DOCTOR OF PHILOSOPHY (pre-2009)
This page is for students admitted to the PhD program prior to Fall 2009. For degree requirements after Fall 2009, please go here.
Students are admitted to the Ph.D. program after completion of the M.A. either at UNC or at another institution. Those who complete the M.A. in the Department are not automatically eligible for the Ph.D. program nor may they continue to take courses in anticipation of working toward the Ph.D. Upon finishing the M.A., students may apply for admission to the Ph.D. program. Admission is based on evaluation of the student's overall performance and potential, including course work, comprehensive exam, thesis, and work as a teaching assistant. Outstanding students may request to skip the M.A. thesis and proceed directly to the Ph.D., but approval of such a request is not given lightly and should not be counted upon.
Students from other institutions are normally admitted directly to the Ph.D. program only if their M.A. degree is in Linguistics. Such students are, upon completion of one semester of course work, required to take a diagnostic exam (similar in content to the M.A. comprehensive exam described above). This exam is intended to assure that Ph.D. students from elsewhere have the same basic knowledge contained in our courses required for the M.A. If the faculty finds a student's performance on the exam unsatisfactory in some area, it may require various steps to correct the deficiency (such as assigning a specific course or reading).
Students whose M.A. degree is in a field other than linguistics are generally admitted to the M.A. program in linguistics (the initial course requirements are the same for both the M.A. and Ph.D., so this does not delay a student's progress). These students have the same possibility for skipping the M.A. thesis and admission to the Ph.D. program as other M.A. students mentioned above.
Fifty-one credit hours, of which three hours will be dissertation credit. Required are the courses stipulated for the MA plus any of the three courses 525 (Historical Linguistics), 528 (Language Acquisition), and 537 (Semantic Theory I) not already taken. Students must also take either linguistic field work (LING 793) or an approved philology course (consult with the director of graduate studies), plus at least one course from among: 522 (Experimental Phonetics and Laboratory Phonology), 524 (Phonological Theory II), 529 (Language Acquisition II), 533 (Syntactic Theory II), and 538 (Semantic Theory II). Students in historical linguistics should take one year of a classical language such as Latin, Greek, or Sanskrit.
NB: if circumstances do not permit offering a required course during the time needed by a given student, the Department will waive the specific requirement.
Foreign Language Requirements
(a) All students must complete one year of a non-Indo-European language or one semester in the structure of a non-Indo-European language; (b) students in historical linguistics must demonstrate a reading knowledge of French and German.
Written Comprehensive Examination
The Ph.D. written comprehensive examination will consist of three essays, one each from the areas of phonetics/phonology and syntax, and one from either historical linguistics, language acquisition, or semantics. While each of these essays may present original research, it is expected that at least one of these papers will be a substantial research paper demonstrating the candidate's ability to conduct original research. Students may if they wish write the other two essays on questions chosen from an approved list available in the Department. The topics of all other essays including the research paper will be approved by the faculty in the relevant area of specialization in consultation with Director of Graduate Studies. The essays may be submitted at any time between the passing of the preliminary examination and the completion of course work. Details concerning the essays may be obtained from the Director of Graduate Studies.
Oral Examination/Dissertation Proposal
This focuses on the dissertation proposal (see below), but the examining committee may also question the student on other relevant topics. Toward the end of course work, students should seek out an appropriate faculty member as a dissertation director, with whom a dissertation proposal should be worked out (on the form and submission of the proposal see remarks on the M.A. thesis prospectus). Sometimes two co-directors are appropriate. The dissertation proposal is presented at the oral examination (see above) to a committee of five faculty members who approve the topic. During the actual writing of the dissertation students are expected to consult regularly with the director and at least two other members of the committee. Any radical change in the topic or plan requires reconvening of the entire dissertation committee and reapproval of the topic. The student should at an early date obtain from the Graduate School the Guide to Preparation of Theses and read it carefully.
Final Oral Examination
This exam centers on defense of the dissertation, but the committee reserves the right to question the student on other relevant topics. Students should never schedule a dissertation defense during the summer, since it is virtually impossible to arrange for the presence of all five committee members.
Important Degree Deadlines
Each year the Graduate School sets deadlines for graduation in a given term (fall, spring, summer). There are two sets of dates to watch out for: (1) students wishing to graduate must obtain an Application for Admission to Candidacy from the Department secretary, fill it out and have it signed, then take it to the Graduate School, where a Degree Card will also be filled out. These documents must be submitted in January for May graduation, June for August, and September for December. There is no penalty for failure to complete requirements for a requested graduation date, but one cannot graduate without having submitted the AAC and Degree Card. Therefore students should submit these forms in time for any semester in which they feel they may graduate. (2) Three copies of the finished thesis must be submitted to the Graduate School (by April for May graduation, by August for August, by December for December). The exact dates for (1) and (2) are given in the Graduate School Record and are also posted by the Department secretary. Students are warned to keep track of these.