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Linguistics at the University of North Dakota is a cooperative program between the University and the Summer Institute of Linguistics (a program of SIL International), which offers courses on campus every summer. The M.A. program thus operates primarily in the summers; most students spend at least two summers on campus and do not attend UND year-round. SIL directs UND’s program in linguistics under the supervision of UND's School of Graduate Studies. In addition to the M.A. in Linguistics, the program offers a Certificate in Community-Based Literacy as Applied Linguistics.
Purpose of the Master’s degree in Linguistics
The primary purpose of the M.A. program is to prepare students to do field linguistic research, especially in spoken and signed languages that have received relatively little previous study. Courses taught by SIL all carry this emphasis, covering topics such as phonetics, field methods, analytical skills, orthography development, and theoretical frameworks which are useful in the initial description of lesser-known languages. The thesis (which is required) is often based on field data collected by the student. The degree is designed so students can combine graduate study at UND with pursuit of linguistic fieldwork or other activities away from campus.
Students have also found the program useful as preparation for doctoral work in linguistics at other institutions, for teaching linguistics at universities outside the U.S., and for applied linguistic tasks such as teaching English as a second language, bilingual/bicultural education, literacy, interpreting and translation.
(To help you decide if you should pursue a graduate degree in linguistics as well as where and how you might do so, see the paper “Graduate school: Is it for me?”.)
General requirements for admission to the School of Graduate Studies include
- completion of a 4-year bachelor’s degree from a college or university with regional accreditation
- a cumulative grade point average (GPA) of at least 2.75 for all undergraduate work or 3.00 for the junior and senior years of undergraduate work
- ability to pursue graduate-level academic work in English (details here)
Specific requirements for admission to the M.A. program in linguistics are
- 20 semester credits of work in linguistics or related fields, e.g., foreign language,
- of these, at least 10 must be in linguistics
- which must include the equivalent of LING 452 (Syntax and Morphology I)
- (GRE scores are not required.)
See list of suggested prerequisite courses below.
Potential applicants who do not meet the program's requirements for admission should plan to take their first summer as non-degree graduate students. Up to 9 credits taken as a non-degree graduate student can be applied to the M.A. Therefore, students who meet some, but not all, of the linguistics prerequisites can use some of the credits gained as non-degree graduate students to meet the prerequisites, and apply some to the M.A.
Because the Linguistics Program is only active on campus during summer sessions, new M.A. students must begin their program during a summer session.
For more information on these and other requirements, see the current Academic Catalog, in the section on Graduate Academic Information, particularly the sections on Admissions and Linguistics. Or write to SIL or the School of Graduate Studies at the addresses below.
All persons have equal opportunity to pursue graduate study at UND, regardless of race, color, national origin, religion, age, sex, sexual orientation, marital status, or disability.
All new students in linguistics must begin in a summer session. Many students interested in the M.A. program enroll for their first summer as a non-degree graduate student. This is generally not a problem since it is possible to apply up to 9 graduate credits taken as a non-degree graduate student to the M.A. Such students postpone applying to the M.A. program until after the end of the first summer. This gives them an opportunity to determine whether the program fits their particular needs before making a long-term commitment. Students who want to begin as a non-degree graduate student, or do not want a degree from UND, should consult the separate information about how to apply to take SIL courses.
Students who decide they want an M.A. in Linguistics from UND need to apply to the UND School of Graduate Studies (for entering the degree program) as well as completing the forms that SIL requires to take summer classes. While it is possible to begin the application process by applying to the School of Graduate Studies first, it is better to start with SIL's pre-application form, so that the Director of Graduate Studies can guide applicants through the process. See the separate information about the SIL application process.
In order for students to be admitted to the M.A. program in a given summer, all materials required by the School of Graduate Studies must be received by UND by April 15. These include an application form with statement of purpose, the application fee, transcripts of all undergraduate and graduate work, and three letters of recommendation. Additional requirements may apply to students from other countries, such as translations in English of all materials (e.g., transcripts) not in English and TOEFL scores.
Applications to the M.A. program in linguistics are accepted year-round, and are acted upon whenever the application is complete. Students who apply to the program but miss the April 15 deadline may have to attend their first summer as a non-degree graduate student. This may entail a second application to the School of Graduate Studies later (with a separate application fee). Students who know they will miss the deadline should apply to take SIL classes as non-degree graduate students, and wait to apply to the M.A. program later.
If you have further questions, consult with the Director of Graduate Studies (M.A. advisor) before applying (see contact information below).
The following are summarized from the Graduate section of the Academic Catalog, including both general requirements for the M.A., and the specific requirements for the M.A. in Linguistics.
- 32 graduate credits are required for the degree, including 4 credits for thesis.
- At least 19 credits must be in courses offered by the Linguistics program ( see Courses below). Of these, 3 credits must be in the area of phonetics/phonology, 3 must be in syntax/semantics, 3 must be in applied linguistics, and 1 must be in Ling 580 Academic Writing. Up to four credits of independent study (Ling 590 Directed Studies and Ling 594 Research) may be included.
- Courses with linguistics content offered by other departments, such as English (see Courses below), may be counted as linguistics courses for the major.
- The degree may include a minor (at least 9 credits in a single related graduate field) or a cognate (9 credits in related fields at the 300 level or higher).
- A maximum of 8 graduate credits (in special circumstances 9) may be transferred from another North American institution with regional accreditation. Transfer credits must be at the graduate level (500 level or equivalent). Transfer credits may not have been used for another degree, and must not be more than than 7 years old at the time of graduation. The Linguistics Program evaluates courses from other institutions to determine which ones qualify to be transferred.
