Nation's Oldest Graduate School Begins Its 151st Academic Year

The Yale Graduate School of Arts and Sciences – the nation’s oldest graduate school – marked the beginning of its 151st year with the arrival of 2,300 students in the humanities, social sciences, biological and physical sciences, and engineering.

Included among that number are 480 new students, who vied with 5,700 applicants from every state and more than 50 foreign countries for places in the School’s masters and doctoral degree programs.

The central mission of the Graduate School is preparing students to teach, conduct advanced research, and provide intellectual leadership at universities and institutes around the world.

Graduate School Dean Thomas Appelquist welcomed students back to campus, noting the opening of the new McDougal Center in the Hall of Graduate Studies, created with a generous grant from Yale alumnus Alfred McDougal and his wife Nancy Lauter. Just completed in August to serve the professional, intellectual, social, and cultural interests of Yale graduate students, the McDougal Center provides a Professional Development Center with graduate career services, a resource library, and a peer teacher training program, as well as Student Services and Activities Centers.

“Upon completing their professional training, Yale graduate students will go on to become creators of new knowledge and experts at transmitting ideas to others,” said Dean Appelquist. Noting the importance of the Graduate School within the University, he added, “Yale’s ability to attract the world’s best teachers and researchers depends on the strength of the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences.”

Yale provides approximately $30 million each year in financial aid to graduate students. Tuition for academic year 1997-98 is $21,200, although nearly all students are awarded financial aid that covers the cost of tuition. They also receive stipends to help meet living expenses. Over the course of study, a Yale graduate student typically receives $130,000 in financial support.

Dean Appelquist noted that, “Financial aid this year is at the best levels ever, and we are determined to increase aid to even higher levels in the coming years.”

During the first two years of the doctoral degree program, graduate students work with faculty in small, advanced classes and laboratories. They then fulfill additional requirements, such as mastering languages or writing scientific research proposals. The doctoral program culminates in a dissertation of original research which requires two years or more to complete.

The Graduate School has garnered many “firsts” in its 150-year history. In 1861, it issued the first Ph.D. degrees in the United States. In 1876, it granted a doctoral degree to Edward Alexander Bouchet, the first African American to be so distinguished his was the sixth doctorate ever awarded in the field of physics. In 1894, women were admitted to the School; that same year, Elizabeth Deering Hanscom earned the first Ph.D. awarded to an American woman. Among the School’s many distinguished alumni are author Thomas Wolfe, academic leader Nannerl O. Keohane, nuclear engineer and business leader Donald F. Schutz, and Eleanor Holmes, attorney, educator, and former Congressional Representative.

Yale University’s twelve professional schools, of which the Graduate School is one, and Yale College, which enrolls undergraduates, will bring more than 11,000 students to New Haven for the 1997-98 academic year.

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