General Information about the Linguistics Graduate Program

General Information about the Graduate Program

Degrees offered

The primary degree offered in the Linguistics Graduate Program is the Ph.D. degree in linguistics. Students applying to the program are evaluated as potential Ph.D. students, and if admitted, are enrolled directly in the Ph.D. program. It is not necessary to earn a master's degree, either from Ohio State or another university, before entering the Ph.D. program. (For admission requirements, see Admission).

Under certain circumstances, students already admitted to a graduate program at Ohio State University may earn an M.A. degree in linguistics as well, and the degree requirements for the M.A. apply in that case. However, the department does not have open admission for the M.A. degree.

Focus of the Graduate Program

The Ohio State University linguistics program has a strongly theoretical orientation, which is to say that our research is largely concerned with the development of a general theory of human language as well as detailed accounts of the structure, development, and variation of individual languages.

The character of the Ohio State linguistics program is also that of a "pure science" rather than an "applied science": linguistic phenenomena are studied primarily for their own sake and as an aspect of human cognition, rather than being examined for their practical application in fields such as second language education. Experimental laboratory research in speech production, speech perception, the mental processes of sentence understanding, etc., are an important feature of many areas of study in our program. The department also has a rapidly growing focus in computational linguistics.

Degree Specializations

The Ph.D. program provides the opportunity both a broad grounding in linguistics and for considerable specialization. The fields of study that are the basis of most Ph.D. specializations in our graduate program are described in detail on this Web site. The actual degree programs constructed by individual students and their advisory committees focus on one of these areas or on a combination of two or more of these areas. The programs also may include courses or research projects in bordering disciplines such as psychology, computer science, or philosophy, or in the history or structure of a specific languages or languages.

For more details about the curriculum and requirements for the Ph.D. in Linguistics, see our Graduate Program Handbook.

Degree Requirements of the Graduate School

The policies, rules, and procedures established by the Council on Research and Graduate Studies of the University serve as the framework and set the minimum standards within which the Department's own Graduate Studies Committee formulates the policies and requirements for degrees in linguistics (with the advice of the entire graduate faculty). See the current Bulletin of the Graduate School and the Graduate School Handbook for the general requirements for the degrees. Note especially the rules governing examinations and dissertations. The Graduate Studies Committee conducts the graduate program in the department and serves as the liaison between the Graduate School and the graduate faculty of the department.

What our graduate program does not offer

The Department is not equipped to offer courses or specializations in applied linguistics (Foreign Language Education, the Teaching of English as a Second Language, the Theory and Practice of the Teaching of Reading, etc.), though students may pursue courses in these subjects in the College of Education simultaneously with their course work in linguistics in order to broaden their future career options. Students whose primary or sole interest is in applied linguistics should inquire about appropriate programs in the College of Education School of Teaching and Learning such as the Ph.D. in Foreign & Second Language Education (TESOL).

Students who are primarily interested in linguistics for its application in the teaching or analysis of one particular foreign language should also investigate graduate program with linguistic emphasis offered by some Ohio State language departments; currently, these departments include

We encourage students from language departments with an interest in theoretical linguistics to take courses and work with faculty in our department.

Those who would like more detailed information about the field of linguistics and the ways linguistics as a discipline differs from other disciplines concerned with languages (such as literature, foreign languages, education, etc.) are encouraged to browse the excellent introductions to the subfields of linguistics pages, a series of essays commissed by the Linguistic Society of America and written by leading authorities in the respective topics.