Applied Linguistics, Ph.D.

The Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) program in Applied Linguistics is a response to societal needs resulting from the status of English as the language of international communication. This worldwide use of English in programs and institutions of higher education has created needs in two areas:

  • Research on an assortment of interrelated topics, including language learning by adults who will use English for academic purposes, effective teaching of adult language learners and the nature of English as an academic language.
  • Doctoral faculty who can teach in educational programs that prepare master’s level teachers of English as a Second/Foreign Language.

Ph.D. students may focus on a range of topics. Research, for example, may be related to issues in second language writing, reading, listening or speaking; analysis of academic language; assessment; teacher cognition; classroom dynamics; sociolinguistics; or the role of culture in second language acquisition.


Applied Linguistics, Ph.D.

College of Arts & Sciences


In the first two years of doctoral study, students will take five required core courses (15 semester hours) in conjunction with an additional 15 semester hours of coursework and 21 semester hours of dissertation credit. For students whose M.A. is not in Applied Linguistics, check the website for prerequisite courses.

The courses in the program over three content areas include the following:

  • Area I: Research Methods
  • Area II: Language Analysis and Use
  • Area III: Language Learning and Teaching

The five required core courses from Areas I through III are the following:

Area I:

  • AL 8960 Quantitative Research Methods (3)
  • AL 8961 Qualitative Research Methods (3)

Area II:

  • AL 8970 Linguistic Analysis (phonetics-phonology topic)* (3)
  • AL 8970 Linguistic Analysis (morphology-syntax-semantics topic)* (3)

Area III:

  • AL 8980 Current Issues in Adult Second Language Acquisition (3)
  • AL 8990 Current Issues in the Preparation of Second Language Teachers (3)

*Students are required to fulfill breadth and depth requirements in linguistic theory. The preferred way to do this is by taking both versions of AL 8970. However, students may be exempted from one of the AL 8970 courses if they have taken AL 8240 General Linguistics or an equivalent course from another institution. (General Linguistics itself does not count toward the 30-hour requirement.) Those who wish to teach Introduction to Linguistics need to have taken both Linguistic Theory courses.

Ph.D. students must have taken a course comparable to AL 8550 Second Language Evaluation and Assessment either at the M.A. level or while in the Ph.D. program in AL/ESL. If it is taken during the Ph.D. program, it counts as three of the six hours that can be taken in courses that are aimed at both M.A. and Ph.D. students.

The doctoral program anticipates the student will demonstrate mastery of a large and complex body of knowledge and a high degree of proficiency in the techniques of teaching and research. This proficiency is evidenced by the successful completion of coursework and examinations, effective performance in classroom instruction, participation in conducting research and writing articles, and the writing of a dissertation.