Yale University

Class News

Steve Norman '64 reports on 2012 AYA Assembly

Report on Assembly LXXI: "The Yale PhD: 150 Years of Leadership for Yale and the World"

Steve Norman, Class AYA Representative

The focus of the November 16-17, 2012 meetings of the AYA was the Yale Graduate School and its importance both to Yale College and to the whole university. The importance of the Graduate programs lies in the fact that breakthroughs and advances in knowledge come primarily from the research done in pursuit of the PhD.

Yale’s Graduate programs are divided into three major academic groups: the physical sciences (chemistry, biology, electrical engineering), the social sciences (psychology, sociology), and the humanities (literature, languages, history). The graduate deans of each area spoke of the trends in each, with students in the physical sciences tending to seek opportunities in the private sector, students in the social sciences tending toward public sector and teaching opportunities, and humanities students primarily focusing on teaching and writing. I got the sense that the physical sciences, especially molecular biology, microelectronics, and chemical and electrical engineering, are getting the most attention.

Biggest challenge in all the graduate programs is to limit the attrition that occurs when grad students burn out and fail to complete the PhD. Yale’s solution is to carefully select candidates who exhibit both the talent and motivation to stay the course and then pay them $50,000 per year (including tuition) for five years so lack of funds will not be an issue.

We paid a visit to the lab facilities on Science Hill, and on the way up Prospect Street saw the work that has started on the two new residential colleges.  Hockey players who reside in these new colleges will have only a short walk to Ingalls Rink.