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TRANSITIONS: The Yale Graduate School of Arts and Sciences’ First Year Experience Program

Sponsored by the Office for Graduate Student Development and Diversity (OGSDD)


While exciting, transitioning to graduate school can be daunting for new students. OGSDD recognizes that such feelings can be heightened for students from underrepresented backgrounds. Transitions seeks to address students’ fears by providing tools and community support for successful matriculation and progress towards their degrees.  The program seeks to address the challenges and insecurities students face, with the following anticipated outcomes:

  • Understand the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences’ academic policies and procedures;
  • Gain effective, personalized strategies for navigating departmental cultures;
  • Develop academic and social skills for effectively navigating academia outside of their departments;
  • Identify personalized academic and professional goals, develop skills to accomplish those goals;
  • Identify university resources available to assist with attainment of academic and professional goals;
  • Demonstrate an increased appreciation of diversity;
  • Connect with mentors and learn strategies for developing useful advising and mentoring relationships;
  • Explore academic career opportunities for scholars from underrepresented backgrounds;
  • Get plugged into a community through involvement with an interdisciplinary cohort.

Components of Transitions:

Transitions Domains

  1. Mentoring/Advising
  2. Academic Development
  3. Diversity and Personal Development
  4. Professional Development
  5. Social/Networking (does not count towards program completion)

Successful completion of the Transitions program requires participants to:

  • Attend and actively participate in Diversity Orientation Day;
  • Attend and actively participate in a minimum of 8 of the identified Transitions workshops (2 in each of Transitions domains 1 to 4);
  • Participate in 2 peer-to-peer advising sessions per semester with OGSDD Fellows.

Diversity Orientation Day

Diversity Orientation Day (DOD) is open to all participants in the Transitions program. DOD will also serve as the launch of the Transitions program.

Transitions Workshops

  • Mentoring/Advising workshops:
  • 2-part Workshop offered each semester. Fall semester: Peer Mentoring focus; Spring semester: Faculty Mentoring focus.
  • Supplemented by Mentoring workshops offered by CTL
  • Participation in OGSDD Mentoring Program requires completion of one Mentoring Workshop.
  • Academic Development workshops:
    • Select workshops offered by the Graduate Writing Lab, the Center for Teaching and Learning, and Yale Libraries
  • Diversity and Personal Development workshops:
    • OGSDD Social Justice workshop series
    • Implicit Bias Workshops
    • Networking/Socializing Workshop
    • Other workshops as developed
  • Professional Development
    • OGSDD Imposter Syndrome workshops
    • Writing competitive fellowship applications (Facilitated by OGSDD Fellows)
    • Time management workshop
    • Select OCS Workshops
    • Other workshops as developed
  • Social/Networking
    • OGSDD Diversity Reception
    • Conversations and Cocktails: Unmasking Faculty Trajectories
    • Dining Etiquette and Table Manners workshop
    • Other OGSDD social events as planned

Peer-to-peer Advising

Peer-to-peer advising provides a place for graduate students to discuss questions or concerns that they have with advanced graduate students. OGSDD Fellows will facilitate this peer-to-peer advising during scheduled office hours, or by special request. OGSDD Fellows will be using standardized reporting prompts to track progress of Transitions participants. It is hoped this feedback will allow OGSDD to identify at-risk students earlier in their programs, and make appropriate referrals.

Transitions FAQs

What is the cost of participation in Transitions?

Participation in Transitions – Graduate First Year Experience is free and voluntary.

Who should participate in Transitions?

Making it through graduate school should not be like trying to construct a lifeboat from a manual written in a foreign language. Transitions was developed to provide first-year graduate students with the skills, connections and community they need for successful completion of their program of study at Yale.

What is the time commitment required for successful completion of Transitions?

Successful completion requires participation in Diversity Orientation Day; a minimum of two Peer to Peer Advising sessions with OGSDD Fellows (1 hour total per semester); and attendance at 8 workshops over the academic year (approx. one workshop each month in the academic term: you can however attend as many  workshops as may be of benefit to you).

Are Transitions social events mandatory?

While social events that are part of the Transitions program are voluntary and do not count towards program completion, we highly recommend that you attend as many as fit with your schedule. These social events will allow program participants to network with other first-year students in other departments, as well as, more advanced graduate students.

How will I know when and where Transitions workshops will be held?

The calendar of workshops that will qualify towards Transitions participation will be hosted in OrgSync. All workshops require RSVP since limited seating is available.

Who do I contact with questions about Transitions?

Feel free to reach out to Dr. Denzil Streete, Assistant Director of Diversity with any questions you may have. Email: Telephone: (203) 436-4171