The M.A. Program

The University of Florida offers both thesis and non-thesis Master of Arts in Linguistics degrees. The MA prepares students for more advanced work in Linguistics as well as a variety of careers in academics, teaching, and industry. The goal of our program is to train students to identify and describe patterns in language—its structure and its use—and to apply this knowledge in the classroom and in the field. Gaining command of the necessary analytical and descriptive skills entails significant writing and hands on work with natural language data. MA students are encouraged to engage in a research project in their area of interest under the supervision of a supervisory committee.

It is not necessary to have an undergraduate degree in linguistics to do graduate work in the field; however, it is expected that applicants will have had at least one introductory course in linguistics (for example, UF’s LIN 3010 Introduction to Linguistics) and be familiar with the fundamentals of phonetics, phonology, morphology, and syntax (UF’s LIN 3201 Sounds of Human Language and LIN 3460 Structure of Human Language, or the equivalent). Students should arrange to gain the necessary expertise before they begin the graduate program. It is also assumed that entering students will have proficiency in a second language equal to that acquired in two years of university study.

MA students are eligible to complete the Second Language Acquisition and Teaching (SLAT) Certificate.



36 credits of coursework are required for the MA. This includes the four Core courses (12 credits) below and two Depth courses (6 credits). The purpose of the depth requirement is for students to obtain deeper knowledge of one or more subfields of linguistics. A course counts towards the depth requirement if it builds on knowledge gained in a related, previously taken course. Courses that have been counted elsewhere toward degree requirements (core courses or language requirement courses) will not count as depth credits but may serve as prerequisite courses for depth credit courses. See the Linguistics Graduate Student Handbook for more information.

  • LIN 6084 Introduction to Graduate Research
  • LIN 6323 Phonology
  • LIN 6402 Morphology
  • LIN 6501 Syntax

In addition, the student will choose 18 credits of coursework, in consultation with his/her advisor. A maximum of 9 credits of prior graduate work may be transferred towards the MA.

Language Requirement

MA students must satisfy the following language requirements:

  • Students entering the graduate program must have already acquired working knowledge of one foreign language, defined for purposes of this requirement as knowledge equivalent or superior to that acquired in 2 years (4 semesters or 6 quarters) of formal university study.
  • Prior to being admitted to candidacy for the PhD, students must have completed one course in the structure of a language, either LIN 6571 Structure of [a Specific Language] or LIN 6165 Field Methods. Students may not satisfy this requirement by taking the Structure of a Language course in a language of which they are a native speaker. They may, however, count such a course toward their general electives.

Non-native English speaking students cannot use English to satisfy any language requirement as English is the language of instruction. They can use their native language, however, to satisfy the first or third requirement.

Comprehensive Examination

All candidates for the MA are required to take the comprehensive examination at the earliest opportunity after they have completed the core courses in syntax, morphology, and phonology. The examination is divided into three parts, each of which takes two hours. Each part focuses on one of the three core areas, and includes theoretical, applied, and general questions. The comprehensive examination is administered once a year, during the week before Fall classes start. If you are required to take the comprehensive exam, you should be in contact with the chair of the Comprehensive Exam Committee during the summer. Possible grades on the exam are High Pass, Pass, Low Pass, and Fail. The exams are graded according to the Comprehensive Exam Rubric. In order to pass the comprehensive exam overall, a student must receive at least Low Pass on all three parts of the examination. If a section of the comprehensive exam is failed, a second attempt at that part is permitted the following year. The comprehensive examination may not be taken more than twice. If a student is eligible to take the comprehensive exam, s/he must do so. Failure to do so will count as a failed attempt.

Thesis and Final Exam

The thesis MA degree requires formal writing. The MA thesis must advance the field by making a novel theoretical and/or empirical contribution. Both the thesis and non-thesis MA require a final examination. For the thesis MA, the supervisory committee examines the student on the content of the thesis. The form and content of the final exam for the non-thesis MA is determined in consultation with the student’s chair.