Program Overview


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

Students must take eight foundational courses (selected from fourteen available options), a methods course, and three additional graduate-level courses in linguistics. All of these must be taken within the first four years, and six of them during the first year. In addition, all eight foundational courses must be taken during the first two years.

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

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.

The program also includes professionalization seminars, which help prepare students for presenting their work at different venues and for the job market.

Students enrolled in the program must also fulfill certain teaching requirements (3 CAships and 1 stand-alone lectureship), which are normally completed during their third, fourth, and fifth years in the program, as well as pedagogical training.


The Linguistics Graduate Student Handbook provides more information about requirements, milestones, and important dates for doctoral students.



Joint PhD Program

Additionally, the University of Chicago offers several joint doctoral programs. Such options currently exist between the Department of Linguistics and the Department of Anthropology, the Department of Comparative Human Development, the Department of Psychology, the Department of Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations, the Department of Slavic Languages and Literatures, and the Department of Philosophy. Students from other departments who wish to apply for a joint PhD in Linguistics may do so only after completing six of the foundational courses.