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Sixth-Year Funding Initiative

Yale funds virtually all Ph.D. students for five years. What happens if you need more time to complete your dissertation?  If you’re in the sciences or engineering, you’re usually covered by your adviser’s research grants, but what if you’re studying French or sociology? We’re proud to tell you that Yale is the first graduate school to provide funding for eligible sixth-year students in the humanities and social sciences.
If you are a Ph.D. student in the humanities and social sciences, you may be eligible for a guaranteed teaching position or its equivalent if you have no other source of funding.  If you are approved for Sixth-Year Funding, you will be supported at the same level as your department’s standard stipend for the nine-month academic year. 
Teaching positions under the Sixth-Year Initiative may be within or outside of your department or program, or in newly identified areas of professional development, such as an assistantship in one of Yale’s collections, in digital humanities, or in the teaching of writing or other skills. If no appropriate position is available, but you have been approved by your department under the initiative, you will nonetheless continue to receive the stipend.


Eligibility for this funding is usually determined in the spring, when programs identify which fifth-year students are on track to complete their dissertations in a timely fashion
To be eligible for funding through the Sixth-Year Initiative, you must:
  • Be a Ph.D. student in the humanities and social sciences in an FAS program
  • Be currently in your fifth year of study
  • Be certified by your graduate program that you are on track to submit your dissertation in a timely fashion
  • Submit your Dissertation Progress Report (DPR) by the deadline
If you have deferred University or external funding to cover one term of your sixth year, you may be considered for one term of sixth-year funding through teaching.


  1. Submit your Dissertation Progress Report (DPR) each year.
  2. Based on your DPR, your department or program will notify the Graduate School if you are approved for guaranteed sixth-year teaching.
    1. If you will begin your sixth year in the fall term, your program will review your DPR in May of your fifth year to determine if you are on track to submit your dissertation in a timely fashion.
    2. If you will begin your sixth year in the spring term, your program will review your DPR in August of your fifth year to determine if you are on track to submit your dissertation in a timely fashion. You may be asked to submit a mid-year DPR update. 

Stipend and Teaching Expectations

If you are in the humanities or social sciences in an FAS program, you are expected to teach for four terms as part of your original financial aid package. If no appropriate teaching is available in a given term, you will still receive the standard departmental stipend for that term. If you do additional teaching in your sixth year under the Sixth-Year Initiative, you will receive the standard departmental stipend during the terms you teach.

Frequently Asked Questions

Why is the sixth-year funding initiative offered only to students in the humanities and social sciences?
Doctoral students in the sciences and engineering continue to be funded according to their program’s financial aid package, normally for the number of years it takes to complete their degrees. However, funding for graduate students in the humanities and social sciences operates differently, and in the past, it has not been guaranteed beyond year five for those students. For this reason, the Graduate School’s Sixth-Year Funding Initiative is focused on providing greater resources to humanities and social sciences programs in FAS. 

Should I apply for external fellowships, even if I am eligible for sixth-year funding through teaching? 

We encourage students to seek external funding whenever possible for many reasons, including:
  1. External fellowships are prestigious and an important professional credential. 
  2. If you are on an external fellowships in year six, you will have more time for your research and writing than if you are teaching in order to be eligible for sixth-year funding from Yale. 
  3. External fellowships can help provide greater flexibility in your program. For example, if you want to do research in absentia in years three or four - when you would normally be expected to teach to receive University funding - you can use external funding to do so. 

If I win an external fellowship or have other outside funding, can I defer my sixth-year guaranteed teaching to year seven? 

No. You may not defer your sixth-year guaranteed teaching. None of the Yale financial aid package may be taken after your sixth year.
The purpose of the this initiative is to ensure that eligible sixth-year students have an additional nine months of funding, which may include funding from external sources, in order to complete their program by August of their sixth year. This funding is predicated on finishing before year seven. 
If I win an external fellowship, am I still eligible for the combined award when teaching in my sixth year?
Yes, if you win an external fellowship and are teaching with the standard departmental stipend, you will be eligible for the combined award. For more information, please read our External Fellowships & Combined Award Policy

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

Sixth-year funding is disbursed in the form of a stipend during the term in which the teaching occurs. As with all teaching stipends, payments for the spring term end on May 31 and payments for the fall term end on January 15. 
If you defer a summer of funding from a previous year, you will be able to take that deferred summer funding in the summer of your sixth year (e.g. if you used external funding exclusively in the summer of year four, then you can defer that summer of University funding to the summer of your sixth year.) 

If my adviser and DGS do not approve my Dissertation Progress Report (DPR) before the deadline, am I still eligible for guaranteed teaching?

If you submit your DPR on time to be eligible for this funding, we will work with your program to ensure your DPR is reviewed promptly. 

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

Yes, even if you don’t qualify for the Sixth-Year Initiative funding, you may teach in your sixth year if teaching positions are available. You will continue to receive the standard departmental stipend when you teach. However, you will not be guaranteed teaching and, in many cases, may not receive a teaching assignment until after the start of the term.

What if I received sixth-year funding, but failed to submit my dissertation by August of that year, as originally planned? Will I be permitted to register for a seventh year and submit then?

Yes. You may petition for extended registration and may register, if you receive departmental and Graduate School approval.