Other Matters

International Student Specific 

Approximately 40% of our Physics graduate students and 50% of the total Graduate student body are international students. We recognize that these students may have different needs from the rest of the student body, including visa issues, language barriers, or trouble adjusting to their new community. Students should feel free to contact the DGS or registrar regarding any issues they may have. The Graduate school also offers many resources and programs geared toward international students and their partners.

Regarding Visa status, International Taxes, or preparation for travel, inquiries should be addressed to the Office of International Students & Scholars (OISS), as they are your best resource for up-to-date information regarding all international-related issues.

English as a Second Language

Non-native English-speaking students with a TOEFL score of 25 or lower must attend a 3-week ELP Summer Academic Language Program prior to orientation. Students are permitted to teach once they have passed the Oral Proficiency Assessment (OPA). Assessments are typically offered yearly, in January and May. For more information, please get in touch with the Center for Language Study.

Int’l Student Registration Changes 

In addition to completing the appropriate GSAS forms and procedures, as described in the Registration Changes section below, international students planning to take a leave of absence or withdrawing from the program should consult with OISS in advance. In these circumstances, the immigration record will be terminated on the effective start date of the leave or withdrawal. The student will need to leave the US within 15 days of the approved leave of absence or withdrawal. Students transferring to another US university should initiate a request for the SEVIS transfer of their immigration record in OISS Connect.

Graduating Int’l Students

International students preparing for graduation should keep in mind that they are not authorized to work past their program end date, as listed on their I-20 or DS-2019 immigration document. Once a student submits their dissertation through the NOR system, their program end date will automatically be shortened to the date of graduation.

  • Students submitting their dissertations by the March deadline will have their program end date automatically shortened to the May graduation date.
  • Students submitting their dissertations by the October deadline will have their program end date automatically shortened to the December graduation date.
  • Students missing these deadlines will have their program end date shortened to their last semester’s session end date.

Students wishing to continue working in the United States after graduation must obtain approval for Optional Practical Training (OPT) work authorization. Your OISS advisor, Luca Lipparini, can help you through this process. Planning well in advance is highly recommended, as this work authorization will take about three months to be processed.

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Registration Changes

Registration Deferrals

Students who wish to defer their first year of admissions should first have the approval of the DGS. Once the student has conferred with the DGS, they must email the registrar requesting their deferral of admissions and length of deferral. Incoming students typically defer for one academic year. Confirmation of attendance will be needed by the following March to ensure the admissions slot is still available. Deferred students may choose to begin their research the following summer as an Early Start applicant prior to the Fall start.  

Leave of Absence (Personal, Medical or Parental)

Students who wish or need to interrupt their study temporarily may request a leave of absence. There are three types of leave, personal, medical, and parental. There are very important considerations about deadlines and about continuation of medical insurance for each type of leave, the details of which are described in the Graduate School Programs and Policies Bulletin. Students facing any type of personal or health difficulties are strongly encouraged to consult with the DGS and/or Dean.

Students must submit a completed Change of Status form to the graduate registrar for Graduate School approval. Students who intend to petition for their Master’s at the same time, may do so, if they have not already advanced to candidacy. Students are also required to complete the Notification of Leave/Graduation for departmental records and return any keys or other Yale equipment before departing. 

Registration Extension

A student wishing to extend registration beyond their original six-year terminal date, must file a Petition for 7th Year or 8th Year extension. A Dissertation Progress Report must also be completed along with a letter to the DGS stating the reasons for needing an extension prior to the approval of your extension request. An extension can be requested for one or two terms. Extensions beyond the seventh year are not normally allowed. 

Please note, it is not necessary to be a registered student beyond your sixth year in order to complete your dissertation and defend. However, students are not allowed to receive AR salary, nor will you have health insurance if they are not registered.

Registration Withdrawals

Students who wish to leave the program may do so at any time. Prior to making the decision to leave, we strongly recommend that you speak to the DGS or Chair to evaluate all options. Students must submit a completed Change of Status form to the graduate registrar for Graduate School approval. Students who intend to petition for their Master’s at the same time may do so if they have not already advanced to candidacy. Students are also required to complete the Notification of Leave/Graduation for departmental records and turn in all keys or University property.

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Financial Matters

Student Funding

It is tradition in the Physics Department that all first and second year students are supported by University Fellowship (UF) stipends during the academic year. While on UF, students are expected to teach. Over the summer, students are responsible for finding a research group capable of supporting their Assistant in Research (AR) salaries through research funds.

