At the graduate level, the UCSD Department of Linguistics has only a Ph.D. program; there is no masters program, although the M.A. and C.Phil. degrees are available for students working toward the Ph.D. Because of the structured first-year curriculum, new students are admitted only for the fall quarter of any academic year. Even students with extensive prior training in linguistics normally take and benefit from the first-year courses. Since students begin graduate work in linguistics with many different backgrounds and varied degrees of preparation, no specific kind or level of previous training is required for admission. Admission is competitive, and the program of study rigorous.
Since linguistics is a highly technical and analytic field, undergraduate training in disciplines such as mathematics and the natural sciences is especially valuable. Undergraduate work in certain of the social sciences and humanities (particularly psychology, anthropology, philosophy, and literature) is also good preparation for linguistics. Also very helpful is substantial experience with foreign languages--as potential objects of analysis, and also to satisfy the departmental language requirements for the Ph.D. The ideal candidate for admission will have both experience with foreign languages and some knowledge of basic linguistic concepts and the fundamentals of contemporary linguistic theory (as provided, for example, in an undergraduate linguistics major). Incoming students with deficiencies in these areas will be advised by the faculty on how to rectify them.
A candidate for the Ph.D. degree must demonstrate: (1) Conversational ability in one language other than English. (2) A reading knowledge of any one language other than his or her native language, subject to faculty approval. (How to prepare.)
Graduate study in Linguistics at UCSD represents a balance of structure and flexibility, of concentration and breadth. The first two years provide a structured introduction to the core areas of phonology/phonetics and syntax/semantics. After the first year, a student has progressively greater flexibility in choosing both specific courses and general areas of study. In its later phases, each student's program is unique, being specially designed (in consultation with faculty advisors) to accommodate individual needs and developing research interests.
All graduate students must take fifteen courses prior to taking the qualifying examination. These required courses should normally be completed early in the graduate student's program of study. There are ten required courses which can be categorized into the following areas:
- Three courses in Syntax and Semantics: 221A, 221B, 230
- Three courses in Phonology and Phonetics: 210, 211A, 211B
- One course in Field Methods: 240
- Two courses in Research Methods, selected from 241, 245, and 251 (note: although 241 is repeatable, only one instance may count toward this requirement)
- One course in Research Paper Writing: 293.
For a typical student, the program of study runs approximately as follows (for well-prepared students, the time frame may be shortened). The first year is primarily occupied by required sequences in syntax, semantics, phonology, and phonetics. In addition to continuing course work, a student in the second year of study writes an original research paper to demonstrate the ability to conduct high-quality research. In the third year, a student demonstrates breadth by submitting a second research paper representing a different area of linguistics. The fourth year is largely devoted to mastering the student's field of specialization and selecting a dissertation topic. It culminates in an oral qualifying examination by which a student advances to Ph.D. candidacy. The candidate then writes and defends a substantial dissertation incorporating the results of original research.
A graduate student is formally evaluated by the entire faculty at particular stages during the first three years of graduate study. The first evaluation (at the end of the third quarter of graduate study) pertains chiefly to performance in courses. The second (or comprehensive) evaluation (at the end of the sixth quarter) determines the student's fitness to continue in the Ph.D. program. It takes into account performance in course work and ability to engage in original research in one area of linguistics as demonstrated in a research paper. The third evaluation (at the end of the ninth quarter) focuses primarily on a second research paper (which must be in a different area of linguistics from the first).
Candidates for the Ph.D. degree must pass an oral qualifying examination which tests the student's knowledge in the area of specialization. Prior to taking this examination, the student must pass the comprehensive evaluation, satisfy all language requirements, successfully complete all required courses, and demonstrate—through research papers—the ability to carry out independent, dissertation-level research. Students must take the qualifying examination by the end of the fourth year of graduate work.
Sometime prior to the thesis defense, a student must present a paper orally at a professional gathering. The colloquium requirement is intended to enable a student to develop the skills necessary for organizing research results for oral presentation. The requirement is generally met by presenting a department colloquium or by presenting a paper at a professional meeting. In either case, a faculty member must certify the acceptability of the presentation.
The candidate for the Ph.D. will write a substantial dissertation incorporating the results of original and independent research carried out under the supervision of the doctoral committee. The candidate will be recommended for the doctor of philosophy degree after having made a successful oral defense of the dissertation before the doctoral committee in a public meeting and after having the final version of the dissertation accepted by Geisel Library.
As part of their preparation for a future academic career, graduate students in linguistics at UCSD are given special opportunities to participate in teaching programs under the supervision of a professor. Depending on qualifications, students may conduct conversation or analysis classes in lower-division language courses (LLP and HLP), or may assist a professor in the teaching of a graduate or undergraduate linguistics course.
Candidates for the Ph.D. who have not previously earned a master's degree may be granted the M.A. in linguistics after 1) satisfactorily completing twelve courses (these must include 9 of the 10 required courses; all but LIGN 293 must be taken for a letter grade); and 2) passing the comprehensive evaluation at the end of the sixth quarter.
Candidates for the Ph.D. may also be granted the C. Phil. upon completion of all degree requirements other than the dissertation.
The time a student takes to complete the Ph.D. depends on a number of factors, including previous preparation and the amount of time spent in teaching or other job commitments. Several policies set an upper limit to the length of the program. All degree requirements other than the dissertation must be completed by the end of the fourth year of graduate work. Total instructional support (TAships, etc.) cannot exceed six years; total university support cannot exceed seven years. Total registered time at UCSD cannot exceed eight years.