Year 3 - Complete Exams & Other Requirements Needed to Advance to Candidacy; First Teaching Assignments

Funding: Normally, 3rd year students are supported by a Teaching Fellowship. The TF stipend comes with an expectation of teaching. The department has an academic requirement of three semesters of teaching, meaning that you cannot graduate without completing three semesters (not courses, but semesters) of teaching at Yale (not somewhere else, but at Yale and not before your matriculation). The university funding package provides four semesters of Teaching Fellowships, plus an additional two semesters (the 6th year Teaching Fellowship) if you do not graduate in 5 years. That’s six semesters of Teaching Fellowships.  Some students secure outside funding which enables them to forego a semester or more of Teaching Fellowship support but remember: you cannot forego all six semesters because teaching for three semesters is a RLST department academic requirement.

  • Normally, students, are expected to advance to candidacy by the end of year 3 [i.e., after six semesters].
    • NOTE:  the end of year 3 actually means, before the end of registration in the 7th semester, so you can complete some of the requirements over the summer between years 3 and 4. Keep in mind however, that some faculty are less available in the summer.).
  • Advancing to candidacy means that you have successfully completed FOUR things:
    • all course requirements
    • all language requirements
    • all qualifying and/or comprehensive exams (the form and timing of qualifying and/or comprehensive exams vary considerably from field to field)
    • dissertation prospectus colloquium
  • Students in the language intensive fields (Hebrew Bible, Ancient Judaism, Early Mediterranean and West Asian Religions, Islamic Studies, Asian Religions) are given an extra semester to advance to candidacy.  These students must advance to candidacy at the end of 3.5 years [i.e., after 7 semesters which actually means before the end of registration in the 8th semester].
  • LEAVES:  Obviously this timeline is adjusted if you need to take a parental leave, or a leave for physical or mental health reasons.  It is not at all unusual for a student to take a leave.  The sooner you can communicate your intention to take a leave the better.  Be in touch with your DGS and make sure you clearly understand what is required of you in order to be able to return to full time student status.
  • TEACHING:  Teaching, supported by the Teaching Fellow Program, is a vitally important part of your professional training.  Many of our students have benefited from the amazing resources at The Poorvu Center for Teaching and Learning.  Here you will find workshops and programs on the fundamentals of teaching, effective and innovative pedagogical methods, tutoring, writing, classroom management skills, and much more.
  • Dissertation prospectus. The dissertation Prospectus) section of the GSAS Programs and Policies bulletin outlines general guidelines for this important first step, when you decide on your topic and submit it for approval. Normally, students in Religious Studies prepare a prospectus of about 15-20 double-spaced pages, which serves as the basis for the dissertation prospectus colloquium attended by the student and 3-5 relevant faculty. Check the webpage of your sub-field for field-specific expectations around the dissertation. 

After passing the prospectus colloquium, you will prepare a 2-page double-spaced precis (~500-700 words, no footnotes) to be circulated in the department for final approval (this is a relatively pro forma step). This document should contain the name of the dissertation project and the name of the adviser. Barring any unforeseen difficulties, you will be ABD about two weeks later.

  • Dissertation adviser. The adviser for the dissertation is generally finalized by you at the prospectus stage.  Remember, you have agency here.  No faculty member can insist that you must work with him/her or that you may not work with someone else.