Graduation Requirements

Graduate School degrees are awarded twice each year, at Commencement in May and at the end of the fall term (normally in December, depending on the schedule of the Yale Corporation).

Degree petitions that are recommended to the Graduate School by a student’s department are then reviewed by the Graduate School Degree Committee. Once the Degree Committee has given its approval, petitions are forwarded first to the Graduate School faculty and then to the Yale Corporation for approval.

For the Graduate School's official policies concerning degree petitioning, see the Programs & Policies Bulletin.

Master's Degrees

Students in terminal Master's programs (MA/MS) must petition for their degrees in the term in which they expect to complete their degree requirements in order to receive the degree at the end of the term. To petition for a terminal MA or MS, students should send the Degree Petition Form to their department for approval.

Please note that terminal Master's students may only participate in Commencement activities in the term in which their degree is expected or thereafter.

Forms must be submitted by the following dates:

  • September 1 to be considered for a December degree.
  • February 15 to be considered for a May degree. 

PhD Degrees

En Route Degrees

In some PhD programs, students are eligible to receive an MA, MS, or MPhil degree prior to the award of the PhD. These are referred to as en route degrees, as they are "en route" to the PhD.

PhD students are automatically petitioned for any eligible en route degrees (MA, MS, and MPhil) by the University Registrar in the term in which they advance to candidacy.

PhD students who would like to petition for an en route degree prior to advancing to candidacy may petition for the degree in the term following that in which all requirements for the en route degree have been completed. For example, students completing en route degree requirements during the spring term may submit a petition for the degree in the following fall term. Deadlines for petitioning are the same as those listed for terminal Master's degrees above.

Please note that students receiving en route degrees do not participate in Commencement.   

Dissertation Submission

Students must notify their departments in the semester in which they intend to submit the dissertation. For a May degree, this must be done no later than February 15. For a December degree, this must be done no later than September 1.

The University Registrar's Office oversees the dissertation submission process. Please contact them with any questions you may have about submission. 

Dissertations can be submitted on any day of the year, but the submission date will affect your degree conferral date. Dissertations must be submitted by the following dates:

  • March 15 to be considered for the May degree.
  • October 1 to be considered for the December degree.

No exceptions can be made to these deadlines.

Students who submit after these deadlines will automatically be considered in the next degree cycle. For example, if a student submits on October 1, they will be considered for a December degree. If they submit on October 2, however, they will be considered for a May degree. Students cannot register, receive a stipend, or remain on Yale Health student coverage beyond the term in which the dissertation is submitted.

IMPORTANT: Students who submit their dissertations before the end of the add/drop course enrollment period (see the academic calendar) are NOT eligible to register as students for the remainder of that term. Students who wish to remain registered until the end of a given semester must submit their dissertations AFTER add/drop closes in order to remain registered for that semester.

Students are not required to be registered to be eligible to submit a dissertation, as long as their program agrees to read and assess the dissertation. Decisions about whether a student who is no longer registered may submit a dissertation are entirely up to the student's department or program.