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Doctor of Philosophy in Linguistics

A Brief Description of the Ph.D. Program

The Ph.D. 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.

Entry Requirements for the Ph.D. Program

Students who complete the M.A. in Linguistics at the University of Illinois by passing the Qualifying Examination may apply to the Student Evaluation and Examination Committee to enter the Ph.D. program. Entrance requires a grade point average of 3.5 or better in the required M.A. courses (not counting the electives), a minimum grade point average of 3.0 over all graduate work in linguistics, and distinction in passing the Qualifying Examination. In deciding whether students will be admitted to the Ph.D. program, the committee considers their performance in meeting these requirements, as well as their general potential for successfully conducting advanced linguistic research.

Students who have completed the MATESL degree at the University of Illinois or a master's degree in Linguistics, TESL, or a related field at another university may apply for direct admission to the Ph.D. program. Please refer to our Admissions page. Recommended preparation includes courses equivalent to our LING 501: Syntax I; LING 502: Phonology I; either LING 425: Introduction to Psycholinguistics or LING 450: Sociolinguistics I; and at least one of LING 507: Formal Semantics I, LING 509: Topics in Cognitive Linguistics, and LING 551: Pragmatics. Students entering the Ph.D. program without such preparation are required to take these courses immediately on entering the program; the courses do not count toward the 64 hours required for the Ph.D.

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 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 Disseration Research. Typically (though not necessarily), your advisor also serves as chair of your Final Examination Committee. To select or change an advisor, fill out a Graduate Advisor Agreement or Advisor Change Form and file it with the SLCL Student Services Office.

Ph.D. Program Requirements

64 graduate credit hours are required for the Ph.D. in Linguistics. Credit hours which have already been applied to another degree, such as the M.A. in Linguistics, 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 2013 or later. Students who entered the program earlier may also complete their degrees under these requirements, or may elect to complete their degrees under the previous requirements.

A. Practicum, Research Paper and Oral Exam (4 hours):

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

During their first year in the Ph.D. program (normally the third year overall for students entering from the Linguistics M.A. Program), students must submit an original research paper, and pass an oral examination in which the paper is presented to a committee of faculty members, who may ask questions regarding the research, the written paper, and the presentation. The paper should be completed under the supervision of a faculty member,while enrolled for at least two credit hours of LING 590 with that faculty member as instructor, and also enrolled in LING 504.

B. Area of Specialization:

Students must specialize in a particular subfield of linguistics, and complete the requirements for their area of specialization. The following standard specializations are available; students may also design their own specializations with the help and approval of their faculty advisor.

 

Computational Linguistics
Prerequisite:
  • LING 402: Tools and techniques in Speech and Language Processing (or a 200 level CS programming course, or consent of instructor)
Required Courses: Recommended:
  • LING 406: Introduction to Computional Linguistics
  • LING 506: Topics in Computational Linguistics
  • LING 591: Seminar in Linguistic Analysis (relevant section)
  • LING 490: Corpus Linguistics (corpus construction and annotation)
  • CS 410: Text Information Systems
  • CS 421: Programming Languages and Compilers
  • CS 440 / ECE 448: Artificial Intelligence
  • CS 498: Special Topics in Computer Science (machine learning and natural language sections)
  • CS 546: Machine Learning and Natural Language
  • CS 598: Special Topics in Computer Science (natural language processing sections)
  • CS 592: Advanced Seminar in Computer Science (natural language processing sections)
  • LIS 590: Special Topics in LIS (computational linguistics sections)

 

 
Phonetics and Phonology
Prerequisite:
  • LING 401: Introduction to General Phonetics
Required Courses: Recommended:
  • LING 502: Phonology I (required in the M.A. curriculum)
  • LING 520: Acoustic Phonetics
  • a course in statistics to be approved by advisor
  • Note: Quantitative Methods I and II are being developed to cover statistics (QM-I) and corpus methods (QM-II) for P&P research. These courses are currently offered under LING 591. Students should take QM-I, if available, to satisfy the statistics requirement of the P&P specialization

  • LING 410: Historical Linguistics
  • LING 522: Articulatory Phonetics
  • LING 542: Phonology II
  • LING 582: Topics in Phonological Theory
  • LING 591: Seminar in Linguistic Analysis (offerings related to P&P)

 

Psycholinguistics and Neurolinguistics
Required Courses: Recommended:
  • A course in statistics for social sciences

  • At least three courses from the list of recommended courses. It is strongly recommended that one of these three be LING 514, or a comparable course on quantitative research methods.
  • LING 423: Language Acquisition
  • LING 426: Child and Adult Language Acquisition
  • LING 427: Language and the Brain
  • LING 514: Design and Statistics in Language Study
  • LING 524: Developmental Psycholinguistics
  • LING 525: Psycholinguistics
  • LING 529: Second Language Acquisition & Bilingualism
  • LING 560: Seminar in Bilingualism
  • LING 570: Seminar in Cognitive Science
  • LING 588: Seminar in Second Language Learning (relevant sections)
  • LING 591: Seminar in Linguistic Analysis (relevant sections)

 

Second Language Studies
Required Courses: Recommended:

The courses should be chosen in consultation with the student’s advisor.

