PhD in Linguistics

Alumnus Dr. Dawei Jin, now Assistant Professor at Shanghai Jiao Tong University.

Dawei Jin, presenting a conference paper (now an Assistant Professor Shanghai Jiao Tong University, China)


The mission of the department’s PhD program is to train students to do research in linguistics and produce research that reflects the values and the mission of the department as a whole, to prepare them for academic jobs at teaching universities, liberal arts colleges, or major research universities and for jobs outside of academia. Our goal is to ensure that all of our students have at the end of their study an academic or industry position that requires a PhD in Linguistics. Our doctoral degree track focuses on breadth and empirical/experimental methodologies. Students receive training in traditional disciplines such as syntax, semantics, pragmatics, phonetics and phonology, and they may also receive substantial training in other areas, such as language typology, psycholinguistics, computational linguistics, and historical and contact linguistics. All of our students are required to take at least two semesters of Methods classes, which include courses in Field Methods, Quantitative Methods and Statistics, Corpus Linguistics and Computational Linguistics. Our students are also encouraged to explore interdisciplinary research within the UB Center for Cognitive Science, and many of our students receive extensive training in Cognitive Science through collaborations with the Psychology or Computer Science departments. 

PhD Funding

Join a community of scholars and researchers working together to solve pressing global problems. 

We are committed to recruiting the very best PhD students and preparing doctoral students for career success. UB features:

  • World-class faculty experts mentor PhD students in a dynamic research and learning environment. Students can focus on their research and scholarship alongside renowned faculty while preparing for the careers and professions that await them after graduation.
  • A city on the rise. Buffalo, N.Y. offers affordable housing, arts, culture and community. Learn more about Buffalo.

PhD Funding Opportunities

  • Academic year stipends of $23,000 for all full-time, funded PhD students on 10-month academic teaching assistant, research assistant or graduate assistant appointments.
  • UB’s stipend levels are competitive among public Association of American Universities (AAU) member institutions.
  • Additional Fellowship Opportunities:
    • Arthur A. Schomburg Fellowship Program: To be eligible for a Schomburg Fellowship, candidates must contribute to the diversity of the student body, and can demonstrate that they have overcome a disadvantage or other impediment to success in higher education. Only U.S. citizens and permanent residents are eligible to receive Schomburg Fellowships.
    • Presidential Fellowships: To be eligible for Presidential Fellowships, candidates must meet the criteria listed on the Presidential Fellowship page. Both domestic and international students are eligible, if they meet these criteria. For any questions regarding funding for academic year 2024–2025, contact the director of graduate studies or department chair.

Application Deadlines

December 15: All PhD applicants wishing to be considered for financial support

March 1: All other international PhD applicants

April 1: All other domestic PhD applicants

Online Application

Degree Requirements

Credit Hours: 72                                           
Core Courses
(Students with substantial prior preparation in linguistics choose one core course in each of the areas of: (1) Phonetics/Phonology;(2) Morphosyntax; (3) Semantics – plus a fourth course in their desired area of specialization; students without substantial prior preparation take two core courses in each area.)  
  • Phonetics (LIN 531)
  • Phonology I (LIN 532)
  • Semantics I (LIN 538)
  • Semantics II (LIN 543)
  • Syntax I (LIN 515)
  • One advanced Syntax course:
    1. Comparative Syntactic Theories
    2. Construction Grammar
    3. Current Syntactic Theory
    4. Head-driven Phrase Structure Grammar
    5. Role and Reference Grammar
Specialization Courses
  • Four courses/seminars in the student area of specialization, including core and methods courses where applicable
  • Three additional courses outside the student's area of specialization
Methods Courses*
  • Two Methods Courses, either:
    1. two semesters of Field Methods
    2. OR two semesters of Quantitative Methods; Computational Linguistics; Corpus Linguistics
    3. OR two semesters of Advanced Statistical Methods
  • Additional 500- or 600-level regular courses offered by the Department of Linguistics

For most students with no transfer credits from other institutions, the categories in the table above should account for 48 of the 72 credits required for the Ph.D. The remaining 24 credits can be Independent Study, thesis/dissertation guidance or up to 12 credits from other UB departments. (Students in the Cognitive Science track and those earning a concurrent M.S. in Computational Linguistics may be permitted to take additional courses in other departments in consultation with the Director of Graduate Studies.)

*Students should consult the Director of Graduate Studies to determine which Methods courses are more appropriate given their intended specializations.

Contact Us