What is HLT?
Human Language Technology is a developing interdisciplinary field that encompasses most subdisciplines of linguistics, as well as computational linguistics, natural language processing, computer science, artificial intelligence, psychology, philosophy, mathematics, and statistics.
Anywhere language comes in contact with information technology, or where humans need to interact with computers, language needs to be organized so that it can be handled and processed by computational means. This often requires broad knowledge not only about linguistics and how languages work, but also about computer science and related fields.
Well-known topics in human language technology include web search engine technology (an instance of information retrieval), speech recognition (computer dictation), speech synthesis (computer-generated speech), optical character recognition (OCR), machine translation, electronic dictionaries, spell checking, grammar checking, word processing, computer typesetting, computer-assisted language teaching, automatic captioning on TV - in short, any and all tasks where human language and information technology meet.
For a more in-depth perspective of the field, see the first chapter of Dan Jurafsky's and James Martin's book, Speech and Language Processing, which is available online and provides a good overview of the field.
What do studies include?
At the University of Arizona, our objective is to provide a balanced curriculum in linguistics, computational linguistics, and practical skills like business training. Upon completion of the program, students will have the skills required to enter a competitive workforce. We also work closely with providers of internship opportunities in the industry to assure that students receive strong hands-on experience in the form of a final project, preferably done in the industry. The minimum number of credits to be completed is 36, and students will also write a Master's thesis documenting an actual completed implementation. Possible local industrial internship opportunities include Lockheed Martin (Phoenix), Intel (Chandler), Raytheon (Tucson), and Motorola (Phoenix).
What kinds of jobs require knowledge of HLT?
Many jobs are centered in the IT-industry where a variety of companies are in need of trained HLT professionals. But the wide coverage of the field also guarantees a wide choice of careers, some of them closer to language-related work, some closer to computer science.
Human Language Technology represents the fastest growing field of language research. Because of its industrial applications, it provides far more employment opportunities than are available in traditional academic research. The Master of Science degree in HLT is designed for students who are interested in going directly into industry rather than going into academia on the PhD track.
The Department of Linguistics at the University of Arizona offers undergraduate and graduate programs in linguistics and human language technology. Our faculty has research specializations in phonetics, phonology, morphology, syntax, semantics, computational linguistics, psycholinguistics, language acquisition, represented by diverse interests in a variety of languages. We also offer unique programs in Native American linguistics. The department trains students for careers in teaching, research, and industry, and is equipped with a variety of laboratory facilities.
We are looking for students who feel comfortable both in linguistics or language-related liberal arts disciplines, as well as the more scientific fields that HLT includes - computer science, mathematics, or engineering. Applicants will be considered on a case-by-case basis. Programming skills are a prerequisite, but studies can be undertaken during the summer preceding entrance to the HLT program, if admitted.
Students wishing to enroll in the Master of Science in HLT should have some prior training in either linguistics or language-related liberal arts disciplines, or the more scientific fields that HLT includes - computer science, mathematics, or engineering. Applicants will be considered on a case-by-case basis.
Prospective applicants must have a 3.0 or higher GPA in order to qualify for admission.
Statement of Intent
Applicants must submit a concise statement of intent demonstrating their academic goals, career goals, and why a graduate degree in linguistics would help him/her pursue these goals.
Applicants must provide a writing sample to demonstrate their level and proficiency of writing.
The GRE is optional, not required for the HLT Program.
English proficiency is one of the requirements for admission for all applicants whose native language is not English. Applicants must submit a minimum TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language) score of 550 on the paper-based test (PB), 79 on the internet-based test (iBT), or a IELTS (International English Language Testing System) composite score of 7 (no subject area below a score of 6). International students seeking graduate teaching assistantships must attain the minimum TOEFL or IELTS score listed above, and in addition must attain a score of 26 or higher on the speak portion of the TOEFL IBT.
Letters of Recommendation
Applicants must submit three letters of recommendation from letter writers who know the student’s work, specifically assessing student’s ability to carry out graduate work in linguistics. Applicants are encouraged to submit letters of recommendation from professors who are familiar with the applicant's recent academic work.
The GRE is optional, not required for the HLT Program.
The Master of Science program is designed specifically to prepare students to enter a competitive, scientific workforce. During the two-year course of study, students will gain a strong understanding of both linguistics and language technology. The minimum number of credit hours for this degree is 36. Students with little to no background in linguistics are encouraged to take LING500 (Linguistics for Non-majors) before formally enrolling in the program, although with permission, they may take it as an elective in Year 1. Students with no programming experience should take courses in a major programming language before applying to the program. Competency in a programming language will be tested upon arrival.
Students are required to take the following courses:
LING538- Computational Linguistics, 3 units
LING581- Advanced Computational Linguistics, 3 units
LING539- Statistical Natural Language Processing, 3 units
LING503- Syntax I, 3 units
LING593A- Internship in HLT, 6-9 units
INTERNSHIP IN LIEU OF THESIS
The internship (LING593A) is taken in lieu of a master's thesis (minimum 6, maximum 9 units). The report associated with the internship must be of a quality comparable to that of a master's thesis. All the units of the internship need not be taken at the same time or with the same hosting agency. It may be broken down into smaller projects with minimum of 1 unit per project (45 work hours each) to total at least 6 units of internship overall. Please see the document Policies, Procedures and Best Practice Guidelines for Internships: LING593A Internship in Human Language Technology for further details on the internship. (Available on the department website)