Skip to content Skip to navigation

Doctoral Program

Students at Sociolinguistics lunch

The Ph.D. program emphasizes rigorous theoretical work that has at its base a firm 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.  Our Ph.D. students write dissertations on a wide range of topics spanning and bridging many subareas of the field.  See our Ph.D. Alumni page for dissertation titles and job placement information.

Overview of the Program

Through the completion of advanced coursework and strong methodological and analytical training, the Ph.D. 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.  At every stage in the program, students are encouraged to present and publish their research and to develop active professional profiles. 

Students generally complete the program in five years

Year 1

  • Coursework in core areas of linguistics, chosen by each student in consultation with faculty advisors to build the foundation that best suits their interests and goals.
  • Fall Quarter: Includes seminar to introduce students to the research of faculty in the department
  • Winter Quarter: Includes participation in small research groups or in one-on-one apprenticeships
  • Spring Quarter: Includes beginning to work on the first of 2 qualifying research papers

Years 2 and 3

  • Balance shifts from coursework to development of research skills
  • Students complete two qualifying papers and then selects a principal advisor and committee for their dissertation by the end of year 3.

Years 4 and 5

  • Devoted to dissertation and advanced research

Teaching Experience

As they move through the Ph.D. program, students also gain teaching experience by serving as teaching assistants in their second, third, and fourth year of graduate study. They also have access to the many programs provided by Stanford's Vice Provost for Teaching and Learning, including the varied resources of the Teaching Commons.


Offers of admission to the Linguistics P.h.D program include funding for the full five years of doctoral study, including tuition and stipend, regardless of citizenship. 

We also encourage our applicants to apply for as many external fellowships and scholarships as they are eligible for; a compilation of funding opportunities for Linguistics graduate students can be found on our Fellowship and Funding Information page.  Applicants should note that the deadlines for these fellowships are typically in the fall of the year prior to admission.

In addition, the Knight-Hennessy Scholars program is designed to build a multidisciplinary community of Stanford graduate students dedicated to finding creative solutions to the world's greatest challenges. The program awards up to 100 high-achieving students every year with full funding to pursue a graduate education at Stanford, including the Ph.D. degree in Linguistics. 

Additional information is available about the student budget, Stanford graduate fellowships, and other support programs.


Outside the classroom, there are many opportunities, both formal and informal, for the discussion of linguistic issues and ongoing research, including colloquia, workshops, and reading groups.

Partnership Opportunities

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

Admissions Information