Course Work

The conception of linguistics embraced by the Yale Ph.D. program requires that students receive training that is both deep in its coverage of areas of linguistic inquiry and broad in the range of methodological approaches. The course work requirements are designed to accomplish these complementary goals. This course work includes a set of courses designed to expose students to core ideas, together with courses equipping students with a range of methodologies in linguistic research.

During their first five terms, students must complete a minimum of twelve term courses at the graduate level. During the initial two years of course work, students must receive at least three grades of H (= Honors). Two or more grades below HP (= High Pass) during the initial two year period constitute grounds for dismissal from the Ph.D. program. As per Graduate School general regulations, grades of F cannot be counted toward degree requirements.

Foundational courses

This requirement ensures that students achieve breadth in several linguistic subfields. Students take six courses in four or more subfields of linguistics. The following courses satisfy this requirement: LING 612, Language Change; LING 636, Articulatory Phonology; LING 631, Neurolinguistics, or LING 617, Language and Mind; LING 635, Phonology II; LING 654, Syntax II; LING 664, Semantics II; LING 680, Morphology.

Students will decide on their courses, in consultation with the director of graduate studies (DGS) and other faculty, when they arrive on campus. Other sufficiently advanced courses may also satisfy the requirement.

Methodology courses

For the methodology requirement, students must take three relevant courses. The following courses, which are offered regularly by the department, qualify, but other courses may as well, to be determined in consultation with the adviser and DGS: LING 600, Experimentation in Linguistics; LING 619, The Evolution of Language and Culture; LING 624, Mathematics of Language; LING 627, Language and Computation I; LING 631, Neurolinguistics; LING 636, Articulatory Phonology; LING 641, Field Methods; LING 796, Semantic Investigations in an Unfamiliar Language; an advanced course in statistics (e.g., S&DS 538, S&DS 563, S&DS 661, or PSYC 518).

One of the methodology courses must be taken during the first year of the program, and two must be completed by the end of the second year. Courses cannot simultaneously satisfy the foundational and methodology requirements.

Seminar courses

Graduate students are active participants in department reading groups and seminars. Students should participate in three advanced seminars in which they read the original literature of the field and write a research paper. With permission of their adviser and the DGS, students may enroll in the appropriate 790s-numbered LING course and count active participation in a department reading group, including the submission of a final research paper, as satisfying this requirement.

Language requirement

Students are expected to exhibit some breadth in their knowledge of the languages of the world beyond those most commonly studied and those most similar in structure to the student’s first language. LING 641, Field Methods, fulfills this requirement; alternatively, with the permission of the DGS, the student may instead take an appropriate language structure course, or one or more courses characterize as L3 or higher at Yale or the equivalent elsewhere. This requirement must be completed before the prospectus defense, when the student advances to Ph.D. candidacy.

Director of Graduate Studies

Any questions about the graduate program can be directed to the DGS, Jim Wood, at