PhD in Linguistics

These are the new requirements implemented beginning in August 2019; for the old requirements, please click here.

A Brief Description of the PhD Program

The PhD program in Linguistics allows a high degree of flexibility and specialization, and is designed to encourage students to advance quickly to producing original research. Students may choose any of several standard areas of specialization, or design their own specialization with the help of their faculty advisor.

The PhD program in Linguistics consists of three stages, which correspond to the three Graduate College doctoral degree stages.

Stage 1 consists of 40 hours of graduate coursework, and the Stage 1 qualifying examination; at the completion of Stage 1, students are eligible to receive a MA in Linguistics.

Stage 2 consists of 64 hours of graduate coursework, the Stage 2 qualifying examination, and the preliminary examination.

Stage 3 consists of the final defense and dissertation deposit.

Entry Requirements for the PhD Program

Students may be admitted to the PhD program in Linguistics with or without a prior master’s degree in linguistics or a related field. Depending on the student’s prior preparation, they may be admitted either into Stage 1 of the PhD or into Stage 2 of the PhD. Students who have completed a master’s degree in linguistics or a closely related field may be considered for admission to Stage 2 of the PhD program. Students without an approved prior master’s degree will only be considered for admission to Stage 1 of the PhD program. For admission to Stage 1 of the PhD program, undergraduate preparation should include the study of at least one foreign language; a course equivalent to LING 400 (Introduction to Linguistic Structure); and a broad background in the humanities, social sciences, and/or mathematics. 

Students admitted to Stage 1 must complete 40 credit hours in the areas listed below, maintain a GPA of 3.5 or better in all core courses, maintain a GPA of 3.0 or better overall, and earn a grade of High Pass on the Stage 1 qualifying examination in order to advance to Stage 2. Students who complete Stage 1 with a GPA of 3.0 or better overall, and who earn a grade of either Pass or High Pass on the Stage 1 qualifying examination, are eligible to receive an MA in Linguistics.

Students who are admitted directly to Stage 2, but lack any of the core courses required for Stage 1, must complete Stage 1 requirements immediately on entry into the program; the courses will not count toward the 64 hours required for Stage 2 of the PhD.

Academic Advising

All students should choose a faculty member to serve as their academic advisor. New students are advised by the Director of Graduate Studies until a different advisor is chosen. Consult often with your advisor about course selection, research projects, publications, conference presentations, and any other academic issue. You may change advisors at any time. Once you reach the stage of writing your dissertation, your academic advisor serves as your Director of Dissertation Research. Typically (though not necessarily), your advisor also serves as chair of your Final Examination Committee. To select or change an advisor, fill out the electronic advisor agreement form.

PhD Program Requirements: Stage 1

40 graduate credit hours are required for Stage 1 of the PhD in Linguistics. Credit hours which have already been applied to another degree do not count toward this total; nor do preparatory courses taken as a condition on admission. It is normally possible to complete Stage 1 in two years. Note: core courses for Stage 1 are under bullets A and B below; all other courses are non-core courses.

A. The following courses are required (12 hours):

  • LING 501: Syntax I
  • LING 502: Phonology I
  • LING 507: Formal Semantics I

B. Choose at least one course each from two of the following four areas (8 hours):

  • Sociolinguistics:
    • LING 450: Sociolinguistics I
  • Computational linguistics:
    • LING 406: Intro to Computational Linguistics
      Note: LING 402 (Tools & Technology in Speech and Language Processing) needs to be taken as a pre-requisite to LING 406 for students without a computational background
  • Psycholinguistics/acquisition: one of:
    • LING 425: Introduction to Psycholinguistics
    • LING 426: Child and Adult Language Acquisition
  • Second language studies/applied linguistics:
    • LING 489: Theoretical Foundations of SLA

C. Choose at least one course in quantitative and/or qualitative research methods (4 hours):

  • LING 514: Design and Methodology in Linguistic Research
  • LING 516: Field Methods
  • A section of LING 490 or LING 591 on statistics for language research
  • A relevant course from another unit, such as Educational Psychology, Psychology, Anthropology, or Communications, with approval from the Student Examination and Evaluation Committee (SEEC)

D. Practicum and independent study are required (4 hours):

  • LING 504: Practicum (2 hours)
  • LING 590: Special Topics in Linguistics (2 hours)

E. Three elective courses are required (12 hours):

  • These may be any LING courses at the 400-level or above, or non-LING courses approved by the student's advisor.

