The Graduate Student Assembly

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Dear Friends,

We at the Graduate Student Assembly are thrilled that Yale will now guarantee sixth-year funding for eligible graduate students in the humanities and social sciences. It is the culmination of nearly five years of advocacy, collaboration, and communication between the GSA and the administration. We want to share with you some details about that process. 

GSA made sixth-year funding a priority in response to students’ requests to their department GSA Representatives. Those Representatives reported the urgency of student concern to the General Assembly. Of particular concern was the cumbersome and precarious process for obtaining sixth-year teaching, and the challenges it created for international students in particular. Several Representatives, in conjunction with administrators, researched the issue in-depth. Using quantitative and qualitative methods, they found that almost all students received sixth-year funding in one form or another, but that a legacy administrative system that was no longer necessary created significant uncertainty and problems for many. 

With this information in hand, the GSA General Assembly moved to place sixth-year funding squarely on the administration’s agenda. Former Dean Tom Pollard, moved by the precision and depth of GSA’s research, began a conversation about how to address the Teaching Fellow allocation system and the possibility of guaranteeing sixth-year funding. 

After extensive negotiations, the GSA moved to review the Teaching Fellow Allocation system by passing Resolution F13-007: Create a Committee on Graduate Teaching, which passed in December of 2013. GSA and the administration formed a committee in the spring of 2014 to address the categories, timeline and transparency of TF allocation. The committee reported regularly to Dean Pollard’s working group, whose deliberations were shaped in response to the committee’s findings. The committee, in turn, launched the Teaching Opportunities website,, to fill vacant and specialized teaching positions. This initiative is currently ongoing, and the committee will report preliminary results in the coming months. If you have concerns or feedback, please contact or your GSA Representative

As a part of this process, research indicated that students in the humanities and social sciences were successfully procuring sixth-year funding, but with unnecessary scramble. In spring 2014, conversations quickened to determine whether sixth-year funding could be guaranteed, particularly in light of revisions to the Teaching Fellow Program. Thanks to the leadership of Dean Lynn Cooley, the extensive work of Sr. Associate Dean Pamela Schirmeister, and members of the GSA, we are excited to announce the best funding package for graduate students in the humanities and social sciences in the country.

We want to note that the sciences were a part of the initial conversation. However, many science students are either fully supported by their advisors, their funding packages are often decoupled from teaching, or there is consistent demand in undergraduate science courses, so teaching is normally available when science students wish to do it. Therefore, this set of conversations focused on the two other divisions. GSA will continue to address upper year funding in the sciences, and the Working Group has agreed to turn its attention to those issues as soon as it has implemented the first phase of the Teaching Fellow Program revision. If you have concerns or feedback, please contact or your GSA Representative

Monday’s announcement of sixth-year funding is the culmination of years of work between the student government and the administration. The GSA hopes this recent development will help further your academic endeavors and scholarship. We are extremely excited that this initiative was successful, and we look forward to continue working with the Graduate School to advocate for graduate student needs. 

If you have any questions, please feel free to contact us at If you would like to get involved, please come to any GSA meeting. We’re open to the public, and any graduate student can attend. If you’d like to know more, if you’re curious about our meeting schedule, or if you’d like to become a Representative, please visit

Thank you. Happy Holidays! 

Joori Park
GSA Chair