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Linguistics Program

Masters Program

Our M.A. program is designed to provide students with the broadest possible background in linguistics and encourages them to take advantage of the wide range of opportunities presented by the program's faculty and to discover connections between the various subdisciplines of the field.

Comprehensive Education

The M.A. in Linguistics at USC is a degree in general linguistics. It is possible for all credit hours earned in a graduate certificate program in TESOL at USC to apply to this degree. Please speak to an advisor to see how these hours apply in your situation. 

Masters students choose a special field to guide their studies from different areas of concentration. Approved special fields are the following:

  • English/French/German/Spanish linguistics
  • Historical linguistics
  • Linguistic anthropology
  • Philosophy of language
  • Phonological theory
  • Psycholinguistics
  • Second/foreign language acquisition
  • Sociolinguistics
  • Syntactic theory
  • Teaching English as a second/foreign language.

Students whose eventual goal is the Ph.D. are advised to consult with the Graduate Director before submitting their application online to discuss the option of concurrent enrollment in the M.A. and Ph.D. programs.

Course Requirements

Masters students may pursue a non-thesis or a thesis option with their degree. The non-thesis option requires 36 credit hours of graduate work, while the thesis option requires 30 credit hours (which includes the credit hours needed to complete a thesis). 

The thesis option track allows graduate students to take four courses outside their subfield, while the non-thesis option students may take six courses outside their subfield. 

Further requirements, such as foreign language proficiency and comprehensive examinations, are detailed in the graduate bulletin.

Timetable to Completion

The master's degree in Linguistics (both the thesis and the non-thesis options) is easy to complete in two years. It is recommended that students take 3 LING courses a semester. For thesis students, the last semester will be devoted to their thesis. 

COURSES & EXAMS For students with linguistics backgrounds For students without linguistics backgrounds
1st semester (Fall) LING 720 
+2 other LING Courses
LING 600
+2 other LING courses
2nd semester (Spring) LING 710 
+2 other LING courses
LING 710 
+2 other LING courses
3rd semester (Fall) Take oral comprehensive exam.
3 LING courses
LING 720 
+2 other LING courses
4th semester (Spring) 3 LING courses Take oral comprehensive exam.  
3 LING courses