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Linguistics Program

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Doctoral Program

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 South Carolina typically involves a much broader range of coursework than what is found at more traditional Linguistics Departments and Programs in the United States.

An Interdisciplinary Approach to Linguistics

The Ph.D. program in Linguistics at USC 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. The interdisciplinary nature of our program affords our students the opportunity to investigate the intersections of multiple sub-disciplines such as sociolinguistics and phonetics, historical linguistics and phonology, language acquisition and syntax, and psycholinguistics and semantics.

Students who do not already hold an M.A. or M.S. degree in linguistics are encouraged 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.

Timetable to Completion

The Graduate School requires at least 60 post baccalaureate credit hours for a doctoral degree with 48 hours coming from coursework and 12 from dissertation hours. All coursework requirements for the Ph.D. must be completed within eight years of first enrolling. Typically, students complete coursework within three to four years. 

Degree Requirements

Doctoral students choose a special field to guide their studies from different areas of specializationApproved special fields are the following:

  • English/French/German/Spanish linguistics
  • Historical linguistics
  • Linguistic anthropology
  • Philosophy of language
  • Phonological theory
  • Psycholinguistics
  • Second/foreign language acquisition
  • Sociolinguistics
  • Syntactic theory
  • Teaching English as a second/foreign language

General information about the Ph.D. program can be found in the Graduate Bulletin. The timetable to completion, course requirements, foreign language requirements, comprehensive examination details, subfield guidelines, and other program-specific requirements can be found in the Graduate Student  Handbook.



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