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Sixth-Year Funding Initiative FAQs

We want students to understand our new funding policies and the expanded teaching opportunities that accompany them.

The basic facts are these:

  • All students in the humanities and social sciences in FAS programs are expected to teach for four terms as part of their financial aid packages.
  • If no appropriate teaching is available for a student in a teaching year, the student nonetheless continues to receive the standard departmental stipend.
  • All students who do additional teaching in year six receive the standard departmental stipend in terms during which they teach.
  • Students in year 7 and beyond may teach if positions are available.
  • Students registered full-time beyond year 6 receive $8,000 for assignments requiring an average of 15-20 hours per week and $4,000 for assignments requiring an average of 6-10 hours per week. Students in year 7 and beyond may teach up to three assignments per year.

The FAQs below will answer your questions in further detail.

What is the new sixth-year funding initiative?

The new funding initiative provides a guaranteed teaching position or its equivalent for students who have no other source of funding. The teaching is provided at Yale to eligible sixth-year students in the humanities and social sciences in FAS programs and provides a stipend for up to nine months during the academic year. Teaching positions may be within, or in some cases, outside of their department or program, or in newly identified areas of professional development, such as assistantships in Yale’s collections, in digital humanities, and in the teaching of writing or other skills. Regardless of the nature of their assignments, students will receive the standard departmental stipend in each of the terms in which they teach for up to nine months during the academic year. If no teaching is available students approved under the initiative will nonetheless continue to receive the stipend.

Who is eligible for sixth-year funding?

Ph.D. students in the humanities and social sciences in FAS programs currently in their fifth year of study and certified by their graduate program to be on track to submit the dissertation by August of their sixth year of study are eligible.

Why was the sixth-year funding initiative offered only to graduate students in the humanities and social sciences?

Funding for graduate students in the sciences operates differently than funding for graduate students in the humanities and social sciences in FAS programs. A significant portion of stipend and tuition payments for science students comes from external grants awarded to the faculty. Although some students in the sciences are guaranteed funding through the completion of their dissertation, most are guaranteed five years of funding. Typically, dissertation advisors continue providing financial support from research grants to science students who continue their dissertation research and writing into a sixth year. When science faculty are unable to provide a sixth year of funding, departments and the Graduate School have worked to assist students. For this reason, the Graduate School has focused on the humanities and social sciences in FAS programs, where funding has never been guaranteed beyond year five.

If I have had five years of Yale funding and an additional year of external or other funding, may I defer sixth-year teaching into the seventh year?

No. The new funding initiative does not guarantee all eligible students six years of Yale funding. The purpose of the new funding initiative is to ensure that all eligible sixth-year students have at least nine months of funding, from one source or another. It is given on the understanding that eligible students will submit their dissertations by August of the sixth year of study, and so it may not be deferred into the seventh year. And, as has always been the case, no portion of the Yale financial aid package may be taken after year six.

How is eligibility determined?

Eligibility for guaranteed teaching in the sixth year in the humanities and social sciences in FAS programs will be determined at the departmental level. Students must submit the Dissertation Progress Report (DPR) in the usual way. Departments will inform the Graduate School which students are eligible to be considered for guaranteed sixth-year teaching. For most students, humanities and social sciences graduate programs will identify fifth-year students who will submit their dissertations by August of the following year each May. Programs will base this determination primarily on the DPR. For students who begin their sixth year in a spring term, programs will identify fifth-year students who will submit their dissertations by January of the following year in December of the fifth year of study. Students who begin their sixth year of study in a spring term may be asked to submit a mid-year DPR update to their programs. Students who use deferred University or external funding for one term of their sixth year may be considered for one term of guaranteed sixth-year funding through teaching.

For students beginning the sixth year in the fall:

  • May (at the end of the student’s fifth year of study): departments will review DPRs to determine which fifth-year students will submit by August of the following year and are eligible for guaranteed sixth-year teaching.

