Related Certificates


The Department of Linguistics offers master’s and doctoral degrees and a graduate certificate in Adult/University-Level Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL).

Admission Requirements 

Application Deadlines

Application deadlines vary by program, please review the application deadline chart for specific programs. Other important dates and deadlines can be found by using the One Stop calendars.


An applicant must meet Graduate School requirements plus these departmental requirements to be considered for admission to the program:

  1. Undergraduate major in linguistics or related field (e.g, languages, psychology, anthropology, philosophy).
  2. Undergraduate grade point average of 3.0 (4.0 scale).
  3. Three letters of recommendation to the Department’s Director of Graduate Studies from persons familiar with applicant’s academic ability and achievement.
  4. A sample of academic writing.
  5. Though not required, submission of scores on the Graduate Record Examination may enhance the application.

Applicants may be admitted with course deficiencies provided that the deficiencies amount to no more than two courses.

The student is expected to satisfy deficiency requirements within three enrolled semesters. The deficiencies are monitored by the Graduate School and the individual graduate program unit. No course credits earned in making up deficiencies may be counted as program credits required for the degree. Applicants should contact the Linguistics Department office for additional information and deadlines.

Credits and Courses

Students admitted to the master’s program earn the degree by completing a minimum of 30 credits of graduate coursework, submitting a final project, and passing an oral examination on the final project. Students who demonstrate a capacity for doctoral work and wish to earn a PhD at UWM are advised to proceed as rapidly as possible to doctoral status. No more than 30 credits earned at the master’s level may be included in the 54 credits required for the PhD

The MA in Linguistics requires 30 graduate credits, including:

Core Areas of Linguistics
LINGUIS 715First Language Acquisition3
or LINGUIS 720 Introduction to Second Language Acquisition
LINGUIS 750Introduction to Phonetics3
LINGUIS 755Semantics3
LINGUIS 761Introduction to Phonology3
LINGUIS 764Introduction to Syntax3
LINGUIS 768Language in its Various Forms:3
or LINGUIS 770 Historical and Comparative Linguistics
Select 12 elective credits distributed among 400- to 800-level courses in linguistics and related fields as approved by the student’s major professor12
Total Credits30

Students who completed any of the required courses as undergraduates will substitute another course selected in consultation with their major professor.

Additional Requirements

Major Professor as Advisor

The student must have a Major Professor to advise and supervise the student’s work as specified in Graduate School regulations. The director of graduate studies serves as an initial advisor. It is recommended that the student have a permanent advisor by the end of the second semester of enrollment.

Final Project

A research paper or other project appropriate to the student’s professional goals, to be defended in an individualized oral examination.

  • Final project. The project is a research paper on a topic chosen in consultation with the student’s advisor; for students specializing in Teaching ESL to Adult Learners, the project may take some other form as approved by the major professor.
  • Oral examination. The oral examination, usually lasting an hour and a half, focuses on the final project but also covers other elements of the student’s program of study.

Regulations concerning final projects and oral examinations

  1. Students should consult with their advisors before completing 24 credits in order to determine a final project. Ordinarily, this is a revised and expanded course or seminar paper of at least 30 pages. The project should demonstrate the student’s skills in research, analysis and argumentation. For students specializing in Teaching ESL to Adult Learners, the project may consist of documentation of the outcome of a pedagogical investigation undertaken during the student’s internship. The project serves both as a concluding effort at the master’s level and as an indication of the student’s potential for doctoral study.
  2. In consultation with the student, the Director of Graduate Studies appoints an MA Examining Committee. At least two of the three members must be Linguistics Department faculty members. The MA Examining Committee administers the final Oral Examination.
  3. The project must be submitted and the oral examination completed within one year after the completion of 24 credits. Students should remember that a maximum of 30 credits at the master’s level is applicable to the PhD 54 credit requirement.
  4. Students who express intent to go on for the PhD are evaluated by the MA Examining Committee regarding their qualifications for further graduate study at the doctoral level. The Committee Chair puts the Committee’s recommendation in writing and places it in the student’s academic file.
  5. Students who fail the oral examination may be required to revise their final project, retake the examination, or both. The oral examination may be retaken only once. Students must register for 1-3 credits when revising the final project after a failed examination; however, the additional credit(s) may not count toward the 30 credits required for the degree.

Time Limit

The student must complete all degree requirements within five years of initial enrollment.