Ph.D. students must complete all M.A. requirements as well as additional requirements at the Ph.D. level. PhD students will receive an M.A. degree en route to the Ph.D.


  • Three hours of Linguistics 700, Introduction to Linguistic Science.
  • The ability to read in a foreign language (not English) with a significant linguistic literature.

Students who do not meet these prerequisites, but have an undergraduate major in a related field (such as a foreign language, English, speech, anthropology or psychology) may be accepted with the provision that they make up their deficiencies as soon as possible.

Minimum Course Requirements

Fifty-seven credit hours consisting of thirty-three credit hours at the M.A. level and twenty-four hours at the Ph.D. level:

  1. M.A. coursework: Thirty-three hours of graduate work including:
    • LING 794 Proseminar
    • LING 705 Phonetics I
    • LING 712 Phonology I
    • LING 725 Syntax I
    • One of the following acquisition courses:
      1. LING 709 First Language Acquisition
      2. LING 715 Linguistics and SLA
    • One of the following processing courses:
      1. LING 735 Psycholinguistics
      2. LING 738 Neurolinguistics
    • One of the following research methods courses:
      1. LING 720 Research Methods in Linguistics
      2. LING 741 Field Methods in Linguistic Description
      3. LING 782 Research Methods in Child Language
    • Twelve hours of electives to be determined by the student and the student's advisor, not to include LING 998 Independent Study or LING 850/851/852.
    • M.A. Research Project and Research Project defense
      The Master’s research project should consist of a detailed research proposal and include pilot results and/or preliminary analyses. Students in the Ph.D. program should be able to continue working on the project with the aim of submitting it as a qualifying paper for the Ph.D. program.
  2. Ph.D. coursework
    • Methods requirement: LING 741 Field Methods in Linguistics Description. If already taken for M.A., replace with one of the following:
      1. LING 720 Research Methods in Linguistics
      2. LING 782 Research Methods in Child Language
    • Three of the following second level courses (Second-level courses already taken for the M.A. degree will count toward the Ph.D. requirements. However, the requirement of a total of 24 credit hours remains):
      1. LING 707 Phonetics II
      2. LING 714 Phonology II
      3. LING 716 Second Language Acquisition II
      4. LING 726 Syntax II
      5. LING 731 Semantics
      6. LING 737 Psycholinguistics II
      7. LING 739 First Language Acquisition II
      8. LING 742 Neurolinguistics II
      9. LING 791 Morphology
    • One advanced seminar in Linguistics
    • Nine hours of electives to be determined by the student and the student’s advisor.

Additional Requirements

Before taking the Oral Comprehensive Examination, a student must fulfill the following requirements:

  1. Research Skills Requirement (one of the following courses):
    • Computational Linguistics (LING 783).
    • A course in a computer programming language.
    • A course in Statistics.
  2. Research Presentation Requirement
    Students must give one research presentation each semester beginning in their second year of the program. This requirement may be satisfied through a presentation in one of the empirical research seminars (LING 850, LING 851, & LING 852), a presentation at a local, regional, or international conference, a presentation in the Linguistics colloquy series, or a presentation at any other relevant forum as determined by the faculty advisor.

Qualifying Papers

The student needs to write two qualifying papers -- a major paper in the area of specialization and a minor paper in a different area. Both papers should represent original work. The major paper may be an expanded version of the M.A. thesis and should be of publishable quality. The minimum lengths of the major and minor papers are 25 pages and 15 pages, respectively.

The major and minor papers are developed in close consultation with an Advisory Committee (3 faculty members) and the two papers should be supervised by different faculty members when possible.  The adequacy of the papers is evaluated on the quality of the literature review, theoretical contribution, and research integration as well as the basis of their logical coherence and organization.  The student does not need to orally defend the qualifying papers.

Dissertation Proposal and the Oral Comprehensive Exam

When the major and minor qualifying papers have been approved by the Advisory Committee, the student may form a Ph.D. committee (4 inside members, 1 outside member), which helps the student work on the dissertation, starting from the dissertation proposal. The proposal should clearly identify the research questions that the dissertation will address, include a comprehensive literature review, lay out the methodology for the research, discuss preliminary data and results, if any, and present a timetable for the dissertation research. The minimum length for the dissertation proposal is 10 pages.

The Oral Comprehensive Exam is the official exam required by Research and Graduate Studies and consists of an oral defense of the dissertation proposal and the answering of any other questions related to the fields of study of the dissertation research. It must be taken within two months (excluding summer) after the student has turned in the dissertation proposal.  The oral exam will typically last two hours.

Dissertation and Dissertation Defense

The dissertation is developed in consultation with the Ph.D. committee.  The dissertation must be orally defended in front of the Ph.D. committee.  The student will be asked first to summarize his/her dissertation and evidence, and then will be questioned by the committee. The defense will normally last two hours.

Starting in the Fall of 2011, Linguistics dissertations will be evaluated in terms of a number of specific components. Click here for an overview of those components.

Doctoral Program Profile

Click here for statistics including acceptance rates, mean GRE scores, and number of years to degree.


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