About the PhD Linguistics program

We offer both an M.A. and a Ph.D. program. Applicants to the Ph.D. program need not already have completed an M.A. Students enrolled in the Ph.D. program do not routinely receive an M.A. along the way, but they may arrange to do so if they have fulfilled the requirements for the M.A. Some of our students also pursue an independent interdepartmental specialization in cognitive science. We offer a five-year funding package to a small number of applicants each year.

What kind of linguistics do we do?

The Linguistics PhD program offers extensive training in the core areas of theoretical linguistics—phonetics, phonology, morphology, syntax, semantics, and pragmatics—and 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 PhD programs. Michigan State offers a PhD degree in Second Language Studies.

The PhD 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, phonetics/laboratory phonology, sociolinguistics, and semantics-pragmatics.

Graduates of our Ph.D. program hold positions both in linguistics and in language-teaching departments across the world and continue to do cutting-edge research in their fields. Increasingly, our Ph.D. graduates have pursued careers in sectors beyond or adjacent to academia, including technology, educational administration, data science and more. 

Learn more

Take a look at a brief overview of the Linguistics PhD 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.