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Graduate: Linguistics

  • Program Overview

    Description of the Linguistics Department

    The Stony Brook Linguistics Department, in the College of Arts and Sciences, is a leading center for research and training in all areas of modern linguistics. The Department offers graduate training that leads to the M.A. and Ph.D. in Linguistics, the M.A. in Computational Linguistics, and the M.A. in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL).

    The department has a long-standing focus on theoretical linguistics, with core research areas in syntax, semantics, morphology, phonology, phonetics, and language acquisition, and particular strength in Computational Linguistics. Departmental research includes both theoretical issues --- how the human language capacity is organized --- and computational ones -- how language is processed and computed by humans and what the computational complexity of natural language is. In addition to the full range of theoretical and computational areas of linguistics, faculty have expertise in a wide range of languages/language areas including, East Asian, Germanic, Romance, Semitic, Slavic and signed languages.

    The Ph.D. program prepares students for advanced research in all branches of theoretical linguistics, especially Phonetics, Phonology, Morphology, Syntax, Semantics and Computational Linguistics. Ph.D. students also work with students and faculty in Psychology, Computer Science, Philosophy, Music, and the Institute for Advanced Computational Science (IACS). Ph.D students assist in and/or teach MA and BA courses in Linguistics.

    The M.A. in Theoretical Linguistics is a stand-alone 30 credit degree in all core areas of linguistic theory designed to give students an opportunity to carry out graduate work in linguistics in preparation for a doctoral degree in Linguistics, or other career.

    The M.A. in Computational Linguistics focuses on core competencies in programming, algorithms and data structures, mathematical linguistics, linguistic theories of sound and grammar) and the computational analysis of natural language. Students will also have practical experience with existing software solutions and toolkits that are widely used in the Computational Linguistics industry.

    The M.A. in TESOL is designed to prepare students to become professional teachers, teacher educators, and curriculum designers. The program offers courses in theoretical linguistics and its applications as well as pedagogy. Graduates of the program are successfully employed in public and private schools at K-12 levels, colleges, and universities in the United States and abroad. The requirements of the M.A. TESOL program satisfy a substantial portion of the requirements for New York State certification in TESOL.

    Linguistics Department

    Lori Repetti, Social and Behavioral Sciences S-233,

    MA LIN, MA CompLing, PhD Program Director  
    Thomas Graf, Social and Behavioral Sciences N-249, 

    MA TESOL Program Director
    Tatiana Luchkina, Social and Behavioral Sciences N-249,

    Sandra Brennan (Department Administrator)
    S-201 Social and Behavioral Sciences, (631) 632-7777, )

    Michelle Carbone, (Graduate Coordinator)
    S-201 Social and Behavioral Sciences, (631) 632-7774,

    Degrees Awarded
    M.A. in Linguistics
    M.A. in Computational Linguistics
    M.A. in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages
    Ph.D. in Linguistics

    Web Site

  • Admissions

    Admission requirements for Linguistics Department


    LINGUISTICS (LIN) Deadlines (for Fall admission):

    • Ph.D:---------------------------------------------- January 15
    • M.A. (LIN, CompLing, TESOL)
    • Final deadline (international students)------- April 15
    • Final deadline (domestic students)------------ June 1

    For admission to all graduate program in the Department of Linguistics, the following, in addition to the minimum Graduate School requirements, are normally required:

    1. Baccalaureate Degree: Students must present evidence that such a BA or BS degree will be awarded by the time they begin graduate work. A final transcript is required prior to registration.
    2. Minimum grade point average of 3.0: A minimum cumulative GPA of 3.0 or higher (or its foreign equivalent) on a 4-point scale is required.
    3. Recommendations: Three letters of recommendation are required.
    4. Graduate Record Examination (GRE): The GRE is not required for the MA LIN, the MA CompLing and the PhD in Linguistics. The GRE IS required for the MA TESOL program.
    5. Curriculum Vitae (CV)
    6. Writing Sample:

    MA LIN and PhD: The writing sample should be a paper written for a previous course taken in linguistics, or if that is not available, a paper on any subject is acceptable.

    MA CompLing: The writing sample may take one of two forms: (a) a short paper written for a previous course, ideally related to language, mathematics, or computation, or (b) a 2-page document describing a completed or ongoing programming project, including a link to an online repository hosting the code.

    1. Foreign Language Requirement:

    PhD program: Proficiency in a foreign language equivalent to two years of college work is required.

    MA programs: Native speakers of English must provide evidence of at least one year (or six credits) of study of one language other than English at the college level with a grade of C or better. Students who are seeking New York State certification will need to satisfy additional requirements for foreign language study before receiving certification.

