Twin Cities campus
Twin Cities Campus

Linguistics Ph.D.

Linguistics, Institute of
College of Liberal Arts
Link to a list of faculty for this program.
Contact Information
Institute of Linguistics, 205 Elliott Hall, 75 East River Road, Minneapolis, MN 55455 (612-624-3331)
  • Program Type: Doctorate
  • Requirements for this program are current for Fall 2022
  • Length of program in credits: 72
  • This program does not require summer semesters for timely completion.
  • Degree: Doctor of Philosophy
Along with the program-specific requirements listed below, please read the General Information section of this website for requirements that apply to all major fields.
The Linguistics PhD program trains students in the scientific study of the human mental capacity for language. Successful study in this area investigates the syntactic, phonological, and semantic/pragmatic properties of language systems that humans naturally acquire, and asks what kind of underlying mental capacity is implicated by these properties. The program emphasizes the place of this field of study among the cognitive sciences, and provides coursework and individual advising to prepare students to engage with and produce research in the field.
Program Delivery
  • via classroom (the majority of instruction is face-to-face)
Prerequisites for Admission
Special Application Requirements:
Applicants must submit the following application materials by December 15 of the preceding academic year: University of Minnesota Application form, which includes: 病 CV or resume; 病 statement of purpose; 病 writing sample; 付hree letters of recommendation; and 付ranscripts from each college or university attended. Entry is for fall semester.
International applicants must submit score(s) from one of the following tests:
Key to test abbreviations (TOEFL, IELTS, MELAB).
For an online application or for more information about graduate education admissions, see the General Information section of this website.
Program Requirements
39 credits are required in the major.
9 credits are required outside the major.
24 thesis credits are required.
This program may be completed with a minor.
Use of 4xxx courses toward program requirements is permitted under certain conditions with adviser approval.
Language Requirement: See below.
A minimum GPA of 3.00 is required for students to remain in good standing.
Students must demonstrate competence (the equivalent of two or more years of study) in one language other than English before the PhD can be awarded. Application of 4xxx-level coursework requires approval of the advisor and director of graduate studies.
Required Coursework (30 credits)
Take the following courses:
LING 5001 - Introduction to Linguistics (4.0 cr)
LING 5201 - Syntactic Theory I (3.0 cr)
LING 5202 - Syntactic Theory II (3.0 cr)
LING 5205 - Semantics (3.0 cr)
LING 5302 - Phonological Theory I (3.0 cr)
LING 8005 - Research Paper Workshop (3.0 cr)
LING 8105 - Field Methods in Linguistics I (4.0 cr)
LING 8106 - Field Methods in Linguistics II (4.0 cr)
LING 5207 - Advanced Semantics (3.0 cr)
or LING 5303 - Phonological Theory II (3.0 cr)
Linguistics Seminars (9 credits)
Select 9 credits from the following in consultation with the advisor. 3 of the 9 credits must be taken at the 8xxx level. Other 5xxx-level or 8xxx-level courses, including second completions of required courses, may be selected with advisor and director of graduate studies approval.
LING 8200 - Topics in Syntax and Semantics (3.0 cr)
LING 8210 - Seminar in Syntax (3.0 cr)
LING 8300 - Topics in Phonetics and Phonology (3.0 cr)
LING 8500 - Topics in Second Language Acquisition (3.0 cr)
LING 8900 - Seminar: Topics in Linguistics (3.0 cr)
LING 8921 - Seminar in Language and Cognition (3.0 cr)
LING 8991 - Independent Study (1.0-4.0 cr)
Outside Coursework (9 credits)
Select 9 credits outside the major in consultation with the advisor and director of graduate studies.
Thesis Credits
Take 24 doctoral thesis credits.
LING 8888 - Thesis Credit: Doctoral (1.0-24.0 cr)
LING 8888W - Thesis Credit Dissertation Seminar (1.0-3.0 cr)
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LING 5001 - Introduction to Linguistics
Credits: 4.0 [max 4.0]
Course Equivalencies: Ling 3001/3001H/5001
Typically offered: Every Fall, Spring & Summer
Scientific study of human language. Methods, questions, findings, and perspectives of modern linguistics. Components of the language system (phonetics/phonology, syntax, semantics/pragmatics); language acquisition; language and social variables; language and cognition; language change; language processing; language and public policy; language and cognition.
LING 5201 - Syntactic Theory I
Credits: 3.0 [max 3.0]
Course Equivalencies: Ling 4201/Ling 5201
Typically offered: Every Fall
Concepts/issues in current syntactic theory. Prereq: LING 5001 and graduate student or honors student, or instructor consent
LING 5202 - Syntactic Theory II
Credits: 3.0 [max 3.0]
Course Equivalencies: Ling 4202/Ling 5202
Typically offered: Every Spring
Modern syntactic theory. Syntactic phenomena in various languages. Syntactic argumentation, development of constraints on grammar formalisms. prereq: 5201 or instructor consent. LING 5201 is directed towards honors students and graduate students.
LING 5205 - Semantics
Credits: 3.0 [max 3.0]
Typically offered: Every Fall & Spring
Analysis of sentence meaning. Semantic properties. Relations such as analyticity, entailment, quantification, and genericity. Philosophical background, formal techniques of semantic analysis, how sentence meaning depends on word meaning, syntax, and context. The role of semantics in grammatical theory. prereq: [4201 or 5201] or instr consent
LING 5302 - Phonological Theory I
Credits: 3.0 [max 3.0]
Course Equivalencies: Ling 4302W/Ling 5302
Typically offered: Every Fall
How sounds are organized/patterned in human languages. Phonological theory/problem-solving for advanced work in in linguistics. Analyzing data. Presenting written solutions to problem sets. prereq: 5001 or honors student or instructor consent. LING 5302 is directed towards honors students and graduate students.
