Linguistics (PhD)

The doctor of philosophy (PhD) program in linguistics is individually tailored to meet the needs and professional goals of the student, drawing strong interdisciplinary support from related fields at the university. These fields may include—but are not limited to—anthropological linguistics, cognitive science, communication disorders and sciences, discourse and text analysis, English linguistics, first- and second-language acquisition, language-data processing, neurolinguistics, and sociolinguistics.

Program Learning Outcomes

Upon successful completion of this program, students will be able to:

  • Conduct independent research and advance knowledge in area of specialization.
  • Write technical papers that are of sufficiently high-quality to merit publication in scholarly journals.
  • Demonstrate mastery in at least 2 core areas of linguistics sufficient to teach lower division courses in linguistics.
  • Demonstrate mastery of current theory, literature, research methods, and data management in area of specialization sufficient to teach upper-division and graduate-level courses in linguistics.
  • Demonstrate clear understanding of the principles of ethical research in area of specialization and adhere to these principles when conducting research.
Required Courses
Select two of the following:8
Linguistic Theory: Semantics
Linguistic Theory: Syntax
Linguistic Theory: Phonology
Select two courses out of the following:8
Seminar: [Topic]
Seminar: [Topic]
Equivalent seminar courses
Three methods courses such as field methods, corpus linguistics, statistical methods in linguistics, or research methods in applied linguistics.12
Statistical Methods in Linguistics
Corpus Linguistics
and other courses in quantitative methods
Research Methods for Applied Linguistics
and other courses in applied research methods
Combination of courses from these areas
Total Credits28

The course work must be approved by the student's doctoral advisor. Even those students who have already earned an MA degree are typically expected to complete all of the MA degree course work requirements at Oregon as part of the normal progress toward the PhD.

For each student, the specific courses are to be determined by the student’s advisor and the department’s director of graduate studies, as are all other courses required for the PhD. No course with a grade lower than B– may be used to satisfy degree requirements. Candidates for the PhD must demonstrate proficiency equivalent to two years of college-level study of a second language and either proficiency equivalent to one year in a third research-related language or proficiency in programming or statistics in order to be advanced to candidacy.

Residency Requirement

The Division of Graduate Studies requires at least three years of full-time work beyond the bachelor’s degree for the doctorate, with at least one year spent in continuous residence on the Eugene campus. The Department of Linguistics interprets the latter requirement to mean that at least six courses, including seminars, must be taken in the program while the student is in continuous residence for three academic terms.

Doctoral Advisor

The department head appoints a doctoral advisor for each student upon admission to the PhD program.

Second-Year Review

By the end of a doctoral student’s second year,  he or she shall be given a review by the faculty members at a department meeting. Materials submitted by the student to the department for this review must include the following:

  1. A report that includes a research plan for the next year’s course work, potential topics for the two qualifying papers, a statement about the student’s career plans beyond the doctoral degree (and how the specific qualifying paper and thesis topics are relevant), and any other details worked out in consultation with the student’s advisor
  2. A curriculum vitae (CV)
  3. Written evidence of research progress and scholarly potential, such as a  substantive term paper or revision of a term paper that demonstrates excellence of original research or a linguistics master’s thesis; the materials must be submitted to the Department by April 15

Following review of these materials, the faculty members decides either to accept or deny the student for continued study in the PhD program. In some cases, a probation year may be granted for a student’s third year of study; the review process is repeated at the end of the third year with an accept outcome the only possibility for continued study.

As soon as possible after completion of the review, a letter to each graduate student under review is issued by the director of graduate studies informing the student of his or her status and, in the case of a one-year probation, specifying the conditions that must be met for a successful outcome during the additional third-year review. The language of the probation conditions is drafted by the student’s doctoral advisor and the director of graduate studies. The director may also meet with any students who are denied continued study or who are granted probation.

Annual review

Beginning in the third year of the program, each graduate student must submit an annual report and CV to his or her advisor by April 15 of each year. The report should be no more than one page in length and should detail what the student has accomplished over the past year in the program.

Doctoral Examination and Advancement to Candidacy

Requirements for the Qualifying Paper

The doctoral examination consists of two original publishable papers (QPs) in different subfields of linguistics. The term “different subfields” may include two different methodological approaches to a single broad topic. Acceptance of a QP indicates that the review committee has deemed the paper to constitute sufficient evidence for the student’s readiness to perform PhD-level research and write a dissertation. Submission of both QPs for publication is required before the student can advance to candidacy. The publishing venue may be a refereed journal, a refereed or nonrefereed conference proceedings volume, an online publication, or another venue. While submission of each qualifying paper to a publishing venue is required for advancement to candidacy, acceptance for publication is not a requirement.

An unmodified MA thesis cannot serve as one of the qualifying papers. A qualifying paper may be, however, a publishable expansion or revision of an MA 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 paper may be written under the supervision of either the student’s advisor or another faculty member in consultation with the student’s advisor, who approves the topic and the final version before submission to the QP Coordinator.

Doctoral Dissertation

A doctoral committee must include at least three linguistics faculty members and one outside member, and must be either chaired or cochaired by the student’s doctoral advisor in linguistics. A dissertation prospectus must be submitted 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.