Doctor of Philosophy

November 5th, 2009

The PhD graduate program emphasizes rigorous theoretical work that has at its base a solid empirical foundation in language data. Students are provided with a broad-based background in linguistics, teaching experience in the classroom and other forums, and opportunities for original and high-quality research.

Ph.D. Learning Outcomes

The Ph.D. is conferred upon candidates who have demonstrated the ability to conduct substantive, independent research in Linguistics. Through completion of advanced coursework and rigorous methodological and analytical training, the doctoral program prepares students to make original contributions to knowledge in linguistics, to articulate the results of their work,  and to demonstrate its significance to linguistics and related fields.

Doctoral program year-by-year

The first year is devoted to course-work for a foundation in core areas of linguistics.

During the second and third years, the balance shifts from coursework to the further development of research skills. Students complete two qualifying research papers during this time.

The fourth and fifth years of graduate study are devoted to the student’s dissertation work and advanced research.

Overview of the program

The program combines flexibility in course selection with committed individualized advising. In the first year, the student’s courses are determined in consultation with the Graduate Studies Advisor. All students are required to take a quarter-long introduction to research methods in linguistics during the first year, followed by a quarter of work in small research groups or in one-on-one apprenticeships, where students work individually and cooperatively with faculty of their own choosing. In the middle of the first year, students are assigned a committee for their qualifying papers, with one member designated as the principal advisor.

Once these papers are complete, each student picks a principal advisor and committee for the dissertation.


Each student serves as a teaching assistant (TA) for 3 courses, spread over the second, third, and fourth years of study. These courses generally include at least one course in the student’s main area of expertise. More advanced students also may have the opportunity to teach their own course, if this matches the department’s curricular needs.

Partnership opportunities

Though not part of the formal doctoral program, there are numerous opportunities for off-campus research and development work at the Center for the Study of Language and Information and in local companies.

Please note that the information above elaborates on the formal degree requirements as found in the Linguistics Department section of the Stanford University Bulletin.

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