Departments will communicate their recommendations to the Graduate School.

  • August (at the end of the student’s sixth year of study): students in the second semester of their sixth year on guaranteed sixth-year teaching will have submitted their dissertations.

For students beginning the sixth year in the spring:

  • December (near the end of the student’s fifth year of study): departments will review DPRs to determine which fifth-year students will submit by January of their sixth year and are eligible for guaranteed sixth-year teaching.  Departments will communicate their recommendations to the Graduate School.
  • January (at the end of the student’s sixth year of study): students in the second semester of their sixth year on guaranteed sixth-year teaching will have submitted their dissertations.

If my advisor and DGS do not approve my DPR before the deadline, am I still eligible for guaranteed teaching?

The Graduate School will work with programs to ensure timely assessment of the DPR, but students must complete their DPRs on time to be eligible.

May sixth-year students who do not qualify for the guaranteed nine months of funding still teach?

Yes, these sixth-year students may teach if teaching positions are available, and they will continue to receive the standard departmental stipend when they teach. However, they are not guaranteed teaching and in many cases may not receive assignments until after the start of the fall and/or spring terms.

Can the sixth year of teaching be taken in year five and the University Dissertation Fellowship (UDF) in year six?

No.  The expectation is that students will take the UDF in year five, permitting them to take advantage of the guaranteed sixth year of funding through teaching. The sixth-year guaranteed teaching may only be used in the sixth year; it is predicated on the expectation that the student will submit the dissertation no later than the end of the sixth year.

Students who receive an external award in year five may still take the external award in year five and defer the UDF to the year six; these students would not find the sixth-year guaranteed funding through teaching necessary.

Is the sixth-year funding paid over a nine-month or a twelve-month period?

The sixth-year guaranteed teaching stipend is disbursed just as all other teaching is, in the form of a stipend during the term in which the teaching occurs and for the period of time in which the student teaches. Therefore, stipend payments for the spring term end on May 31 and stipend payments for the fall term end on January 15. The sixth year of guaranteed teaching covers up to a nine-month period; the stipend-level payment for both terms totaled $21,750 (September through May) in 2015-2016. Students who have deferred a summer of funding from a previous year will still be able to take that deferred summer of funding in the summer of the sixth year, just as now, e.g. if a student used external funding exclusively in the summer of year four, then the student would be able to defer that summer of University funding to the summer of the sixth year.

Does the sixth-year funding deter students from seeking outside fellowships since they are not allowed to defer their sixth-year guaranteed teaching to year seven? That is, is it more advantageous for students to apply for the guaranteed sixth-year teaching stipend than for an outside fellowship?

No, just as always, no University funding can be deferred to the seventh year. The possibility of a sixth year of guaranteed funding through teaching should not deter students from seeking external funding for three principal reasons: 1) external fellowships are prestigious and an important professional credential; 2) external fellowships are critical for conducting research in absentia, so students seeking to do research away from campus in years three or four (when they would normally be expected to teach to receive University funding), for example, will still depend on external funding; 3) students on external fellowships in year six will have more time to research and write than students who are teaching.

Are students who win external fellowships still eligible for the combined award when teaching in the sixth year?

Yes, if students win an external fellowship and are teaching with the standard departmental stipend they will be eligible for the combined award.

If a student who receives the sixth-year funding fails to submit his or her dissertation in year six, will he or she be permitted to register for a seventh year?

Yes, if the student petitions for extended registration and receives departmental and Graduate School approval.

Are seventh -year students still permitted to teach? How much are they paid for teaching?

Yes. Students in year seven may teach, but only if teaching positions are available. They are not guaranteed a position. Students who teach between 6-10 hours per week  will receive $4,000 per course. Students who teach 15-20 hours per week will receive $8,000 per course. Assignments that fall between the two hourly ranges will be considered on an individual basis.  Students no longer on the financial aid package may teach more than one assignment for a total of up to three per year.