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Yale has long thrived on diversity. Yale was not only the first university in North America to award PhD degrees (in 1861), but it was also the first university in North America  to award a PhD to an African American, Edward Alexander Bouchet, in the field of Physics in 1876. It is equally noteworthy that with the formal establishment of the Yale Graduate School of Arts and Sciences in 1892 (from the Department of Philosophy and the Arts established in 1847), women were also admitted as candidates for the doctorate. In 1894 Elizabeth Deering Hanscom was among the first seven women to earn the PhD at Yale.

In this spirit, The Office for Graduate Student Development and Diversity (OGSDD) was established with the premise that expanding the diversity within the student body enhances the intellectual experience and understanding of the entire scholarly community. OGSDD operates collaboratively with departments and programs to proactively recruit and support the needs of diverse students as they pursue graduate study at Yale.