Department of Linguistics University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

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Doctor of Philosophy in Linguistics

A Brief Description of the Ph.D. Program

The Ph.D. program in Linguistics is designed around a small set of common core courses, combined with courses in one of eight areas of sub-specialization in the field: computational linguistics, historical linguistics, phonology/phonetics, psycholinguistics/neurolinguistics, second language studies, semantics/pragmatics, sociolinguistics, and syntax. The requirements for the specialization in Second Language Studies are substantially different from the requirements for the other areas of specialization and are listed separately.

Entry Requirements for the Ph.D. Program

A student may enter the Ph.D. program in Linguistics upon completion of the course requirements for the M.A. program, and passing the Qualifying Exam. Students entering the graduate program with prior graduate study in Linguistics at another institution may request exemption and/or transfer of credit for up to three courses. For more information see the MA Program.

Admission to candidacy for the Ph.D. 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 Student Examination and Evaluation Committee considers their performance in meeting these requirements, as well as their general potential for successfully conducting advanced linguistic research.

Ph.D. Program Requirements (non-SLS specializations)

64 total hours are required for the Ph.D. in Linguistics.

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. Candidates are required to take the preliminary examinations (written and oral) after completion of 32 graduate hours beyond the master’s level and to present a research paper at a meeting of the Linguistics Seminar.

The Ph.D. requirements are as follows:

A. Core courses (8 hours):

  • LING 504: Practicum
  • LING 516: Field Methods

B. Mathematical Methods (4 hours):

Choose one course:

  • LING 407: Logic and Linguistic Analysis
  • Statistics Option: an appropriate course in Social Statistics

C. Area of Specialization (8 hours):

Candidates specializing in a particular area must take at least 2 required courses in the area specialization or sub-specialization, or a combination of such courses across specializations upon the approval the faculty advisor.

Computational Linguistics Historical Linguistics Phonology/ phonetics Psycholinguistics/ Neurolinguistics Semantics/ Pragmatics Socio- Linguistics Syntax

CS 400: Data structures for Non-Computer Majors

LING 406: Introduction to Computational Linguistics (required)

CS 421: Programming Languages & Compilers

CS 440: Introduction to Artificial Intelligence

LING 486: Computer-Based Foreign Language Teaching

LING 591: Seminar in Linguistic Analysis (relevant section)

LING 506: Topics in Computational Linguistics (required)

LING 409: Introduction to Indo-European Linguistics

LING 410: Historical Linguistics

LING 550: Sociolinguistics II (required)

LING 591-B: Seminar in Linguistic Analysis (relevant section)

LING 518: Sociolinguistic Methodology (required)

LING 583: Topics in Historical Linguistics

LING 401: Introduction to General Phonetics

LING 502: Phonology I

LING 591: Seminar in Linguistic Analysis (required, relevant section)

LING 520: Acoustic Phonetics (required)

LING 522: Articulatory Phonetics

LING 542: Phonology II

LING 582: Current Topics in Phonological Theory (required)

PSYCH/LING 423: Language Acquisition

LING/PSYCH 425:Introduction to Psycholinguistics

PSYCH/LING 427:Language and the Brain

LING 435: Neurolinguistic Aspects of Bilingualism

PSYCH/LING 524: Developmental Psycholinguistics

PSYCH/LING 525: Psycholinguistics

PSYCH/LING 529:Second Language Acquisition & Bilingualism

LING 560: Seminar in Bilingualism

PSYCH/LING 570: Proseminar in Cognitive Science

LING 407: Logic and Linguistic Analysis (required)

LING 509: Topics in Cognitive Linguistics

LING 591-E: Seminar in Linguistic Analysis (required, topics to be specified)

LING 507: Formal Semantics, I

LING 551: Pragmatics (required)

LING 547: Formal Semantics, II

LING 405: Introduction to Applied Linguistics

RELST/LING 429: Language of Religion

LING 450: Sociolinguistics I (required)

LING 550: Sociolinguistics II (required)

ANTH/LING 470: Mind, Culture, & Society

LING 591: Seminar in Linguistic Analysis [relevant section]

LING 515: Topics in Applied Linguistics

LING 518: Sociolinguistic Methodology (required)

LING 555: Sociolinguistics of World Englishes

LING 560: Seminar on Bilingualism

LING 587: Topics in Sociolinguistics (required)

LING 407: Logic and Linguistic Analysis

LING 501: Syntax, I

LING 591: Seminar in Linguistic Analysis [relevant section]

LING 504: Practicum

LING 541: Syntax, II

LING 507: Formal Semantics, I

LING 547: Formal Semantics, II

LING 509: Topics in Cognitive Linguistics

LING 551: Pragmatics

LING 581: Topics in Syntactic Theory

Candidates may include in their specialization courses from the following areas of sub-specialization that are available within the department and from cooperating departments:

African Linguistics East Asian Linguistics Romance Linguistics

LING 404: Tutorials in non-western languages (relevant section)