LING 8005 - Research Paper Workshop
Credits: 3.0 [max 12.0]
Grading Basis: S-N or Aud
Typically offered: Every Spring
Workshop on research methodology/writing in linguistics. prereq: [5105, 5202, 5205, [4302W or 5302]] or [instr consent, grad ling major]
LING 8105 - Field Methods in Linguistics I
Credits: 4.0 [max 8.0]
Course Equivalencies: Ling 5105/Ling 8105
Typically offered: Every Fall
This course focuses on a core methodological tool in linguistics: working directly with native speakers of a language in order to gather information about that language. To gain practice and understanding in this broad methodological technique, we discuss practical fieldwork concerns, including: approaches to organization and record-keeping; techniques and pitfalls for conducting interviews; developing a good working relationship with native speaker consultants; ethical issues; and the relation between linguistic theory and language data. Each year, the course will tackle these issues in the context of a particular language of focus, working directly with a native speaker of that language in order to gain an understanding of the basic grammatical structure of the language. Students will learn to conduct interviews with the language consultant in class and will practice these techniques on their own as they pursue individual research projects through weekly interviews conducted outside of class. The course relies on knowledge of linguistic theory that students bring from syntax (LING 4201 or 5201) and phonology (LING 4302 or 5302) courses, but does not require any background knowledge of the language that we will investigate. Prerequisites: LING 5001, LING 5201, LING 5302 and be an enrolled graduate student in the Linguistics program; or instructor consent
LING 8106 - Field Methods in Linguistics II
Credits: 4.0 [max 8.0]
Typically offered: Every Spring
Continued analysis through work with a native speaker of language begun in 8105. Greater emphasis on analysis of recorded texts of various kinds. Some grammars of the language/contents compared with field notes from previous semester. prereq: 8105 (taken in same academic yr)
LING 5207 - Advanced Semantics
Credits: 3.0 [max 3.0]
Grading Basis: A-F only
Typically offered: Every Fall
In this course, we will explore some semi-advanced to advanced topics in the field of natural language semantics. Broadly construed, natural language semanticists study how human beings process complexity in meaning in language, with the building blocks being how small units of meaning compose together to form larger and larger units, all of which are produced and understood in milliseconds. Building on the fundamental foundations of semantic theory learnt in Semantics, Advanced Semantics is geared towards providing expansive knowledge on several vital topics that current vibrant research in the field is concerned with. The array of topics include quantifier scope, definiteness and indefiniteness, plurals and mass/count nouns, attitude predicates and attitude ascription, event semantics, tense and aspect, modality and conditionals, questions, focus and alternative semantics, and imperatives. As we make our way through the critical last few decades of formal semantics through these vast and diverse topics, we will balance empirical coverage and formalism with development of intuition and methodology. Prerequisites: LING 5205 - Semantics I
LING 5303 - Phonological Theory II
Credits: 3.0 [max 3.0]
Course Equivalencies: Ling 4303/Ling 5303
Typically offered: Every Spring
Phonology of human languages. Reading papers in the literature. Doing research in phonology. prereq: 5302 or instr consent. LING 5303 is directed towards honors and graduate students.
LING 8200 - Topics in Syntax and Semantics
Credits: 3.0 [max 9.0]
Typically offered: Periodic Fall
Syntax and semantics of natural language, with particular emphasis on the interface between the two. prereq: 5202, 5205 or instr consent
LING 8210 - Seminar in Syntax
Credits: 3.0 [max 9.0]
Typically offered: Periodic Fall
Current issues in syntactic theory. Topics vary. prereq: 5202, 5205 or instr consent
LING 8300 - Topics in Phonetics and Phonology
Credits: 3.0 [max 9.0]
Typically offered: Periodic Fall
N/A prereq: 5303 or instr consent
LING 8500 - Topics in Second Language Acquisition
Credits: 3.0 [max 9.0]
Typically offered: Periodic Fall & Spring
tbd prereq: 5001, 5505
LING 8900 - Seminar: Topics in Linguistics
Credits: 3.0 [max 9.0]
Typically offered: Every Fall & Spring
Topics vary. See Class Schedule. prereq: instr consent
LING 8921 - Seminar in Language and Cognition
Credits: 3.0 [max 6.0]
Typically offered: Every Fall
Language-related issues in cognitive science from a linguistic perspective. Serves as elective for cognitive science minor, but only for linguistics nonmajors. prereq: instr consent
LING 8991 - Independent Study
Credits: 1.0 -4.0 [max 15.0]
Typically offered: Every Fall & Spring
Independent Study prereq: instr consent
LING 8888 - Thesis Credit: Doctoral
Credits: 1.0 -24.0 [max 100.0]
Grading Basis: No Grade
Typically offered: Every Fall, Spring & Summer
(No description) prereq: Max 18 cr per semester or summer; 24 cr required
LING 8888W - Thesis Credit Dissertation Seminar
Credits: 1.0 -3.0 [max 24.0]
Grading Basis: No Grade
Typically offered: Every Fall & Spring
A means for students to make progress on the dissertation in a structured setting. Brings together students writing on related topics. Credits are applied to doctoral thesis credits. Contact instructor for description. prereq: Doctoral student who has passed oral prelims