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M.A. in Linguistics


Dr. Debbie Chen Pichler, Graduate Program Coordinator 

Students may seek an M.A. in Linguistics either as their terminal degree or as a prerequisite for the Ph.D. program in Linguistics. However, students should note that successful completion of the M.A. program does not guarantee entry into the Ph.D. program; students must also submit a Ph.D. application portfolio which must be reviewed and unanimously approved by the Linguistics faculty.

The M.A. program is appropriate for students seeking linguistic knowledge as a foundation for work in such allied professional fields as language teaching, interpreter education, language planning, bilingual education, and language assessment. Graduates of this program are sought for positions in interpreter training programs, faculty teaching posts at the college level, or, given the appropriate educational background, for positions as teachers of Deaf children.

Students pursuing the M.A. in Linguistics at Gallaudet receive solid grounding in linguistic theory, methods, and research with a special emphasis on sign language linguistics. The program begins with foundational courses in linguistic theory, centered on phonology, cognitive linguistics, and generative linguistics, focusing on both spoken and signed languages. Additionally, students receive training in working with new sign languages (Field Methods) and in various professional skills related to being a linguist (e.g. linguistic technical writing, use of video and software resources for analyzing sign data, applying for doctoral programs and jobs, etc.). In their second year, students select elective courses according to their interests; topics vary from year to year. The M.A. program requires 41 credit hours of coursework. Full-time graduate students normally complete the program in four semesters. The program is designed to be completed during the fall and spring semesters, without weekend or summer classes.

*NOTE: Students with prior coursework in linguistics from another institution may request course transfers and/or waivers for one or more courses, but these requests are approved on a case by case basis by the linguistics faculty.

Program Specific Requirements

Sign Language Fluency

All applicants to the program must have sufficient fluency in American Sign Language (ASL) to participate fully in classroom discussions conducted in ASL. Applicants are requested to provide an ASL sample.

Elective Courses in Linguistics

Students must complete at least 15 credit hours of elective graduate courses in linguistics. Elective courses may be taken through the consortium and should focus on aspects of linguistic theory or research related to the student’s professional goals.

Qualifying Examination

All students must take a qualification exam after the first semester of coursework. Students who do not achieve a passing score will be dismissed from the program.

MA Viva Exam

The LIN MA Viva Exam is a program level assessment that occurs in students’ final year of the LIN MA program. This examination is conducted in ASL. LIN faculty members will pre-select test questions related to course content for (a) Field Methods (LIN 571), (b) two of the three core areas of the LIN MA program (Phonology, Generative Linguistics and Cognitive Linguistics; the student chooses which two to include), and (c) one of the elective courses the student has taken (the student chooses which elective course to include). Students will be evaluated by a subset of the LIN faculty for accuracy, clarity and organization of their signed responses. Failure to pass the Viva Exam may be grounds for dismissal from the program.

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Admissions Requirements

Hearing Undergraduate