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Linguistics MA

About the Program

The aim of our Linguistics MA program is to prepare students to become language professionals, go on to a PhD program, or enter the workforce and community as competent practitioners of the skills expected of a linguist.

The program can be completed in two years. Students begin in the fall and meet with their advisor to plan out their program of study, which is 33 credit hours total. It is recommended that students take courses in one of four areas of emphasis: linguistic computing, language acquisition, language and society, or general linguistics. Students will also contribute to the literature by writing, defending, and publishing a thesis at the end of their program of study.

If you have questions about the program, please contact the program coordinator:
Earl Brown,, 801-422-3970.

More Information
Applying to the Program
Scholarships & Financial Aid
Requirements & Program of Study
Thesis & Graduation

Applying to the Program

The application window is open from September 1 to February 15 each year. You will be notified of the admission decision by June 1 at the latest and begin the program in the next fall semester (or summer term, for students without a background in linguistics).

More information about applying can be found on the BYU Graduate Studies website at the “Apply” button below. For other information specific to this program, please refer to the Linguistics MA Handbook above.

Scholarships & Financial Aid

All students are eligible to receive scholarship funding for courses in their program of study and courses that fulfill the language requirement. The amount changes each semester/term, but historically it has been 50% or higher of the LDS Graduate Student tuition rate.

To get scholarship funding, you will need to submit an application for each semester/term you are taking classes. This can be done on the Graduate Scholarships page. For a given semester/term, the application deadline is about 4–5 weeks before the tuition deadline (which is 1 week before the start of classes). You will be notified by email of the scholarship application deadline each semester/term.

In addition to this scholarship funding through the department, students may also receive funding from other sources, such as federal aid.

For further information, please refer to the Linguistics MA Handbook above.

Requirements & Program of Study


Your path toward graduation—putting together your program of study, tracking your coursework, and preparing to defend your thesis and submit your ETD—is handled in the online Graduate Progress (GradProg) system.

Go to GradProg

Thesis/project advisor and committee

You will work with your advisor to put together a program of study that fulfills the requirements below and is appropriate to your goals and interests. The advisor, who can later serve as chair of your thesis/project committee, is appointed when you are admitted to the Linguistics MA program. The committee is made up of a chair and two other members; your chair can assist you in selecting other faculty members to serve as committee members.

Registering for courses

Course registration typically opens several months before the start of each semester/term. Visit the Enrollment Services website for exact dates and deadlines and instructions for registering. You must take at least six credits per academic year (fall semester through the next summer term), and you must take at least two credits during the first semester you are registered and the semester you defend your thesis and graduate.

Requirements (33 credit hours total)

    Required: (15 credits)
    LING 601: Linguistics Foundations: Sounds of Language (3)
    LING 602: Linguistics Foundations: Structures of Language (3)
    LING 603: Linguistics Foundations: Meanings in Language (3)
    LING 604: Research Design in Linguistics (3)
    One course from the following:
    - LING 651: Advanced Phonology (3)
    - LING 652: Advanced Morphology (3)
    - LING 653: Advanced Syntax (3)
    - LING 654: Advanced Semantics (3)

    In order to allow some students to start specializing more quickly in our program, students with previous linguistic experience can replace LING 601, LING 602 and/or LING 603 with advanced electives. The determination to substitute one or more of these three classes will be based on the pertinent linguistic courses taken during a student's Bachelor's program (and the corresponding grades received), or based on written assessments (to be created) one for each of LING 601-603, or based on oral assessments with professors who regularly teach LING 601-603.

    Elective courses: (12 credits)
    LING 590R: Readings in Linguistics (1-3)
    LING 615: Analogical Modeling of Language (3)
    LING 640: Language Acquisition (3)
    LING 651: Advanced Phonology (3)
    LING 652: Advanced Morphology (3)
    LING 653: Advanced Syntax (3)
    LING 654: Advanced Semantics (3)
    LING 545: Psycholinguistics (3)
    LING 550: Sociolinguistics (3)
    LING 551: Anthropological Linguistics (3)
    LING 558: Historical-Comparative Linguistics (3)
    LING 580R: Problems in Linguistics and Applied Linguistics (1-3)
    LING 581: Natural Language Processing (3)
    LING 585: Research in Corpus Linguistics (3)

    Depend on course availability and consultation with faculty advisors.

    Thesis: (6 credits)
    LING 699R: Master's Thesis (6)

    Oral defense of thesis

    For students who did not have a BA in linguistics, LING 401: Preparation for Graduate Studies in Linguistics.

    See course descriptions on


    Linguistics MA students can specialize in one of four areas: linguistic computing, language acquisition, language and society, and general linguistics. Your advisor can help you choose the electives that will be most relevant to your thesis and goals.

    Language requirement

    As described in the Application Checklist in the "Applying to the Program" tab, graduating with a Linguistics MA requires competency in two languages other than English: one at the 300-level and one at the 200-level. To demonstrate this proficiency, you must either have a course of that level on your transcript, take an OPI (Oral Proficiency Interview) exam, or take one of BYU’s Challenge Exams, offered through the Center for Language Studies. If you have further questions, contact the program coordinator.

    Non-native English speakers must take an OPI interview by the end of their first semester and score at least an Advanced Mid to fulfill this requirement. (The interview may be taken more than once.) They are also required to take LING 501 during their first winter semester, or test out of it during the previous fall semester. See the handbook for details.

    Thesis & Graduation

    Applying for graduation

    Students may graduate at the end of fall semester (December), winter semester (April), spring term (June), or summer term (August). Only one convocation and commencement ceremony is held each year, and all students who graduate in an academic year may attend the ceremony in April of that academic year. The deadlines and steps for graduation can be viewed below or in the handbook and are also emailed to students each year. Students must apply for graduation about three months before their desired graduation date.

    Thesis/project defense and ETD

    Completion of a thesis is required for graduation with a Linguistics MA. Students should work with their committee to ensure they are on track for graduation. Students will receive scholarship funding for up to 6 thesis credits.

    You should schedule your thesis defense at least a month and a half before your graduation date, and you must pass the defense by the deadline. You must then make the necessary revisions and submit your ETD (Electronic Thesis/Dissertation) by its deadline. If the deadline is not met, you will not be able to graduate and must enroll in an additional schedule for at least 2 credits, which are not covered by department scholarship funds. You may revise and resubmit your ETD as many times as necessary.

    For further information, please refer to the Linguistics MA Handbook above, or to the FAQ.

    What Our Students Have To Say

    Listen to current and former students of our Linguistics MA program discuss their experiences.