Combined PhD FAQs

Frequently Asked Questions for Prospective Applicants to Yale’s Combined Degree Doctoral Program in Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies

Thank you for your interest in Yale’s Combined Degree Doctoral Program in Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies.  Below are answers to some common questions about applying to the program.  We hope you will find them helpful as you prepare your materials.

With which other programs can I apply to Yale’s Combined Ph.D. with WGSS?

Our Combined Ph.D. is offered with African American Studies, American Studies, Anthropology, English, and Sociology. 

Can I apply only to the Ph.D. program in WGSS?

The Ph.D. program in WGSS at Yale is a combined degree program.  To enroll in the WGSS doctoral program, you must apply to and be admitted to both the WGSS Ph.D. program and one of our five partner programs (see above).  Applying to the combined degree has no implications for your application to the partner program, however.  That is, you can still be admitted to the partner program if you are not admitted to WGSS.

I’m not sure whether I want to apply to the Combined Degree program.  Are there opportunities to do so later?

Interested students enrolled in one of WGSS’s partner programs (Anthropology, American Studies, English, and Sociology) can apply to “transfer” into the Combined Ph.D. Program in WGSS in the first or second year of their degree study in Anthropology, American Studies, English, and Sociology. 

Are there any opportunities to pursue the combined Ph.D. with WGSS if my program is not among these formal “partners?”

Interested students who are admitted to and enroll in other GSAS Ph.D. programs may apply to do an ad hoc combined degree with WGSS.  They must do so during their *first* year in their Ph.D. programs, and they must first get permission from the Director of Graduate Studies (DGS) of that program.  See here for more information about ad hoc combined degrees. 

Students already enrolled in a Ph.D. program at Yale may also apply to pursue a certificate in Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies.  See here for more details about the certificate.

I’m not sure that I’m ready to apply to Ph.D. programs.  Can I do a stand-alone Graduate Certificate or Master’s degree (MA or MPhil) in WGSS at Yale?

The graduate certificate in WGSS is only available to students already enrolled in a Ph.D. program at Yale, and Yale’s WGSS program does not offer a terminal Master’s degree.

Do I need to apply separately for fellowship or scholarship support?  Do you offer fellowships to international students?

All admitted Combined Degree students (whether from the US or abroad) are fully funded (tuition waived and a stipend) for 6 years.  Three of those years typically entail serving as a Teaching Fellow.

Are there prerequisites I need to have fulfilled in order to apply?

There are no specific prerequisites, but students should have completed or be en route to completing their bachelor’s degrees by the end of the academic year during which they apply.

Do I have to submit GRE scores or any other standardized test scores?

Neither WGSS nor any of its partner programs currently requires that applicants submit GRE scores.  Yale’s Graduate School of Arts and Sciences requires that most applicants whose native language is not English submit TOEFL iBT or IELTS Academic scores.  Applicants who have received (or will receive) an undergraduate degree from a college or university where English is the primary language of instruction may be exempt from this requirement, if they have studied in residence at that institution for at least three years. See here for more information.

Will I need to submit separate applications to each program?  How will I indicate my interest in applying to the Combined Degree?

You will submit only one application; the application for the five partner programs includes a drop-down menu in which you can indicate that you are applying to the Combined Program of Study, as illustrated in the screenshot below.

Will I have to submit any extra or WGSS-specific materials with my application?

You will be asked to indicate WGSS faculty members with whom you would like to work.  You will also be asked to write a brief paragraph (no more than 100 words) explaining what interests you in particular about Yale’s combined Ph.D. program in Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies.  The answer to that question may overlap with what you write in your statement of purpose (SOP), which should describe the kind of work that you intend to pursue in your doctoral work.  But while your SOP should clearly articulate your substantive interests in gender and sexuality and should make clear the ways in which your proposed research is centrally concerned with questions at the heart of that field, your answer to the question about the program is your opportunity to explain why doing an interdisciplinary and combined degree is important to you, your work, and your future career.

How long should my writing sample be?

The writing sample length/limit is determined by each partner program.  African American Studies, American Studies, and English ask for writing samples of no more than 20 double-spaced pages, typewritten in a 12-point font (excluding lists of sources). Anthropology specifies that samples be no more than 40 double-spaced pages.  Sociology suggests that writing samples be between 3,000-8,000 words.

Should I contact members of the WGSS faculty with whom I hope to work?

All faculty members in WGSS work with Ph.D. students.  Admissions decisions are also made by a committee, and individual faculty members cannot admit, accept, or agree to work with (or decline to admit, accept, or work with) individual applicants so there is no need to write to them to ask whether they are accepting new advisees. 

You may still wish to reach out by email to faculty members with whom you hope to work or whose work dovetails with your own research interests.  Please keep in mind, however, that faculty members are all juggling many responsibilities alongside a tremendous amount of email and many inquiries from prospective graduate students, so they may not be able to respond to all inquiries.  Please do not be worried or offended if they do not get back to you.  Many questions are also ones that are probably best answered after admission decisions have been made.

Should I email the Director of Graduate Studies (DGS) and/or the Graduate Registrar in WGSS?

You are welcome to email the DGS if you have specific questions about the graduate program or the admissions process that you cannot find by looking carefully at the material on or linked to the following websites:

  • Information about the application process is available here and here.
  • You can find more information about the Combined Degree program in WGSS, including about its structure, requirements, and course offerings here.
  • You can also find general information about Yale’s WGSS program here, and information about its faculty here