PhD in Applied Linguistics

An applicant for the PhD in Applied Linguistics should hold a master’s degree in linguistics, a foreign language, speech and language, or some related field. Prospective applicants with a master’s degree in a field other than those listed are encouraged to enter the master’s program described here before beginning doctoral work. Anyone unsure of eligibility should contact the program director.

Course Requirements

Post-Bachelor’s Requirements

Eighteen semester courses (72 credits) are required for the post-bachelor’s PhD degree. Course requirements are as follows:

  • CAS LX 510: Phonetics
  • CAS LX 522: Syntax I
  • CAS LX 513: Introduction to Phonology (Prereq: CAS LX 510: Phonetics)
  • CAS LX 523: Syntax II (Prereq: CAS LX 522: Syntax I)
  • One course in language structure and linguistic theory
  • One course that provides an introduction to a major area of applied linguistics
  • Four additional specialized courses. Possible specialization areas include the following, or students may design their own specialization in consultation with their advisor:
    • Language Acquisition
    • Language Structure and Linguistic Theory
    • Sign Language Linguistics and Acquisition
    • Bilingualism and Language Teaching
  • Four additional linguistics core courses
  • One language acquisition core course
  • Three elective courses, one of which must be a research-oriented course appropriate to the student’s specialization and chosen in consultation with the student’s advisor

Full course lists can be found online.

If their previous courses are equivalent to the core courses, students may, with the approval of the program director, count up to two courses taken as part of their master’s degree program toward the core course requirements, thereby reducing the total number of required core courses to eight. (Any core course may be satisfied in this manner except for CAS LX 523 Syntax II and CAS LX 513 Phonology.)

Post-Master’s Requirements

Ten semester courses (40 credits) are required for the post-master’s PhD. Course requirements are as follows:

  • CAS LX 513: Introduction to Phonology (Prereq: CAS LX 510: Phonetics)
  • CAS LX 523: Syntax II (Prereq: CAS LX 522: Syntax I)
  • Four additional linguistics core courses
  • One language acquisition core course
  • Three elective courses, one of which must be a research-oriented course appropriate to the student’s specialization and chosen in consultation with the student’s advisor

Language Requirement

All students pursuing a PhD in Applied Linguistics are required to demonstrate graduate-level reading proficiency in two foreign languages prior to completion of the degree. Language proficiency can be demonstrated either through a language examination, successful completion of a non-credit graduate-level foreign language reading course offered by Boston University, or the equivalent of two years of undergraduate study of the language at Boston University.

Qualifying Examination

A candidate for the doctoral degree must satisfactorily complete one publishable book review (by the end of the first year of coursework) and two substantial research papers in different areas (the first by the end of the fifth semester, the second no later than the seventh semester of enrollment). This work shall be planned and carried out under the supervision of an advisor.

Dissertation and Final Oral Examination

Candidates shall demonstrate their abilities for independent study in a dissertation representing original research or creative scholarship. A prospectus for the dissertation must be completed and approved by the readers, the director of graduate studies, and the department chair/program director. Candidates must undergo a final oral examination in which they defend their dissertation as a valuable contribution to knowledge in their field and demonstrate a mastery of their field of specialization in relation to their dissertation. All portions of the dissertation and final oral examination must be completed as outlined in the GRS General Requirements for the Doctor of Philosophy Degree.

Internship

Doctoral students are required to complete an internship during their enrollment in the program. This will normally be completed concurrent with coursework and comprehensive requirements, during the first three years of enrollment. This internship must provide students with experience (research, teaching, or other professional work) in an area that is relevant to progress in some aspect of their doctoral program. For more information on internship requirements and guidelines, please see the Applied Linguistics website.