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Linguistics (PHD) 
Program Description

The Ph.D. in linguistics is an academic/professional research degree. Our program is designed to produce scholars who can carry out research on human language in any of its aspects within a contemporary theoretical framework, and which challenges, modifies, and extends contemporary theory. Our students also have the opportunity to investigate language in an interdisciplinary context, including language development and human language processing. Students are required to complete seven courses from a set of core course requirements, a course in professionalism, a workshop for preparing the written comprehensive examination, and additional courses and seminars in their areas of specialization. Following completion of the oral comprehensive examinations, students must submit a dissertation prospectus, and complete and defend a dissertation demonstrating their ability to undertake and carry out original research in linguistics. Students are encouraged to apply for and receive an MA degree in Linguistics along the way to the Ph.D.

Department/Academic Unit(s)

Linguistics -

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.

College of Social & Behavioral Sciences  
Campus where offered
Main Campus - Tucson  
Admissions Contact
Stephanie Ann Amado
Graduate Program Coordinator
Stephanie Ann Amado
Director of Graduate Studies
Adam P Ussishkin
Graduate College Degree Counselor
Elise Bowler
Tuition and Fees
Please refer to the UA Bursar's Office Tuition and Fees Calculator for up-to-date information about tuition and fees. 
Please refer to the UA Registrar's's Office Special Course Fees for up-to-date information about special course fees. 

Admissions Information

Admissions Requirements

GPA Requirement

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.

Writing Sample

Applicants must provide a writing sample to demonstrate their level and proficiency of writing.

Standardized Tests

The GRE is optional, not required for application to the PhD Program.

English Proficiency

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.

Standardized Tests

Required test(s):

  • GRE
  • TOEFL or IELTS if non-native English Speaker


Minimum TOEFL: Score of 550 on the paper-based test (PB) or 79 on the internet-based test (iBT)
Minimum IELTS: Composite score of 7 (no subject area below a score of 6)

Financial Aid

While we are not able to guarantee funding for all graduate students, the Department of Linguistics endeavors to fund all PhD students for four years, through a combination of fellowships, teaching positions, and research positions. Other sources of funding are available, and graduate students are expected to familiarize themselves early on with these opportunities. These include funding sources here at the University of Arizona (such as the Social and Behavioral Sciences Research Institute and the ConfluenCenter) and elsewhere (such as the National Science Foundation, The National Institutes of Health, The National Endowment for the Humanities, and other funding agencies).

Admissions Deadlines

Domestic Applicants:

  • Fall: December 15

International Applicants:

  • Fall: December 15
International Conditional Admission
International applicants will not be considered for conditional admission by this program.
Other Information
The GRE Institution Code for The University of Arizona is 4832
NRC Taxon(a) for this program: Linguistics

Completion Requirements

Degree Requirements

A.      Core Curriculum

Required of all students (without exception; courses taken outside the department or at other universities may not be substituted):

a.         Syntax I (LING503), Phonology I (LING510), taken in the first semester

b.         Five courses out of the following six areas (one out of each group, with one group not treated)[1].

[1] Underlying assumption:  students with TA/RA duties are expected to take, except by petition, three courses per semester until the end of the sixth semester.  Students without TA/RA duties may wish to take 4 courses.

Computational Group:

LING 508       Computational Techniques for Linguists

LING 538       Computational Linguistics

LING 539       Statistical NLP

LING 578       Speech Technology

Foundation Group:

LING 501       Foundation of Linguistic Theory

LING 507       Statistical Analysis for Linguists

LING 588       Linguistic Elicitation and Documentation

LING 518       Analysis and Argumentation

Phonology/Phonetics Group:

LING 514       Phonology II

LING 515       Phonological Phonetics

LING 516       History of Phonology

Psycholinguistics Group:

LING 532       Psychology of Language

LING 533       Theories of Language Development

LING 543       Advanced Language Development (syntax/lexicon)

Syntax/Semantics Group

LING 504       Advanced Syntactic Theory

LING 505       Theories of Grammar

LING 506       Major Works in Syntactic Theory

LING 564       Formal Semantics

LING 522       Lexical Semantics

Typology/Morphology Group:

LING 535       Morphology

LING 544       Typology and Universals

LING 545       Structure of Non-Western Language

LING 554       Structure of A Near-Eastern Language

Students who have completed any of the core courses at the undergraduate level in the linguistics department, and have counted that course as part of their BA degree in Linguistics, must retake that course at the graduate level when they enter the graduate program. If the course was not used for the BA degree in Linguistics, and was taken at the graduate level, the student may waive the relevant course in the graduate program, based on the course and advisor’s agreement. In that case, the course must be replaced by another core course.


B.      Colloquium

Two required colloquium courses, LING595A, are to be taken in the 1st and 2nd semesters, one unit each. These are important parts of graduate education. All other students are strongly encouraged to enroll in these courses.


C.      Seminars

A minimum of two seminars is required.  However, students are encouraged to attend all seminars that meet their curricular goals throughout their graduate career, and should consult with their advisor on the number and type of additional seminars to consider.


D.      Professionalism in Linguistics Requirement

There is a required one-credit course on professionalism, LING689, (separate from the comprehensive exam courses) to be taken by the 6th semester. This class is required of all students. In addition, the graduate advisor will be responsible to meet with students in order to cover issues such as students’ survival skills, meetings with professors, planning graduate career, library resources, etc.

Minor Requirements
The Academic Unit has not provided this information. 
Student Handbook  

Program StatisticsInformation about these numbers

Program-level Information
Application Acceptance Rate 17%
Med. Time-to-degree (years) 5.75
Department-level Information
Enrollment Percent Male 59%
Enrollment Percent Female 41%
Enrollment Percent International 24%
Enrollment Percent URM 19%

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Last revised 19 Apr 2019