Students who entered the Linguistics MA program prior to August 2019 may choose to complete either the requirements listed here, or the new MA requirements. Students who enter the Linguistics graduate program starting in August 2019 are admitted to the PhD program in Linguistics, and may earn a MA in Linguistics under the new requirements along the way.

A Brief Description of the Program

The MA in Linguistics program is designed around a set of "core" courses, to provide students with a well rounded perspective on the field. In addition to the core courses, students complete a series of elective courses tailored to their individual interests. The program is suitable both for students seeking a professional terminal degree and for students intending subsequent work at the doctoral level.

The program may be completed either by taking the Qualifying Examination, or by writing a Master's Thesis. Students intending to continue on to the Ph.D. program should take the Qualifying Examination.

Entry Requirements for the MA Program

For the MA program in Linguistics, 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. 

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. To select or change an advisor, fill out the electronic advisor agreement form available on the SLCL Graduate Student Services website.

MA Program Requirements

The requirements below are in effect for all students entering the program in Fall Semester 2013 or later.

A total of 40 graduate hours of coursework are required. It is normally possible to complete the degree in two years.

A. The following courses are required (16 hours):

  • LING 501: Syntax I
  • LING 502: Phonology I
  • LING 425: Introduction to Psycholinguistics
  • LING 450: Sociolinguistics I

B. Choose at least one of the following courses (4 hours):

  • LING 541: Syntax II
  • LING 542: Phonology II

C. Choose at least one of the following courses (4 hours):

  • LING 507: Formal Semantics I
  • LING 551: Pragmatics I

D. Four elective courses are required (16 hours):

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

E. Research/Project/Independent Study Hours:

  • A maximum of 4 hours of LING 590: Special Topics in Linguistics may be applied toward the degree, and count as an elective.

F. Language Requirement

  • Students must demonstrate proficiency in at least one language other than their native language. This language may be English for students whose native language is not English. Completing two semesters of instruction in the language is considered a demonstration of proficiency; the requirement may also be met through testing or in other ways approved by the Director of Graduate Studies.

G. Qualifying Examination or Thesis (0 or 4 hours):

  • Students who intend to pursue a Ph.D. in Linguistics from the University of Illinois should take the Qualifying Examination.
    • To take the Qualifying Examination, 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.
  • Students writing a thesis are required to take 4 hours of LING 599: Thesis Research in addition to the required 40 hours.
    • The thesis must be completed under the supervision of a faculty member.
    • It is evaluated by the thesis supervisor and a second faculty member.

Applying credit from other institutions

Students who enter the program with previous graduate work in Linguistics from another institution may petition the department to apply up to three of their previous courses toward Requirements A, B or C above. Documentation, such as a course description, syllabus, and in some cases a sample of completed work, should accompany the request. The request should be submitted to the chair of the department's Student Examination & Evaluation Committee. Courses applied to Requirements A, B or C in this way are not also applied toward the requirement of 40 credit hours, unless the credit hours are officially transferred to the University of Illinois. Transfer of credit hours is not possible if the courses have already been counted towards a degree at any other institution. Transfer of credit hours must be requested through the SLCL Graduate Student Services office.

Students are encouraged to attend at least one summer session of the Linguistic Institute of the Linguistic Society of America. Up to 8 graduate hours of credit granted under this program may be transferred, with Graduate College approval.