Requirements for the Ph.D. in Linguistics

1 Course requirements for the Ph.D. in Linguistics

Ph.D. student are required to successfully complete 72 credit hours, as indicated below:

  • Core courses: Syntax 1 (LIN515); Phonology 1 (LIN532); Phonetics (LIN531); Semantics 1 (LIN538); an advanced Syntax course (currently, Typology and Universals, Role and Reference Grammar, or Head-driven Phrase Structure Grammar); Semantics 2 (LIN543);

  • Specialization courses: 4 additional courses/seminars in the student area of specialization

  • M.A. supervision course: Linguistics 600;

  • Breadth: 3 other 500 level courses;

  • Method courses: 2 Methods courses (2 semesters of Fields Methods; 2 semesters of Quantitative Methods; 2 semesters of Computational Methods). Students should consult the DGS to determine which Methods courses are more appropriate given their intended specializations.

  • Electives: 4 other 500 or 600 level courses.
The remaining 12 credits are "free". Students may decide to do an Independent Study with a particular faculty member (so long as the faculty agrees to direct the Independent Study), or may wish to take courses in other departments. (Students in the Cognitive Science track will be able to take up to 5 courses in other departments.)

2 Qualifying Paper

The qualifying paper is required of students who have been admitted to the Doctoral program in the Department of Linguistics, and it must be completed before the student can be passed onto Phase 2 of the program (i.e., the phase during which students conduct their Ph.D. thesis research).

The QP is intended to give the student experience in carrying out a research project that goes beyond what is normally required of a course paper; however the project certainly can evolve out of a course paper. The paper should have the format, basically, of a journal submission. The paper should be about 9,000-12,000 words in length.

Early in their second year of graduate study, the student should choose a faculty member who will advise the student while he or she is working on the QP. (The faculty member may be, but does not have to be, the same faculty who will direct the student's dissertation.) The role of the advisor is to guide the student as he or she is carrying out the research and the writing. The student, together with the advisor, select a second committee member (or "reader"), who will read and comment on the QP.

Once the QP has been approved by the advisor, the Director of Graduate Studies will assign a third committee member (or "reader"), and the other members of the QP committee will then read the QP and provide feedback or simply approve the paper if no additional revisions are necessary. When the committee has approved the QP, the three faculty sign the approval form. Return the form to the DGS after all three faculty have signed the form, and (s)he will also sign it. Then the form goes to the graduate secretary, so that she can enter the information into our student database and file the form in the student's file.

Students are required to make an oral presentation of their QP research at the end of their fifth semester at the latest and to finish their QP by the end of the sixth semester at the latest. Upon completion of a student's QP, the faculty as a whole will either determine whether (s)he should passed onto Phase 2 of the Ph.D. program.

Upon completion of a student’s QP, the faculty as a whole will determine whether (s)he should be passed onto the Ph.D. phase pf the program. If a student is not passed onto the Ph.D. phase of the program, (s)he will earn a terminal M.A. and will leave the program.

3 Dissertation proposal and dissertation defense

The dissertation proposal is not intended to be a "paper" in the sense that the QP is. Rather, the dissertation proposal should be viewed as a very long abstract. It should include a statement of the topic (or hypothesis, or claim), the context for the research (why should other linguists be interested in the research; how does it fit into previous research), the methodology and nature of the data or evidence that the student hopes to collect or find, and, perhaps, a preview of the conclusions the student hopes to present or the contribution the dissertation will make. Generally, the proposal should not be any longer than 20 pages; however the dissertation advisor ultimately determines the form of the proposal.

The proposal defense is simply a meeting of the committee members and the student so that everyone is clear about the nature of the topic, the scope of the research, and the methodology. Typically, no one “fails" a proposal defense, since the primary goal is to clarify and comment on the research before the research is begun. The student should be aware, however, that the proposal defense may result in significant changes in the research plan.

Once the proposal defense has taken place, the committee members sign the form, the form is returned to the DGS so that he or she can sign it, and then, as usual, the form goes to the Assistant to the Chair.

