filing requirements for exempt organizations with gross receipts of less than $25,000 per year. Failure to file the annual 990-N e-postcard for three consecutive years may result in the revocation of an organization’s exempt status.

Other Sources of Funding

Other sources of funding for student organizations include the Graduate School Dean’s Fund for Student-Organized Colloquia and Symposia, the Graduate School’s Office of Diversity and Equal Opportunity, the Graduate and Professional Student Senate, the Office of International Students and Scholars, and the MacMillan Center for International and Area Studies. Organizations must receive approval for any fundraising efforts involving alumni with the University’s Office of Development.

Rooms and Events Space

Both registered student organizations and non-registered graduate student groups or hosts of individual events may make Room Requests to utilize HGS 119, B46-50 and the Music Room. The Common Room is not available for use by student groups. Student groups are generally not entitled to request the use of other meeting roomsin the Hall of Graduate Studies controlled by the Graduate School- namely room HGS 211. Faculty or staff from Graduate School departments may request to use this room for departmental events, such as faculty-student conferences, by contacting the Graduate School’s Information Office (203-432-2770).

Registered student organizations may contact the University Registrar to reserve a variety of classroom and auditorium space across Central campus, including classrooms in HGS. The Law School, the Macmillan Center at Luce Hall, Dwight Hall and Chapel, and the Graduate and Professional Student Center also have rooms that can be reserved for approved activities, although there may be fees assessed.


All registered graduate student organizations are listed each year on the Graduate Student Life web site. They may request a website on the Yale server to establish an online presence that they will design and maintain, as well as a customized Yale e-mail address for their organization.

Orientation. Each year, McDougal GSL invites all existing grad student groups to participate in the Graduate Student Involvement Fair to participate in the Student Activities Fair during New Student Orientation for the purpose of recruiting new members.

McDougal Grad Student Life E-Notes. Grad Student groups may also request to list major events in the weekly McDougal Graduate Student Life Notes, which is distributed via e-mail to over 5000 graduate and professional student, postdoc and affiliate subscribers. To request a announcement in the Notes, send an email with “For NOTES” in the subject line. By email reply, your group will receive instructions on how to input your event into an online form, with a brief two- to three-line notice, including the relevant URL or email contact. Space permitting, completed form information received by noon on Sunday will be included in edition to be sent out on Monday. Groups that receive funding from Graduate Student Life are required to submit their events in advance for inclusion in the McDougal Notes. Failure to comply may jeopardize reimbursement and future funding.

Additional options for publicity include the Yale Calendar, the GPSS Calendar, the Yale Daily News and Facebook.


Graduate Student Life at the McDougal Center will provide up to 50 single-sided copies per month per registered group. The number per month is fixed and months generally cannot be combined. Requests for photocopying must be submitted at least 24 to 48 hours in advance to the McDougal Center office (HGS 124) between 10:00 am and 5:00 pm to be retrieved within two working days. Copies are produced on-site by the staff of the Center in black and white on plain white or color letter-sized paper.

Alcoholic Beverages

The Office of Graduate Student Life requires that all registered graduate organizations use alcohol responsibly should they choose to serve it at their events on or off-campus. Student organizations must follow all Yale rules and state laws regarding the provision and consumption of alcoholic beverages. Whether hosting events on-campus or off-campus, student organizations must establish policies and practices to prevent the serving of alcohol to those under 21 years of age, and to safeguard guests from overconsumption or from drinking and driving. Organizations must establish policies and practices to prevent the serving of alcohol to those under 21 years of age whether hosting events either on-campus or off-campus. Connecticut state law holds legally responsible those who serve alcohol to underage persons, even in private gatherings.

Yale Health provides general information regarding risk reduction and the responsible use of alcohol at events. In planning an event, it is important to offer food and non-alcoholic beverages, and to hire professional servers and bartenders for large events where alcohol will be served. Advertisements (email, Facebook, posters) for grad student events serving alcohol should focus on the social, cultural and educational aspects of the event, as opposed to the consumption of alcohol itself and note other beverage options that will be available (“beer, wine AND soda served”). They should also state “21 and over with photo ID required.” Finally, unless your student group has procured a one-day or long-term liquor sales license in the State of Connecticut, or you are working with a licensed bar or caterer, you are not legally able to sell or charge for alcohol at your event (and don’t even try to get around this by “just selling empty cups.”).

Failure to follow state and federal laws puts your organization, its members and any guests attending your events at risk and can result in serious penalties and prosecution. Failure to abide by University, Graduate School and McDougal GSL regulations on the responsible use and promotion of alcohol for graduate student group events will result in serious discussions with the assistant dean and director of McDougal Graduate Student Life, and other administrators as appropriate, and may result in revocation of group recognition, rescinding of any current or future funding, and possible disciplinary action.