After year 2, students are generally supported as ARs on the PI’s research funds until graduation. Students without a research advisor after year 2 are asked to contact the DGS as soon as possible to discuss their situation. As described below, under certain circumstances, the DGS may provide students with an advanced university funding. As part of their university funding agreement, students may teach up to eight TF10 assignments over five years or ten TF10 hours over six years of graduate school. Any teaching done above the maximum hours is at the discretion of the student, with agreement from their PI, for additional pay.

Advanced University Fellowship

The graduate program team typically holds a small number (~4) of UF per year in reserve for emergency situations of advanced students (beyond year 2) when PI funding is not available. This includes:

  • Students changing advisors and researcher groups after year 2 and needing a semester to identify a new research group
  • PI losing funding unexpectedly

In general, these advanced UF slots are allocated by request for a single semester. In exceptional circumstances, UF slots are allocated up to a year. Faculty advisors are required to request advanced UF support for students using the UF request form. All UF requests will be evaluated by the DGS and graduate program team in consultation with the chair.

Summer Funding

Ordinarily, the Physics department expects students to carry out research and receive a salary full-time during the three summer months. Salaries are paid by the research advisor. Students who have not yet found a summer research position by mid-March should consult with the DGS immediately to discuss research and funding options.

The Graduate School Programs and Policies bulletin states that “Continuing students who were registered during the preceding spring term and are engaged in degree-related activities at least half-time remain registered through August 31.” It follows that, if a student does not find a summer research advisor or wishes to take a summer vacation that is longer than six weeks, the registration criteria is unmet and, therefore, must apply for a formal leave of absence using the Change of Status form.

According to Graduate School rule, in no case is it permissible for an advisor to insist that a student must take unpaid summer vacation.


Ph.D. students in Physics are normally fully-funded for a minimum of five years. During that time, our students receive a twelve-month stipend to cover living expenses and a fellowship that covers the full cost of tuition and health insurance.

First paycheck of academic year: August 31st

Paydays: Semi-monthly on the 15th of the month and the last day of the month.

When either of these days falls on the weekend, payday will be the last working day before either of those days (i.e., usually Friday but occasionally earlier on holiday weekends).

We strongly encourage the use of Direct Deposit​. Direct Deposit gives you access to your funds immediately on payday.  Please see the Workday FAQ for assistance setting up your direct deposit. Direct deposit should be sent up by the 10th of August for first year students to receive their first check via direct deposit. Students without direct deposit will have physical checks mailed to their home address listed on Workday. If you have any trouble accessing Workday, please notify the graduate registrar for assistance.


Taxes are very complicated, especially for graduate students. Over the time of your enrollment, your funding will come from different sources and may be taxed differently. Taxes are generally not withheld from stipend payments, but are subject to taxation as Research Assistantship salaries. Please see here for the GSAS chart of what is taxable.

Since individual circumstances vary based on citizenship, tax treaty, year of study, and more, we recommend that you consult with a tax professional regarding your specific circumstances. The University Tax Information page holds valuable information for U.S. and International student tax issues. General tax questions can be referred to Employee Services.

Outside Fellowship Opportunities

Fellowship opportunities are available to students through various outside organizations. The most common ones can be found on the Physics Fellowship Opportunities webpage. The University also keeps a database of internal and external fellowships students may apply to. The Poorvu Center for Teaching and Learning provides students with writing workshops, panel discussions and guidelines to assist in fellowship applications.

Students who receive outside funding from a fellowship or award are also guaranteed a $4000 combined award annual salary bonus, on top of their standard yearly graduate stipend. Proof of outside funding must be sent to the Graduate School Financial Aid office and the department Registrar for verification and to obtain the combined award top up. Required teaching may be postponed to a later date depending on the fellowship guidelines.

Parental Support and Relief

Registered Ph.D. students who wish to modify their academic responsibilities because of the birth or adoption of a child may request parental support and relief during or following the term in which the birth or adoption occurs. For more information, please see the GSAS Parental Leave Policies.

Dean’s Emergency Fund

To help terminal master’s and Ph.D. students with unexpected one-time expenses such as travel related to a death in the immediate family, temporary housing after a fire, or emergency dental surgery, the Dean’s Office has set aside special funds. Eligibility and applications can be found here.


Under certain circumstances, loans are available to students. Requests for loans should be made to the Graduate School Financial Aid Office for determination of eligibility. Visit their office at 246 Church St. 2nd Fl. or call (203) 432-2739 for more information.

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Vacation Policy and Funding

The Department expects that Physics students will take an average of two weeks’ vacation per year, in addition to the stated University holidays and the Christmas Eve to New Year’s Day break. This amounts to a total of about 4 weeks’ vacation, annually. 