F. Language Requirement:

  • Students must demonstrate proficiency in any language other than the student’s native language. This may be satisfied in a variety of ways:
    • For students who are native speakers of a language other than English, English satisfies this requirement.
    • For students who are native speakers of English, demonstrated 4th-level proficiency is required, which can be achieved by (a) completion of four semesters of college study (or four years of high school study), or equivalent, within 5 years of matriculation; or (b) corresponding placement on an Illinois foreign language placement test.

G. Stage 1 Qualifying Examination:

  • Students first work closely with a faculty member to prepare an original research paper. The paper must be submitted to the department in time to schedule the oral examination before the end of the second year.
  • The examination itself consists of an oral presentation of the research paper before a committee of faculty members, who may ask questions concerning the research, the written paper, and the presentation.
  • The examination is graded as follows:
    • High Pass: the student is eligible to proceed to Stage 2 of the PhD, as well as to earn a MA in Linguistics, provided all other requirements are met.
    • Pass: the student is NOT eligible to proceed to Stage 2 of the PhD, but the student IS eligible to earn a MA in Linguistics, provided all other requirements are met. The student has to leave the program with a terminal MA.
    • Fail: the student is NOT eligible to proceed to Stage 2 of the PhD, and NOT eligible to earn a MA; the student is dismissed from the program with no degree.

H. Minimum GPA requirements

  • Students must maintain a minimum 3.0 GPA in all courses, and a minimum 3.5 GPA in all core courses (listed under Point A and Point B above) in order to be eligible to proceed to Stage 2.
  • Students who maintain a minimum 3.0 GPA in all courses are eligible to earn a MA in Linguistics, provided all other MA requirements are satisfied.

PhD Program Requirements: Stage 2

64 graduate credit hours are required for Stage 2 of the PhD in Linguistics. For students admitted directly to Stage 2 of the PhD, credit hours which have already been applied to another degree do not count toward this total; nor do preparatory courses taken as a condition on admission. The requirements below are in effect for all students entering the program in Fall Semester 2019 or later.

A. Choose at least one upper-level course in one of the following areas (4 hours):

  • Syntax:
    • LING 541: Syntax II
    • LING 581: Topics in Syntactic Theory
    • relevant section of an advanced seminar or other course, with SEEC approval

  • Phonology:
    • LING 542: Phonology II
    • LING 520: Acoustic Phonetics
    • LING 522: Articulatory Phonetics
    • LING 582: Topics in Phonological Theory
    • relevant section of an advanced seminar or other course, with SEEC approval
  • Semantics:
    • LING 547: Formal Semantics II
    • LING 551: Pragmatics
    • relevant section of an advanced seminar or other course, with SEEC approval

B. Choose at least one upper-level course in one of the following areas (4 hours):

  • Sociolinguistics:
    • LING 550 (Sociolinguistics II)
    • LING 587 (Topics in Sociolinguistics)
    • relevant section of an advanced seminar or other course, with SEEC approval
  • Computational linguistics:
    • LING 506 (Topics in Computational Linguistics)
    • relevant section of an advanced seminar or other course, with SEEC approval
  • Psycholinguistics/acquisition:
    • LING 525 (Psycholinguistics)
    • LING 529 (Second Language Acquisition and Bilingualism)
    • relevant section of LING 588 (Seminar in Second Language Learning)
    • relevant section of LING 560 (Seminar in Bilingualism)
    • relevant section of an advanced seminar or other course, with SEEC approval
  • Second language studies/applied linguistics:
    • LING 584 (Theories in Second Language Acquisition)
    • relevant section of Ling 588 (Seminar in Second Language Learning)
    • relevant section of an advanced seminar or other course, with SEEC approval

C. Elective courses (12 hours)

  • Students must complete at least 12 hours of graduate courses (400-level or higher) in Linguistics or related fields. These courses should reflect the student’s interests and professional goals, and should be selected in consultation with the advisor.

D. Research/Project/Independent Study Hours (12 hours)

  • Students must complete at least 12 credit hours of LING 590: Special Topics in Linguistics, or of another independent research course approved by the advisor.

