Research Assistantships

Graduate Student Research Assistantships (GRAs) at the Yale Center for British Art and the Yale University Art Gallery are designed to provide Yale University doctoral students, in their second through sixth year, the opportunity to work as part of an intellectual team on a major scholarly project at one of the museums. These research positions enhance the educational experiences provided by academic course work and teaching assistantships at the university, allowing students to extend their range of academic specializations and expertise, and to augment research skills by direct contact with objects in the collections. For further information, contact Research ( | +1 203 432 2824).

A recent GRA described her experience: 

My year as a Graduate Research Associate was extremely fruitful for me. I had opportunities to work directly with materials in the Rare Books and Manuscripts collection; my primary project was to create a catalogue of a collection of over six hundred historic vernacular photographs, which will become the basis of a searchable database that scholars inside and outside of Yale can access. I also had chances to participate in writing gallery labels, work with visiting undergraduate students, and help with breakout sessions for a symposium on British photography. As an aspiring museum professional, my experience as a GRA in the Department of Rare Books and Manuscripts gave me hands-on opportunities to work with collections over an extended period of time, in ways I wouldn’t have been able to otherwise.

—Sarah Pickman


Graduate Student Research Assistantships at the Yale Center for British Art are open to PhD graduate students in all disciplines, while those at the Yale University Art Gallery are restricted to students specializing in History of Art. The number of assistantships offered may vary each year.

Financial Terms and Duration

The GRA stipend for 2019–20 is equivalent to the stipend for Yale teaching fellows, which is $11,925.00 per semester in 2019.

No positions beyond those described here can be financed at full stipend level or counted in lieu of teaching requirements. If a student holds a university fellowship, the research assistantship replaces the fellowship for the year in which the student holds the position.

Research assistantships may be offered for one or two semesters depending on project and student circumstances. Full-year GRAs are initially awarded for one semester and are renewed for the second semester after a midyear review, at the discretion of the supervising curator and the Director of Graduate Studies (DGS). At the discretion of the DGS, students in their second and third years may substitute up to two semesters of the research assistantship in lieu of fulfilling the teaching requirements. If, in an extraordinary case, a student wishes to pursue the same project for a third or fourth semester, he or she may be allowed to continue at the discretion of the supervising curator and the DGS.


The application process is formal and competitive. GRAs are equivalent to university teaching assistant positions and cannot be negotiated through conversation with curators. It is suggested that students seek the approval of their DGS before applying. The deadline to submit applications is February 7, 2020. 

Yale Center for British Art, 
Project Offerings for 2020–21

Please check back, as additional projects will be added as they are finalized. 
Prints and Drawings
Out of Place—Yale Peabody Museum of Natural History/Yale Center for British Art 
Supervised by Chitra Ramalingam, Assistant Curator of Photography
A GRA is sought to help with developing an ongoing engagement between the collections of the Yale Center for British Art and the Yale Peabody Museum of Natural History, which will result in a series of experimental installations of small numbers of Peabody objects among the long-term collection on display on the fourth-floor galleries of the Center. These installations will take place during the years of Peabody’s closure for renovation, approximately 2020–23 (dates still to be determined in conjunction with the Peabody). The purpose of the series will be threefold: to think across and between the two collections in order to explore intercultural perspectives on the history of British art, science, and empire; to foreground “natural” objects’ complex histories of acquisition, translocation, and arrival into “universal” collections like Peabody; and to unsettle the overarching categories of natural and cultural heritage, which are themselves established through the politics of taxonomy and display in different kinds of museum. The GRA may participate in all aspects of this project, including researching objects at the Center and the Peabody in connection with their own interests, writing labels or text for installation brochures, and assisting with a course to be taught that academic year in connection to the project. Specific tasks and research topics will be identified to suit the successful candidate’s interests and expertise.

Rare Books and Manuscripts 

Research in the Rare Books and Manuscripts Collection: Interpretation and Accessibility
Supervised by Elisabeth Fairman‚ Chief Curator of Rare Books and Manuscripts, with Francis Lapka, Senior Catalogue Librarian
The Department of Rare Books and Manuscripts holds approximately thirty-five thousand volumes. The collection represents a broad range of material relating to the visual arts and cultural life in the United Kingdom and former British Empire, dating from the fifteenth century to the present. Particular strengths include illustrated “color-plate” books from the renowned J. R. Abbey collection, drawing manuals, sporting books and manuscripts, early maps and atlases, early printed books, and private press and contemporary artist books, as well as archival and manuscript material relating to British artists, writers, and travelers of all periods.
The GRA will work on one or more projects, creating detailed descriptions of manuscript and archival material within the collections. The descriptions composed by the GRA will enable immediate scholarly access to the material. The goal of this project is to make the department’s manuscript and archival collections more available to students and researchers by identifying subjects of interest to not only art historians but also social, political, and cultural historians. The department will attempt to match the applicant with project material that matches the student’s academic interests and expertise. The project provides the student with opportunities to engage with uncatalogued primary material over an extended period, affording an unparalleled experience that will be useful in their own scholarly endeavors. Students may work on material related to the subjects and categories mentioned above, as well as with recent acquisitions and collecting areas, including textiles, photography, viewing devices, printed ephemera, children’s education, death and memorialization, the military, and natural history.