  • Curriculum prerequisite: a course in foundations of second language acquisition, such as EIL 489 (Theoretical Foundations of SLA) or equivalent
  • Two courses on research methodology which provide students with training in both quantitative and qualitative research methods. Possible courses include (but are not limited to):
    • ANTH 471 (Ethnography through Language)
    • EIL 588 (Seminar in Second Language Learning: section on Conversational Analysis)
    • EPSY 575 (Mixed Methods Inquiry)
    • EPSY 580 (Introduction to Statistical Methods)
    • LING 514 (Design & statistics in language study)
  • At least two courses from the list of recommended courses. Students are expected to take courses in at least two of the four areas listed under ‘recommended courses’.

Language Learning:

  • EIL 489: Theoretical Foundations of SLA
  • LING 426: Child and Adult Language Acquisition
  • LING 529: Second Language Acquisition & Bilingualism
  • LING 560: Seminar in Bilingualism
  • LING 588: Seminar in Second Language Learning (relevant sections)

Language Use / Conversational Analysis:

  • EIL 487: Topics in Second Language Studies (relevant sections)
  • LING 460: Sociolinguistics II
  • LING 551: Pragmatics
  • LING 588: Seminar in Second Language Learning (relevant sections on Conversational Analysis)

Language Education and Assessment:

  • EIL 445: Teaching Second Language Reading and Writing
  • EIL 460: Principles of Language Testing
  • EIL 511: Task-based language teaching
  • EIL 512: Practicum in Teaching ESL
  • EIL 580: Classroom Language Acquisition
  • LING 588: Seminar in Second Language Learning (relevant sections)

Educational Technology:

  • EIL 587: Seminar in Second Language Studies (relevant sections)
  • LING 402: Tools and Techniques in Language and Speech Processing
  • LING 406: Introduction to Computational Linguistics

 

Semantics and Pragmatics
Required courses: Recommended:
  • LING 507: Formal Semantics I
  • LING 551: Pragmatics
  • At least 8 credit hours of:
    • LING 590: Special Topics in Linguistics (relevant section); or
    • LING 591: Seminar in Linguistic Analysis (relevant section)
  • LING 407: Logic and Linguistic Analysis
  • LING 438: Philosophy of Language
  • LING 514: Design and Statistics in Language Study, or a comparable course in research methodology or statistics
  • LING 541: Syntax II
  • LING 547: Formal Semantics II

 

Sociolinguistics
Required Courses: Recommended:
  • LING 450: Sociolinguistics I
  • LING 550: Sociolinguistics II
  • LING 587: Topics in Sociolinguistics
  • LING 514: Design and Statistics in Language Study
  • LING 555: World Englishes
  • LING 560: Seminar in Bilingualism
  • LING 591: Seminar in Linguistic Analysis (relevant sections)

 

Syntax
Required Courses: Recommended:
  • LING 541: Syntax II
  • LING 581: Topics in Syntactic Theory
  • LING 591: Seminar in Linguistic Analysis (sections on syntax, morphology)
  • LING 407: Logic and Linguistic Analysis
  • LING 507: Formal Semantics I
  • LING 509: Topics in Cognitve Linguistics
  • LING 547: Formal Semantics II
  • LING 514: Design and Statistics in Language Study
  • LING 551: Pragmatics

 

C. 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.

D. Language Requirement:

All Ph.D. candidates must demonstrate knowledge of the structure a language that is neither their native tongue nor the same language that satisfied the foreign language requirement for the M.A. degree. This requirement may be met through LING 514: Field Methods, or courses such as FR 416: Structure of French or GER 465: Linguistic Structures of German, or in other ways approved by the Director of Graduate Studies.

E. 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.

F. Seminar Presentation

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

G. Preliminary Examination

All students must pass the Preliminary Examination, normally in the second year of the Ph.D. program (fourth year overall for students who entered through the Linguistics M.A. Program).

  • 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.
  • 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.

H. 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 disseration 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.
  • 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.

I. 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.

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.