How to Apply to the Doctoral Program

Our doctoral program offers scholars from diverse backgrounds the opportunity to pursue a highly individualized area of inquiry under the mentorship of a YSE faculty member. The research conducted by YSE PhD candidates spans global and disciplinary boundaries — and what’s more, it is fully funded. Learn more about how to join this vibrant and dynamic intellectual community.

On This Page

    Before You Apply

    All applicants must identify and contact one or two faculty members who they think could serve as their major advisor. Applicants will not be accepted unless a faculty member in the Yale School of the Environment (YSE) agrees to become their mentor. We do not do lab rotations. Once an applicant is admitted they immediately work with the chosen advisor.

    • Applicants should begin contacting prospective faculty advisors between late September and late October to discuss their research interests and determine if they and the prospective faculty member are a good match.  This initial contact is normally done by email.
    • As part of that initial contact, applicants should explain in writing what research questions they would like to pursue during their doctoral studies, what kind research experience and expertise they already have gained, and why they wish to work with the prospective faculty member.  Applicants should provide a CV at that time they initiate contact.
    • Applicants are also encouraged to contact current students and alumni from their potential advisor’s research group for more information about working with their advisor, the doctoral program, and life in New Haven.

    Application Elements

    The PhD application has several elements:

    • Biographical information,
    • Transcripts of course work and proof of degrees,
    • Test scores (e.g., GRE, and English language proficiency test (TOEFFL, IELTS) as appropriate). NOTE: The GRE is optional. Applicants should check with their prospective advisors whether or not they wish to see the scores.
    • A CV describing research and professional experience and a list of any scholarly work,
    • A personal statement describing the goals for graduate study including the dissertation research topic as well as professional aspirations beyond the PhD. (Note: The goal of the YSE doctoral program is to train students to pursue post PhD positions that align with their professional goals and aspirations. These may include academic or non-academic [public or private sector] careers.) 
    • Three letters of reference that can describe the applicant’s character, abilities and professionalism, and attest to the applicant’s scholarly aptitude and future potential.  Ideally, at least two of the three letters should come from academic advisors or research mentors.
    • Applicant may provide a writing sample (e.g. a pdf reprint of a publication) but this is not required.

    All elements of the application will be given equal consideration in the decision-making; there are no cut-off’s for test scores.

    How to Apply for Combined PhD Programs

    Application Fee and Fee Waivers

    The application fee for all degree-seeking applicants is $105.00.

    The fee must be paid, or a fee waiver must be granted, before an application will be reviewed. Application fees are non-refundable. Some applicants may be eligible for a fee waiver; U.S. citizens, permanent residents, and non-U.S. citizens are all eligible to request a fee waiver. Fee waivers may be granted on the basis of:

    • Participation in a special program, event, fellowship, or status.
    • Documented financial hardship

    Examples are listed by GSAS.

    The eligibility requirements and process to request a waiver are described in detail on the GSAS application fees and fee waivers page. Fee waiver requests are due by November 30.

    Information on fee waivers can be found at:

    Fee and fee waiver info Fee waiver request form

    Application Review Process

    Once the application is submitted to the Yale Graduate School it is forwarded to the doctoral program in the School of the Environment (YSE). This normally happens in the middle of January, at which time the doctoral admissions committee engages in the review of the applications.  

    • Applications are reviewed by the doctoral admissions committee which is comprised of seven members of the YSE faculty that represent the breadth of the scholarly disciplines within YSE.
    • Applicants are ranked for admissibility by the admissions committee.
    • The top ranked applicants are invited to an open house, which takes place sometime in early February, at which time applicants have a chance to meet and engage with students and faculty in YSE.
    • Following the open house, the admissions committee will decide which applicants will be recommended for admission to the doctoral program in the School of the Environment.
    • The YSE doctoral committee recommendations will be sent to the Graduate School for final approval.  

    Admission into the Program and Funding Information

    Students approved for admission to YSE will be sent a formal letter of offer of admission from the Dean of the Yale Graduate School of Arts and Sciences. This normally happens in late February. The letter will explain: the terms and expectations of doctoral studies within the YSE, which includes a guarantee of 5 years of stipend funding, health care coverage and a waiver of tuition and an explanation of teaching expectations. 

    Doctoral students at YSE receive 5 years of guaranteed funding. Funding packages consist of a stipend ($32,700 for the 2020-2021 academic year), full tuition coverage, and health insurance. For more information on funding and benefits for doctoral students at Yale, visit the following Graduate School of Arts and Sciences webpages:

    Stipend Payments Funding PhD Students

    Contact the Doctoral Program

    Elisabeth Barsa is the contact for students interested in the YSE doctoral program.

    Student sitting outside of Kroon Hall

    Apply to the YSE PhD Program

    Applications for the YSE PhD program are submitted through the Yale Graduate School of Arts and Sciences.

    Apply Now!