    1. English proficiency (for students whose native language is not English):
    • PhD, MA LIN, MA Comp Ling: 250 (computer), 90 (iBT TOEFL) or 6.5 (IELTS).
    • MA TESOL:
      • Minimum total score: 90 (iBT TOEFL) or 6.5 (IELTS).
      • Minimum speaking component scores: 22 (iBT TOEFL) or 6.5 (IELTS).

    Please note that non-native speakers who are seeking New York State certification must achieve a speaking component score of 28 (iBT) or the equivalent.

    Note: For all programs, students who do not meet the above requirements may be admitted conditionally. Their status will be reviewed after their first semester of graduate study.

  • Degree Requirements

    Requirements for the Ph.D. in Linguistics

    In addition to the minimum Graduate School requirements, the following are required:

    1. Course Requirements: Students must complete a minimum of 60 credits; 30 of them before advancing to Candidacy.

    Required Courses (12 credits)

    LIN 521 Syntax I

    LIN 621 Syntax II

    LIN 523 Phonology I

    LIN 623 Phonology II

    • Electives: minimum of 18 credits of Linguistics 500 and 600 level courses*
      *Courses from other departments may also be counted as electives with permission from the Program Director.

    B. Qualifying Papers: Acceptance by the department of two papers of publishable quality in distinct areas of linguistics (“Qualifying Papers”) is required. Each paper will be defended orally before a committee of at least three faculty members. The membership of the two qualifying paper committees must not be identical. Each qualifying paper requirement will be completed after the committee’s acceptance of revisions decided upon at the defense.

    The final version of the first Qualifying Paper must be submitted not later than the last day of classes of the fourth semester, and the final version of the second Qualifying Paper must be submitted not later than the last day of classes of the sixth semester. Failure to meet Qualifying Papers deadline may affect the student’s priority for funding. Students who have not had both Qualifying Papers accepted by their committees by the end of the sixth semester will normally be dismissed from the program.

    Public presentation of one of these papers is required, as is submission of one of the Qualifying Papers for publication in an appropriate journal.

    C. Language Requirement: Demonstrated knowledge of two foreign languages other than the student’s mother tongue. This requirement may be satisfied by any of the following methods:

    1. Submission of an analytic paper demonstrating knowledge of the structure of the language.
    2. Satisfactory completion of a course in the structure of the language.
    3. Satisfactory performance on a standardized exam designed to measure language proficiency.
    4. Satisfactory completion of two years of college-level instruction in the language.

    D. Advancement to Candidacy: Advancement to candidacy takes place upon the successful completion of the following: the required courses in A, the qualifying paper requirement in B, and the language requirement in C.

    E. Teaching and Research: Students become qualified in teaching and research by working with faculty on an individual basis as teaching assistants and by participating in research projects. They have the opportunity to prepare and teach undergraduate classes during the academic year and in summer sessions.

    F. Dissertation: Before a student proceeds to write the dissertation, a dissertation proposal must be accepted by the department. The dissertation proposal outlines the topic and how the student plans to go about investigating this topic. The advisor will organize a discussion in which a committee considers the proposal with the student. The purpose of this discussion is to ensure that the topic is manageable and substantive.

    The dissertation committee will consist of a minimum of four members, at least three from the full-time faculty in the department and at least one from outside the department (or University). The committee will be chosen in consultation with the dissertation supervisor, who will be a full-time member of the department faculty. The formal public defense of the dissertation requires the full attendance of the dissertation examining committee.

    Requirements for the M.A. in Linguistics

    The MA LIN is a 30 credit Masters program aimed at students interested in pursuing linguistics beyond the BA level, but not yet ready for, or not planning to go on to, the PhD. The curricular focus of the MA LIN is on theoretical rather than applied linguistics. Students interested in applied or computational linguistics at the MA level are encouraged to consider the MA TESOL or MA Computational Linguistics program.

    The MA LIN is a coursework degree, consisting of 12 credits of required courses and 18 credits of electives.

    A. Core courses: (12 credits, required):

    LIN 521 Syntax I
    LIN 621 Syntax II
    LIN 523 Phonology I
    LIN 623 Phonology II

    B. Electives: minimum of 18 credits of Linguistics 500 and 600 level courses*

    *Courses from other departments may also be counted as electives with permission from the Program Director.

    Requirements for the M.A. in Computational Linguistics

    The MA in Computational Linguistics is a 36-credit coursework degree consisting of multiple components.

