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Linguistics Program


Masters Program

Our M.A. program is designed to provide students with the broadest possible background in linguistics and encourages them to take advantage of the wide range of opportunities presented by the program's faculty and to discover connections between the various subdisciplines of the field.

Comprehensive Education

The M.A. in Linguistics at USC is a degree in general linguistics. 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. Masters students choose a special field to guide their studies from different areas of concentration

Students whose eventual goal is the Ph.D. are advised to consult with the Graduate Director before submitting their application online to discuss the option of concurrent enrollment in the M.A. and Ph.D. programs.


Degree Options

Masters students may pursue a non-thesis or a thesis option with their degree. The two tracks have different degree requirements and time tables. Both tracks are required to complete a foreign language requirement and comprehensive exam.

Non-Thesis Option

The non-thesis option requires 36 credit hours of graduate work. Students on this track may take six courses outside their subfield. 

Degree Requirements
  1. Core: 3 courses (9 credit hours)
    • LING 710: Introduction to Phonology
    • LING 720: Introduction to Syntax
    • 1 more graduate level course in student's area of concentration
  2. Special Field: 3 courses  (9 credit hours)
  3. Secondary Field: 3 courses (9 credit hours)
  4. Elective Courses: 3 courses (9 credit hours)
Timetable
Semester
Students with a linguistics background
Students without a linguistics background

First Semester

(Fall)

LING 720, 2 other LING courses LING 600, 2 other LING courses

Second Semester 

(Spring)

LING 710, 2 other LING courses LING 710, 2 other LING courses
Summer    

Third Semester

(Fall)

Take oral comprhensive exam, 3  LING courses LING 720, 2 other LING courses

Fourth Semester

(Fall)

3 LING courses Take oral comprehensive exam, 3 LING courses

 

Comprehensive Exam

Students must pass a comprehensive exam that includes an oral component in which students must demonstrate effective oral communication of their knowledge of general linguistics and the core areas of phonology and syntax as they apply to the student's primary field. Students will be examined by a committee of two Linguistics Program faculty members, typically including the faculty advisor and a faculty member representing the student's special field.

Students who pursue the non­thesis MA option will submit to their comprehensive exam committee one written work product from one of their specialization courses that will serve as the foundation for the oral examination.

The exam committee will produce an overall rating of Pass/Fail by assessing basic knowledge of general linguistics; basic knowledge of phonology; basic knowledge of syntax; ability to apply knowledge to a given problem.

The oral examination should be scheduled no later than the middle of the fourth/last semester. Upon successful completion of an oral comprehensive examination, the examination committee chair will inform the Graduate Director.

Thesis Option

The thesis option requires 30 credit hours, including the credit hours needed to complete a thesis. The thesis option track allows graduate students to take four courses outside their subfield.

Degree Requirements
  1. Core Courses: 3 courses (9 credit hours)
    • LING 710: Introduction to Phonology
    • LING 720: Introduction to Syntax
    • 1 more graduate level course in student's area of concentration
  2. Special Field: 2 courses (6 credit hours)
  3. Elective Courses: 4 courses (12 credit hours)
  4. Thesis hours: 3 credit hours
Timetable
Semester
Students with a linguistics background
Students without a linguistic background

First sememster

(Fall)

LING 720, 2 other LING courses LING 600, 2 other LING courses

Second semester

(Spring)

LING 710, 2 other LING courses LING 710, 2 other LING courses
Summer Select thesis director and reader. Determine thesis topic Select thesis director and reader. Determine thesis topic

Third Semester

(Fall)

  • File thesis proposal form.
  • Develop thesis proposal.
  • Defend thesis proposal in oral comprehensive
  • 3 LING courses
  • File thesis proposal form.
  • Develop thesis proposal.
  • Defend thesis proposal in oral comprehensive
  • LING 720, 2 other LING courses

Fourth semester

(spring)

Write Thesis Write Thesis
Comprehensive Exam

Students must pass a comprehensive exam that includes an oral component in which students must demonstrate effective oral communication of their knowledge of general linguistics and the core areas of phonology and syntax as they apply to the student's primary field. Students will be examined by a committee of two Linguistics Program faculty members, typically the faculty advisor and a faculty member representing the student's special field.

Students who pursue the thesis MA option must successfully defend the thesis proposal, demonstrating knowledge of previous research in the field and methods for data collection and analysis. The written thesis proposal serves as the foundation for the oral examination. This should normally be completed (by full­time students) in the 3rd semester. The exam committee will produce an overall rating of Pass/Fail by assessing basic knowledge of general linguistics; basic knowledge of phonology; basic knowledge of syntax; basic knowledge of the subfield; ability to apply knowledge to a given problem. Upon successful completion of an oral comprehensive examination, the examination committee chair will inform the Graduate Director.

Thesis

In their fourth semester MA students should

  • File an M.A. Thesis Form with the Program Office (usually before the start of the third semesterfor full­ time students). This must be done before the student may register for LING 799 Thesis Preparation.
  • Develop a thesis proposal (under the supervision of their thesis director) and defend this as part of their Comprehensive Exam. This should be done (by full­ time students) in the third semester.
  • Write thesis (in the fourthsemester) and have it approved by director and reader. 

 Some useful information can be found at the Graduate School Thesis Portal and the Guide for Writing and Presenting Your Thesis or Dissertation.

 Foreign language requirement

The study of languages is a necessary tool for linguists and candidates must demonstrate knowledge of at least one foreign language. This 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 Languages, Literature, and Cultures,
  • successful completion of 6 hours of coursework in a non­Indo­European language with a grade of at least a B.

Special note on grades: Graduate students whose GPA falls below 3.00 will be placed on academic probation by The Graduate School and allowed one calendar year in which to raise the cumulative GPA to at least 3.00. Students who do not reach a cumulative 3.00 grade point average during the probationary period will be suspended from graduate study and will not be permitted to enroll for further graduate course work as a degree or a nondegree student.