Why study linguistics?

Because language is a window into the mind. Linguistics provides an understanding of the human capacity to acquire, perceive, and produce language and of language’s role in contemporary society.

M.A. Overview

Our M.A. program in Linguistics requires the student to develop a solid understanding of the core areas of the discipline in addition to an in-depth specialty in one of the many areas available through the research interests of the faculty. Areas of special strength in the graduate program include phonetics, phonology, syntax, psycholinguistics, neurolinguistics, first language acquisition, second language acquisition, semantics, and the study of indigenous languages.

The student will work with their academic advisor to devise a course of study that best suits the student's research interests.

The M.A. program usually takes two years. Students in the M.A. program will typically take the written comprehensive exam in their fourth semester of study. In cases of exceptional merit, students may pursue an M.A. research project if a faculty member is willing to supervise the project. Students are encouraged to take level II courses (Phonetics II, Phonology, II, Syntax II, FLA II, SLA II, Psycholinguistics II, Neurolinguistics II) to develop their understanding of research in their area of interest.

Admission to Graduate Studies

An applicant seeking to pursue graduate study in the College may be admitted as either a degree-seeking or non-degree seeking student. Policies and procedures of Graduate Studies govern the process of Graduate admission. These may be found in the Graduate Studies section of the online catalog.

Please consult the Departments & Programs section of the online catalog for information regarding program-specific admissions criteria and requirements. Special admissions requirements pertain to Interdisciplinary Studies degrees, which may be found in the Graduate Studies section of the online catalog.

Graduate Admission

Applicants must submit submit a curriculum vitae, a statement of purpose, an official copy of transcript from the baccalaureate granting institution and any transcripts from institutions attended post-baccalaureate, 3 letters of recommendation, and Graduate Record Examination scores. Applicants who are not native speakers of English must demonstrate English proficiency with Test of English as a Foreign Language scores of at least 53 (paper) or 20 (computer or internet-based) in all sections or International English Language Testing System scores of at least 6.0 overall with no part score below 5.5.

Submit your graduate application online. Send all other requested application materials to the department:

The University of Kansas
Department of Linguistics
Blake Hall
1541 Lilac Lane, Room 427
Lawrence, KS 66045-3129


M.A. Degree Requirements

The M.A. is structured as a 2 year program. Students will either take a comprehensive exam or conduct a research project in order to complete the degree.


3 credit hours of LING 700 Introduction to Linguistic Science (or equivalent). Students who do not meet the prerequisite but have undergraduate majors in related fields (such as a foreign language, English, speech, anthropology, or psychology) may be accepted with the provision that they make up the deficiency as soon as possible.

Reading ability in a foreign language (not English) with a significant linguistic literature.

Degree Requirements

The following are minimum requirements.

Course Work

33 credit hours of graduate work including

LING 794Proseminar3
LING 705Phonetics I3
LING 712Phonological Theory I3
LING 725Syntax I3
LING 709First Language Acquisition3
or LING 715 Second Language Acquisition I
LING 735Psycholinguistics I3
or LING 738 Neurolinguistics I
Select one of the following research methods courses:3
Research Methods in Linguistics
Field Methods in Linguistic Description
Research Methods in Child Language
12 credit hours of electives to be determined by the student and the student’s advisor, excluding LING 998 Independent Study; Topics in Empirical Research in Linguistics; LING 850 Topics in Empirical Research in Linguistics; LING 851 Research in Language Acquisition and Processing; LING 852 Research in Field Linguistics.12
Total Hours33

M.A. students can complete the degree by 1 of the following options:

Research Project Option

Students who wish to pursue the MA research project option must have the support of a faculty mentor and the approval of the Director of Graduate Studies. Student will conduct and write a research project and pass the research project oral defense. A maximum of 3 hours of LING 899 Master's Research Project may be applied toward the minimum of 33 hours for the degree. The research project must be defended successfully in an oral examination.

Comprehensive Examination Option

The M.A. comprehensive examination option is only available to students seeking a terminal M.A. degree. A comprehensive written examination should be taken no later than the semester in which the student completes 33 hours of course work applicable to the M.A.