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PhD in Linguistics

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Degree Requirements, PhD in Linguistics


Students are required to take a minimum of 60 credits beyond the B.A./B.S.:

• 51 credits in courses proper;

• 9 credits in dissertation research.

Students entering with an M.A./M.S. in an appropriate area as determined by the department must take a minimum of 30 credits: 21 in courses proper and 9 in dissertation research. All transfer credit must be in accord with the rules of the Graduate College; approval of transferred degrees and courses is at the discretion of the Committee on Graduate Studies of the Department of Linguistics and Cognitive Science.

Included in the 51 credits must be the following:

1. All students must take (for a letter grade, not as Listener or Pass/Fail):

1. LING 607 Phonology I

2. LING 609 Syntax I

3. LING 608 Phonology II

4. LING 610 Syntax II

5. CGSC 697 Experimental Linguistics

2. Students must also take at least three 800-level seminars (nine credits), two in Linguistics and one in either Linguistics or Cognitive Science.

3. Students must also take 27 credits (nine courses) of Linguistics or related courses, chosen in consultation with the student's advisor and the Director of Graduate Studies. 

4. Students must also satisfy all the requirements for academic progress as specified in the academic progress policy guidelines found at

No course can satisfy two requirements.  Transfer credit for these requirements may be accepted, but only under the conditions stated above.

 A maximum of 6 credits in independent study is normally permitted during the entire course of study. All independent study must be taken at the 800-level.  No independent study will substitute for required courses.  Students working in laboratories who are not RAs may take up to six additional independent study credits and have those credits count toward the total credits needed for the PhD.  In other cases students may petition the Graduate Committee to have independent studies count toward the total.

Students may substitute other courses for those listed above only by petitioning in writing the Director of Graduate Studies. The substitution must be approved by the departmental Committee on Graduate Studies.

Other requirements for the degree:

Qualifying Papers

Students are required to submit two Qualifying Papers that are judged to be substantial and meet professional standards of scholarship by the Qualifying Paper committee, which consists of the primary advisor for the paper and a second reader. The two papers must be in distinct areas of linguistics, and no faculty member can serve as the primary advisor for both papers. A substantial draft of the first paper must be submitted to the student's qualifying paper advisor by the end of the Fall semester of the second year. The advisor must certify to the Committee on Graduate Studies that an acceptable draft has been submitted. By the end of the student's second year, the final version of the first paper must be submitted and approved by the advisor and the Committee on Graduate Studies. A substantial draft of the second paper must be submitted to the student's qualifying paper advisor by the end of the Fall semester of the third year. The advisor must certify to the Committee on Graduate Studies that an acceptable draft has been submitted. By the end of the student's third year, the final version of the second paper must be submitted and approved by the advisor and the Committee on Graduate Studies.

Students who do not comply with these deadlines will no longer be considered to be in good academic standing, which may result in the discontinuation of the students' funding. If one semester passes without a student meeting these deadlines, the student will be dismissed from the program. Students may petition in writing the Graduate Committee for an extension to these deadlines. The petition must be submitted prior to the deadlines and should explain any exceptional circumstance which made the timely completion of the requirement impossible. Petitions should also include a supporting letter from the academic advisor.

The Committee on Graduate Studies will appoint an evaluation committee for the paper. Possible grades are Pass, Revise, and Fail. The grade of Revise indicates that in the judgment of the committee, the paper will be acceptable with revision. The grade of Fail indicates that the student should submit a different paper to meet the requirements. Students whose paper has received the grade of Revise or Fail will be allowed one semester to satisfactorily complete the requirement for the research paper. Course papers may be submitted as a qualifying paper, but a grade of A in a course does not imply that the paper is acceptable as a qualifying paper.

Faculty will evaluate QPs based on criteria in the assessment form, which is downloadable under faculty resources.

Advanced Seminars

Both before and after advancement to candidacy, all students are expected to participate in advanced courses and research forums. Specifically, all students who have not yet advanced to candidacy are required to enroll in at least one advanced seminar at the 3-credit level per semester; all students who have advanced to candidacy and are in sustaining status are required to register for one advanced seminar at the 0-credit level per semester. All students are expected to participate in other research forums related to the student's area of specialization (e.g., departmental colloquia, brown bag or lab meetings).

Dissertation Prospectus

The final requirement for admission to candidacy is the acceptance of the Dissertation Prospectus. Before the Fall semester of their fourth year, each student must choose a dissertation director, form a dissertation committee, and submit a Dissertation Prospectus for approval. The dissertation director must hold a primary appointment in the Department of Linguistics and Cognitive Science or be approved by the Committee on Graduate Studies. There must be at least three other members, chosen by the student, that are acceptable to the dissertation director, one of whom must be outside the student's major area. At least 50 percent of the committee members must have primary appointments in the Department of Linguistics and Cognitive Science. In all cases the committee must be approved by the Chair of the Department of Linguistics and Cognitive Science.  Any changes to the committee after it has been formed must also be approved by the Department Chair.

The dissertation committee will meet with the student to examine the proposal and the qualifications of the student to carry out the proposed research. The results of this review will be acceptance into candidacy or a re-examination to be held at a later date to be determined by the dissertation director. The committee may also require further course work if deficiencies are found.

Students whose research proposals involve human volunteers must comply with all University and governmental requirements, including obtaining human subjects approval from the University's Office of the Vice Provost for Research.

