UC Santa Barbara General CatalogUniversity of California, Santa Barbara


Division of Humanities and Fine Arts
South Hall 3506-3524 (Faculty Offices)
South Hall 3432 Suite (Student Advising and Administrative Offices)
Telephone: (805) 893-7488
E-mail: undergradadvisor@linguistics.ucsb.edu
Website: www.linguistics.ucsb.edu
Department Chair: Mary Bucholtz

Graduate Program

In addition to departmental requirements, candidates for graduate degrees must fulfill the university degree requirements found in the “Graduate Education” section of the UCSB online catalog.

Master of Arts – Linguistics (Plan I: Thesis) (Requirements - PDF)

Masters of Arts - Linguistics (Plan II: Project) (Requirements - PDF)

Doctor of Philosophy – Linguistics (Requirements - PDF)

The linguistics program focuses on the discovery of general, theoretically significant explanations of why languages are as they are, why they change as they do, and in what ways linguistic structures are shaped by the nature of communicative, cognitive, and sociocultural processes. A major goal is the pursuit of functional explanations for linguistic patterns, explanations that are based on the functions of language as a contextualized social and cognitive activity. Students are encouraged to seek both breadth and depth in their understanding of a wide sample of languages and to appreciate the ways languages can differ as well as the features they share.


The M.A. program in linguistics is viewed as an integral part of preparation for the doctorate; students normally apply to both programs. Students intending to pursue only an M.A. degree will not be accepted into the graduate program.

Admission into the graduate program is based on past academic record, intellectual promise, and programmatic fit. Students entering the program have typically completed a linguistics B.A. or the equivalent of a linguistics minor with a major in a related area, such as anthropology, psychology, or language, with a minimum grade-point average of 3.5. The minimum recommended courses for admission are an introductory course in linguistics and at least one course each in phonetics/phonology, historical/comparative linguistics, and syntax.

Students who do not already have a master’s degree should apply to the M.A./Ph.D. program; those with an M.A. degree should apply directly to the Ph.D. program.

Admitted students for whom English is not their native language must take the English Language Placement Examination upon arrival at UCSB to determine speaking and writing ability. Depending on test performance, students may be required to take courses in English for Multilingual Students.

Upon arrival in the graduate program, each admitted student will be assigned a Provisional Guidance Committee, consisting of two Linguistics faculty members, to guide them during their first year of study.

Optional Interdisciplinary Emphases

Students pursuing a doctoral degree in Linguistics may petition to add the following Optional Interdisciplinary Ph.D. Emphases: Applied Linguistics; Black Studies; Cognitive Science; Environment and Society; Feminist Studies; Global Studies; Information Technology and Society; Language, Interaction, and Social Organization; Quantitative Methods in the Social Sciences; Translation Studies; Writing Studies.

Requirement sheets for each emphasis may be found on this page.