Graduate Programs

Students wishing to study the medieval cultures at Yale have the option of two distinctive programs through which they can receive the scholarly training best suited to their needs.

Ph.D. Program in Medieval Studies

This Program accepts only students who wish to pursue a Ph.D. in Medieval Studies. Ph.D. students spend their first two years at Yale taking courses, for a total of 14 term courses (usually 7 term courses per year). During these two years they are also required to pass proficiency examinations in Latin, Arabic, Greek, or Hebrew and in two modern languages (usually French and German, although in appropriate circumstances another modern language may be substituted for one of these). During their four terms of courses, students are required to take a course in research methodology, palaeography, and one of the Medieval Studies interdisciplinary seminars.

In the third year, usually in the fall term, students take an oral examination on a set of three topics worked out in consultation with the Director of Graduate Studies. Having passed this examination, the student – in close collaboration with the faculty member who will direct the work – submits a prospectus for the dissertation, which is to be approved by the end of the third year. Upon completion of all pre-dissertation requirements, including the prospectus, students are admitted to candidacy for the Ph.D. degree. What remains, then, is the writing, submission and approval of the dissertation, a process that is expected to take two years.

All students admitted to the Ph.D. Program in Medieval Studies are granted a package of financial aid. This includes a tuition waiver for the first four years of study, a Yale fellowship for the first two years, and teaching fellowships for the second two years of study. In other words, students in Medieval Studies – as in most other departments in the humanities – do not teach while they are taking courses. In the third and fourth years students in Medieval Studies, as do other graduate students, receive teaching fellowships that provide stipends generally equivalent to the Yale fellowship of the first two years. Students normally begin their teaching career by serving as a teaching fellow in a lecture course taught by a senior faculty member. Responsibilities include leading one or two seminars per week and grading the work of the undergraduates in those seminars. After this introduction, there are a number of different opportunities for teaching, including leading seminars of one’s own design. The stipends for teaching vary with the degree of responsibility and the amount of work required. After a student has been admitted to candidacy, tuition payments are replaced with a Continuous Registration Fee. In the fifth year, almost all students receive Dissertation Fellowships, which relieve them of responsibility for teaching. If a sixth year is required to complete the dissertation, students are normally granted teaching fellowships, although since preference is given to students in the third and fourth years the availability of these fellowships cannot be guaranteed.

In sum, the Ph.D. Program can and should be completed in five years, during which time the student will receive support from the University. For other grants and fellowships (e.g., to support summer language training and travel), see Grants and Fellowships.

The Ph.D. in Medieval Studies is most appropriate for students who meet two criteria. One is that they already possess considerable expertise in either Latin, Hebrew, Greek or Arabic and in at least one of the modern languages. The other is that the disciplinary area in which the student intends ultimately to seek employment be one for which chronologically specialized training is appropriate. These areas are History, Literature, Religious Studies, Philosophy, Theology, and the Culture of al-Andalus. On the other hand, students who wish to pursue careers in English Departments, in departments of foreign languages, in Art History, and so forth, are better advised to enroll in the departments of their disciplinary choice and then to avail themselves of the second program offered in Medieval Studies at Yale, the M.Phil. Fellowship.

The M. Phil. Fellowship in Medieval Studies

These Fellowships provide students who are enrolled in departments other than Medieval Studies a fully-funded year of course work in Medieval Studies. The terms of the fellowship are that holders take eight term courses in the medieval area, six of which must be from departments other than that in which  the student is enrolled (two of these will normally be the Medieval Studies interdisciplinary  seminar and either a course in research methodology or paleography;  two of the eight medieval courses may overlap with students’ coursework in their home department); (2) proficiency in  Latin, Arabic, Greek,  or Hebrew as tested by an examination administered and evaluated by the department; and (3) an oral examination Those successfully completing this program will be awarded an M.Phil. in Medieval Studies.  Whereas virtually all humanities departments require – and fund – two years of course work, the Medieval Studies M.Phil. Fellowship allows a student to complete a third year of courses without having to hold a teaching fellowship. It is not necessary for students to complete the six medieval courses in a single year. The Fellowship can be awarded to entering students, who then integrate their Medieval Studies courses with those in their home departments during their three years of course work. It can also be awarded to students who are already enrolled and in their first or second year of graduate work. The normal program for students receiving an M.Phil. Fellowship is therefore six years: in the fourth and fifth year they hold teaching fellowships, and in the sixth year they are eligible for the Dissertation Fellowship.

The purpose of the M.Phil. Fellowship is to allow students to gain the skills and knowledge of the medieval cultures, including the languages, needed to pursue productive scholarly careers as medievalists without diluting their training within their specific departmental disciplines. The result is that they will be able to compete successfully in the job market with candidates who have received similar disciplinary training but they will also have the training – and credentials – that will allow them to function as medievalists.

For information on applications to both the Ph.D. Program in Medieval Studies and the M.Phil. Fellowship, see Prospective Student Information on how to apply.