- A maximum of 9 non-degree graduate credits which were previously taken at UND may also be included in an M.A. program.
- A minimum of two summers, or one regular semester, must be spent in residence (full-time study in Grand Forks). Students are normally expected to spend at least two summers in residence.
- Coursework must not be more than 7 years old at time of graduation. (Older courses taken at UND can sometimes be revalidated by demonstrating continuing competence in the subject matter of the course.)
Courses at UND that can be used for prerequisites to the M.A. in linguistics
Several courses listed under Linguistics, English and other headings in the undergraduate section of the Academic Catalog can be used to satisfy the linguistics portion (at least 10 credits) of the total 20 credits of prerequisites required for admission to the program. Linguistics courses taught at UND that can be used to satisfy prerequisites include those in the following chart; this also illustrates the types of courses from other institutions that may qualify. (If courses are used to satisfy prerequisites for admission, they cannot also be used to satisfy the degree requirements, even if they are taken for graduate credit.)
|Ling 450||Articulatory Phonetics||2 credits|
|Ling 451||Phonology I||3 credits|
|Ling 452||Syntax and Morphology I||3 credits|
|Ling 470||Introduction to Sociolinguistics and Language Development||2 credits|
|Ling 480||Learner-Directed Second Language Acquisition||3 credits|
|Anth 370||Language and Culture||3 credits|
|Engl 209||Introduction to Linguistics||3 credits|
|Engl 309||Modern Grammar||3 credits|
|Engl 370||Language and Culture||3 credits|
|Engl 489||Senior Honors thesis (when the topic is in linguistics)||1-8 credits|
|CSD 223||Phonetics||3 credits|
In addition to linguistics courses such as those above, courses in foreign languages or other related fields (taught at UND or elsewhere) can be used to satisfy up to half of the prerequisites.
Courses at UND that can be used as part of the M.A. in linguistics
Students complete their degree using regular courses from Linguistics supplemented by independent study (Directed Studies and Research), courses from English, transfer courses, or courses in related fields.
The courses listed in the Graduate section of the Academic Catalog under Linguistics form the core of the program. They are taught primarily in the summers by SIL. (Besides the official listings in the Graduate Bulletin, there is further information about them in the SIL-UND course listings. Courses that are used to satisfy prerequisites for the degree may not be used for the degree itself.)
As indicated above, courses listed in the Graduate section of the Academic Catalog under English Language and Literature which have linguistic content may be used to supplement the courses offered by the Linguistics Program, if taken for graduate credit. These are mostly taught during the fall and spring and include the following courses:
|Engl 417||Special Topics in Language (when the topic is in linguistics; may be repeated for different topics)||3 credits|
|Engl 418||Second Language Acquisition||3 credits|
|Engl 419||Teaching English as a Second Language I and II||3 credits per semester|
|Engl 442||History of the English Language||3 credits|
|Engl 590||Readings in Language (when the topic is in linguistics)||1-4 credits|
Most of the faculty members for the UND linguistics program are SIL faculty who have been appointed as adjunct faculty members in the UND School of Graduate Studies. SIL faculty members have substantial fieldwork experience, and spend most of the year in various places around the world doing linguistic research, promoting vernacular literacy, and performing related humanitarian service. Although they are on campus only during the summers, special arrangements can be made for them to offer certain courses (esp. Directed Studies, Research and Thesis) at other times and places or by distance education. Typically 4-6 SIL graduate faculty members are on campus during any summer. In addition, each summer brings a different combination of additional faculty and staff to support SIL's course offerings.
SIL offers several financial aid programs to its students, including those in the UND M.A. program. Details are provided on the page about scholarships and financial aid at SIL-UND.
There is an automatic scholarship for M.A. students as they near the end of their program. It covers the "per-credit" portion of tuition for thesis (4 credits) and 3 other credits, subject to certain conditions.
A limited number of teaching assistantships are available each summer in courses offered by SIL. Most of these require students to have completed Package B, and are neither guaranteed to M.A. students nor limited to them. Full-time TAs may take up to 3 credits of SIL classes at no charge; part-time TAs may take up to 6 credits and pay reduced tuition and fees.
In support of the M.A. program, SIL-UND publishes a volume of work papers containing linguistics research by faculty, students, and guest scholars. Almost the entire series is available in UND's Scholarly Commons.
Recent M.A. theses in linguistics are available for download.
Each summer, SIL sponsors a colloquium series, consisting of presentations about recent research by faculty, students, and guest scholars.
SIL-UND and its faculty have also developed textbooks in linguistics and other instructional materials.
For application materials for the M.A. degree or general information about graduate study at UND
The School of Graduate Studies
P.O. Box 8178
University of North Dakota
Grand Forks ND 58202-8178
For specific questions about the M.A. in Linguistics
Dr. Keith Slater
email: through SIL-UND’s web-based form
toll-free: (800) 292-1621
phone: (701) 777-0575 (this number is available only during the summer while SIL is in session)
For information on the SIL program and courses it offers at UND
See also the pages of contact information for SIL-UND and the online application forms. (Application to take SIL courses is different from application to the M.A. program. If you’re not sure which you want to do, see the discussion above.)
For information on courses taught by the Department of English Language and Literature
English Department home page
phone: (701) 777-3321
Department of English Language and Literature
P.O. Box 8237
University of North Dakota
Grand Forks ND 58202-8237