Current Graduate Students FAQ

Prospective applicant?  Consult the Prospective Graduate Students FAQ.

1. How do I register for thesis or independent study credits?

Through the academic counselor. You will need to have permission from the instructor, which you can have sent to the academic counselor by email ( so she knows it’s okay to register you.

2. Can an independent study course with a professor fulfill a specific course requirement?

No, unless there is no way that the requirement can be satisfied with regular classes. There is no written rule about this, but try to use the existing regular courses to fulfill requirements whenever possible, and this ought to be possible under normal circumstances. Let the GPC know if such a situation arises.

In general, independent study classes are registered with the credit/non-credit option. You can petition to the graduate school to change it to a numerical grade if you wish. If you would like to use an independent course toward your degree, you should do this first. Then you should talk to the GPC and your advisor to show why this is necessary.

3. Can lower level seminars (LING 480) be used to satisfy PhD requirements?

It depends on the content of the course, but we see no reason to exclude lower level seminars categorically. The student’s committee should decide what “elective” courses are needed for their PhD.

4. Would a semantics (or semantics-related) course offered in a different department at UW satisfy the semantics requirement?

Only LING 579 (Semantic Theory II) satisfies the degree requirement.

5. What is the department’s policy on on-leaves?

See On-Leave Status Procedure.

6. How do I make sure that I am (or will be) taking the right courses, making progress, etc.?

Keep in touch with your supervisor and other members of your committee. Regarding requirements, you should fill out the worksheet and show it to GPC to make sure that some specific degree requirements are (or will be) met.

7. What is the procedure to follow if I chose a translation-exam option for satisfying part of the language requirement?

You have to pass a translation test. The idea is to make sure that you know the language well enough to read the (relevant) linguistics literature in it. This exam should be taken at the latest during the quarter before the student plans to finish the MA.

(i) A faculty member familiar with the area of the student's specialization (e.g. phonology) and the chosen language chooses an appropriate passage (e.g. a part of a paper; a part of a book) in the target language. If the faculty in question so wishes, s/he can be the evaluator as well. Otherwise, some other faculty member who is familiar with this language will be the evaluator.

(ii) A faculty member (usually the one who chooses the passage or the GPC) administers the exam. The student and this faculty member agree on the time and the date of the exam, and the student can spend up to 2 hours translating the passage into English. Use of dictionaries is permitted.

(iii) The evaluator examines the translation and then decides whether the student passes the test or not.

8. If I decide to take a class to satisfy part of the language requirement, is it possible to take a relevant language class S/NS (satisfactory/non-satisfactory)? Also, does the language class I take count towards 30 additional coursework credits (especially if it's taken S/NS)?

 It is okay to take it S/NS.

9. What is the formal procedure to follow when I form a PhD committee?

Each student should form your PhD committee (four members, including the GSR) by the end of the second year. The student informs the GPA (Graduate Program Assistant), and the GPA will inform the graduate school by entering the information about the members through the computer system.

10. What type of publication fulfills the “publication/presentation” requirement for the PhD?

Part of the PhD degree requirement is that you deliver two papers. This can be done at a conference elsewhere or as a colloquium here at UW.

The dissertation is expected to be “suitable for publication”. The idea is that some revisions will turn it into a book or articles.

11. Who can enroll for 2 credits in linguistics seminars?

The two credit option for seminars is for those who have completed the course requirements for their degree and want to concentrate upon dissertation writing. However, the student may obtain permission from the instructor and their committee to take a seminar for two credits, even if the course requirements have not been completed.

12. Can non-language instruction courses in a language be used as “elective courses”?

Yes. Courses such as “The structure of Turkish”, “The phonology of Russian", “Historical Chinese Phonology”, “Syntax of Japanese”, “History of English”, “History of the Germanic Languages”, and the like are non-language instruction courses and can be used to satisfy major or minor requirements, as long as they are relevant. Needless to say, literature or culture courses (e.g., History of Russia) do not count. Courses that involve actual language instruction (e.g., Beginning Chinese) do not count either.

13. How many committee members (and which committee members) can participate in a general exam (or a PhD exam) remotely?

At least four members of your committee must be present at the exam:  1) the chair, 2) another member who is a member of the graduate faculty at UW, 3) another member who does not have to be a member of the grad faculty, and 4) the GSR.  The crucial rule is that the GSR must be physically present.

According to the Graduate School, as long as the GSR is present, the other members can participate in the exam remotely.

14. Can collaborative work be used in a generals paper?

The number of students who are working on larger projects (such as grants) has increased over the last five years. As a result, the faculty took a vote on some clarifying language about how a paper resulting from a collaborative project can be used as a generals paper. Here are the clarifications for a paper to count as a generals paper:

  1. The student's own contribution to the co-authored work must be substantial and original, which will be determined by the student’s committee. 
  2. When students use material from co-authored work, they must acknowledge the co-authored work and describe the relationship between the co-authored work and the GP or dissertation work.
  3. If a student wants to include co-authored work in their GP or dissertation, they must get permission from their co-authors. If the work to be included in the dissertation is copyrighted, the student must obtain permission of the copyright holder (this applies to both single-authored and co-authored papers).

15. UW Linguistics external funding requirement

Each academic year (AY), you are required to apply for or otherwise procure external funding, beginning in your second year of the PhD program. External funding includes support that does not come out of the department's general budget (e.g., fellowships, TA/RA/SA-ships in other departments).

  • First-year students: By the end of your first year, the department asks that you identify three appropriate external funding opportunities that you intend to apply for in subsequent years. This can include opportunities you are not yet eligible for, such as dissertation grants, as well as opportunities you strongly suspect will become available, such as TA positions in other departments (based on past job ads). Please note that this is not a commitment to apply for these specific opportunities. You may change your mind about which opportunities to apply for as you progress through the program and as your research trajectory comes into focus. This exercise is largely meant to help you practice researching funding sources and to familiarize you with available opportunities. Just for the 2021-22 AY, second-year students can likewise satisfy the requirement by identifying three external funding opportunities to apply for in subsequent years.

  • After your first year: The department asks that you make a sincere and concerted effort to apply for or otherwise secure at least one external funding opportunity each AY. You can satisfy the requirement just by applying! It's perfectly okay not to get it. Ideally, the funding opportunity will include both a stipend and tuition waiver for at least one quarter, but it's not necessary for it to provide both. If you are awarded an external appointment/fellowship and the stipend is less than what you would normally make through an appointment in UW Linguistics, the department will make up the difference.

Still have questions?  Contact our Graduate Program Coordinators at