In this context, students are reminded that the first year of graduate school is when you are expected to transition from a “school” schedule to a full-time, self-motivated, research schedule. Thus, for example, the period between the fall and spring semesters and Spring Break are each considered to be an active time of scholarship and research, and there may be specific teaching duties for those with teaching fellowships during these times. Student vacations should not conflict with academic or teaching obligations.

First-year and second-year students, especially those starting research in a new research group, who wish to take vacation, are recommended to schedule their vacation for the last two weeks of May, after the student’s academic commitments are finished and while the student is still supported on a University fellowship (which runs through May 31) and before the students’ research commitments and funding begin on June 1.  For students already in research groups, the total vacation time that a student may take is at the discretion of, and may be negotiated with, the thesis adviser.

Students supported by external funding sources must, in all cases, comply with the vacation policies associated with their funding sources.

Students, who wish to take long vacations and obtain the permission of their research advisor to do so, will not receive a stipend during such vacations. However, especially in the case of international students, some of whom may wish to return home for less-frequent-but-longer visits, the department notes that a one-size-fits-all policy is not sensible and encourages faculty to be flexible in accommodating such requests as fairly as possible.

Students and faculty are encouraged to consult with the DGS if their are any questions regarding the vacation policy or funding during their time away.

External Summer Internships

Normally, students who take time off from their studies to work full-time must take a leave of absence for the term or terms in which they are employed. However, certain summer internship opportunities may be beneficial to a student’s academic development and career prospects. Therefore, under certain circumstances students may be permitted to remain registered at Yale while engaged in summer internships. To be eligible, the internship must meet several requirements listed on the Graduate School Academic Regulations page.

Complete the Request for Summer Internship form and submit it and the other required documents to the departmental registrar for DGS approval. A one-page write-up is required prior to the internship being approved and another upon the student’s return from their summer internship.

Bereavement Policy

In the unfortunate event of a death of a loved one or other significant life event, we encourage and expect graduate students in the Physics Department to prioritize their well-being and take time off from research activities and teaching duties to allow themselves to grieve and heal. 

By default, graduate students are given one week off from their research, teaching, and classes. If a student needs more time, they are encouraged to speak with their advisor or the DGS to arrange for additional time off. Faculty advisors and course instructors are expected to provide students the time off that they need.  The DGS will assist the student with the necessary academic arrangements, including approval of temporary incomplete forms and working with the course instructor to cover any teaching obligations during this time.

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Yale Health Plan

Yale Student Health

All Ph.D. students are given a university fellowship for single coverage health and hospitalization insurance. Two-person and family health coverage are also available at a subsidized rate for students with spouses or children. Dental and eye care insurance can also be purchased through the University for an additional cost. 

Student Health coverage begins on August 1st and ends January 31st for students registered for the Fall term, this includes newly admitted students. Students registered for the Spring term are covered February 1 to July 31st. For students who graduate or leave the program, their coverage will continue to the end of their last registered term.

Health services are provided through the Yale Health Plan, 55 Locke Street. Please contact Member Services for more detailed information about coverage and services at 432-0246 or visit the University Health Services website.

Payne Whitney Gym

Payne Whitney Gymnasium, the largest building at Yale, is located at the north end of campus on Tower Parkway. Anyone affiliated with the University is eligible for membership. Yale students with valid I.D. cards are permitted open access to the building while other members of the Yale community are required to register and pay a membership fee. 

For specific schedule information on activities etc., please call the Information Desk at 432-1444. Membership information can be obtained by calling 432-2474.

Well-Being Resources

Good mental health and wellness are essential for students to thrive in the program. Over the course of time in graduate school, students may experience difficulties such as stress, loss, and anxiety, in their work or personal life. Yale has many resources to help support and maintain student health and wellbeing during these trying times, including Mental Health & Counseling, as well as programs that help you establish healthy self-care habits.

For more information on good mental health practices and programs, see Yale Well and The Good Life Center, and the extensive list of resources on the GSAS Health & Wellness website. The DGS, DPC and GR can also help if students have academic or personal concerns that affect their ability to fully engage in the program, research group or the department community. The graduate program team has an open door policy and encourages students to speak to any of us regarding any concerns students may have. 

If there is an urgent need to address concerns of personal safety, workplace harassment or discrimination, or mental health crisis please seek help and support immediately. Yale Police, SHARE, and Mental Health & Counseling services are available to all students 24/7. Additional resources to address Discrimination, Harassment, and Mental Health Concerns are also available to all students through Yale and held to strict rules of confidentiality.

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