The graduate program in linguistics trains individuals to engage in the scientific study of human language. Course work emphasizes the structural aspects of language and the mechanisms of language change. Students work closely with faculty members on problems in linguistic theory, the description of particular languages, and variation across different users and contexts, focusing on their implications for understanding social and cognitive structures.
Admission RequirementsApplicants for admission to the graduate program are expected to have a bachelor’s degree in linguistics or other appropriate field and knowledge of at least one foreign language. At the least, applicants are expected to have completed an introductory course in general linguistics. Other requirements for admission include: a detailed statement of purpose with specific information about interests and goals, scores from the General Test of the Graduate Record Examinations (GRE), and at least three letters of recommendation from academic sources.
Degree RequirementsThese degrees are under the jurisdiction of the Graduate School. Refer to the Requirements for Graduation and the Graduate School section for general regulations. All courses applied toward the degrees must be courses accepted by the Graduate School.
Master of Arts in Linguistics (32 units)The department does not accept applicants for a Master of Arts degree. All graduate work in Linguistics at USC is taken as part of the Ph.D. program, and the M.A. in Linguistics is intended only as a transitional degree in the process of completing requirements for the Ph.D.
A student admitted to the graduate program may choose later to earn a terminal M.A. degree, or may be invited by the department to attempt a terminal degree.
Students pursuing the Ph.D. program in linguistics are required to complete 32 units of course work toward the M.A. degree. The choice of courses is subject to approval by the Graduate Studies Committee. In addition, students must satisfy one foreign language or research tool requirement (see Foreign Language/Research Tool Requirement).
M.A. Research PaperIn addition to course work and the foreign language/research tool requirement, students are also required to write one research paper the contents of which represent a distinct area. The completed paper must be submitted to the Graduate Studies Committee no later than the student’s fourth semester of graduate study by the deadline established for that academic year. Following submission of the research paper, each student will conduct an oral defense of his or her work.
Doctor of Philosophy in LinguisticsApplication deadline: December 1
Students pursuing the Ph.D. in Linguistics are required to complete a minimum of 60 units of course work beyond the baccalaureate. In addition to the 32 units completed toward the M.A., students are required to take three 600-level seminars in linguistics and a minimum of four units of 794ab Doctoral Dissertation. No more than eight units of 794 may be applied toward the Ph.D. degree. A maximum of 30 transfer units, approved by the university and the department may be applied to the Ph.D. degree.
After successfully completing the screening procedure, students will establish a guidance committee to determine a Ph.D. course program in preparation for the dissertation. This course program must be approved by the Graduate Studies Committee.
Students seeking the Ph.D. in linguistics must demonstrate knowledge of two foreign language/research tools with at least one of them falling under Option A. One of these two foreign language/research tools is satisfied as an M.A. requirement. See Foreign Language/Research Tool Requirement.
AdvisementThe student in his or her first semester will have the option of either selecting a faculty advisor or postponing such a selection until, but no later than, the last day of classes of the first year in the program. The Graduate Studies Committee (GSC) will serve as a provisional advisor until the student makes a selection.
The student has the option of changing advisors at any time without the need to seek the original advisor’s approval. The student should inform the GSC and the previous advisor of the change.
At the beginning of the second year of graduate study, the faculty advisor will assist the student in planning a program of study appropriate to the student’s interests leading to the screening procedure.
Required Core Courses in LinguisticsStudents pursuing the Ph.D. program in linguistics are required to complete 32 units of course work toward the M.A. degree. See Waiver and Substitution of Course Requirements for possible exceptions.
|LING 530||Generative Syntax||3|
|Three courses from the following (to be completed by the end of the third year)||Units|
|LING 512||Linguistics Variation and Language Changes||3|
|LING 534||Logic and the Theory of Meaning||3|
|LING 580||General Phonetics||3|
Screening ProcedureBefore a doctoral guidance committee can be established for applicants to the Ph.D. program, a student must pass a screening procedure. This procedure consists of a review of the student’s graduate work at USC by Linguistics Department faculty. The review will be based on the following criteria: course work completed, including grades and papers; faculty recommendations; and evaluation of both the student’s M.A. research paper and a Ph.D. screening paper. The M.A. research and Ph.D. screening papers must be in two different sub areas of linguistics, for example: syntax and psycholinguistics, or phonology and semantics, or sociolinguistics and typology.
The M.A. research paper must be completed and defended prior to the end of the fourth semester of graduate study, and the Ph.D. screening paper must be completed and defended prior to the end of the fifth semester. The set of courses leading to the M.A. research paper and the Ph.D. screening paper are determined through recommendation of the screening committee and approval of the Graduate Studies Committee.
