MASTER OF ARTS (pre-2009)
This page is for students admitted to the MA program prior to Fall 2009. For degree requirements after Fall 2009, please go here.
LING 400 (Introduction to General Linguistics), 520 (Linguistic Phonetics), 523 (Phonological Theory I), 530 (Syntactic Theory I), one course from among 525 (Historical Linguistics), 528 (Language Acquisition), and 537 (Semantic Theory I), plus four elective courses in linguistics or related areas, as approved by the student's advisor, plus three hours of thesis credit, for a total of 30 hours. Note: Students are expected to complete their non-elective courses during their first year. This schedule qualifies students to take their comprehensive exam and to be considered for a linguistics teaching assistantship by their third semester. Deviations from it are therefore strongly discouraged.
Foreign Language Requirements
Reading knowledge of one foreign language (for students in historical linguistics, this must be German or French). This requirement may be met in one of three ways. (1) By passing the Graduate Student Foreign Language Test, given each November and April by the Departments of Romance Languages and Germanic Languages (for precise dates call or write Ms. Leslie Van Meter,firstname.lastname@example.org; for a registration form go directly to http://gradschool.unc.edu/gflpa.html). (2) Where available, by passing the reading courses for graduate students numbered 601X and 602X (note that these courses do not earn graduate credit). NB: students with some prior experience may find it feasible to meet the requirement by enrolling directly in and passing 602X, bypassing 601X. (3) Where neither (1) or (2) is available students may arrange to have their competence certified by a qualified faculty member, usually through an informal examination.
During the semester following completion of the required courses (which should be the Fall term of the second year), students must take a three-part written exam covering: (1) phonetics/phonology, (2) syntax, and (3) one area from among historical linguistics, language acquisition, and semantics. The exam is based on the required courses and a short reading list for each section, available from the Department secretary. Previous exams are available for inspection in the Department office. The exam is normally given in the second or third week of the fall semester as three separate take-home exams.
The master's thesis (normally 50-100 pages in length) must be approved by a committee of the thesis director plus two other faculty members. Students form their thesis committee with the advice of their advisor, who may (but need not) be the thesis director. There is no preliminary oral exam for the M.A., but the Department does require that students submit a prospectus of the thesis. The prospectus should state clearly what problem is to be investigated, how the investigation is to be carried out (written research, field work, experiment, etc.), and a preliminary bibliography. The prospectus should first be discussed with the thesis director. Students should then submit a 'clean' version to all three committee members and set up a meeting where the prospectus may be informally discussed and approved (perhaps with modifications). Students are also expected to consult their thesis director regularly during the actual writing of the thesis. Formal requirements regarding the format and submission of the M.A. thesis are found in the Guide to the Preparation of Theses, available from the Graduate School (this is essential reading!).
Final Oral Examination
This exam, administered by the thesis committee, focuses on a defense of the thesis, but the faculty reserves the right to question students on other relevant topics. Students should avoid scheduling a thesis defense during the summer, since faculty members are often not available. If it is absolutely unavoidable, students should consult committee members well in advance.
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 July for August, by November 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. The dates for a given semester may be found online at: http://regweb.oit.unc.edu/calendars/index.php. Click on the relevant semester under "University Registrar"s Calendars".