Graduate Program


The graduate program in linguistics leading to the PhD degree is intended to be completed in five years. The University of Chicago operates on the quarter system. Graduate students normally register for three courses per quarter, three quarters per year. They generally take three to four years of coursework.

In the first two years, students take eight foundational courses chosen from a selection of thirteen available options. Six of these eight classes must be completed during the student’s first year in the program.

In addition to these foundational courses, students must also take a methods course and three additional graduate-level courses in linguistics.


In years two and three, when students are writing qualifying papers, they must also take the Research Seminar.


A large proportion of courses offered in the Linguistics Department are advanced courses that are open to all students. The topics of these courses change from year to year, in reflection of the ongoing research interests of both faculty and graduate students, and cover areas of current interest in the field at large. Students are also free to take courses related to their research interests that are offered by other departments in the University.


In the second and third years, students continue taking courses and write two qualifying papers under faculty supervision. In addition to these major landmarks, students are required to satisfy a non-Indo European language requirement and to pass a reading examination in an additional language other than English. Upon completion of the qualifying papers and course and language requirements and defense of a dissertation proposal by the end of the fourth year students are admitted to candidacy for the PhD; the only remaining requirement is the dissertation.