Guidance CommitteeFollowing the successful completion of the screening procedure, the student will establish a five-member guidance committee. The guidance committee is composed of at least five members; a minimum of three, including at least one tenured member, must be from the Linguistics Department and one must be a faculty member from outside the Linguistics Department. The Associate Vice Provost for Graduate Programs is ex officio a member of all guidance committees. (Refer to the Graduate School Policies and Requirements for instructions on forming a guidance committee,
The Request to Take the Qualifying Examination Form is the means by which the guidance committee is formally established. This form should be filed with the guidance committee and the Graduate School the semester prior to taking the qualifying examination but no later than 30 days before the date of the student’s written examination. In order to take the written examination, the student must submit a dissertation prospectus and an original research paper to each member of the guidance committee.
Qualifying ExaminationThe examination qualifying a student for candidacy for the Ph.D. degree is comprehensive in nature, partly written and partly oral. Prior to taking the qualifying examination, the student must have met all of the departmental requirements for doing so and have the recommendation of the guidance committee. The committee will determine and administer the written examination.
The written examination consists of a limited number of questions in the fields related to the student’s research. Students will receive the written examination two weeks after submitting the qualifying paper and will have 30 days to complete the questions. An oral examination will be scheduled by the guidance committee two weeks after the written examination has been submitted.
The successful completion of the qualifying procedure is represented by the approval by the guidance committee of (1) the prospectus, (2) the original research paper, (3) the written examination, and (4) oral defense.
DissertationThe final stage of the program is the submission and defense of a dissertation that makes an original and substantial contribution to its field of study. Refer to the Graduate School section for the policies and procedures governing the submission of a dissertation.
Doctor of Philosophy in Linguistics (Hispanic Linguistics)Application deadline: December 1
For M.A. students pursuing an area of emphasis in Hispanic linguistics 12 of the 32 required units should be in Hispanic linguistics. Students should complete these 12 units by the end of their sixth semester of graduate study. Choose four courses from the following courses (12 units): LING 538, SPAN 513, SPAN 514, SPAN 515, SPAN 516, SPAN 517, SPAN 518, SPAN 590, SPAN 652, SPAN 672, SPAN 674, SPAN 676, SPAN 677, SPAN 678.
In addition to the 32 units of course work toward the M.A. degree and the M.A. research paper, students must also satisfy one foreign language or research tool requirement, which is the same as in the general program.
For Ph.D. students, at least two 600-level Spanish seminars are required, one of which can overlap with the student’s M.A. course requirement. (Choose from the 600-level courses listed above.) In addition, Ph.D. students are required to complete four units of LING 794ab Doctoral Dissertation.
Doctor of Philosophy in Linguistics (Specialization in East Asian Linguistics)Application deadline: December 1
Students interested in East Asian linguistics take the Doctor of Philosophy in Linguistics with a specialization in East Asian linguistics. In addition to all requirements for the Ph.D. in linguistics, the following courses are required: four courses or 15 units related to East Asian linguistics that are approved by the Graduate Studies Committee (GSC), which may be chosen from the following list: EALC 537, EALC 547, EALC 557, EALC 558, EALC 560, EALC 561, EALC 580, EALC 620 and LING 539. Upon approval by the GSC, other courses may be substituted. In addition, one of the two screening papers, the research paper associated with the qualifying examination and the doctoral dissertation must deal with at least one East Asian language. Students must also take LING 794ab Doctoral Dissertation. Students must pass the reading examination in one East Asian language.
Doctor of Philosophy in Linguistics (Specialization in Slavic Linguistics)Application deadline: January 1
Students interested in Slavic linguistics take the Doctor of Philosophy in Linguistics with a specialization in Slavic linguistics. In addition to all requirements for the M.A. in Linguistics, the following courses are required: LING 542; SLL 510, SLL 512, SLL 514 and SLL 516; three LING 600-level seminars; and 794ab Doctoral Dissertation. Students must pass reading examinations in one Slavic language and either French or German.
Foreign Language/Research Tool RequirementThe Foreign Language/Research Tool requirement may be satisfied by choosing from the following options:
(A) Demonstrate a working knowledge of a second language by:
1. Passing a department internal written translation examination administered by a qualified faculty member, or
2. Demonstrating native speaker competence in a language other than English.
(B) Demonstrate a working knowledge of statistics and experimental design by passing, with a grade of B or higher, LING 501a (or its equivalent) and a second course, such as LING 501b or its equivalent, where this knowledge is applied to a linguistic research problem.
The prior approval of the Graduate Studies Committee will be required to complete courses other than those listed above.
(C) Demonstrate the ability to use the computer as a research tool by passing, with a grade of B or higher, LING 585 (or its equivalent) or by completing a programming project related to linguistics; this should be equivalent in scope to a term project for a semester course.
The prior approval of the Graduate Studies Committee will be required to complete a course other than the one listed above.