Graduate Programs

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.