About the MA Linguistics program

We offer both an M.A. and a Ph.D. program. In addition to the customary M.A. thesis, we also offer a plan of study that leads to an M.A. by exam. Some of our students also pursue an independent interdepartmental specialization in cognitive science.

What kind of linguistics do we do?

The M.A. Linguistics degree offers extensive training in the core areas of theoretical linguistics—phonetics, phonology, morphology, syntax, semantics, and pragmatics—and optionally in sociolinguistics, psycholinguistics, and child language acquisition. 

Throughout our program, the focus is on the rigorous study of language as a science. We are not primarily focused on the question of how such results can be put to practical use in language teaching, language policy debates, and the like, though of course a thorough grounding in theoretical linguistics is necessary to engage such questions in a fully-informed way. If you are especially interested in these domains, we recommend that you also look at applied linguistics MA programs. Michigan State offers an MA degree in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL)

The MA Linguistics experience

We have a longstanding lively culture of interaction in a robust intellectual community, including research groups in most of the areas mentioned. We are also fortunate to have modern and well- equipped laboratories devoted to experimental and field research in language acquisition, sociolinguistics, semantics-pragmatics, and phonetics/laboratory phonology.

Many of our M.A. students go on to further study in Ph.D. programs, or pursue careers in a variety of fields including data science, natural language programming, education, and academic advising.  

Learn more

Take a look at a brief overview of the Linguistics M.A. degree requirements (courses, thesis/exam). Read about our admissions process, our funding options, and check the frequently asked questions.

For official details about policies governing the structure of the graduate programs, consult our graduate handbook.