The Ph.D. Program

The University of Florida offers the PhD in Linguistics. Research is a significant component of the PhD program and all PhD candidates are expected to develop and carry out an original research project under the supervision of a PhD supervisory committee. The culmination of the project is a dissertation.

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



90 credits of coursework are required for the PhD. This includes the four Core courses (12 credits) below and three Depth courses (9 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

The student will choose 69 credits of additional coursework, in consultation with his/her advisor. Up to 30 credits from a previous MA may be transferred towards the PhD.

Language Requirement

PhD 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.
  • PhD candidates must take one year of a foreign language. It is generally to the benefit of the student to choose a language from a language family that is different from that of the student’s L1 as well as that of the language used to satisfy requirement 1 above, but this is not a strict requirement.

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 PhD 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.

Qualifying Exam

PhD candidates must pass a qualifying examination. The qualifying exam is both written and oral. Its exact nature is determined in consultation with the supervisory committee. Successful completion of the qualifying exam advances the student to candidacy. The qualifying exam defense is evaluated using the PhD Qualifying Exam Rubric.

Final Exam

A final examination is required for all graduate students. For PhD candidates, this examination includes, but need not be not limited to, the defense of the dissertation.


A dissertation is required for the PhD. A doctoral dissertation must demonstrate the ability to conceive, design, conduct, and interpret independent, original, and creative research. It must describe significant, original contributions to the advancement of knowledge and must demonstrate the ability to organize, analyze, and interpret data. A dissertation includes a statement of purpose, a review of pertinent literature, a presentation of methods and results obtained, and a critical interpretation of conclusions in relation to the findings of others. It involves a defense of objectives, design, and analytical procedures. The dissertation must be of publishable quality and must use the Graduate School’s format requirements.