4 Transfer Credit and Course waivers

4.1 Transfer Credit

Students who come into our graduate program in Linguistics having taken graduate courses previously at another institution may ask to have certain credits transferred to UB. The procedure for transferring credits involves submitting a letter specifying which courses they wish to have credits transferred for. Usually a syllabus and transcript is also required. The number of credits which can be transferred is determined by a departmental committee whose chair is currently Dr. Dryer and the DGS. Once each year, Dr. Dryer will circulate a memo asking students to submit materials for consideration as transfer credit. Students should observe this request at the first opportunity after entering our program, ideally in the first semester.

4.2 Course waivers

Students who come into our graduate program in Linguistics having taken graduate courses previously at another institution may ask to have some of the Core Courses waived. Students should request to have core courses waived as soon as possible after entering our program, ideally in the first semester. In order to waive a core course, a student must consult the faculty member teaching the equivalent course at UB that semester, or if the course is not being offered that semester, the faculty who most recently taught the course. The instructor may ask the student for a syllabus of the previous course in order to determine what topics were covered, the textbooks and readings required, how the student was evaluated, and discuss some of the topics covered with the student. Once a student has consulted with the relevant faculty, the student should ask the faculty to sign the Course Waiver Form. Then the student should return the signed form to the Director of Graduate Studies, who will also sign it and place it in the student's file in the main office.

5 Areas of specialization

Ph.D. students are required to take 4 courses in their main specialty aside from the relevant core courses and are expected to choose their two methods courses in accordance with their specialization. Students need not choose their area of specialization early in their graduate career. The faculty only expects students to have taken these four additional courses by the time students finish their course work (i.e., complete their 72 credit hours). Below is a list of specializations and current courses that fall within each area. Note that this list of courses is intended only as guidelines, and additional classes may be added to these lists upon approval by the DGS. Note also that some courses are more frequently taught than others. Students should ask the DGS when courses can be expected to be taught next.

5.1 Phonetics and Phonology

LIN502 Phonology practicum
LIN531 Phonetics
LIN532 Phonology 1
LIN533 Phonology 2
LIN539 Historical Linguistics
LIN556 Acquisition of Phonology
LIN558 Prosodic analysis of natural discourse
LIN612 Advanced seminar in Phonology
LIN670 Advanced Phonetics

5.2 Morphosyntax

LIN510 Morphology
LIN515 Syntax 1
LIN525 Typology and Universals
LIN535 Syntax 2
LIN537 The Syntax of Romance
LIN604 Discourse and Syntax
LIN608 Approaches to the Lexicon
LIN614 Current syntactic theory
LIN616 Advanced Morphology
LIN625 Role and Reference grammar
LIN626 Functional morphosyntax
LIN630 Structure of a non-Indo-european language
LIN631-633 Linguistic description of an American language

5.3 Semantics and Pragmatics

LIN504 Discourse pragmatics
LIN506 Meaning and communicative behaviors
LIN507 Conversational analysis
LIN521 Linguistic Anthropology
LIN538 Semantics 1
LIN543 Semantics 2
LIN548 Formal semantics
LIN580 Introduction to cognitive linguistics
LIN581 Cognitive foundations of language
LIN582 Language and cognition
LIN606 Empirical semantics
LIN636 Semantics of space, time, and force
LIN637 Cognitive structure of language
LIN723 Advanced discourse analysis
The last two areas of specialization are interdisciplinary and may involve substantial work in other departments.

5.4 Psycho/Neurolinguistics

LIN514 Corpus linguistics
LIN517 Psycholinguistics
LIN555 Language acquisition
LIN592 Neurolinguistics
LIN603 Cross-linguistic study of language development
LIN641 Topics in psycholinguistics

A student who is admitted to the Ph.D. program may decide, some time during the first or second year, that they do not wish to get a Ph.D., in which case they can complete the course requirements of the M.A. specialization they choose and take the M.A. exam.