LING 412: Language in African Cultures & Societies

LING 420: Introduction to African Linguistics

LING 465: Introduction to Bantu Syntax

LING 469: Introduction to Semitic Linguistics

LING 510: Topics in African Linguistics

LING 430: Introduction to East Asian Linguistics

EALC 550: Seminar in East Asian Languages & Cultures

FR/LING 416: Structure of the French Language

ITAL 450: Italian Syntax and Phonology

SPAN 350: Introduction to Spanish Linguistics

SPAN 552: Spanish Syntax

SPAN 550: Spanish Phonology

SPN/FR/ITAL 556: Introduction to Romance Linguistics

SPAN 554: History of the Spanish Language

FR 529: Studies in French Linguistics

ITAL 550: Seminar in Italian Linguistics

SPAN 558: Seminar in Spanish Synchronic Linguistics

PORT 550: Seminar in Portuguese Linguistics

FR/ITAL/PORT 559: Seminar in Romance Linguistics

SPAN 588: Seminar in Second Language Learning

FR 581: Seminar in Linguistics and Psychological Foundations of Language Teaching


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

D. Language Requirement:

All Ph.D. candidates must demonstrate proficiency in a language that is neither their native tongue nor the same language that satisfied the foreign language requirement for the M.A. degree.

E. Thesis Hours Required (32 hours)

F. A Masters Degree is not required for admission to the Ph.D. program, but the Masters level requirements must be met (40 hours minimum)

G. Preliminary Exam

H. Final Exam/Dissertation Defense

G. Dissertation Deposit

Specialization in Second Language Studies (SLS):

Second Language Studies (SLS) is a field of specialization in the Linguistics Ph.D. program. Candidates must satisfy the requirements listed below in the following areas: A. Linguistics pre-requisite course work; B. Research Design/Methodology course work; C. Areas of specialization course work; D. Other requirements.

In consultation with their faculty adviser, candidates specializing in SLS must meet the following requirements.


  1. LING 501: Syntax 1
  2. LING 502: Phonology 1

Two additional courses chosen from among the following three areas: Language Analysis; Language Use; Psycholinguistics. Courses that are selected must come from different areas.

Language Analysis

One of the following must be taken:

  1. LING 541: Syntax, II
  2. LING 542: Phonology, II
  3. LING 509: Cognitive Semantics
  4. LING 527: Formal Semantics, I
  5. LING 551: Pragmatics
Language Use
  1. LING 450: Sociolinguistics, I
  2. EIL 456 Language and Social Interaction I
  1. LING 425: Introduction to Psycholinguistics

RESEARCH DESIGN/METHODOLOGY (Two courses; one each in Qualitative and Quantitative research design)

Qualitative Research Design
  1. *EIL 587 Research methods in Applied Linguistics
  2. *EIL 590: Introduction to Conversation Analysis
Quantitative Research Design
  1. LING 514: Research Design and Statistics for Language Studies


In consultation with their advisor, candidates will take at least six courses selected from the following five areas of specialization: Language Analysis; Language Learning; Language Use; Language Education; Educational Technology. At least two of these courses must come from outside the area of specialization that is most relevant to candidates’ dissertation work. The courses below are listed as recommended courses.

Language analysis
  1. EIL 522: Pedagogical grammar
  2. LING 541: Syntax, II
  3. LING 527: Formal Semantics, I
  4. LING 551: Pragmatics
  5. LING 520: Acoustic Phonetics
  6. EIL 588: Seminar in Generative Phonology in English Teaching
  7. LING 542: Phonology, II
Language Learning
  1. EIL 489: Theoretical Foundations of SLA I
  2. LING/PSYCH 425:Introduction to Psycholinguistics
  3. LING 435: Neurolinguistic Aspects of Bilingualism
  4. LING 560: Seminar in Bilingualism
  5. *EIL 590: Conversation Analysis-for-Second Language Acquisition
Language Use
  1. LING 551: Pragmatics
  2. LING 460: Sociolinguistics, II
  3. LING 517: Discourse Analysis
  4. *EIL 487: Intro to Conversation Analysis
  5. *EIL 487 Intro to Institutional Talk
  6. *EIL 590: Conversation Analysis-for-Second Language Acquisition
  7. *EIL 590: Teaching Conversational Competence
Language Education
  1. EIL 467/(511): Task-based language teaching
  2. *EIL 590: Teaching Conversational Competence
  3. EIL 445: Teaching Second Language Reading and Writing
  4. *EIL 587 History and Philosophy of language assessment
  5. *EIL 587: Advanced language test design
Educational Technology
  1. EIL 587: Corpus Linguisitics for the design of CALL programs
  2. HUM 482: Computer-Assisted Foreign Language Teaching
  3. *EIL 587: Computer-Mediated Communication
  4. Ling 402: Tools and Techniques in Language and Speech Processing
  5. Ling 406: Introduction to Computational Linguistics


  1. Candidates for the Ph.D. degree must earn at least 64 hours of graduate work beyond the 40 hours required for the M.A., including 32 hours of Linguistics 599 (thesis research).
  2. All Ph.D. candidates must demonstrate proficiency in a language that is neither their native tongue nor the same language that satisfied the foreign language requirement for the M.A. degree.
  3. All candidates for the doctorate must pass the qualifying examinations. For candidates admitted to the PhD from the MATESL program in the department and who elect to complete that degree with two qualifying papers (or one qualifying paper plus thesis), that is how the requirement is satisfied. For all other doctoral candidates, the present Linguistics guidelines apply, as explained on the Linguistics website
  4. In order to advance to candidacy, candidates must fulfill the Preliminary Examination, consisting of a written dissertation proposal and an oral exam in which the proposal is defended.