Doctoral Program

To complete the doctoral degree, a candidate must 1) earn 78 credit hours for academic work beyond the bachelor's level (this equals a Master’s degree (students may transfer in up to 30 credits as advanced standing, with approval) plus 48 semester hours of graduate-level coursework); 2) pass a preliminary examination upon completion of all coursework; 3) write a dissertation; and 4) pass an oral defense of the dissertation.

The doctoral curriculum consists of four areas: Disciplinary Concentration Courses (18 credits in Applied Linguistics); Research Methods (18 credits); For-Credit Research Experiences (minimum 12 credits).

I. Disciplinary Concentration Courses

Candidates will take 18 credits in the field of Applied Linguistics. Example courses include Applied Linguistics, Current Issues in Applied Linguistics, Bilingualism and Bilingual Education, Language Testing and Assessment, Theories of Second Language Learning, and Second Language Reading and Writing.

II. Research Methods

The PhD in Education, Concentration in Applied Linguistics requires 18 credits in research methods: two courses in quantitative methods, two courses in qualitative methods, and two courses in research methods.

III. For-Credit Research Experiences

Candidates will take a minimum of 12 credits made up of the Research Apprenticeship (6 credits) and a total of at least 6 credits of 9994, 9998, and 9999, with the minimum of 2 credits of 9999. The Research Apprenticeship involves mentorship or participation in a course in which the student works under the close mentorship of a faculty member and actively engages in research. The product of this apprenticeship must meet the standards of scientific quality as indicated, for example, by submission to an academic conference, journal publication, or a grant proposal.

Preliminary Examination

The preliminary examination assesses the candidate’s breadth of knowledge within the area of Applied Linguistics and the areas covered in core courses. It is a one-week written take-home examination. Usually, candidates are not permitted to take this examination until they have completed the course requirements.


The dissertation is expected to exhibit scholarship, reflect mastery of technique, and make a distinctive contribution to the field of language acquisition research. A sponsoring committee of at least four members, composed of the major professor and at least one other graduate faculty member, is responsible for the general supervision of the doctoral dissertation. Four copies of the completed dissertation must be submitted at least four weeks prior to the oral examination.

 - Dissertation Proposal Defense

Candidates for the doctorate are required to prepare a dissertation proposal. Candidates must have an oral defense of their dissertation proposal with three committee members. The revised proposal must be approved and signed by the sponsoring committee.

 - Dissertation Defense

Candidates who have fulfilled all other requirements will, on the recommendation of the major professor and other members of the sponsoring committee, be admitted to the final doctoral dissertation examination. This examination is conducted by a minimum of four committee members.