StudyQA — PhD: Linguistics — University of Massachusetts at Amherst



Study mode:On campus Study type:Full-time Languages: English
Foreign:$ 51.1 k / Year(s) Deadline: Dec 20, 2022
201–250 place StudyQA ranking:1604 Duration:5 years

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The Department of Linguistics offers graduate work leading to the Ph.D. degree. Students may concentrate their graduate work in any of the following areas: syntax, semantics, phonology, phonetics, psycholinguistics, language acquisition, morphology, and Optimality Theory. Graduate training in the department is strongly oriented toward preparing students to carry on individual creative research and teaching in theoretical linguistics as early as possible in their graduate careers. The graduate program is set up so as to maximize close student-faculty contact. Most of our students go on to become professors in the field of theoretical linguistics at universities around the world.

As one of the top four graduate programs in theoretical linguistics, the UMass Amherst program receives more than 130 applications each year, but can only accept between 5 and 8 students a year. Because of the structure of the program, applications are accepted only for fall semester admission.

First Year

  • Fall Classes: 601 (Transformational Grammar), 603 (Generative Phonology), 610 (Semantics & Generative Grammar), 791A (Linguistics Colloquium)
  • Spring Classes: 604 (Syntactic Theory), 606 (Phonological Theory), 791A, two electives

Second Year

Fall Classes: 791A, Area Workshop, seminars and proseminars

  • Choose first Doctoral Guidance Committee (DGC) with GPD in September
  • Attend DGC meeting

Spring Classes: 791A, Area Workshop, seminars/proseminars

  • Submit first Generals to DGC by April 1
  • Defend first Generals before end of classes
  • Choose second DGC with GPD by end of May
  • Attend DGC meeting

Third Year

Fall Classes: 791A, Area Workshop, seminars and proseminars

  • File first Generals by first day of classes
  • Attend DGC meeting

Spring Classes: 791A, 3-unit course and 6 units of independent study

  • Submit second Generals by end of January
  • Defend second Generals by March 15
  • File second Generals by last day of classes
  • Notify Graduate Program Secretary of Breadth paper
  • Ask Graduate Program Secretary to prepare Doctoral Candidacy Nomination (D-2) memo
  • Attend DGC meeting

Fourth Year

Fall Classes: seminar and/or Dissertation Credits

  • Write dissertation prospectus with faculty guidance
  • Form a disserataion committee
  • E-mail Graduate Progam Secretary with request for Graduate School committee memo
  • Attend DGC meeting

Spring Classes: seminar and/or Dissertation Credits

  • Submit prospectus to committee for approval by March 1
  • Prepare Graduate School cover sheet for prospectus and file with Graduate Program Secretary
  • Submit approved prospectus to Graduate School by May

Fifth Year

Fall Classes: program fee or Dissertation Credits

  • Check to see if your statute of limitations has expired

Spring Classes: Dissertation Credits or program fee

  • Submit advisor-approved dissertation draft to committee by March 15th
  • Ask Graduate Program Secretary to reqest oral examination by April 15
  • Defend dissertation by end of May
  • Submit a defense results memo
  • A completed Application Form.
  • A $75 application fee. This fee cannot be waived or deferred.
  • International Student Sponsor Statement is required of all international students.
  • One official transcript from all colleges/universities attended, undergraduate and graduate, where (nine) 9 or more credits were taken are required. If they are not mailed directly from the college/university, they should be enclosed in sealed envelopes signed by the college/university.  If the official transcripts and/or degree certificate(s) are not in English, notarized English language translations in duplicate must accompany them. Do not list colleges/universities where (eight) 8 or fewer credits were taken.
  • Letters of recommendation (academic references) from two (2) professors or instructors who have taught you in courses in the field you are applying to here. After submission of the electronic application, we will send an email to each referee giving them instructions on how to electronically deliver the recommendation to the Graduate School. All recommendations will be considered confidential unless the applicant doesn't waive his/her right of access.
  • Scores from the following standard examinations:
    • GRE (Graduate Record Examination)-General Test required by nearly all graduate programs - (refer to Degrees and Programs Offered)
    • GRE SUBJECT TEST (not a universal requirement-refer to the Programspage for those programs requiring a Subject Test)
    • GMAT (Graduate Management Admissions Test)-for graduate applicants to Management, Hospitality & Tourism Management, and Sport Management

    • English Language Test: Either TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language), or IELTS (International English Language Testing System)-only the academic version of test is accepted, or PTE Academic (Pearson Test of English)


The University does not award student funding of any kind unless this is explicitly stated in writing by the graduate department to which the applicant has applied. Assistance in the form of a teaching or research assistantship is becoming increasingly limited. Tuition scholarships and fellowships are few and are not usually awarded during the first year of attendance, before the student has an academic performance record at the University itself. All applicants should plan on being self-financed, without recourse to part-time employment at the University, at least through the first academic year, unless they have specifically been offered some form of assistance by the department.

 Recommendations from the student's academic program play an important part in determining who will be awarded these waivers of tuition, and competition for the tuition scholarships is great. Those incoming graduate students who have not received any other type of financial assistance and who are interested in applying for a tuition waiver should contact their department directly. Applicants should be aware that the competition for new student tuition waivers is intense. Very few waivers are granted to new students and the few that are granted, are based only on departmental recommendations.

Graduate Assistantships

The University offers a number of teaching and research assistantships in the instructional and research programs of various departments. Stipends vary greatly from as little as $5,000 for a half assistantship to $16,000 for a full assistantship for the calendar year. International applicants who are awarded assistantships, and who have no supplemental means of support, must make sure that the assistantship is adequate to meet their minimum financial needs, refer to Estimate of Expenses. Graduate assistants are not required to pay tuition charges provided their stipend is $5,000 or higher ($ 2,500 is the minimum for a one semester waiver of tuition and most fees). Assistantships are awarded for a maximum of one academic year at a time. A graduate assistantship is not a scholarship, and a full assistantship requires a work contribution by the student averaging 20 hours per week, and Federal and State income taxes will be withheld from earnings.

Research Assistantships

A number of research assistantships, with no teaching duties, are available to qualified graduate students in various departments. Funds are provided by either private industry, the U.S. Government (especially in agriculture, engineering, and the sciences), or by the University itself.

Teaching Assistantships

Many departments offer teaching assistantships to qualified, enrolled graduate students. International applicants are eligible for these assistantships. Since teaching assistantships involve instruction, all incoming students who have been awarded a teaching assistantship and whose native language is not English must demonstrate oral English proficiency, either by passing the Test of Spoken English administered by the Educational Testing Service (ETS) before their arrival on campus at their own expense or by passing the SPEAK test upon arrival at no cost to the student. In order to pass the TSE or SPEAK test, students must score 50 or above.

University Fellowships

These Fellowships are awarded to graduate students on a very competitive basis and are intended to help superior students pursue graduate study without a work requirement and obtain a degree in the minimum possible time. They are normally awarded only after a graduate student has completed two semesters at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. A University Fellowship is for only one year. A tuition waiver accompanies a University Fellowship, and no service is required.

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