Admission to Doctoral Candidacy

A student who has advanced to candidacy has completed all of the requirements for the Ph.D. apart from the dissertation. Once a student has advanced to candidacy and completed the minimum number of dissertation credits, it is possible to enroll with 'sustaining' status. In order to advance to candidacy, all of the requirements listed above must be completed.

As part of the Ph.D. requirements, students must also complete 9 credits of dissertation research. 9 credits of pre-candidacy study may also count towards satisfying this requirement, provided that they are taken no earlier than the full semester immediately preceding advancement to candidacy.


Students who have completed all of the above requirements are allowed to write the dissertation. The dissertation director has the responsibility of distributing the dissertation to the readers in ample time for the dissertation to be read adequately; the director also must see to it that the dissertation committee meet when necessary as a group to discuss the progress of the dissertation. The committee is to administer a final oral defense of the dissertation. Certification of successful defense is then submitted to the Office of Graduate Studies of the University.

Assessment of Academic Progress

In addition to the academic progress policy guidelines of the Office of Graduate and Professional Studies (, the Graduate Committee closely evaluates students' progress each semester, based on the students' performance in classes, timely satisfaction of program requirements, performance as teaching or research assistants (if applicable), conference presentations, publications, and other qualitative factors that demonstrate progress towards successful research and scholarship.

Students taking the basic courses specified above (Phonology 1-2, Syntax 1-2, Experimental Linguistics) are evaluated twice a semester, at midterm and at the end of the semester.  The instructor reports midterm and final grades to the Director of Graduate Studies. Students must receive a minimum grade of B in each of these courses.  If a student receives a grade below a B in any of these courses, their case is evaluated by the Graduate Committee within two weeks of final grades being posted.  The Graduate Committee will decide on one of two remedies:  (1) The student will be immediately dismissed from the program. (2) The student will be allowed to move on in the program, but will be considered to be on probation during the next semester.  All requirements and deadlines must be met by a student on probation or they will be subject to dismissal at the end of the semester.  If all requirements and deadlines for that semester are met they will be removed from probation and will be in good academic standing again.

When the Graduate Committee finds a student's performance less than satisfactory, the student will receive a letter stating the reasons for the concern and what the student must do to improve performance. Lack of sufficient improvement/progress after two or more warning letters may result in discontinuation of the student's funding or dismissal from the program.

Termination for Failure to Fulfill the Requirements

As described under individual requirements above, students who do not successfully complete any of the requirements may be terminated from the program. Students can grieve termination for failure by a written application to the Committee on Graduate Studies within 14 days of notification of failure.

Course Load and Advisement

All full-time students are expected to register for four courses (12 credit hours) a semester. Students are required to pre-register for a full-time load each semester in consultation with their advisor, so that the Department can plan for adequate course offerings.

All students will be assigned a temporary first-year advisor when they enter the program. Since it is important for students to begin to work with faculty members in their area of specialization as early in their academic career as possible, students are encouraged to choose an advisor in their area of specialization as early as their second semester of study and are required to do so by the beginning of the third semester. Students are free to change advisors at any time, but are required to inform department staff of the change.

The departmental Committee on Graduate Studies will c​ontinue to monitor students' progress throughout their program of study. Each year, by January 1, students should submit a progress report (using the Yearly Progress Report form attached below) to the Committee on Graduate Studies via their advisor. The Committee on Graduate Studies will meet to discuss and evaluate the progress of every student in the program. The results of this procedure will be communicated to the students.

Financial Aid

The Department of Linguistics and Cognitive Science offers a small number of teaching assistantships, graduate assistantships, and/or research assistantships to Ph.D. students only. The awards are granted to full-time students, normally for four years (the amount of time a full-time student needs to complete the Ph.D.), and are renewed each year based on satisfactory progress in the program.

Students funded by the department normally work as TAs/graders for undergraduate courses or RAs in a lab setting. The Linguistics Department therefore requires that first-year students whose native language is not English successfully complete the University's ITA program and pass the UDIA and the University's Speak Test with a score of 45. The ITA program is administered in August and January; we strongly advise students to complete it in August. Students must score 50 or higher on the Speak Test by the start of their second semester and need to establish proof of their English proficiency by retaking the University UDIA and SPEAK tests, scoring 250 and 55, respectively by the start of their second year, or they will not continue to receive funding.

Students who are appointed as TAs on a nine-month contract are expected to work an average of 20 hours per week, except during official university holiday breaks (Dec 22- Jan 2/3) and the week of Spring Break. All other absences from campus (for example, extended absences during the winter term) have to be approved by the departmental Committee on Graduate Studies.

All students are evaluated for their academic performance in early February of each year. Students should download and fill out the attached form and send the form via email to their advisors.

In addition, students on TA contracts are evaluated in early February of each year by the Director of Graduate Studies; students on RA contracts are evaluated by their research supervisor. Evaluations have to be forwarded to the Director of Graduate Studies and the Department Chair. TA and RA support can be discontinued if the evaluations are not satisfactory.

For more information, please contact:

Dr. Satoshi Tomioka

PhD Advisor

Linguistics & Cognitive Science

125 E. Main Street

Newark, DE 19716

Tel: (302) 831-6837


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PhD in Linguistics
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PhD in Linguistics
  • Department of Linguistics and Cognitive Science
  • 125 E. Main Street
  • University of Delaware
  • Newark, DE 19716, USA
  • Phone: 302-831-6806
  • Fax: 302-831-6896