    A. Core courses: (12 credits, required):

    • LIN 521 Syntax I
    • LIN 522 Phonetics or LIN 523 Phonology I
    • LIN 537 Computational Linguistics 1
    • LIN 637 Computational Linguistics 2

    B. Formal methods: (1 of the following: 3 credits):

    • LIN 538 Statistics,
    • LIN 539 Mathematical Methods in Linguistics

    C. Advanced Linguistics: (1 of the following not taken as another requirement: 3 credits)

    • LIN 522 Phonetics,
    • LIN 523 Phonology I
    • LIN 621 Syntax II,
    • LIN 623 Phonology II,
    • LIN 624 Morphology and Word Formation,
    • LIN 625 Semantics

    D. Electives* (4 of the following not taken as a Core or Linguistics course above = 12 credits):

    Electives can be taken in Linguistics or other departments, with approval of the Program Director.

    E. Final project. Students must also complete a final project as part of LIN 595. (6 credits)

    Courses that appear in more than 1 category multiple cannot be used to satisfy multiple requirements at once. For example, if LIN 522 is taken as part of the core sequence, it cannot be used to satisfy the linguistics requirement.

    Requirements for the M.A. in TESOL

    The MA in TESOL is a Master’s program in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages.

    Requirements for the Master of Arts in TESOL - 30 credits

    The 30-credit track leads to the MA TESOL degree only and is intended for those with teacher certification in an area other than TESOL who wish to obtain TESOL certification or those who are not interested in teacher certification. Upon completion of the 30 credit MA, students can apply directly to New York State for alternate route certification in TESOL.

    A. Coursework

    This degree program consists of 30 credits distributed among the areas listed below. All courses are three credits except for the one-credit fieldwork courses (LIN 578, LIN 579).

    1. Required Courses (18 credits)
    • LIN 522 Phonetics
    • LIN 524 TESOL Pedagogy: Theory and Practice (Methods I) and

                  --LIN 579 Field Experience N-12 (1 credit)

    • LIN 527 Structure of English
    • LIN 529 TESOL Pedagogy: Content-based Language and Literacy Development Practice (Methods II) and

                   --LIN 579 Field Experience N-12 (1 credit)

    • LIN 530 Introduction to General Linguistics
    • LIN 578 Field Experience in Educational Courses
    1. Electives (12 credits)

    Three of the following: (or any other TESOL-related courses approved by the program director):

    • LIN 526 Analysis of an Uncommonly Taught Language
    • LIN 532 Second Language Acquisition
    • LIN 541 Bilingualism
    • LIN 542 Sociolinguistics
    • LIN 555 Error Analysis
    • LIN 571 TESOL Pedagogy: Curriculum Design and Evaluation
    • LIN 572 Course Design: Theory and Practice

     One additional elective course to be approved by the department; this may be a fourth course from the list above.

    Two semesters of college-level study of a language other than English (undergraduate or graduate). 

    B. Performance

    Students must achieve a grade point average (GPA) of B (3.0) or higher in all graduate courses taken at Stony Brook in order to receive the MA TESOL degree.

    C. Course Waivers

    Certain required courses may be waived for students showing an exceptional background in linguistics or TESOL. Application for such waivers must be made in writing to the department. In any case, all students must complete 30 graduate credits of approved coursework to receive a degree.

    D. New York State Teacher Certification

    All teacher candidates are responsible for submitting their applications for their TESOL certification through the NYS Education Department (NYSED). Applications for alternate route certification can be evaluated ONLY by the New York State Office of Teaching Initiatives.

    E. Application Procedure

    Applicants must have completed an undergraduate degree in liberal arts or science with a minimum GPA of 3.00 in the overall bachelor's degree. Applicants must demonstrate, through their application and recommendations, that they possess the temperament and disposition to be an effective teacher.

    Applications and instructions are available on the MA-TESOL program website ( A completed application consists of: Completed Graduate School application with a non-refundable application fee; Three letters of recommendation; Official copies of all previous college transcripts; Curriculum Vitae (Resume); A statement of purpose.

    Admission is competitive and no single factor will exclude anyone from being admitted. Similarly, no single factor will ensure admission. Applications and supporting documentation for the fall semester must be received by June 1. International students must apply by April 15.

  • Facilities

    Facilities of the Linguistics Department

    The Department of Linguistics has several lab facilities.

