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    Columbia Campus
  Jul 13, 2024
2009-2010 Graduate Studies Bulletin (Archived Copy) 
2009-2010 Graduate Studies Bulletin (Archived Copy) [Archived Catalog]


Robin K. Morris, Director

Faculty Admission
Overview Programs and Courses
Degrees Website


The linguistics program at the University of South Carolina is interdepartmental, with strong ties to anthropology; communication sciences and disorders; computer science and engineering; English language and literature; languages, literatures, and cultures; philosophy; and psychology. The program’s core faculty teach most of the courses offered and direct graduate students in the program. In addition to these core faculty, the program has the support of consulting faculty on the Columbia campus, whose areas of expertise are in or related to linguistics, and who frequently serve on thesis and doctoral committees. It also has strong ties to the English Programs for Internationals.

The graduate program in linguistics is comprehensive in its scope. Its mission is to train students to pursue research and teach in a wide range of linguistic subdisciplines. The program strives to develop students’ analytical skills and to encourage creative and critical approaches to data, models, and theories. In addition to requiring all students to have a theoretical foundation in general linguistics, phonology, and syntax, the interdepartmental structure of the program affords students the opportunity to take course work and pursue specializations in a broad range of subdisciplines, including: linguistic anthropology, English/French/German/Spanish linguistics, historical linguistics, philosophy of language, phonological theory, psycholinguistics, second/foreign language acquisition, sociolinguistics, syntactic theory, and teaching English as a second/foreign language.

The program’s dual emphasis on theoretical and applied aspects is regarded by students and faculty as one of its major strengths, and the great variety of research conducted by faculty and graduate students is a reflection of the intellectual diversity that characterizes the program.

In addition to offering graduate degrees to its own students, the linguistics program also provides cognate or minor field courses to graduate students in a number of other departments. Minor fields of study have been designed and approved for Ph.D. students in the following programs: linguistic anthropology, comparative literature, English composition and rhetoric, experimental psychology, French literature, German literature, medieval and early modern English literature, Hispanic Studies, and speech pathology. Other minors are currently planned.


The program in linguistics offers work leading to the M.A. and Ph.D. degrees and a graduate certificate in teaching English to speakers of other languages.


Students interested in linguistics come from diverse backgrounds. Accordingly, each applicant is considered on an individual basis for sufficient promise to do graduate work. The following application materials are required by the program:

  1. an official application.
  2. transcripts of all academic work.
  3. GRE scores.
  4. at least two satisfactory letters of recommendation from persons familiar with the applicant’s academic achievement.
  5. statement of purpose.
  6. writing sample (Ph.D. applicants only).

The average GPAs of admitted students range from 3.00 to 4.00 for all undergraduate work and 3.50 to 4.00 for all graduate work (on a 4.00 scale). The program’s admissions standards focus on the verbal and analytical sections of the GRE (although the quantitative section is not ignored). For 2007, native speakers of English admitted to the Ph.D. program averaged 695 on the verbal section and 5.5 on the analytical writing section. Native speakers of English admitted to the M.A. program averaged 610 on the verbal section and 5.0 on the analytical writing section. Average scores for those admitted to the TESOL (Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages) certificate program were compatible with those of successful M.A. applicants.

Applicants whose native language is not English must take the GRE and either the TOEFL or the IELTS Intl. Academic Course Type 2 exam. Applicants to the M.A. and TESOL certificate programs should score at least 570 (230 computer-based score) on the TOEFL or 6.5 on the IELTS exam. Ph.D. applicants should score at least 590 (243 computer-based score) on the TOEFL or a comparable score on the IELTS exam. Non-native speakers of English admitted to the Ph.D. program in 2007 averaged 545 on the verbal section of the GRE and 4.5 on the analytical writing section. Non-native English speakers admitted to the M.A. program averaged 450 on the verbal section and 4.5 on the analytical writing section. In all cases, scores and grades are no guarantee of admission.

For more information, see application information on the linguistics program’s Web page: