PhD Degree Requirements

The Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) program in linguistics is individually tailored to the needs and professional goals of the student. The programs combines a foundation in functional/usage-based linguistics theory with a strong preparation in empirical research methods, both in the laboratory as well as in field settings.

We have particular strengths in descriptive linguistics and language revitalization, historical/typological/areal linguistics, first and second language acquisition, second language teaching, laboratory phonology and phonetics, sociolinguistics and corpus linguistics. The program draws strong interdisciplinary support from related fields on the university campus including East Asian and Romance linguistics, Psychology, Neuroscience, Anthropology, and Computer Science.

Apply to the PhD Program in Linguistics

Applicants who intend to pursue a PhD should apply directly to the PhD program. It is not necessary to complete the MA first.

Graduate Admissions

Coursework: 32 Credit Hours Total

Students must complete at least 32 hours of graduate courses at the University of Oregon after commencing the PhD program. The coursework must be approved by their doctoral advisor

The required courses for the PhD degree are

  • Two of LING 614 615, and 616, together with their prerequisites (LING 511, 550, 551, and 535 if determined by the student's advisor and the Department's Director of Graduate Studies).
  • Two of LING 507, LING 607, and /or equivalent seminar courses.
  • Three methods courses, such as Field Methods, Empirical Methods, or other courses approved by the student's advisor.

For each student, the specific course requirement in (b) and (c) are to be determined by the student's advisor and Department's Director of Graduate Studies, as are all other courses required for the PhD No course with a grade lower than a B- may be used to satisfy degree requirements.

Language Requirements

Students in the PhD program must demonstrate proficiency, either by examination or through coursework, in a language other than their native language, equivalent to two years of college classroom instruction. English can satisfy this requirement for students who are not native speakers of English.

In addition, the student must demonstrate either 1) proficiency in an additional 'research language', or 2) statistics and/or programming equivalent to a year of graduate study. Research languages are meta-languages through which a researcher gains access to subject matter in linguistics or gaining access to the field site (a language for research). Traditionally, library languages, such as French, German, Russian, or Chinese, meet this requirement well. A research language could also be a language which is used to gain access to the field, such as Tagalog would be for field work in the Philippines. Knowledge of a language which is the object of the student's study will not satisfy this requirement. Statistics and programming classes used to satisfy this requirement are in addition to coursework used to satisfy the research methods requirement and cannot be used for that purpose.

Forming an Advisory Committee

Every PhD student should form an advisory committee of faculty in consultation with their advisor. The committee should consist of three faculty members from within the department who could be core members of a dissertation committee (i.e., tenure-track faculty within the department). Other faculty members (within the department or from elsewhere) may be added as additional members. 

For those forming a dissertation committee, this is the default advisory committee. A dissertation committee must have four members, three of whom must be from within the department and one of which must be from outside of the department.

For those who are not yet at the point of forming a dissertation committee, this committee is of faculty who are likely to be on the dissertation committee or to be among the preferred pool from whom Qualifying Paper reviewers might be drawn. The committee members may be changed from year to year as the student’s area of specialization evolves.

The committee is expected to meet annually with each student beginning in either the Spring of the student’s first year or the Fall of their second year. This forum allows the faculty to provide feedback and remain informed about students’ progress and ideas. At this meeting, the student presents goals/plans/progress on projects and raises any questions or concerns. After the meeting, the student writes a short summary of meeting outcomes (e.g. a “to do” list) and circulates this to the committee with a copy to the Director of Graduate Studies and to the Graduate Coordinator.

Second-Year Review

By the end of a doctoral student's second year, they shall be given a review by members of the linguistics faculty. Materials submitted for this review must include the following:

  • A research plan for the next year’s course work, qualifying papers, and any other details worked out in consultation with the student's advisor
  • Written evidence of scholarly potential. For example, a student may provide a substantive term paper or revision of a term paper that demonstrates excellence of original research. A student's linguistics master's thesis can fulfill this requirement.

Advancement to Candidacy

Students in the PhD program should advance to candidacy within four years of first enrollment in the PhD program. In addition to successful completion of the course requirements, advancement to candidacy requires two original publishable papers, of substantial length and quality, in different subfields of linguistics (QPs). The term “different subfields” may include two different methodological approaches to a single broad topic. A QP is considered publishable if the QP review committee deems it to provide sufficient evidence of the student’s readiness to perform PhD-level research and write a dissertation, and that it stands a reasonable chance of acceptance by a refereed venue such as a peer-reviewed journal -- although the QP itself is not required to be accepted for publication, and may be submitted to a non-refereed venue. An unmodified MA thesis cannot serve as one of the QPs. A QP may be, however, a publishable expansion or revision of an M.A. thesis or publishable term paper written for a course conducted by any faculty member in the Department or, where deemed reasonable, for a course conducted by a faculty member outside the Department. The QP may be written under the supervision of either (a) the student’s advisor or (b) another faculty member, in consultation with the student’s advisor, who approves the topic and the final version.

On submitting each QP to the committee, and after consultation with the student’s advisor, the student indicates in a cover note or e-mail to the QP coordinator the intended publication venue for the QP. In reviewing the QP, the QP committee takes into consideration the appropriateness of the proposed venue for the content of the QP.

Submission of both QPs to the proposed venue(s) is required before the student can advance to candidacy. Before applying to the Graduate School for advancement to candidacy, the student must submit to the QP coordinator either (a) their cover letter to the venue to which each of the two QPs was sent, or (b) in the case of invited publications, the invitation letter. The publishing venue may be a refereed journal, a refereed or non-refereed conference proceedings volume, an online publication, or another venue. While submission of each QP to a publishing venue is required for advancement to candidacy, acceptance for publication is not a requirement.

Doctoral Committee and Dissertation

The doctoral committee must include at least three Linguistics faculty members and one outside member, and must be either chaired or co-chaired by the student’s doctoral advisor in Linguistics. A dissertation prospectus must be submitted in writing to, and approved by, the doctoral committee before the writing of the dissertation commences. The PhD will be granted upon completion of the preceding requirements, the writing of an original dissertation acceptable to the doctoral committee, and an oral examination on the dissertation.