The mission of the Ph.D. Program in Linguistics is to train students to pursue research and teach in the areas of general linguistics and a chosen subfield. The Ph.D. in Linguistics at USC typically involves a much broader range of coursework than what is found at more traditional Linguistics Departments and Programs in the United States. The program does not focus on the training of theoretical linguists, but instead sees its mission as that of training historical linguists, language acquisition specialists, sociolinguists, and others, who can apply linguistic theory to the pursuit of their research. Thus, it is typical for a student in this program to use current syntactic theory in investigations into language contact or language variation, or to apply phonological theory to research on second language acquisition.
The Ph.D. course requirements (see degree requirements) involve six core courses, plus a primary field of study of at least 12 hours, and either a secondary field of 9-12 hours or at least 9 hours breadth requirement outside the primary field. Approved special fields are the following: linguistic anthropology, English/French/German/Spanish linguistics, historical linguistics, philosophy of language, phonological theory, psycholinguistics, second/foreign language acquisition, sociolinguistics, syntactic theory, and teaching English as a second/foreign language.
The secondary field may consist entirely of LING-designated courses; however, it also could include both LING-designated courses and courses from other departments. A student may also choose a secondary field made up entirely of courses from a cooperating department. Examples include English Composition and Rhetoric, Medieval and Early Modern English Literature, Experimental Psychology, Philosophy, or Communication Sciences and Disorders. It is possible for all credit hours earned in a graduate certificate program in TESOL at USC to apply to this degree. Please speak to an advisor to see how these hours apply in your situation.
- Students will demonstrate knowledge of theory and research in core areas of linguistics. Success at the Program level would be achieved for this outcome if at least 75% of students scored in the positive range (a score from 1-3) on the measures used to evaluate their performance.
- Students will demonstrate advanced knowledge in a subdiscipline in the field of linguistics. Success at the Program level would be achieved for this outcome if at least 75% of students scored in the positive range (a score from 1-3) on the measures used to evaluate their performance.
- Students will demonstrate the ability to formulate and conduct a plan of linguistic research that advances the state of knowledge in the area of inquiry. Success at the Program level would be achieved for this outcome if at least 75% of students scored in the positive range (a score from 1-3) on the measures used to evaluate their performance. With respect to professional presentations and publications, we would hope to see every student (100%) publishing and/or presenting at least a couple of times prior to graduation. However, there is no set number of such publications/ presentations that we require. Some students will be more successful than others and have multiple such presentations/ publications by the time they graduate.
- Students will progress through the program in a timely manner and find suitable employment in the field of linguistics (or in a profession where their linguistic skills are being meaningfully used) at the completion of their doctoral degree. Success at the Program level would be achieved for this outcome if 75% of our students had some sort of degree related permanent job placement at graduation and 100% had such placements three years out from graduation.
Degree Requirements (60 Post Baccalaureate Hours)
Candidates for the Ph.D. must take:
1. Course work (18 Hours)
Students who proceed from the MA to the PhD will need to take one more course to satisfy the PhD core requirement if LING 600 was counted as an MA core requirement.
2. At least 12 Hours in a primary field approved by the student's Ph.D. committee
Ph.D. students should take at least 4 courses (12 credit hours) in an area approved by the student’s Ph.D. committee.
(Note on LING 806 Directed Reading and Research: The graduate school’s official policy on independent study is to allow up to 9 hours towards the Ph.D.)
- Linguistic anthropology
- English/French/German/Spanish linguistics
- Historical linguistics
- Philosophy of language
- Phonological theory
- Second/Foreign language acquisition
- Syntactic theory and
- Teaching English as a second/foreign language
3. 9-12 Hours in a secondary field or 9 hours breadth requirement
Students may decide on a secondary field in which they will take course work of at least 9 credit hours but no more than 12 credit hours. Alternatively, students who do not wish to declare a secondary field will take course work in Linguistics outside of their primary field of at least nine hours.
4. 3-6 credit hours in Methodology
Students are required to take at least 1 and up to 2 approved methodology courses. Approved courses include any Linguistic methodology course, in addition to the following courses offered by other departments: BIOS 700(J), EDRM 710, EDRM 711, PSYC 709, PSYC 710, STAT 515, STAT 516.
5. 0-6 Hours, approved by the program, in elective LING courses
Up to 6 credit hours approved by the program, in elective LING courses. Additional credit hours may be taken in coursework approved by the student’s Ph.D. committee.
Candidates must also demonstrate knowledge of two approved languages other than their native language. For the second language, a student may, with the approval of the student’s advisor and the graduate director, substitute a research methods, statistics, or computer science course. Demonstrating knowledge of a foreign language can be accomplished in one of the following ways:
- successful completion of an intensive reading course in a language - approved by The Graduate School - while a graduate student at USC (e.g., FORL 615),
- successful completion of a course at the intermediate level of language proficiency no more than six years prior to award of the degree,
- a passing grade on a language reading proficiency examination administered by the USC Department of Language, Literatures, and Cultures,
- completing 6 hours of coursework in a non Indo-European language with a grade of at least a B.
The secondary field may consist entirely of LING-designated courses; however, it also could include both LING-designated courses and courses from other departments. A student may also choose a secondary field made up entirely of courses from a cooperating department.
Students must pass a qualifying examination as part of the procedure for admission to candidacy. Students must pass a comprehensive examination and defend a dissertation proposal. The candidate must prepare and defend a dissertation on an approved topic.