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Students discussing group projects

The doctoral program is structured to provide students with a broad background in linguistics, teaching experience in the classroom and other forums, and ample opportunities for original and high-quality research.

The material below summarizes the major degree requirements; students  should consult the Department of Linguistics section of the Stanford University Bulletin and the department's Ph.D. Handbook for further particulars concerning these and other requirements.  These requirements are in addition to the basic University requirements for the degree sought; see the Graduate Degrees section of the bulletin. 

Core Requirements

Coursework:  Ph.D. students must satisfy a basic course requirement that ensures they achieve breadth across the different areas of linguistics, while setting a foundation for their future research.  There is considerable flexibility in how a student meets this requirement, so that it can be tailored to the student's background and interests.  The department also delineates a small set of other required courses.  Beyond these courses, students are free to choose coursework in Linguistics or related departments and are also encouraged to take directed reading or research courses with individual faculty members, where appropriate.

Qualifying papers:  Each student must complete two substantial qualifying research papers in different subfields of linguistics, one in the second year and one in the third year.  These papers are intended to provide students with experience in carrying out independent, original research projects before embarking on the dissertation. 

Language:  Each student must demonstrate the ability to carry out a sustained piece of linguistic research on a language other than standard English by writing a research paper on that language.  The language used to satisfy this requirement must be chosen in consultation with the Graduate Studies Advisor, and the paper must be completed by the end of the third year of graduate study.  The candidacy proposal must include a realistic plan for completing the requirement.

Dissertation:  Each student must complete a doctoral dissertation that demonstrates the ability to complete a substantial piece of original research work, to articulate the results of this work in a manner appropriate for the linguistics community, and to demonstrate the significance of the work in the context of the general field of linguistics.  The student works with a reading committee whose members provide feedback and guidance as the student carries out the dissertation research; as the dissertation progresses, the committee members read and critique drafts of the work.  

Teaching Requirements

Each student serves as a teaching assistant for three 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.  Occasionally, more advanced students may be given the opportunity to teach their own course, if this accords with the department’s curricular needs.