    Computational Linguistics Lab (Directors: Thomas Graf, Jeff Heinz, Jiwon Yun)

    Research in the Computational Linguistics Lab is concerned with the analysis of natural language phenomena using tools and concepts from mathematics and computer science, in particular statistics and probability theory, formal language theory, machine learning, algebra and logic. The lab suite includes a classroom, workstations, a library, and access to a large number of corpora and software

    Phonetics Lab (Director: Marie Huffman)

    The phonetics lab provides equipment for investigation of a wide range of linguistic questions, with special emphasis on speech acoustics, dialogue, and speech perception. The lab suite includes a lab classroom, a recording room and a research annex, with digital tape recorders, microphones, and headphones as well as facilities for computer-based data acquisition and video recording of spoken or signed language.

    Semantics Lab (Director: Richard Larson)

    The semantics Lab was created in 1992 by Richard K. Larson (Linguistics) and David S. Warren (Computer Science) as part of the NSF- sponsored Grammar as Science Project. Along with primary research in semantics, a focus of the lab has been the creation of software tools for linguistics research and education. Productions to date include Syntactica, a program for teaching transformational syntax and Semantica, a companion program for teaching truth-conditional natural language semantics.

  • Faculty

    Faculty of Linguistics Department

    Distinguished Professors

    Aronoff, Mark, PhD: 1974, MIT: morphology; orthography.


    Bailyn, John F, PhD, 1995, Cornell University: syntax; Russian syntax; Slavic linguistics

    Broselow, Ellen, PhD, 1976, University of Massachusetts-Amherst: phonology; phonetics; second language acquisition.

    Finer, Daniel L, PhD, 1984, University of Massachusetts-Amherst: syntax, semantics, language acquisition
    Heinz, Jeffrey, PhD, 2007, UCLA: phonology, grammatical inference, formal language theory, learnability, linguistic typology

    Hoberman, Robert, PhD, 1983, University of Chicago: Semitic linguistics, phonology, morphology

    Larson, Richard K, PhD, 1983, University of Wisconsin: semantics; syntax

    Rambow, Owen PhD, 1994, University of Pennsylvania: computational linguistics, natural language processing (starting Jan. 2021)

    Repetti, Lori, PhD, 1989, UCLA: phonology, Romance linguistics, Italian dialectology

    Associate Professors

    Graf, Thomas, PhD, 2013, UCLA: mathematical linguistics, syntax, phonology, psycholinguistics
    Huffman, Marie K, PhD,1989, UCLA: phonetics; phonology, second language phonetics

    Ordóñez, Francisco, PhD, 1997, City University of New York: syntax of Spanish, its varieties, and other Romance languages

    Yun, Jiwon, PhD, 2013, Cornell University: semantics, prosody, computational linguistics, cognitive science

    Assistant Professors

    Kodner, Jordan, PhD, 2020, University of Pennsylvania: computational linguistics, child language acquisition, historical linguistics

    Visiting Assistant Professors

    Luchkina, Tatiana, PhD, 2016, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign: phonology, language acquisition, multilingualism

    Post-doctoral researchers

    Taherkhani, Neda, PhD, 2019, Purdue University: morphology, endangered language documentation, Iranian languages

    Other Linguistics Faculty

    Antonenko, Andrei, PhD, 2012, Stony Brook University: syntax

    Janzen, Joy, PhD, 1999, Northern Arizona University: TESOL, literacy, teacher education

    Kaufman, Dorit, PhD, 1991, Stony Brook University: Language acquisition and attrition; language education.

    Shideler, Annette: English as a Second Language Teaching K-12.

    Affiliated Faculty

    Susan Brennan, Professor of Psychology, PhD, Stanford University
    Jiwon Hwang, Lecturer, Asian & Asian American Studies, Ph.D. Stony Brook
    Gary Mar, Associate Professor of Philosophy, PhD, UCLA
    Arthur Samuel, Professor of Psychology, PhD, UC San Diego

    Number of teaching, graduate, and research assistants, 2020-21: 21

    NOTE: The course descriptions for this program can be found in the corresponding program PDF or at COURSE SEARCH.


  • Contact

    Linguistics Department

    Lori Repetti, Social and Behavioral Sciences S-233,

    MA LIN, MA CompLing, PhD Program Director  
    Thomas Graf, Social and Behavioral Sciences N-249, 

    MA TESOL Program Director
    Tatiana Luchkina, Social and Behavioral Sciences N-249,

    Sandra Brennan (Department Administrator)
    S-201 Social and Behavioral Sciences, (631) 632-7777, )

    Michelle Carbone, (Graduate Coordinator)
    S-201 Social and Behavioral Sciences, (631) 632-7774,

    Degrees Awarded
    M.A. in Linguistics
    M.A. in Computational Linguistics
    M.A. in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages
    Ph.D. in Linguistics

    Web Site