 

E. Language Requirement:

  • Students must demonstrate knowledge of the structure of a language that is not their native tongue nor the same language that satisfied the foreign language requirement for Stage 1 of the PhD, or (in the case of students admitted directly to Stage 2) of the prior approved master's degree.
  • This requirement may be satisfied through (a) 2nd-level proficiency in the language, obtained through two semesters of college-level study, or equivalent; (b) 2nd-level placement on an Illinois foreign language placement test; (c) completion of a course on the structure of the language; (d) completion of LING 516: Field Methods; or (e) a demonstration that the language is the focus of the student’s doctoral research.
  • One of the languages with which the student is familiar (this may be the student’s native language, or the language used to satisfy one of the language requirements) must be a non-European or a non-Indo-European language.

F. Stage 2 Qualifying Examination:

  • Students first work closely with a faculty member to prepare an original research paper. The paper may be in the same or a different area than the paper submitted for the Stage 1 qualifying examination, and it may be supervised by the same or a different faculty member. The Stage 2 paper must differ from the Stage 1 paper in terms of research topic, research questions, and/or research methods.
  • The Stage 2 paper must be submitted to the department in time to schedule the oral examination before the end of the third year (for students who proceeded to Stage 2 from Stage 1), or before the midpoint of the second year (for students who came directly into Stage 2).
  • The examination itself consists of an oral presentation of the research paper before a committee of faculty members, who may ask questions concerning the research, the written paper, and the presentation.
  • The examination is graded as follows:
    • Pass: the student is eligible to proceed to the thesis proposal stage.
    • Rewrite: the student is given a timeline to rewrite and resubmit the paper. Only one rewrite is permitted. The possible grades for a rewritten qualifying paper are Pass (proceed to the thesis proposal stage) or Fail (dismissal from the program).

G. Minimum GPA requirements

  • Students must maintain a minimum 3.0 GPA in all courses in order to be eligible to proceed to Stage 3.

H. Thesis Hours Required (32 hours)

Students must complete at least 32 credit hours of LING 599: Thesis Research. Enrollment in LING 599 is not normally allowed before the semester in which the student expects to complete the Preliminary Examination.

I. Seminar Presentation

Each student must make at least one research presentation to the Linguistics Department Seminar.

J. Preliminary Examination

All students must pass the Preliminary Examination, normally in the fourth year of the PhD program for students who entered at Stage 1, or in the third year of the PhD program for students who entered directly into Stage 2.

  • To take the Preliminary Examination, first finish all your course requirements. Work closely with your advisor to prepare a written dissertation proposal. Assemble your examination committee, bearing in mind the policies on committee membership set by the Graduate College. Submit your written proposal to your committee at least two weeks before the oral examination, which may be scheduled through the Graduate Student Services Office of the School of Literatures, Cultures and Linguistics (please fill out the exam scheduling form).
  • The examination consists of an oral presentation of the dissertation proposal before the committee. The committee may ask questions about the proposed research, the written proposal, or the presentation.

PhD Program Requirements: Stage 3

Students complete all Stage 2 program requirements before proceedings to Stage 3.

A. Final Examination/Dissertation Defense

All students must write a dissertation and successfully defend its thesis in an oral examination. Familiarize yourself early in the process with the Graduate College policies and procedures regarding dissertations.

  • The Final Examination committee is normally (but not necessarily) identical to the Preliminary Examination committee. If it is different, please bear in mind the policies on committee membership set by the Graduate College. Work closely with your advisor and other committee members to be sure the dissertation is satisfactory before arranging for the Final Examination. The completed dissertation must be submitted to the committee at least two weeks prior to the examination, which may be scheduled through the Graduate Student Services Office of the School of Literatures, Cultures and Linguistics (please fill out the exam scheduling form).
  • The Final Examination consists of an oral presentation of the dissertation and defense of its thesis before the committee. The committee may ask questions about the research, the written dissertation, or the presentation.

B. Dissertation Deposit

Following successful completion the defense, make any revisions requested to the dissertation by the committee, and secure the approval of your advisor. Make sure the dissertation conforms to the Graduate College formatting policies. Deposit the dissertation according to the procedure set by the Graduate College.

 

 

Applying credit from other institutions

Students who enter the program with previous graduate work in Linguistics from another institution may petition to transfer course credit to the University of Illinois. Transfer of credit is not possible if the courses have already been counted towards a degree at any other institution. Transfer must be requested through the SLCL Graduate Student Services office.