Language Requirements

Under the New Curriculum, 1/22/13

Graduate students must satisfy TWO language requirements for the PhD degree. The natural languages used to satisfy the requirement may be spoken or signed. Students whose native language is not English may use English to fulfill one of the two requirements. For the computational track, PhD students must fulfill ONE language requirement.

The first language requirement must be satisfied before the beginning of the quarter in which the student attempts to complete the first general paper. The PhD level requirement must be satisfied before the general exam.

At least one language used to satisfy the PhD language requirement must be typologically substantially distinct from the student's native language. This language will be referred to as the "breadth language". The choice of the language must be approved by the student’s committee before the study or the research project is undertaken. The ultimate decision about whether or not a student has satisfied a language requirement rests with the student’s PhD committee.

The two language requirements can be satisfied in one of the following ways:

A. One year of study at the university or community college level. Students who are language instructors in other UW departments can use their language teaching experience to satisfy one language requirement.

B. A major research project that involves significant primary data collection that includes substantial structural analysis of the language in question and results in a major paper such as an MA thesis, a generals paper or a conference paper. Both the choice of the project and the quality of the result will be evaluated by the student’s committee.

Examples of projects with significant primary data collection include: field work; doing annotation on a
large, unannotated corpus and building a grammar of it (for a computational linguistics project); coding and analyzing some aspect of linguistic variation on an originally-recorded corpus (for a sociolinguistics project); working with primary data (native speakers, sizeable corpus) for a syntax or a semantics project.

C. Translation exam (with the help of a dictionary) to demonstrate the ability to read linguistic literature in a foreign language. Only one of the two language requirements can be satisfied through the translation exam.