Ph.D. Program

Completion of the PhD in five years requires progress in several categories outlined below. For additional details, consult the PhD Program Handbook.

Outline of PhD career in Linguistics

First Year: Core courses in phonetics, phonology, psycholinguistics, semantics, syntax, and field or experimental methods; language exam (spring quarter).

Students complete a minimum of thirteen courses (65 units). In the first year, students take a core sequence of courses in phonetics, phonology, psycholinguistics, semantics, syntax, and field or experimental methods. By the end of the second year, most of the required coursework (including in addition a research seminar and seminars in three distinct areas) has normally been completed.

Reading competence in one foreign language is demonstrated by examination, ideally early in the graduate career. The function of the exam is to test reading comprehension at a level which will allow effective use of the language in reading linguistic material.

Second Year: Research seminar and seminar courses; defense of first qualifying paper.

Qualifying Papers
Students complete two qualifying papers (QPs) in distinct areas. Each QP represents an in-depth theoretical investigation into some natural language phenomenon, and is defended before a committee composed of three faculty members. QPs often lead to conference presentations or journal publications. It is expected that the first QP be successfully defended in the second year, and the second QP in the third year.

Third Year: Seminar courses; defense of second qualifying paper; qualifying exam.

Qualifying exam
Following successful completion of the two QPs, students must pass the qualifying exam (QE). This exam is the occasion on which a student demonstrates that she has achieved the level of competence and research-ability in a given area that is required for successful dissertation-level research. The QE is based on a substantial research paper written by the student (often a revised QP) and defended before a committee consisting of four members (three from within the department, one from without). Upon successful completion of this step, the student becomes a candidate for the degree.

Fourth Year: Dissertation-related research.

Fifth Year: Dissertation writing; dissertation defense

The final requirement for the PhD degree is the presentation and public defense of a dissertation representing a significant contribution in some area of theoretical linguistic research. Prior to the writing of the thesis, the candidate prepares and defends a dissertation prospectus, which maps out the principal lines of research to be pursued.